I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that now, or some variant of it. Undoubtedly, at some point during the day of the wedding, I will hear it. It may be a thankful bridesmaid who can’t quite figure out a bustle, a bride thankful that baby wipes are generally good at getting dirt off of hemlines, or a groom that doesn’t know which side the boutonniere is supposed to be pinned on (the left). They always seem so amazed, like I’m some magical fountain of knowledge.
Nope, I’m just a wedding photographer. See, I received my wedding training in three stages.
My sister’s wedding. A big, outdoor fete with a ceremony at a local lake and a backyard reception (7-tier cake and all!). She wore heavy white satin with poofy shoulders and lots of beading, and I wore lime green sequins with a slit up to mid-thigh. Our attire was perhaps not the most fitting for the setting, but she looked beautiful, and I was 17 and capable of pulling off anything with sparkles. That day we learned that it’s always best to make sure that your unity candle has been previously lit, otherwise the wax on the wick mixed with a slight breeze may lead to a slightly embarrassing situation. We also learned that transitions lenses at an outdoor venue can make the bride and/or groom appear to be wearing sunglasses. We learned a lot.
Fast forward several years, and I am the one getting married. This celebration was a lot bigger, and took a crazy amount of planning. We made sure to learn from our mistakes (my unity candles were pre-lit for a few seconds the night before), but we also learned some new stuff. For instance, we thought it was a brilliant idea to have me and all four of my bridesmaids wear dresses that laced up in the back. That reason was simple, lace-up dresses do amazing things for us bigger girls, but the trade off is the time and effort it takes to put the things on! I don’t regret it, though. It was good practice, because I can’t count how many times I have had to show/remind the mom/sister/maid of honor what to do. I’ve even fully laced a dress for a bride whose sister was just feeling overwhelmed by the day.
Another lesson learned happened after I fell. In my dress. On the muddy gravel. Yup, brown spots all over the front of my dress. But my photographer was an amazing woman who happened to carry all kinds of things with her, including baby wipes. Turns out they are pretty good at removing dirt from a wedding dress. Lesson learned. Now I carry an “oh shit! kit” to every wedding I photograph. It contains baby wipes (of course), scissors, thread and needles, safety pins, feminine hygiene products, bandaids, etc. Thankfully I’ve only needed it a couple times, but I’ve been thankful to have it each time it has been necessary. Bottom line, though, is that I was a bride. I’ve been there, done that. And while every wedding is different, I was a researcher and planned my wedding myself. So, I learned a lot about how a wedding is typically going to go. Perhaps I didn’t learn everything, but I learned a lot!
I’m a photographer. My JOB is to pay attention. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t be any good at my job if I didn’t. We are in a unique position to be there from beginning to end, during all the behind-the-scenes moments like signing the license and getting dressed. We’ve seen it. We’ve photographed it. So it’s pretty easy to pass along that knowledge to future brides and grooms. We’ve figured out what works best, and what doesn’t. Are we always 100% right? Probably not. But we have lived weddings for several years now, and we’re happy to share what we know. So don’t be afraid to ask, especially if you don’t have a planner helping you out.
So that’s it. That’s why it seems like I hear “Wow, She knows everything” so often from behind my lens. It’s because, a little bit, I do. (Toot toot! <– that’s me, blowing my own horn.) So if you find yourself wondering about something to do with how your wedding should go, or have a day-of crisis… I’m happy to help when I can. Just ask!