The Beauty of Documentary at a Wedding

I’ve been sitting on the idea for this post for over a month because I wasn’t sure how to properly go about writing it. I’m not a wedding photographer, so I felt that anything I have to say about the matter would seem insufficient. I don’t want to be a “wedding photographer” either. I’m not good at making a wedding day look even more magical than it already is like some of the amazing people in my area are able to do. I don’t know enough about all the wedding day buzz words to even pretend that I know what I am talking about.

Pinterest was just becoming a big thing right around the time I was planning my own wedding. Barn weddings in the fall were all the rage. I knew I wanted something like all the beautiful inspiration from magazines and the internet. But, like so many other people, I spent way too much time focusing on the details of our wedding day and not much time focusing on the details of a marriage. I didn’t spend enough time having long conversations about the future, because I was too busy having long conversations about what our colors should be and if I should change my shoes after the ceremony.

It’s a sad but true fact that more people than ever just aren’t focused on the reason for the wedding as much as they are on how pretty it’s going to look on their Instagram feed. I was definitely one of those people. I had a big fight with my mom right before rehearsal because the dress I wanted to wear (TO PRACTICE IN) didn’t get fixed. I wish that wasn’t a memory.

However, after being married for eight years, I’ve began to really re-think the idea of what a wedding day should look like. I wish I would’ve let go of tradition and spent the day with Chad by my side. The day was about US and I don’t really remember being with him more than just a few minutes at a time. I wish I wouldn’t have cared about silly details that no one remembers anyway.

I am a documentary photographer. Forcing moments or stressing about a list of posed photos just isn’t my thing. I want to document days from start to finish so that couples can remember the way it felt to prepare for the day with their best friends by their side, re-live the way the ceremony felt, and laugh when they think about their reception without having to worry about what time portraits are going to be or if I got enough photos of their table settings.

I’ve known Rachel for about 13 years now, so when she told me about her and PJ’s plans for their wedding, I felt like I finally had a living, breathing representation of the ideas I had about wedding day photography. We decided that shooting about 95% of the day with a documentary approach would align with our beliefs. Of course we wanted some formal portraits, but the rest of the day was simply documented.

Here’s what Rachel had to say:

When Paul Joe and I started planning our wedding we had three major goals 

The first was to create a wedding that was as environmentally/eco friendly as possible. Our guests embraced this perfectly. We had seven full boxes of compost and only a very small amount of trash. 🙌🏻🙌🏻

The Second was to find a photographer who would capture the important details of our day. I didn’t care about spending hours trying to get the perfectly posed photos of us. I’ll never forgot what it felt to look into PJs eyes that day, I don’t need photos to remind me. I wanted photos of our guest hugging and laughing, playing lawn games, completely enjoying our home and most importantly I wanted to see our littlest loves climbing trees and chasing each other around our yard.  Lauren Webster Photography gave us exactly that. Her photos captured the essences of our day and the homegrown love that created our magical moments.

The Third was to showcase my home state. As a native West Virginian, it was a must to expose our guests to all the incredible talent in our little Mountain State. From the Modern Homestead at Tathams who made the most delicious taco bar and cake; The Cox Roosevelt Inn for giving us a perfect space to get ready; The Mustard Couch details for our wedding lounge and sweetheart table, the Macrame backdrop delicately crafted by Carol Marie; the stunning bouquets and WV wildflower floral arrangements by Mary HelenVarian Mattingly for his unique and irreplaceable skills, our wooden wedding bands from Drawn in Stone; my (now) husband who made my engagement ring with his own hands; to my wonderful friends who helped me make all the wedding decor. It was the perfect way to create a completely WV based wedding.