A Bridal Shoot at Ijams . . . Sort Of

Megan and TJ-2.jpg

I was contacted by Megan about doing a couple shoot.  I asked if this was for an engagement session and she said no, but went on to tell me how she and her husband married last year and due to technical issues, their wedding photos did not come out as planned.  Approaching their first anniversary, she wanted some shots that they can use for Christmas cards.

I asked, "Do you want to bring your wedding dress and get some formal portraits?"  Megan was thrilled.

We convened at Ijams Nature Center in South Knoxville.  I had recently purchased a photographer's pass that allows me to bring clients there.  It really is a remarkable place, offering woodlands, gardens, structures, and unique quarries to use as settings.  I like to use the hashtag #theworldismystudio and when you have places like this, it is with good reason.

Megan looked lovely.  She had done a simple look with hair and makeup that flattered her and her gown was exquisite.  She and her husband, TJ, had even brought the "topping" to their wedding cake.  I say "topping" because the real piece saved from their wedding had been discovered by their dog, Khaleesi, and eaten!

But as we walked about during the shoot, there was one thing upon which both Megan and TJ could agree - doing these portraits now was far less stressful than doing them on the wedding day.  No rush, no nerves, no distractions.  While Megan did not spend time in a chair for hair and makeup, it did not matter - she looked very inch the bride.  And maybe TJ did not have a tux on, but a dressy jacket and button-down shirt, and he was good to go.

Which asks the question: if formal portraits - and by formal I mean other than candid moments, although spontaneous gestures and emotions feature in formal portraits for weddings - are important to you, why not have have a separate session for them, apart from the wedding day?  I can see some advantages:

1.   No time crunch.

2.  No distractions from well-meaning guests who want to talk to you.

3.  Your choice of setting apart from where you held the ceremony/reception - or go back to that spot.

4.  Your choice of time during the day . . . or night.

5.  You had a decent night's sleep the night before.

6.  You get to wear your dress more than once.

7.  If you do this before the wedding, you can do a "test run" on your hair style for the big day.  

8.  If you do this after the wedding, you can "fix" a detail that you felt was missing on your wedding day.

I think the setting is a great advantage.  You might not have had the resources for your wedding to be able to rent a WOW kind of venue.  Or you did and . . . it rained without stop, forcing you to move everything inside to a smaller, darker setting.  There are so many unique and wonderful settings available to you , many of which cost nothing to you.  All it takes is setting aside the time to go (and maybe a good GPS, but since I always scout locations before I shoot there, I will give you the lowdown on how to get there).

Meads Quarry Lake is part of Ijams Nature Center.  What, you didn't know this existed in Knoxville?

Yes, there are disadvantages.  You have to put the dress on again.  You have to do hair and makeup again.  There is an added cost.  But those really do not outweigh the advantages listed and as for the money factor, you can plan for that in your wedding budget.  

In fact, I read an article recently about a woman who vowed to wear her wedding dress on every anniversary.

She said that three days after her two-year anniversary, her wedding dress was still lying on the bedroom floor.

“It’s collected some stains on the bottom, but I much prefer this than keeping it in a pristine box that will never see the light of day, or my husband’s adoring eyes,” she explained.

“I smile when I walk past it, the light catching the sparkles, as if it’s winking at me, saying, ‘I’ll see you next year!’”

So why not have a "wedding" shoot on your anniversary?  Of course, Megan and TJ also donned casual clothes for shots to celebrate their first anniversary.  Once again at Ijams, we hiked over to Ross Quarry that provides a sort of "pre-historic meets urban grunge" setting.  Hello, any cosplay couples out there?

I am glad I could help out this couple.  Here's to many more years of continued health and happiness to Megan and TJ!