On Weddings and Bicycles
[image via BEG Bicycles]
We are going to a wedding this weekend, where I don't expect to encounter any bicycles. But increasingly, bicycles and weddings are becoming an iconic combination - seen on wedding photographer and bicycle manufacturer websites alike. What is it about weddings and bicycles? There is, of course, the ever-popular Daisy Bell song, which keeps the association alive. Plus, the start of "cycling season" corresponds with the start of "wedding season." And while I put these in quotation marks, because both getting married and riding a bicycle are things that can be done year-round, any wedding photographer and bicycle shop owner will tell you that they get most of their business in April through October. Spring symbolises renewal, optimism, and a fresh start - which is appealing to cyclists and newlyweds alike.
Would you believe that in 2010 I received half a dozen emails from readers asking for bicycle suggestions for their weddings? One couple was looking specifically for a vintage tandem, others were hoping to find matching cruisers, and one inquiry came from a wedding planner who was looking to rent several dozen bicycles, so that the entire wedding party could ride them. A wedding peloton? Would love to see that. I even know of a couple who are planning to purchase a black roadster and a cream lady's roadster from the same manufacturer. They will ride them for the first time at the wedding, then continue to use them for everyday transportation. I think that's an exceptionally cute idea - but then I love "his and hers" bicycles.
[image via Arnout Groen Photography]
Last May, I tried my hand at professional wedding photography. It was a large wedding, but I would be working with two other photographers, so how difficult could it be? Well, oh my goodness! Without exaggeration, I was on my feet from 12:00 noon until 12:00 midnight with a 15 minute break for dinner. By the end, I was dehydrated, delirious, could hardly see straight and nearly sprained my wrists from holding up the heavy camera with enormous telephoto lens and flash unit. Things were spilled on me and my toes were stepped on. I dealt with drunken guests. I dealt with screaming children. I dealt with drunken guests holding screaming children... In short, yikes. The photos came out well, but I learned that I am not a wedding photographer - at least not of the sort of large and tightly choreographed weddings that have been popular in the US over the last couple of decades.
[image via Sheldon Brown]
But an interesting trend I observe, is that over the past years there has been a move away from the exuberant, stressful weddings and toward something simpler, more spontaneous and more tranquil. To some extent, I am sure this is due to the economy. But I also think that the trend reflects a change in priorities: It's the same desire for the simpler, the more natural, and the more genuine that we see across a wide range of lifestyle choices, from food selection, to interior design and home decor, to transportation. This May, an acquaintance of mine will be getting married and I happily agreed to be the photographer. It will be a tiny, unscripted ceremony involving a tandem bicycle, and I can't wait.