Photo of the Day

Groom Surprises Bride with Friends at Social Distance Wedding

June 26, 2020

By Jacqueline Tobin

Weddings feel different at a social distance. We’ve reported on the complicated logistics of social-distance weddings, and in its wake we’ve seen the rise of micro weddings and a reawakening in elopement photography to accommodate the global pandemic. Earlier this month, wedding photographer Kelli Wilke says she was particularly struck by a scene at a social-distance wedding that really hit home.

The bride and groom had opted to go on with their wedding ceremony and postpone their wedding reception for the fall. Close family attended, distancing from one another and wearing masks. And then after the ceremony, the groom surprised the bride by inviting their friends to greet them in the parking lot as they exited the church. (Check out the gallery above to see their heartfelt reactions!)

“I literally started crying during this exit,” Wilke says. “It really said so much about what is going on with COVID-19 and weddings. The whole reality of these postponed weddings really hit home for me and I think for everyone there.”

As they were exiting, Wilke encountered a major change in light, “probably nearly three or four stops,” she says. “I tried to change quickly but was shooting on full manual.”

Afterward, the couple had their first dance in front of the church, with the bride’s parents tearfully looking on.

Wilke recalls photographer Erika Mann of Two Mann Studios speak about why in photography, “moment trumps everything.” That stuck with Wilke, particularly in this moment: “I know the shots are not technically perfect and I could have made many other changes to how I approached it, but I knew that it was going to be all about the moment. The shots were actually slightly over exposed but again, in my efforts to become a better documentary photographer, I opted to get the moment and didn’t worry so much about grabbing another lens or getting my settings just perfect. If I had, I for sure would have missed it.”

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