I can remember attending weddings as a little girl and teenager. There are the familiar hellos as you arrive to the church, the quieted giggles over something one of your cousins inappropriately said, the smell, the feel, I can just about put myself in the pew and relive each wedding again in my head. I remember always catching a glimpse of the bride approaching the altar on her father’s arm, but that is never what kept my gaze.
I would quickly turn to the groom to see his reaction. I have a ton of pictures from back in the day before iPhones existed when I would hold the camera up above the crowd (as high as a 5’1” girl can) to get a picture of the groom at that moment. (At one particular occasion, I caught a groom with his fingers in the shape of gun held to his temple – needless to say, that union didn’t last too long.)
I would look to the mother of the bride to see her simultaneous joy that the day had finally arrived and sorrow over losing her little lady. I would look to the groom’s parents to assess if they were truly ok with this move. I would scan over the bridal party to see what they were doing when they thought no one was looking. There were many dress shifts and nose scratches. And let’s not even get started on the flower girl and the ring bearer. They would often be adamant that they were not going to sit down with their mother who was eagerly calling them over with that motherly “get over here right now” face. You know the one.
I guess I always enjoyed the view from behind the scenes even when I wasn’t particularly behind the scenes as I am so often now as a wedding planner. Back there, you can see raw emotion. You can see what people are really thinking and how they are really feeling. They are truly authentic when they know the camera lens is focused elsewhere.
As a wedding planner, I do a lot of standing in the background assessing what needs to be done or who needs to be helped. I get the benefit of being able to see pride, love, sadness, and sometimes a few eye-rolls. After each wedding, I leave, I believe with a better understanding of the dynamics of a family than even the actually family members may recognize.
Often, I will get the sympathetic look from a family member who feels left out of the family portraits begging me to do something to make it right. I will see a sister-in-law smile to the bride and turn and roll her eyes toward her loving husband so often caught in the middle. I will see a dad who is trying so hard to keep the flower girl occupied in the corner while his wife gets her groove on to “Uptown Funk” on the dance floor. I will see a teenager appalled by his mother’s carefree dance moves while simultaneously trying to understand what’s going on with the overly affectionate couple who did not just get married, but better do so really, really, really soon.
But the best of all, I will see a mom and dad watching their beautiful daughter dance her first dance with her husband who is decidedly the man they prayed for but “will never be good enough”. While the camera is rightfully directed at the bride and groom, I get to capture these moments. This particular picture taken by my little ol’ iPhone has been re-posted by last week’s
bride as “probably my favorite picture”. This doesn’t take anything away from photographer as he is AMAZING, but sometimes, the real shots are over here with the wedding planner. Come take a look!
I definitively like it better back here. In front of the lens, every family is a nice, normal family. From behind the scenes, I get to see the real dynamics often without ever saying a word. I see the truth.