The very best day is the one when you and your best friend stand together in front of your people and promise to love and support each other for all time… that is all that matters on a wedding day.
Every now and then, a set of plans goes a little sideways… sometimes the venue isn’t open on time, sometimes the cake falls over or your very important grandfather is an hour late… sometimes a family member gets sick… shit happens. What then? Basically, you move gently around the problem and help your partner cope on this very special day. If it wasn’t already a team effort, it certainly becomes one at that point and even if your guests never notice, it’s on you to keep smiling on this best day.
Karri and Kevin came to their wedding day with the detailed plans all in place, nothing left unconsidered… and then some stuff went sideways. I’m pleased to say that, for the most part, no one noticed… at least that’s what it will look like in years to come. I can only compare it to some of my summer weddings where the temperature is so high that you think you will only ever remember the heat… oddly enough, in the pictures, it’s not what you notice and so you begin to forget that it was too hot.
Plan for the best day and roll with the day you are given… it’s good advice for any day.
We were just about finished with the portraits when I reminded Suzanne and Matthew that the party was just ahead. They had both been so focused on getting all of the responsible bits of the wedding day taken care of… so worried that something or someone might get missed. I watched as a visible relief washed over their happy faces. ;0)
The party is the reward you give yourself, the carrot at the end of the planning stick, if you will. The logistics of almost any wedding will drive most people a little crazy if they think about it too hard. When I arrived at the Ecotrust that afternoon, I encountered a stressed out Matthew in the parking lot. He was nervous about so many things. He improved remarkably when Suzanne swept into sight but it wasn’t until after the ceremony and a walk with her to do some portraits that I started to see him come back into balance. These two are made for each other and watching them come to life at their great party was a treat!
So do the homework and get a good night’s sleep. All that’s left is to get up on your wedding day, take the test and then party like you mean it!
The Power of Pie is almost equal to the power of a summer day. Together, they are an unstoppable combination. ;0)
Heather and Derek had a sweet wedding in the beautiful backyard of a family friend. The yard was tented against the heat and, after the ceremony, several large tables were set with flowers and food. A quiet social hum punctuated by small children running in the grass made a perfect backdrop to this wedding day. A little after 5:00, the pies came out of the kitchen and the crowd started to move towards the patio. Derek is a cheesecake man so the top of the pie tower was a small and mighty cheesecake… a few minutes later, he was wearing a smear of cheesecake on his left cheek and Heather was grinning a lot. After the laughing and the cleanup, the kids closed in for pie. After all, pie is good for you.
Camera shy? The secret is to act out, get a little goofy for a few minutes. Sure, our moms all raised us to behave a certain way for pictures but what fun is a tight smile and a let’s-get-this-over-with attitude? You can tell when the real personalities start to come to the surface. In a wedding day, it’s about helping each other relax… to be together in the moment. If you have hired the right photographer, your friends and families will recognize your true selves. So get a little silly to start with and watch the magic pictures come to the surface afterwards.
Kate and Ian were a treat to work with and Ian did what Ian does to loosen up his camera shy bride. Thanks, Ian!
That great red wall is across from Castaway… one of Portland’s cool urban venues.
Anticipation runs high on a wedding day… high enough that even the rain can’t dampen it by much. For Emily and James, the anticipation was enough to drive them out of hiding to watch their guests arriving. All of the formal photographs had been taken and they had been enjoying a glass of champagne and a little privacy… all that was left was to walk across the small space between the house and the hall where a lovely ceremony and dinner were waiting for them. James would finally get to see the cake he had designed and all of their friends and families were on hand to cheer them through their vows. The only VIP missing was their good dog, Davey. ;0)
Gray Gables was the perfect spot for this late season wedding. The party rolled from the great food into the kinetic dance floor and when the lights came up, the crowd went out into the damp with sparklers to light the way to the limo… this couple is a gas and the wedding was just perfect!
Destination weddings can be a lot of work for everyone involved if the planning isn’t up to snuff. When someone has taken the pains to bring me and my gear clear across the country to cover their wedding, I make sure that we do a lot of talking about the timing. It’s a good idea to bring your photographers in a couple of days ahead for a few reasons. The most obvious one being that it’s a way to get past the aggravations of weather and delayed flights. It is a also good way to ensure that your photographers are rested and ready to give you the best coverage possible, and, if any gear gets messed up in transit, your photographer has a chance to get it replaced in time for your wedding. All of that seems like a no brainer to me.
What I offer my clients in a destination situation is a chance to spend a couple of hours outside of the wedding day… most often it’s a rehearsal dinner sort of coverage. It helps all of us to get comfortable before the big day. Jen and Chris had a tea for their families at the hotel the day before the wedding. I took some time with the tea service but when they were done, they asked if I would go with them to get the rings cleaned. You bet! Old Town Alexandria has a free trolly that runs up and down King Street… all we had to do was hop on and go a couple of stops to the jewelry designer. Basically, we got to treat it as an engagement session… it gave us lots of opportunities to do sweet pictures of just the two of them in various places before we took our frozen noses back to the hotel.
The grace moments happen without fanfare… you can’t really stage something like this without making it look dorky. It’s not something you can suggest to a couple, it has to be an organic thing. It has to come from them.
Jessica and Phil had a crowded wedding day. Many people and a tight timeline made for sort of a frazzled tone to the early parts. It was most noticeable when we took 15 minutes after dinner to sneak out for some pictures of just the two of them. I watched them exhale and they began to breathe a little easier. Shy of the camera to start with, I asked them if they had honeymoon plans. That was all it took as they started to talk about Cabo San Lucas and the relaxing they’d be able to do there… like a great shiny reward hanging just ahead.
Trust your photographer to find and catch the grace moments… you’ll want to have them for later.
Be still… be really still for just a moment. Sometimes I see a chance to make an interesting portrait but I know it will hinge on the ability of my subject to just focus for a minute and that can be really hard to do on a fast paced wedding day.
Tiffany and Jon wanted to have their first meeting on the rooftop of The Nines so off we went… we did several in the bright September sun with Portland all laid out around us. To get to that section of the roof, we walked through this very dark, breezy space with tall shifting panels of gauze. It was sort of trippy and it registered in the back of my mind as something interesting. Just as we were finishing up, we walked past this hallway on our way to the elevator and I got to see it differently. I knew time was tight but I asked Tiffany to stand in the space and to hold very still… I was working without a tripod and I knew that flash would ruin what I was seeing so I turned my shutter way down and leaned hard into the wall. She did her elegant best and we have this glamorous piece as our prize. ;0)
A professional photographer will see the possibilities and make them work… how about that?
Instead of a Unity candle, consider a Sands Ceremony… you might be sweetly surprised by how personal it can be.
At it’s simplest, a sand ceremony involves a blending of two different-colored sands into a single container. The meaning is clear: The blending of two lovers, into an inseparable unit that is their marriage — the joining of their lives. Hard as it would be to separate out those grains of sand, that’s how difficult it is to separate these two people. Like the Unity candle, this Sands Ceremony can be done at any point in the marriage ceremony… it’s also not going to be too dependent on wind conditions. I have seen couples who are blending their families bring the children forward to add colored sands of their own and I have seen sands from around the globe incorporated into the mix… a way to pull your histories together.
The vessel you choose will dictate the shapes of the sand layers… I would advise trying a couple of containers ahead of time so that you have an idea what sort of artistic piece you might have after the wedding. You should also take into account that it will need to be transported carefully so that the layers stay distinct… this is not something to throw into a purse and take to the reception. ;0)
Michelle and Heather will have this reminder for many years to come.
Again, anything that makes your wedding day more personal is a good thing.
Let me know if I can help!
Anticipation was the name of the game on this sunny Saturday afternoon. Amos was waiting for his Shannon in a hallway at the top of the Indigo building. He stood a little straighter and tried not to fidget every time the elevator made a sound but he was so ready to see her! His face was changing from serious to sunny as his thoughts swirled… he didn’t say much and he didn’t pay much attention to anything else… just like a man in love probably ought to be.
As I stood with him in that hallway, I imagined her long ride up in the elevator, anticipating the way it must feel to see each other for the first time on their wedding day. What I know for certain is that the smiles began in earnest when she stepped into that hallway… smiles that stayed lit for most of the day. I think they have a long life ahead of them… more smiles than not. ;0)
I’m so glad that I get to share this kind of day with so many great people… it is a privilege in every sense of the word. It really is a fine sort of work I get to do!