Weddings are all very different. Some are more casual, with the bride and groom wearing less formal clothing, or even a nice pair of jeans! Others are as formal as they come with the bride, groom and bridal party all in tuxedos and designer dresses. The photographer plays a very specific and incredibly important role in the wedding process. Generally speaking, it’s important for the photographer to blend in, but this is accomplished differently for each and every different wedding.
General Dress Code
With regard to wardrobe for the photographer, it’s a very safe bet to say that men should always wear slacks and ladies should also follow in that direction. Don’t ever show up wearing shorts to photograph a wedding. Even if other guests are there wearing shorts, you should still avoid this. Remember that you are a professional and working in a professional role. While your job is not to be the center (or even off-center) of attention, remember that there are potential future clients at the wedding. Anyone looking ahead to another wedding will be taking notice of the logistics, including you. At even more formal weddings, remember that you need to be comfortably dressed, because you are moving around a lot more than anyone else. You aren’t expected to be dressed in a suit, but make certain that you look respectful of the general dress code. A tie is not a necessity, unless they ask you to wear one. At a formal wedding, ladies should wear comfortable, but dressier pants, with a nice top. Men should wear dress pants and either a button-up shirt and sweater, or possibly a button-up shirt and jacket. This allows you to look professionally dressed, but still able to move around comfortably.
Photo Credit: SLR Lounge
Remember also the important concept of being a “fly on the wall.” You want to see everything, but go unnoticed. The wedding is not about you, as you well know, but you have to observe everything and be able to move around freely. This requires a certain degree of blending in. Try to wear more neutral colors or all black and don’t use this as an opportunity to try a wild new look. Be conservatively, but comfortably dressed. Comfort continues to be a driving force, because the photographer is expected to move a lot, and crouching and bending frequently are part of the job. It won’t be hard for people to figure out who you are and what you’re doing because you’re the person holding the camera and doing a lot of moving. But as mentioned before, blending in is essential. The wedding guests are not there to see you and while you’re serving a very important function by preserving the day for posterity, you must still be respectful of the event itself. Part of the reason to avoid wild colors and patterns in your outfit is because you don’t want to distract anyone at all. The click and flash of the camera will be quite enough of that, so don’t let your appearance get in the way even more. Avoid being in a guest’s way and if it’s absolutely necessary, make sure you apologize quietly and get your shot as fast as possible, then move to another location.
Photo Credit: Mary Dougherty
Your shoes are also an important consideration in what you wear. Don’t under any circumstances wear a brand new pair of shoes to photograph a wedding. You won’t be doing your feet any favors to say the least. Because of your need to be on the move, make sure you wear a very comfortable pair of shoes that fits with your outfit. (Don’t wear your yard shoes with dress slacks in other words.) Also, please consider the soles of your shoes. A soft sole is extremely important. Wearing a hard sole shoe will cause a whole lot of extra clicking and clacking and is about the farthest thing from inconspicuous. Rule of thumb is that your movements should be as quiet as a mouse.
Photo Credit: Vogue Magz
These suggestions are general ideas and you should certainly remember to take your cue from your client. If they make a specific reference to what they want you to wear, you should always honor that as best as possible. This is your client’s day of course, and while yours is one of the most important functions at the wedding, you have to remember to be very discreet.