Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Party over Pretty

I can tell you right now that my wedding won't look like a perfect blogland gorgeous creation.  I don't look like a perfect blogland gorgeous creation, and we roll more with the goofy-fantastic-fun side of things than with the elegantly coordinated weddings that are pretty enough to get featured on blogs.  But you know what I will have?  A massive freaking celebration of crazy joy and imperfectly messy love - from and among and between friends, family, J and myself.

Sometimes I start to resent all the wedding blog photos of professionally designed details and DIY genius on display, since I have neither the budget for an event designer nor the time/patience for DIY splendor. And that's why I love this messy table shot where the photographer (and good friend of the bride) is pretending to be passed out, from the incredibly talented Orange County/Los Angeles based Erin Hearts Court.

Just to be clear, Erin Hearts Court captured a plethora of magazine-worthy beautiful images throughout the day, including numerous charming, sweet, envy-worthy details and design touches. (Check out the whole wedding here.)  I love these photos.  But even more, I love the story the photos tell.  The day started out with a grey morning on a beach in Maine and progressed into thoroughly stormy weather, forcing the wedding inside and changing the aesthetic background from beach-side to indoors.   

Despite the last minute venue scramble, it didn't matter one whit in affecting the joy of the day.  There was still love and tears and beauty and a ton of gorgeous photos (some from the day after, when the weather cleared up). But I love the end-of-the-party shot most - it's just a shot of the wedding aftermath, with Erin goofing around pretending to be passed out... but that's what makes it great.  It's exactly what I'm really trying to achieve with my wedding - a big ol' raucous celebration of joy with my friends goofing around, doing silly poses for the camera because they're having tons of fun, and no one caring about the messy table or the fact that we served Bud Light (well, we might not serve Bud Light, but insert your own affordable beer name here).

This friends-taking-silly-staged-photo stands in stark contrast to a lot of staged wedding photography running around the wedding blogs lately, creating fake weddings and engagement sessions in order to create visually perfect wedding images for marketing and for photographic practice purposes.  Now, I appreciate pretty as much as the next girl, and I gasped like everyone else at the amazing photos, proving that they certainly serve their purpose as stunning sales/marketing pieces for the talented participating photographers, designers, graphic designers, and other vendors. But, instead of making me sigh with the heartfelt love of a wedding, they make me wish I looked like a model and had a bazillion dollars for wedding design and high-end photographers.

So, when these staged shoots creep into my google reader on blogs I turn to for inspiration about my own real-person wedding, I feel like it makes holding onto the reasons and rationale for our wedding a little more difficult.  It turns weddings (or the idea of weddings) into a photoshoot opportunity and away from being an event focused on love and joy.  I stopped reading women's magazines years ago when I realized that I came away from the hour feeling worse about myself because I do not and cannot look like photoshopped models (regardless of whichever facecream or new It bag the magazine wants me to buy) and I feel like I need to do the same thing here in wedding land.  Now, I want beautiful photography.  I want an artist to help capture the small moments of imperfect beauty that make weddings and life and love worthwhile.  I want a photographer who sees that spark of human recognition in our joy and not just another bouquet shot.  And so, I need to look away from the perfectly beautiful wedding staging and embrace the perfectly imperfect of the everyday life and joy that J and I have crafted.

But the Erin Hearts Court photo, taken at a real wedding where they ignored the rain and had fun anyhow, with silly fun posing like I often do with friends.... that's the sort of staging I can handle.  It's the sort of staging that doesn't feel the least bit aspirational.  In fact, this is precisely what I am aspiring to - rained out, perfectly decorated wedding or not.  And I would feel lucky to have a photographer as talented as Erin Hearts Court to capture both the beautiful and the beautifully honest moments at our upcoming wedding.


  1. great post. i too saw the pic of the guy passed out and thought, "yeah. that's what i want our wedding to be like." i'd much rather have photos of everyone having a messy, joyful gay ol' time, than having pics of centerpieces. you're totally right - that stuff isn't gonna matter years from now looking back.

  2. That photo is hilarious.
    I totally understand where you are coming from. I need to step away from the blogs/magazines from time to time because it's overwhelming and stressful to see perfectly put together events. I find myself thinking "ohhh...I wish I could have a (insert desirable object here)".

  3. Wow, what a nicely written feature. We really appreciate how you noticed that our work is all about the day and the particular couple, capturing everything from the happy accidents to the beauty of the emotion. Each wedding is different and should be photographed as such. Thank you for the real thoughts. Blogs can be a bit overwhelming even for us photographers. Great post!!
    Erin and Court

  4. I totally feel you on this post! Looking at so many color coordinated perfect wedding makes me feel over whelmed, I don't even have my "colors" yet & I've been engaged for 6 months (& 6 to go)! I know everything won't match & won't be perfect but that's ok because as long as everyone has a great time & I am surrounded by all my family & friends & we party the night away that's all that matters to me.


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