In case you haven’t realized it yet, wedding days are really long days. The effects of being “on” 100% of the time and carrying gear while traipsing all about can leave you mentally and physically exhausted. For years my feet would be screaming by hour 6. I tried lots of things for my cute dress shoes. Changing them to cute, flat, dress shoes, adding arch supports, adding heel gels, adding inserts plus heel gels, picking up a pair of the semi custom orthotic inserts.

They all only somewhat helped. I was dejected wondering how I saw some women running around in (gasp!) heels shooting weddings. (For the life of me I still can’t figure out how they do it.) I was sick of being in pain and needed to find a solution that would allow me the mobility and support I need for a wedding day.

photo by beeboys
photo by beeboys

One day I was out shopping for running shoes and noticed on the men’s shelf there were some fully black sneakers. No bright logos, nothing distracting. I asked the sales associate if they happened to have an equivalent in women’s. She looked at me and said “yeah, but they’re really ugly.” I laughed and told her comfort was the first concern, no bold or flashy colors was my second concern, and if they meet those criteria, I could care less what they look like!

She brought them out and she was right. They were ugly. They kind of look like nursing shoes. Definitely no where near fashionable, but when I put them on, I was amazed by the support. They hugged my feet like they were made for them. As I pictured myself in them on wedding day, I realized that, since I wear slacks, the break of the pant lays over about 75% of the shoe anyway. Only the toe and a little bit of the sole near the ground really is visible. It would “disguise” the ugliness and keep me from hobbling around on hour 10.

Since switching to the ugly shoes everything has been better. My foot pain is greatly diminished (hour 12 is still a bummer, but that might just be because it’s hour 12), my back pain is all gone, and I’m mentally a little fresher because I’m not constantly pushing my pain to some hidden place to try and ignore it. I can focus more on the work.

Over the years I’ve picked up a few other tips for what to wear that don’t get in the way of working. Here they are:

  • Buy dress slacks with some give. If you’re like me, you’ll be climbing up on things, laying down, crouching, and dashing to and fro at some point during the day. Having a little give in the fabric is a blessing of comfort while contorting yourself to get that perfect shot.
  • Wear darker colors. A lot of us tend to fall into the all black category but I think it’s fine to wear other colors as long as they are non-flashy non-attention grabbing colors. There’s a whole range of possibilities in the darker range. Darker blues, purples, greys, greens, etc. are all still great at not drawing a guest’s eye (and they’re great at disguising sweat).
  • Check with your clients, but most won’t expect you to get completely fancied up unless it’s a black tie wedding. Many times you can do well with slacks and a button down, nice t-shirt/blouse, or polo shirt. Ladies if you’re dress and skirt crazy, please make sure it’s at least knee length AND you wear shorts underneath (I feel like that goes without saying, but you’d be surprised what horror stories I’ve heard of wind + skirts).
  • Look into and invest in a camera strap system. I love wearing my Black Rapid double harness, but there are all kinds of other systems out there. I find these systems are essential for long term comfort of carrying gear. (Plus, with extra pockets & zipper pouches available as accessories, you can keep your shot list and timeline safe and close at hand.) Prior to using a harness I would just sling cameras over my shoulders and always end up subconsciously carrying one shoulder higher than the other and adding to neck pain later in the day. Whether you are more comfortable with a harness type system or a belt/holster type system, I urge you to look into it. Your neck and back will thank you.
  • Look into a rolling bag for your gear. For years I hauled gear on a shoulder bag, also adding to shoulder/back/hip pain. It was great for mobility (I didn’t have to stop and pick it up going up and down stairs) but overall fell short because of the toll it would take on my body. A sturdy rolling bag (I love my Think Tank Airport Security bag) can also help overall comfort and body wear and tear on wedding day.
  • Ladies, go ahead and put your hair up if it’s longer than shoulder length. Wedding days are long. That cute hairstyle is likely to get tangled and fall apart at some point during the day and apt to make you look sloppy and unprofessional when it does (because, let’s face it, we don’t have time to be fussing with our hair in the the rest room on wedding day). A smart ponytail or bun keeps you cool all day and won’t betray your professionalism.