I'm not a wedding photographer


As you can see, I wasn’t hired to document this marriage ceremony. But I was invited to witness it and celebrate along with family and friends. Attending a family wedding made me think about how we experience such rites over the course of our lifetime.

The wheels started turning in my mind when Girl from the East informed me at the reception that she was going to dance with a “true princess.” Translation: The bride. When the time came for this to happen, Girl reconsidered and decided to stay on the sidelines. She did, however, agree to have a photo taken with the “princess all in white.”

Many a young girl dreams of her wedding day. Often it’s the stuff of fairy tales: a fancy gown and flowing veil, flowers, sparkly things, maybe a horse and carriage ride to the white chapel, where a handsome prince awaits. There’s probably a bunch of other stuff that I don’t know about because I wasn’t one of those girls.

But I see the look in Girl from the East’s eyes. It’s the same look Girl from the West had when all her friends were making their First Communion. She thought it most unfair that we weren’t throwing her a party at which she’d wear a white gown, veil and gloves. Never mind the sacraments behind it all.

But honey, I’d say, we’re not Catholic.

So? It’s not fair. Can’t we just be Catholic?

This is the young girl’s view: a day of finery and fantasy, where she is the center of attention.  At 7, it’s sweet. At 25, it’s called Bridezilla.

As you near an age proper for marriage, a wedding takes on a new feeling.

It can feel like an adrenaline rush: We’re adults now. People we know are getting married.

It can feel like a knife in the gut: You’ve broken up with “the one” and can’t stand to witness such happiness.

It can feel like a migraine: best gal pal No. 10 asks you to stand up in yet another figure-assassinating gown fashioned from Korean War era draperies. Oh, and you don’t mind throwing the “bachelorette party of the century” do you?

If you are paired up and marriage is on the horizon, weddings can feel like field research as you pay close attention and take furtive notes and tuck business cards in your purse for florists, pastry chefs and caterers.

Mixed between the parade of friends’ and cousins’ nuptials are the bittersweet and the bizarre ceremonies:

Bearing witness to the second marriage of two wonderful folks who lost their spouses unexpectedly, or the union of two friends who finally found each other in mid-life.

Enduring yet another exchange between serial marryers or an obvious train-wreck involving citizenship.
Theme weddings involving water sports or vulcan ears.

At some point, the chicken dance, the garter and bouquet toss, the D.J. playlist that hasn’t changed in 20 years (“Celebration” “SuperFreak” “Love Shack”), the cake cutting and other endless rituals can start to feel played out.  No longer do you see all this through the wide eyes of a young girl.

At this most recent wedding, it felt wonderful to be past all the wishing and wondering, the planning and hosting, the obligation or avoidance, and just enjoy a good party. I ate. I drank. I danced barefoot with my Girl from the East. I took bad photographs just for the fun of it.

As long as none of those barefoot pictures end up on Facebook, I’m good.


A mere slip of the pen


Our wedding

Our Wedding -- April 8, 2000

Hey, look. It’s an artist’s sketch of a wedding day.
There on the left is the groom, all dashing and dapper in his tuxedo. He’s smiling with that faraway look in his eyes of a man in love. Maybe he’s thinking about the honeymoon.
Firmly planted in the middle is Flower Girl Extraordinaire, also known as the real star of this show. After all, this is HER day.
See her crown of flowers? The beautiful blue dress that coordinates with the bride and attendants? See the basket of rose petals?

A psychological analysis of this drawing would probably suggest that Flower Girl is creating an alliance with her new stepfather rather than with her clearly psychotic mother. Or maybe secretly she was glad her mother was getting married again — even if she’d never say it aloud. 
Which brings us to the curious figure on the right.
Dr. Phil, what say you? Where to begin?
The artist insists it was a slip of the pen that caused the bride to have a wonky eye, a twisted grin, an askew headpiece, streaks of red spilling down the center of her bodice. Nothing passive-aggressive going on here, right?

Of course, anyone who knows this wedded pair, this blended family, does not question the depiction of the bride. Not a one.
Even the bride herself laughed when she first saw this rendering of the day. You’d just have to know this bride to understand.

How did that ceremony go? Why, it was a fine and simple service that carried on while snow and sleet swirled outside,  high winds howled and knocked out power, and  airports closed leaving guests at the gate.

Love’s hypnotic power kept both the bride’s and groom’s eyes locked. Neither looked out the window at the meteorological meltdown. Neither saw the dramatic impressions from Flower Girl.  NOTHING could stop these two lovebirds from tying the knot. And so they did, in spite of being upstaged at every turn by the weather and Flower Girl Extraordinaire.

Nine years later, the bride  still has a few tics. Flower Girl has retired her crown and rose petals. And the husband? I think he still has that look once in a while, especially when there’s a glass of sauvignon blanc in his hand.

Not quitting my day job


February 2000

Look what I found while digging through boxes of my past: my one and only cover shot.

It was a brief modeling career. One brought about quite by accident. 

It involved a special sections editor with a short deadline. It included no budget money for a cover shoot. Coincidentally, there was a bride-to-be in the house (me). Even more convenient, the groom-to-be is a photographer.

So, a convergence of seemingly random bits of information found me in an upscale bridal shop on a snowy afternoon modeling veils and wraps (things I was not planning on wearing in my very simple ceremony) for my soon-to-be husband.

Mr. Future Husband got to see me in a bridal veil and all the fluff — something that would never happen again. I got to be featured on a cover of a magazine. My oldest daughter, who was 6 years old at the time, thought I was a celebrity. I let her think that.

It bought me some extra authority for about a week.