I have always had a complicated relationship with my wedding photos. I'm immensely grateful that we have professional photos with our loved ones—especially our grandparents—and the photos of our ceremony are excellent. But in all of the pictures of Mike and I posed as a couple, we look stiff and awkward. Our photographer had a very traditional style and limited time, and Mike and I were nervous and uncomfortable. Honestly, we look more like deer in the headlights than a couple in love.
Whenever I looked at other people's wedding photos, with them laughing and and gazing at each other adoringly and looking adorable, I felt a little sad. I wished that I had wedding photos that I really liked, that I looked happy in, that captured our relationship. Mike's feelings about our photos didn't run quite as deep as mine, but he's never been overly fond of them either.
So on our tenth wedding anniversary, we finally did something about it: we staged a redo.
The main prep work we had to do beforehand was getting Mike a tux, since his wedding tux was a rental. Instead of trying to recreate his wedding look, Mike used this as an opportunity to pick out a tux that was more his style: a slim fit instead of traditional, with retro-inspired narrow lapels and piping. Since one of our wedding colors was plum, he went with a vest, tie, and pocket square in that color (for our wedding, he used ivory as an accent color).
We used Savvi Formalwear for the tux rental and were impressed with their COVID precautions. Stores are currently appointment only, so the salesperson, Mike, and I were the only people in the shop. In addition, they required masks in early July, long before Minnesota's mask mandate.
My wedding dress has been hanging in a garment bag in my closet for the past decade, so it was nice to finally get a chance to do something with it (why do women have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy a wedding dress when men get to rent a tux?) My dress never fit very well, even on my wedding day—it was a strapless dress that I had a tailor add straps and bra cups to, and it never hit my body quite right.
I was hesitant to spend even more money tailoring a dress that I was only wearing for a photo shoot, so I did some DIY alternations with safety pins and a YouTube tutorial. I shortened the straps, and I added a couple of pleats at the back of the dress to make it more fitted in the waist. It turned out surprising well, and I felt more comfortable in my dress than I did on my wedding day.
Instead of replicating my sleek wedding updo, I wanted a more flowing, romantic style with braids and my natural center part. I booked an appointment with Primped, an onsite bridal hair and makeup service that was very easy to work with—they have a straightforward pricing model, were willing to take on a solo client, and set me up with Jenna, a stylist who has salon space only a few miles from my house. Jenna did an amazing job with my hair, especially considering that I was wearing a face mask the whole time. I felt comfortable with the COVID precautions taken (waiting outside before my appointment, physical spacing from the salon's other clients, face masks, and hand sanitizer).
Since Josh happens to have a sideline as a professional photographer and has shot a few weddings, he was the obvious choice for our photographer. I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have a professional photographer in their social circle, but if you do, working with someone you know and trust makes such a huge difference. I felt comfortable tossing out a bunch of half-formed ideas beforehand to make sure we were all on the same page about the vibe of our photos, and Mike and I were much more relaxed and natural during our photo shoot than we would have been with a stranger.
I could even ask for some obnoxiously cute shots that I would have otherwise been hesitant to request, like Mike and I looking at each other through heart hands. And when my DIY safety pinned pleats popped apart as Mike picked me up for one final pose, it was funny instead of embarrassing (and Josh turned it into a great photo).
Because I've done photo shoots with Josh before and have a lot of confidence in his work, I knew that we would end up with some lovely photos. But what I wasn't expecting was how much fun it would be. Two hours flew by, and the smiles, laughs, and loving gazes that Mike and I shared were genuine.
Our wedding photos were like running through a stressful checklist, making sure we got in shots with various arrangements of other people, while Mike was nervous about forgetting his vows during our wedding ceremony and I felt uncomfortable in my dress. Of course we looked awkward! For our anniversary photos, we got to slow down and savor the moment, and it shows.
However, we still wanted to honor our wedding day and our original photos, so we got a few shots of us holding a framed wedding photo. Mike and I had a very small wedding (under 30 guests), so in lieu of a guestbook we had everyone sign a frame mat, and we later added a wedding photo. It hangs in our bedroom, and it's a constant reminder of our family and friends—especially those we've lost since our wedding day.
Including our signed wedding photo in our anniversary photos was our way of recognizing that our loved ones are always present in our hearts, even if they're no longer physically with us.
Was redoing our wedding photos worth it? Absolutely! It was the most memorable way we could have celebrated our tenth anniversary, and we finally have photos of us in wedding attire that we feel good about—I look beautiful, Mike looks dashing, and we both look as deeply in love with each other as we are.
Photos courtesy of Josh Feist. You can find him on Instagram @jaershh.