Summer Time Weddings Got Me Busy Like Whaaat?

Summer time weddings got me busy like ‘Whaaat?’

Dinner plans and menus got me losing the plot

Thought I had it in me to me a wedding planner

Never thought I’d lose my hair and develop  a stammer

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It’s been nearly a year since I made the transition from wedding photographer, to full blown wedding planner.

I have a headset like Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding. I shout at amateurish caterers and I tell Best Men to get a grip.
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You are everything to me, Julia.

I slap jealous bridesmaids silly, I sober up Father of the Brides and I’m slowly losing my mind.

Although, more and more couples are choosing to hold their weddings during the winter (prices are always cheaper at venues around December), the summer is high-season for most prospective couples.

When I took the leap into a brand new career, I knew it would be hard work. No more prancing around with a camera, making friends with all the guests. I’d now be responsible for the entire day.

A wedding planner’s job starts a lot earlier than you’d expect.

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Strike a pose, steal a nose.

Through this blog and it’s sister site, I receive a decent stream of enquiries and requests. These are usually made a good year and a half before the wedding day. My usual clientele are young, rich couples. They’re adorable. Blissfully in love and loaded with cash. They’ve decided to get married, got as far as booking a venue and then started tearing each other apart over every other decision.

That’s where I stop in and say:

“Calm yourselves children. I’m here for you. Quiet yourselves and listen to me. My name is Suzanne and I’m going to ensure that your wedding will be the best day of your lives. I will make every decision, design every detail and dedicate my days to decorating your desired venue…for the right price.”

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Channel Jeepers Streepers if you want to instil a Motherly presence on young couples.

They look at each other, nervously gauging each other’s reactions, wondering if they’re pockets are deep enough.

I know they are.

I don’t have x-ray vision, I’ve just taken a look at their brand new Audi Q2 and know they’re good for it.

Fashion And Pain

We all have to dress ourselves, which sucks, because it is hard and difficult and sometimes you don’t want to think about all that nonsense. I get so bored of dressing myself sometimes, I just can’t be bothered to have to choose, I don’t want to put on make-up, and don’t want to have to think about none of that crap. I don’t like make up, not to be maudlin, but what is beautiful about a person is beautiful about them, it is part of them, part of who they are. So leave your face alone and let it be your face.

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Trends are sickening. Trends for using a shot glass to make your lips go plump and ridiculous to look more like the latest harvest from the Kardashian/Jenner vortex of pain. Trends for pom pom hats with fur. These trends come and go and are as quickly reviled and ridiculed as they are first revered and rejoiced in. But you remain, you remain after the trend is long dead, after what you bought because of this trend has been thrown into the back of the closet, long after the trend has faded away into the background of history, long after people even know it exists, long after all of this, you will remain. The real you underneath all of that nonsense, the real you that doesn’t change every few months, the real you that you should be expressing at all times as much as you can. The real you, that is what matters.

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 But we have to dress, and you can express yourself through what you wear, you can do that and it can be something that empowers you to feel more yourself and more confident in yourself. Also though, you can just not really think about it. You can reject all signifiers, you don’t have to tell anyone anything. It’s actually a little difficult, but it can be done. So do what ever the hell you want.

Thoughts On Men and Women. And Caves And Sheds

Amanda‘ writing at ‘LifeBuzz‘:

“Continuing on the somewhat unfortunate trend of gendered living spaces – The Man Cave has now secured an spot in our cultural lexicon – comes the She Shed. Much like their manly counterparts, She Sheds are intended to be rooms that are designed specifically for the woman in mind – basically, they are like miniature, frilly living rooms, where ladies can do lady-things like sew and cook and try on wedding dresses and have babies – you know, the “things women do.”

Though we’re not sure if separate living spaces are particularly healthy for relationships, it’s certainly nice to have a place to get away. “

“Boy gets to play; a man doesn’t” (John Burnside).

It used to be that adulthood and marriage stole our youth, we could no longer play, no longer be free. This caused a destructive resentment that bubbled in so many marriages. The man cave is a space for play. For the play the boy is allowed and the man is not. It is a pressure valve that releases the pent up frustration of our inner child.

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What the man cave is also about, this constructed space, is an expression of a very much constructed masculine ideal. It is an attempt to deal with a contradiction at the heart of masculinity in society: Man is expected to be very professionally high functioning whilst very recreationally low-functioning. The ‘beer-sport-girls’ trifecta of pleasure is given to men as their domain and one of male unity and relaxation, but is also more and more a little embarrassing. It is embarrassing because it is simple, hedonistic and base. But embarrassing or not this trifector, and its implied values, environment and activities, are for a certain large group of men the source code of their masculinity and so their identity. The man cave is an environment where these base desires and comforts can be fully expressed and followed without fear of judgement. As Sam Martin found out in researching Manspace: A Primal Guide to Marking Your Territory, it is in a large part the craving for a space devoid of judgement that drives the desire for the man cave; “”no one is going to make you watch your p’s and q’s, no one is going to ask you to explain yourself,” Martin says. “Guys often feel, at their core, like big, loud and smelly oafs. When they’re around other men in private, that goes away,” allowing them “to get to the heart of the conversation.”. A certain dominant ideal of man is constructed to scorn the aesthetic values that the female is constructed to revere

So men feel like they have an inner slob that can either be expressed purely and completely (in the cave) or not at all (in the living room their wife has put together). We build ‘man caves’ and ‘she sheds’, we construct them. And we build ‘man’ and ‘woman’, we construct them. We construct them as different, as from Mars and from Venus, we give roles based on gender and it leaves all caught between an unreal ideal they are supposed to embody and the confusing and complicated reality of an actual person. I’m often left in wonder that any relationships and any marriages work at all, when we are told from the beginning that the genders are polar opposites. Hitchens complains that in Christianity the human is created sick and commanded to be well, well in our modern form of patriarchy men and women are created to be completely separate and then commanded to be together. They are set up to fail. Man caves and she sheds are a retreat from an attempt at a shared uni-gender space back into a gendered comfort zone. The insecurity of male identity is as such that to much time in a space that doesn’t screams ones masculinity back at oneself leaves the male feeling bereft of identity. They need to return to the echo chamber of cartoon masculinity that is the man cave.

I would leave with this: It perhaps used to be that we constructed the man-as-slob and unfulfilled child, and he then got to run rule over the household, often ruining the life of his wife and children, ruining his marriage, and living unfulfilled and frustrated himself. The man cave as an approach to this problem represents an ability to recognize the issues of male-female relations in a world where their identities are constructed as so different, and a progression from the man just dragging his frustrated masculinity violently through the world of his family. It also, however, shows our as yet complete inability to actually transcend the male-female dichotomy, the destructive gender roles that are the core of so much frustration and so much pain. The ‘clash’ between the masculine and the feminine will not be solved by simply separating the men and the women to their own caves, at very least its a sad solution.  Maybe men and women are no longer clashing in the living room, but the real issue is the clash, the constructed clash. The war of the sexes, the men are from Mars women are from Venus, the nonsense.

Presents and Patriarchy: A History of Weddings As The Possessive Exchange of Women

One of the most mental things I’ve ever seen given at a wedding was a full set of windows for the ‘happy’ couples new house. As I remember the brides dad worked for this window company in Liverpool. The weird part was, he actually bought all the windows to the wedding. It  felt a little like a publicity stunt if I’m honest. But through the entire history of weddings and wedlock the exchange of gifts has played an integral role. For many guests deciding what to bring as a gift is one of the main stress’s and worries that comes with attending a wedding. Apparently. But as you might imagine, considering that marriages are something that involves women, men, and history, they are pretty wrapped up in patriarchy. Originally the exchange of things at a wedding where as compensation for the main thing that was being exchanged: the woman.

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Pictured: A thing to be exchanged

So originally the woman’s family would be compensated with some sort of dowry  or ‘bride price’. These were most often things like land, animals or money. So the man would give the woman’s family a farmyard animal because the family would decide that they were better off with a cow than with their daughter because, I presume, they can’t make cheese from the milk of their daughter, and the future husband would decide he was better of with the woman than with the cow because, I presume,  you can’t fuck a cow. Well, you wouldn’t want to.

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Though you might, apparently, want to fuck a dead pig in the skull.

But David Cameron having full intercourse with a dead pigs head until completion aside, the first dowry on record was apparently exchanged in 3,000 B.C, which is an uninteresting fact for which I will provide no evidence. Luckily for woman everywhere though a few thousand years later the Renaissance came. Ah the Renaissance, where we moved out of the dark ages and all our ideas developed, where we stopped being bogged down in the prejudices of the past, and started thinking rationally about things and adopting a more ‘humanist’ approach to the world, seeing peoples value as people. Well, that worked out great for woman, with the introduction of wedding chests.

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The bride would put all her worldly possessions into the chest and then drag it with her teeth (probably) to the house of her new husband. This was an early form of the hope chest in which an unmarried woman would put ‘all the linens and things they would need to embark on married life‘ and set off in ‘hope’ that some kindly man would take her it. That’s right! All of your life’s essential linins! All the linens you’ll need! ‘Are you ready to embark on your entire life sister?’ ‘Oh I’m not sure! I’m not sure if I’ve got enough fucking linens to achieve all of my life goals! You know, goals like make the bed and, erm, wrap myself in linen and throw myself in a lake’.

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“Is my marriage happy? Er, have you seen my linen cupboard? I have all the Linen I can eat!”

But don’t worry women, things get so, so, so much better. Because luckily some woman were lucky enough to start living in the ‘evolved’ west where we ‘evolved’ into seeing the these things as a little more symbolic. Because that’s what societal and cultural evolution is, it’s doing things because they are symbolic traditions, not because your just some mad tribe!

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Pictured: Mad tribe

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Pictured: Totally not a mad tribe, this is a symbolic traditional event, not a mad tribe. Definitely not a mad tribe. Definitely not tribal symbol worship. Definitely not those things.

So in the evolved west we evolved into more symbolic forms of gift giving such as a thing called a ‘key basket‘. This was a leather basket filled with keys to things like doors, chests and cupboards (where she can put her linens probably) in her new house. Oh how excited she must have been! If only they’d put a toilet brush and and some washing up gloves in there too! This lovely gift is said to be ‘symbolizing her new status‘ and that is meant to be a good thing! 

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“Oh! What a lovely symbol of my new status!”

What a status to gain! Apparently the leather key basket was toned down from the original idea of chaining the brides leg to an oven that she has to drag from her fathers house to her new home whilst the grooms friends pelt her with cleaning products. The symbolism of this ceremony was just considered ‘a little on the nose’ by many wedding planners.

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‘Yeah you better run! Because this cilic bang is heading right for your shitting skull!

Nowadays of course we have ‘evolved’ much further and our wedding ceremonies are completely gender neutral, everyone simply wears state issued grey overalls and speak through grilled masks meaning all genders are completely concealed. The priest simply says ‘the citizen may connect mouths with the citizen’ and the two citizens enter the birthing sack, wherein they will fornicate and wait for 9 months until a baby will come out, meaning that the burden of child birth is shared as equally as possible. The baby is then fitted with a neck collar…

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… like so…

… to prevent it identifying its own gender until it eventually enters its own birthing sack. Is that what you want? Is that what you want feminists? You want us all to be completely identity-less? Huh? Do you? Huh?! No? No that’s clearly not what you want? Demanding equality does not mean demanding the irradiation of difference? It means not being seen as an object to be traded amongst men? Oh. Oh right. Oh ok. My bad. Thanks feminists!

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“No problem.”

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P.S When Google image searching ‘Woman with her thumbs up‘ well over 50% of the results were women in some state of undress, often simply in their underwear, and the most common reason for having thumbs up was weight loss! Including these gems:

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So weight loss I guess? It is also the pose of a three year old who has just successfully shat themselves and confused it for an achievement.

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There’s no way she’s only just realised those jeans don’t fit.

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Wow. Erm. What? What a very incongruous everything

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Yep. That makes sense.

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You know what they say: If in doubt, phallic symbol

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What a startlingly uncomfortable looking position

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Yeah… she hasn’t even got any thumbs up! Is she about to collapse? Is that a bottle of chloroform?

There is almost nothing you can search on images without a half naked woman showing up on the first page. Thanks google!

Secret Tricks for Wedding Photography

I got some tricks up my sleeve y’all! You know I do! For a lot of people their wedding day is their big chance to be a star! Everyone will finally be looking at them and they can feel like they are, for one fleeting moment, a member of the looked-at, rather than just another one of the look-ing.

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Such is the world we live in, where there is this divide. The only way to truly exist is to be seen, but those who are seen most often tell us that it is not a good existence. But it is an existence. One of the strangest (to me) but most common requests I get is for a wind machine. People want to look like how the stars look on them there movie screens.

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I’m not sure why wind is so popular in portrait photography, I guess it gives the illusion of movement which makes an image more natural maybe? Because in real life, outside of the photographs, things move. Maybe it is because it looks like they are rushing toward you, and so might love you? All I know is that people were very keen for me to give them the wind treatment,  so much so that I had to buy an industrial fan! I’ve actually have had to buy many fans over my career (to any budding wedding photographers out there I finally settled on http://www.beatson.co.uk/ as the best supplier, mainly because they were happy to talk to someone outside their normal client base and because of their warranty deal) I’ve gone through about 15 normal ‘domestic’ fans and 8 proper industrial fans since starting to photo weddings about 30 years ago. So yeah, it matters.

It also, of course, can really show of the train:

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Or the veil, or whatever their calling it these days. I stopped caring long ago. If there is one thing that’ll stop you caring about people, it is their wedding photographs.

Wedding Ideas!

We all know that life is a desperate meaningless pit of despair where our feet are constantly being dragged slowly into the misty ether bellow. Knowing that, we have to seize any chances we can to briefly pull ourselves up to slightly de-murk the filth around our feet and get some illusory sense of being closer to the sweeter smelling air above. This game, this constant game of avoidance of desperation and desolation, is a hard one. But its one that has been valorized so much that some don’t see it as a game anymore. It’s all just Plato’s cave, or Hick’s amusement park. Weddings, however, have long been seemed as a way to have one special day ONE SPECIAL DAY to lift your feet out of the mud. But how to make that day truly special? Find out bellow!

1. Get the groomsmen and bridesmades to go of on a build up activity weekend to bond and make friends! 

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Take it in turns to sacrifice a bucket to the mountain gods.

 

Why not make it really fun by slowly pushing needles under the fingernails of the participants!

2. Get your grandma’s to be your flower girls! 

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Because what old people don’t want to be patronized out of their shriveled bodies for a whole day! Also, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them and how annoying the whole thing sounds, they can’t say no because its your big day!

3. Have a fun cake topper! 

enhanced-buzz-17717-1390862344-23Oh that’s fun! Isn’t that fun! That’s so fun! What fun! Hahahahaha! LOOK WHERE THEIR HANDS ARE THAT’S CRAZY I WANT TO THROW UP AND KILL MYSELF!

5. Supper special couples converse dancing shoes! 
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Because you are together now. You share a life, you share a house and you will share a family. And this is your super big special day, but you are not all fancy and aloof. You are silly and fun, and these shoes will show that. Why did he leave me? Why didn’t he want to wear matching shoes with me?

6. Design the bathrooms with childhood photos!  

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Another great way of reducing the time between you guests seeing children’s faces and touching their genitals. Or maybe even cleaning their own assholes with their hands!

7. Confuse your wedding for a children’s party! 

Post-ceremony flip cup:

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A ball pit!

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Candy!

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BECAUSE ALL YOUR FRIENDS ARE FUCKTARDS!

8. Facilitate alcoholism! 

Alcohol dispenser! I could use one of these HAHAHAHAHA I have a problem with drinking.

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These weird pub fridge thing people can over use without anyone knowing! Remember:

‘Think weddings! Think no one knowing how much you’re over drinking!’

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Finally!

9. Instead of a traditional bouquet, have a crazy ‘big-ass’ paper flower! 

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Ha! That’s not a normal bouquet! That’s not a real flower! Haha! That’s not real! Ha! Ha! Ha! THAT IS NOT REAL ITS NOT REAL!!!!!! ITS NOT NORMAL YOU ARE SO COMPLETELY UNIQUE YOUR LOVE WILL LAST FOREVER AND YOUR LAUGHS WILL ECHO THROUGH THE HALLS OF TIME AND SPACE BECAUSE OF HOW COMPLETELY UNIQUE YOUR WEDDING HAS BEEN

Maybe you could make a flower so big it could block out the sun and bring a thousand years of darkness over our dying civilization. Maybe then you’d actually find out the worth of your relationship as all couples where forced into a constant war of all against all for resources and places of safety. Finally, when you have seen your husband beat multiple men and women to death with a table leg from the table you signed the register on all those years ago, when you have felt the life slip out of men, women and children with you hands around their neck, when his eyes are hollow and far away and your barely blink as you swing a bat into the back of another intruders head and hear the crunch of their breaking skull. When you no longer even touch other in case you get pregnant and would no longer be able to defend yourself, or in case the intensity makes your PTSD kick in and you silently slit his throat at the point of climax, finally after that, maybe you will be able to look into each others eyes and actually confirm that you are actually a team, that you actually need each other, that you are actually there for each other, in a world of sickness and a world of death. When you really affirm that, perhaps you’ll find some actual meaning in your relationship, a meaning slightly deeper than novelty flowers and parlour games.

Regards, Suzanne.

Exciting Honeymoon Idea 2: The Scottish Highlands.

When you think ‘honeymoon’ what comes to mind? White sandy beaches? Luxurious 5 star massage pedicure with Pina Colada? Being waited on hand and foot? Being served hand caught smoked eel off a broad wooden spatula by a local boy called ‘Enrique’ who strokes your hair and tells you everything is going to be OK? Swimming in your favourite spider man underwear whilst the regional Octopi tickle your underbelly with their tentacles and you giggle like a school girl who just saw a monkey eating its own poo? Well yeah, but wouldn’t you like to try something different? Something special to you? Something other people don’t do? Doesn’t that matter? Aren’t you interested in that? Like, at all? What are you, just some slave to your corporate overlords who tell you how to think and how to feel? Well I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more.

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be!

We all know things are bad — worse than bad — they’re crazy.

It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.”

Well, I’m not going to leave you alone.

I want you to get mad!

I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.

All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,

“I’m as mad as hell,

and I’m not going to take this any more!!””

So let’s looks at some alternatives to your normal honeymoons. Last wedding I covered they were heading up to Perthshire to stay in a log cabin in the highlands. Just one of the many things to do in Perthshire. (Visit this Trip Advisior thread for more info) You can walk in the amazing hills and stuff. It is a beautiful part of the world, and after the process of planning and having a wedding do you really want to go on some massive plane journey and go on some activity filled holiday. No. You want to go to Scotland and relax in the wilderness.

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Exciting Wedding Idea 1: Custom Neon!

Everyone wants their special day to be, well, special. You want people to remember your wedding, you want people to be blown away by your wedding, you want people to say ‘Remember that wedding?’ ‘What, Sarah and Charlies?’ ‘No, the other one’ ‘Brian and Charlene’s?’ ‘No, the other one’ ‘What, Clancy and Dancy?’ ‘No’ ‘What, Brain and Ryan?’ ‘No’ ‘What, Carey and Mary?’ ‘No’ ‘What, Jessica and Bob? With the neon?’ ‘Yeah!’. That’s what you want people to say. You want to be memorable.

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Bright colours! Explosive references to times past! Stuff like this really gets peoples attention. I feel that neon is especially pertinent here. Neon really burns into peoples memories. With such fantastic neon bar signs available on the market these days it has never been easier or more affordable to add a unique neon touch to your wedding. The good thing about neon is that it provides a wonderful contrast with the whiteness and purity of the traditional wedding suggesting a depth and difference to your conception of this day that celebrates you and your relationship. With a neon sign in the midst of your traditional wedding you are accepting that the world is not this cloud of pastel colors and well chosen flowers. The world is not pure and simple and shampoo and peaches and cream. The world is not all Wimbledon and ball room dancing. The world is grit and grime. It is sin and excess. It is night and noir. the world is neon. ha

So I reckon it is a great idea to neon up your wedding a little. Last wedding I worked they had these custom neon signs hanging of the ceiling of the couples surnames. They were beautiful just as they were but at certain places in the room when you looked at them one would sit in front of the other and the colors and the words wound blend to create something new. It was a wonderful metaphor for the process of marriage. The meeting, joining and mixing of two people, two identities and two lives into one new thing. It is an idea that still holds such value, in my opinion.

 

So enjoy it!

The Suzanne Retrospective: A Life At Weddings

You know, once you’ve done something for a long time, looking back over your career and your life can really get to you. You realize how brazenly you made mistakes back at the beginning, you realize how long you didn’t really know what the hell you were doing and you realize just how brave you were. It makes you realize something: getting through life is difficult but you, to some extent, have got through it. Which is amazing.

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You go girl!

Weddings are strange occasions. They are seemingly the couples ‘special day’ but are often far more about everyone else. Traditionally weddings are all about the families of the two getting wed, it is a joining of families and it is a day for the families. Over my many years at weddings I have actually noticed that often the weddings are far more for the parents than for the couple. The parents pay for the weddings, which is strange. Especially now that people don’t tend to get married at 17. Most people who I’ve photographed getting married have healthy careers and full lives. They are not kids starting their lives. They are adults with their own stuff going on. Yet for this day they suddenly become children again, desperate to fulfill their parents ideas of what a wedding looks like.

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I’d say this is not the road to go down. You’re just obscuring what might be unique about you and your relationship.  If this day is ‘your’ special day, why the hell does it look like everyone else’s special day? I think that actually a lot of people get frustrated with their wedding days in hindsight, recognizing that the ‘dream’ they lived might not have been their dream after all. They suppress this slight bitterness and get round it by pontificating on the beauty and magical nature of their one special day to their children, who then get sold the same dream that eventually comes to disappoint. It is a vicious cycle. If their is one lesson I’d give to those planning a wedding it would be this: Go Your Own Way.

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Yeah! Come on, no apologies, you have to go for it and be who you are on this day more than anything.

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Yes! That’s what I like to see, that’s the kind of thing I want to encourage as a wedding photographer. It’s good, it’s great, it’s real and it is you!