The first question I asked my mentor when I was invited to shoot at a wedding with him was, “What do I wear?” (Yes, that was one of my priorities).

His answer, “Dress as if you were¬† a guest.”

If that were the case, I would’ve shown up in my hot pink strapless party dress and some stilettos. I ended up going with the safe choice of black slacks and a black blouse.

There are many opinions out there for what a photographer should wear while shooting a wedding. For some, the choice is almost as important as which lenses to bring. The general rule of thumb is: DON’T STAND OUT. And, while I agree with this rule somewhat, I believe that it’s okay to stand out a little bit. I’m a firm believer in dressing to match your brand. Now, I’m not going to come to shoot a wedding in a leopard print cat suit, but if my brand tended to lean toward the more “wild side,” (pun intended), I may add leopard print shoes or a leopard print cami just to put a little flair into the basic wedding photographer ensemble.

Here are some other guidelines on what to wear while shooting a wedding (in case your leopard print leotard is at the cleaners or something).

5  Dress Code Rules For A Wedding Photographer:

1. SHOES: Invest in a good, comfortable pair. It sounds pretty obvious, but I’ve seen videographers show up in a pair of flip flops to a wedding, so I figured I should point it out. Each wedding season I pick up two pairs of sensible (but cute) black or red flats and put them through the wringer. Not only do I have to stand on my feet for 8-12 hours that day, but I’m usually climbing and crawling through fields, sand, rocks, you name it. And of course, I’ve found myself from time to time, on the dance floor with my brides showing off my awesome rhythm-less dance skills. Stay away from the sandals, flip flops or sneakers.

This bride asked all guests and vendors to wear all white with cool shoes.
This bride asked all guests and vendors to wear all white with cool shoes.

2. LOOK GOOD: You are a walking advertisement for your brand. If that means wear all black, then by all means wear all black. After shooting too many 100+ degree weddings in the middle of summer in the desert, I added more gray and beige dresses to my collection. I also like to add some flair, maybe pair it with a pair of cute tights or some bright jewelry. My clients appreciate my personal style, not just my photography style. But very importantly, look sharp. A wrinkly, stained shirt and pants that are too long speaks volumes to your clients and their guests. After all, you not only want to make a good impression of your brand to your clients but to possible future referrals from guests and other vendors as well.

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[Rewind: The bag above is by UNDFIND Designer Camera Bags | Shop UNDFIND on SLR Lounge]

3. WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK: There are instances where your couple may have religious or cultural requirements for attire. Make sure you discuss these with your clients if you are unsure. In some cultures, the color white symbolizes death and you may greatly offend your clients if you show up in a white shirt. In my client questionnaire, I always ask if the wedding is formal, semi formal or casual with a definition of what each of these terms mean to me.

4. SUNBLOCK: There are many times I forgot this and was sorry the next day. Safety first, people. Safety, first.

5. YOU SHOULD ONLY FLASH PEOPLE WITH YOUR CAMERA FLASH: Ladies, make sure that you are covered. Low cut tops may grab the attention of the groomsmen, but doesn’t give the greatest impression for everyone else. And when wearing a dress to a wedding, make sure you can maneuver, stoop, bend and squat without giving everyone up the aisle an eyeful. I also advise you to carry an extra outfit in the car with you! I second shot a wedding once with my mentor and while bending down to fix a bride’s dress, split his pants completely through!

Many times you'll find me laying down. So all my dresses are usually knee length.
Many times you’ll find me laying down. So all my dresses are usually knee length.

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To some, what you wear may not be a big deal, but I believe that everything you say, do, and even wear is an extension of your brand.

What do you wear to shoot weddings?

(via @PictureCorrect)