How I played Photographer & Bridesmaid

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Last week I blogged about my best friends wedding day. Between preparing for her wedding, posting on social media about her big day, and blogging her wedding photographs, I have received so many questions on how I made this dual job (bridesmaid & photographer) possible.

Last summer when Hannah first got engaged, I helped her through the process of finding a photographer within her budget and the style she likes. Well through the process she called me and said, “We can’t seem to think of anyone better to photograph our wedding day besides you. We want you to photograph it, but I know playing bridesmaid and photographer can be stressful. If it’s too much stress, you can say no. If you say yes, our only request is to put your cameras away before the wedding day ends so you can party with us.”

So, with some thought and communication, we made it work and I am SO happy we did and today I am sharing my top five tips on how to make it work if you are in the same situation I was in.

  1. Ask your friend what is most important to them on the wedding day. I always ask this to my brides, but I really needed a good answer from my friends, as this would play on how her day would go. For Hannah, one of the important things was her ceremony. Instead of me standing closer to Hannah at the alter, I ended up going down the aisle FIRST.(David photographed the family and me walking down the aisle) After the second bridesmaid made it to the alter, I sneaked away to join David to photograph her ceremony.

  2. Make the timeline. I help most of my brides with their timelines anyways, so it was no different with Hannah. But what was different was where I would be and when during the morning time of the wedding. Since making the timeline with her, we had enough time for me to spend time with her in the morning getting ready, enough bridal party portraits (as this WILL take longer if you are IN the bridal party), and enough time to still have a good time.
  3. Photograph all the details the day before (if it is at all possible). With talking to Hannah about her timeline and wanting to stay present with her on the morning of her day and having to take into consideration that I need time in the morning for makeup and hair (not just simple makeup + hair in a simple pony tail), we made time the day before to photograph details. We were fortunate enough to have her reception venue set up the morning before her actual wedding day. Since her wedding took place in Fresno (4 hours+ away from where we are located), her and her family set up the reception in the morning, before David and I showed up in the afternoon. Once we showed up, we photographed all the reception details and all her bridal details. This allowed for more time to play the bridesmaid role on her big day.  The morning of, I wasn’t spending time photographing the details. I didn’t pull out my camera until it was time to get her into her dress. During cocktail hour, we went rushing to the reception to photograph details because we already did it the day before. Instead we got more PORTRAITS and I got to be able to hang out with the rest of the bridal party. I will note that I know not every venue will allow you to set up before hand. If we weren’t able to, our backup plan was to still capture it during cocktail hour, but the other bridal details were still planned to photograph the day before.
  4. Have a second shooter. I don’t ever shoot with out a second shooter (you can view why here), but being a bridesmaid too, it is even more important to have one. We were first wanting David to come to the girls hotel rooms to help photograph me with the girls getting Hannah ready, but transportation and locations didn’t allow for this. So, just like a normal wedding day, David photographed Angelo getting ready and I photographed Hannah getting ready. But there was a time when I handed my camera to a fellow bridesmaid to photograph me helping put on a bracelet, so I still had moments of getting ready with her. Having a second photographer will also allow for parts of the ceremony and reception photographs that you can’t get because you are in the other room waiting to walk down the aisle or walk out for the grand entrance. Another reason would be for bridal party photos. David took all the photographs that I was in. So the bridal party photographs and the whole wedding party photographs.
  5. Prepare well and HAVE FUN! I feel this is an important tip too. We have a very demanding job as a wedding photographer that can be stressful. Being a bridesmaid can be demanding and stressful too! With planning far enough i advanced for anything and everything, you will be prepared for the best and worst on what can happen on the day of. With preparing, you are also giving yourself room to have some fun!! It is such an honor to be asked to be a bridesmaid and also an honor to photograph the start of your friends marriage (something they will always remember and generations will look back on for YEARS) and take on these roles with grace. Do you job, but have fun. When it’s time to put the gear away, but it away and enjoy the celebration!!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read today’s blog post. I hope it is helpful in some sort of way as you prepare to take on both roles. You can do it!!

Shelby Danielle
{Follow me of Instagram for daily updates: @ShelbyDaniellePhotography}

About Me

I am a wedding & portrait photographer based in Southern California and beyond!

I started at the young age of 16 in my hometown of Orange in Orange
County, California. As my photography business grew and I got married,
life took me to the Chino Hills area, making me more centered to all
major Southern California counties.

Here on the blog, you will
see a variety of posts regarding tips, sessions & weddings, and my
personal life of being a wife, mother, and business owner. To learn more
about me or to see more daily adventures, follow me on Instagram and/or

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