Sometimes the best wedding photography depicts the emotional magnitude of a particular moment on a wedding day not by showing the scene itself but instead by revealing how it is affecting the people who witness it. Photos of the faces of the bride and groom; the wedding party; parents and siblings of the bride and groom; and other assorted wedding guests reacting to something moving, funny or surprising can often tell the story with more emotional force than an image of the moment itself. For example, a picture of a groom’s face lighting up when he sees his future wife in her wedding dress for the first time is a great way to illustrate how beautiful she looks on her wedding day. Instead of showing her, it shows how stunning she appears to the man who loves her more than anyone else in the world.
In our professional opinion as wedding photographers working in the Washington, DC metro area, that is what makes this particular photograph so powerful. Even though it is not immediately apparent what is happening to the bride, you can see that it is affecting her bridesmaids in a profound way. The looks on their faces show that they are deeply touched by what they are witnessing, overjoyed for her on the day she is celebrating her marriage and overwhelmed by the depth of their feelings for their good friend.
What they were reacting to was the bride reading a love note written by her future husband and included in the bag of gifts that he had delivered to her suite at the opulent St. Regis Washington, D.C. hotel. The groom-to-be had gotten ready at the Capital Hilton just across K Street from the St. Regis, and we had already photographed him opening the luxury watch that the bride had given him and reading the letter that she had so lovingly penned for him. The words he wrote back to her clearly touched her heart, and she teared up by the time she finished reading them. Seeing their friend overcome with joy brought out the same feelings in her bridesmaids.
We were helped immensely in capturing this moment on film by the fact that the bride and her bridesmaids got ready at a hotel as luxurious as The St. Regis Washington, D.C. Unsurprisingly, given the five-star hotel’s reputation for elegance, the bridal suite was enormous, meaning we had more than enough space to come around behind the bride and photograph the faces of her best friends. It also meant that this whole scene played out in the anteroom of the suite, so our photographs were free of a lot of the clutter (hairdryers, robes, water bottles, etc.) that often turn up in the background of pictures of brides and grooms getting ready. The result was images like this one. There is nothing to distract your attention from what matters most in the scene: the joy these bridesmaids feel seeing their friend happy