It’s 4.47am when I sit down to write this. I woke up 30 minutes ago and couldn’t go back to sleep. I’ve been thinking about this for so long, but a couple of things lately have reinforced what I already knew.

The wedding train has derailed.

Put down those mason jars, store away that vintage typewriter and fairy lights and sit down because you need to listen. This is an intervention. The whole wedding industry has gone detail bananas and we need to clear a few things up.

– You! Over there! Step away from the hay bales and the Vintage Navajo rugs and come over here. Sit! Down! No, you don’t have to put lavender on the plates, you need to wake up!

We’re getting lost in details. The whole wedding industry is drifting away from what weddings are about and we’re all part of the problem – bloggers, photographers, planners and vendors – all hypocrites feeding the detail beast.

Strip it back.

Peel the layers off.

And start again.

At the center of every wedding we have a girl. Who fell in love with a boy. Or a girl who fell in love with a girl. Or a boy who fell in l… you get my point.

The rest is fluff.

If you read magazines and wedding blogs today, you’d think it’s all about the dress, the decorations, invitations or a million other things.

THINGS.

It’s not.

It’s about celebrating love, a manifestation of commitment, a gathering of friends and family.

Because you’re in love.

But if you visit many of the blogs today, you’d think it’s about other things. Heck, there are even themed shoots with no people. As if candles and old LP players on a blanket in a clearing in a forest make a wedding. Just add people. And maybe a groom. Or actually don’t, the wedding is about the details, remember? Details, details, details.

Strip it back.

Peel the layers off.

And start again.

Weddings are about people, it’s about commitment and celebrating love. It’s about you. Build on that and everything else will follow.

I am a detail person, so it’s not that I don’t like details. I love details. Details, details, details. Love them. I honestly do. I’ve worked with some of the best planners in the business and they’ve styled weddings to perfection, made details stand out and it’s always been great, because they’ve built on the couples, starting with who they are. And I actually like shooting details. A lot.

When I was younger I used to record mix tapes and give to girls I liked.

Every detail was thought out, every letter, every scribble, every word on that tape had meaning. I love me some details. I grew up in a house with vintage bottles and mason jars everywhere. That and rocks collected from oceans and fields. So I get the jar and bottle thing, I truly do. Throw in some rocks and I’m there. But remember what the wedding is about, why you’re doing this, that’s all you really need. Don’t stress out about building a fairytale wedding, perfectly crafted, every detail borrowed from somewhere else.

Look away from the blogs and magazines.

And look within.

Why are you doing this? What does it mean to you? Do you really need all that…stuff? And if you want stuff, are you adding stuff that actually means something to you? What do you want to remember from your day? The cake, the flowers, the dress from Hoya de la Poopy?

Or do you want to focus on that moment between you two? The boy? Who fell in love with a girl?

Strip it back.

Peel the layers off.

And start again.

Last night Rachel sent me this email after I posted their wedding. I’ll leave you with that.

 

Jonas,

I want you to picture Jeff and I squeezed in to our round chair, we don’t really fit and our dogs have been asleep at our feet for hours. It is very chilly here and the leaves are falling but we are reluctant to put on our heat yet. I say to Jeff, “let’s check your unemployed wife’s email, maybe we are about to get wealthy.” When I saw “it’s up” I stopped breathing. You reminded me that all that matters  is squeezed in that chair next to me.

This is the moment I have been craving and dreading all at the same time. It feels like a final celebration in a way to me. Like our last chance for you, nirav and us to take what we created together, between all of our hearts, and say to the world this is love, this is what’s important, this is the power of photography.

I am sitting here with this feeling inside that I felt before. I felt it when we sent that email off into thin air hoping to create something with you. I felt this when Jeff and I woke up in the middle of the night on our honeymoon in our little cabin (Jeff would be the first to tell you if you didn’t already have your ticket back to Australia I would have brought you on our honeymoon too) but picture us there and we are on an island in the middle of the ocean in the rain in a little cabin and i press my iphone on and it reloads your website and “One” is there. Jeff and I held each other and cried and cried and cried. You have healed parts of me. If that is not the measure of your success, I don’t know what is.

I love you.

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[...]  Read this blog post before you start planning and then remember it every time you think you might be getting carried [...]
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[...] is “weddings. minus the insanity, plus the marriage” Just what I needed. Then I read The Mason Jar Manifesto by none other than one of my favourite photographers, Jonas Peterson. He hit the nail right on the [...]
jonathan holt
May 26, 2013
this is exactly what the wedding industry needs to hear. every bride should have to come initial here to prove she has read and understands what has been said.
Becky B
June 4, 2013
I came across this blog as I myself am planning a wedding and using mason jars and twinkle lights. I was searching for ideas. But we are going the farm, barn, mason jar route for quite the opposite reason than you write about. Not because its trendy, bc its affordable. We prefer simple, not over extravagent. We are down to earth, not high maintenacne. We like the home made over the the over-thought, over-done, over-decorated. And the DIY was becasue we dont have the money for high priced planners, and decorations that are pre-made and have no meaning. The ones every other person used 1000 times before we did. All the details we have are hand made, by my fiance and myself. Our mason jars came from family and friends, who know who we are, and therefore have meaning. The ones we bought at garage sales, came from people who were more than excited to give them to us for our wedding. We met wonderful folks spending out Saturdays wandering around town looking for the jars. Telling our story, making new friends. Our hand painted burlap tells a story of me and a friend spending time together, her helping me, that burlap now has meaning. And again, it costs a lot less than purchasing it. Our wedding is nothing but focusing on love. and a boy who met a girl, and fell in love at a time neither thought it was possible. Our energy and love makes all things possible. We love blue, we love mason jars, and burlap, and chevron, and all things that are "trendy" now. And I can't wait for my photographer to capture it all.
Bob Owen
June 7, 2013
I read this ages ago and have come back to read it again. Its just so bloody right! Hats off to you
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August 20, 2013
Came across this post (again). I remember reading it back in 2011 when you posted it, and it's still very relevant two years later. I'm constantly having this battle in my head. As a wedding photographer, of course I love photographing beautiful weddings, with stunning details, but too often, I'll be shooting a wedding and I'll think: "Do you two even LOVE each other? What am I even doing here??"...that's honestly why I love elopements. If I could make a living shooting elopements...sign me up today!! Anyway, thanks so much for writing this post. I hope it caused brides to sit back and think about what's most important. It obviously didn't change much in the blogsphere, but I think that's a deeper ditch. Anyway. You rock. Keep putting out amazing work. I'm truly inspired by your art.
David
September 12, 2013
I couldn't agree more! One would think some weddings are all about the details and not about the couple.
Greg Thurtle
September 12, 2013
At. Last.
Mimmika
September 12, 2013
Jonas I couldn't agree more! It's like you live in my head! The hardest part of our job as planners is 'getting the couple back' after they've fallen off the details cliff. And so many don't bother. The most touching weddings I've worked on allowed the couple's essence to shine through, by using minimal details or details that truly meant something to the couple. And that, I believe, is what makes for the best wedding day, the most memorable celebration, and ultimately the most beautiful photos ... what's more magical than living and capturing a special moment passing between two people that often goes unnoticed in the clutter (yes, I said it) that are some weddings. If we can help guide couples to stay true what THEY want, and what makes THEM happy (not following the trends, the 'musts', trying to top so-and-so cause they had this-and-that, doing it cause the parents are pushy, cause a friend is insisting) the pressure and stress everyone talks about when planning a wedding would almost completely be obliterated. I may have stumbled on this late (thanks for sharing Bernard Pretorius!) but thanks for speaking your heart!
Clare Woolford
October 19, 2013
What a great post - I must share this with everyone! I remember one bride asking if I had taken a photo of her birdcage. She had hundreds of photographs of friends and family but was gutted that I hadn't noticed the birdcage she bought to collect cards in. This post makes me realise I am not such a bad person for concentrating on the people and the love in the room! Thank you so much xxx
Sara
November 9, 2013
I'm unsure about how I came across your article but I would like to thank you for so eloquently putting words to something I think about all the time. Weddings are about ceremony and the celebration of true love. Details should be a by-product of the ceremony, not to be worried about perfecting or stressed over. Thank you very much for this excellent article. I will be forwarding clients seeking clarification to this in the future. Also I absolutely love your photography work. Namaste xo
Sandra
January 14, 2014
Just came across this post.. Little late to the party, but couldn't agree more.
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Peta Hood
May 19, 2014
Thoughtful words, but I agree entirely with Kevi. Whilst stressing over achieving perfection in the detail is no fun, each to their own. There is beauty in everything.
Joshua Withers
May 19, 2014
Three years on and this blog post is like a good wine, still good, and getting better. Fucking, love, all, of, it As a celebrant it means more to me than anyone else in the process.
Christina DeVictor
May 19, 2014
So timely Jonas. Let's hope a revolution starts in our industry. Thanks for taking the time to post such a heartfelt essay on what weddings truly mean.
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May 20, 2014
Jonas, my partner and I have just talked about this over dinner earlier and yesterday when we had coffee. Thank You. You should come and visit Cebu City, Philippines one of these days and we can keep it a secret.
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May 20, 2014
as much true now as it was when this was originally written - love !
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May 22, 2014
I love every single word. Too much focus is sometimes on the 'wedding' that we forget about the marriage. Thank you for posting this!
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July 4, 2014
Thank you for your thoughts Jonas. It can be hard to remember 'why' sometimes. It's nice to see it written down.
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July 8, 2014
YES love your refreshing post about weddings and marriage !
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July 15, 2014
Tack för dessa ord, Jonas. De hjälper mig navigera vidare.
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