“Before Anything Else, We Were Young”
As a long-time wedding photographer, I’ve seen it all. I have seen the most stubborn of grooms cry as their bride begins that slow walk down the aisle. I have seen the most difficult of children become even more intolerant, as all the eyes in the room focus on their every move. However, what I don’t see, but every once in a forgotten blue moon, is the enjoyment and nervousness of that first interaction. That moment that defines the difference between friend and love. The one many of us seem to have misplaced in our years; innocence and curiosity.
When I decided to take on this project, I knew I was in for a great deal of cuteness. Seriously, toddlers acting like brides and grooms, how could it be anything but? What I didn’t expect was what I’d be witnessed too, or should I say, reminded of, as the shoot went on.
My son, Hayden, who is only 5 years old, has a ton of energy and loves acting. (Having grown up with a photographer as a parent, he has been cultured rather early.) When we arrived at the Venue, he was immediately greeted by his soon to be (pretend) bride. It was quiet interesting to watch as he shied away, but in a “Don’t stop talking to me,” kind of shun. “You are really handsome,” she said with a glowing grin. Hayden instantly turned bright red and asked, “Why did you say that to me?” embarrassed, but curious he took her hand and they headed off to the marriage awning, overlooking a gorgeous valley of green trees and rocks.
I walked over to the little girl’s mother with a smile on my face and said, “I think they are going to get along very well.” She agreed and we both laughed as we headed off to round up the rest of the kids for the “Toddler Wedding.”
“Ok Hayden. Take this ring pop and place it on her finger!”
Of course, he wanted the ring for himself, but hesitantly began to place it on her finger. With much excitement, she accepted it, as well as his hand and they began to stare into each other’s eyes. That is until he was told to give her a kiss on the cheek.
“Wait!!!” he yelled. “She has to kiss me?!”
Barely containing my laughter, I told him, “Yes son. She has to kiss you on the cheek, and then you kiss her on the cheek.” Uncertain of why, and feeling put on the spot, Hayden looked at me as if to say, “This isn’t happening dude.”
With a blushed smile on her face she says, “Why don’t I go first, and if it doesn’t seem weird then you can kiss me on mine.” If looks could kill, Hayden’s face would have been a weapon of mass destruction. It was littered with anger towards me for making him do this, but also excitement and embarrassment because his first kiss was the result of my silly shoot idea. However, it worked! She leaned over, gave him a nice kiss on the cheek, and gleamed. “See! it wasn’t that bad.”
As mentioned earlier, I’ve seen a lot of things with brides and grooms, but that moment was something I honestly believe, only a child could truly understand. It was profound to see his imagination, nerves, and ability to speak, get skipped around in thought. Simply put, it was the cutest, and most heart felt moments I can recall. It was something I wish, as a photographer, we could see at every wedding. When the officiant says, “You may kiss your bride!” and then to see the groom fumble for the strength just to lean in.
As the session went on, they began talking more and more about what they liked and didn’t like, (which both agreed – Lima beans are gross, as I’m sure most would.) They were excited to see the beautiful area we were shooting in and were equally excited to be pretend husband and wife. In the end, they made every scene extraordinary to watch and develop.
They saw things in away I feel most of us have forgotten about. To them it was all new. It was fresh, and free of stress and reason. I couldn’t help but feel jealous, because for them there wasn’t a care in the world. Responsibility was unpronounceable (literally and figuratively). What happened made me wonder how we could, as adults, share this amazing gift of “First Sight?”
I realized, it’s not that we don’t know how, because we started that way. It’s just remembering and reapplying adolescence back into our lives.
I’m not saying stop paying bills and spend every dollar on slime and action figures, but I am saying to start waking up each day to the new sounds of adventure. To play music and dance in the shower. To take a break and make our husbands and wives laugh at something so stupid it belongs on a bumper sticker. To stand in front of family and friends and softly say, “Peek-a-boo, I see you!” for no other reason than to be silly. It’s important in any relationship, whether marriage, or that “First” date, we try and be playful, fun, and inspiring. That we share ourselves with this other person, and maybe play Laser Tag, or try to take up hip-hop dancing in our 40s’ – Don’t ask!!! But to always try something new with each other, and to make each other blush. We should do these things, so we don’t forget what it was like. We should do them because it’s fun, and because, before anything else, we were young.