There is a moment from my wedding that I don’t really like to talk about, much less write about, because the more I dig it out, the more I think about and analyze it until it gets fuzzy on the edges. Like handling a necklace with a chain that gets kinked-up easily, the more frequently I remember that moment the more it seems to change in my memory.
The best way for it to stay pure is in my head. But for the sake of this entry, which I’ve been thinking about for a while, I’ll talk about it:
Sometime after our ceremony but before dinner, Walt and I ran back into my in-laws’ house so I could change into a reception dress. The 1940s-inspired glamour gown I wore during the ceremony was too long for me to walk around in, and I had a tea-length Betsey Johnson dress to wear for the rest of the night. My husband of maybe 10 minutes helped me into my second dress and tied the bow for me while I looked at us in the mirror, my back to him and his hands working the pink ribbon. It took him three tries to get the bow right.
There are no photos of this moment, and what’s more, I’m glad that there aren’t. This memory belongs wholly to me — how I felt with the sash pulled taut against my middle and the light from the window fading as the sun was setting on that grey day — and not reinterpreted by someone on the outside of our little bubble. It wouldn’t be the same if I had a photograph of this moment. It would’ve looked the way someone else saw it.
I loved our wedding photographer, of course; she was one of the best decisions we made concerning our wedding. But I’m glad that that memory is mine: how I saw us in the mirror, and not reinterpreted by her lens.
I feel as though this is important to note: not everything in a wedding will be documented. As a wedding photographer, I am there to photograph a representation of your day — something that, when you look back on it, will evoke memories of “Oh, look at Auntie Muriel dance! Remember how she did the chicken dance?” or, “I can’t believe we picked that color of green for our ties! It must’ve been the 2010s,” or, “Look at how young we were… gosh, that was such a wonderful day.” You will remember friends of old, family members who have passed, even details like what napkin patterns you may have chosen for that special day, years ago.
But we do not capture everything. And in this age of phone cameras and Instagram and the ubiquitousness of documentation, it’s easy to think that a wedding photographer can and should capture everything. Long ago, when I first started out, I had a client who was upset that I didn’t deliver every twirl of her first dance in photographs. And I felt then — as I feel now — that photographs are amazing, photographs are invaluable, photographs are important, but photographs can only go so far to preserve a feeling.
This might come as a shock to some, but I encourage couples to go off by themselves and to do things without me on their wedding day. I give them room to breathe, be by themselves, soak in the moment.
Documentation is fantastic for candid moments and details, but when it comes to the little things that you hold closest in your heart, maybe it doesn’t need to be photographed. And I really hope that this strange blog post reminds you to be present on your wedding day.