FAQ Friday: What A Photographer Should Wear to a Wedding

Q: "What should a photographer wear when photographing a wedding?"A: I never thought I'd be blogging about this, but this topic appeared in both a Flickr forum and a MySpace photography forum yesterday, so apparently it's something people want to know/are discussing.My first reaction was, "Anyone with any common sense would wear..." but then when I thought about it, I recalled that there was a time in not-too-recent yesteryears when I was going to weddings "dressed down" as far as my current standards are concerned: khaki slacks and a cute tank top! Not a tee and jeans, but not exactly something appropriate for the Ritz, either (thank heavens I never shot at the Ritz back then!).

Nowadays, I wear a short-sleeved dark top that isn't too revealing and is lightweight (polyester & spandex), or a dark button-down 3/4 sleeve bouse. I have other "backup" dressy attire in case I have to photograph another wedding before my preferred shirt is cleaned. That's the catch about having "working professional" clothes: you either have to have them dry cleaned after every wedding, or wash them separately by hand or on a special setting in your washer.I also own two pairs of black, polyester slacks. I used to wear a black belt as well, but I just recently started using a blue silk one because I think it looks more stylish and classy....I figure I can't be faulted for "something blue!" I never wear a skirt or dress since I am constantly bending over, squatting, standing on chairs and stools, or heaven forfend...running. I don't want to have to worry about a breeze flipping up my skirt or getting snagged on something.I wear black socks and a pair of black shoes which I purchased specifically for comfort.I also have a black professional-looking jacket that I bring with me in case I happen to get stuck outside at night, or it gets cold.In addition to all this, I make sure I do my hair up and semi-nicely, and bobby pin areas that most easily come loose because I know I will be getting sweaty and frazzled. Ultimately, it's far better to be overdressed and have people think you are a class act and professional, than be underdressed and wind up with someone complaining about your shoddy appearance later on. Think of it this way:Wedding guest: "Have you seen how overdressed the photographer is?"(This is merely a COMMENT)Wedding guest: "That photographer is kind of underdressed, don't you think?"(This is a CRITICISM! You don't want that!)Obviously there are exceptions, the most common of which are themed weddings. If a bride and groom are having a Western/cowboy themed wedding, for example, use your own good judgment; If they INSIST that you show up in overalls and a flannel shirt, then you definitely do it! This is because brides that insist on something specific from you will also insist that her guests adhere to the theme as well. If, however, the bride and groom merely SUGGEST that you show up in jeans and a cowboy hat, throw that idea straight out the window and show up in your normal, formal/semi-formal wedding attire (thought they might appreciate a Western-looking belt buckle or small detail like that). The reason behind this is if they tell you, "It's cowboy-themed, so wear jeans if you want to," then chances are they are telling the same thing to their guests, and not ENFORCING the theme. Their guests will either forget about it or decide not to wear anything casual. They will all show up in regular semi-formal wedding attire and then you'll be the only one underdressed!So when in doubt, DRESS UP!