its surprising to think how bridesmaids & groomsmen secretly possess the ability to create a beautiful environment by selfless servitude for their friend’s big day. and yet they also possess the ability to ruin what the bride & groom have worked months to create. and i have seen all types of bridal party members.
[the cool people]: in my storage box of bridal party memories, i have experienced the bridesmaids of the year. you know, the ones that i secretly want to become friends with because you see their die-hard loyalty to their bride.
“maybe she will want to be my Facebook friend” thought bethany.
and i have experienced the groomsmen that are pure adorable gentlemen. you know, the ones that i wish my single little sister could meet.
“you would be a great brother-in-law” thought bethany.
[the uncool people]: what many brides & grooms may see as “their friend just being themselves” is what photographers see as a selfish friend or a douche groomsmen [am i allowed to say that?]. yes, yes, i know that i have not been around to experience the past decade of friendship between the bride & her friend and i haven’t been around for the brohood of the century. and i realize there is a legitimate reason why they were chosen to stand by the bride & groom on the wedding day. but it takes most photographers within the first ten minutes to figure out which bridal party member is thinking “numero uno” and who will most likely be an issue throughout the wedding day, especially when it comes to photos.
“wait, whose day is this really?” thought bethany.
“why are you 30 minutes late and still not dressed yet?” thought bethany.
to much of my unrealistic dismay, i cannot change or mold anyone’s personality into the perfect bridal party member [heck, i am not a hypnotist although i wish i could be]. but what i can do is give a few easy steps for bridal party members to keep in mind for the big day. these simple, selfless steps can greatly remove pressure for the couple [which makes them happy, which makes them look happy in photos], help create amazing photo opportunities and make better memories for everyone involved.
[my main point] it just takes one selfless person to greatly influence the experience of the bride & groom’s wedding day.
simple, selfless, step number one: be on time all day long
i see this as being probably the most tedious aspect of having a bridal party. it is asking for a group of individuals to follow one central, absolute schedule. it is a hard task for a bride & groom to organize. and as a photographer, it is one of the biggest battles we face during the wedding day. not everyone follows the wedding timeline or even worse, they don’t know it. so for good measure, double check the times with the bride & groom at the rehearsal, write them down (if they have not been given a copy prior) and follow them. if you are extra awesome, be 10-15 minutes ahead of schedule. i have sat by and heard grooms on their phone explain times and directions to their friends who arrive late & unprepared. it is not the “day of” responsibility of the bride & groom to tell their adult friends where to be or when to be. being on time is not just about showing up but being prepared & ready for every important moment of the wedding day from getting ready to the send-off at the reception.
if you are naturally on-time, then use your incredible quality to help motivate and lead the others. alleviating the bride or groom from having to organize and get people to move is a huge weight lifted off of their shoulders. being proactive and on-time is an incredible way to serve your friends.
simple, selfless, step number two: provide the photographer with any details (shoes, rings, dress, invitation, cuff links, socks, written vows, etc) and/or necessary updates when they arrive
the best way you can serve your bride or groom while they are getting ready is to help provide the photographer with the sentimental details for her to capture. this helps alleviate the bride & groom from having to scramble to get things together and also allows them to remain in the moment…they are getting ready for the biggest day of their lives! when i meet with my couples, i ask about which bridal party member is the most responsible [yep, its not always the maid of honor or best man]. i ask this in order to know who my go-to person is that day [unless there is a planner that i have had prior contact with]. some of the best bridal party members i have worked with are the ones that greet the photographer/videographer/vendors, answer any of their question and provide them with what they need.
“bethany, just wanted to let you know the florist is in traffic and won’t be arriving with the flowers until the ceremony starts” [this has happened]
“bethany, just wanted to let you know that the bride was up all night throwing up so we are letting her rest” [this has happened]
“bethany, the dress and shoes are in this room and if you need any other details, let me know” [this has happened]
to a photographer, it shows that you are on top of what the wedding day entails and that you are putting the bride/groom first.
simple, selfless, step number three: please keep your negative opinions to yourself even if you think its funny [especially during photo time]
like your mother has said before, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” well, on wedding days, this is very true. what most bridal party members don’t know is that the bride & groom have sat down with their photographer to discuss the formal photos, props, locations, timing, etc. if the bride & groom want you to hold a prop [or god-forbid a bouquet] for a few shots, this is not the moment to protest your artistic differences or why you would never do this at your own wedding. these are the photos that they have invested time, money & thought into and will look back on for years. so, step number three is to get off of pinterest/facebook/instagram/twitter, put your phone away, hold a prop, stand next to the groom and smile…you may actually like the results. [and everyone loves a new profile pic]
simple, selfless, step number four: bride & groom first, socializing [online or in person] second
i love being a bridesmaid. there is so much excitement and adrenaline that plays throughout the day. so many people to talk to and so much dancing to be done. but leaving a bride & groom in the dust is not cool. whether it is being there to ‘ooh’ & ‘ahh’ at her getting into her dress, bringing him water during his portrait time in the august heat or helping them get their bags into the get-away car while the dj is playing your favorite gagman style song, serving them first is a part of the commitment that comes with saying “yes, id be honored to be your bridesmaid/groomsmen!” as a photographer, we end up doing a lot of bridal party roles – from helping a bride into her dress, to making a plate of food for the bride & groom, or helping the maid of honor finish writing her speech (yep, done it all). why? because the bridal party were not thinking bride & groom first, socializing second. how much better would it be for the photographer to capture the bridesmaid running over to the bride with a shawl to help her warm up or a photo of a groomsmen carrying luggage out to the get-away car for his friend? those photos are priceless images of servitude, friendship and love.
simple, selfless, step number five: celebrate your friends with words & actions
some of the most precious photos i can give back to a bride & groom are the images with a groomsmen praying over their friend who is about to become a husband. or the images of the bridesmaids gushing over all beautiful their friend looks. although photographs are a moment captured in time, the words of affirmation & the smiles of joy convey through the image. my last and simple step is not to just say that you support their marriage, but do so in words & actions. the images that a photographer can capture on the wedding day are also messages of love, support and hope to the bride & groom.
and most important, non-photography-focused, simple, selfless, step: hold your friends to their vows.