You’re getting married and having a wedding! That’s so exciting, and there’s about a million things to think about right now. But, I’d like you to take pause for a moment and think about that exclamation. You’re getting married and you’re having a wedding. You probably already know this, but those are two different things. The thing is, in the whole whirlwind of dreaming about this special day, the distinction might have become lost on you.

So here’s a refresher:

A wedding is a party. A big celebration honoring the commitment you and your fiance are making to one another. A marriage, on the other hand, is a life planned and merged and lived together. Your marriage doesn’t happen on your wedding day, it starts there.

When you think about that distinction, and go down the list of “wedding vendors”, one of them doesn’t seem to fit. The Photographer. Let me explain.

groomsmen-the-streetYou hire wedding vendors to help throw you an awesome party

The caterer brings amazing food so that your guests are fed, they’re happy, and they have a great time at your wedding. The flowers bring elegance and punctuate the one-of-a-kind nature of the day, they also compliment the bride and make the room beautiful. The dress makes you feel and look gorgeous while you go through this rite of passage, and it brings all your guest’s attention onto you and your fiancee. The DJ makes the party bounce so that everyone is exhausted, sweaty and already reminiscing about the epic dance floor before the night is even over.

Where’s the wedding photographer during all this? Well, honestly, he’s probably getting in the way. Unless you meticulously crafted the day so that he wouldn’t, which is exactly what most people do.

But seriously, why?

A “wedding vendor”

Certainly, it’s fun to have a skilled photographer around. But even the best photographer causes things take longer. In most instances, photos of you, your family, your wedding party, they all have to happen on the day of the wedding. It takes time. Family formals are all awkwardly sandwiched in right at the moment your guests are most excited to see you. They have to wait. Photography also cost you some spontaneity–what happens when you’re ready for the first dance if the photographer is not? You wait.

a lot of time goes into planning how to make the photographer’s impact on the day less severe. But that’s why I don’t like the term “wedding photography” and why I think it’s incorrect to think of your photographer as a “wedding vendor”.

So if the photographer doesn’t add to your wedding, why do you need one?

wedding-party-outside-formal-photo

“Wedding Vendors” are there to make your wedding. But you’re wedding photographer isn’t pulling his weight for the day. Maybe he could wear a disco hat or something. The reason the photographer seems so out of place is because he’s not there for your wedding. He’s there for your marriage.

Your photographer postmarks moments in time, that will gradually become a disorganized network of memories in your mind. He visualizes things that have yet to become meaningful, such as the hugs and kisses of passed relatives, and smiles and hugs from friends who have been pulled to another place in life. You don’t need photos of these things now–you need them later.

Your photographer commits to time some of your most tender emotions, right at the moment they are felt most deeply. We don’t have too many opportunities in life to predict the significance of a specific day. So It’s hard to preserve the memory of yourselves in that place. But if you do, you leave yourself a trail of breadcrumbs to remember where you came from, and you provide important clues to your children that they may one day need to help understand and accept themselves.

Your photographer is there to help you start your marriage

bride-and-bridesmaids-downtown-new-orleans

It just so happens that your marriage starts at your wedding. But to put your wedding and your marriage on equal footing is to trivialize the one and deeply misunderstand the other.

So, having seen the impact of photography during crucial moments in my family’s history,  my sensibilities say that you should commit time energy and money to hiring a photographer you truly feel comfortable with. Who you resonate with. But most importantly, who you feel encourages not just a positive experience on your wedding day, but a positive experience in your marriage.