In the time of covid, wedding plans were converted to zoom. The group met online and toasted the happy newlyweds. It is the first wedding where I brought my own bottle – and – wore no pants. How different! We toasted the couple and sent the pictures along for their album. Different in every way. It all works as long as they don’t ask me to stand up for a full length shot. Zoom. It was my first. Fun?!
Seven words for a happy marriage: Yes, dear. I’m sorry. It’s my fault.
…Anniversary. We don’t do (attend) too many weddings. Too old or too young… it would be grandchildren next. Friends?… done. Kids of friends? … ditto. My cousin Amy got a late start and we found ourselves at her excellent wedding. Little did I know, I’d be doing it (marrying) again. Happy? Yes! …as in, ever after! It’s not often life comes around with a second chance. Impolitic? Yes, one can see the pros and cons by looking from different directions. Me? I got one direction. Grab on for the ride of my life. It’s been “no contest” this past year. Sorry, if anyone feels otherwise. I’m not having regrets.
Every day it rains – in Scotland. Maybe once in a while… it doesn’t. But, mostly it’s safe to expect rain. We were at Brig o doon. A quaint church was there. it was still functional. The retired ruin of the previous church was across the street. And, we chanced upon a wedding with bag pipe and full kilt regalia. The groom wore a traditional suit and the bride was in white. Umbrellas. Sun. Rain. Kilts. Something for everyone. Yes, all on the same day!
We reserved a dinner table overlooking the greenery and garden. It was touristy. We snagged a table about an hour before the restaurant opened. Yup, they let us reserve that late in the afternoon. By the time we showed for dinner there was a line waiting out the door and around… we waltzed in. Great! And there in the garden they were set for a wedding. Oh boy! A floor show! Colleen watched the latest styles. I watched guys show up in blue suits and brown shoes… and the kiss!! We got ringside seats to the kiss!! Dinner was superb. We lingered for dessert. By the time we were gone, so was the bridal party and so were the flowers. All in all it was an unexpected dinner and a show.
Here’s a technical concern. The wedding photographer had evening blue light. She shot digital and video. It does not appear she color corrected as she went. So, there would be a lot of post processing? The light’s not bad. But, it is blue. You may not have noticed. It’s why you pay big bucks to an expert.
Look online and it’s easy to find a ring guard. Of course, if you are a surgeon you adapt. In the garage if you don’t have a hammer, a screw driver will do. Don’t laugh – too hard. You know you’ve done it too. Our wedding rings were too large – about ½ size each. Imagine that? It’s just how it is. I lost mine within 24 hours after putting it on. Oh my!! Colleen found it. Lucky!! And so as not to repeat the mistake, I set out to find a low-tech solution. A rubber 0 ring. Works! Not stylish – at all. And for Colleen? No! No “O” ring. Tacky! Ok, one trip to the antique store, (oh no! $$$), but one ring, one try, fit, done. Yes, there was only one ring in that case… and for under $10. Everyone went away happy. Sometimes there is a bit of luck involved. Both rings are in place and safe.
I think the “WHAT” is what counts. This was Colleen’s idea of announcement and I executed the concept. We are not finger models. But you may surmise correctly. Done! It’s relatively painless to accomplish in Delaware. The party is later. I did manage to photograph the event with a bit of help. It was a quiet. We eloped. We did not hurry although in concept we did? Fait accompli.
“More colloquially, elopement is often used to refer to a marriage conducted in sudden and secretive fashion, usually involving a hurried flight away from one’s place of residence together with one’s beloved with the intention of getting married.”
The minister and witnesses had prior commitments. So they left after the champagne toast and cake. Not my idea (the ETOH and cake). Six days and counting now… The family has been congratulatory. I don’t want to drag out the announcement further. As I said, “It’s been a heck of a month!”
Signature shot. I shoot weddings. No, not really. I’ve just been there when weddings occurred. Yes. I’ve shot a few. Not as the paid prime photographer. That would be too stressful. After all, wasn’t brain surgery nerve wracking enough? However, I always wanted to do wedding photography. The stress would never equal an aneurysm rupturing right at a critical moment during surgery. You’d never know if it never happened to you. I had some spectacular saves. No, it was not salvage due to incompetence. It was just a few miracle saves. No one ever died on my OR table. For that I thank whatever spirit guided my hand.
I digress. An example? My first is a vivid memory. I was just getting the temporal lobe exposed when the posterior communicating artery aneurysm let loose and ruptured. Blood filled the operating field in an instant. Muscle memory!? I just stuck a clip into the blood and released the clip. The bleeding stopped. Just like that! You have to understand that the bleed is coming up the carotid artery straight from the heart and you die from uncontrolled bleeding pretty fast. Like a bullet in a tire you are flat (dead) pretty fast. I looked around, (changed my underwear), and proceeded to look into the operating field. The clip had been applied perfectly. I mean, as in, we didn’t move that clip again. It was perfectly placed. A third year med student who had been observing me that day, years later at a national meeting: the student, now a fellow neurosurgeon, took me aside. He told me that that operation was the first aneurysm he’d seen and his impression at the time was that operation was how all aneurysm surgery was done. Silly me. I was trying to impress him?
…Friends. They don’t mind that I tote a camera to their weddings. And I shoot without pressure. And afterward, I donate my efforts to the cause. It’s a nice complement to be told that an image I took was treasured as much as any other taken that special day. It’s happened more than once. I’m glad my skill is sometimes appreciated. Oh?! This couple is still married. Happily?
I must have been traumatized. There is a bit of OCD in me. Years ago when we were in Chicago for my FACS (Fellow American College of Surgeons) ceremony, we stayed in the Hilton. It was about the fanciest hotel we’d been in till that time. The kids and grandparents came to see me in a graduation style ceremony. Then, Jules left behind her “wedding bears” in the hotel. They were behind the curtain. I know where she left them. No dice. They were never returned. We bought them in a store in Chicago. I called. No dice. No bears to be had. Years later I got her a replacement, of sorts. It wasn’t the same. And once again, this past year I found what appeared to be the same set. Anyway, Jules thanked me. But, it doesn’t seem to have left the same mark in her psyche. I guess I am careful to never leave things behind. Well, I have – like the time I left my iTouch on an airplane at La Guardia. So, the loss and the disappointment for Jules has never seemed to leave me. Oh, well, I don’t see a psychiatrist. And I’m not gonna.
Well, what’s a Lebanese wedding? Christian. And a lot of fun. Traditional. Wedding gown, formal wear. Small church – chapel, really – and so it was crowded. A lot of the folks just stood outside. Video and cameras, and lots of very very bright video lights – in your face and all of that. That was jarring. If you notice they turned off all the lights for the post ceremony pics. Nope! The power consumption was so high that the power went out and could not be restored. I was truly impressed by the media array. Talk about in your face… the priest did not seem to care. So the images were terrible? They only needed to turn 180 degrees and have the backdrop of a beautiful Mediterranean sunset. But I guess if you have a gorgeous sunset every day, it’s not so special. I was gonna say something, honest I was, but then there were so many professional photographers pretending to be amateurs…..
There’s always a signature shot. I got mine. We were late to the ceremony. I was with Farid and on his calculated schedule. He wanted to be late. So we were in the back and I was with my trusty point and shoot. I wasn’t there to upstage the real photographers. Off to the side of the stage under the speaker system over by the muscians – two kids – just passing the time….bored, dutiful – priceless.
Another year older. Last I checked Jules had a goal to visit 30 countries by 30 years old. And for a number of years we were in the Tyler Place on her birthday. She made out like a bandit. She had a party before school ended, another with the family, and the third in Vermont. Now, married. It still seems odd to me. She and Dave have had ups and downs. But they get better with time. I know that when I am with them it’s a lot of fun. But then, that is less and less. It’s nice to have some pics of them together. Funny. In all pics everyone is happy and it’s never raining. It makes you think that life is about sunny days. Well, if you recall, the wedding day it rains sideways. There was a drought in California. Sunny the day before and the day after the wedding, I don’t think anyone cared that it rained. But a lot of very nice shoes got all muddy.
Got your attention , huh? As a photographer, I’m usually not in my own pictures from my camera. Dave and I did a selfie. And then I shot Jules and Dave. I’m glad they grew up and are healthy and have jobs and … Yes, wedding for a day, a return to the event and a look back. I should retire. But then again I like what I’m doing. I still have skill. I was fortunate enough to have found a job in which I actually enjoyed the work. I don’t like the side stuff.
No, indeed! But on the whole I never dreaded going to work. So as long as my skill is good and my judgment is sound… There are those who might protest, but I have pulled off some spectacular saves. There are still a few left for me to do. I’m hanging in. Besides, who else is issuing checks to pay the bills. Yin and yang. There is a balance to life. Good and bad, happy and aggravated. Oh! Never let’em see you happy; someone will want to mess with your serenity. Grrrr….
The day after the wedding and the dress is history. Lots of pictures have been taken. You don’t wear it again. This reminds me of when Julia dressed up as a kid. “Dress up!” She was flower girl in My brother John’s wedding. Julia wore that dress to tatters. The hem was above her knee by the time she stopped playing in it. And once someone gave us a bunch of wedding veil samples…. Now, it’s all real – grown up.
A category called trash the dress has arisen in which the bride tears the dress to pieces. The images are sort of irreverent and decadent. Jules had her dress hanging from the door. It was too long to hang in the closet. It actually survived the rain and the wind. And it looks nice except for the mud. You’d never know the hillside was covered in cloud, fog, and mist less than a day ago.
Everyone happy? You bet. People were smiling for two days straight. Unlike weddings before digital, the smart phone has captured spontaneity and turned everything on end. I still like a real image, you know, real camera? But the smartphone captures that moment in ways film never could. Instant. Instant feedback. Do over. Yup. No waiting. It’s the new order. There are more smartphone images and by far iPhone images online than traditional camera images. Bet you knew that. I’m still amazed at how digital imaging has so easily allowed us to take images in the dark. No flash. No muss. No fuss. Totally spontaneous. Ok, so I shot with a real camera and with a real flash. But you get the idea. They walked away with a shot in hand immediately. Hello World!
Jules’ co-teacher secretly had their class do a project and gave the album to her just before the wedding. Some pages, not necessarily the best are shown. You’ll get the idea. I wonder why no one else ever did this. I guess I have not been to too many teacher weddings. Come to think of it, it was a relatively small group. College friends, high school friends, close relatives the guest list did not include many co-workers at all. Even occasional relatives were left out. It was a cozy campground and everyone simply mingled, partied, and had a good time for a couple of days in California. Yeah, the kids planned it pretty perfectly.
Laugh, cry, weep…it’s a new generation. From the mouths of babes…may your days be filled with happiness…an album of sage advice from a certain innocent perspective. Listen to your kids. They want a happily ever after ending too.
This is not my first jump shot and won’t be the last. In fact this post has several. Ha ha. I think I’ve lost it. Giddy! Truly. But how can you be serious jumping? Jules more or less introduced me to it once again when we traveled in Africa. And I pull it out periodically. Day after – the morning after – the bride and groom actually got some sleep. The party was shortened by the rain…not dampened but surely shortened by a steady rain as the reception ended. Jeff shot the “Jump.” He kind of missed.
But hey! Later on I got a shot at the top of the hill. That view you see behind Dave and Josh is the Pacific Ocean and the idyllic view that the wedding backdrop was set against. It wasn’t even 24 hours. Perfect sun drenched scenery with a California sunset was only a mere day off. Yup missed by that much. I hate it when the weatherman is right.
We forgot to get a shot of the family. Yes, we got the formals. But Jules felt bad she missed the images with the rest of the immediate family which is not too large. I actually had to instruct this group how to jump effectively. If you just jump, it doesn’t work well. Huh? You got to bend your knees. Yes! Then it looks like you got some real air time. See! Works. They got it in one lesson! But not in the first shot. Priceless!
Yes! You don’t see this everyday at a wedding. It’s more like a male strip club. This is my new son in law. Wild and crazy? He says it is somewhat of a tradition among some of his close friends. The end of the wedding and the sweaty shirts come off. Yeah, about five or six were soon dancing sans shirts. I’ll save you the lascivious details. This post is G rated. Yes, one of Jules college roommates (and husband) was suitably surprised. They don’t do this in New York and Boston. That’s my nephew Andrew. He’s a drummer at Berkeley in Boston where music and craziness are not uncommon. He gets it.
And Dave? Yes, definitely a party guy, he’s about to open up his shirt. He got into the spirit of things. Trust me, Jules, newly married, was duly surprised too. This was another “gotcha” moment that made this a fun wedding like I have never seen before. Yup, they did something unexpected. And it was the last dance and the official photographer was long gone. Not bad Dad, not bad, I got it.
I was up early on the morning of the wedding. I am in California and my internal clock is lost between Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and the East and West Coast. Don’t ask! WiFi is spotty. Cell service is not so great. Message – “Are you up?” Jules. She’s alone at this hour. Jeff went to surf. Cold water! She has a sore throat and almost no voice. Party last night – way late! She’s nervous and asked me to come before the craziness started. I didn’t much feel like getting up and going to the camp commissary for a hot cup of tea with lemon and honey. But, ever the dutiful dad, off I went in search of … Earl Grey Tea. Yes, even the brand was specific. No lemon. But lots of honey. I called the mom and she was grumpy reluctant because she had not slept last night. But hey, I figured she ought to be in on the fun. She arrived later.
And just like that Jules and I had our Father of the Bride moment. If you have seen the movie, then I need not say more. If you haven’t, then, see it now. We sat for a few moments. It wasn’t about the tea. It was just the realization that things were about to change. Hey, I was there when she was born. I was the first to see her. Yes, the obstetrician was a close second. But I was first! Mom asked, “What? Girl or boy?” And then she asked, “Normal?” Doctor and nurse, we were both so worried about birth defects. I took care of so many ill babies that my sense of normal was completely skewed. I replied, “Girl. Normal, ten fingers ten toes. Eight on one foot, two on the other.” Probably not the best time to joke after long and difficult labor and delivery. But then again timing is everything. Mom was not particularly amused. And in that instant when I first saw her, the other names we argued over were lost. The second pick was Lauren so that was the middle name. If you have forgotten I don’t mention Jules by her real name. Her students started stalking my blog and commenting about my posts to her. She thought it was too weird. Search her first and last name and she comes right up on the search engine. Mom eventually collapsed for a moment before she ran away again. Exhausted. Day of… countdown.
And there outside the window were deer grazing right next to the house on the top of the hill. Idyllic. Yes, this was my Father of the Bride moment. Thanks. I didn’t know if it could happen amid all the craziness. But yes it did. No, silly. You don’t spoil the moment with a selfie. Ha! I already took a picture with mom asleep, hair unkempt. Heresy! Sentimental? You bet!
The images are real but time blurs things. It ain’t tears. I credit Stewart with these photos. They came via message from Jules. So it’s possible they are not, but that’s my story. I’ve told you the joke about favorite daughters. It bears repeating. I would always ask my patients if the daughter that accompanied them was their favorite. And the answer was usually, “They are all my favorite.” Once in a while someone would say, “Yes.” And there would be a round of laughter. Once in a while it would be, “No.” To that I would reply, “Be careful you might be walking home from the office.” Jules is my only daughter. And of course there was always the implication that if there were another daughter she would not be the favorite. She got the joke and responded, “But Dad! I’m your only daughter.” Okay! You heard that already! But then there was the time that I operated upon a man with seven daughters. He had a brain tumor. It was pretty serious. Six of the seven daughters leaned in over him as I softly asked which of them was his favorite. He whispered to me, “Jennifer” Aha! And then the oldest said to me, “But he doesn’t have a daughter named Jennifer.” Gotcha!
This moment occurred spontaneously. I told you I don’t dance. I did dance. Once upon a time for four years I did folk dancing in West Virginia. Yes! Four years. I once was forced to take ballroom dancing – foxtrot, waltz, etc – and ballet, and tap – yes, tap dancing. I had a forward thinking mom. It didn’t take. Seventh grade was heaven – slow dancing – and the seventh grade girls felt heavenly as we pressed together. That lasted till eighth grade and the twist and fast dancing forever changed me. Nope. Two left feet from then on… So I was almost home free. Everyone else danced. I did not. …Jules danced across the floor and snagged me. In an instant I was out on the floor and fast dancing away. That’s one of the wedding photographers getting another shot off her list – father daughter dance. New suit – Jules asked me to get one. And she reminded me to bring it when I traveled to California. I queried her “reminder” and Jeff responded she meant my bathing suit. Oh! Duh! It was 80 degrees the week before the cold driving rain. So maybe I could have gone swimming. Some of the hardy guys went surfing. The water was nominally 60 degrees. Yup, there I am in a brand new suit dancing with the bride. You don’t get to do that everyday!
First dance. Yes, they were pretty happy. Everyone was dry now. Well sort of… the ladies were still pretty steamed about their muddy toes. Everyone was laughing about it though. The gentle rain was a steady downpour outside. We were in a tent. And the venue was well done. No round tables all over. There were squares and rectangles. I have no pictures of the food! But it was excellent! Amazingly so! The crowd was in a good mood. Jeff still had his shirt on… Jules still wore the dress. She’d later change. It was way hot on that dance floor. Dance pictures at a wedding are a mob scene. Theirs is no polite protocol. Stick your camera in and get a shot. Lots of action. Lots of flash. The moment. Pure joy. Can’t you tell? It looks to be a wildly joyful marriage.
David Mike Josh – buddies since kindergarten. How about that? I’m not in touch with anyone from grade school to college to med school. Of course we moved about every two years. No Facebook, Twitter… well there is this one girl… Jules was kind enough to invite the guys. All single! Yup – “Wedding Crashers” on the prowl. Dave has a girl – sort of – and the others checked out the single ladies…not too many and not too available. Yes, right after the ceremony the rain let up for a moment. The mist or the water on my lens was still significant. Do you think they were happy? Yup! I do! Hey, they still say that phrase at the end of the ceremony. I heard it! We always joked that groom said, “I do.” followed by, “I did?!” But yes, Dave’s sister is still happily married! As for this crew, they will be buddies for life. It’s so nice to see them again. It’s been a while.
There is a certain bias. The bride is my kid. The groom….has his own family. You take thousands of images but you tend to stick with the people you know. That’s why you get a photographer. They are unbiased. So then it was ok for me to concentrate on what I liked. No, silly! I like Jeff. I even know his name. The kids in school made bride and groom cutouts. The bride planned to take them to the wedding. But somehow these never got displayed. Oh well, I’ll never have an image of Jules’ cutout doll. Meanwhile, you may think as you like. The guy to the right is Jules’ new husband. Nice hair and never rained upon…
Did I mention it rained on the ceremony? Yup! Sideways! Can you guess from which direction? People commented that they were concerned things would blow over. Those are forsythias. Nice, huh? And it would have been the bright blue sparkling Pacific Ocean in the background framed between the mountains. Everything is now covered in picturesque mist. Actually, you cannot see the rain. Any worse and the image would have been lost in fog. And yes, it was a cold windy rain. Have I mentioned rain? I’m laughing hard now. But it was anything but funny then. It would have also been a great photo to hold an umbrella over their head during the ceremony. That suggestion was a nonstarter and vetoed out of hand as I struggled to keep the rain out of my own face. It don’t matter, I know it was cold in that dress. Eric did this shot. Remember? I was not permitted to hold a camera. Imagine that!
Like father like daughter – Jules confided to me the next day – “Dad, I got all concerned. I wasn’t going to see you and mom walk down the aisle. You went before me.” Details, right up to the last second… Jules was still sweating the details. Yeah… alike.
I never cry. Well, once in a while…but today… I cracked up when Jules walked down the aisle. She started to cry… that cracked me right up. But in the rain, who could tell! Even Louise (that’s her in the background) cried and had to pause and compose herself during the ceremony. It was her first. Can’t you tell? She’s the one that got the guests to walk down the hill in the mud. And this kiss? They were leaning over just to stand straight. Misty. Foggy. Priceless!
Ha! I now realize that there is nothing calm before a wedding. I got to take pictures. The wedding photographer was a nice gal. She got to shoot the dressing up with the girls. But needless to say I got my chance. Everyone was frantic that I would be a loose canon. I was warned by everyone. And then I was rewarded with… “Gee, the pictures were great!” The ?@!@#$! you have to put up with to get the image! Street photography with your own family! They actually confiscated my camera before the ceremony. Bastards! I gave up my big one to my brother. He shot. Ok!
But meanwhile, there was still some touch up to do. Another quiet moment before the storm, you capture the moment and it’s gone before you blink. Yeah, this image is not one that the wedding photographer got. Sorry. She was in another spot. It was my kid’s wedding and I was determined to get some good shots too. See! They were right to reign me in. Oh! No video – so alternatively, I set up my nephews with a pair of video cameras – stage right and stage left – with an external remote mic! In the blowing wind the sound was a nightmare. That darned remote mic worked like magic! I’m brilliant! And Jules thanked me for that too. I’m glad it all worked out. They are all ecstatic in retrospect. But I got gray hair just trying to do the right thing. After all this time they still think the old man doesn’t know a thing. Hey! It’s been that way since they were about twelve. So what if I still don’t have a Facebook account. I was around before digital, video, and smart phones. Got the shot! Any complaints? See management…
I’m stuck by how surreal the wedding day was. Yes, I’ve been party to a series of events large and small in my kids’ lives. But this is a first. And of course, nature threw in it’s opinion. It never rains in sunny California. There’s a drought. Jules hasn’t washed her car in months. She’s a good environmentally aware daughter who’s marrying a like minded liberal democrat. I might parenthetically add that the new mother in law is a Fox conservative. And the other mother is a far left liberal. Oh boy! No political talk around here. There’s a blanket on the ground. See it? Nope, that dress was doomed. Mud! It was an outdoor ceremony. Drizzle all day long, the rain stopped just before the ceremony. It was a tease. The rain blew sideways as soon as the bride walked down the aisle. Cold driving rain! Sideways! Frizzy hair! Yes, cold.
Hey! I got a great photo! The day before – Dave went to the dry cleaner and got his suit and shirt pressed. $30. Wrinkled in an instant. Me? Nope. I was wash and wear. Saved $30! If it hadn’t rained this picture would have never happened. Serendipity!