On September 12, 2014, I drove to Stowe, Vermont, to participate in the wedding rehearsal of a couple I had never met before. Since we had only been in contact by mail and email, but never in person, I was not quite sure what I was looking for. They had sent me directions to a field with a tent, which I found.
As I looked at the tent, it seemed a little small for a wedding. They had said it would be small, but I did not think that small. And I have been to all kinds of weddings and seen some pretty informal rehearsals, but this field had only about 10 people with their dogs. I was starting to think this would be one of the more unique weddings I had ever photographed. But as the appointed time arrived and no one acted like they were getting ready to go through anything remotely resembling a wedding rehearsal, I decided that something was very wrong. So, I called the bride's cell phone and found out the rehearsal was delayed while they waited for some out-of-towners to arrive. I was apparently the last to know. While I had followed their instructions to the letter, the field I was in was the wrong field - this was the one where they held canine agility training - ahhh! that explains all the dogs!
They gave me new directions to a new field and a new tent! This one had horses!
I do not know what these horses were saying to each other, but I imagined it was something like, "Would you like to roll in the hay?"
Nearby, I found a much bigger tent, that was much more suitable for a wedding. I took a photograph of it with the mountain visible in the background. It was a good thing I did, because after that night, I never saw it again. The day of the actual wedding brought fog and rain so thick you would not even know a mountain was there, off in the distance - you could not see that far.
When I found out that the groom was Egyptian, I asked if there were any cultural differences I should keep in mind, as I took their photographs. The bride informed me, not to worry, "I've thoroughly Americanized him!" While this was true to some extent, any American groom would do well to emulate his gracious hospitality, visible respect and love for his bride, and impeccable manners. His great sense of humor also helped to make them a delight to photograph.
For those of us who attend a lot of weddings, it is always fun to have someone from another culture participate. It has a way of making you see some things differently, that you may have heard so many times in the past, that you no longer even think about it. One of those came during the rehearsal, when they got to the part where the couple exchange rings. This part of the service was about as American as you can get. The officiant said to the groom to repeat after him, as he puts the ring on his bride's finger, "With this ring, I thee wed." The groom, whose first language was not English, did not understand what he was being asked to say. Specifically, what does "Thee" mean? It is not really a modern word, none of us ever use it in our ordinary speech, but in the context of a wedding, we never give it a second thought. Not wanting the groom to be saying words he did not know what they meant, they changed the vow to modern language and all was well.
The next day it started raining at our house in Colchester, Vermont, about noon. The storm was slowly moving east and we wondered if the mountain would slow the storm's advance enough to at least get the ceremony in at four, before having to retreat to the tent? As we drove to Stowe, however, it became obvious that that would not be happening this time. As we pulled into the Topnotch Resort parking lot, it was already raining and while not hard, it was enough to thoroughly soak the ground and showed no sign of stopping soon. The wedding was moved into the tent.
For photographs it was a lot darker, but definitely drier! But then they wanted to do umbrella shots out in the rain! After all, that was a unique aspect of their wedding and they were going to make the most of it!
The reception toasts are always an interesting part of any wedding event. Sometimes they are so funny, you think you will bust a gut laughing, while others turn out to be mini-testimonials to how great the couple is, who is getting married. This was one of the latter. After the speeches were done, you just felt glad to be a part of making the day a little better for this couple, who others clearly thought so much of. One speaker spoke at length of how the bride had given selflessly to help his family; it brought tears to many of the eyes in the audience. He was not related to the bride and said, "Some say, blood is thicker than water, but sometimes it is the other way around."
Rings and flowers ...
Once the official part of the wedding was over, the party got underway. One guest insisted on sitting in the rain for this image -
One aspect of this wedding, that we do not see all that often, was live music for the reception. This was from Ed McCarron, who we found to be delightfully talented. As we were eating together at the "vendor table" I mentioned that I had not seen him around before; did he have a regular gig, or did he just do weddings, etc.? He said he plays every Friday night at an Irish Pub in Boston - no wonder I loved him!
As the evening wore on, I asked the bride and groom if there was anything else they wanted us to photograph before we called it a night? The groom said, "Yes, there was one more picture," and he rushed off to find his uncle. They huddled together for several minutes tapping on their iPods, apparently searching for something. After many minutes they finally worked with Ed McCarron to tap into his PA system and we were all treated to what the groom described as an "Arabic dance."
It was all great fun! We were happy to have met this couple and felt privileged to have been their photographers for this important day in their lives together.
Such events do not happen by accident. It takes a team of professionals to pull off a great wedding like that of Hakim and Laurie. Some of those that helped make this a great day were:
- Officiant - Rev. Bruce Comiskey from the Stowe Community Church in Stowe, Vermont
- Music - Ed McCarron, Boston, Massachusetts
- Flowers - Wildflower Designs
- Venue - Topnotch Resort & Spa, Stowe, Vermont
- Rentals - Vermont Tent Company
- Photographers - Ayer Photography of Vermont
If you would like to see more of Hakim and Laurie's wedding photographs, use the links below:
Posted by Warren