So who gets your attention on the big day? Do you listen to that still small voice in your head, your spider-sense or (heaven forbid) a guest who wasn't even on the guest list? I've been in the wedding photo business a long time. 15 years have gone by in the toss of a garter. There are lots of voices to listen to that inspire creativity and confidence. But what about when it's crunch time? As a lead image creater I find myself in some very sticky situations at times on the day of the event. I think it's smart to listen to a very genuine voice - the voice of the bridesmaids!
I would even venture to say that every good thing I've learned about photographing on the big day has been inspired by the advice of a bridesmaid. She wants the best from you so her friend will look beautiful, and the images will be gorgeous. Here are some things this group has taught me:
1. Pay attention to small detail.
At an early Spring ceremony, I was shooting a wedding ring shot in a rush, which is a cardinal sin. Image makers should slow down to get the best shot. The picture became a beautiful ring shot, well done with bokah blur and tack sharp. As the proud papa, I showed it to one of the bridesmaids who said, "Did you notice the inscription on the inside of his wedding band?" No I missed that..... She said, "The words were very important to the bride." I reshot the image and was thankful for the heads-up.
2. Don't mess with the dress.
These ladies have been around the dress in several settings. They are infatuated with it, in a good way. They see the gown way more than the photographer. At one wedding we were trying to decide where to shoot the dress in a tough location, the maid of honor had a window setting cleaned and ready in advance. It worked for us! Once, there was a blue tag sown inside the dress and I wasn't aware. Yep you guessed it, maid of honor drew our attention to the tag which was so important. Bridesmaids are there when the bride slips into the dress for the first time. The dress is the most important item next to the groom. I think it deserves special attention.
3. Laughter breaks down barriers.
People images are authentic only if the tension is relieved in the face. The bride at one hot summer wedding was really nervous and uptight. We had a hard time getting a relaxed expression from her. What to do? I asked the bridesmaids if any of them knew of any funny stories about the bride. Tell them! They began to talk about stories from their childhood experiences with the bride. Which brought belly laughs and genuine expressions. Saved the day!
My motto - listen to the girls. Some egos are too big. Some professionals feel like they have to know it all to be a professional. I disagree. I think you have to befriend the people who are closest to the bride and that know her best. That's the key to success. Bridesmaids are the voices of reason in chaos. They know the bride better than anyone and they will spot details that could be missed. At many weddings they are crucial. And if I befriend the girl in the purple satin dress, I may get to photograph her becoming a bride in the very near future.