Recently I had the distinct honor of being a groomsman in a close friend’s wedding. It’s a lot of hurry and stand while remembering where to look. The pressure really is more on the two people getting married to remember their lines: “I do.” But as part of the wedding party, you also get the full brunt of posing, smiling and cheesing it up for the wedding photographer.
It is a personal rule of mine to never photograph a friend’s wedding professionally. I’ve turned down a few opportunities simply because if I am going to be at a friend’s wedding, I want to celebrate and honor them, not be working. But, it is sometimes hard to keep your photographer opinions to yourself as you watch another wedding photographer do their job.
So here are six steps to making it through a wedding when you’re not the photographer.
1. Let it go.
The first step to any program, 12 steps or otherwise, is admittance. You’re not the photographer of this wedding. Accept it and move on. You are there to celebrate the union of two people…and maybe take advantage of the open bar.
Let the photographer do their job. You might have opinions on their style. You might even feel they are not doing a good job. But it’s not your place to check up. If the couple getting married have any sense, they probably vetted their photographer and labored over their choice. Trust me, they are more concerned with the photographer than you should ever be.
2. Remember why you are there.
You and your plus one are there to celebrate! Someone in your family, a friend, or a co-worker is getting married. That’s a big deal and they feel you are special enough in their lives to celebrate with them. So clap, cry, cheer, dance and drink, and remember that your role in their wedding day is to love and support them.
3. Leave your camera at home.
Do this for a few reasons. The first is ‘YIPPY you don’t have to work at a wedding!’ You get to actually enjoy it. So keep the work gear at home and bring along the iPhone for selfies and maybe a point-and-shoot if you’re so inclined. Don’t however act as the backup photographer. Stay in your seat and don’t interrupt or bounce around the ceremony. You will be a distraction.
The other reason is the second people know you have decent skills at photography, they will never stop asking you to take pictures of them at the reception. You don’t want to be the backup photographer but you soon will become one when you have 8 smartphones in your hand with a group of friends trying to get just the right shots to post on Instagram. This is a good time to just blend in.
4. Don’t tell the photographer you’re a photographer.
They don’t care. It might lead to some awkward small talk, but they are working. They don’t care that you also are a wedding photographer or a hobbyist. They might want to chat later and share contact info, but in the middle of their workday, they are focused on the wedding and making sure they get the shots. Leave the networking until after the wedding is over.
5. Do as they say, not as they do.
If you are in the wedding, just do what they say. Smile and pose and follow their direction. Don’t improvise or do what you think would make a good pose for a photograph. You might not agree with the photographer or you might have done something differently, and that’s ok. But you’re not there to critique their work. Hopefully they are a fantastic photographer like we had and none of this is an issue.
If you forget everything else above, just remember to smile. If you happen to be caught on the other side of a wedding photographer’s lens, a nice looking smile will make for some lovely pictures, and maybe a new profile picture.
What other tips would you give photographer attending weddings? What are some of your experiences being on the other side of the lens?
Photos used with permission from Salt and Pine Photography.