Hi friends! Nancy here - I'm chiming in on Callie's Wedding Advice series to give some advice of my own: how to be a bridesmaid and a photographer! I'm letting you into how I planned to photograph this beautiful wedding, as well as encourage, love, and support Callie on her big day.
I'll never forget the conversation that Callie and I had the day after Jamie proposed. While driving home from a bridal session together on the coast of North Carolina, she said that she was torn because she wanted me standing by her side as a bridesmaid, and she wanted me to shoot her wedding! I was so honored at the thought of doing either one, but both? I couldn't believe it!
Then I began thinking - how could I do that? Being a bridesmaid is a big responsibility all by itself, and I wanted to make sure I did that well. I wanted to be there to pray with her, to encourage her, and to stand by her when she said her vows. But who would shoot the ceremony, if I was holding a bouquet up front? Of course, being the lead wedding photographer is also a tremendous responsibility! Thinking of capturing every detail, moment, and portrait necessary to deliver the high standard of wedding photography that I do seemed a bit overwhelming. But I was determined. I went home and began to think of the steps I needed to take in order to make this happen.
Here are 5 ways you can be a wonderful bridesmaid and wedding photographer - all on the same day.
Create a dream team
The first thing I did after agreeing to being Callie's bridesmaid and photographer was get my dream team in place! I imagined the day happening without me : who could shoot this wedding beautifully, without me having to worry about a thing, if I were to be whisked away for an important bridesmaid duty? I had planned on Will (my husband), Elizabeth (our associate photographer), and Elizabeth's husband Robert to come as well to carry equipment and assist us. That made 4 of us, and I felt really great about it.
Sometimes things happen as you plan it, and other times they don't. Would you believe that Elizabeth and Robert both got the Norovirus the week of Callie's wedding? I was frantically calling my closest photography friends, when our dear friends Geoff and Cheyenne Schultz dropped everything to help us shoot Callie and Jamie's wedding. Even though it wasn't our original team, it ended up being an incredible dream team that I was so thankful for. Goodness it is such a blessing to have friends that are wedding photographers! I don't know what I would have done without those two.
Prioritize your bridesmaid moments
There were certain moments of the Callie's day that I knew I had to be 100% bridesmaid, which meant I had to set down my camera. The 3 most important moments :
1. Praying with Callie and the other bridesmaids prior to the ceremony
2. Being an active part of the ceremony. You know, normal bridesmaids duties: carrying the bouquet down the aisle, standing in the front as they say their vows, and walking back down the aisle.
3. Dancing with Will at the reception! Callie made sure that last one happened - she wanted to be sure we also had fun.
That meant that for those 3 moments, I had to make sure that the other photographers were ready and in place to photograph them. We communicate this ahead of time, so they knew exactly where to be when.
Prioritize your photographer moments
Just as I made sure that I was 100% bridesmaid for certain moments of the day, I also knew that I had to be 100% photographer for other parts of the day. Yes, I was still wearing my bridesmaid dress, but I was in the photography zone. Those 3 moments included:
1. Shooting the details. I arrive almost 3 hours early to photograph all the details. I made sure I had invitations on hand, her accessories, the boutonnieres.... everything I could possibly think of. I knew Callie and I shared the dream of getting her wedding published in Southern Weddings Magazine, and details is an important part of that! I knew that no one could shoot the details in film exactly how I wanted to except for me. I missed out on some of the getting ready time with the girls, but for me, it was worth it.
2. The Portraits. After the ceremony, I photographed all the family portraits, as well as the portraits of Callie and Jamie. I also photographed the gentlemen, but I have to give proper credit! : Cheyenne and Will photographed all the ladies portraits - the only ones I couldn't photograph myself.
3. The big reception moments. You know, the first dances, the cake cutting, the toasts, and the exit. All the other photographers were of course shooting with me, but I made sure I got the shots I wanted, since it was my responsibility as lead photographer.
Make a detailed schedule
I planned out every moment of that weekend. Then, I printed the timeline for Friday and Saturday and kept it on me at all times. I had my details list, my family portraits list, and every photographer's responsibilities printed and ready to go. I was constantly referring to this detailed schedule to keep me on task, so I could easily switch from "bridesmaid mode" to "photographer mode" and back again! I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have that list. Also, every one of the photographers had their copy of the same list, so we were all on the same page at the same time.
I have to admit - this was the hardest one for me! I had placed such importance on doing my very best job at both roles, it was difficult for me to relax. But I made the conscious decision to enjoy every moment of that day, no matter how focused I got on the job in front of me. I'll never forget - when I finally decided to set my camera down and let the Schultzes take over the dance floor, I had fun. Will and I finally cut loose and danced together, and it was such a wonderful memory from their wedding! However, it did take me until 3:30am to unwind and settle down to where I could finally fall asleep! My mind was racing so fast from the entire checklist and schedule from the day, it was hard to slow down. The next day I was more exhausted then I had ever been after a wedding, but it was such a good feeling to know I gave it my all!
I wouldn't have traded that day and my two very special roles for the world. Callie, thank you for asking me to be involved in two of the most important ways I could imagine. You made a beautiful bride, and you make and even more beautiful wife. Jamie is quite the lucky man to have you!