So often when meeting new people, the question “So, what do you do?”, will inevitably be asked. For me, the answer is, “I’m a photographer”, to which is typically followed up by, “Oh, so like, weddings?”. “Ummm, no”. Not that I have anything against wedding photography, some of the local photographers I know shoot weddings, their talent is inspiring and they absolutely love what they do. It also isn’t that I have some sort of jaded past that makes me want to vomit at the idea of two people choosing to come together in (often) lavish fashion to make a legal binding commitment to one another (that might not have come out all that convincing) or that working eight hours straight under pressure and dealing with future mothers-in-law doesn’t sound appealing; I just simply am not drawn to them. So no, I don’t do weddings, except for when I do. Case in point, the union of these two.
When this Ohio-based bride-to-be contacted me after being referred by the Florida-based photographer who did their engagement photos in Michigan, who I had met at a workshop in California, as a North Carolina-based photographer who could shoot their small wedding in Tennessee (it’s a small world, folks-you never know what will come of your connections), I said “I will”. And why not? They were getting married about an hour away from me, she only needed me for two hours, and it was just going to be twelve of them. Totally doable.
I spoke with the future Mrs. Mike a week before the wedding and discussed the “plan”…..married on the hill overlooking the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains at an intimate resort in TN, it was a holiday weekend and she was excited to share the view and her vows with her loved ones. She kind of even made me fall in love with them all just in the way she spoke of everyone and her husband to be. I remember the day we spoke because it was one of the May days that actually included sunshine, as May was a monsoon month for us in the mountains. Then, of course the rains returned, literally an hour after we spoke.
The morning of the wedding, I checked the radar maps and knew that the bride and I were going to have to both be flexible that day, because it was going to pour at the one o’clock hour when she was scheduled to have her father walk her to the archway where she would complete the beauty of the backdrop that...was supposed to be. Few brides wish for rain on their wedding day, and trust me no photographer does either, but here we were.
During time leading up to the main event, I spent some time taking photos not just of the bride getting ready with the help of her mother and sister-in-law, all that was going on outside of the suite where that was happening, and the ring shots that the wedding photogs do (this part was nerve wracking! Who am I to be meeting someone and with in 10 minutes saying “OK, I’m just going to take your wedding rings, I’ll be right back!”?). Thankfully through all of this I had my assistant with me, maybe assistant is a strong title for my twelve year old son who I made tag along as he wanted to earn some money for some time sucking video game, and I am happy to say that he earned his keep that day for sure.
Within the final quarter of an hour or so before the wedding, I was officially loving this family and loving this shoot. They were so playful and genuine. The bride was accepting of the rain which has now forced the ceremony to take place under the balcony, the bride’s father and brother were doing a few shots with the groom in a ridiculously cool old school bar, and I was having to keep the groom focused as we still needed to do the “first look”shots that ended up not being first look but a humorous attempt to not allow them to see each other before the wedding because the bride preferred to wow him at the alter (so cheers to the spiral staircases in this joint!).
Now that it is just before show time, you may be wondering where this location is or you may not care one bit, either way it doesn’t matter to me because I have purposely decided not to share where this location is because even though it is a beautiful spot and I’m sure my local area wedding photographers will and have known instantly where we were, I cannot personally endorse it. I’d love to say that my mom taught me to not say anything at all if I had nothing nice to say, but that’d be a lie and she’s probably one of the reasons I don’t really have much of a filter, however I am choosing not to bash this location because to do so would be to bash the staff. I watched the mother of the bride grumble and be disrespected, I witnessed an edge about the place when the family was trying to enjoy every moment and not have to worry if the main door to the event was constantly monitored for its “need” to maintain a status of closed, and I was even personally disrespected as the hired photographer as their staff photographer suggested the “best” place for me to be during the ceremony….which was out on the lawn, in the rain, while my son held an umbrella over my head the whole time in order to protect the thousands of dollars of equipment I had on my person. So, unfortunately I do not have great shots of the ceremony to share and the ones that are great have their “photographer” in them….this is also going to be used as a friendly reminder that at weddings or other events, put your cell phone down and take it all in, someone is there to capture it all. End rant.
And, with that all purged out of my system, I can soundly proclaim that the ceremony was beautiful, and even with the rain and the location shift, etc, it was perfect. Immediately following the ceremony I was able to spend some time capturing the love and joy shared so easily between these two as you can see in the images below. The time had flown by and our time together was almost over, I can see why most wedding photographers spend hours and hours shooting, and I also know that they got what they wanted and that I survived. Would I do it again? A solid maybe. Would I call myself a wedding photographer? Nope. But, on this day I was. Congrats, J and M!!! Cheers!