Here are my 10 tips of how to photograph a wedding that you’re also participating in as a bridesmaid! I’ve done this twice with both of my best friends, and honestly, they were my favourite weddings to photograph! I love being able to be on the outskirts and in the thick of things at the same time. What a joy to know these people well enough to capture their personalities accurately and with my passion for this dream job!
For the spring wedding… I wore four outfits! I started off in leggings and a shirt (I never do that on wedding days), changed into a shorter dress because it was so hot outside, then changed into my bridesmaid dress right before bridal party portraits.
For the fall wedding… I wore three outfits. Robe + leggings to begin, black pants + long sleeve for first look, then changed into my bridesmaid dress for the rest of the day.
You will be on double duty, but this is also a day to celebrate your friendship with the bride. They most likely hired you because of your talent as a photographer but also because you’re friends. No role is better than the other; it just requires a little more work! Work hard and laser-focus for important moments so that friend time comes naturally!
Setting reasonable expectations is really important when considering doing both roles on a wedding day. On Kelsie’s wedding day, I started two hours early on the timeline because I wanted to make time for being present as her friend. It ended up being great and we were really ahead of schedule all day, which made for a more relaxed day where it felt less like a series of photoshoots and more like hanging out with friends. Don’t be stingy with your time; you’re there for them!
This is one of the biggest takeaways I had from this wedding. Thankfully the bridesmaid dress wasn’t strapless 😉 and was actually incredibly comfortable! Needless to say, hem the dress so you’re not in danger of tripping and falling. I may’ve looked like a bit of nerd because of how high I got it hemmed, but the dress did its job!
The day is not about you. Try as much as possible to be unobtrusive! My main fear in wearing the bridesmaid dress while photographing was that people would get distracted during the ceremony. Some did notice and ask questions, but on the hole, the focus was so much on the cutest bride and groom that it wasn’t a big deal!
Hire someone you trust, especially because they’ll be photographing most of the bridal party shots! I directed every pose during the bridal party, then would run in to be in the shot while my second shooter was placed right where I asked. It was a pretty seamless process! *notice me on the right side creepily looking at the camera!
There’s not much more I can say about this, except it’s important. As photographers, our job is to serve and capture how the day felt. So with a close friend, I think the stakes are raised… you know all their funny facial expressions, quirks, belly laughs and moments that they will love looking back on. So, work hard to photograph those moments for your friend! It’s the greatest honour in my opinion to photograph a friend’s wedding and be with them in some of the most intimate moments.
Soooo I curled my hair pretty tightly the morning of the wedding, got to the venue at 9:00 a.m. and by 10:00 a.m. my curls had gone completely. Ha! So I re-curled it while everyone else got ready so it held me over (let’s be real… only until about noon!). Oh, the joys of living in the South in the summer with extreme humidity!
I focused on photographing the first two hours of the reception, dance floor and details so that the last 45 minutes could be freed up to dance! I had already taken plenty of dancing pictures and felt great about them, so I set my camera on a close table top to grab whenever there was an amazing moment. But between shots, I danced so hard with the bride and my friends!
I photographed Kelsie + TJ’s proposal, and after everyone from the party had left, all our close friends sat on the couch and watched a funny slideshow I had made about all the secret texts Kelsie didn’t know about. Likewise, when I had finished the gallery, Kelsie, TJ and I ate wedding cake on their couch and had a mini viewing party. It was SO FUN seeing their reactions! They pointed out facial expressions I hadn’t noticed and stories I had no context for previously. I loved watching their faces light up and burst into laughter at reception pictures and oooh and awwww at pictures of them together. It was priceless!
If this is you in the near future – rockstar wedding photographer and bridesmaid – good luck! I would 100% do it all over again to relive this fun day photographing my best friends marrying men who adores them!