Wedding Photography Regrets By Ariella Monti

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When someone dies, pictures suddenly become extremely important. Photos, video, audio, become tangible memories of the person lost. I realized quickly that I had very few photos of Sean from our wedding. I didn’t think too much about this on April 17. It didn’t matter, until it mattered.

My husband came into the guest room to find me in a near-panic. I couldn’t find the disk that held almost 1,000 photos from our wedding day.

Wedding Photography Regrets By Ariella Monti

I had to find that disk. Its origins had been unknown for almost two years after having moved from our apartment to our house, but it was imperative that I find that disk. I had a small selection of my favorites stored away on my Shutterfly account for easy printing, but the rest remained on the ancient technology that is a CD.

I ended up in a puddle of tears as I explained to my husband why it was so important that I find it. I needed to know that I had more pictures of Sean. I knew there had to be photos of him from the wedding that I didn’t care to save on a cloud, or on Facebook, or some photo-printing site. There had to be.

I took a deep breath of relief when I found it buried in a plastic bin along with some other random items packed away from my former apartment office.

As I scanned through the photos, the reality set in. It was my wedding and my husband I were the focus. Aside from the few that I had already saved, I only found two good pictures of Sean. Only two.

Sean – my husband’s brother, my brother-in-law – died on April 18, 2014 in a car accident on Long Island. He was 26 years old and we had been related for just less than 3 years.

When someone dies, pictures suddenly become extremely important. Photos, video, audio, become tangible memories of the person lost. I realized quickly that I had very few photos of Sean from our wedding. I didn’t think too much about this on April 17. It didn’t matter, until it mattered.

Avoiding the Grip and Grins

In my other life, I’m a reporter and reporters have a term for those cheesy, posed photos we always get with press releases from politicians. They’re called grip and grins and we all hate them.

I’ve always preferred natural, candid, photojournalism and that’s what I wanted for my wedding day. I hired a photojournalist who worked with me at my previous job on Long Island because I knew and loved her work. She also does weddings. Perfect.

Wedding Photography Regrets By Ariella Monti

I told her flat out that I didn’t want too many posed photos and asked that she focus on candid shots. I gave her a very short list of posed shots to cover, none of which included my husband alone with his brother. Group photos of the groomsmen were included, of course, but nothing individual.

There was no malice behind that omission. I just didn’t think about it. I just didn’t grasp the importance. We’d have a lifetime to get pictures together, right?

Out of Focus

It was our wedding day. Naturally, the camera was always on us. Make sense.

My photographer captured some beautiful moments. There is a wonderful one of my friend and her boyfriend holding each other with so much love. There is the one of my matron of honor’s infant sleeping in her father’s arms. There’s one of my mother-in-law and her father-in-law embraced in a comforting hug.

So few of Sean.

Your wedding day is a crazy day. For many, it’s a blur. You try to talk to everyone and thank them for sharing the day with you. You spend only moments with everyone there, including your bridal party. Those photos help you see what how everyone else spent that day. How did Sean spend it? I guess I’ll never really know.

Learn from My Regrets

While we were in New York I told friends and family that I had to find my wedding disk because I knew I had more pictures of Sean from our wedding. When I was done scanning 1,000 photos, my sadness quickly turned to anger, which turned, even faster, into regret.

I regret very few things in my life.

Every stupid mistake I’ve made I’ve been able to learn something. I’ve been able to take something away from it. I’ve become a better person because of it.

This, I regret.

Wedding Photography Regrets By Ariella Monti

Take the stupid posed photos. Take one with every person that you love even if that means your face becomes sore from smiling. It takes only seconds and it’s a moment you’ll have forever. It’s worth it.

Hire a second shooter. We actually had a second shooter scheduled for the ceremony and reception, but I cancelled when I abruptly quit my job two months before our wedding and needed to tighten and already tight belt. Your photographer can’t be everywhere at once. Having another person there just to capture those unseen moments could mean the world to you one day.

Take the focus off of you. I get it, you’re the bride. It’s all about you. But it’s not. It’s about love. It’s about family. It’s about friends. Tell your photographer to point his or her lens on the people that you love. Yes, they’ll do this anyway, but the good majority of the photos from my wedding are of me and my husband and very few are of the 145 other people that were there. Maybe instead of a 90/10 split, you’re looking at more of a 60/40. The second shooter mentioned above can help with this.

Put your photos on the cloud. My photographer gave me a disk with my photos and the rights to use them as I see fit. If yours does this as well, do yourself a favor and upload them all to a cloud or an external hard drive, or both. It’s just common sense.

You might not have a lifetime. If I didn’t get photos of Sean at our wedding, surely I’d get them from other family events. I’d have a slew once we had a couple of rugrats. But, we won’t. Living with thought that you could lose someone you care about at any moment will likely lead to an extreme amount of anxiety and fear, but it’s something to keep in the back of your head.

Appreciate every moment you have with the people you love and document it if you can, especially on the most important days of your life, like your wedding day. Hopefully, all you’ll end up with is a hard drive clogged up with photos and videos. But, if you have the tragic experience of losing someone you love too soon, you’ll be so grateful that you took the few moments needed to create a tangible memory.

Wedding Photography Regrets By Ariella Monti

Ariella MontiAriella Monti is a broke public affairs journalist based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. She was the woman behind the blog, L.I. Budget Bride, until she got married and got way too busy with three jobs to manage the site.

Maybe now that she’s got some spare time, she’ll revive it. Until then, she is happy Cris lets her delve back into the wedding world when she needs a fix. For pictures of her dog, cats and latest garden adventure, follow her on Twitter at @AriellaM.