Religion obviously plays a central role in many of the weddings that we photograph, whether in Washington, DC; Hannover, Germany; or any other place that brides and grooms bring us. Though there are certainly a lot of couples who tie the knot in a secular ceremony, the vast majority of the marriage celebrations that we capture on film take place in a house of worship and in accordance with a particular religious tradition.
One of our favorite things about photographing weddings for a living is getting to learn about the various different ways that two people commit themselves to one another for a lifetime. Because of the great diversity of peoples and cultures in the Washington, DC, metro area, we have had the honor of taking pictures of wedding ceremonies performed in accordance with Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Greek Orthodox and all manner of Protestant traditions. What we have mainly taken away from these experiences is that bringing our cameras to new type of ceremonies never gets old.
Another thing that we like about this aspect of photographing weddings in the Washington, DC, area is the opportunity to hear about each pair of fiancés individual relationships with their chosen religions. For some, their religious traditions come from their families or their particular cultural background. For other brides and grooms, the religious observances that play a critical role in their nuptials are the result of deeply personal choices they make later in life. In both cases, the photographs that we take of them observing the religious rituals that consecrate their marriage tend to be particularly meaningful and special to them.
The bride in the image featured here was very new to the Catholic faith when we took a picture of her clutching these rosary beads. Her husband’s family (which was soon to become her new family) was Catholic, and this bride-to-be had converted during their courtship. As she explained to us in the months leading up to their wedding, the bride and her future husband’s matrimonial ceremony was going to be one of the first rituals that she would be performing as part of her newfound faith. We could see how much it meant to her to have a Catholic wedding ceremony, and we were determined to get photographs that helped tell that part of her and her spouse’s love story.
The image that we feel best accomplishes that goal is this one. Before the wedding guests had started to arrive for the ceremony, while the groom was outside having photos taken of him and his groomsmen, the bride-to-be asked the bridesmaids who had been fussing over her wedding dress for a little privacy. She then walked up the aisle to the altar and spent a few moments in quiet reflection and prayer. As she did so, the bride began to nervously rub the rosary beads that she had brought with her for the marriage ceremony. The sight of her turning to her newfound faith for support as she prepared to make a hugely important step in her life was incredibly touching and made for a stunning image that spoke volumes about her wedding day.