In this chapter of Mise - En - Scene, I take a detailed look at the over-excitable, usually chaotic and often emotional bridal party - Pre- Ceremony, and why these moments could be invaluable in your photographic story.
So there I am, one of the girls in the hotel room; bridesmaids hopping around with rollers in their hair and shouting across the room for nail varnish; little ones skidding on the knees of their brand new suits and dresses;
the thick heat of hair-dryers and curling tongs mixing with the palpable tension literally building by the minute.
I am usually the only person in that room, who is fully dressed and ready, until 5 minutes before everyone piles out of the door.
It's worth remembering, that much of a wedding is in it's anticipation- the proposal, the engagement, choosing the venue, sending the invitations, fitting the dress, the list is endless. As a photographer, I am not around to shoot all this build up, but the 'getting ready' shots play an important part in expressing this intense crescendo. Then, suddenly, when everyone is piling out of the door.. there is quiet;
this pause is one of the moments where I suddenly feel the importance and emotional value of my job.
Those last deep breaths that the bride takes once she is the dress, are incredibly poignant. It's finally happening. Not only is the day which she has been planning finally going to unfold, but that distant soft-focus little-girl's dream is actually now manifesting; she is standing in a wedding dress ready to marry the man she loves. If the groom's moment is his first look at the bride up the aisle, then this is the bride's moment. Cheesy as it may sound, I feel like I'm experiencing it with her, and it makes getting the shots all the more organic.
The getting ready part of a photographic narrative is important for so many reasons; but in part for it's ability to remind you in years to come, exactly how it felt just before the ceremony. And that's how the photographs should work too. As pretty and as filmic as make-up shots and shoes can be, the key is in the atmosphere and the emotions with which it is charged. I've collated a few retrospective shots here, some magazine weddings and some private, to exemplify what I've talked about. Perhaps you can decide if I was successful...
Jane Austen described it perfectly, in her novel Sense and Sensibility:
"...that sanguine expectation of happiness, which is happiness itself..."