The morning passed in a whirlwind of activity. Clouds of makeup and hair spray filled the air as Katie and her bridesmaids prepared for the moment that she would say, “I do.” When the time arrived for Katie to step into her dress, she asked her friends to step out of the room so that she could have a moment of peace. She was equal parts nervous and excited, and she fidgeted with her engagement ring as her mom worked to secure all of the buttons that lined the back of her dress. In that moment, the hurrying ceased. This process was too tedious to rush through. Loop, button. Loop, button. The steady rhythm of her mom’s hands as she transformed her daughter into a bride. Loop, button. Loop, button. Preparing her daughter to greet her groom. Loop, button. Loop, button. Last one before she rushes out the door. Loop, button.
It happened in the space of a moment. A breath. A heartbeat. Katie turned and looked into the eyes of the woman who raised her. The woman who shaped her understanding of womanhood. The woman who taught her what it means to be a wife and a mother. The woman who taught her how to forge a marriage and build a family. She looked at her, and perhaps for the first time that day, she saw her.
Katie’s mom looked into the eyes of her lovely daughter. The little girl who taught her every day what depths of love a mother's heart can reach. The young woman with whom she laughed, cried, contended, and celebrated. The precious child for whom she ceaselessly prayed. She looked at her, and perhaps for the first time that day, she saw her.
Katie’s mom gathered her daughter's hands in hers and clutched them to her chest. Her expression radiated with all of the love and joy and anticipation she felt for her darling girl, and I released the shutter. Click.
This is not just a photograph. It’s an authentic moment of connection. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s genuine. These are the moments that I yearn to capture. Moments like these - connections like these - strengthen and encourage us because they remind us that we are cherished, we are chosen, and we are deeply loved. The meaning and value of these moments will only increase with the passing of time, and I love to preserve them. But I cannot create them. I can only capture them.
Did you catch that? I cannot create them. When something has great value, it’s natural for people to want to possess it for themselves. This often leads to imitation. You see a photograph that touches your heart and you think, “I want a photo like that from my wedding.” So you add it to your Pinterest board or your list of photo requests and tell your photographer, “If it doesn’t happen, we can just pose it.” Can I lovingly tell you something? A posed photograph is a poor substitute for a moment of genuine connection.
I don’t just want you to have a photograph like that at your wedding. I want you to have a moment like that. I want you to feel like that. I want you to love and be loved like that. I want you to connect like that. I want you to be able to push through the suffocating haze of stress and schedules and lists and things and be refreshed by the love that surrounds you.
Connections like this cannot be posed, but they can be chosen. It is easy to let yourself get swept away by the wave of demands and time constraints that will confront you on your wedding day. Making connections takes work, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. Slow down and make time for the people who matter most to you. Be intentional. Open your heart to the ones that you dearly love, and speak words of affirmation and gratitude into their lives. Don’t just look at the family and friends that you have around you. Choose to see them. Embrace them. Celebrate with them. Not for the camera, but for yourself. And for them.
You both deserve so much more than a photograph.