At weddings, there are a few things you just don’t do. You shouldn’t eat cake before it’s cut or step on the wedding dress. Unless you have a very strong urge, you shouldn’t object to the wedding during the toasts or sneeze during the first dance. Also, I can’t think of ANY good reason for you to sit at the bridal table to eat. When hitting the dance floor after the first dances, you’d be wise to not knock over the bride and groom. And when creating the aisle for a spectacular sparkler sendoff, you would be wise to not joke about setting the bride’s dress on fire. These though, are most certainly not the worst things you could do at a wedding, though… Well… unless you were serious about using your sparkler to ignite the bride. Outside of that one though, there really is only ONE unforgivable. What’s worse than standing up during the toast and telling the audience that you don’t think this marriage is such a good idea? Three words: lose a ring. Even just TYPING that makes me hold my breathe.
Thankfully this has NEVER happened to me, and most certainly never will! But, I have dropped them before. I’ll admit it! I was doing some intricate stuff trying to get the rings right in the perfect position while talking to my assistant and by golly one of them just slipped!!! Completely my fault for not giving them my full attention. To make it worse, the bride saw it. It felt like someone took a blisteringly hot needle to the delicate edge of my ego balloon. BUT, ever since that day I’ve vowed to never let it happen again! A promise without a plan is merely a wish though. So, I developed my four “Ring Rules” to help me remember:
1. Rings Take Priority
Above all else, you must consider the rings in your hand as sacred entities that you have vowed to defend with your very life! You are the Ring Bearer on an epic quest to preserve three rings of immense power. Think about it. Of all the things this couple owns, their rings are the FULLEST physical representation of their covenant with each other. After the “I dos,” the wedding dress will be dry-cleaned and stored. Well, except for the occasional rededication ceremony. The rings though… those will pretty much be on them forever. As such, it’s our responsibility of photographers to guard them then with the utmost ferocity. Hold them with a firm grip, and remember that all other actions take a secondary role behind keeping those rings safe.
2. They Come with Boxes
If you MUST talk with someone or get distracted by something happening, remember that the rings come in boxes! Use ‘em! There’s no reason to carry around super thin, easy to lose rings when you can put them in clunky, easy to find rectangular prisms! I try to always bring the ring boxes with me if they’re handy. That way I can be assured that all rings are guarded and accounted for as I move from one location to the next.
3. Never leave the rings unattended for ANY time without notifying the MOH/BM where they are.
This may seem basic, and it is. It’s so basic that it’s FUNDAMENTAL. Leaving the rings without someone watching them is like you letting someone hold your camera for a little while, and then finding out that they set it down on a reception table and didn’t tell anyone to watch it… You would likely give them the most enraged look you could muster as you desperately sprinted toward the reception hall.
4. Leaving Room for Trouble
One of the most embarrassing sounds a wedding photographer can hear is that of metal rings landing on a tile floor… If you’re smart, you’ll never work with the rings in an area where they could get lost. General rule, don’t set rings down next to air vents, or water drains.
Despite all of the previous precautions though, you must unfortunately take account for one unstoppable force: human error. Mistakes are going to happen! But even when they do, you must be prepared to immediately move past. Just to name a few mistakes I’ve made: I let the bride’s dress drag along the ground by hanging it wrong, on my way to a session, I spilled hot chocolate all over my pants, and I accidentally sent a personal message to a client about an inside joke [nothing inappropriate but it must have been a VERY confusing moment]. Mistakes are part of being US. And as I now tell myself quite often, “Daniel, I since you will never be perfect, I no longer require you to be.” Mistakes are going to happen. DO NOT DROP THE RINGS, but if you do, APOLOGIZE AND MOVE ON! The day is not over. You still have a thousand micro-moments to capture. Do whatever you have to do to move past it, and continue capturing a beautiful wedding day.
5. When in Doubt, Use a Stunt Double [Suggested by Chelsea Schaefer Photography]
After I posted I got a GREAT suggestion from Chelsea! In those situations where you’re a little nervous about how you’re trying to balance the rings somewhere, instead of risking it, bring a spare! You can get fake wedding rings online for really cheap and do a practice setup to make sure things will balance like you want them to! Thanks Chelsea!
Outside of that, make up your own rules! =D The joy of this job is that each day will bring you new challenges that require entirely new methods for success! If you have any other suggestions that I didn’t come up with, I’d love to hear them!