We just wanted to say thank you so much for making our wedding day special and as un-weddingy as we wanted it to be! We loved our photoshoot experience and really appreciated your advice and that you made it fun.
We will both remember our day forever!
Also, thanks for being our witness...
It's very rare for me to do wedding photography. The formal structure of traditional shots have very little appeal.
And then, the problem with taking photos of large groups of people you don't really know and haven't had time to build a decent relationship with, is no one wants to be in them. Everyone knows they have to happen, but most end up trying to hide behind everyone else and not be seen.
The best outcome you can hope for is an "it'll do" reaction, which for a creative photographer is pretty soul destroying.
However, every now and then, someone talks me into it.
In this case, it was Ann and Dale who were coming up to Scotland from London.
Over the past 18 months or so, they had been to several weddings, each seemingly larger, more expensive and more lavish than the last - and they ended up with an overwhelming desire just to run off and get married without telling anyone - not even their mothers. It was just going to be the 2 of them - no family, no friends, no entourage - and Gretna Green was their destination.
Gretna Green is a small town right on the Scottish-English border and, with a long history of romatic elopements, is built entirely around the wedding industry.
Here's Wikipedia's entry about why this is the case:
It has usually been assumed that Gretna's famous "runaway marriages" began in 1754 when Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act came into force in England. Under the Act, if a parent of a minor (i.e., a person under the age of 21) objected, they could prevent the marriage going ahead. The Act tightened up the requirements for marrying in England and Wales but did not apply in Scotland, where it was possible for boys to marry at 14 and girls at 12 with or without parental consent. It was, however, only in the 1770s, with the construction of a toll road passing through the hitherto obscure village of Graitney, that Gretna Green became the first easily reachable village over the Scottish border. The Old Blacksmith's Shop, built around 1712, and Gretna Hall Blacksmith's Shop became, in popular folklore at least, the focal tourist points for the marriage trade. The Old Blacksmith's opened to the public as a visitor attraction as early as 1887.
The local blacksmith and his anvil have become the lasting symbols of Gretna Green weddings. Scottish law allowed for "irregular marriages", meaning that if a declaration was made before two witnesses, almost anybody had the authority to conduct the marriage ceremony. The blacksmiths in Gretna became known as "anvil priests", culminating with Richard Rennison, who performed 5,147 ceremonies.
With 1/6th of all marriages in Scotland each year going on in such a wee town, there is a finely honed, almost conveyor-belt system in place, where various hotels offer easy tick-box options for everything from large, grand weddings down to 2 people eloping for the weekend.
Ann and Dale didn't want the standard, wedding photography packages on offer, where they would have been guided through the expected poses and postures by a photographer who had done it thousands of times before and wouldn't even remember them the following day.
So instead, Ann found me on the Internet and talked me into going to their wedding, recording the event and then doing a wee romantic photo shoot with just the 2 of them. No family, no extras, no large group photos.
And, as it turned out, with no one else in tow, I ended up being one of the official witnesses, along with a woman who worked in the adjacent shop.
Despite the dreich weather, we had a wonderful afternoon. After the ceremony we went back to their hotel for a photo shoot - individual, personal and built around them and their personalities.
I felt privileged to be a part of their day.
Wishing them both a very long and happy life together.