You Won't Look like a Model when Dancing (and that's Okay!)
In wedding photography there are two basic schools of style: Traditional and Photojournalistic. Traditional is what is thought of from the weddings before the advent of digital photography: posed, perfectly lit, and not spontaneous. Photojournalistic is shooting things as they happen, flying more by the seat of your pants as it were. Most modern wedding photographers (myself included) do a mix of the two. I side more on the photojournalistic side, keeping posed photos to a small portion of the day, as I'd rather you have fun on your wedding day than be stuck in an endless posed photo parade. There is a downside to photojournalism: self doubt and body criticism by those being photographed.
For the most part, the people whose weddings we shoot are not models. They aren't trained on posing, aesthetics, or how to get the best angle for a shot. This is not a criticism, nor is it particularly a negative. Shots with models looking perfect and polished are beautiful to look at, but they lack a certain authenticity to them that candid 'in the action' shots have. My mother is a perfect example. When she is genuinely laughing and smiling, her face lights up and you can tell there is a sheer enjoyment being had in the moment. When she smiles for a camera, you can tell that she is smiling only because there's a camera pointed at her face. This is why during receptions at weddings, especially during dancing, we try to employ my most ninja-esque skills to capture images of people dancing and enjoying themselves, not posing for a camera. I have even been caught in less than perfect poses by other photographers.
The Couples generally love the photos, laughing at all the silly antics of the people they love. Others have been less than pleased when they see them. One wedding particularly sticks out at me. The mother of the bride was gorgeous, everyone who saw the photos thought so. My husband was looking over my shoulder while I was editing and went "Wow, she is super pretty. Doesn't look old enough to have kids in their 30's getting married." She was a stunner. I very proudly finish off the photos, put them on their online album, and send the bride the link, feeling pretty secure in the fact that the photos had captured the day in a romantic and emotional fashion. I was pretty pleased with them. The bride loved them, the groom loved them, her friends loved them. Then the mother saw them. I got a frantic e-mail from the bride begging me to take them off my website, because her mother was in tears at how horrible she looked. I, Amanda, and everyone who had seen the photos was mystified, because she looked beautiful. Not wanting to cause the bride any distress over familial issues, I took the album off of the viewable page, feeling sad that people wouldn't be able to see how beautiful her wedding was, as I was quite proud of it. All because one woman couldn't see how beautiful she was.
The truth is, no one sees you quite as harshly as you see yourself. But there's an important thing to keep in mind when you're dancing at a wedding and someone is taking your picture: no one who sees the photo of you will think to themselves that you look unattractive. If you're doing someone amusing, they'll think you look hilarious. If you are lovingly dancing with your partner they'll think you look romantic. Mostly, the people looking at them will think you look beautiful all dressed up to celebrate a wedding. I don't purposefully go through photos and look for ugly ones to post. If it's truly horrifying, I don't include it in the album, but for the most part you look like you're having a great time, and that's more attractive than any perfectly posed image could ever be. So don't worry! Everyone who loves you still thinks you look amazing.