Ken & Helen, on their wedding day. Photographed with Nikon D300, 24-85mm lens
When I first met Helen -- she of the purple hair, tiny frame, funky glasses, determined manner and stubbornly English accent -- she scared the hell out of me. It was a little over 10 years ago, I had just started working at Very Large Corporation, and her office was down the hall from mine. I remember watching her with a mixture of mild terror and crushing admiration, secretly wishing I could be her, or, at the very least, be her very close friend.
Over the past decade, of course, I got to know her better, and learned that while she's still all those things I thought when I saw her on that first day of work, she is also incredibly genuine, very spiritual, unwaveringly down-to-earth and has a heart that is both vast and deep. We have, ultimately, become close friends. And so when, a few years ago, she told me she'd met someone, I desperately hoped that he was worthy of her.
I needn't have worried. I finally met Ken (who had lived overseas for much of their relationship) last year, on the same evening Helen told me she was pregnant with her second child. If I was forced to describe Ken using only one word, that word would be, overwhelmingly, "kind." He is thoughtful and considerate and an amazing father and a wonderful partner and so, so good for my dear friend.
Two weeks ago, Helen called me: "Hey, are you busy the week of March 23rd?"
I pulled up my calendar. "I don't think so. Why?"
"Ken and I are getting married." Before I could scream with delight, she quickly said, "But we're telling NO ONE. We're just doing it very quietly, very privately, at home. And I'd love if you'd come photograph it. I'll pay you."
"Don't be mad, woman," I immediately responded. "Of course I'll do it. But don't pay me, it'll be my gift to you." She protested, but I shushed her and continued: "But ... umm... isn't your home ... sort of ... demolished?" Helen and Ken are currently completely renovating their home, and are staying in a tiny apartment while the work is being done.
"Yes," she said. "But we're going to do it in the garden. It'll be fine."
"Okay," I said, "but you're going to get flowers, right? Like, you'll have a bouquet at least, right?"
"Huh," she responded. "Flowers? Hmm. Should I?"
"Helen, you have to get a bouquet. COME ON. YOU HAVE TO GET A BOUQUET."
"All right then," she sighed. "Because you suggested it, I'll get a bouquet. But seriously, Karen, this is just something simple. We want it simple."
Thursday afternoon, the day before the wedding, I decided to go take a look for myself -- you know, just to get some ideas for how to shoot the wedding, lighting, that sort of thing. As I picked over the plywood, and the unearthed dirt, and the dust and the concrete, I slowly became more and more horrified. I went home and called her.
"Helen. I love you. But you are INSANE."
"Oh, it's not that bad, is it? And I did get a few flowers, like you suggested, including some that we'll plant in the garden after the house is finished. And besides, you'll be able to get some funky, construction-site shots. I know you can do it."
"Helen, love? It's a camera. NOT A MAGIC WAND. And you need to have pretty. I'm sorry, but it's your wedding day. YOU NEED PRETTY. I've already called Marcus, and he's going up into our attic to get some Christmas lights. And I'm bringing candles. And we're going over there tonight to decorate. THERE MUST BE PRETTY."
Thank God Helen is a patient woman, because Marcus and I took over her back garden, decorating with everything we could find and bring over to their home. And I have to say, the result was quite lovely. And so the next afternoon, Alex and I joined Helen and Ken, her son Conor, their daughter Vianne, the minister and two other guests to witness these two beautiful people getting married.
And it was wonderful.
To see the entire wedding condensed to a mere 3 minutes and 49 seconds, click on the video below. The song, Songbird by Eva Cassidy, was chosen by Helen and Ken, from their favourite movie, Love Actually. And the images and magic you will see were also created by the happy couple -- I was just lucky enough to capture it with my camera, and put it all together.
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Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Please leave the links to your stories and images of love, below -- even the secret ones.
Song: Songbird by Eva Cassidy. I've become addicted to this song.