Not sure what the heck to wear to your upcoming wedding?! Here are a few tips to being comfortable, classy and professional on wedding days!
Congratulations! You’ve booked a wedding and are actively practicing and preparing for your (and the bride and groom, or bride and bride, or groom and groom’s) big day! There is obviously a ton of prep work that goes into a successful day as a wedding photographer. But one thing that might be easily overlooked in all of your preparation and planning is “what should a photographer wear to a wedding?”. Don’t make the mistake of doing all of the other work to make sure the wedding day goes off without a hitch and then throwing it all out the window by showing up in an outfit that either 1) makes your job more difficult than it has to be or worse, 2) an outfit that makes you look totally unprofessional.
Professionalism and Branding
No matter what type of session you’re photographing, it’s important to remember that you are not only presenting yourself as an individual photographer but are also representing your personal brand as a reputable business. At a wedding, this is especially important because not only are you working with the bride & groom, but the entire guest list will likely be interacting with you at one point or another – talk about a great opportunity for potential word of mouth referrals!! In another chapter of my career journey, I worked for The Walt Disney Company, one of the most reputable and recognizable brands in the entire world. It was there I learned that no matter where my career path would lead me, branding and professionalism were skills that I could carry with me absolutely everywhere.
So how does that translate to what should a photographer wear to a wedding? It means that you should be wearing an outfit that not only looks well put-together and professional but allows you to do your job well and not miss any shots. If you are wearing clothing that is too stylish, or too tight, or too revealing, it could really put yourself in a pickle when it comes times to get any of those photos that aren’t shot at eye level – and yes, this goes for both male and female photographers.
What Should a Photographer Wear to a Wedding (as the Primary/Lead Photographer)?
If you are covering a wedding as a Primary/Lead photographer, you have the flexibility to determine how you want to represent your brand and what will fit best with the style of the wedding. Obviously, you’re not going to want to show up in something too casual to a black tie wedding and you’re not going to want to show up in something too formal at a much more casual wedding.
For women, one of the most common wardrobe choices is a knee-length cocktail dress with some sort of spandex shorts underneath. This allows you to look put together, presentable, and professional, but also have the maneuverability for any shot. Another classic option is dress pants with a nice blouse. Other options include a long skirt with a nice blouse or even a one-piece pantsuit with either a cardigan or blazer.
For men, as per usual in the wardrobe department, they have it pretty easy when it comes to selecting appropriate attire as a wedding photographer. Nice dress pants and a clean and pressed button-up shirt are the easiest foundation. Then depending on the formality of the wedding, you can add a tie or bowtie and/or a blazer or sports coat.
As a Primary/Lead Photographer, you have the ability to set some parameters and requests regarding the wardrobe choices of your Second Shooters and Assistants. Remember that whatever you select does reflect you and your brand so it is important to communicate your expectations with your other photographers.
What Should a Photographer Wear to a Wedding (as the Secondary Photographer/Assistant)?
Many established wedding photographers who regularly work with Seconds and Assistants have their program pretty dialed in and will often assign a “uniform” for the day – something that can easily identify you as a photographer, but not something that would identify you as a member of the service staff. A “go-to” for many second shooting gigs is black dress pants paired with a nice blouse. Some Primary/Lead Photographers might ask for a black blouse/top so that you don’t stand out in a videographer’s shot. Others may ask for a neutral color like cream, beige, or grey. Some even ask that their second shooters wear white in order to act as a reflector if necessary. However, the very best thing to do as a Second or Assistant is consult your Primary/Lead photographer regarding their preferred wardrobe selection for the big day. That way you are both on the same page and you will be prepared to represent the Primary’s brand in the most professional way possible. Remember that as a secondary photographer or assistant, you are hired to be an extension of someone else’s brand. How you dress will not only be a direct reflection of you, but a reflection of the Primary Photographer and his/her business. If you want to continue getting hired and recommended for other similar positions, it is important to be cognizant of how you are presenting yourself before/during/after the wedding. Of course, being able to take great photographs is equally as important, but looking the part will be a huge component of making you out to be the one that photographers want to hire and one that other photographers can trust when it comes to representing their brands.
Regardless of if you are the Primary/Lead Photographer or the Secondary Photographer or the Assistant, the most important things to consider when selecting what to wear as a wedding photographer are: 1) does the ensemble make you look presentable and professional? 2) does it represent your brand? 3) does it allow you to get all of your shots to ensure that you have a happy client? Using these tips, you can ensure that you show up to the wedding not only prepared from a technical standpoint but looking sharp as an extension of your brand. As long as you’re not wearing something that could get you turned into a “What Not To Wear”/“Fashion Faux Pas” meme, you should be good to go!
Bonus Tip: Remember, that as a wedding photographer, you’re on your feet for very long periods of time – that means WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. While you want to look presentable and professional, definitely do not go for your most trendy pair of shoes in your closet (unless of course, you can comfortably stand in them for 8+ hours). Believe me, your feet will thank you!