Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Love To Remember

Jacques and Priscilla
Wedding, October 2014

Letters, handwritten, sit on the counter-top, waiting to be delivered. One for him and one for her. They're filled with thoughts, hopes, dreams and promises. "My love," Priscilla's written in the one meant for Jacques, "I will see you at the altar in just a few short hours." It's signed: "Your Wife To Be", while hers is signed "Your Future Husband". The future is not far off.

Clouds hang low over Grahamstown, making idle threats of rain which we hope they have no intention of following through with. Rain on your wedding day may be good luck, but few people wish for a wet wedding dress on their big day! Still, the two of them are unfazed by the weather as the final preparations get underway. Suits are ironed, dresses tied and jewellery gently placed as the hours fly by, until it is time to go to the chapel. As Priscilla walks through the doorway, all stress, all nerves subside and, as she reaches the end of the aisle and takes her place by Jacques side, it's easy to read the wide smile and shared glances. She's home.

It's a day for celebration, of family, of friends, and of the love that they all share for the happy couple. The clouds relent to let a bit of sunshine through, and Jacques and Priscilla take advantage of it to have their group photographs taken in the beautiful chapel garden before we make our way with the bridesmaids and groomsmen to the veld outside of their reception venue.

"We love long grass," Priscilla had said when we were discussing where their couple photos would be taken, and I can see why. The tall grass studded with fallen branches from trees no longer standing and the abandoned building that surrounds the field makes it feel like the group has stepped outside of time, the only suggestion of the army base that they're standing in being the towers that dot the distance. It's a time for fun and laughter as the bridal party climb onto a branch here, fan out in all directions there, hide their faces from the kissing couple and celebrate the love that they see before them, all finished off by the boys racing down the road.

The crowds fade, and it's just the two of them left, almost alone together for the first time all day. They hold each other close, her whispering into his ear sweet nothings that make him giggle, and their fun side comes out as they walk together, joke together and laugh together until the clouds finally break and the rain starts coming down, slowly at first but with determination. They run under the reception venue's awning, and there they kick off their shoes and practice their first dance with the rain pattering down on all sides.

The speeches are filled with tears and laughter, memories of times gone past and of those who can't be here mingling with hopes and wishes for the future - threads of anecdotes from the two families joining together to create the couple's story. As the speeches fade, the voices are replaced by music and laughter and dancing. Couples young and old take to the floor, as do friends, mothers and daughters, complete strangers before tonight, and then Priscilla and Jacques, to a round of applause, perform their first dance. And it is a performance, graceful and sweet, filled with twirls and turns and dips and met with ooh's and aah's from the crowd.

"Love," as one of Priscilla's favourite Bible passage says, "does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." And when love is shared, it does not need to. Their day has been filled with love for each other and for their friends and family, and as I head home late into the evening, it is love that sticks with me. Thank you to the beautiful couple for letting me be a part of their day, and to my wonderful second shooter, Sara Long!