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EMILY

CRALL

the photographer’s guide to wedding day dresses

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Ahhh, finding a dress to wear while photographing a wedding. The elusive wedding day dress has proven to be harder to find than I ever would’ve imagined. Over the years, I have figured out what works and what doesn’t. Cap sleeves, for example, look super cute, but bite into your arms when you’ve got your right arm lifted all day while shooting. Full skirts are also really cute and flattering for almost every body type, but on windy days, you’ll be doing a Marilyn Monroe.

I’ve determined that my clothing choice on a wedding day should be professional, but yet not detract me from my job. I don’t want to be pulling my skirt down or adjusting my neckline all day. I want to look nice, but then be able to forget about my clothing and just work.

With that in mind, here is my criteria when shopping for dresses:

  • Knee-length – This is a personal preference based on what I feel most comfortable in and what looks best on me. I know that when I’m shooting, the hem comes up (because my right arm is lifted with the camera to my face) so I keep that in mind when noticing hemlines. If the dress is sleeveless, there will be less hem-lifting when my arm is raised, but still some. Thankfully, midi-length has made a roaring comeback and so it’s become a lot easier to find longer hemlines. If it’s a true midi length, you can always hem it up if you want it closer to knee-length.
  • Pockets – A must-have for me. I already carry around so much stuff in my bags so having pockets keeps some items (like my phone and the wedding day timeline) within reach at all times. Depending on how much pocket room I have, my Expo Disc will end up in there as well, along with some chapstick.
  • Modest – I prefer higher necklines for wedding days because I don’t want to keep adjusting throughout the day. I’m moving so much (bending, reaching, lifting, squatting, etc.) and I don’t want to worry about cleavage.
  • Sleeveless (preferably) – It gets really hot in the summer so I like the option of having bare arms outside and then throwing on a cardigan when inside in the air-conditioning. Also, I’ve learned the hard way that some sleeves can be too tight when lifting my arms or, worse, rub on my skin and cause a fabric burn.
  • Dark colors like navy or black – This isn’t a deal breaker. I have played around with color before and it was fine. But since my main goal is to blend in with guests, wearing a bright red dress probably doesn’t help. Darker colors also help hide sweat, which is a gross, but real problem when working a full day in the heat and humidity.

So where is one to find a dress that fits into the above criteria? Well, some of it is luck. But a lot of it is just plain searching and searching until you find it. Here are some of my favorite shops:

  • eShakti – They custom-make the dress to fit you. Done. You can customize the hem, the neckline, and the sleeve-length. Submit your body measurements and, wah-lah, you have a dress that is tailored to your exact needs. It’s almost magical in it’s ease. (First time buyers can get up to $40 off and they are always running sales. Sometimes you can even get an additional 10-15% off just by shopping on your mobile.)
  • Boden – They’re a British-based company so no wonder I love their styles. Their clothing is usually very wash- and wrinkle-friendly. And the silhouettes are flattering to many body types.
  • Land’s End – I used to think LE was a place only for the mature woman, but they’ve really revamped their look. A lot of their dresses are tailored for the “working woman” and typically what passes in an office is classy and modest enough for a wedding day.
  • ASOS – Leave it to the Brits to have the best fashion. I love ASOS for many of my clothes, besides just dresses. You can tell immediately that this is more of a younger demographic than the other stores, but they are constantly updating their inventory and it pays to keep checking. One thing I will note, it’s easy to find longer lengths here, but hard to find pockets. This dress would be perfect if it just came in another color. I use their “refine” sidebar a lot when shopping to help narrow down the listings to find what I am looking for. If you’re shooting weddings while pregnant, check out their maternity line. I got all of my maternity dresses here! (Also worth noting, a lot of dresses from ASOS are unlined so you may need a slip.)
  • Shabby Apple – They have really cute, modest dresses, but unfortunately, don’t often include pockets. I rarely find anything here for that reason alone, but it could definitely fulfill all the other categories if you don’t care about pockets.

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  1. Heidi Biersner says:

    Love all of this! I have been wearing maxi dresses for weddings the past two years but wanted something a little more professional looking. I discovered eShakti a few months back but haven’t taken the plunge yet in trying them out. Maybe now is the time!

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