Your "Wedding Flowers" Pinterest board has 237 pins, not to mention your "Cakes" board with 58 pins, "Dress" board with 76 pins, and the 8 other boards all dedicated to the various aspects of planning your wedding day. All in all there are probably 500-600 pins to plan your wedding. You've been to four wedding expos and lug around an extensive three ring binder that specifically designed for planning weddings. You've met with photographers, florists, DJs, bakers, wedding planners, rental companies, venue coordinators and a few other wedding vendors. Your coffee table is a stack of at least ten wedding planning magazines full of dog-eared pages. Planning a pretty wedding is a LOT of work. I can relate. You want your wedding to be pretty, so pretty that it is remarkable, which is an easily defined word because it means that you want people to remark, to each other, on the prettiness of your wedding.
But I'm proposing to you that your wedding can be pretty and so much more than pretty. Not that pretty is bad, pretty is not bad in any way, pretty is good. Your wedding should be pretty. The problem is that pretty is so - I don't know - inadequate. Pretty is an inadequate word and goal because it just doesn't stand up to the grandeur of the significance of this day!
Imagine you're standing in front of the Sagrada Familia in Spain or a sunrise of Lake Superior on the North Shore and you were to say, "This is pretty." Would the description feel inadequate? Does their grandeur demand more?
Imagine you're standing in front of one of the most life changing events in your life - like your wedding - does that demand to be more than pretty?
But what is more than pretty? Real is more than pretty because real is Beautiful, real is full of history and tradition and meaning, but sometimes the real is too sublime for us to notice so we need to coax it into our consciousness through gestures. What are gestures? Your dress is a gesture, your cake is a gesture, your centerpieces, your venue, your flowers. All of these things that we try to make pretty are gestures that can also be beautiful.
Here are a few examples.
My wife and I are Catholic and her bouquet had a rose rosary in it that my mother (who passed away when I was four years old) carried in her wedding along with most of my sisters. The first criterion was the connection with my mother (Beauty) , but we were still concerned with the roses being free from wilting and that they be pretty. How much more adequate to the grandeur of the event is this bouquet than one we copied from a dog eared page in a magazine simply because it was pretty.
Last summer I photographed a Jewish wedding at Bug's Bee Hive Resort and the chuppa was made by the bride's father. Considering the significant symbolism the chuppa plays, this gesture is tremendously beautiful and they were still concerned, however, that it look pretty. Beautiful and pretty aren't opposed, but beautiful is so much than pretty. It's personal meaning, personal significance.
One final example. During their courtship one couple made it a point to photograph themselves next to those gaudi landmark statues that many cities have such as the Paul Bunyan in Bemidji or the giant piece of corn on the cob in Olivia, the World's Corn Capital. They had at least 40 different locations photographed and they used these as centerpieces for their guests to enjoy during the reception. Revealing this fun aspect of their courtship was inviting their guests into an important part of their history. It was communicating a personally significant part of their relationship's history.
Pretty is not "bad", pretty is good but your wedding can be so much more than good, it can be great and beautiful.
So far we've discussed the various gestures that make up the wedding day: the dress, the flowers, the reception, etc. Next, estimate the number of hours you invested in planning your wedding day and compare that to how many hours you've invested in preparing to be married.
There are so many great resources to help marriages that I'm not going to pretend to be able to give you a list, but an upcoming post will talk about this aspect and I'll give you some resources that my wife and I have found very helpful in our eight years of marriage.
I love talking through couple's wedding days and discussing all of their wedding day details. For me, this is a critical aspect of my work as a photographer, discovering the meaning behind all of the gestures I'm witnessing on my clients wedding days and not only capturing them as an aid to their future memory but even highlighting the significance of these gestures through the art of photography.
Until my next post, happy planning!