As a sales manager and marketing coordinator for a wedding photographer, my friend Jamie has a lot of experience with weddings. Plus, she’s been a maid of honor twice (mine, in fact) and a bridesmaid once. So, as you can imagine, she’s got some opinions on weddings (don’t we all?).
Jamie is getting married in September, so I talked to her about how her views of weddings have changed, both since working in the industry and as she’s gotten older.
Caitlin: So, Jamie, although you’re not an older bride, you do have a lot of experiences with weddings.
Jamie: Yeah, my group of friends tended to get married really young, and my brother and sister are both married, as well.
Caitlin: So, I’ve been married for four years. I loved my wedding and I don’t have any regrets. But, simply, as you get older, your tastes change.
Jamie: I do think if I had gotten married younger it would have been a much more elaborate thing than it’s ending up being. For me, now, it’s more about the marriage and less about the wedding day.
And I think that might come from being in the industry and seeing how much importance people put on just that day. I’ve sat with couples that seem to me like they hate each other. And they are sitting in a meeting planning what’s supposed to be the happiest day of their life.
So, it’s not that it’s jaded me, but its made me realize that the marriage itself is the most important thing and not so much the day that people get really carried away with.
Caitlin: So, compare getting married at 29 to getting married at 22, 23.
Jamie: It would have been a lot more of a spectacle. It’s now more about the marriage itself. The younger me would have been more like, HERE COMES THE BRIDE! A party to celebrate me in all my white dressed glory. Not a day to celebrate the start of a marriage. And our family blending together.
Caitlin: You see a lot of weddings since you’re looking at wedding photography all the time. Does that give you ideas for your own wedding?
Jamie: I think it’s narrowed it down. Especially with Pinterest being around now, there’s a lot of pressure to out do other people with your wedding. And that’s part of what I’m saying about people getting caught up with the wedding being this big, grand thing.
Caitlin: And like, just a series of photo-ops?
Jamie: It’s really like a modeling shoot for the brides. She’s the best she’s ever going to look, with everyone watching. It’s more about looking your best and getting a million pictures of it. And having the right favors, and all of the little things that in the long run don’t mean anything, which is why, beyond the DIY stuff, that’s kind of where my fiancé and I decided we want a little bit of everybody in our wedding.
So instead of buying a guest book, we’re having my father build a bench that everyone will sign and we’ll keep at the foot of our bed. I’m not hiring a florist. My mom and my grandmom are going to do it for me. His mom, grandmom, and aunt are going to do all the candles. That kind of stuff.
Everything is handmade by him, or me, or something we found at flea markets. So it’s very us, and very handmade and little pieces of us everywhere.
Caitlin: I got married before Pinterest was really a thing.
Jamie: Yeah, a lot of brides say they’re mad they got married before Pinterest.
Caitlin: I’m glad I did!
Jamie: I feel like that’s normal. Especially with wedding photography, Pinterest is more of a hinderance than anything because it’s like, people see all of these pictures and they’re either all doing the same exact thing because that’s what’s in right now, like mason jars everywhere, or like the burlap “Mr. & Mrs.” banner. And not only that, we literally have brides who give us a stack of ten pictures and want an exact replica.
Caitlin: Like to recreate moments from other peoples weddings?
Jamie: Exactly! And that doesn’t make any sense. Focus on genuine moments that are happening.
Caitlin: Yeah, I feel like when you try to recreate moments other people have had, you’re really closing yourself off to the real moments you can have. I know with my wedding, the things I really remember, I never could have imagined would happen. (laughs) The things I remember are the funny, ridiculous things that happened that I couldn’t have planned if I tried. And I think, too, it goes to the larger issue that everything is documented and chronicled now and there’s so many ways to compare yourself to everyone else with the social media lives we’re living. So, a wedding can be THAT, on steroids, if you let it.
Jamie: Yeah, and it’s like, weddings were already kind of a monster. I mean, there’s a show called Bridezillas. How terrible is that? Which is why, to answer your question about how my wedding is different, I think if I had gotten married younger, it would have been more selfish, more “this is my day,” and these are things that I want, and that kind of stuff. And now we’re not doing pomp and circumstance, we’re doing a party.
Caitlin: How has being involved in a lot of weddings changed the way you are as a bride, to your bridal party and the other people involved in your wedding?
Jamie: If you asked the young 20’s me who was out all night with my friends, it would have been more about having a million friends there and I think that even the guest list has narrowed down to just the most important people. I think I’ve seen from everybody what to do, and what not to do. Or experienced things where I said, I don’t think I’d do it that way, or I really liked that.
I think that having been through it and watching other people go through it, I’d like to think that I’m making it as easy on everybody as possible. I also want to make sure that both families are being involved equally. That’s the main thing for me.
Even in regards to the bridal party, I feel like instead of it just being a bunch of people surrounding you in an amorphous blob, all wearing the same thing and then me being in the center of it, I’m more sort of cognizant of everyone being comfortable. Because I feel like everybody has the best time at weddings when they’re comfortable. I really just want everybody to have a good time and I feel like me telling people what they should look like on my day is kind of weird.
Caitlin: If you had one piece of advice to give brides, from your experience, what would it be?
Jamie: A: You can’t please everybody. Even if that’s your goal. Everybody wants your day to be something different. And there’s no way you can do that.
B: The most important thing, and this is from being in the industry and now doing it myself, is just to not let the day get bigger than it should be. It’s not JUST a day, it’s a very special day in your life, but you don’t want to walk away the next day feeling like, what now? You want to be excited like, now I get to spend the rest of my life with this person and we just had a great party to celebrate that.
If you’re married, what did you learn from your own wedding that you share with your friends or family who haven’t gone through it yet? If you’re not yet married, what things have you seen at weddings that you learned from? Come on, don’t act like you haven’t thought about it! Leave it in the comments 🙂