In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Going to the Chapel...

Late in December I assisted a photographer from Spencer at a wedding. It was fun and I learned some things, namely that I don't want to be a wedding photographer. Or at least not your standard wedding photographer anyway.

He was very good at it but there's just no way I could turn that attitude on and off like that, being all goofy and saying the same jokes over and over again to try and make people relax and smile. I don't mean to take anything away from him, he did excellent, just that it's something I know I wouldn't be able to do. The other thing is that I don't think I could make myself believe I'd doing the bride/groom any favors by photographing their wedding. The whole thing seemed so contrived and if it was my wedding it would have taken a lot of the fun out of my wedding day.

The wedding started at 4:00 and we started taking pictures at 1:00. So that meant that 3 hours before the wedding the bride and groom had to be all dressed and ready to go. Everything was planned out just how it would go, though it was all supposed to look real and spontaneous. It went something like this:

“All right John, put your wedding ring on and hold hers in your hand. A little higher, little higher, now tilt it out towards me, now look out the window, eyes towards me, great, perfect, just like that. Now look down at her ring, down a little more, eyes towards me, look a little happier if you can stand it, there, great, perfect!

Now, John, we're going to have you stand next to the window with your back to the front of the church. We're going to bring out Liz and she's going to walk up behind you so you don't see her coming. This will be the first time you see your bride in her dress so when you turn around I want to see big smiles and a look of surprise. Then just kind of stand there and talk to each other, look each other over, exchange your gifts to each other, etc.

Ok, now turn around John. Big smiles! Yes! Excellent! Now take her hands, hold them up a little higher, now both look down at your hands, heads down a little more, there, perfect. Now keep your heads down but eyes up at each other, excellent! Now lean in for a little kiss, just a light kiss, there, just like that, hold it, excellent.

Ok now John, take her ring out of the box. Liz, hold out your hand and let John take it in his. Now start slipping the ring on her finger, hold it right there, hands up a little more, tilted towards me a little, perfect, there, now finish sliding the ring on, now hold your hands so I can see both of your rings, up a little higher, there, perfect, now bring your heads in closer together, closer, closer, too close, there, perfect, now look down at your rings, there, we got it!”

It went on like that for nearly 3 hours moving from informal shots of the bride and groom in the church to more formal shots of them in front of a background setup in another room. Then it was back into the church to round up all the family members for shots of the bride with her family, now just her dad and brother, now just her mom and sisters, now just with the bridesmaids, now just with her grandparents. Then it was the grooms turn. Then it was both families together, both the grandparents together, both the parents together, the bride with her soon to be in-laws and the groom with his soon to be in-laws. Then it was back into the other room to stand in front of the backdrop and do even more with more family members.

After a couple hours you could tell most of the people were getting pretty tired of standing straight and putting on fake smiles for the camera. But then, about 20 minutes before the wedding was supposed to start the pictures were over. It was time for the bride and groom to take their rings back off so they could do the whole think over again, but for real this time. Everyone retired to their designated areas to recharge their batteries for one last push. Then 20 minutes after the actual wedding started it was over. I don't know how it looked to everyone in attendance or how it felt to the couple getting married but to me it looked just like what they'd been doing for the last 3 hours and I find it hard to believe some of the magic didn't get sucked out by the time they actually got hitched.

If you ask me the wedding day should be for the bride and groom. It should be laid back and relaxed with time for contemplation. Instead it seems to involve a whole lot of running around and stress during which the bride and groom just do what they're told by someone else all day long. By the end of the wedding I was pretty disillusioned by the whole marriage ceremony thing; not to mention the astronomical cost of the whole thing.

Upon their escape from the church the entire bridal party loaded into a big limo while the rest of us went to the reception hall to wait for them. They took a few laps around town before showing up a little over an hour later. What came spilling out of the limo was a totally different animal that what had piled in just an hour earlier. Everyone was genuinely smiling, relaxed, laughing and having a good time. After seemingly having the weight of the world on their shoulders for the last few days it was finally over with. They were done taking orders and making decisions. It was time to relax, have fun, party, and get drunk (they had a cooler of booze in the limo so they were already well on their way to that).

I couldn't help but smile when I saw them all come trooping into the reception hall in pairs while their entrances were announced by the DJ to fast paced music. Every couple did a little dance, gave piggy back rides, or did something goofy on their entrance. I hope that years later when they look back at their wedding they remember the good times of the day that they probably won't have any pictures of.

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You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.