How to…Dress as a Wedding Photographer

After such a great response to last weekend’s post about How to Dress as a Wedding Guest, I got thinking about how I could expand this mini-series. I had a few photographers in the comments asking if I had any tips of how they should dress to shoot weddings. Now clearly I’m not a wedding photographer myself so I thought instead of trying to guess my way through answering this question, I’d ask some of my favourite photographers to share an outfit they might typically wear to shoot a wedding.

Here’s what I learnt from the girls…

♥ Pockets are important – for memory card, lip balm, run sheets, your mobile phone etc.

♥ Comfy shoes are a must. Heels are to be worn with caution.

♥ Layers are great for changing weather (especially for the UK I’d imagine!)

♥ If wearing a dress that tights or leggings are often donned to avoid any embarrassing knicker flashing when getting into awkward positions to get that shot.

♥ It’s important to make a bit of an effort. As Chloe Browne put it, “I like to look smart and I think it’s good for my clients to see that I’m not “coming to work”, but that I’m going to their wedding. It’s also really important for me to feel like I fit in and it’s often something that my clients bring up at their first meeting, so I know it’s important to them too.” You don’t want to look like the ‘staff’ but similarly not like a guest…

♥ Dark colours are preferable as they are less likely to show up the dirt (again, after getting in all those funny positions!) but the most important thing is that an outfit is comfortable, doesn’t crease (again, when getting into all those funny positions) and is easy to clean.

♥ You need to find the balance between something that’s not too expensive (it’s likely to get ruined!) or too cheap (no one wants to look cheap or have their clothes falling apart mid-wedding.)

♥ Pretty accessories are usually kept to a minimum so not to get in the way, however some bits of  ‘flair’ can be great for distracting children when doing the group shots!

♥ Camera bags don’t have to be ugly to be practical.

♥ Waverley dress
Reiss, £97

♥ Double breasted linen jacket
Zara, £49.99

♥ Gallic Knot Sandals
Monsoon, £28

♥ Megan Orange Butterflies Headband
Kaang on Etsy, $20

♥ Shootsac lens bag
Shootsac, $179

♥ Waisted Dress with Scallop Collar
ASOS, £25.00

♥ Sketchers Shape-ups
Sketchers, $85

♥ Navy polka dot alice band
River Island, £4

♥ Kelly Moore classic camera bag in grey
Kelly Moore Bag, $199

♥ ‘Pearl Lowe’ Butterfly Dress
Peacocks, £20

♥ Swedish Hasbeens
H&M, $59.95

♥ 3/4 length shrunken blazer
Topshop, £55

♥ A4 Barbara Wiggins Metallic Document Wallet
Newsroom Online, £59.99

♥ Pieces Donna Leather Travel Bag
ASOS, £130

♥ Maisy flower, ‘Erin’ top
Joules, £59.95

♥ Mindy bow loafer flats
Schuh, £65

♥ Flower stitch cardigan
Boden, £40

♥ Autograph Weekend Ankle Length Leggings
Marks & Spencer, £12

♥ Lowepro Classified 250 AW Black Camera Bag
Park Cameras, £99.99

♥ Caramel printed tie blouse
Phase Eight at Debenhams,  £26

♥ Navy roll top palazzo trousers
River Island, £19.99

♥ Brown lace up brogue shoes
River Island,  £26.99

♥ Snake Ring
Thomas Sabo at Rockoko Jewellery, £159

♥  ♥  ♥

“But hang on! What about the boys” I hear you cry…Well fret not, I haven’t forgotten you lot…

Here’s what the boys had to say…

♥ Boys worry more than girls – particularly about sweating! As Matt Miller told me, “Well here is the nasty truth. I wish I was thinner. I wish I was more in shape. I wish I wasn’t bald. I wish I wasn’t constantly sweating. I wish I could keep a shirt tucked in. I wish I didn’t turn bright red as soon as I stepped into the sun…but I work with what I got. I’m a fat bearded bald tattooed sweaty mess.” (ps does anyone kinda love Matt a little but more now? Yeah me too…)

♥ Practical is key and no matter how cool your new trousers are, splitting them mid ceremony because they were a little bit too tight is not a good look. Ever. A little bit of stretch is awesome.

♥ Boys like black and they like to blend in a bit more than the girls.

♥ Looking cool is important too. Weddings can be quite a girlie occasion and the boys want to show they’re still boys! As Matt Miller said about his Kelly boy bag “It’s 100% vegan and looks tuff and leathery. Mine is the mustard color so I can spot it among all the DJ’s & the random photo bags I bring. Although my assistant Meghan thinks it looks like a diaper bag, I think its awesome. It fits 4 lenses and plenty of space for  papers, and other photo related goodies…and when I’m traveling it fits my 15 inch Macbook Pro and stuff.”

♥ If they do wear a shirt, finding the right one is key – it mustn’t look like a school shirt.

♥ If wearing a tie, then a tie clip is a must. It stops it getting in the way. As Adam Bronkhorst says, “It helps keep the tie in place, and stops it flapping all over the place, falling over my shoulder or looking skewif. It also is a bit of man jewellery and adds a nice finishing touch to the outfit…God I sound like Gok Wan .”

♥ Champion Double Dry® Men’s Solid-Color Polo Shirt
Champion USA, $36

♥ C9 by Champion Golf Pant
Target, $29.99

♥ Vans Athletic core classics
Zappos, $45

♥ Kelly boy bag, mustard
Kelly Moore Bags, $199

♥ Jeff Banks herringbone long sleeved shirt
Debenhams, £24

♥ Cinzato trousers
Zara, £39.99

♥ Desert Boots
Clarks, £79

♥ Black silk texture tie
Topman, £16

♥ Tie clip
Austin Reed, £15

♥  ♥  ♥

Fun huh? Are there any areas of ‘wedding fashion’ you’d like me to cover next? Boy guests? The Mother of the Bride? As always, let me know in the comments section!

Thanks to all the photographers who contributed to this post – Chloe of Caught the Light Photography, Shell de Mar, Joanna Brown, Lisa Devlin, Sassy of Assassynation, Matt Miller of Our Labor of Love & Adam Bronkhorst of Viva Photography.

63 comments

  1. I have been shooting for three years and STILL ask myself “what am I wearing today”? Lately I’ve been sticking to some nice black slacks, black TOMS, my black polka dot top with a red belt for a bit of pop. I generally mix it up and will switch out the polka dot top for something else that still has that little retro flair, and I always get compliments from the ladies 🙂 It may be a little bright with the red, but only compliments, no complains yet!

    Thanks for this post! None or my style but I am very tempted to put together some new outfits 🙂

  2. Kellpops

    Really enjoying this series! Would love to see a pregnant wedding guest how to dress! I may have a bump but I’m still sassy and sexy! And I don’t want to look like a sack of potatoes…. 🙂

  3. Yay, you did one! I’m taking notes.

    I tend to go darker and less flowery than some of the female photographers shown here, I feel too much like a guest if I wear a soft dress…

  4. I personally find it has to be pretty, smart and most of all hard wearing, especially around the chest/shoulder area. I had a blouse rip on me at my last wedding and expose a bra strap. Embarrassing. The layers tip is also very true, like most togs I get very hot whilst shooting, even if there is snow on the ground, but then you need to cover up & warm up during the down times.

    I used to wear lots of black when shooting a wedding, now I am more navy with a accent colour.

  5. Great post and i think it can be used for wedding planners as well. we need to be practical, but still look like a wedding guest when needs be. flats are also a must xxx

  6. Laura M

    I would love to wear flats but I’m only 5’2 tall 🙁 Any tips for very short photographers? lol!

  7. When I am shooting weddings I tend to weat a smart black or dark grey dress smart dress (Karen Millen and River Island do some nice ones that aren’t too stuffy), black tights and some cute flats and a nice hair flower / fascinator in my hair (I’m luky to have a friend who is a milliner who made me a really cute one with a purple flower). If the weather is sunny I’ll bring a nice cream cardie. I tend to avoid too many florals / light colours as I don’t want to be mistaken for a guest.

    I dont find that I get too warm ever – but I guess it’s Scotland where I am!

    I have a few tatoos on my legs and one at the top of my arm and I tend to keep them covered up as I think it’s importaint to have a professional image especially for a wedding.

    I have a large black backpack with padded straps for all my gear. I noermally have 2 slrs and a zoom lens on each.

    xx

  8. I would strongly advise all photographers to NEVER put a memory card in your pocket as suggested above!! So dangerous – always make sure to put a memory card in a ZIPPED compartment on yourself or in your bag.

    Also, if I were to wear short jean shorts to photograph a wedding (as shown in the first image) I think the door would be slammed on my face when I arrived! I had a super casual fun wedding but if my photographer wore jean shorts I would have been horrified!!

    Otherwise, some cute ideas there!

    h.

  9. Post author

    Heather – its the jacket in that picture we were referring to.if u read underneath you’ll see links to the items we are talking about

  10. Love the article. It is also very helpful for people in other areas of the wedding industry. I work in Stationery. I found it very helpful. Thanks and keep it coming!

    Marcus

  11. Great post. The problem with boys is that wearing black with a white shirt is that they can’t help looking like a waiter. If they wear all black they look like the dj’s assistant! Can’t win.

  12. Ellie

    Great post Kat – your blog is just as much inspiration for the RocknRoll photographers as it is for the brides!!!

    Plus …I can never understand why photographers do themselves a disjustice by making comments on your posts that make it seem like they just nitpick at any little thing they can think off – not a great tactic for social networking I must say!
    x

  13. Will I get flogged if I post something now? 😉

    I like many of these outfits, even if I’d look like an elephant in a dress, but with leggings it might possible to shoot and not “show the box” when I crouch, lay on the ground, etc. Love the color schemes, as I hate black, so believe it or not… I like this post. Well done yous who picked out this outfits. 😀

  14. I agree tie clips are essential! I also sacrifice a little quality for washable suits in dark grey or dark blue. Saves a fortune in dry cleaning bills and the colours keep you in the background whilst not looking like a waiter. Do all guy photographers wear suits to weddings? I didnt even think of not doing but recently seen a few, really good photographers, going more casual?

  15. I actually love most of what was put together. I am picky about what shoes I wear tho, they have to be very comfortable. When shooting weddngs, I do tend to dress girly, and often wear legging with a short dress.

    Just as Petra said, I too like to be able to climb up or crawl on the ground, but I like clothes too much to just wear boring black slacks and top. One thing I couldn’t stand, would be to wear a structured jacket. I have too much gear I’m lugging so I have to take that into account as well. I do like to dress to blend into the back ground, yet look fashionable and professional. I avoid wearing what may be the wedding colours, I don’t want to colour coordinate with the bridesmaids,, lol.

    For my male counterpart, I don’t the look at a formal event of a man in a short sleeve polo style shirt,, I prefer dark longsleeved dress shirts with black trousers. Smart, but without a jacket, as he’s going to do alot more climbing and crawling than I do, (and instead of me if I’m being honest, lol). The only time he’s worn short sleeved shirts, is for the vintage themed weddings we have done, where there was a requested dress code of ‘1950’s style, which we both love doing. He’s got some great bowling shirts (think Charlie of ‘2 and a half men’) whereas I get to break out the VoH dresses.

  16. Mark, was posting as you did. My male partner wears dark (black, charcoal, etc) but rarely a jacket. He’s quite active and wearing a jacket would be miserable for him. I do see some wearing jackets however, but I think they tend to be more of the traditional types. Only once have we had a client request he wear a jacket,, which he removed at the reception just as the other men did.

  17. jacqui

    It is always a dilema !

    I’m only 5ft 2in & find wedges are better than proper heels to give a much needed inch or 2 ( & I always have a little fold up step stool from Argos with me ! )

  18. I always wear a dress and leggings. And accessorise with a headband to make it look prettier. I usually go for black, but I think I may change to navy for next year, as it’s a bit less funereal than black! My style is most like Chloe’s/Shell’s I think, going on the above, but I wish I could get away with the pretty dresses that Jo and Lisa have linked to – unfortunately, I end up covered in dirt and grime after a long day and would look like a dishcloth in those gorgeous dresses!

  19. Those teeny shorts are totally inappropriate dress for a wedding photographer. And I *do* like to dress as a guest. You blend in better!

  20. Haha this is totally brilliant – you can play ‘What wedding photographer do I dress most like!’. I am usually Sassy from Asassynation, with the odd dabble into Lisa Devlin. That sounds stranger than its supposed to.

    Well done again Kat!

  21. First off I always ask the couple what they would like me to wear, especially if it is themed, do they want me to join in ???, I prefer to wear smart casual, as I get hot real quick so that also means wearing dark clothes, the Matt Miller clothes look perfect absolutely love the bag, I have lots of man bags in black and brown.

  22. Yesterday I was at a wedding. I crept around the church within the priest’s restrictions and without attracting attention; I climbed through thistles to get a beautiful shot of a couple by a windmill; I tramped down some nettles so the bride could walk through to a field where I was up to my knees in corn for another shot. I did all this in a flowery dress, leggings, a cardie and flat shoes. I had lip balm and my shot list in the pockets. I didn’t flash my knickers once and I loved it all.

  23. Aaah. Realised shorts were not what you were suggesting! Sorry :). For tomorrows wedding am wearing black dress with silk pink jacket.

  24. Interesting! Seriously Kat, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (mainly because I’m looking for new wedding photography shoes)! It’s one of those very personal but super important issues that’s rarely discussed! I always wore a suit because every wedding I’d been to as a guest, that’s how the wedding photographers dressed. I don’t know if anyone else has certain things they wear to meet a bride and groom to be who are prospective clients?

  25. Ellie

    This is a great post. I’m a wedding photographer just starting out and I wonder this before every wedding, especially since my day job is in the fashion industry.

    I have to say that the palazzo pant trend has been amazing. Those babies are super practical.

  26. Helen Lisk

    Brilliant! I have been dying to post this question in various photography forums but worried about looking ridiculous – thank you for spelling it out. I am now happy that my black dress and leggings (accessorised with beautiful bright things) is perfectly fine – doesn’t offend any wedding couple and lets me crawl around endlessly without any unfortunate flashing. Although I might go hunting for a nice floral one in the summer sales… Thanks Kat!

  27. David – I may book you for my wedding on that sole 70s-teacher look reason 🙂
    I wear a smart trouser suit mostly but I am thinking of going more girlie. Those dresses are gorgeous so I’m going to hit the shops this week.
    Thanks Kat

  28. A feature on Mother of Bride would be awesomr, particularly for mums who don’t feel right in the traditional shift/blazer/big hat combo. My poor mum has been second-guessing her outfit for my big day (gorgeous, Cavalli-esque maxi dress with vintage hair clip and purse) because she can’t find any online resources that strays from the norm for mothers.

  29. Just to stress: I don’t wear denim shorts to weddings! It’s the jacket. That’s not my entire outfit. I wear the dress next to it.

    Great post, Kat. I love Lisa & Jo’s outfits of course & I can just imagine that little ray of sunshine, Shella running around in those shoes!

  30. Becky Boopy

    Could you cover mother of the bride pretty pretty please Kat?

    My mums been searching for a while now for something for our wedding next year at Chester Zoo. Shes 54 and thinks everything she finds is either too young or too old : (

    Thank yoooooooou!

  31. I have a black linen shift dress from Jigsaw which I wear with low Mary Janes and a cream cardigan. For tonight’s job, though, I’m planning to wear black pallazo trousers and a pale blue satin top.

    Great post, Kat. x

  32. Really interesting take on a very key subject for us! whereas all the outfits shown are gorgoeous, some of the dresses are definitely too short for practicality – at least for me, as I shoot high and low and end up on the floor (intentionally) a lot of the time! I also often do the pretty top / dress with leggings underneath. A high scoop on the top is essential – there’s nothing worse than leaning over to take a shot and finding that you’re unintentionally the subject of interest, for all the wrong reasons, by lecherous wedding guests!

    Breathable fabrics are a must, really. Nothing worse than looking hot and sweaty whilst you’re attempting to give off the ‘consummate professional’ air 🙂

  33. Additionally, I wouldn’t recommend sandals 🙂 Really just because of dancefloor antics 😉 SMASH goes your toes by all the ladies heels and the gentlemans fancy shoes.

  34. Kat,

    You are great at voicing the little but important concerns of all things to do with weddings. What to wear as the wedding photographer has been constantly baffling for me. I recently seen myself in a photograph while in action, OMG! A shapeless vision in black. So, I am inspired by your piece to go shopping!

    Well, is it not a legit business expense?

  35. Excellent mini series idea!! Do I stand alone in thinking logo tees for any wedding vendor is the worst idea ever (at the actual event)??? Can we make a DON’T post? ;))

  36. I would never wear, or allow anyone working for me to wear a shirt with a logo of my company on it. Just not my style, and not how I want to be represented. So that is a definately ‘Not’,, lol.

    I have to agree with Heather about sandals, I don’t think my feet would do well on an average wedding day of approx 9 hours. With exception. When I’ve photographed destination weddings in the US during the summer (very hot climate!) or in other very hot climages like Cyprus, I wear the dressy version of crocs, which look like little dressy sandals or mary jane’s. We rarely sit during a 9 hour or so day, so foot comfort is a prime concern for me. Clarks or Dansko’s are my footwear of choice. Even for my own wedding, I wore trainers, lol. Way before it was cool to do so 😉

  37. Have to second Ellie on the palazzo pants, especially if it is hot.

    An Audrey Hepburn style pair of cigarette pants / cropped smart trousers with brouges or smart ballet flats can also be good.

    I think its important not to look too businessy, what we do is a creative job after all!

    Claire

  38. Thank you so much for this post Kat – I love it ! As I don’t do trousers & only wear dresses, I’m relived to read how many female photographers wear leggings – as I’m always struggling to find dresses long enough to cover my dignity when crouching or bending, when I don’t want to wear thick tights in the summer. I was worried leggings might look to casual but it appears not – phew !

  39. Ha ha a great post on outfits, may I stress that I roll around on the ground a lot at weddings but that does not mean that I have to dress in a dark colour, I find a patterned dress hides dust and dirt way better and then when I come home it is in the washing machine and hey presto…. if you photograph with flair then why not dress with a bit of flair…

  40. Thanks Kat, this is a brilliant post. I usually feel I’m way too ‘worky’ when I shoot weddings and then had loads of compliments recently when I wore an actual *dress* (gasp!) to a wedding. Only way forward for me now – plus it’s way more comfortable! Bit lacking on pockets though…so loving the look of Chloe’s Waverley Dress. Thanks!

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