In early March, Charles received a call that we had anticipated for some time... Julie, his little sister, was engaged. (!) A few days later I received a call of my very own, asking if I would be a bridesmaid. (!!!!!!!!!)
We had discussed the options within the family before the official engagement. In fact, long before my soon-to-be brother-in-law popped the question, we had debated what role Charles and I might play in a potential family wedding. With younger siblings and cousins all of 'marrying age' - I know that sounds so antiquated, but I don't know a better way to say it - I've been a part of their lives since the youngest ones were still in middle school! - we knew it was just a matter of time before our job intersected with our family life. We always anticipated that when it came to the weddings of loved ones we would be participating in (at least) one of the following ways:
a) we would photograph the wedding and/or sessions
b) we would be IN the wedding party
c) we would help to plan the wedding and/or act as coordinators the weekend-of.
After long talks, Charles and I voted for option B.
When weddings are your work, it is only natural for friends and family to call on your advice and service for their own affairs. We've photographed weddings of former colleagues, old friends, and fellow vendors before... but this opportunity was a first. We were being offered the opportunity to capture the most sacred day in the lives of our own. How could we refuse such an honor? ... Carefully. And thoughtfully.
Long before the actual proposal, Charles and I would talk about the logistics of a family that was growing up and growing out - his sister would be engaged any minute and would soon become a step-mother to an adorable little girl that we are thrilled to call niece and his younger brother would also become a first-time father this year. As the oldest, Charles had gotten used to taking all of the first steps - first to drive, first to date, first to college, first to marry, first to buy a house, first first first. But 2012 would bring some major changes to the family dynamic - with new members being welcomed into our tribe - and, for one of the first times in his life, Charles would not be the first. We don't have children and the talks of how summer vacations and holiday breaks will forever be different now - an exciting progression, for sure - finds us, suddenly, nostalgic.
It was after one of these dinner table talks when Charles looked up from his plate and said "I've decided that I don't want to photograph the wedding. It's my one opportunity to walk my mom down the aisle and toast my sister and just BE. I want to be her big brother, not her vendor. Is that too selfish of me?" "I dunno... Maybe. But it's honest."
We got lucky. Julie was gracious and understanding - in fact, I have to say that her maturity and thoughtfulness throughout this planning process continue to impress me - and we have been thankful every day for that decision. We've been able to help her find the best vendors and while we offered her a short list of photographer recommendations - she picked her favorite all on her own. Of course we plan to hold cameras throughout the weekend (which the main photographer okay-ed, so no worries there) but the pressure to be documenting every moment has been lifted. And Charles will 'just BE." And me? I will be a bridesmaid.
I've spent several months now answering emails and calls about all things wedding planning. I've pinned away for countless nights. I've planned 10 different versions of the day in my head and it's not even my wedding! (Living vicariously through the bride? Duh.) But it's been such a wonderful exercise as a VENDOR in this industry. I've gotten upset with pricing, felt slighted by delayed (or nonexistent) replies, and reintroduced myself to what it means to be on the other side of the table, trying to plan the best day possible.
I've come to appreciate our clients and colleagues so much more than ever before. I used to know what it meant to be the bride - but in the busy-ness of business, I think I forgot some things. Valuable lessons. I have as much to say about being a thoughtful bride (and bridesmaid!) as I do about being a better vendor. So I figured why not turn all of these conversations - my emails, phone calls, and dinner table discussions - into a blog series? I'm a wealth of experience and insight right now - let's harness that and share it!
|Welcome to my first diary entry as a bridesmaid. The next five months are going to be FUN!