How do I even begin to put into words what it was like to photograph the wedding of Christiane and Jeff on a boat… for 3 days… in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam… with 15 of their close friends? The only word that comes to mind is magical.
We met Christiane 5 years ago at Kristiaan and Lionel’s wedding in Antigua, Guatemala (also known as one of our all-time favourite weddings and couples!) and we’ve been active Facebook friends since. We didn’t meet Jeff until we met up in Hanoi the night before our ship set sail but we quickly got to know each other and forgot that we weren’t just hanging out with our friends.
As a photographer I am obviously biased towards visual storytelling. I went to school for journalism with the intention of becoming a writer, but I fell in love with photography (and a certain photographer… but that’s a story for another day!). I rarely feel limited by photography as a storytelling tool, yet during our three days on the boat in Ha Long Bay, I often found myself wishing that I could capture the other elements that made this trip so magical… the mouthwatering smell of lemongrass and garlic wafting from the boat’s kitchen, the feeling of a warm breeze providing a moment of relief from the humid heat, the sounds of the somewhat eclectic playlist the staff played in the afternoon to which this salsa-dancing group of friends checked, combed and “copaed” (I had to google those salsa terms…) with hair still damp with sea water. But really, it was the company that made it all so wonderful. As Anna, the only child on board, said, Christiane and Jeff “have chosen their friends wisely.”
The wedding day was unconventional to say the least; starting with a kayaking trip around the limestone islands, lunch on the beach, and a rush back to the boat for a quick change into wedding attire. To say that Christiane was a laid back bride would be quite the understatement! Her girlfriends fussed over her hair and makeup while she admired the view outside her window and reassured them that she trusted their opinions on what would look best. Back in his room, Jeff shared one laugh after another as he got ready with his childhood friend slash appointed officiant Craig. We saw the sun briefly for the first and only time of our entire trip at sea the moment Christiane and Jeff exchanged their vows. Following another incredible meal, they danced briefly until the heat got the best of everyone and we sat on the upper deck admiring the stars until everyone slowly retreated to their cabins. As I said, it was magical.
The only thing that made saying goodbye to the group after this once-in-a-lifetime adventure was knowing that we’d be seeing most of them again soon in California for Christiane and Jeff’s larger, more traditional wedding. That one is coming up on the blog in a few weeks, so I guess that makes this post To Be Continued…
We rarely get the opportunity to meet our couples in person prior to their wedding, but Nora and Niklas actually live in Montreal so we were looking forward to meeting them when we made plans over a year before their wedding date. That day, however, Nora and Niklas had the very best excuse for cancelling our meeting at the last minute: Nora was in labor! When we finally did meet them several weeks later, there were 3 of them: little Max (great name, right?!) had joined them.
Nora and Niklas are German, but moved to Montreal a few years ago for Niklas’s family business. They’ve made new friends in Canada and started their family, but their home and their roots remain in Germany, so they returned there to tie the knot. Lucky for us, they brought Canadian photographers along!
Like many European weddings, an intimate civil ceremony kicked things off on day 1, followed by a church ceremony, afternoon cake, and dinner and dancing later in the evening on day 2. The events unfolded at a relaxed and enjoyable pace, and it was very much a family affair. I particularly enjoyed seeing how German parents allowed their kids to explore and experience things around them so freely. Their curiosity for every part of the wedding day added a really beautiful layer to the story. And of course, it felt especially special to have Nora and Niklas’s little Max there to witness his parents’ special day. He may not remember it, but I hope he enjoys seeing himself in the photos as he grows up. (Side note: our own son Max is 3 years old now and loves looking through our wedding album!)
Nora and Niklas, thank you for allowing us the privilege of documenting your wedding in the German countryside. Exploring a part of the world that we otherwise would likely have never seen was a bonus to witnessing the love that surrounds you as a couple.
We met Betina 5 years ago, when she was a photography student applying to be our associate photographer. It was impossible not to like her; she is, quite possibly, the sweetest human being we’ve ever met. Her passion for photography was evident, as was her talent, but it was her hard work practicing her craft, begging for critiques even when it was hard for her to hear what we had to say, that was really admirable. This commitment certainly paid off and she has become an absolutely incredible wedding, family and street photographer, as well as a skilled editor for our post-production company, The Image Salon. But beyond being an awesome associate photographer and editor, anyone who is lucky enough to know her will tell you that she is just a truly wonderful friend.
Which is why when Betina came to us one morning, her big eyes full of tears, with the news that Marc-Etienne had proposed over the weekend, we immediately offered to be their photographers. Nothing was going to prevent us from being there; not even giving birth to our daughter Charlie just 2 weeks prior to their wedding! (Luckily I felt great!)
With Betina’s family coming all the way from Brazil, the day was all about family… the family that Betina made for herself in Canada through friendships, Marc-Etienne’s family who took her as their own, and of course this new giant family all coming together to celebrate. As a wedding photographer herself, Betina has seen a lot of weddings and she knew the ingredients to the perfect wedding day: emotion + dance party. And that’s exactly what they managed to achieve. The energy was so perfect all throughout the day that even 2 week old Charlie seemed to sense it, as she was just perfectly sweet all day, allowing her parents to do their thing.
We feel so lucky to have been the ones to photograph this family reunion of a wedding day, for a really special couple. We love you, Betina and Marc-Etienne, thank you for trusting us to document it all!