Being a Bridesmaid, Sister, Mom, and Photographer...All at Once | Business

Being a Bridesmaid, Sister, Mom, and Photographer

A few months ago I photographed my sister's wedding. Only I didn't just photograph it - I was a bridesmaid, her sister, a mom to the cutest little flower girl ever, and the day-of coordinator for all intents and purposes. I have done this before, only without a child, when I photographed my older sister's wedding and was her maid of honor. It was a beautiful memory I'll look back on forever, and I'm honored that BOTH my sisters chose me to capture their day.

I'll be honest, though - it's also an incredibly hard set of roles to play. I felt like, at any given time, I could only do two roles well. Sometimes I could be the coordinator and photographer, but I had a hard time being the understanding sister and I couldn't put my tasks aside for a moment to be a mom to Willow. Or I could be in the moment, watching my dad and sister share their first look, and tears would fill my eyes so heavily that I could barely see through the viewfinder.

Being a Bridesmaid, Sister, Mom, and Photographer

Before, during, and after this happened, a lot of people asked how I pulled it off. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. I don't say this because I claim to be superwoman, but a combination of adrenaline and caffeine kicked in because I was running on VERY little sleep (I had to wake up at 4:30am!) and it was a VERY long day. I was so amped up that I didn't feel tired for a few days, and then I crashed hard. There are parts of the wedding that I can remember vividly (how I cried when Josiah's song played as Megan walked down the aisle, the moment I put down my camera so I could hug my baby sister and tell her she looked like a bride, the speeches and dances and seeing my own baby come down the aisle in a wagon), but there are other parts that are a blur. Somehow everything came together, we started the ceremony more or less on time, and Megan was (at least mostly!) blissfully unaware of any issues.

This required a lot of planning. A LOT. So as I think back, here are the things I did to set myself - and the wedding - up for success.

1) I wrote down everything in advance. I mean everything. This was the most detailed timeline I had ever made. I knew exactly what was happening when and although I did not refer to the timeline at all during the day, it was drilled into my head because I had gone over it in such detail.
2) I did as much as I could before the wedding day. This meant that I photographed the major details ahead of time, communicated with vendors in advance, and had my entire bag packed so I could grab it and walk out the door before the sun rose. I also went over every detail I could with the bride, groom, and the whole bridal party so they all knew what was happening.
3) I forced myself to put down the camera at times. Though this didn't exactly help me photograph the wedding, it did help to remember the day. I photographed Megan's first look with my dad but when the tears came on strong, I just enjoyed the moment. Before the ceremony, I took a minute to hold Willow. At the reception, I asked Nathan to cover several things so I could just sit and watch. Which leads me to the most important thing of all...
4) I had an absolute dream team of family to help - and be understanding. I simply could not have done this without Nathan, and he killed it. During the ceremony, he had to switch to the primary photographer role, and he did so effortlessly. I posed the bridal party, he took the pictures. I told him exactly what I wanted and he did it even better than I hoped. He did everything from photographing reception details (which I didn't anticipate!) to fluffing Megan's dress during the ceremony. He's the real MVP.

Being a Bridesmaid, Sister, Mom, and Photographer

Besides Nathan, I had so much help. My in-laws not only took care of Willow all day - naps, lunch, and all - they also helped corral the other kids who were there. My family was gracious and understanding when I became tense, stressed out, or just business-like in general. And Megan put her full trust in me to capture and run the day from start to finish, even if my flow didn't always make sense :)

Being a Bridesmaid, Sister, Mom, and Photographer

To be honest, I'm not sure if I could ever repeat this day, and at times it felt like too much. I did not handle everything well, and in hindsight there were things I wish I could have done differently. Yet when I look back at the wedding pictures, I am proud. I am not proud of my photographs, or how great I am. I am proud of the family legacy my parents have built. I am proud of my sister for choosing such a godly man to marry. I am proud of Nathan, who handled it all without showing stress and dealt with my tiredness over the next week.

I am proud, in short, to be surrounded by such amazing people, and proud to call Megan, this beautiful bride, my baby sister.

Click here to see the full wedding blog.

Maria Grace Photography

My name is Maria, and I am a wedding and family photographer based out of Hampton Roads, Virginia, but I am always excited about traveling. I love families who truly enjoy spending time with each other and living life together. I love couples that are looking forward to their wedding day because they are so excited to finally be married to.