Being both a photographer and bridesmaid can be tricky, but totally possible! When my best friend, Hannah, asked me if it was possible to be her photographer AND bridesmaid, my first thought was OF COURSE! However, through the planning and execution part, it was much more difficult than I thought. Although it was tricky to juggle at times, it was SO worth it, and I have no regrets! The truth is, as long as you are organized and prepared, you can crush both while still being present and enjoying the day. I’m so glad that I got to play such a big role in such a day that was so close to my heart and I believe you can do the same! Still unsure? Here are my top tips to confidently master the juggle of being behind AND in front of the camera on a wedding day.
Tips and Tricks
BRING AN ASSOCIATE YOU TRUST TO BE THE LEAD
Having a teammate who is confident in taking the lead will be essential to giving you the freedom to join in on the wedding fun and have the margin to be there for your bride and bestie! Make sure you bring a photographer who is able to work independently, take initiative, and who understands how to execute your vision without instruction on the day of. I want to give a HUGE shoutout to my associate and dear friend, Malorie! She did an amazing job taking charge of the day, taking care of my best friend, and taking care of me so I could enjoy the day too!
DETERMINE EXACTLY WHEN AND WHERE YOU’LL BE TAKING PHOTOS
On the wedding timeline, be sure to label exactly what parts of the day you are photographing and what the associate photographer is photographing. Don’t take on too much yourself. I put our initials by each part of the day, but you can use whatever system works best for you! Review the wedding plan and locations together beforehand and then let them do their thing!
BE THE FIRST TO GET YOUR HAIR AND MAKEUP DONE
Make sure you communicate with the bride that you need to be first in line for the getting ready process. That way you can focus on capturing those precious pre-wedding moments instead of stressing over being ready in time. For this wedding, I did my own hair, but I wish I had paid someone to do it so that I would’ve had one less thing to worry about. If you are doing anything yourself, practice it first before the wedding.
PHOTOGRAPH BRIDAL DETAILS BEFORE THE WEDDING
Finding ways to free up time on the day of the wedding is key to being both a photographer and bridesmaid. I went to my friend’s house and brought my details kit to photograph all her detail flatlays on a weekday before her wedding because I didn’t want to worry about it the morning of. This also freed up my associate photographer to get more photos of the beginning part of the day when I was busy!
BRING LOTS OF TISSUES AND MAKEUP TO TOUCH UP
I cried way more than I thought I would and it was HARD to stay pretty while taking photos. My eyes would water from the wind during photos and I had to redo areas of my makeup a couple of times. I highly recommend having a small bag on hand with tissues and backup makeup options for touch-ups.
BRING AN ASSISTANT TO TAKE CARE OF COORDINATING DETAILS
Often when my associate photographer was busy doing things as a lead, I found myself overwhelmed trying to manage my belongings or schedule. There were times when I needed my phone or watch but didn’t have either on hand because I couldn’t wear or carry things during photos. This made communicating details much more complicated. Having an extra set of hands to grab things for you and keep everything organized will free up brain space, eliminate the need to run around, and allow you to stay more present throughout the day. This could even be a plus one who helps you and follows you around holding your things.
BRING NON-HEELED SHOES AND BANDAIDS
You’ll walk around in heels more than most bridesmaids and you won’t be used to it on a wedding day when you usually wear comfy shoes. I got blisters from all the running around in my heels and would highly recommend preparing your feet beforehand. After the ceremony and main photos, you can wear cute flats and it’s a lifesaver!
SHARE YOUR CAMERA FOR FUN CANDIDS
If you know and trust the other bridesmaids, try setting up your camera settings (with a wrist strap) and teach them how to push the button. The photo above was taken by a bridesmaid while I was busy and it turned out so cute! By allowing the rest of the bridal party to take photos during the getting-ready time while you’re busy, you’ll have some of the most sweet and silly candids that your bride will love!
WORK HARD THEN PLAY HARD
Don’t drink at all until after you’ve eaten dinner. I’m so happy I waited to party it up until after dinner because it was already harder to focus on taking photos while dancing after only two drinks!
TELL YOUR ASSOCIATE PHOTOGRAPHER TO TAKE PHOTOS OF YOU
Of course, your bride’s big day isn’t about you, but as a photographer you know you can feel left out of all the photos when you’re always taking them. You still want to have evidence that you were there! I recommend asking your associate to be intentional about capturing shots of you dancing or interacting with the bride at some point in the day when you aren’t using your camera. Grab some photos with your plus-one or other people you know at the wedding! Often times we forget about ourselves at a wedding because we are so used to serving others so this will help you feel a part of everything when you look back on the photos. My associate did this without asking and I was so so thankful!
CHOOSE A TIME TO PUT DOWN THE CAMERA AND ENJOY THE NIGHT
Your friend hired you as a photographer because she loves your photos, but more importantly, she asked you to be in her wedding because she loves YOU! Take some time to celebrate her and have FUN! It was so hard to juggle the desire to capture every candid moment I could for my friend, while also wanting to be present and enjoy every moment. I focused on guys getting ready photos, followed by their group photos with the groom, the bride and groom photos, the family photos (while my associate did candids of guests), and I took a couple of side angle shots of speeches and dances. After my associate left, I put my camera away and danced my heart out! Don’t try to do it all.
BE PREPARED TO EDIT WAY MORE PHOTOS THAN MOST WEDDINGS
Because you’ll know more people than usual, you’ll want to include all the precious moments you were there for that you sometimes miss as a photographer. Also, since more guests knew me as well, I also had way more requests for photos than I usually do so it was fun but also surprising at how those photos added up in the final culled selection of photos.
And that’s it! Trust me. It might seem overwhelming, but if I can be both a photographer and bridesmaid for a day, so can you! In the end, it was such an HONOR and special experience.
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