After traveling and the interview with Jean-Luc at the beginning of the summer, I spent the next few months living in a small town in southwest France with.. another photographer! It was great learning new vocabulary words relating to photography in French, and learning the differences between the photography industry in the United States and France. Towards the beginning of the stay, I had the chance to tag along and shoot a wedding just outside of Bordeaux in Talence. The bride, Norma, is Mexican-American and was marrying her French groom, Johan, while their friends and family from all over the world looked on. The ceremony was sweet and performed in three languages interchangeably: French, Spanish, and English, as the friends and family spoke in the ceremony to the couple wishing them the best. As I watched on I explained to my French host that the location and thought of being married in a mid-19th century church with a reception at a large chateau that first dated in the XIII century, is like a dream to us. It just doesn’t exist in the United States or if there is a castle/chateau it’s definitely much newer. Then I was informed, “The weddings are all in grand churches and chateaux… almost always at the chateaux!” Lucky!
What I found the most interesting was the order of the wedding event and how it was similar to weddings in America, but in a slightly different order. In the past, the tradition of not seeing the bride before the ceremony was typical, but I was informed that this tradition has been gone for quite a while in France. The bride and groom typically take their formal portrait together before the wedding ceremony, while typically photographers shoot after the ceremony, but before the reception here (unless the bride and groom request a “first-look” picture session before the ceremony which is becoming more and more popular in the U.S.). After the Catholic wedding ceremony was finished, but while the couple and witnesses were signing the papers with the priest, the attendees exited the church to greet the couple outside and to cheer on their first kiss as husband and wife. On the steps of the church, the couple stood while friends and family came up, hugged, and congratulated them. During this time the photographer sets up the group shot which includes every single attendee. The groups shot is very traditional in France and I was told that “if there is no group shot with everyone, then the wedding didn’t happen!” Luckily this church had a perfect amount of steps and room in front to pose the 150 or so attendees. What a great idea in order to make sure you capture every single guest who attended your wedding together.
After the group shot was finished, the bride and groom loaded up in a beautiful classic car and were driven to the reception site. A few more photos were taken of the couple, then the family shots, and whichever group of friends the couple wanted to pose with specifically. I am glad I had this experience while in France and enjoyed witnessing Norma’s and Johan’s special day together. I’ll let the rest of the wedding speak for itself through the photos: