So there I was that Saturday morning, wide awake thinking "WHAT HAVE I DONE??!!!" and "Can I make this a success?" and "Where will the next referral come from?". Having been a wedding photographer since 2003 I was confident I could make the step up from being a part time, photographer to full time, pro. I have the skills and the confidence BUT the market was swamped, especially with "Uncle Bobs".
Sat in front of the Mac that morning I was working on my website when the phone went. "We're getting married in North Shields in September and we're after a photographer. Are you free?". I was, and I arranged to meet the couple later that day in our local Costa Coffee. And that's when I first met Lee and Shelley (and her mum). We instantly clicked, especially when we realised we all had a love of guitar based music and in particular metal.
Shelley described her plans for the wedding: small and intimate, no fuss and a black wedding dress. I was intrigued. She also explained she hated having her photo taken, she won't be the first and she won't be the last to say that to me. But Shelley REALLY hated having her photo taken.
Over the coming months I got to know Shelley and Lee well and come the big day in September 2011, everyone was at ease with the idea of having their photo taken....or were they?
Lee arrived at North Shields Registry Office to be met by a very happy me as I had been informed a couple of days earlier that the Registry Office had relaxed their rules about photography during ceremonies. Lee looked nervous though but as guests arrived and he got chatting he soon began to forget these. Shelley arrived soon afterwards in a stunning black gown! I was blown away! She looked amazing but admitted that she was still nervous about having her photo taken. To be honest, I think this is where I excel as a photographer; putting people completely at ease in front of the camera. A quick chat, bit of a joke and reassurance later and Shelley forgot all about the lens and shutter!
And so to the ceremony. The 20 or so guests assembled, Lee stood nervously playing with his fingers and as the doors at the back of the room opened, Shelley glided down the aisle to the sound of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters". I was impressed. More proof if any was needed that every wedding is different and that there are more songs that can be used on a wedding day than the usual 5 or 6. I should also point out that I love Metallica.
The ceremony was short and sweet, with Shelley and Lee's eyes locked on each other throughout. Shelley got the giggles at times, especially when she got Lee's first and middle names mixed up. For such a small wedding, it was starting to pack a punch in terms of atmosphere and emotion.
After the ceremony I decided that we should congregate in the park up the road from the registry office to get photos done and to enjoy the autumn sunshine, away from the hustle and bustle of the registry office. For someone who hated having their photo taken, Shelley was a complete natural in front of the camera.
I was in for one more surprise though. At the Italian restaurant where the wedding party would be having their wedding breakfast, the wedding cake was already set up. Again, this was a break from the norm. A white multi tiered cake, with each tier off centre from the one below (still not sure how it didn't topple), black ivy icing decorating the cake and a winged vampire groom stood on the top.
Shelley walked in, looked at the cake, then me and said "You approve?" and smiled. I loved it! I always say that there is no such thing as a "normal" wedding. Every wedding is different, some more so than others.
Personally though, Shelley and Lee's wedding means so much to me, more so than they could imagine. This was the wedding that set me on my way as a full time wedding photographer. I cannot thank them enough!!!
Best of luck with everything in the future Shelley and Lee!!