Sometimes, a need to write a post comes quite unexpectedly, right out the blue. My husband is at a funeral today, a family member who I wasn’t close to, but who’s passing has none-the-less kind of knocked me a little sideways. Having only found out, I’d say, 8 weeks ago, that his body was riddled with cancer and that he had 3, at best 6 months left, it seems beyond cruel that he has already flown from this earth, leaving a wife and family behind who have had barely any time to get their heads around things, never mind begin to grieve the loss of their husband, and father.
Pardon me for the morbid nature of the opening of this post, there is good point I wanted to make, please stick with me.
I’ve been thinking this this week about the role weddings play in bringing together family members. I know for some people, the big family wedding is a non-starter from the off, perhaps just not up their street. Maybe budget is an issue, perhaps they don’t have many family members. Maybe an elopement is all they dream about, or perhaps family relations may be difficult, and so a more intimate style celebration is in order. But for those of you for whom family is important, I really believe that your wedding day offers a rare and very precious opportunity to create lovely memories of time with the special people in your life, and that it’s so important to try not to overlook that.
One of the most beautiful and best ways to create lasting memories of course is through photography. We look through hundreds, thousands of wedding photographs every week at Love My Dress, as photographers and brides submit their weddings to feature on these pages. You could say we have an eye for knowing what makes a good wedding photograph, and that we might know when a photographer is naturally very skilled and talented behind the camera lens.
Stay with me – I’m getting there.
I was asked the other day to comment on a piece for the BBC (not yet published) about ‘what makes a bloggable wedding?’ and I found myself a little caught off guard by the question. The thing is, two years ago, I’d have had an answers ready to roll off the tongue, which would have sounded something like this ‘a stylish bride and groom, an amazing dress but it’s all in the detail!’. As I considered how I once approached wedding submissions in this way, I realised how very much my approach has changed in recent times. Of course, I’m always interested in the detail, the quirky venue decor, that gorgeous vintage brooch, her amazing hair style, that glamorous vintage inspired dress – but – increasingly more and more these days, I’m including images in my features that I wouldn’t have done a couple of years back. Images that capture the emotional value of the day.
This is what I found myself saying to the journalist who asked me about bloggable weddings…
‘…I will say that over the past year or so, my focus has shifted a little to not quite so heavily focused on the detail. These days, I will include shots in a feature that I wouldn’t have done as little as a year ago, shots of family members etc that before now I might have considered inconsequential in the contexts of my blog post. I do this because I think it’s important not to loose sight of what weddings are all about – a day full of love and those special moments with loved ones.
I try to look out for those special moment photographs now too – they may have no detail in them at all, but they might illustrate a beautiful tender moment between two relatives who haven’t seen each other in a while, or the Father of the bride watching his daughter proudly from afar, as she dances with her new husband. Even something as mundane as a fond gaze in the direction of the bride – those moments captured whilst the subject is unaware the photographer is doing their job can hold lots of emotional value and really help to contextualise what was happening at the time.’
Image Credit: McKinley Rodgers
The photograph above featured in this amazing real wedding that I blogged earlier this week. The bride is enjoying a precious and tender moment with her father who had travelled all the way from Colorado to London to see his daughter tie the knot. Her father is in the early stages of dementia. Admittedly, this isn’t an image I might have included in a feature say, a couple of years ago. Now, it is one of the first type of images I’m drawn to when I’m preparing a real wedding to share with readers for the blog, because it moves me, and reminds me what weddings, for the most part, are all about, a celebration of love, life and family.
The photographs below were taken from a wedding that was inspired by the bride and groom’s grandparents, who enjoyed a blissful 50 years of marriage. It features their friends, who also played an important role in their wedding day. Again, not an image I might have featured on the blog at one time, but as the bride and grooms friends played such an important role on their day, I wanted to visually represent that in my blog piece…
“The inspiration for our wedding were our Grandparents! Chris and I want to be old and grey together sitting in our garden holding hands reflecting on what a wonderful life and marriage we have had together 50 years from now. My grandparents had that.
We were so lucky that we had so much support from friends and family. We could not have done it without them, I’m so grateful to them all. They really helped make our day special.”
Image Credit: Emma Case
I don’t want to ramble. I know that these blog pages hold some influence, and so it occurred to me after all the thoughts I’ve been having this week that I needed to share a point or two with my readers, one that I hope drives home what is important when it comes to your the wedding planning experience, when we can get so easily swept along in this crazy carnival and lose sight of what’s important.
I want to impress on your this afternoon the role your wedding day can hold in creating precious memories of those you love and treasure the most, through photography. Speak with your wedding photographer and make sure they know how important it is to you to capture the people as well as all the detail on camera. Trust me, the shots you’ll be dying to see first when you receive your wedding images will be the people shots.
In my book, Style Me Vintage Weddings, I feature a whole chapter on the value and role of wedding photography and I encourage readers to set aside a good portion of their wedding budget to cover photography costs. I know you might have read it elsewhere and will read it again, but it is so important. Find a photographer whose imagery makes a strong connection with you. Look for good, clean, crisp, beautiful photography, but look for the type of shots they are capturing too – posed or more relaxed – reportage or group shot style? The photography has to make a connection with you – to make you feel ‘I want to be in photographs taken by that person!’. A good wedding photographer will of course fulfil all your wishes when it comes to the style of photography you are looking for, but they will also capture all those beautiful moments you weren’t there to see on your day, or that group shot with all those precious members of your family present for one perfect, beautiful day of fun, laughter and jolliness.
Please don’t be put off by the traditional group shot. Read this article instead by photographer Laura Babb and think again.
When I look back at our group shot below, taken on our wedding day on 20 March 2009, there are already 3 faces in that image whose souls are no longer with us. One of them is the Uncle being buried today. We have also since lost My Grandma and Phil’s Nana. Of course, the beauty of life is that since then, we have also gained a whole other human being – now a feisty little two year old and I’m looking forward to her being old enough to tell her about our wedding, who was there, what a beautiful day it was, and how important to me this particular photograph is.
Image Credit: Karen McGowran
Of course, let’s not forget, if you can afford it, the wonders of moving
film too. I was with a colleague on Monday this week who had her wedding day recorded on film – she says watching it almost transports her back to there and then, and reminds her of all the little things she might have forgotten or not bore witness to on the day. She is so happy she had her wedding recorded on film for this purpose. I have lost count the number of times a newlywed couple say their one regret was not having the film recorded (see yesterday’s real wedding for the latest example).
Life is so precious, we ought be creating beautiful memories to treasure and share in the future every moment we can. So maybe today, and in the spirit of bank holiday relaxation, put the wedding DIY projects aside and give yourself some time to think over what is truly important on your wedding day. And then read this wonderful, wonderful blog post (if you haven’t already) by wedding photographer Anne Almasy on the Huffintgon Post. A must read for any one entering stressed out bridezilla territory.
My lovely Grandma Edna (now in heaven) on my wedding day. Image Credit: Karen McGowran
If I could leave you with a few words form a wonderful review of my book that appeared on The Wedding Reporter’s blog today that underlines the role of good photography and the role it plays in helping us recall the joy, love and excitement we experienced on our wedding day, to remember the people we love that were there and to help our future generations appreciate what was important to us at the time. All that ‘detail and decor’ is fun and exciting and should be embraced whole heartedly, but please don’t let it all over-shadow the nuts and bolts of why you’re doing this all in the first place…
‘A sense of history and the idea of creating a legacy are something that obviously are imbued in what we do at The Wedding Reporter
and is perhaps why this book appeals so much. By sandwiching each chapter with wedding photos from the original versions of each decade’s matrimonial aspirations alongside contemporary reinventions of the same design principles, Style Me Vintage Weddings neatly displays the changing scene of weddings whilst continuing to add to the story.
Like any good outfit, this book is of course beautifully accessorised with little gems like sleek imagery and guiding ideals. This is not just a collection of shabby chic aspirations or Gatsby imitations but a combination of the emotional connotations of fashion with a genuine reverence for how our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents tied the knot in their own imitable styles.’
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What makes good wedding photography to you? Are you a group shot person? Has your opinion of wedding photography changed recently too?
Readers, take a look at our recommended suppliers page if you are still looking for a wedding photographer of your own.
Love Annabel xx
ps – R.I.P Uncle Paul xx
31 thoughts on “Pausing For Thought To Consider The Wedding And Wedding Photographs That Really Matter…”
“Trust me, the shots you’ll be dying to see first when you receive your wedding images will be the people shots.”
This is so true, and this is such a beautiful post Annabel. It reflects my philosophy of capturing weddings – as a photographer, I don’t love doing the group shots but agree it is a valuable part of the story. My favourite shots are almost always the candid moments – particularly between the bride and her father, like the one above.
What a fantastic, thought provoking post! As a MOB, I have been very aware throughout the wedding planning that for some guests this may be the last time they appear on family photographs, as we are not a family to take loads of pics. I have also been very aware that some very important people won’t be there. My daughtrr’s beloved grandfather died from Altzheimers just a week before her engagement and he would have so loved to see her happily married! The day is all about celebrating love and a good photographer is the one who sees examples of love all around- the arm around the waist, the small child being danced with, the parents kissing in the background- not just a stylish bride and groom. Celebrate the love and capture it on camera to cheer you up on those dark days when the sun struggles to shine through sadness and loss………long live the wedding celebration! Thank you sooooo much for seeing beyond the frock, the favours and the flowers- there is more to life!! Xx
What a beautiful blog post and one that is extremely poignant for me today. My Grandad passed away last night and already I am wanting to have a browse through my wedding photos and see the beautiful shots our photographer managed to get of us together on that special day. I also have a special message from him on my wedding DVD which I will treasure forever especially now.
Thank you so much for your comment Katie, I’m so sorry to hear of your Grandad passing away – I hope your photographer took photographs that will make you smile as you recall the lovely day you had when he was there to help you celebrate.
Lots of love xXx
A great piece and glad that it is out there. It is so important to talk to your photographer and I love it when couples tell me all about their families, as I feel a part of it on the day. I love seeing my parent’s wedding photographs for that very reason that some people had gone before I grew up to know them. I treasure my wedding photos of people that are no longer here to chat to and it reminds me how wonderful it was to be with them on our special day. Those images take me straight back to that emotion.
So true, after photographing weddings for a while you come to receive the odd email along the lines of “It has been quite a six months…my mum passed away at the end of January and the memories you captured at our wedding are such a continuing treasure for us both” it totally changes your perspective and priorities as a photographer. Great post Annabel
So true Annabel.
We allocated almost all of our budget to a venue that could hold everyone we wanted there and on feeding them and on having them photographed for posterity. We could have had 70 less people and saved money on a marquee and on food but, you know what, I can’t wait to see everyone on our wedding day. We have invited EVERYONE we want there, even if we only see them once a year at Christmas (e.g. cousins and parents friends) and they are so excited it is undoubtedly worth the extra cost. None of this “they don’t have my phone number and I haven’t spoken to them in three weeks business”. The Husband-to-be was absolutely determined that the focus of our day should be on people. I perhaps would have invited less people, and spent more on things that don’t really matter like paper staws. Oh how clarity comes with so little time to go.
With four weeks to go (holy crap) its amazing to get notes or texts from guests saying how excited they are about coming, and how they can’t wait. You don’t get that warm fussy feeling from the correct amount of gold foil on letterpressed stationary, the correct shade of the marquee carpet or the perfect ivory blush shade of bridesmaid dresses, all of which I have thrown massive strops about (tres embarassing when its written down). Weddings and LIFE are about people. Not about irrelevant stuff that people won’t remember. Bring.it.on.
Eek! 4 weeks to go…..
Ah this was a lovely thing to read. Nothing is more important than your loved ones – everything else can be replaced. Our wedding in five weeks time is probably the last big family event my grandfather will make it to – he has alzheimer’s and struggles quite a lot with noisy/busy situations now. He’s been an absolute inspiration to me and it means the world to us that him and my grandma will be there. But other people won’t, including my hubbie to be’s mother, who died many years ago. Recently his aunt sent us a heap of old photos to display at the wedding. Having had a stressful few months if was so nice to sit down with him and his sister and reminisce and hear about their childhood. I haven’t laughed that much in ages and it really brought all those memories to life. I look forward to being able to do that with my own children in years to come.
What a wonderful post. Thank you for this.
I really love capturing those candid moments when guests don’t realise I’m photographing them
Lovely post Annabel. I’m so grateful that our photographers managed to get a photo of each and every person there. It made such a difference, and I find myself so drawn to the more quiet images whenever I look at our pictures.
What a great post Annabel, and something very close to my heart too. My mother was our photographer, and although she captured a lot of lovely shots of us looking slim and young (what a difference 12 years can make!) I have barely any pictures of her, or of the story of our day. Now she is no longer with us, it makes it all the more poignant, and reminds me of the importance to tell the story of the day as much as possible. Having said that, I do agree a few of the traditional family group shots most definitely still have a very important place on this special day too.
Hi Annabel, thank you so much for that post. My response is perhaps not just so much about the importance of photography but about your comments regarding what is important about a wedding as a whole. (And I apologise about the length of this in advance!) I’ve been an avid reader of LMD for the past 18 months in the lead up to my own wedding which was in January of this year; as you can see I’m still clearly addicted to the pages! I also immediately recognised the first photograph used in your post as I’m also a follower of the talented work of Pen and Cam at McKinley-Rogers, beautiful people who we were so lucky to also have photograph our day.
Myself and my husband actually had two weddings (yey!) – the ‘official’ one in my home county of Somerset in England and then a blessing only two weeks ago here in Brisbane where Paul is from and where we currently live. The UK wedding was fabulous and I absolutely treasure the memories of the day which were so brilliantly captured by Pen and Cam. Dear friends travelled from Australia, America and all over the UK to be with us. However, I spent many nights in the lead up creating hand-made touches to create the vision that I had built up from reading numerous blogs and magazines of picture-perfect, visually stunning weddings. While we wanted the wedding to be about the ‘important stuff’ and being surrounded by the people we most love and treasure, it was hard not to get swept up in having to create that perfect styled look we are so subjected to seeing in all the glossy magazine pages. It did turn out brilliantly but I wish in hindsight I had chilled out a bit more over the details and taken more time on the day to just ENJOY being in it.
Fast-forward to our Brisbane wedding where my styling vision was entirely different but again saw me crafting and scouring shops for the perfect props in the weeks leading up to it. However, two nights before the big day I suddenly found myself on an operating table in emergency theatre due to severe haemorrhaging from a miscarriage. Nobody but us knew about the pregnancy as we were due to have our 12 week scan the very next day, just in time to announce our happy news at the blessing. My initial reaction was that we would have to call the whole thing off. But Paul actually made what seemed like a thousand phone calls to all our guests the next day, explained the situation and we (rather nervously) changed the blessing to happen in our back garden rather than the Botanic Gardens where we had planned. It was the best decision ever. We had such an outpouring of love and support from our friends and family. With the events of the previous two days I suddenly could not care less about whether there were enough flowers for my vintage theme and all the beer bottles we’d collected over the past 6 months. I didn’t care that I wouldn’t be able to wear my beautiful slinky 1930s style gown from our UK wedding. Although I knew all along in my heart what was truly important about a wedding, that day it well and truly smacked me in the face. All I cared about was that the two most important people in my life, Paul and our beautiful daughter Maisie, would be there as Paul and I renewed our vows to each other, surrounded by our family and friends who mean so much to us and without whom we couldn’t get through these tough times. What was an incredibly sad time turned into a day celebrating all we are already SO incredibly blessed with. It is also times like this I also feel so far away from my own wonderful family and friends back in the UK. And knowing none of my family were going to be in Brisbane for the blessing made the pictures so brilliantly captured by Pen and Cam from our UK wedding all the more valuable at this time. I looked through them the day before the blessing and just felt the love and laughter spilling from the photographs; I knew they were all there with us in spirit as Paul and I repeated our promises to each other the next day. And yes, the ones I paused and smiled the most over were not of the little details I spent so much time over, but the moments of love and happiness captured between ourselves, our family and our friends. That is what is truly important in life and I will treasure those captured moments forever.
(Oh and incase you were wondering, I wore a beautiful knee length, long-sleeved lace dress that my mum and dad had bought me for my previous birthday at the blessing – again, best decision ever, it just felt right to be wearing something from the other two most important people in my life ;0) )
Thank you so much Ali for this lovely comment, I’m happy to hear that you connect with my words above, it’s quite comforting actually. You are so right too, the best shots are always, always the candid ones as you describe.
Thanks for taking time to comment xXx
Hello Mother of the Bride!
And thank you so much for visiting and taking time to leave some kind words.
“The day is all about celebrating love”
Yes, yes, yes!
Step aside from your concerns about whether this matches that, whether your DIY creations will impress and whether your dress will fit your tiny pre-wedding enforced diet so that you feel a little bit more…..beautiful.
Lap up the love, enjoy, there will never, ever be another day like it. That I have learned.
Thank you Ann, really appreciate your lovely words.
Such an interesting observation Mark, thank you.
It really is true. I look at our wedding photographs a lot for the people, that precious moment in time that I never even realised was so precious *at* the time. I just hope our readers realise how very, very lucky they are to have a day where they can celebrate love, surrounded by all their loved ones.
Oh Becca, I remember the very first time you made contact. I can’t believe you’re only 4 weeks away now!
I’m genuinely so excited for you. This is such a wonderful time in your life. Cherish every moment, now, and on the day itself. Spend time on the day with the ones you love the most. Make beautiful memories and all will be well.
Thank you so much for taking time to leave a comment Becca xXx
Inbal, as a regular reader of Love My Dress, I want to wish you SO much love and luck for your wedding in 5 weeks time, I really do feel excited for you (wouldln’t be much good at my job if I didn’t feel excited for our readers!).
Have a beautiful day my love – ensure your photographer get’s some precious photographs of you with your Grandfather.
I have to admit I just didn’t think in that way when I got married (the things you learn) and I wish wish wish I had more photos of me and my Grandma on our wedding day.
Display those photos with pride. One day, you and your husband will be the ones in ‘those family photographs’ on display at a wedding of your grand children or neice or nephew.
Enjoy and have the most amazing time.
Thank you for inspiring me Bridge xXx
Thank you so much Pen.
What I absolutely LOVE about you and your photography is that you are so ‘from the heart’, so genuine – it’s all about the love, the ceremony of getting married, it’s so genuine.
I really want you to know that so many people speak so highly of you in that sense. They love what you do because of your approach.
I’m fascinated by the fact your Mum took your wedding photographs! Was she a photographer herself or did you entrust her to the job anyway? You make a great point though. And yes, I think the family traditional shot can prompt a love/loathe response and can be a little tiresome on the day but so very worth it. You’re creating a wonderful little piece of history right there in that shot.
Thanks for taking time to comment Penny xXx
Those moments like the bride had with het father… so moving, beautiful!
You really nailed it, considering what shots are ‘really’ important on a wedding day. So often I hear when I ask why the couple would like a film (I’m a videographer in the Netherlands): we would really like a film because not only do we want to re-experience our day, but we really want those people captured that are most important to us: parents, grandparent and friend from far away.
And one the subject of those smaal important moments:
I once filmed a couple that was really ‘closed’ emotionally, they expressed little emotion, I felt like they weren’t moved at all. During diner her mother held a speach. And in that moment, is was just one glimpse of emotion, a small tone-shift in her voice and the bride with one tear on her cheek that really made their day memorable to me. No matter how closed people can be – even sometimes on their wedding day – no human is without emotion, and capturing these moments makes your job just the best imaginable! The couple was just so happy with their film and the details within it!
Love your blog!
Great article Annabel and very well written 🙂 It’s so true that what is really important on the wedding day are the people, it’s so easy to get swept away with details (and as much as they are lovely) the people are who makes a wedding. That is our main focus on the wedding day, telling the story of the day and focusing on the people. I love it and feel privileged to tell their stories. 🙂
My next wedding is at South Farm this week and the bride has told me her grandmother is 103.. photographing this lady and with her granddaughter and family will be one of my priorities on the day.. great post x
Wow! That’s amazing Marie! I would LOVE to see some of those photos!
Thank you very much YPS – I am going to have to *insist* on afternoon tea with you very very soon you know! Can’t believe we live so close and still haven’t met! xXx
I have kept stalling in trying to find the right words to respond to you – nothing I wrote seemed adequate, so really, I just want to say, thank you so very very much for taking the time to share this very personal story with us, it has reinforced even more the point I was trying to make in sharing this feature, so really, thank you from the very bottom of my heart.
I’m so thankful that you visit Love My Dress but am just really happy that in the end, you got to experience joy and a really genuine sense of happiness on your wedding day, despite what you had to go through (I’m so sorry by the way, I really am).
Thank you again Louise, thanks for reading my post and really getting it. I hope you will stick around for a little while, we love to keep our newlywed readers smiling.
With much love and best wishes,
Great comment Steven, you make the point so well too about how a photographer/videographer will be able to skillfully be prepared for and capture all those special emotional moments.
Thanks for taking time to leave some words.
Thanks so much for your kind words Annabel! I will definitely be sticking around, for a long while! ;0)
This is s a great post, I always try to tactfully point out that Photographs taken on the big day will last a lifetime and beyond , can you really put a price on that ? It’s a shame when hear about brides who can’t afford a halfway decent photographer ( and some of them really can’t ) as I think everyone deserves one on their Wedding Day. I’m also a big fan of Albums for the same reasons, something tangible to keep.
We used AppyCouple for our wedding website and app. http://www.appycouple.com/ It was great!!
Wow that photo with the father and his daughter is stunning. Right ‘click’ at the right time!
I know how hard it can be, with so many things going on on a wedding day. Focus, focus, click.
Great stuff. Will keep an eye on your blog! 🙂