|Myself as a bridesmaid 20 years ago. Yes, it's blurry. But that's also an accurate representation about my memories from the day. If I could go back, I'd do SO MANY things differently.|
Today as I edit my most recent wedding (and think about all the past ones), I've got the bridesmaids on my mind. I have some observations and some questions. If you've been married and had bridesmaids, or if you've been a bridesmaid, I'd love to hear about your experiences!
To start with, as a hired photographer, I walk into the wedding scenario having only met the bride and groom prior to the wedding date. The bridesmaids are all buzzing around, getting ready, talking, and generally in a frenzy. In MY mind, all bridesmaids are of equal importance, are SUPER close to the bride, and I THINK I understand what's going on, but then I remember something: when I was a bridesmaid at my brothers wedding 20 years ago, I felt like an outsider. I had NO IDEA what was expected of me, and I am sure I'd been asked simply out of politeness, as I was the grooms only sister. I didn't know the other bridesmaids (or the bride) well, and I was uncomfortable...and as a result, probably not much fun to be around. If only I knew then what I know NOW!
My point is...sometimes the dynamics of a wedding party aren't what I think they should be. As a result, you may be working with confused, irritated, self-conscious, or jealous members of the bridal party. This affects my work as the photographer in many ways. It's not like the movies, believe me. They get to do "re-takes" of movie scenes a hundred times before they get it right. You guys have one rehearsal...and then it's the real thing!
What I see the most as a bridesmaid walks down the aisle is that she's nervous. All eyes are on her, and as a result most bridesmaids will do the following: They walk too fast. They look at their feet. They hide behind their flowers. None of these make for good photos. And there I am, at the end of the aisle, silently willing each bridesmaid to look UP, to SMILE, to slow down. Needless to say, my telepathic powers have limitations. The girls don't hear me. I'm disappointed with the photos and I haven't even seen them yet.
On occasion, I have the opportunity to talk to the bridesmaids as a collective group, and I give them a little pep talk: Walk slowly, smile, flowers at bellybutton, and look towards end of aisle. Sometimes this helps a lot. When I don't have a chance to give the pep talk, it shows. I always regret not making the time for this talk. Sometimes things are just too busy, or the girls have dispersed, or...a myriad of reasons they're not in the same place at the same time and able to listen.
Additional advice to bridesmaids is this...it's a very important (and usually very stressful) day for the bride. You are her support system. You have each been chosen for a reason, and I'd like to think that the reason is because she loves you and that you are the best of friends. Smile, tell her she's beautiful, hold her train and her flowers for her. This is HER DAY. It's about her, NOT YOU. Put aside your discomfort (and your cell phones!) as much as possible and be PRESENT. Smile, be helpful, and enjoy the day!