My Favorite Spots at the Washington DC LDS Temple

This past week it was announced that the Washington D.C. LDS Temple will be closing for two years in March of 2018. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS (or "Mormon") faith, this was an obvious bummer. As a photographer, I suddenly realized it meant something else - for two years I will not be able to photograph an LDS wedding using the beautiful DC Temple as my backdrop! 

Bless you Michael Scott, as you illustrate my exact reaction to this news.

For those of you who are not familiar with the LDS faith, when two members of the LDS faith marry, we typically do so in an LDS temple in a ceremony called a "sealing". This ceremony is very sacred, which is why it is not photographed. When photographing an LDS wedding, I am actually photographing the couple after their ceremony, as they exit the Temple and are reunited with family and friends. 

The Washington D.C. Temple is revered as one of the most beautiful in all of the more than 150 Mormon Temples. There are so many amazing spots to shoot at when photographing a wedding here. Sealings are smaller, sacred affairs (most rooms don't accommodate more than 50-60 guests), and since there are no aisles or fan-fare, the equivalent of the announcement of the new "Mr. and Mrs." is the bride and groom exiting the Temple for the first time as husband and wife. It's the most important shot of my day!

At the entrance, the doors are covered by an overhang which 1) makes it possible to grab great shots no matter the weather and 2) lends to being a great filter for harsh sunlight. Additionally, with the Temple and it's structure being all white, it is a GREAT reflector of light for me. Family gathers in this area for the big reveal and photographing kids seeing the bride for the first time is always a highlight for me. Who didn't think brides were princesses when they were little??

Washington DC LDS Wedding

Washington DC LDS Wedding

Washington DC LDS Wedding

Just around the back of the entrance to the Temple, are stairs leading up to doors (that aren't an actual used entrance, so no one comes in and out). These are spectacular for family portraits. When you have large groups to shoot, there's just no way to see everyone when you're working only by moving out horizontally. The steps serve as "bleachers" for guests, raising everyone into better view. I've tried to incorporate a huge shot of our couples with guests into as many non-LDS weddings as I can, because it's always a fan favorite and must-have when shooting a Temple wedding!

 At the top of the stairs are fantastic gold doors. Almost every Temple has them, and if not gold, they're usually very ornate and a hot spot for wedding photos. Since the D.C. Temple is massive in size, this area is almost always in the shade. Optimal for portraits and for guests waiting to be filed in and out of formal pictures. The doors are surrounded by granite or some other super shiny black stone (sorry gemologists for the identification fail) in which the couple often reflects back into the portrait. I know that the architects probably didn't design or select materials based on how the building would be used for photos, but kudos guys.


Another spot I like to shoot in are actually the columns that help support the overhang structure outside the front entrance. I didn't always use these in my Temple coverage, but once I realized what soft light they produce, they became one of my must-have shots. (Also, the marble is really cold all year round which is great for my summer couples...DC summers are hot everyone!!)

Of course, I saved the best for last - shooting my gorgeous bride and groom on their wedding day with the Temple in all of it's glory as their backdrop. The Temple symbolizes so much more to members of the LDS faith than an awesome (free) ceremony venue. When you drive on the major highway here in the DC area, you turn a corner and then all of the sudden, the Temple emerges from the trees. It can take your breath away at night, when it's illuminated. Whatever your faith, you can't deny it's an absolutely spectacular structure. 

So, why is it closing?

The Washington D.C. Temple was built in 1974. It's undergone renovations here and there, but when it closes in March of next year, it will undergo a full renovation of it's interior, it's furnishings and update it's mechanical systems. There are other Temples within a few hours drive, but there's a reason why this is such a big deal, especially when it comes to photography. 

Each bride usually has a dream of which particular Temple they want to be married in.

I was married in this Temple. I grew up here, and this was "my Temple". I knew there was nowhere else I wanted to get married. I cannot imagine what would happen if I were to get engaged, and then come to find out "my Temple" won't be open for two years. TWO YEARS! Would I wait? Would I get married in another Temple? Another Temple is great and all... but it wouldn't be "my Temple"! I can only imagine the dilemma some couples will face during the time of the closure. I'm mourning just the loss of having the opportunity to shoot at this magnificent place. 

If you find yourself engaged in the DC area and looking for a photographer to capture your LDS wedding, please know that I will absolutely travel to Philadelphia and other surrounding Temples. I'm available to capture your day, no matter where it may take place!