There's a certain level of narcissism involved in most weddings, which is to be expected when two people throw a giant party to celebrate themselves and their very special union. That narcissism can range from sweet (invitations with an engagement photo), to strange (matchbooks emblazoned with an image of the couple), to annoying ("Here's a link to our wedding website!"), to grotesque (anything depicted on My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding).
But, until recently, there hasn't been a way to lend your wedding preparations that air of creepiness, that unmistakable hint of undercover surveillance, that "reality TV feel" that comes from having a camera trained on you and your fiancee at all times.
From the NY Times:
Whether inspired by tenderhearted sentiment, the desire to record history in the making or something more narcissistic, some marriage-minded men are remaking one of humanity's most private moments into one that can be instantly shared with family, friends and even, thanks to the Internet, virtual strangers. They are conspiring with photographers who, with all the stealth of covert operatives, lurk in crowds, behind bushes and in the darkened recesses of restaurants to capture the delighted, unposed reaction of the fiancée-in-the-making.
I think the definite motivator here is "something more narcissistic," since pretty much everyone in the article who hired a proposal surveillance team talked about wanting to preserve the moment for the specific purpose of posting it online. And you thought popping the question via JumboTron was the tackiest thing one could do during a proposal. Turns out, it's caving in to your basest, reality-tv-influenced desires:
"Initially wedding photojournalism was an aesthetic choice by photographers like me because it emphasized the story of the wedding," said Terry deRoy Gruber, a New York photographer who shot the wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, among others. "But as time has gone on, with the proliferation of the paparazzi, reality television and online autobiography all kind of cooked together, people almost feel it's really the only way to document something. Proposal photographs represent the absolute beginning of the marriage story, and for some groom who is influenced by these other forces, this is sort of an obligatory scene to record."
Aww, isn't that so adorably stalkerish? Romance is all the more romantic when it's been shaped by the obligation to capture it on film. Case in point: Was there anything more beautiful than that heavily recorded proposal on The Hills? It was so real!
Jaime Padula eventually noticed a man sitting near her on a beach in Malibu, Calif., shooting away with his camera as P. J. Byrne asked her to marry him. But she had no idea why. Only later that day, when the photographer reappeared with the photos at a gathering of friends at a nearby hotel, did Ms. Padula realize the stranger in their midst – an out-of-town friend of Mr. Byrne's – was not as strange as first thought.
The next day, the couple sent a celebratory e-mail message to their family and friends that included a link to the posted images.
…For his part, Mr. Byrne said, "You can take pictures with the woman you love all this time, but the smile on her face in that moment is something you can't recreate."
It's also something you can't just remember on your own, privately. Truly, nothing says "I love you" like "I hired paparazzi so we could post this intimate moment to Facebook."