By Jessie G. Campbell
As a personal historian, every time I look at vintage wedding photos I ask the same questions: Was it love at first sight? How did he propose? How did the family react to the joyous news? Was the ring or dress a family heirloom? I admit that I am always disappointed when I flip the photograph over and there are no notes, although if I am lucky there may be names and a date.
The process of planning a wedding is so much more than what flowers to use or the color theme. Yes, there are the moments of detail-obsession, but at the end of it, the process of planning a wedding is about the connection of families: It is the incorporation of two family traditions and the creation of new traditions for the happy couple; and it is the emotions behind the key planning moments. The wedding is the result not only of the love between the two people, but also the love of their family and friends.
When you are writing these stories, remember the 4 Ws: who, what, where, and why. Also for these moments, be sure to ask this question: how did the person feel? In addition to actual love story of the bride and groom, here are some moments that you may want to capture the stories and emotions:
- The Proposal. How did the groom propose? Why did the groom plan the proposal he did? Why he select the ring? Is it a family heirloom, a “casual” hint, etc.?
- The Announcement. How did the couple tell their family and friends? What was the reaction?
- The Wedding Party. What is the relationship of each person in the wedding party? Why did the bride and groom ask them to be part of the wedding? How did the bride and groom ask them to be in the wedding party? How did the wedding party member respond to the engagement news and the request to be in the party?
- The Dress. Why did the bride pick this particular dress? Was it love at first sight, or were there many trials and tribulations along the way? What, if any, cultural considerations affected the dress choice? For the entourage, what did you feel when you saw the bride in THE dress? A note about photos – many bridal salons do not allow photos of the bride until a dress is selected and purchased. However, you can ask the salon if it is okay to take photos of the entourage without dresses in the background. For example, a photo of the mother of the bride when she sees her daughter in a dress for the first time.
- The Parties. For the bridal shower, where was the bridal shower held? For the bridal party members who planned the event, why was the shower planned the way it was? As for the Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, well, what happens at Vegas … However, if the parties are something for the record books, the same questions: where were they held? Why was the party planned in the way it was?
- The Ceremony. While the ceremony itself will be well documented, the stories behind the choices for the ceremony can also be collected. What the family traditions incorporated into the ceremony? What the new traditions the couple developed for themselves, and why did they pick that particular event? What were the reasoning behind the vows – that is, if traditional or uniquely written, why was that choice made? Essentially, what the reasons for all the personal touches of the ceremony?
- The Reception. As with the ceremony, ask the same questions for each individualized decision. Are there family or new traditions in the reception? If the wedding has a theme, why was the theme chosen – that is, what is the emotional significance of the theme? For the important dances – first, mother/son, father/daughter – why was the song selected?
If you are recently engaged, you can take photos as you plan your wedding. As silly as it may seem, have your phone or camera with you to capture the images of these moments. If you are married and are in the process of putting together your album, look through your photos from friends and family as well as your wedding photos. While you may not necessarily have photos of the moment itself, you may have photos that capture the relationship or emotion. For example, for the bridal party, you may have a picture of the bride and best friend/maid of honor from school or vacation. Another example, for the dress, you may have a photo of the father seeing the bride for the first time before walking down the aisle.
Each of these stories does not have to be chapter-length. If it is a paragraph that serves as the caption of the photo in the album, that’s okay. If it is a collage of photos under a title, e.g., The Bridal Party, that’s okay too. This is your legacy that you will be handing down to your children and future generations, so let the album reflect who you are a couple and new family.
What did I leave out? If there are emotional moments during the wedding planning process that I missed, let me know in the comments below!
Jessie G. Campbell is a Personal Historian specializing in creating heirloom products for life’s milestones, including weddings/love stories, baby stories, vacations, and family yearbooks. She is the owner of Historie de Vous. She is a member of the Association of Personal Historians and the Association of Personal Photo Organizers.