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Rhonda and Milo

June 18, 2008

A Winter Wedding
Rhonda and Milo

I’m going to start my wedding stories with my final wedding following four years of being a wedding photographer (that doesn’t mean I was done forever, it just means I took a little break).

Candlelit 1

Candlelit 2

After a long summer with a newborn and shooting weddings I was dreading it. What began a few earlier as my second digital wedding was now the fourth wedding that I would photograph of a family. I had to do it! The first family member I photographed was the sister, then the dad, then the mom, now the second sister. Only the brother remained. I had recently turned him down as his wedding was a few months later (and sad to say though he is happily married his wedding photos were reported to be terrible, just telling you what I was told). Did I mention how much I was dreading the wedding, not because of the couple. They were great. We had a awesome time shooting their engagement shots. I even photographed them as a new couple holding hands at her sisters wedding. I dreaded it because I was tired and just wanted to be at home with my new family.

The wedding was out of town, I had to leave the comforts of my own bed and sleep somewhere else. Wedding days can be very long but when it includes the night before it completely exhausting.

The day came we were to leave and a huge snowstorm hit.

I wanted to call them up and say, “Forget it!” I was a mom now. How could justify risking my life for a bride and groom? Then again, how could I give their deposit back? My assistant and I had to drive an hour and a half to the location and I promised my husband that I would turn around if the roads were really bad. Well, it was worst than bad, so bad that there was no where to turn around. In fact, I missed the turn off to Banff and had to turn at the next ski hill. Not fun. The plows hadn’t been out yet. Whilst doing a U-turn on a very tight side road I couldn’t come to a complete stop in case I would just get stuck. We didn’t find out untill the next day that the bride was driving just behind us in the blinding snowstorm, as was most of the guest.

We arrive, we’re alive…barely. Now for the hotel story. It was more like separate little cabins where you couldn’t park next to the door but had to trudge through snow to get to your door. So we get to our room and it’s gigantic. I called the front desk ’cause I knew this wasn’t what I ordered and was most likely double the price. They tell me to come back to the office to straighten it all out. This meant lugging all the equipment back to the car, through the snow, driving to the office and doing it all over again. We did and it was another giant room. This time, however, they told us we could stay in the gigantic room and pay the not so gigantic price. I was now exhausted and wondering if I would sleep through the wakeup call.

Morning came, we didn’t miss our wake up call and It was a beautiful day with piles of fresh white snow. The snow was still gently falling. Could we have asked for a more beautiful setting? The bride was very happy…so I was too. The problem soon became evident that I had no connection with the bridesmaids. I felt like the bridesmaids just didn’t want me there (excluding the sister I had already photographed), I was a stranger intruding on their day.

Jump to the ceremony, which was at the Banff Springs Hotel. Perfect. Absolutely beautiful. It’s a setting the dreams are made of. The ceremony had started and I was getting all the right light, but there is a cell phone vibrating at the back of the room. Everyone in the back rows started checking their phones…it turns out that the phone is in a camera bag…my camera bag. I wished I could slither out of there like ‘the Grinch’ slithers up the chimney so no one would notice the photographer who forgot to turn off her phone.

Rhonda and Milo Ceremony

One reason I loved photographing weddings was because as the photographer I got to be with the celebrity of the day, all day long. Have you ever been a guest at a wedding? As a guest the whole day is spent trying to get a minute with the most wanted couple. As the photographer you become part of the entourage. This day we actually got to drive in the back of SUV with the bride and groom. That’s when you feel privileged. We had a blast with them and got some really incredible and fun photos.

Rhonda - Winter Bride

The Party

Milo - Winter Groom

So far in this story I’ve been very negative. I want you to know that I really liked this entire family and I still today feel very privileged to have photographed so many of their weddings. After all the bad weather and exhaustion I till fully enjoyed being part of their day. I truly felt like a guest and not just the hired help. And I thank them for that. We ate the most delicious food at the reception. We felt like part of the family when instead of sitting us in the usual back of the room we were close to the couple. Really I consider myself part of the family since I’ve photographed all of their special days.

Wedding Reception

All day I was the family was kidding me about how I had ruined the upcoming ‘brothers’ wedding by not being his photographer. I also remember photographing him and his bride to be as a new couple at his mom’s wedding a year earlier when I was nine months pregnant. The family photos were interesting by this wedding since I had photographed the exact group so many times already; why do they still want photos done?

The day couldn’t have ended better. Since it was an afternoon reception it was over at 6pm, nice and early for us to drive home on clear roads.

This was my last wedding before a long hiatus. I photographed it because I knew the family not because we really needed the money. Being completely exhausted from a year of working pregnant and with a newborn made it very difficult for me to find motivation. When I started wedding photography I told myself and whoever wanted to listen to me, ‘”When the day comes that I don’t enjoy weddings anymore I will move on. I won’t make a bride tolerate me because I want their money.” I didn’t’ hate any second of the winter wonderland wedding. I’m glad I went out with a bang. Thanks Rhonda and Milo for making it great day.

Portrait of Bride and Groom

Take Away Advice for the Bride: Be like Rhonda and her sister. They were both happy, fun and up for anything brides.

Take Away Advice for the Photographer: I really believe that if you don’t want to shoot weddings anymore, if it’s just another day to you or if you’re doing it just for the money, find another photography avenue. You need to be there for the bride and groom. You need to make their day special. I still believe that as a photographer you can make or break a wedding day. From my experience with my clients, friends and family it’s the memory of the day that counts. For the most part, the memories are great even if something goes wrong. But the photos are the physical memory that last forever. If they are not what the couple hoped for you could be the one that ruined their day, especially if you were contrary the entire time. So do it as long as you enjoy it. Then find something new. As photographers we’re lucky to be in a field that is diverse enough to change what we do once in awhile.

And that’s what I did after this wedding.

You can always come back to wedding photography down the road.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2008 5:3 3

    Gorgeous! Wow. Wow. Wow.

    I have always loved Mark and Lana and Joshua and Lori’s wedding pictures. :^)

    Did you see some of the pics of Suzanne and Calvin on my Flickr? I was really happy with the results!

  2. Shannon permalink
    June 19, 2008 5:3 3

    WOW! These are beautiful!

  3. June 19, 2008 5:3 3

    Thanks!

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