When Lizzie asked me to photograph her wedding, I said no --- but I asked her to tell me about it anyway, and implied I could be tempted. That is the kind of 100% professional behaviour you can expect from me. We tee'd up a phone conversation and I was instantaneously convinced. But that didn't hold us back from having a 3 hour conversation that persevered through both our phone batteries dying. Thankfully there wasn't enough silence for either of us to realise that maybe it would be hard to be a 'documentary' photographer if we were deep in conversation the entire wedding day.
But. In more concerning matters, Lizzie is one of the biggest sweethearts I have ever met. So the pressure was on for meeting her future husband. Would he be good enough?
So we made a breakfast date. And. Joel and I spent most of the time talking about… not the wedding, whilst Lizzie’s eyes glazed over. Her friends were conveniently having a baby shower right behind us which provided her with frequent excuses to take a breather.
A few months later I ran into Joel at a work event and ruined their wedding with an off the cuff comment about the David Bowie and Darwin Symphony Orchestra rock concert that had just been confirmed for the same night as their wedding, less than 300m from their reception, with an expected audience of around 7000 people. “It will definitely take the reception up a notch,” I said to Joel, who genuinely thought I was joking. I wasn’t. Because I had just approved a sponsorship proposal for the event in my other life.
At this point, I was an integral part of the proceedings - even if not necessarily a great one.
A few days later, I received an email from a devastated Lizzie, confirming they had changed the wedding location to East Point. I couldn't conceal my enthusiasm, wanting to photograph a wedding at the gun turrets for years. Any photography client can testify to the delay in my email responses; but on this occasion there was an instantaneous outpouring of excitement - followed quickly by a second email with an apology, and somewhat more sympathy for the circumstances. One could be forgiven for thinking I had actually plotted the whole thing.
After I dragged them through quicksand and up a cliff on their engagement shoot, they may not have realised it, but our best friendship was consolidated. I usually reserve a suite of erratic behaviour like this for those unfortunate enough to be related by blood or geography.
I had also fallen a tiny bit in love with these two.
Ten years ago, they met a party. As the official line goes, Joel's 'charm and wit' caused Lizzie to laugh so hard she had an asthma attack. Joel wasn’t concerned that she spent the rest of the night in the shower, struggling to breathe, nearly dying. In typical man fashion, he had a much rosier perspective of the situation; simply “I took her breathe away.”
My other favourite part of their story unfolded around a family Christmas, when one of Joel’s brothers failed to come home from a bender on Christmas Eve. Joel claims he was always going to - but also highlighted how effective it was - to propose to Lizzie and give his mother something highly distracting to celebrate. The lengths this guy will go to as a brother, son, and future husband, leave little to be desired. Talk about killing a flock of birds with one pretty impressive stone.
I was also thinking… if that other brother was an indication of the kind of guests we could expect at the wedding, it was going to be quite the party.
And it was.
I’ll keep this short. I lost my voice a few days before the wedding, so I sounded like a crack addict when I turned up. Lots of discussion on this point actually; hooker, someone who has chain smoked cigarettes for 50 years, a man. All very attractive personas. Joel looked terrified. And my biggest regret for the day was not having the camera ready when I first opened my mouth. The groomsmen's generously provided me with a sample of the world's finest scotch to help soothe the voice box; a stroke of genius thought. Then in one of my finest moral quandaries, I resisted an 11am urge to steal the groom's gift "to help me through the day."
It was a SCORCHING HOT day. SCORCHING. We were doing all the bridal party photos outdoors, between noon and 2pm - just to provide their bridal party with a uniquely Darwin experience. Halfway through the photoshoot, “the groomsmen” suggested we go via the bottleo, get some cold drinks and cool down. I had the bridesmaids at 'coolroom.' Let the record show that the BWS aisle was the first one that Lizzie and Joel walked down on Saturday 30 June 2018. Then we spent the rest of the photoshoot time sitting on beer pallets in the carpark ‘freshening up.’ The make up artist magically appeared and reapplied the bridal party make up in the carpark. Lizzie told me she wanted to give everyone an authentically Territory wedding, but I need to check with her whether she intended to bring this level of Darwin class to the event….
The actual wedding was perfect. A beautiful and moving service following by an onslaught of cocktails, crocodiles, canapés and music. One of my favourites for sure….
PS. One final thing. Joel is, by all accounts, a legend and a really genuine guy. However, he did promise me that he was going to be bawling at the alter. And he didn't. So everyone needs to know that he isn't always good for his word...