Wedding photography: subplots

The three generations of the dress.

As a wedding photographer, there are obvious shots to get: the bride and groom, wedding party, each family, the first kiss, etc.

But a family wedding this past weekend reminded me of something else to look for when I am shooting nuptials.


We asked mom and my sister who got to button the dress for them on their big days.

Now we are not talking about the seething discord between Uncle Ernie and Auntie Gin or cousin Roxanne’s tendency to get thoroughly toasted at the reception – knew it shouldn’t have been open bar. Those are not the subplots the parents of the bride are not paying you to document.

But then there are ones like this: My niece, Virginia, got married this weekend in the same dress that was purchased by my Aunt in 1946 and worn a few weeks after her wedding by my mother. Then, in 1977, my sister got married in the same dress and Saturday, Virginia made it three generations. Of course, I was not the hired ‘tog at this wedding. The awesomeness that is Cramer Photography of Charlottesville, Va., documented the day for our family. But as the uncle with a camera, and a journalist to boot, the dress was a story of this wedding I really wanted to tell.

And it was a good reminder to me that when I am the hired photographer, I need to be aware of these subplots, because stories are what these pictures are telling.

The original wearers of the dress, my Aunt Nell (left) and mom (right).

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