One of the biggest complaints any groom makes is the price of the wedding dress. Few men understand how anyone can spend so much on a one-time dress. Until they have daughters of course, then they realise they’d gladly spend thousands to make their little princess smile on her big day – even if it involves dressing their innocent angel as a sexy white vixen.
Some brides have a more practical approach to things. Instead of traditional ball gowns and extravagant trains, they pick something simpler that they can get more use out of. It could be a cocktail dress or a flirty party frock. Others prefer to rent a dress, or to redesign the dress after their nuptials, turning it into an outfit they can get more wear out of.
In the past, some brides chose to keep their dresses as a shrine, hoping their daughters, sisters, or granddaughters would wear it on when they eventually wedded. However, fashion changes swiftly, and unless you’re blessed with retro-loving offspring, they’re unlikely to want your dress. They may redesign it to their tastes, but that kind of beats the purpose. Also, rats and moths can get into wedding dress storage. Just saying.
So … start the discussion by assuming your dress is solely yours, and that you won’t get another chance to wear it – even if it’s not a rental. Plus, you’re probably looking prettier and/or hotter than you ever have, so you want to capture that moment and memorialise your big day or posterity. That means photographing your show-stopping dress. A lot.
Many photographers will shoot the dress hanging on a hook, before she puts it on. Unless you give specific orders, that’s as much attention as your dress will get. The rest of the day, your camera’s focus will be on your hands and face, with any accent on your dress being incidental. Do your research and make a list of essential shots you’d like.
For example, if you come from a culture that appreciates derrière, give the camera some healthy back shots. If your dress has a deep back, get a sexy shot of your dress being zipped up. Generally, a tasteful shot of your mum or sister helping you into the dress offers a wealth of emotion. If it shows off the small off your back and nape of your neck, even better – these sensual body parts are underrated.
All About The Base
Similarly, if your dress was selected to highlight you best feature with cinched ruching, a hip-hugging silhouette, or the mermaid tail on your Rebecca Ingram Zelda, then show it off with a flirty photo of you leaning out of the window. Get the lighting right to accent your bottom. You can also have separate shots from the waist down (and from the shoulders up) to emphasis a dramatic skirt or intricate neckline.
When you were buying your dress, you were wowed by details that your guests might never notice. Your list should include these tiny touches. Get the photographer to capture pretty buttons, jewelled zippers, embellished hems, embroidered sleeves, and illusion lace. You don’t have to figure out the ‘how’. Just express your desires and leave it to the experts.
Find The Right Light
It may help to have a rehearsal with the camera and the dress though, just to be sure. The beauty of modern photography is the camera person can snap the shot and show you sample immediately, to be sure they got what you wanted.
The rehearsal is all about lighting and composition, so it could be done with a smartphone and pocket lights. No need to hire all that expensive equipment until the big day. Plus, it gives you a chance to create a rapport and build up some photo chemistry with your crew.
Tops And Toes
Shoes are a big feature as well, but nobody ever gets to see them because most wedding dresses trail the floor. Ask your photographer to get a few ‘peep shots’ as you lift your dress to show off your magical footwear. Similarly, the camera should grab the moment when your groom lifts your veil. That one has no do-over, so be sure they get it right. After all, no one really sees that angle except the wedding officiator, and you might want to see your own expression in that precious moment.
A matching shot that is almost never captured is the lowering of the veil, when your mum or dad helps you put it on before the ceremony. These two moments can be even more powerful than the rings or the first dance, so give them the spotlight they deserve – and keep your make-up waterproof. Finally, don’t forget the ‘pensive bride shot’ that hints at giddy brides … or cold feet … but really just shows off your dress.
You could be standing alone in the church, or at the start of the aisle, brushing your hands over seats. Or you could be seated, skirt unfurled around you, shoes on display, chin in your hand, showing innocence and muted excitement, on the boundary of girlhood and womanhood. For best results, wear a flirty smile and don’t face the camera.