What to Wear Working in Wedding Photography

As a wedding photographer, your attire communicates volumes about your business, from yours sales presentation all the way to the tossing of the bouquet.  Proper attention to your wardrobe can help book an event and turn a wedding into a golden marketing opportunity while a slovenly appearance will detract not only from your business but, most importantly, from the couple's happy day.

Before the Wedding

Couples are increasingly booking photographers at a distance, and it is not uncommon for a sales presentation to occur via phone or email.  However, most couples will want to meet in person at least once, and a professional appearance is essential. 

Business casual is acceptable for sales interviews, particularly because so many couples only have time to meet on the weekend, but poor grooming or a messy appearance can subtly send the message that you don't value their time and, subsequently, their business.  Also bear in mind that the bride and groom are looking for a professional, but also for someone creative,  so plan your outfit and accessories appropriately.

You may - and should - also meet with the couple at their venue, and being well-dressed can help you make a positive impression on the manager of the banquet hall or club. 

The Rehearsal

Attending the rehearsal gives you an overview of the main event and is an excellent way to prepare for the wedding. 

However, while rehearsals are much more relaxed than the wedding, they usually precede a rehearsal dinner that can be somewhat dressy. The families and bridal party will very likely be nicely dressed and nervous, and you should plan your attire with that in mind. Your appearance at this part of the event is as important as your attire on the big day. You want to confirm the bride and groom's impression of you as a professional.

Again, business casual is a good choice, displaying respect for the family while not making you the center of attention.

The Main Event

Since the 1980s, wedding attire for guests has become much more flexible, but you should err on the side of caution and follow a few guidelines:

  • ONLY the bride should wear white. 
  • Do not wear jeans or any clothes that look worn or stained, regardless of how casual the wedding is.
  • Black was once unacceptable, but it is now more common and a good option for photographers. It allows you to blend in and works well at either formal or casual events.
  • Dress pants are acceptable for women in most situations, but a dress may be more appropriate for black or white tie affairs. If in doubt, call the manager of the reception venue for suggestions.
  • Avoid fussy outfits, clunky accessories, or (for women) high heels or anything that will weigh you down or distract you from your job.  Your camera and equipment will feel amply heavy by the end of the evening.

Finally, the "big day" is about the bride and groom. You are there as a professional, but also as a guest, and your attire should remind them that you take that privilege seriously. Showing respect for the family and their event will endear you to your client, cementing a relationship that will bring you their repeat business and recommendations.

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