Weddings: the most special day of a couple’s life, or an ‘overblown vanity project’?

The Reverend Dr Giles Fraser is probably not someone you will have heard of – I certainly hadn’t heard of him until earlier this week. Dr Fraser is the Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, and this week he proclaimed that modern weddings have become such “overblown vanity projects” that they actually pose a threat to marriage itself. Most clergy, he claimed on Radio 4’s Today program, actually prefer officiating funerals.

Dr Fraser has a point. At its heart the wedding is in fact not about the wedding at all, but about the marriage that follows for, hopefully, the rest of the couple’s life. While all too easy, it is a costly mistake for a couple to focus so much attention on the wedding that the marriage becomes a distant unreality – much like Rachel from Friends frightening realisation that, as she prepares to give birth to her and Ross’ daughter, she is completely prepared for the birth, but utterly unaware of how to look after a child. But surely as a wedding photographer I’m one of the most guilty of perpetuating these overblown vanity projects? Well, I hope not.

I had the joy of photographing two weddings in two days this week. One was a small affair at a barn, with only fifty or so guests, the other a magnificent occasion with several hundred that included every aunt, uncle, niece and nephew. Neither, I felt, was a vanity project, but instead both were unique and special days where both couples were able, in ways that related to them, to celebrate the opening of the next chapter of their lives. By persuading clients to invest in their wedding day images I don’t ever want to be able to be accused of making greater an already large ego trip, giving the impression that the wedding day is all that counts, or becoming another piece to place in the jigsaw of the most expensive party someone has ever had to organise…

What I hope is that the photos I take will sit yellow and faded in a frame on the matlepiece in 60 years time, to be gazed at happily by the old couple who still hold hands when they walk to the shops and who love each other more deeply, but just as affectionately as the day I clicked the shutter.

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