'Brides on Beds' is a project which I am currently working on. As a photographer I get to see brides before and after they put on their wedding gown. I meet them in person when the couple book me, then I see them on their wedding day more often than not in their parents' bedroom.
I witness the fuss, the emotions, and more often than not, as the photographer I am the one keeping my bride upbeat and in a positive mood, or calming her down with reassuring words. It is part of my work which I really enjoy. What I notice however is the big suspense just before a bride decides its time to put on her dress.
The air is heavy with excitement and emotion. For starters even I get goosebumps and get excited to see the bride for the first time in her wedding gown. However this project is about 'before the bride puts on her gown'. When the bride is not yet a bride. When the bride is still her parents' offspring. Of course the bride remains their daughter forever, however the wedding gown is symbolic.
Putting on the wedding gown is the first step towards single hood on the wedding day. A woman leaving her parents' home to wed her partner and start a new family elsewhere. Sheryl Paul aptly puts it this way: "For most of history, the dress symbolized the end of a woman’s life as an individual and the beginning of her role as a dependent wife. Today the dress no longer symbolizes the death of individuality, but of single hood. The rebirth is not one of dependent wife hood, but of mature partnership at a new level of commitment. When a woman crosses over the threshold into marriage, she is leaving behind her attachments to an identity that no longer fits. Wearing the white dress on her last day of being single is a profound and archetypal way of acknowledging and saying goodbye to this aspect of her life" (Paul, 2010).
Stepping from single hood to married, is a big step which most of us are afraid to let go of. “Letting go of attachments to the identity and lifestyle of being single is a very common area where women feel the fear and grief of this transition. Regardless of your age, how long you have been with your partner, and whether or not you have lived together, your identity is still “single” (Paul, 2010). In just one day the bride will transition from having one identity, which she has grown up with, to another identity which she will be experiencing with her new partner. I mentioned the word new in relation to the new identity which both partners will acquire once they say 'I do", which is that of husband and wife.
In this project brides are set on their beds, often looking at their wedding gowns which are moments away from wearing. The brides are never looking at the camera. The aim is to catch a moment in time where the daughter stops being a child, and moves from single hood to an independent being in a mature partnership.
Thoughts rush through my head too when I witness these moments. Even though I have never been a bride, I do wonder how one would feel when going through this transition.
Paul, S. (2010, May 7). The Symbol of the Wedding Dress: Letting Go of Singlehood « Conscious Transitions. Retrieved from http://conscious-transitions.com/the-symbol-of-the-wedding-dress-letting-go-of-singlehood/