Shots by Shana

The Evolution of the Wedding

Posted by  //  September 16, 2016  //  Local Business

By Shana Karn, Co-Owner of The Second Knob Gifts & Antiques and Owner, Shots by Shana Photography

People frequently ask me if shooting wedding is difficult. My answer remains consistent, “I love shooting weddings because when else do we get to see two people so in love and so many people so happy about it???”

It should come as no surprise to anyone that wedding customs, like everything else, over the course of time, change. Some of the more traditional wedding customs— like bachelor parties, tiered cakes, garter toss, bridal bouquets and massive feasts stem from medieval times and have long held a place at the wedding table but as times change, customs evolve.  Wedding photography can be traced back to the 1840’s. While photography back then was used primarily for commercial purposes, photographers began shooting weddings as a way to preserve special memories and thankfully, this custom has continued—and also evolved.

As a wedding photographer, I witness evolutions of customs first-hand. Often, I am asked for my opinion on specific wedding details and I have to subtly remind brides and grooms (and sometimes parents) that the wedding should reflect the wishes of the two people marrying and what they want— not what I (or anyone else) want. With this in mind, I work with couples to plan their day, their way.

Had someone told my Grandmother, on her wedding day—in the 1930’s, that her granddaughter would one day be shooting weddings in barns, on tropical beaches or on a city skyscraper rooftop, she would’ve laughed that person out of the church!

But, to keep everything in perspective, Grandma’s 1930’s bridal bouquet of simple, fragrant flowers, symbolizing everlasting love and fertility was very different than, but  evolved from,  the bouquet of odiferous garlic, herbs and grains that one of our ancestors surely carried to ward off evil spirits at her wedding many, many years before. So, the concept of the wedding flowers, and particularly the bridal bouquet— a very old concept—has withstood the test of time but, like most wedding customs, has evolved.

Some of the more symbolic details included in weddings these days are fairly “new.” The Unity Candle, often thought to be a religious “custom” doesn’t actually have roots in any specific religion and has been around for a mere 30-40 years. In more recent years, the symbolism represented by the Unity Candle has evolved: these days, two lives becoming one has been symbolized by the couple combining multi-colored sand into one container, mixing two wines into one— and then sipping the combined wine, or the couple adding dirt to a wedding plant.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that some “customs” are often rooted in culture or religion. A couple who is deeply rooted in their culture(s) or their religion(s), may select specific, more traditional, customs as a means of paying tribute to their culture or religion. In Hawaii, both bride and groom wear wedding leis to honor their culture and in India, they often wear a floral “crown.”

The passing of The Marriage Equality Act in 2011 made same-sex marriage legal in New York and I photographed my first same-sex ceremony in 2013. Regardless of whether a wedding is same-sex or heterosexual,  incorporating traditional wedding customs or evolved customs is still the choice of the couple.

While wedding customs will continue to evolve, the true love and joy witnessed at a wedding, does not— it is a constant; immune to change and for this, I am forever thankful.

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