Anyone who has ever been to a wedding, whether as a bride, a groom, a member of either’s family, a bridesmaid, a groomsman or an invited guest, can tell you that children are a welcome addition to just about every marriage celebration. We have certainly noticed this at every matrimonial event we have ever photographed! Be they the ring-bearers, the flower girls, the younger siblings of the bride or groom, or the children of the couple or a member of their wedding party, kids brighten the entire occasion and make everyone a little happier to be there witnessing two people tying the knot.
Why is this? In our experience, it is because they react to everything that takes place on a wedding day genuinely and authentically. We have helped scores of couples in the Washington, DC metro area document their nuptials on film, and we have seen many kids experience many different moments in the course of a wedding day. We have witnessed and photographed them smiling when everyone around them is happy. We have seen them laugh when something tickles their funny bone. We have observed them crying unabashedly when their mom or dad is walking down the aisle. We have seen them utterly and completely bored when there is nothing much happening of interest to them.
What we have never witnessed, though, is a child faking an emotion. Whatever they are feeling at that particular moment is exactly what they are experiencing. They do not simulate anything, and it is rare that they experience conflicting emotions. This is one reason why we love being able to capture images of kids at a wedding with emotions on their faces — because if it is on the face of a child, then it is real and a very good indicator of the mood of the entire marriage celebration. If a kid is having fun and letting loose on the dance floor during the reception, then it is pretty likely that the adults are too! If the children are quiet and serious, then the nuptials are probably a lot more reserved as well.
There are times, of course, when the face of a child does not tell a broader story about a wedding. Sometimes a young person is just dealing with their own stuff. That was the case in this picture, for example, which was taken at the rustically elegant Rumbling Bald Resort near Asheville, North Carolina. The poor little boy in this photo was brought to the center of the dance floor during the reception and asked by one of the groomsmen (who just happened to be his dad) to say a few words of congratulations to the newlyweds. The moment was a little more than the lad could handle, though, and he buried his face in his hands to hide his embarrassment. The assembled wedding guests took great pity on the boy, of course, letting out a collective “aw” and applauding the youth for just being brave enough to be up there in the first place.