I went on a balloon ride with my family at 4:45am on the morning of June 24th. We first tried booking it 6 years ago, and every time we booked we would get cancelled at the last minute due to weather, and it wasn't until we were literally about 5 or 6 feet off the ground that it hit me that it was actually happening. And it was seriously trippy - this is one off the bucket list, despite the landing which was smooth, but took place in a farmer's field that was fully fenced and had a padlocked gate, making it impossible for us to leave for almost 2 hours after we landed. I had a wedding booked for later that day so I texted my bride that I was running a bit late but would be there as quickly as possible...
The farmer whose field we landed in was, by chance, at home - turns out "Mel" actually lived some 20 miles away and it was pure luck that he happened to be there that morning. He grumbled pretty much the whole time, obviously displeased - he said his farm was in the no-fly zone, despite what the balloon pilot's app said, but you can be guaranteed that he will spend the next 3 weeks talking about rescuing those idiots and their crashed balloon from amidst the straw bales and cowpies because mishaps make for the best stories.
In that same spirit, I always tell couples that something can and will go wrong with their wedding, and those will be the narrative they share. Bad weather, the forgotten marriage license, typo in the address on the invitations, missing boutonnieres, and flat tires are far more interesting than, "The day was perfect, the end..."
The adorable couple Bill and I stuffed in our canoe and pushed into Chickakoo lake in April had contacted me a couple of days before I left for Singapore, and well after we had already picked our date for the balloon flight. I jokingly warned them that I would try and not be late on the morning of the wedding, which was apparently the wrong thing to say - they had already lost their venue and gone through two photographers before getting my name passed along to them, which was really just the beginning of the string of "stories" these two will have to tell about their wedding day.
"Your wedding will be amazing. It's going to happen and be awesome because of not in spite of everything that is going sideways," I assured them.
Through it all, these two never lost their determination to DIY their perfect wedding.
For all the chaos...
... the process of getting ready somehow remained remarkably calm and cheerful.
I had sent Bill off to follow the groom around.
My husband helped the groom tie his tie since the person who normally tied his ties was located in a different house tying their daughter's tie.
By the time we finally left the house, it was a miracle more tears of frustration had not been shed.
It seemed like there was some kind of conspiracy against these two, and they were having none. of. it.
The guests had arrived at Greystone Gardens Bed & Breakfast, the sun was shining, and Murhpy's best effort did not stop the wedding from happening.
Normally the bride doesn't get to touch the groom until after they are holding hands and exchanging rings, but M went in for a hug - that she needed it right then was palpable and I was glad she broke the rules and took what she needed. I think they both needed it, really.
Once the vows were all said and done...
... and the papers were all signed...
... the newly minted Mr. & Mrs. strolled to a stand of trees to greet their guests before photos. All the tears that the bride had held in began to make their way out as this sweet family of three hugged all the special people who had come out to help them make this day happen.
And I cannot lie - the sympathetic cryer in me was happy when they finished and we got to the extended family pictures...
These two - the bride and groom's daughter and her BFF... 13 year olds are so delightfully awkward!
After grabbing a couple of quick family photos, Mom & Dad aka the Bride & Groom sent the girls off to the rental SUV to listen to tunes while we took pictures of just the two of them.
M&M are like a pair of trees planted so closely together that they eventually become entwined and grow as one.
I very much felt the deep love and respect these two have for one another, every moment of the day.
He loves me flowers....
They casually discussed their relief at having the ceremony over and contemplated whether it would wildly inappropriate to skip their own reception.
There was no garter for the garter toss, so we left a few minutes before feeding the dogs to stop and grab one, along with a delivery system: a neon football.
Meanwhile, Bill was at the Links in Spruce Grove getting pictures of the decor.
Before we could start dinner, we needed to round up the groom's extended family as they had somehow missed the memo to stay after the ceremony for family photos. We were running a few minutes late but I assured them it was ok - dinner wouldn't start without them.
Barely a dry eye was to be found when sister spoke to sister, as only sisters can. "You'll have bad times, but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to." Good Will Hunting.
There was no toast to the groom, as the best man had unfortunately fell gravely ill shortly before the wedding and was unable to be present. (The bride's brother had stepped up to sign the marriage certificate during the ceremony.)
So the bride and groom skipped ahead to a quick round of thank yous before Cake O'Clock...
... Shoe Game O'Clock....
... then time Relax Until the First Dance O'Clock...
This involved more visiting, impromptu breakdancing, people-watching, summersaults and cartwheels, attempts at tree climbing...
... and the most intense game of Jenga I have ever seen played.
Once the DJ finally got the right song sorted out (an hour behind schedule) the bride and groom had one last quiet moment together before the dance floor filled up.
Looking at these photos, it's hard to believe that this wedding story includes the bride and groom lost a venue and 2 photographers, how the groom bought his shoes on the morning of the wedding at Mark's Work Wearhouse instead of Payless, how the bride's brother stood up for the best man, how the bride needed to buy a second dress, how they were still putting the seating chart together on the morning of the wedding, how the bride did her own make-up and drove herself to her own wedding, how the bride's Mom was hemming her granddaughter's pants on the way out the door, how a guest had to hand the bride Kleenex, how there are no pictures with the hot rod, how we had to make a pit stop at Michael's on the way to the reception, how the groom had to google how to fix a tripped door locking mechanism in a luxury SUV, how their grand entrance at the reception was briefly delayed so that the groom's could be rounded up, how the bride had to throw her own bouquet and wing the speech, how there was a small plastic hippo on the wedding cake, how the dance started late and with the wrong song, how all the bottles of red wine got removed from the tables, and how the bride and groom had to go back to the bed and breakfast the day after their wedding to drop of a cheque and a chunk of the chandelier that ended up in my pocket after it fell from the frame at the bed & breakfast shortly after the ceremony.
As a photographer, my traditional "last stop" is the garter/bouquet toss. Often, my second shooter and I will stick around after that for the late lunch and maybe a dance or two, but having started the day with that balloon ride at 4:45 am, both Bill and I were too exhausted to bust a move, so we called it a night after me favourite farewell fisheye selfie with the couple.
How many things can one couple "make do" before, during and after your wedding? I am sure for these two it was at least 42. And the fact that at the end of the night they were still smiling, laughing, and loving the life they've made together is a testament to exactly how rock solid these two are.
M&M, Bill and I thoroughly loved every minute we got to spend with you and your wonderful family and friends. You are an inspiration and a joy to know, and I really think it's time to go paddling now.