We’ve chosen the venue, and scheduled the date. I know that I want the sun behind the pastor so that my groom doesn’t have to squint at me through the ceremony and my photographer isn’t fighting with the sun. The venue has provided me with great lighting options so I know there will be plenty of ambient light complete with christmas lights twinkling in the background of the photos of me dancing with my new husband.
So now what will I wear? I pour over color schemes on pinterest, ask my bridesmaids for their opinions, and shop for matching dresses. We head to David’s Bridal where I try on dress after dress until I find ‘the one’. It twirls around my legs, there’s enough tulle to dress my entire volleyball team for prom. They talk me into a matching tiara, veil, shoes, garter, stockings, and jewelry.
And everything just gets… lost, in the photos. And I know it’s not my photographer, because the pictures are beautiful! But it’s all white. And it’s all shiny. And I spent the entire day hiking up my dress and pulling my hair out of the beading at the neckline. I have 3 dozen photos of me or my maid of honor yanking on my train.
But that was before I became a photographer…
The thing I stress about wardrobe to families at Christmas photo time, is texture. Texture and complimentary colors. Obviously, this is going to be up to the bride’s taste. If you love bright pink, then you will probably love photos of your girlfriends in hot pink bridesmaids dresses. As a photographer, I can tell you that the images will be much more pleasing to the eye if you put your girls in lots of different shades of pink. People tend to turn into little white heads floating on massive clouds of color when everyone is wearing the same shade. (As a side note, I’m truly sorry. Now that I’ve pointed it out, you are going to see it in pictures everywhere!)
At the last wedding I shot, the bride’s extended family all managed to pick a basic color scheme. Everyone was in soft blues and greens, and the pictures were beautiful. Even if you can just manage to get your immediate family to match a little bit, it will really add an extra something to your family portraits.
This Wedding Party did a great job of choosing a similar style and fabric, but with different cuts and colors. Everyone was comfortable in their dress, they looked stunning together, and nobody spent hundreds of dollars on a dress they’ll never wear again.
The Wedding dress can be a blessing or a burden. Yes, you only wear it once. Yes, you are supposed to look like a princess. But you’re also supposed to be comfortable. There are SO many hundreds of thousands of dresses available, in every shape and size and configuration of tulle and chiffon imaginable. So don’t you think there’s probably a dress that you’ll love that doesn’t make you itch? Or that the train won’t trip you up all night? It’s absolutely worth extra tailoring or tucking or pinning or preparing to make absolutely sure that you’ve done whatever you could to be comfortable during your wedding. You can’t keep your arms elegantly away from your sides all night to eliminate the pinching, you won’t remember to suck in and stick out your but in that silk sheath dress, and at some point you’re going to take off the veil. Do yourself a favor, and pick a dress that you can just exist in. Your photographer can’t do anything about you tugging and fixing and lifting your dress in all of your pictures.
And do the same for your bridal party. It’s easy for the guys… as the night goes on and the ties get loosened, the pictures become more fun. But for ladies… unlaced dresses and loose bows do not pretty pictures make. If your maid of honor freezes all night and ends up in someone’s bright red sweater, you might not love the photo of her kissing you goodbye before you take off for your honeymoon. These seem like crazy little things, but they can make or break some photos of precious moments. I grant you, in 3 decades you will probably laugh about the red sweater… but why not try to be prepared?
Even if you don’t like veils, they add a beautiful element to photos of the bride and groom at a wedding. Shooting you through the veil, looking at your groom from underneath, pulling the veil around both of you as you kiss… it’s camera gold. If you aren’t going to wear one, consider getting a super cheap one at a dollar store or goodwill just to have for photos. I always take one to weddings I’m shooting.
Beware of alcohol. Aside from having to push around groomsmen who’ve had a few too many drinks, I’ve had the extremely difficult task of trying to make a whole wedding party of men who’d been ‘pre-gaming’ all day look like human beings. And not just because they were acting crazy. When people have been drinking, their faces slowly start to turn red. The rate is different for everyone, but it always shows up in photos (especially photos with a flash). Keep this in mind when you’re choosing what to drink while you’re getting ready for the ceremony. A small glass of champagne or a mimosa won’t hurt you, but anything more than that will give you a very different type of glow than the one you’re going for.
Most Makeup artists these days are aware, but you may not be, that you do not need to wear excessive makeup to look nice in pictures. As long as your lips are slightly darker than your face, and your eyes are lined enough to make them pop, you’re good to go. It’s time consuming for me to add makeup to a nice portrait… but nearly impossible to remove it.
If you aren’t really into appearances, or you love the photos of a wedding party all in the exact same color and dress, then just go for it. But if you’re really wanting beautiful portraits and want to make it easy for yourself and your wedding party to be comfortable during your wedding, take the time to make sure it works. Visually and comfortably. And if you need help, ask a wedding planner or email your photographer. Have an open mind and ask an artistic friend. But be ready for them to tell you that hot pink satin with hot pink lipstick is not the way to have a gorgeous wedding party ?