On a wedding day, the bride and groom’s carefully selected vendors come together to serve specific roles with a shared objective of making the day a run smoothly. Coordinators keep everyone on schedule as bouquets and floral arrangements are assembled, finishing touches are added to cakes, and priests deliver their homilies. The wedding photographer is there to capture and preserve these memories.
As a wedding photographer, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of one of the most monumental days in people’s lives. This role is unique from other vendors. I remember the pressure I felt the very first time I was charged with the responsibility of photographing a wedding, “These photos could hang on their wall for generations; make sure you don’t miss any of the big moments!” I thought.
While I still feel a certain type of pressure going into wedding days, my outlook on capturing them has changed slightly over the years. This is partly due to my own experience as a bride, but mostly because of seasoned knowledge of how a wedding day will unfold. I have seen enough wedding days to anticipate how they will likely progress; most vendors will tell you the same thing, echoing the words of Julius Caesar, “experience is the best teacher.” Yet, the tangible anticipation of serving a couple as a wedding photographer prevails (even with years of experience) because the intimate moments that matter are fleeting.
In the photography community, there is an emphasis on capturing "moments that matter.” These moments happen between the scheduled events, or they might not be noticed by the bride and groom until they look through their gallery of images long after their wedding day.
It is impossible for the bride and groom to see every aspect of their wedding day when they are in the spotlight. They will miss the look on the father-of-the-bride’s face when his daughter vows her life to her husband, and they might not see the wedding guests in prayer during the dedication to the Blessed Mother. As the day unfolds, I am constantly on the lookout for these moments. It is a more organic approach than simply working from of a shot list or checking items off of a list; there is always a sense of anticipation.
Of course, it cannot be denied that there are parts of a wedding day that require structure. The family formal photos and standard portraits are important. As part of a pre-wedding questionnaire, I have all of my couples list any guests of honor who will be in attendance, and the family photos that they, or their parents, wish to have.
I thrive on looking for unique ways to capture the ceremony, depending on each church--as no two are the same. Parish churches, Cathedrals, and chapels all radiate a different type of beauty, and it is fun to get creative.
Although I have documented many types of wedding ceremonies over the years, a majority of my experiences have been in the context of a Catholic Mass.
The sacrament of matrimony adds an entirely new meaning to the phrase “moments that matter” because of the sacramental graces bestowed upon the couple. While these graces can never be fully captured in a picture, their essence is what I aim to reveal in the photos I take.
I try to focus on moments throughout the day that will last long after the sparkler send-off. While the handcrafted invitations and DIY centerpieces are exquisite and deserve to be remembered, they do not bear the same importance as those intangible moments. I can recognize a bride who values sacramental elements when she is seeking a photographer who is familiar with the beauty of the Catholic Mass.
It is a gift when I am able to partake in the Mass as a photographer. I have heard homilies that are edifying to my vocation as a wife, joined in prayer for couples alongside the congregation, and gratefully received communion as a part of my work day.
While I want my clients to have an overall enjoyable experience throughout wedding planning, it is most important that they cherish the photographs from their wedding day for years to come. If you are seeking a wedding photographer, look for someone whose work highlights what is most important to you. If you and your photographer value the same aspects of a wedding day, you will capture and cherish those fleeting yet precious “moments that matter” forever.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth is a national wedding + portrait photographer and Spoken Bride vendor. Although based in Maryland, she has traveled the country photographing weddings from California to Maine and everywhere in between. She loves old movies, the Green Bay Packers, and learning any/everything about American history. Elizabeth is married to her college sweetheart, Patrick, and the two are raising their baby boy Theodore just outside of Baltimore, MD.