Normally we like to reserve our blog for sharing the celebrations we’ve been fortunate to be a part of, but today we’d like to touch on a frequent problem.
If you’re a wedding photographer or videographer, you know that feeling of frustration that usually comes with working a church ceremony. It pops up at different times in the process: when you sign the church policy stating you’re confined to the balcony for the entire ceremony; when you go to the rehearsal and meet the church wedding coordinator – who tells you you’re not allowed to get a shot of the father walking his daughter down the aisle; when the mother of the bride is helping her daughter get into her wedding dress in the church’s bridal room and the church wedding coordinator interrupts them to berate them about how no flowers can go on the wood railing; or at the end of the ceremony when the church wedding coordinator physically PICKS UP and MOVES your camera right as the bride and groom are walking down the aisle. Yes – all four of these have happened to us.
Why is it this way? Why do we have to cringe a little every time a couple tells us their ceremony is being held in a church? Especially as Christians ourselves, shouldn’t we be excited that a couple is getting married in a church? Shouldn’t we look forward to those ceremonies even just a little more?
Dear churches – please think about OUR ministries as vendors. These couples are trusting us to capture one of the most important days of their life – and we don’t get a do-over. We can’t recreate a father walking his daughter down the aisle. We can’t re-do the first time the groom gets a glimpse of his soon-to-be-wife. We can’t replay the first kiss. Those moments happen and we either get them or we don’t. What good is it if we have a million great pictures or hours of great footage of people dancing at the reception if we haven’t appropriately captured the event that is the purpose for all the other activities that day??
It doesn’t slip my mind for a second that our images and films have a future far beyond objects on coffee tables and bookshelves. They are ministry tools. They may lay quietly in their place most of the time, only to be casually flipped through when friends or family come over. But I do not underestimate the power of wedding pictures or wedding films, when times aren’t so rosy. The products we provide, that might normally – after time – go relatively unnoticed, just might be the one reminder a husband or wife needs when they require it most in their marriage. I don’t think I am being overdramatic – I know it’s true from my own experience. We have a beautiful picture from our wedding day hanging over our fireplace and I can honestly say, in times of tension or uneasiness, that picture speaks to me. It reminds me of that day in our life, that feeling that we were invincible. That no matter what comes our way, as long as we are a team – we can make it.
And if our jobs can truly have this much power, don’t you think this is something that God celebrates? That seeing us snapping pictures and filming while a couple makes this commitment before Him brings Him JOY?
We are not the “bad guys”. We value what is taking place in your sanctuary and we aren’t trying to take away the focus from where it should be. We are just trying to use the gifts God has given US to do the best we can. We’ve been given an amazing responsibility. But when we’re able to do our jobs well our products have the potential to not only document marriages, but quite possibly to keep them going.
Some couples are taking note – we’ve had several couples tell us that they decided against a church wedding after being educated on their church’s wedding photography/videography policy. While that makes the vendor part of me happy, I find it quite sad. There are so many beautiful places of worship in our area and what a lost opportunity to bring people through the doors who might not venture in otherwise. And to the churches we’ve worked with who allowed us to do our jobs – THANK YOU.
We don’t expect this post to change anything. We will continue to always capture the best we can with the rules we are given. . .or cheat until the church lady yells at us. But we hope there is a day when more churches truly realize the potential that opening their doors for weddings can have, and value of the hard work their vendors are doing. And to couples, we do encourage you to think about this when you are choosing your venue. This isn’t to discourage you from having a church wedding. In fact, we’ve worked with several great churches with reasonable policies that have lead to beautiful ceremonies. But please make sure to look over the policy and consider how it will directly impact your wedding before putting down a deposit.