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Is a Wedding Photographer is Also a Wedding Coordinator?

So your wedding is over, and you get your photos back after the honeymoon (but hopefully before the honeymoon’s worn off) and you are amazed. How did your photographer get all of these great shots when you didn’t even notice he or she was there? Even your anti paparazzi groom was able to let his guard down! Your invisible photographer seemed to know exactly how and what was going to happen and when. But is it really “just the photographer”?

No, I’m not implying we’re secret agents; I mean to say that we often do the job of a wedding coordinator. Let me explain my first point.  I can’t tell you how many times a bride will ask us which leg the garter goes on or someone will seek advice while pinning on the boutonniere or ask how to cut the cake. We photographers familiarize ourselves with customs such as the father putting a penny in the shoe and wearing something old, new, borrowed, and blue. Not only can it help you as a bride out when you’re stumped, but having those photos will help you remember those details you might have put a lot of thought into that you might have otherwise forgotten.  Maybe a used handkerchief isn’t something you’d normally pay any heed, but when it’s something borrowed from your great grandmother, it suddenly becomes a big deal.  Knowledge of this is crucial for a professional to capture the significance of a custom, and believe me, we’re all about catching details.

Going hand in hand with this is that photographers are constantly aware of aesthetics. You are concerned with the visual outcome and are looking to us as experts to get you in your most photogenic state. It would really be poor service on our part if we failed to notify you of a really large piece of lettuce between your teeth. You as a bride expect us to make sure you look your best. This extends to the surroundings as well.  During your consultation (yes, you should have one) you might want to discuss how to beautify the surroundings while you get ready such as hanging your dress on an elegant hanger instead of leaving it in the dry cleaning bag. Also discuss any potential lighting challenges that could be changed such as choosing the indoor reception hall with the beige walls instead of the facility with black walls. Following your photographer’s advice in the planning stages now can make for more ideal photos later.

Many circumstances involve depending on us for direction and here’s where we get into the timing issues. Look at this scenario: We have a DJ/emcee who never announced the first dance when he was supposed to. In fact, he was 45 minutes late and the bride and groom had a schedule they wanted to follow because they only had limited time at the reception. The photographer finally took it upon herself to tell the DJ to go ahead and make the announcement and play their song because she was aware of the bride’s plans.  It was much appreciated by the happy couple who were too busy mingling to notice the time.  It turns out the DJ didn’t even know they expected him to announce this (rather, he forgot) because of failure to plan. True story.  In many cases, other vendors look to us for instruction. We are often asked if it is OK to turn down lighting, announce the bridal party, etc. It is often up to us to help your day flow well  and all without you even noticing! After all, we’re probably the only vendor that sticks around the entire day. We make sure we know when and where to be so as not to miss out on crucial photo opportunities (donning the dress, bride’s entrance to ceremony, garter toss, toasts, need I say more?).  A good photographer will go over with you an approximate time for group shots, intimate shots, etc. and give you an idea on how long it should take.  No one wants to wait on the photographers for an hour of pictures; unless of course, you already knew how long it would take thanks to your conscientious photographer and you prepared to have hor’deuvres served during an official cocktail hour to keep your guests happy.

So you thought photographers just show up and take pictures all day, huh? I won’t even get started on what we do after the wedding’s over! That’s the start of an entirely different article.


Amanda Galloway, owner of Silver Linings Photograph , is originally from Southern California and happily relocated to the Midwest. Genealogy and art are what inspired her to combine the two which resulted in specializing in wedding photography.


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