Saturday marked the end to another year of weddings and proposals. In 2012, I had the fortune of filming a horse-and-carriage ride through Central Park that culminated in an engagement. This weekend, I had the greater fortune to capture Alex's plan to propose in front of friends and family in the beautiful Wissahickon Valley Park, just a few miles outside of Philadelphia.
Amanda and I hid in the woods capturing as Whitney, Alex, and Bair walked along Forbidden Drive, onto a beautiful bridge, and soon into the arms of hidden friends and family below.
But before the proposal went down, AP and I went to a used bookstore/cafe to kill some time, and quite randomly stumbled upon the timely Courtship and Marriage by Francis E. Merrill (published in 1959, to note).
This book is a sociological study of courtship and marriage in the United States. It is not not a guide to sexual adjustment in marriage, a treatise on happy marriage, or a manual of household management. The author is not a psychiatrist, a gynecologist, or a home economist. As a sociologist, his primary interest is in courtship and marriage as forms of social interaction.
As I flipped through the book, an "Engagement" chapter popped from the pages. Four bucks later, it came with us onto the trail. He begins the chapter, "Engagement is the final triumphant stage in courtship....Two people enter a new form of interaction, with new social status, new rights, and obligations, and a new conception of themselves."
October has come and gone. Soon you will see wedding videos roll out over the next couple months, as I dive into editing-mode. This will most likely be the last series of weddings for a while, for many reasons.
A lot has happened over this year, including two cross-country road trips, several big moves, and incorporating the business into an LLC. Nothing monumental, of course, but we have been busy. Taking a step back and looking at Merrill's words that "[t]he engagement is the culmination of one type of interaction and the beginning of another," so will be this final round of wedding videos for a while, and the beginning of new ventures.
Enjoy the images below. Thanks Al and Whit!
Whitney's dad is someone I've grown fond of over the years. (I'm going to take a break after this last photo to give everyone a chance to catch their breath, maybe grab a tissue, because this one is certainly a tear-jerker.)
I have a lot of respect for wedding photographers for many reasons, but I will say that the "engagement session photography" portion of a photographer's fee is where I stand on the knife's edge. This is the time where conceivably you "get to know the photographer" before they zoom into your wedding date, cameras in faces, flashes blazing. It is intimate, and you are supposed to find an aesthetically pleasing location to take dressed-up pictures. Why? I ask myself...
After some time with this book's sociological exploration of engagement, this is the part where I don't buy this (relatively new-in-the-field) built-in element to a "wedding photography package." Because unless hired for the actual engagement day, I think there is a lot left out; in fact, I think this whole concept misses the idea that an engagement is a social function! If it were entirely private and intimate, I think a couple with their privacy priorities in line would elope, forget the diamond ring, and not make a fuss about it.
Merrill suggests there are six functions of engagement:
- Social function
- Sexual function
- Physical function
- Personality funciton
- Homemaking function
- Solidarity function
Nowadays, different than the "good-ole'-days", couples are not surprising each other with marriage. In the "homemaking function" he suggests that a lot of the "prosaic but important questions" should be asked of one another, and that [e[ngagement is the best time to discuss them."
But cognitive-thinking, well-intentioned human beings in loving relationships want to avoid the staggering omnipresence of divorce that has hit our world. Thus they talk about what they believe to be these important matters before they get engaged: frugality, kids, where they want to live, how they want to live together - all things that are important tenets hopefully driving towards a more successful marriage.
[I have a lot of thoughts on marriage and weddings and engagements that I need time to process after four years of "working" them, but after this beautiful weekend in Philadelphia, I can conclude that the engagement/proposal is best shared and celebrated in the company of friends and family. So don't pay mind to a wedding photographer who wants to cover an engagement session, or to inflate their wedding-day package price - get a friend or relative with a decent camera in the weeds with you and help capture this day the way it really happened.]