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'Morning-after' wedding photos: From vows to wows

Billy and Renee Shindle shut the door to the billiards room, if just for a brief moment. They'd been pulled in countless directions all evening, but after their marriage ceremony, the newlyweds just wanted a few private moments together.

Morning after photos are a new trend amongst newlywed couples.
Morning after photos are a new trend amongst newlywed couples.Read

Billy and Renee Shindle shut the door to the billiards room, if just for a brief moment. They'd been pulled in countless directions all evening, but after their marriage ceremony, the newlyweds just wanted a few private moments together.

"We were entertaining our guests and my husband said, 'Come with me for a minute,' " Renee said. Next thing she knew, she was propped up on a pool table being kissed. Then they noticed a third person in the room - their wedding photographer, Jeremy Wolfe.

"They looked over at me and I said 'No, no. Don't stop,' " Wolfe said.

They didn't. And Wolfe snapped away.

"He laid her down on the pool table and ran his hand up her leg. It was sweet but very sensual."

No, they didn't have sex. In fact, they were laughing - even being a bit silly - during their embrace. But their few minutes of "alone time" left them rejuvenated for the rest of the reception - where they went back to acting like a perfect lady and gentleman.

Two years and a baby later, Renee remembers those photos fondly, thinking of them as a glimpse into her past life.

"I look back at those pictures and see how in love and how lustful our relationship was," said Renee, who lives in St. Thomas, west of Harrisburg.

Whether a couple duck into a private room during the reception or invite a photographer into their hotel room afterward, more couples seem interested in capturing their first intimate moments as husband and wife. No family. No friends. No DJs. Some couples even have nude pictures taken in a photography studio before the wedding.

Known as "morning after" photos (never mind that none are actually shot then), the portraits serve as a private memento or a public display of affection, hanging on the walls of homes, even made into coffee-table books, or stashed away for a time when they are old, gray, and wrinkly.

"That part of life disappears over the years," said Wolfe. "We mourn it and complain about it, but these couples can look back and say, 'I had my fun.' "

While morning-afters are still more of an exception than the rule, Wolfe says he has done about a dozen such photo shoots in his two-plus years on the job and interest has been increasing recently as he has more samples to show prospective clients.

"In the past four or five months, almost all my engagements, except for the most conservative couples, have wanted it," he said.

And why not? The pic of the flower girl throwing rose petals down the aisle is just part of the show. Intimate pictures of the couple, Wolfe said, are an expression of love.

That's how Courtney and Brian Hanks felt when they finally got back to their hotel room after a long wedding day in September. With Brian lying down on the bed, Courtney climbed on top of him - with Wolfe there to document it.

Wolfe never gave direction - other than a lighting comment here or there. Rather, he just sat back and shot whatever happened.

In one photo, Courtney straddles her new husband and makes a ride-'em-cowboy gesture with her hand.

"I was all about it," said Courtney, 25, who, along with her husband, stayed clothed the entire time.

"It was never awkward," said Brian, 33. "We just did our thing. [Wolfe] wasn't there to watch us. This wasn't a porn session."

Brian recommends that other couples take sexy shots at their weddings.

"Regardless of whether it's your wedding or just a regular photo shoot, experimenting with a little bit more revealing pics is great," he said. "Society in itself is always pushing the envelope. As long as you feel sexy taking them, then go for it."

Most important, the Chambersburg, Pa., couple got to document their first intimate time together as man and wife.

"We had to capture that moment," Courtney said. "We're never going to get that back again."

Wedding photographer David Potter first heard of morning-after shots shortly after starting shooting weddings last July. A couple mentioned it to him after their married friends gave them the idea.

Initially, Potter was hesitant.

"I don't want to give the impression that I'm a creeper photographer," he said. "There's a fine line between classy and trashy. Some people can't see that line, and they take it too far."

He has shot some steamy and sexy, and "sometimes they'll be drunk jumping on the bed and being childish," said Potter, who is based in Frederick, Md., but shoots weddings all over the Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

After his first experience in March, three more couples have asked him for morning-after shots. And he thinks interest is becoming widespread.

"I'm seeing these type of photos pop up on photography blogs and websites - even on the pop-up boards on Pinterest," he said.

Verlina Velazquez-Millings, 40, had always wanted a professional to take nude pictures of her. And when she found out that Wolfe shot racy photos as part of his wedding package, she found her opportunity. Her future husband Frank, 42, however, needed some convincing.

Eventually he gave in, admitting he was nervous at first, especially with his then-fiancee naked in a room with another man.

"My husband was really trying to cover me up," she said, noting that he seemed to wrap his arms and legs around her in almost every photo.

But soon he started getting more comfortable and let his guard down.

Now a large collage of the photos not only hang in the couple's bedroom but also takes a spot in their wedding album - something that can stop a houseguest in their tracks.

"Some people love them," she said. "Some close the book right away. Some people look at me and say 'I wish I had courage to do that. You are so free-spirited.' "

If she had it her way, the photos would be much more prominent in the house.

"Honestly," she said. "I want to blow it up and put it in the living room, but my husband won't agree to that."