'Anonymous Wedding' (or, short notice work)
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Old 07-30-2007   #1
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Default 'Anonymous Wedding' (or, short notice work)

I've been getting a growing list of customers lately, but had set aside this weekend as family time. Having an injured shoulder also meant that we have pushed most jobs out until later next week. We were meandering through the grocery store this evening, just taking our time for once & enjoying a simple task with our daughters, when I got a text message from an old acquaintance. She wanted to know if we would consider doing a wedding tonight - AND if we could do it for FREE!!! You gotta be kidding me, right?!?!?!

We dropped our daughters off at my mother's house, threw all the gear in the trunk, hoped we hadn't forgotten anything crucial, and were grateful that we'd both taken showers, just before leaving for the grocery store. With vague directions to a town we didn't know, and our stomachs growling loudly, there wasn't even time to shave my scruffy face. A call from the customer en route helped, but we were already 20 minutes late & everyone was waiting on us.

Talk about walking into a situation blind... the rural location (a small trailor at the end of a dirt road), had been transformed in a pleasant surprise. You see, the bride to be is a cancer victim, with freshly burned skin from her most recent radiation treatment. After anxiously hoping for good test results, doctors told her yesterday that she has 'less than a month to live'. Our bride and groom had been hoping to marry after her recovery - those plans were sped up as of noon yesterday. Vendors were called, and asked if they might be able to show up on short notice. Not only did every piece and accessory arrive on time, but every single invoice said 'no charge'. Some vendors didn't have any workers available, but even they allowed the use of their equipment for free. The heat was sweltering - the bride had to climb slowly indoors more than once to escape and recuperate momentarily. I had to run to our vehicle and change shirts three times from sweating so much and was afraid of passing out at one point (dehydration).

Having nearly lost my own mother to cancer a couple years ago, I had to stop shooting a couple times. You see, Vicki is not a young woman - her 'baby' is a newly-sworn-in U.S. Marine, and her eldest have preteen children. The ceremony? Not a hint of tears from yours truly. Cutting of the cake? Laughs and smiles! (The groom actually had a cake all his own, in the shape of a toolbox!!) But when Lisa, a grown woman & Vicki's only daughter, stood with her mother in front of a large crowd and sang Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings"... it took all I had to stay professional. A few minutes later, her youngest (the Marine) announced that he too had a song to share with his mother - and held her close while singing Blake Shelton's 'The Baby* ... I couldn't take any more, laid the camera down, and cried right along with them.

It's after 2 a.m., I'm physically and emotionally drained - but so honored to have been asked to help tonight. Was it fate that I had a free schedule this weekend? I don't know my friend, I just don't know. Just please remember that 'everything happens for a reason', trust that tomorrow is another day to treasure, and hold your loved ones tight. I may not sleep at all tonight, but I'm going upstairs to watch my own babies sleep for a while. Please, keep this family in your thoughts, that they may have as much joy as possible with Vicki's final days. If you can spare just a little more, keep me in your thoughts, that my work might bring them just a little comfort, and that my efforts bring them a smile now and then.



* - A country song about a man being the famliy 'baby', always spoiled by his mother, who doesn't make it home in time when she dies suddenly... Lyrics here

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Old 07-30-2007   #2
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That was an extremely nice thing to do, and speaks to your character. I'm sure all involved are very appreciative of your sacrifice.
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Old 07-30-2007   #3
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Thanks for sharing! And I agree, this truly says a great deal about who you are!
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Old 07-30-2007   #4
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I truly believe that there is a reason, a purpose for things that happen like this. There was a reason you were not booked, answered your cell phone, took the job, did your best. A big part of that reason is you and the person you are. The other part?

I'm sitting here at work crying my eyes out. I wish the best for the couple and the especially the bride. Miracles do happen.
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Old 07-30-2007   #5
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I am sure your work will bring joy. Thank you for shareing this story with us. It is nice to know that the gift of photography that we as photographers have, can be used meaningfullly and that you have done so.
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Old 08-03-2007   #6
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Default Re: 'Anonymous Wedding' (or, short notice work)

rossbilly - what a touching story! Thanks so much for sharing that with us. I know from experience that those photo's you took will be a lasting memory for them to hang onto tightly when things get rough for them. Shortly after my husband passed away, a friend of mine surprised me with some photo's I didn't even know existed... she had gone through every photo box she owned and pulled out every glimpse of him for me. It was certainly a treasure.

As Jfrancho stated, it certainly speaks volumes about your character for doing this wedding...
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Old 08-04-2007   #7
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Karma to you!!!
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Old 08-05-2007   #8
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Rossbilly,
You have done a wounderful thing for the Bride and Groom. The story was so touching that I am sitting here crying. The memories will be everlasting for the family.
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Old 08-06-2007   #9
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Rossbilly, I hope my sons turn out to be as giving as that!

Thank you! And thank you for sharing the story!

mike


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