If you are looking for a wedding tradition that is sweet, meaningful and conducive to great photography, we have one that might be perfect for you. One of our favorite wedding-day rituals is the exchange of letters with your intended prior to your marriage ceremony. It is one that we have witnessed and photographed many times. Future spouses like you choose to write a little love note for their beloved as they are getting ready. They then send it to their intended to read before the nuptial ceremonies.
In our experience, it is a beautifully simple tradition. It entails little more than writing down a few words to tell your partner how much you love them. And of course, reading something that they have written for you. But both moments are absolutely packed with emotion and tenderness. As Northern Virginia wedding photographers, we have found that partners writing their letters and the recipients reading them are frequently among the sweetest and most touching parts of the day. The images we capture of those scenes are very likely to end up being your favorites from your marriage celebrations.
Because we have photographed these scenes so many times, we have thought a lot about what makes them so special. One big reason is that the exchange of letters is an opportunity for you to express your feelings to one another one last time in private before the ceremony and the reception. A public exchange of vows is an important part of most weddings. It signifies the uniting of two people and their families. Many marriage ceremonies, however, do not allow you and your intended to express your personal feelings for one another. Even in more flexible ceremonies, you usually have to filter their thoughts a little bit. But in a private note from one of you to the other? There you can say anything and everything you feel about your partner.
Another reason we like the letter exchange so much is how delightfully old-fashioned the ritual feels. These days, most couples about to get married have known and/or dated each other for years. You might have even lived with your future spouse for some time. So the tradition of not seeing one another on the day of the wedding is definitely reminiscent of a different age. We both come from families with Old World manners and sensibilities (and it shows in the very classic feel of our wedding photography). So we love that most future spouses still observe this custom and use the passing of love notes to maintain some “secret” contact.
The last reason why we love when you choose to exchange love letters is that, as we mentioned before, the photos of the writing and the reading are so beautiful. Our images of you drafting a personal note to your intended usually show deep thought and concentration. You are usually trying to find the perfect words to convey everything your feel about the person with whom you will spend the rest of your life. The emotions in these moments tend to be powerful but understated. We sometimes photograph a single tear here and there, but that is rare.
When the reader opens the note, on the other hand, the feelings are usually there for the world to see. There are almost always smiles and frequently laughter. That was the case when we took this photo at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles hotel. Our favorite moments, of course, are when the words on the page have touched the reader’s heart enough to bring out tears of joy. But as long as the emotions are genuine and heartfelt (and they always are), the images these Northern Virginia wedding photographers capture will be the kind you value for a lifetime.
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