I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here before, but once upon a time, I was a deejay. I worked at weddings, mostly, with the occasional birthday party or prom thrown in to mix it up. Like any job, there were things to love about it (getting to play music at parties, a nice little extra paycheck) and things to hate about it (lugging heavy equipment on a hot summer day, and terrible hours for someone who sees nothing wrong with being in bed at 10 p.m.).

Whenever I’m at a wedding, I feel a little wave of nostalgia for the days when I ran the party, but in general, I don’t miss it. In fact, until this past weekend, I don’t think I really grasped what I missed about it, but now, I’ve got it. It’s the moments the photographer misses.

Now, if you’re a photographer at a wedding, you’re focusing on the big shots and hoping to grab some of the fun stuff as well, but you can’t be everywhere at once, you know? And if you’re a member of the family or the bridal party, you’re pretty focused on the bride or groom or your dress. If you’re a really close friend of the couple in question, you might be paying a lot of attention to the details you helped them choose, or the other members of your tight-knit group.

But when you’re a bit of an outsider, like the deejay is, you see it all for what it is. You see the emotion flood across the bride’s face as she steps onto the dance floor with her new husband, and you see the way that changes when she dances with her father and then, her friends. You see the way the mother of the bride glows (or glares, in the case of some of the divorced parents I saw) as the father/daughter dance takes place. You see people letting loose with the dance moves, both good and bad. You see a groomsman working up the nerve to ask the bride’s sister to dance. You see the boy dance a song with his grandma and allow her to hold him close for a moment after the song finishes.

Last weekend, we were in upstate New York for Jared’s cousin’s wedding, which was gorgeous. And I didn’t bring my camera, since I wasn’t checking bags and had no room, so, naturally, the venue would have been exquisite for some great shots. Next time, I guess.

But, since I only really knew a small handful of people there, it was easy for me to sort of revert to my old deejay ways and really, really people watch. Man, I missed it. I caught those moments that maybe nobody else did, and while I don’t have the pictures, I remember them vividly enough that many days later, they’re still making my heart smile.

And it made me realize that it’s not only at weddings when those moments occur (although there are plenty more there than at, say, the movie theater). They’re all around us, all the time. And if they make you feel happy the way they make me feel happy, I hope you take the time to notice them.

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