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.
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