For most people their wedding day is one of the happiest day of their lives. For me it’s Tuesday. While I film the father of the bride allow a few manly tears to leak from his eyes as he sees his little girl in her bridal dress for the first time, I wonder if I there will be something good to eat for dinner. Hopefully the photographers will leave us something. I enjoy the work, it is well paid, the food is generally OK, and yo do get a sense of camaraderie with your fellow videographers, photographers, and the wedding band. I also treat it as a kind of anthropological research. Here are my findings.
Almost every wedding has a aura of tragedy. Recently deceased grandparents, terminally ill family members, or cousins and friends off fighting in foreign wars. I suppose unless people get married very young the tyranny of the actuarial table says that this is pretty much inevitable. But the wedding puts it all under a microscope. Perhaps people are surprised that the world does not stop for their perfect moment.
I have to say that I enjoy Jewish weddings more. They feel more unreserved, once dancing starts on the dance floor it does not stop. The bride and groom don’t leave the floor until the place kicks them out. And it’s not just disco dancing. There is mosh pitting, the famous chairs on the shoulders, the groom and other guys linking arms and whirling around. At English weddings the dancing is there just so they can have a first dance, which inevitably is just an undercooked linking of arms with a few slow turns around the floor. Perhaps a few spins put into there to which the crowd murmur appreciatively as if they just saw Fred Astaire breakdance. After say, the first big song the floor is afterwards half empty filled occasionally with far too many couples dancing ironically.
The best man speech is a minefield. It’s a very forgiving audience but while there is plenty of low-hanging fruit to pluck (any mild innuendo or reference to alcohol is guaranteed a few guffaws or faux head-in-hands moments), more often than not they fall flat. But while there are good speakers and bad ones, the most success or failure of the speeches often depends on makeup of the guests. People who have plenty of guests but compartmentalised ones, the table of uni friends, the table of work friends, the table of family, struggle the most. Because the funniest parts, the most honest parts of their speech will only resonate with a few groups at a time. The wedding parties that have a strong sense of community, of family and family friends, their speeches work the best because everyone gets it. Also please a moratorium on the ‘most awkward 15 minutes of her life later tonight’ joke.
The problem for me is that shooting weddings, certainly the high end ones, are like short sharp, realtime and real-life bursts of intense FOMO. Here are two attractive, phenomenally wealthy people surrounded by loving functional families pledging undying love for each other. Now go home to your flat share on a council estate while see if you can afford to go out this weekend or if it’ll be another one spent playing Mario Kart. No matter how many weddings I shoot, I will never have a wedding like this. I’ve got my nose pressed up against the glass of my viewfinder shooting magnificent venues, suits that would pay my rent for a year, and floral arrangements worth more than the downpayment of a house. At least I’ll be able to give a kick-ass speech at my own wedding. Whenever I can afford it.
Ken Plas ¦ @PotatoTattoo