We rang the doorbell. There was no reply. We knew they were in – we could hear the excited chatter drifting down from the open window. We rang again. Eventually a bridesmaid, in a bathrobe, tiara in her hair came to let us in. “Hi, Andy and Sharon – photographers” I explained as she ushered us inside. “Hi, there – come on in.” It was the voice of our bride coming from the lounge. We wandered through. There she sat, having her makeup done, looking just beautiful. The light on her was amazing as it shone through the window. I took my shot. The makeup artist smiled in acknowledgement and carried on preparing her bride. I caught her reflection in the mirror, along with “our” bride behind it. I took my shot.
This was her moment. I left Andy documenting the bride’s preparations and went in search of flowers, shoes, the dress and trinkets which I know go to make up months of careful planning by the bride. The brides’ mother helped me – fussing with the dress, taking it out of the plastic cover which had kept it pristine. She stood back, admiring it as it hung, as yet unworn. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she asked her hands clenched tightly together under her chin in excitement at the thought of seeing her daughter wearing this beautiful gown in just a few short minutes.
I took my shot. This wasn’t her moment – this was “just” the dress. Her moment was coming next. The bridesmaids fussed around the bride. She was beginning to get nervous now. “Do I look ok?” “Is my hair ok?” were just a few of the questions she asked as she looked for reassurance. Next – the dress. The bridesmaids helped her into it and then the mother of the bride, already looking stunning in her suit stepped forward. The bridesmaids stepped back. They knew their place and how important this was for mum to help her daughter into her dress. Deftly and with the aid of a crochet hook she did up the delicate buttons. This would be the last time she dressed her daughter and she knew how important it was to make sure the dress was sitting just right. The bride took a deep breath in, the bridesmaids held the dress perfectly in place and her mum continued doing the buttons. The bride glanced sideways at herself in the mirror. I caught her glance, saw everyone working together and took my shot.
I quickly then moved and focused in tightly on the perfectly manicured hands doing up the buttons. I took my shot. This was mums’ moment. I waited at the bottom of the stairs, camera poised watching as my bride carefully lifted her dress enabling her to take each precarious step. She was not used to coming downstairs in such a dress! To fall now would be a disaster. I took my shot and then stepped back to allow her room to descend. Dad stepped forward. I saw his face – a mixture of emotion – this was his little girl on one of the most important days of her life looking well – with the exception of the day she was born, which he remembered so well right now, more beautiful than he had ever seen her before. His eyes filled with tears but he didn’t cry. He fought them off. The bride – at this moment so in touch with her father noticed. I saw them and I took my shot.
This was a special moment belonging to the two of them. The organist struck a chord and then Pachelbel’s’ “Canon in D” rang out throughout the beautiful little church. The groom shuffled nervously as he stood. The chief bridesmaid, holding the hand of the beautiful little flower girl beamed as she led the bridal party down the aisle and swept past me taking their place at the front. I took my shot. This was their moment. I swung back round to the groom. He turned towards the direction the bride was coming from, unable to help himself. This was the moment he had been waiting for. I took my shot. The bride, clinging onto the arm of her father looked simply radiant, her father tenderly put his hand on hers – this was the last moment she would truly be “my little girl” to him. I took my shot. She turned the corner of the aisle and faced the groom. She looked amazing. I took my shot and swung round towards him. This was her moment. His eyes were brimming with tears – he was blown away by how simply beautiful she looked.
He was in awe of her and totally in love with her. It was written all over his face. I took my shot. The lady Vicar, who I knew had known the bride for many years simply beamed. This was a proud moment for her as the bride and her father reached the groom she leant forward, whispering private words of encouragement. I took my shot. This was her moment. “Who gives this lady to be married to this man?” the Vicar asked. Full of emotion dad stepped forward. He tenderly took his daughter’s hand, lifted it and passed it to the Vicar. “I do,” he said. He glanced at his daughter for one last time, she smiled back of him, full of encouragement and love, and he stepped back. I took my shot. This was his moment. I quickly refocused on his wife, just behind him in the congregation and saw her dab her eyes – proud of both of them. I took my shot. This was her moment too. Silently I stood with the rest of the congregation as the couple exchanged their vows. Then the Vicar asked for the rings. The best man stepped forward. So careful not to drop them he placed them on the waiting bible as if they were made of eggshells, the concentration showing on his face – he must not drop them! I took my shot.
This was his moment. The groom picked up the ring and placed it on the brides waiting for the finger. Stopping only to make promises to her that would last a lifetime. She looked at him, they exchanged a glance as he pushed the ring into place. I took my shot. This was his moment. The bride, hands shaking with emotion, picked up the grooms ring and put it on his finger. She struggled with her words, tears streaming down her face. They’d almost done it! Months and months of planning and this was her moment. She loved him so much she couldn’t tell him what she wanted him and everyone else to hear. She choked to make her promises. He smiled an encouraging smile – that was all she needed and she pushed the ring home. Their fingers entwined – they were married! I took my shot. This was her moment. They looked at each other, then looked at the Vicar, an eternity seemed to pass and then we heard the words “You may now kiss the bride.” I took my shot. Then paused, knowing there would be more – they couldn’t help themselves.
They kissed again – so full of joy. I took my shot. This was their moment. The reception room looked amazing. Everything had been planned to perfection by the bride. Every table setting had a little gift or “favour” for each guest. No-one had been left out. The candles on the table made patterns on the white linen as their flames danced in the cooling breeze coming in through the open window. I took my shot. Everything about it was undisturbed, perfect. Gradually the room filled and guests took their places at the tables, talking excitedly about the events of the day. Then, the Maitre’D knocked loudly: “Ladies and Gentlemen – please be upstanding for your bride and groom.” The doors burst open and in they came. The bride, bouquet in her hand, was leading the way. The groom, beaming from ear to ear punched the air, triumphantly. He knew the belle of the ball today was his. I took my shot. This was their moment. They took their seats and their guests cheered. Andy stepped forward and took a picture of the top table from behind with them looking back towards him, the entire room and all their guests in the shot behind them. He then took a shot from high above them of the whole room. It looked fantastic with the round tables facing the long top table. We vacated the room and left them to enjoy their wedding breakfast.
It was soon time for the speeches. The groom stood up. He started to talk. I raised my camera to my face and started to look like I was taking pictures, tears streaming down my face. I was annoyed with myself. I glanced at Andy across the room – ever the professional – he appeared unmoved and continued on taking the shots I know we needed to make the story complete. I focused on the grooms’ mother for a second. Seeing the tears running down her face made it harder to carry on, I shifted the focus slightly onto the groom – his eyes brimming over as he spoke so lovingly about his absent father. This was difficult. He looked directly across at me and I wondered if we were intruding on this – a private moment. He struggled to find his words. The bride, her eyes full of love for her husband stood up and carried on with his speech as he was choked up and unable to speak further.
Then all three of them came together in a deep, mutual understanding. The groom clung on to his mum – each giving the other support whilst the bride looked on. It was a poignant moment. I took my shot. This moment belonged to his mother. As the Castle staff moved in to clear the tables, I was kicking myself for “losing it” – I was so taken up by the moment and the friendship I had built up with them as a couple since they booked us for the wedding meant that I was a party to how difficult the day was likely to be for the groom. I had got too close to them, hadn’t I? I had allowed myself to become too involved. The groom approached me. What was I going to say to him? He knew I had lost it. “Sharon – thank you.” Was all he said as he hugged me.
He didn’t need to say anymore. It said it all. The pictures were important to him. His dad was gone but not forgotten. That moment, during that speech, belonged to his dad. The couple went off to freshen up and we arranged to meet up with them to take some “Wedding Art” photos. I held the lights and watched in awe as Andy created picture after picture, capturing the intimacy between the two of them. We were there but we were incidental. This was their moment – and the first moment they had been together in private since the day began. It was important to them. It was a special moment. We stood back and quietly went about the business of taking pictures. “Today This Could Be The Greatest Day Of Our Lives…..” the lyrics said it all. Our couple was lost in the moment. They were alone in a room full of people. No-one else mattered. I took my shot. Again and again, I took that shot.
This wasn’t just one moment. This was a whole series of moments and it belonged to them. These were their moments. We took our leave, saying goodnight to parents, guests and “our” couple. We paused a moment outside to take a few last shots of the Castle floodlit and the celebrations continuing – through the window. We were on the outside looking in for the first time and it was appropriate to take that shot – the celebrations were continuing, we had done our bit now. Home again, I sat in front of the computer screen and began the task of downloading the cards of the pictures we had taken. Picture after picture flashed in front of me. They were documenting a perfect day full of moments in time. I felt a lump in my throat when I saw what we had captured between us, amazed at the beauty of the Andy had documented as he went. Pictures I hadn’t “seen” as I went about my day. I poured myself a glass of wine and I knew – this was “my” moment.