When people talk about weddings, especially budget priorities, you’ll often hear “when the day is over all you have are your spouse and the photos”. While that’s kinda true it really over looks why the photos are important. Photos are important because of the moment they capture, the story they tell, or the memory that they call up. That is never more true than with wedding photos. Wedding days are so busy for brides and grooms and the stories and moments that happen are some of the most important moments of their lives.
This photo of Carley for example is really self-explanatory in a lot of ways. It’s a photo of a bride, sitting in the bridal suite, wiping tears from her eyes. You may not notice right away but there is a letter in her lap. Couples often write letters to each other on wedding day. That isn’t the story. Matter of fact, she probably still has that letter. If the story was that Joe wrote her a letter, then the letter its-self would be the only important thing. The photo would be totally irrelevant. That isn’t the story though. The story, and the thing that makes it important, is when and how she read the letter. Joe and Carley’s big day was a busy one. They were surrounded by friends and family and definitely had a timeline of major moments of the day. It was a lot of fun and activity, and I think, exactly what they wanted.
When we walked in the front door of Annesdale we heard the girls upstairs in the bridal suite having a blast. The groom’s suite was the same story. So later, shortly before we walked down for the first look, I handed Carley the letter Joe had written her. She took it, laid it on the mantle, and said “I’ll read it later, let’s go downstairs”. Fast forward to when this picture actually happened; to when first look was done, portraits were done, and bridal party photos were done. Guests were arriving, and Carley had just slipped across the property, into the house, and upstairs; with a wall of wedding vendors, Joe, and her bridesmaids shielding her from the view of the arriving guests. As we made it to the top of the stairs everyone went in their different directions.
By the time we made it to the bridal suite it was just Carley, her wedding planner Michael, and I. Michael left and it was then that Carley read her letter from Joe. Up to that point Carley had spent her day having fun and being the bride. She would have several more hours of that day in her day too. In this moment though, after all of the pre-ceremony activity, and before her dad arrived to walk her down the aisle, she was alone. Joe’s words had her undivided attention. It was such a sharp contrast to the rest of the day that it was impossible not to notice the quiet of the moment. There is more happening in this photo than just Carley reading Joe’s letter. She is about to walk down the aisle. For the first and possibly the only time that day she is alone with her thoughts and Joe’s words. More than all that though it shows how much his words meant to her. Not because she cried when she read them, but because she waited to read them until there were no distractions.
Carley probably doesn’t remember all of those details. There was way too much happening and too many moments for her to remember those details. I certainly don’t remember the details surrounding most of our wedding photos. I do know how they make me feel though, and although the detail in the memory has changed over the last decade, the feeling of a moment doesn’t.