What I Learned From My Sister’s Wedding Photographer

Not sure if you heard or not, but my baby sister got married in October. (That was sarcasm. Of course you heard. Everyone who talked to me for 2 seconds or more heard.)

Let me tell you, being on the other side of a wedding was quite the experience. And helping your sister plan a wedding is an entire universe of difference from planning your own. It was one of the most wonderful, joyful, stressful experiences of my life. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, and it went by so fast.

Being involved in my sister’s wedding planning and being in the wedding was for sure way more fun than planning and being in my own. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, or that it was my sister, or what, but I felt more emotionally invested in this day than my own day. (No offense, Jon.)

I didn’t do the photography. No way in the world I would have been able to handle that. I had told Bana years ago that whenever she got married, wedding photography would be my gift. Not as much for her as for me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully be present and enjoy the wedding day to the full unless the photographer was someone I loved and trusted. Someone I didn’t have to worry about what they were doing or why they were making the decisions they were making.

I found that exact person in Lindsey of LAR Weddings. And I could never thank her enough for what she gave our family.

Something I didn’t expect though, was the lessons I’d learn from her on the wedding day and after. I’m never removed from a wedding day or looking at it from another perspective. When I shoot weddings, I’m completely immersed in the stress and the details and the timing and the creativity. I don’t ever step back and just be. So getting the chance to do that was humbling and eye-opening.

The second shooter should be present, friendly, knowledgable of the events of the day, and shooting as much as they can

Please don’t take that sentence to mean that I disliked Lindsey’s second shooter. Since I’m always the second shooter, I never get to observe one. And it made me realize that the second is an extension of the primary. They make an impression on the bridal party and the family. So they should also be acting like a professional member of the business.

Post a sneak peek the next day of the bridal party on your Instagram feed

This is obviously a business lesson. What I usually do, is I post sneak peeks in Instagram stories the next day. And I save my post for the feed for later in the week. That feed post is usually a photo of the bride and groom. Here was a brilliant lesson I learned from Lindsey (and I’m sure she doesn’t do this for every wedding.) She posted an amazing shot of the bridal party. And guess what? WE ALL SHARED IT. We all marketed for her. Literally hundreds of people saw her photo because we were all excited to share a personal experience with our followers. Would we have all shared a photo of just Jordan and Bana? Maybe. But there’s no doubt we’d share one that we ourselves were in.

Smile and never show your stress. Always have 3 options for whatever may come along

This applies whether that’s weather issues, location issues, or timeline issues. It rained the entire day. Poured. Lindsey wasn’t worried one bit about it. In fact, she seemed just as disappointed as we did. And here’s the lesson: she was disappointed for us, not for herself. She knew that Bana wanted fall color in her photos. And she was sad that the rain was going to make it nearly impossible. She wasn’t disappointed that she wouldn’t have a fall wedding to add to her portfolio. She wasn’t disappointed that she wouldn’t have the variety in her images that she could have had. She already had a plan and gave Bana 3 options for the first look and portraits. None of us had to come up with a new plan. We just had to pick the option we liked best. No stress, no decision making.

Be specific in posing direction to everyone

I’ll admit that I’m not the best posing direction giver. I always want the photos to look natural and not stiff or rigid. And my solution to that was to tell people they can stand wherever they want or put their hands wherever feels comfortable. And now I realize that’s actually a disservice as a professional. Everyone wants to look their best in these photos. They’ll be around for the next 80 years. You’re trusting the professional photographer to know what looks good and to tell you what to do. When you have direction, you’re confident. So that’s something I’m going to work on this year. Being more direct and taking more control. In a nice way of course 🙂

Remember how important this day and these memories are to EVERYONE. This bride and groom is someone else’s whole world

This one. This lesson hit me HARD. You all know how much my sister means to me. But on the wedding day, I saw how much she means to other people (not like I didn’t already know that, but I just never saw it to this extent.) Her best friend since she was a baby sobbing when she saw Bana in her wedding dress. Her friends who she pioneered with hugging her and Jordan as tight as they could. People I had never met before crying during the vows. And then Jordan’s family. His mom tearing up as my sister walked down the aisle. His cousin who married them using their grandpa’s Bible. I knew being a wedding photographer was a serious job, but now I see that it’s one of the most important jobs I could ever do. It’s so much more than a man and a woman and a pretty dress. I honestly don’t think I can even find the words to describe how this affected me. That day is literally the most important, best, memorable, incredible day for more people than I could ever realize. And I’m responsible for keeping the day alive for years and generations to follow.

And now what you guys really came here to see: the photos! Thank you a million times over to Lindsey with LAR Weddings for the images that are more than I could even have imagined for my sister and her husband!

Yes, my sister’s ring is an opal!!
Don’t hate me for putting this photo here, mom! It’s one of my favorites!
May or may not be crying right now
100% crying
During the ceremony, Bana and Jordan said the traditional vows. But after their first look, they read their handwritten vows to each other. I think that’s such a beautiful and intimate way to express your love to each other without an audience.
No doubt about it, absolutely crying
I can’t even handle how happy she looks!

All photos copyright of LAR Weddings. All content copyright of Alayna Parker Photography. Neither photos nor content can be reproduced or shared without exclusive permission.

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