The Bridesmaid-Photographer: How to Shoot a Wedding…And Be In It
Once upon a time, one of my dearest friends in the whole world asked me to be in her wedding. Saying yes to being a bridesmaid in Megan and Jay’s Michigan winter wedding was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. Then, Megan asked me another question – if I would also do double duty as her wedding photographer. My initial gut reaction was to excitedly say yes, but then my logistical side started panicking. Was it even remotely possible to be a photographer AND a bridesmaid??
Well, I’m here to tell you, the answer is YES, it’s 100% possible. And you can do it too. I’m going to walk you through this wedding as a bridesmaid-photographer: how I planned for the day, how I hired two second shooters, how I managed the craziness day-of, and if I’d ever do it again (the answer is of course, yes!). While it was hands down one of the busiest wedding days I’ve ever shot, it was such a joy to get to stand by my friend’s side and also behind a camera at the same time. Here’s how you can do it too.
Before the day:
Before the wedding day, you need to get yourself a team to help you, because if you’re gonna be a bridesmaid-photog, the one thing you can’t do is do it alone. I hopped on Honeybook (photographers, if you aren’t on Honeybook, hop on this link and sign up NOW. It’ll change your life. Pinky promise.) and I put out a request for photographers local to Grand Rapids/Muskegon. Once I got interest, I looked over their portfolios, I chatted with potential photographers, and (here’s the key), I picked the two that I thought would best fulfill the following: 1. take beautiful pictures, 2. be able to photograph without my direction and leading at every second, 3. who would support me in wanting to be fully present as a bridesmaid in some moments and also wanting to be lead photographer and creatively direct in other moments, AND finally (and most importantly) 4. they would reflect my brand not only in their work but in their disposition on the wedding day. I wanted someone who would not only be able to work independently to take quality photos, but who would be encouraging and joyful and supportive on the wedding day as well.
Well, let me say, I was beyond blessed because Becka and Jill did all that and so. much. more. These two women were powerhouses and the only reason I was able to be a bridesmaid-photographer is because I had them behind me. I had them sign second shooter contracts, and then I sent them a very very veryyyy detailed timeline that had a different column for each of us that detailed what each of us would be doing at every moment of the day. This allowed me to specify when I wanted to be “on” as a photographer, or slip fully into my bridesmaid role, and this helped the day run SO smoothly. (Plus, Becka and Jill were incredible, so that made all the difference in the world).
On the wedding day:
Honestly, the biggest piece of advice I could possibly give is on the wedding day seriously just RELAX. I about stressed Megan out of her mind by running around trying to be a full-time photographer and full-time bridesmaid. Once I took a breath and trusted Becka and Jill to cover the things I was missing, I was able to be a supportive and present bridesmaid, and a fun, not-stressed-out photographer (which are both good things to be *winky face*).
The wedding day went flawlessly, we followed the timeline, I got to shoot my little heart out while also wearing a cute dress and holding a stunning bouquet next to my precious friend who got to say yes to forever with the man of her dreams. It was the best day. Really truly.
All that to say…
…if you ever have the chance to be a bridesmaid-photographer (or groomsman-photographer), DO IT. It’s the best of both worlds in every single way. Plan, plan, plan, and set yourself up for success, then take a deep breath and enjoy the day, getting to capture memories while standing by your friend’s side.
You’ve totally got this – now, just don’t forget to breathe 😉
Catherine Milliron is an Ohio wedding and engagement photographer specializing in capturing life’s most special moments in the form of intimate, light-filled, and joyful images. If you are looking for a wedding photographer in Ohio or beyond, I would love to chat! Grab a cup of coffee, browse my website for an idea of what a session or wedding day with me is like, and then get in touch for more information and we can start planning to how we will capture your moments as I celebrate alongside you on your special day!