Looking back on the emotional journey of your wedding day in years to come can be a little like looking side on at a mountain range. You’d think that the highest peak would be the moment during the ceremony when you hear the words ‘I now declare that you are husband and wife’ or whatever words your celebrant has chosen to use. For a lot of couples the ‘high point’ of the day might be another moment entirely, something seemingly innocuous that sticks in the memory but comes to mean the most when thoughts of the wedding day occur in a decade or two’s time.
Some couples, perhaps a little nervous to begin with, can be overawed by the whole wedding ceremony, particularly if their guest list is in the hundreds and the venue is perhaps a little imposing. In situations like this, it’s understandable how difficult it is to take it all in and to actually experience the moments as they happen. In this situation, it’s quite common to take a deep breath in once the ceremony is over and to be hit emotionally by another, smaller event on the day.
Quite often, whilst the priest or registrar is preparing the paperwork, I see couples exchange what I like to call ‘We’ve done it!’ expressions. For a few seconds the pressure is off and it sinks in that you are finally married. It’s a lovely moment to discreetly photograph. Story telling photography is all about freezing meaningful moments in time and images like this are lovely to have as they mark a point, almost like a corner has been turned.
Most weddings follow many months and years of planning and to finally have reached the point when you’ve done what you’ve set out to do is a great relief in many ways. It’s a point in the wedding day a lot of couples feel they can relax and are much more in the mood for a party! I think there’s a huge sense of contentment and security for newlyweds. Technically of course these days, no one actually needs to get married but if it’s right for you, you’ll feel so different walking out of the church, register office or hotel than when you walked in.
For one bride whose wedding I photographed, she said the most poignant moment of her day was when her father, perennially uncommunicative in emotional terms, squeezed her hand after the ceremony and for the first time in her life she saw tears in the corners of his eyes as he mouthed the words ‘I love you’.
So don’t be disappointed if you don’t feel a great rush of euphoria when you’re stood in front of the registrar, priest or vicar. It’s quite an emotionally intense moment preceded by a long period of planning, preparation and plain hard work and it can be a difficult thing to relax and take it all in at that moment. Just be on the look out later in the day for those tiny moments, little glimpses of love, affection and good will, that show how real the relationships you have with your loved ones are.