Emily and Simon planned and orchestrated one of the most interesting wedding days that I’ve had the pleasure of photographing. They met and fell in love after running past each other on a beach in Mozambique and currently live in Durban, South Africa. With guests traveling from nearly every corner of the globe — Ecuador, Dubai, the UK and Australia, to name a few spots — and nearly two dozen friends and relatives making the trip from the groom’s native South Africa, Emily and Simon wanted to spend more than just a few hours on their wedding day with their guests. So they rented out a camp — yes, really! — and planned an entire weekend of fun, casual events. “Lots of the South Africans are excited because they’ve not been to the States,” Emily explained during one of our planning phone calls before the wedding. “In the movies, they’ve seen American summer camp so they think it’s the coolest thing ever.” Over the course of four days, guests were invited to cocktail parties, a yoga class, a touch-football game (‘Friday Night Lights, Baltimore-style,’ Emily and Simon called it), a South African ‘spit braai’ (barbeque), the wedding and a post-reception ‘party in the woods’ with a bonfire and s’mores back at the camp. The big day itself was filled with so much joy and happiness that I was astounded at the total number of photos that my assistant and I shot. Emily and Simon wanted above all else candid photography that captured the moments of the day. Editing their images, I couldn’t help but smile at all of the gorgeous glances, gestures and emotions that were caught — little moments frozen in time — in their wedding photos. This is going to be a looong post. So without further ado, here are some of my favorites from their amazing day:
We started at Camp Puh’Tok, headquarters for all the official wedding weekend fun and the spot where Simon and his groomsmen got ready. (It’s not every day that I hear groomsmen asking whether they’ll be sporting single or double Windsor knots for the occasion.)
Groomsman Chris just kept tying ties on himself and then slipping them onto the necks of the other groomsmen and even the groom himself — a very nifty trick!
The groom, looking very dapper.
And then we were off to the Bolton Hill home where the bride and her girlfriends were getting ready.
This dress — custom designed for the bride by a South African designer — is so gorgeous that it needs its own big vertical!
The bride, looking gorgeous. There were many mentions of these blue eyes by those who toasted the newlyweds later at the reception.
Emily has such natural grace. I love that casual bend in her elbow and the small smile. So lovely!
Having a toddler and a 3-month-old newborn myself, I can’t emphasize how brave it was of Emily to pick up her friend’s little boy here in her wedding clothes. Very. Brave. Indeed!
There’s a supposedly cardinal rule against women — other than the bride — wearing any shade of white, ivory or cream to a wedding. But here, Emily invited her bridesmaids to find any dress of their choice in those hues to stand with her on her wedding day. The variety — and the way the dresses each reflected the women’s personalities — made for a stunning wedding party!
And then it was off to the church to get married…
I love this next image, caught by my assistant Lucas, as the bride and her entourage prepared behind the closed doors for the processional.
One of my most favorite moments every weekend — when the couple sees each other from opposite ends of the aisle.
Another great shot from Lucas as Emily and her father passed him with her train and long veil trailing after her.
Emily and Simon chose to get married at Corpus Christi Church — the parish that Emily’s family has attended for about three decades. The cantor, Anita, sang at her parents’ own wedding ceremony. (Incidentally, I also have great affection for Corpus Christi, having exchanged vows with my husband in its sanctuary seven years ago!)
Emily’s sister Sarah was wonderfully emotional during the ceremony. I loved documenting all these little moments for their families — occurrences that, if noticed at all at the time, were so fleeting that they were gone in a flash. But through the permanence of a photograph, they’re captured in time for forever. This is why I love my job so much.
The next photo on the left — as well as the final few images from the same vantage point — was shot by Lucas from the balcony.
Since there is no official bridal suite or waiting room at Corpus Christi, newlyweds often recess out the vestibule doors of the church and climb the steps to the choir loft while their guests filter out of the church. I followed Emily and Simon right up and caught some fun shots of the newlyweds enjoying a quiet moment — and then waving to their guests like royalty!
A few quick portraits outside the church.
And then we were off to the Evergreen for a few more portraits and the reception.
It had been overcast all morning and threatening rain. But as we were on our way to the Evergreen, the sun started to fight through the clouds. And we actually got a whiff of sunshine at the very moment when we took Emily and Simon outside on the Evergreen’s gorgeous lawn for photos.
Lucas shot the extremely wide angle photo on the left that shows off the grandeur of the mansion house.
Love this next one. They are such a striking couple.
Every detail of the couple’s reception was so well thought out: A beautiful mix of cloth napkins added little punches of color to burlap table overlays. Vintage postcards marked each table and placecards — custom-made by bridesmaid Gopika Prabhu of Elefint Designs — marked each guest’s place. Cute stripey straws accented glasses of the couple’s signature punch. Peonies, hydrangea and roses spilled out of containers on each table. A beautiful array of cake and cupcakes — also set on a burlap runner — awaited guests.
A first dance.
And then the toasting began. I must admit: I love a good toast. Not only is a good toast fun to listen to, it is also a wonderful opportunity to make some great photos of my clients, the toasters and the reactions of friends and family. The toasts to Emily and Simon were off-the-charts fantastic. Their friend Dom, their siblings Jonny and Sarah, the bride’s parents and even the groom himself all took to the microphone. It was marvelous. Dom served as emcee — as, apparently, is the custom at South African weddings — and offered lots of interesting and amusing tidbits about Zulu wedding customs. (And I must mention here that my assistant Lucas did a wonderful job of helping me unobtrusively light these memorable moments as the sun went down and the tented area of the Carriage House grew dimmer and dimmer.)
A father-daughter dance!
And then the floor was open for the most intense and fun 20-minute dance party I’ve ever seen. (It included lots of traditional Zulu dances and some imaginary rope jumping.)
Congratulations, Emily and Simon! It was an absolute pleasure to work with you and your families and friends! I wish you a lifetime of happiness in Durban and any other place that you choose to call home!
Photography: Jennifer McMenamin Photography
Ceremony: Corpus Christi Church
Officiant: Rev. Msgr. Richard J. Bozzelli
Ceremony musicians: Anita Hampson, Sarah Pecknold and Michael Britt
Reception: The Evergreen
Catering: Zeffert and Gold
Bridal attire: Custom designed gown by Karen Ter Morshuizen for Lunar
Make-up: Nicole Palermo
Hair: Jennifer Chodnicki of Grapevine Hair Studio
Groom’s attire: Tuxedo House
Cake: Whole Foods
Band/DJ: Scratch Weddings