"Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul." -- Augustine
"The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now" -- Rick Warren
So here's a story. [Brace yourself...it's a long one]
I cried five times during the wedding of Naomi and Gary. It's not hard to make me cry to be fair. Just give me a groom wiping his eye when his bride walks down the aisle and I'm running for the kleenex.
But Naomi and Gary's wedding was different. There was something extra special about this wedding and it brought out the emotions of every man and woman who attended. I first teared up when Naomi told me how hard it was to try and get her mum to come to the wedding. Visas aren't often granted to those living in Kenya and it was looking highly unlikely that Naomi's mum would be allowed to come. But God was on her side and late Monday evening they got the good news, permission granted, and only a few hours later she was on a plane to Sydney arriving a few hours before the ceremony started. I held her mums hands and wished her well and she grasped mine back and thanked me and thanked God and said that this was meant to be. In that moment I felt a love so strong and tears welled up both of our eyes.
Secondly, there was a moment during the service when Naomi and Gary held hands and sang praises of worship with the rest of their guests. This was the first time they had held hands that day, the first time they had seen each other. Naomi wept and raised her hands to the sky in thanks as she sang. I was touched and again caught myself wiping my own eyes.
Then, after portraits were done and the sun was setting I told Naomi and Gary to take a moment to themselves before joining their guests at the reception. They sat on the edge of the cliff and looked out onto the harbour. Usually my couples just enjoy this moment together, they catch up and giggle and often come back to me after a minute or so. After I had walked away though, I turned around and noticed Naomi and Gary sitting tight together with their hands in the air, reaching for the heavens. They were praying. I was so touched that, again, I couldn't help but tear up.
I and the whole room cried when Gary's mum accepted Naomi into their family. Coming from two very different cultures isn't always easy. My own parents came from different races and fought against the judgements and hardships that were given towards them. Naomi and Gary did the same and from it came a love from both families that I don't think neither of them thought they could possess. As they hugged, they cried and we all cried with them.
And finally, as I was leaving, Gary and his Best Man stopped me to wish me well for my own upcoming wedding. The best man asked if I had time to wait for 2min. I said yes but why? He responded that he and Gary wanted to pray for me. They came up to me, laid their hands on my shoulders and prayed for me and my future husband and our future marriage. I wept.
I'm not sure if its because of my own wedding coming up or perhaps it's hormones but I've never felt more emotion at a wedding I've shot before. Here were two people who found a love in each other and in their God so strong that could move mountains. I hope you don't think this is a post praising the benefits of religion in a wedding because to me this is about the benefits of a true and real love on your wedding day. A love that goes beyond yourself and beyond your partner. A love for unity and selflessness.
I may just be rambling and none of this may mean anything to you. But I feel that I took some of these photos so I can come back to them to remind me that weddings are so much more than the photos I take. I want you to know that a pretty photo lasts only in a picture frame, but a memory captured lasts forever in your hearts. If I can take even one photo that can do that, then I've done my job.
Thank you Naomi & Gary for sharing your day with me. I can't wait to share more from it but for now I will hold it close to my heart.
Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14
Time and time again I'm reminded that beauty isn't found in a face full of makeup, or in a white dress hanging from a wooden coat hanger, or in a beautifully styled reception room. No, beauty is found in moments, in laughter, in tears and in love.
Jodie & Stu's wedding was exactly that; pure and complete beauty.
"You're off to great places.
Today is your day.
Your mountain is waiting,
so get on your way"
-- Dr. Seuss