Monday, January 6, 2014

Looking for the "One": A Photographer's Search for Wedding Calm in an Extroverts' World

We're just a few days into the New Year, and, almost reflexively, my mind goes to weddings. It's understandable given that I'm a photographer and weddings are a part of my portfolio and most engagements take place over the holidays. January is the start of the bridal show season which will see of thousands of brides and grooms-to-be and thousands of wedding vendors meeting up in drafty convention centers and hotel ballrooms doing the equivalent of speed-dating as they try to plan the wedding of their dreams. 

Over the years, I've been one of those vendors, jockeying for the attention of the women and men on their way to the altar, but this January, I'm stepping away and am taking stock. I'm on a search for the wedding of my dreams.

The anatomy of a traditional bridal show is efficiency on a large scale. There are aisles laid out in the form of a maze through which brides and grooms and their retinue travel, and, on both sides of these aisles, there are vendor booths. There is usually a runway with seating for the bridal fashion shows that are held at intervals throughout the show day, and you can always grab a delicious crab cake or some other yummy, hot single-serving from the caterers working the show. The florists do their thing with riotous bouquets adorning their booths and the DJs and wedding bands strut their stuff with large flat-screen monitors in their booths playing their highlight reels. It's a carnival of bridal delights, but for an introvert like me, it's sensory overload.

Wedding 101: A Crash Course
When my husband and I got engaged, we were at something of a disadvantage. We had both missed out on that outbreak of wedding-mania that happens immediately after undergrad, so that by the time we were planning our wedding, most of our friends were in the parenting phase and just trying to catch up on sleep! So not only were we not attending that whirlwind of weddings where we could get ideas for our own wedding, we didn't have people to commiserate/counsel/console us during the process.

So there we were, adrift and trying to figure out how the heck do we plan a wedding! Thankfully, The Knot had just started their online website and I don't know what we would've done without it. When it came to finding our vendors, though, we didn't go to a wedding show, instead, we went with word-of-mouth: our photographer had photographed our friends' wedding years before; the florist was on our church's approved vendor list; our reception venue was a place I used to brunch at with my church friends; and the band was found through a work colleague. But, it was an overwhelming process and I frequently felt lost, rushed, and confused. 

Finding the "One"
Hindsight is a mixture of time and distance, and as I've made the transition from bride to wife, I can make sense out of the frenzy that is wedding planning. At the core of the issue is an outsized desire for the wedding day to communicate who you are, as individuals and as a couple in a way that's under-budget and on-schedule. 

I've been so fortunate to have photographed the weddings of couples who know who they are and have found a way to share that vision. They are quirky, thoughtful, motorcycle mamas, single dads, composers, cartoonists, actors, lawyers, lobbyists, karaoke superstars, Dr. Whovians, pastry chefs, office managers, the tattooed, the pierced, and everything in between and they bring me joy. And while I've met some of them at big bridal shows, most of them came to me through word-of-mouth from other introverted friends and clients, or through smaller presentations at private wedding venues. Like me, these couples were more comfortable in quieter settings. So here's to finding the "one" once again:)