This past weekend, my wife and I got a baby sitter and decided to bum around Seattle as if we were tourists. Along the way, she let me take pictures of her. This was something I used to do frequently while we were dating. As I look over the pictures, it got me reflecting on our origins.
A classic story of “photographer meets maid of honor.”
Wait, I guess it's more plainly described as “boy meets girl.”
You could correctly use either to sum up the story of how I met the woman that would become the love of my life, my spouse, and the mother of our adorable son, Declan.
In the summer of 2010, I had one simple job to do. I had to take wedding photos for a young couple. Needless to say I had no idea that the job would take an unexpected turn leading me in an unforeseen direction.
I knew the sister of the groom, and although she and I had dated off and on, we had both moved on and remained friends. I had spent quite a bit of time with she and her family over the years, and I had come to know her brother and his lovely girlfriend.
When they asked me to photograph their wedding, I was flattered because I had only just started taking pictures. I knew they had asked me because I had taken competent engagement photos for them, and I’m sure they figured they could get a great bargain from me... which they did. I felt guilty charging them anything since I wasn't entirely confident I could provide the quality images I knew I'd want if I were getting married. As the day grew closer, you'd think I was getting married, given how nervous I was.
When the day came, I left the house early so as not to be late to the home of the bride. This was where she and her bridesmaids were getting ready, and where we agreed to begin the day long adventure. As I walked in, there was jubilant pandemonium. Music blasting, dogs barking, a potpourri of scents in the air and all the girls running around with half their makeup done. It was a mad house. I said hello to the bride, then took up a quiet position out of the way where I could observe and take some candid photos.
One of the girls with her hair sticking straight up, make up only partially done, and in a tank top appeared next to me out of nowhere. She confidently, yet plainly introduced herself, despite her appearance. I shook her hand and offered my name with what I’m sure was a half-smile that had grown out of my curiosity as to whether she had seen a mirror recently. The truth was that it seemed to me as if she didn’t care. I then thought, well, why would she? She’s still beautiful despite being so disheveled. Her aloofness read as confidence to me and I quickly was taken by it.
She said “You probably go to a lot of weddings, huh.”
“Yeah, I’ve been to a few.” As the words left my mouth I realized she thought I was a full-time wedding photographer (I wasn’t) and thus interpreted my response as sarcasm, believing that I had attended more than a few. I didn’t think to correct the misunderstanding.
“Would you mind looking at my speech?”
“Sure.” I said as I took the folded-up piece of paper from her.
In all honesty, I didn’t know this girl. I had no idea if she genuinely wanted constructive criticism, or preferred validation. I have found in stressful situations like this, when you’re in doubt, go with validation. So, I quickly scanned and didn’t see anything terribly inflammatory. I told her it looked great. She seemed pleased, so I exhaled and handed back the paper. She thanked me and went about her duties as I retreated to my quiet corner and went back to taking pictures.
Throughout that day, there were lots of photos taken of lots of people. Yet, I always kept one eye out for the opportunity to glimpse her.
At the end of the night, I packed up my gear and walked to my car only to find that I had parked in the wrong spot and my car was locked in a fenced off lot for the night. I walked back to figure out what to do, and the groom’s parents (who are some of the sweetest people you’d ever meet) invited me to stay in their guest room that night so that they could return me to my car in the morning when the gate opened. Even though I was exhausted from the long day of shooting, I accepted.
When we got to their house, I quickly realized that they had invited a few people over for a sort of after-party. I had little energy left for partying and was developing a splitting headache. Just when I thought I’d turn in for the night, that beautiful maid of honor walked through the door and I couldn’t bring myself to miss out.
We exchanged only a few sentences. I lacked the energy to fuel my typical witty repartee, and I realized there was no ground to be gained that night. So, I went to bed, thinking I had probably missed my chance.
The next morning over breakfast I set the telephone game in motion by asking about the girl that had me so taken. I knew word of my inquiry would get back to her and I was counting on it to pique whatever interest she might have had over the course of our few exchanges. We laugh now (well, she does most of the laughing) about how she had to look me up online to recall what I looked like.
After a few days, and after posting several of the photos from the day (tagging her on Facebook, and thereby requiring that we become social media “friends.” See what I did there?), I asked her if she wanted to meet up with a group of people for a drink. Never mind that I hadn’t assembled anyone to meet up for a drink yet. When she said “okay” I had to scramble and get a group of people together (poor planning on my part). The rag tag group of random friends showed up, but she didn’t. At least not until an hour after our agreed upon time for the meet up. Each friend there had heard me go on at length about this girl I had met and how "there’s something different about this one." When she didn’t show up right away the joke was that she was different because she was imaginary. In a way, I guess she was.
She did eventually arrive and after awkward introductions to the group that made it obvious what this was, we essentially found our own table to talk and get to know each other.
The rest as they say is history.