Marriage. To have and to hold, for rich or poor, until death, do us part. Ties, which no matter our destiny, cannot be unbroken; and for some, were destined in planning from conception. When you look into the history of marriage, you find a mirage of facts which essentially bonds a man and woman together in entity, which at one point in time was a necessity. Gentlemen were considered wealthy, rich in homestead and proper in mannerisms. Women to be well rounded and more importantly, respectful. Handsome rewards were given to the newlyweds, for without it there would be no sanctity. Over time (thankfully), this disillusion has become obsolete.
Today, as a culture we realize that it is not necessary to marry, that we may survive on our own (despite society teaching us success in life is finding a partner and "settling down"). Marriage, in turn, has over time become a symbolism of love - for those of us who are so lucky to find such comopanionship. This past year I've had the opportunity to gimps into the modern day meaning of marriage, what it is to say "I do," and the honor to witness heartfelt vows which decades of the 19th century and earlier, rarely knew a thing about.
So if marriage is about proclaiming our love for one another in a timeless bond, why such the formality? Albeit "tradition," the beauty of it is that while essentially marriage is a certificate filed with the state, simply stating you'll file your tax return together, and all properties shared - the wedding has become a celebration of life and love - as it should be. As photographers, we trudge through ceremony and reception after ceremony and reception and many awe at what a fun job it must be to mingle among the giddy. But for me, it is truly a wonderful blessing, in contrast to decades of arranged marriages or marriages for survival, that we can today witness such love and vows, shedding tears of heartfelt moments between two people, click after click.
It is an overwhelming feeling during each ceremony, as I think about how each and every one of the beings that are near and dear to this couple's heart are gathered together for one purpose and special occasion; and that is to celebrate this couple and their love for one another. How amazing to be surrounded by such love and support! And how lucky I am to get to be a part of that, documenting these fleeting moments which hold up so much value, likely from generation to generation - a true witness of love and testimony to one another. How lucky are we that no longer are we married into families and arranged relationships with a prize to be handed over once the deal is sealed. But to fall in love with someone we want to spend the rest of our lives with, and create a promise - in front of all our family and friends. It's so wonderful to witness this kind of romance, time and time again - an honor I cannot express well enough through words.
I was asked recently, what it is that I love photographing the most. My initial instinct was to say landscape as all my spare time is spent outdoors, surrounded in Washington's beauty. But then I realized, as much time as I spend outdoors and in the wild, do I rarely press the camera to my squishy nose, and capture those moments. Instead, I'm living, breathing, feeling, pondering. It took me by surprise when I found myself needing to think this one through.
They say to watch what a photographer photographs, as it is what they fear losing the most. This thought lead me on a journey through scenes alongside passing moments of childhood, travel, waterfalls, seascapes, summits, and valleys, my son when he was an infant and for a time seeing life through his lens for the first time. Feeling trapped in my travels and limited in my abilities to experience such beauty again, this is what I predominantly photographed for a very long time. So I would frantically photograph every snapshot I could, to remember those moments and later surround myself in its beauty when I could otherwise not experience it.
Over time this gradually changed, the images piled up on my hard drives, which later turned to external hard drives, and in more recent days, cell phones which every two years fall by the way-side. We all know this story too well. As the fleeting seconds of my growing toddler grew, life became busy and there was a period of time where I didn't pick up my camera at all. In the thick of it - living, experiencing, feeling; or in retrospect, perhaps not feeling and not wanting to photograph in an attempt to forget the things I was going through.
And then one day, I fell in love with lovely moments, profound moments. Moments of passion and personality. Laughter and secret glances. Whispers in ears and giggles. Editorial after editorial flooded magazines, news feeds, commercials... I found these moments, in poems and artwork, music and photographs. Something inside me switched on... and it was like I had found the locket to the key I was carrying all along. Something clicked and it's never been the same since.
The wedding day is so grand, and it blossoms, just like a flower, from beginning to finish. A celebration of love and life. And loving life!
And so it is... I photograph couples in love, families in love, and people in love with life. I do so because I never want to forget what it's like to feel that passion, that vibrancy, and adoration. That it's possible to find love and to hold onto that and honor it, forever. To find it within yourself, in another person, in another being. Boundless, within itself.
Marriage is an active choice that we make every single day. The bond we choose not to break, not to harm; but to love, foster, comfort, protect, and nourish for all time. Some days are more challenging than others - this is true to the relationships we carry in regards to ourselves, and with others. But in the end, we want what's best. And when we are surrounded with such support and love from our friends and family around us, the ceremony is the truest symbolic reminder of everyone who is rooting for us as well.
And so, while you plan your wedding and worry about "traditions" or not being very "traditional," remember - today's tradition is Love. All the other formalities and superstition, from fragrant flowers to cover unpleasant scents, to the garter toss, are just that if they are without meaning. The last thing you want to remember from your wedding day is going through a bunch of formalities for the sake of tradition; your wedding day is a celebration of your love, it should reflect your personalities, and what is meaningful to commemorate your love for one another. So, if you stick to tradition - plan the moments and activities with reasoning of love, as that is why everyone gathers to celebrate. If you have love in your heart, you've done done right; let's celebrate and toast to That.
Traditions and their origins: