Sunday, 7 August 2011

Alan & Cheryl tie the knot.

I can occasionally be guilty of being a bit blasé about weddings; I attend a good few in any given year and, unfortunately, have found that they are not all blessed with the much vaunted hallmark of the ‘perfect day’.

There are many tell-tale signs that things are not quite going to follow the prescribed plan for the day: a Bride who has breached her stress threshold and will spend much of the day in tears; the broody bridesmaid who’s corsage has turned from pink to an almost fluorescent green; the best-man who hasn’t made up with the bride following the tongue-lashing he received when she took him to task for his disastrous handling of the Stag-night. And it’s not all down to individuals; there are, just occasionally, times when you can sense undercurrents of anxiety emanating from whole groups within the larger wedding party; that sort of thing is almost inevitable – it’s not every family that gets on, and occasionally, despite the best efforts of the Bride & Groom, the wedding can appear a little flat.

But, on the whole, weddings – by their very nature – create their own light, joyful ambience; an ambience which can get VERY decidedly lighter and a LOT more joyful as the afternoon turns to evening; the music gets faster, and the bubbly begins to flow.
At best the wedding day will be remembered as a happy, carefree event which exalts the coming together of two people whose love for each other is such that they feel compelled to declare a life-times commitment to one another before family and friends. Weddings are also supposed to be about dressing up in your best finery; about sharing a meal with your nearest & dearest and inviting your wider circle of friends to join with you in joyful celebration. So far as friends and family are concerned, a wedding offers the betrothed an opportunity (too seldom realised in the busy lives we lead these days) to call a gathering together of family members who might not have seen each other for months, or even years. At the very least, wedding are supposed to be about good, old fashioned, fun!

Well, I had the good fortune, recently, to be asked to shoot the wedding of Alan & Cheryl; an event that ticked all the right boxes.

My first stop of what I knew would be a full day was a visit to Alan at his parents house. Unceremoniously decanted from the comforts of his own hearth & home on the evening before by a soon-to-be-wife who was determined to observe long venerated matrimonial conventions, Alan was having trouble enough piecing together all the unfamiliar bits and pieces of his full highland dress, without having the cyclopic eye of the camera track his every move. But I’m nothing if not persistent.
Moving swiftly on, I then descended on that haven of peace & tranquillity which was the Bride-to-be’s house; a refuge from the terrifying contagion of Wedding Day fever –NOT!

At first it appeared as though some strange sort of I.E.D. packed with all the accoutrements of a wedding had gone off in the kitchen. However, as I picked my way carefully past shoes, shopping bags, boxes of flowers – as well as children, family members, make-up artists and hairdressers accessories - I was directed to enter the lounge. This was, apparently, the source of the primary explosion! Here, among the remnants of what I reasoned was probably a fine room – before the advent of the IED - I found a gorgeous bride whose ivory-white, beautifully detailed dress contrasted succinctly against the light, powder-pink gowns worn by her three lovely bridesmaids, only to be complemented, once again, by the shimmering white of three of the cutest little flower girls I’ve ever seen. Collectively, they made a stunning ensemble, and I quickly ran of a series of frames of what would – for me - become one of the ‘picture-moments’ of the day.
The nuptial ceremony was lovely: family & friends had gathered from far and wide to witness a sweetly understated affair where Alan & Cheryl’s relationship was turned from ‘partnership’ to ‘married couple’. I was especially touched by the fact that, during the service, Alan & Cheryl occasionally stole quick glances at each other, as though perhaps a little embarrassed by all the unfamiliar attention they'd brought upon themselves. Though not a word passed between them while they listened and, in their turn, responded to the official wedding narrative, those shared – almost comically clandestine - glances spoke volumes.

The weather conspired against the newlyweds when the first few glasses of bubbly were downed and it came time to capture the traditional wedding party pictures. Cheryl had chosen the gorgeously landscaped Kirkton Park as the backdrop to her wedding group pictures, and I was particularly looking forward to spending some time alone with Alan & Cheryl in order to capture some more intimate images in a number of excellent situations which the park provided. But the rain put a decided dampener on my artistic aspirations though, and we instead made straight for the wedding breakfast venue.

In 20 minutes I managed to construct a small ‘set’ in an unused, but well appointed room, where I then shot a collection of group and individual pictures. Before following the Bride & Groom through to the function hall where, before the wedding breakfast itself was served, the Best Man served a well chosen menu of quips – mainly at the expense of the groom himself.

I stayed in touch with Alan & Cheryl over the course of the next few weeks as they reviewed their pictures and chose the prints which, I hope, will always remind them of a great day spent with family & friends. And I have to admit that I was a little sad when it came time to wishing them farewell. Though I have a sneaky suspicion that I might get a call sometime in the not too distant future to shoot a family group; that would be something to look forward to :-)

Alan & Cheryl.

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