Got a wedding coming up? Wondering what to wear? We’re here to help! We’ve never considered ourselves fashion gurus by any means (and never will!) but after photographing over 100 weddings, we’ve learned a thing or two about what to wear to a wedding as wedding photographers.
When we’re deciding what to wear to photograph weddings, we have two main goals:
1. Establish professionalism, respect and value visually through our clothes
2. Be as comfortable as possible while doing it (because shooting a wedding is like an Olympic sport!)
If we want people to invest in us, we need to look like we’re worth investing in.
You might be thinking, I’m just the photographer! Who cares what I look like? Shouldn’t I just wear all black and call it a day? But here’s the thing: whether we like it or not, society as a whole really DOES judge a book by it’s cover, and what you’re wearing while you work matters. It’s why people don’t wear sweatpants and flip flops to a job interview. It’s why the waitstaff at fancy restaurants wear ties. It’s why lawyers wear a suit in court.
What we wear makes a statement about who we are and the kind of value we bring.
That’s why we started dressing like we belonged at high-end weddings long before we ever photographed a high-end wedding. We knew we were going to have to dress for the job we wanted and make a great first impression on everyone we met. If we ever wanted to shoot a black-tie wedding at The Four Seasons, we needed to start dressing like we belonged there.
We’ve also noticed that everyone we interact with on a wedding day responds to us in a more positive way when we’re dressed up. Our clothes help us say that we take our job seriously, respect our couple and their wedding day and that we care about the work we’re doing without us ever having to say a word. In turn, our clothes help us gain that same respect back from everyone around us.
Bridal party, family members, guests and even venue staff tend to look at us more like professionals with personal identities than run-of-the-mill hired help. Instead of bridesmaids saying “The photographer wants us to go over here…” they’re more likely to say “Amy wants us to go over here!” and while that might seem like such a small change, it actually makes a big difference. People are more likely to agree to walk farther to get to “the good light,” or wait an extra five minutes in the heat when we ask them to, which in turn, helps us serve our clients better by creating higher quality images for them.
Dress for luxury weddings without paying luxury prices
Right about now you might be thinking, Well, shoot, Amy and Jordan, dressing nice can get expensive fast! I don’t want to spend that kind of money! But never fear, we have a whole different blog post for that! We’re so with you.
We LOVE a good bargain. When we started photographing weddings, we were living on one teacher’s salary, so we came up with all kinds of tricks to make our dollars stretch further. One of our favorite ways to do this is shopping curated consignment. Almost every single dress, skirt, pair of pants, suit, and even tie we wear to weddings we bought from a curated consignment shop.
You can read all about our approach to that here.
If you need a quick online resource for second-hand clothes, we LOVE Thred Up! Their inventory updates daily and their search functionality is so great! You can even narrow by brand! So with a few clicks you can say “Show me all the black Banana Republic dresses in my size,” and BOOM, there you go! $120 dress for $24! Even though shopping local stores in person is our favorite, Thred Up is so convenient and such a big time saver!
Almost everything we mention throughout the rest of this post, we bought second-hand.
What to Wear
Now that you know all our “whys” for the way we dress on wedding days, we wanted to get as specific as we can to help anyone looking to add to their wedding day wardrobes. Since we buy almost all of our wedding day cl0thes second hand, there aren’t any direct links we can send you to, so instead we thought we’d share the things we look for, starting with the ladies.
Dresses or Skirts
– Neutral or muted colors
Every dress Amy wears is either black, grey or beige. We don’t want anything too bold (like a bright red, for example) that screams “Hey! Look at me!” because it’s not our day. We want all the attention to stay where it should, on our beautiful bride.
– Have a little stretch or “give” in the fabric
You never know exactly what you’re going to be handed on a wedding day, but you CAN expect to squat, bend, kneel, lunge. Make sure the fabric of the dresses you choose allow you to do that.
– Necklines not too low and hemlines not too short. Small sleeves preferable.
It’s a good goal to match the type of attire the wedding guests are wearing, but a more professional version. We want everything we wear to be a respectful visual representation that we’re serious about the work we do. Amy always pays attention to the cut of the dress, and never wears dresses with skinny straps or plunge necklines. A good rule of thumb is to think: “Would I be comfortable wearing this in a church?” Especially because you might be!
Big bonus: POCKETS!!
These are harder to find but it feels like winning the lotto when you get one!
A few of Amy’s favorite brands to look for when consignment shopping for dresses are Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft. They both tend to have really cute, comfortable options that meet all of the criteria mentioned above. But a lot of times, her favorite finds are brands she’s never even heard of!
Shoes for Her
Amy has tried a few different shoes over the years, but she always goes back to the same shoe or two. She hunted for a pair of professional-looking ballet flats that have serious soles. Shoes that look nice with a dress, but actually feel more like tennis shoes on the bottom. Kinda like a mullet, but for shoes. Business on top. Party in the back.
Amy usually wears her go-to shooting pairs of shoes from Rothy’s (“The Point” flats in leopard print)! They’ve never given her blisters or rubbed in the wrong places, and even though we’re pretty firm believers that NO shoe will cure the ache that’s bound to occur after working this hard on your feet for ten hours, these have served her well!
Amy will usually add a necklace, a belt or a pair of earrings (sometimes all at once!) to help make her dresses or skirts feel even a little more “dressed up.” She just always makes sure nothing she chooses makes too much of a jingly noise when she walks so she doesn’t draw attention when she’s moving around during the ceremony (or standing in for the first look! HA!)
Dress Shirt and Suit Pants (For Him)
Jordan also buys all his wedding day attire from second hand stores. Retail suits can get expensive fast, so even if he doesn’t always find the exact right size, he can easily have them altered for a lot cheaper than paying full price somewhere else. He also looks for material that has a little stretch or give to it, so that all that squatting, bending, lifting and lunging doesn’t result in a pair of ripped pants. He learned this one the hard way! Now he keeps an extra pair of pants in the car *just in case.*
Vest, Bow Tie or Tie
It’s typically too warm in Arizona for him to keep his suit jacket on (sometimes he doesn’t even bring it!) but a bow tie or tie keeps him looking dressed up (and as cool as possible in the heat!)
If the weather permits, he likes to wear a vest too. It keeps his longer ties in place, and helps keeps him looking dressed up without having to wear a jacket.
His favorite bow tie is one that was gifted to him by one of our awesome brides. It’s made entirely out of wood. The reason it’s become his favorite one to wear to weddings is it has turned out to be a GREAT conversation starter. Groomsmen love it. Family members love it. It gives people something to talk about while transitioning from one set of photos to the next and it just adds a little bit of extra fun.
Like we mentioned, Jordan’s was a gift, but here’s a similar one!
Shoes for Him
Jordan’s go-to shoes are Cole Haan Airs. Like we mentioned before, anytime we can find a shoe that looks professional on top but has Nike technology and comfort (the shoe mullet, if you will) we are SO in!
These shoes have served him so well, he’ll never look for anything else. If there’s one area out of all of these that’s worth paying full retail price for, it’s definitely a good pair of shoes! Wedding photographers put themselves through the physical ringer on wedding days, and even though nothing can fully prevent that inevitable ache in your feet after a 10 hour day, good shoes will definitely help!
So there you have it! Our full run down on what to wear to photograph a wedding! We hope it’s been helpful!