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Tips from theLoop: Wedding Attire - PPA Today

Tips from theLoop: Wedding Attire

By Sarah Ackerman

In the ever-changing world of photography, we know that everyone has questions. And what better place to get those questions answered than on theLoop? Today we're highlighting a conversation about wedding attire. It sounds pretty simple, but as you gaze into your closet, what's really the appropriate dress for the occasion? We can generally rule out a poofy white dress (can't outshine your clients!), but there's a huge range between that and shorts and a t-shirt. 

Here's what your fellow Loopers had to say:

Kevin Thomas: "Hi Everyone, What do y'all wear when shooting a wedding?  I'm torn between: my roots - looking like banker: conservative suit and tie, white shirt and a traditional photographer - black suit, black tie, black shirt. Am I over-thinking this?"

Mark Harrington, CPP: "I always wear black because I was taught you want to blend into the background of the video or guest photos. I don't usually wear a jacket, rather a black dress shirt, slacks and a conservative tie. My logo is embroidered on my shirt in a dark grey above the pocket. This separates me from the guests and helps when navigating behind the curtains at the venue."

Randy Frum:  "Same for me. Black dress shirt/tie/pants. I usually blend right in with the wait staff. Lol."

Robert Handley, M.Photog.Cr., CPP: "I always wore black shirt with sleeves, during the real hot months an extra one in my van to change into for the reception. Black slacks, rubber soles on black shoes, for traction and not slipping on marble floors. In the summer I don't wear a tie when working before the wedding, but I put one on for ceremony and reception.

I am going to ad one side note here, as I already posted what I wear for events which is the same as most everyone else.

As a commercial photographer wearing black has one other advantage. If you are working around reflective objects, glass windows, etc. you blend in a lot better if you can't avoid being in the reflected image. And you are not adding contamination to the image with colors being reflected off your clothing."

Jessica Grund: "I typically wear something dark, whether it's a dark navy blue or black. However with that being said, it also depends on the type of wedding I'm photographing. If it's a daytime outdoorsy type wedding, where the guest might be wearing what you call "garden cocktail attire" I will go with a navy blue dress, or pants dress pants and blouse along those lines. If it's indoors, or an evening wedding that's formal, I go with a black dress or black dress pants and blouse. There are times however that my clients have outdoor weddings that may seems formal or they dress code isn't very clear, at that point I just go with the all black look. It's better to look overly formal than under dressed.
I like to sort of look like a guest this way that way I don't stick out as bad (not that lugging cameras and gear around helps me in that) but at the same time look professional. 
I am curious though what other women photographers where to weddings!"

Nancy Dudley:  "Since I am squatting/kneeling/laying on the ground often, I never wear a dress or skirt.  After years of trial and error in choosing clothes that don't work, I have found my go-to outfits at Chico's.  Their Travelers collection is worth their weight in gold.  The material is stretchy and doesn't wrinkle.  I have their dressy black pants and several black jackets, and choose my top to match (or at least not clash) with the wedding colors.  I am not wrinkled after a long drive to the wedding, grass and dirt brushes off easily, I am comfortable all day and night, and I look pretty classy.  I never thought I could find all that together.  Finding comfortable shoes has been my biggest problem since then - Sketchers seem to work the best for the longest, but my feet still hurt like the dickens at the end of the night."

Bob Coates, M.Photog.M.Arist.Cr., CPP: "When I was doing more formal weddings I wore black shoes, black pleated pants and a middle grayling sleeve dress shirt with a button down collared shirt with black embroidered logo over the pocket. My assistant(s) did the same. I did not dress as the guests do as I am not a guest at the event not to mention that kneeling down, laying on the ground and generally hustling all day is hard on formal clothes. I also found being dressed professionally but different got more respect from guests when I was working as 'director' during certain moments of the event. I became 'invisible' when I wished by adopting certain behaviors that were low key..."

Frederick Dunn: I wear black from head to toe, including undergarments...It will be my color until they come up with something darker. My Cotton Carrier Harness is also black, camera bodies and lenses are black. I don't like showing up in reflective surfaces, black helps.  I put gaffer tape over the NIKON name on the front of my camera, also so it doesn't reflect when I shoot through a window. 

Blend, don't stand out and no one ever asks "Are you the photographer?" It's conspicuous to the casual observer :)

I try to purchase the best quality shirts and slacks that I can find, If I'm dressing "down" the materials should be top notch. I was at a wedding where they had also hired a videographer I was stunned that he was a hired professional, cargo shorts, sandals and t-shirt with pocket... even the DJ made a comment about him to me, profound lack of respect in my opinion.

Kevin Thomas: "Epilog: Oh, y'all were so, so right.  That little bit of extra social slightly-distant-yet-firmly-in-control was just what the doctor ordered.  I've known the parents, the groom, and several other of the guests for many years, so it was very helpful to have a visual cue that said "This is my job, so we'll greet and hug, but we can't chit-chat tonight."  

I did chicken out, and went with a black jacket + tie, and black wingtips -- I needed to feel comfortable, and I couldn't completely overcome my roots.  But it worked out great."

What would you add to this conversation? Chime in on theLoop or ask your own question! If you're thinking it, chances are so are your peers! Not a PPA  member, join today at and access the thriving community of theLoop. 

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Sarah Ackerman manages all things social media for PPA and Imaging USA. When she's not living on the internet, she loves improv comedy, going on wilderness adventures, gallivanting around the globe, knitting, wood working and yoga. 

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This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on April 7, 2016 3:33 PM.

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