The first thing I remember was the sounds of the ocean. The sounds are different in the pre-dawn world of the Carribean than they are in the north. As opposed to deep silence they are incessant, but not in a negative way. The sounds of wave crashing against the shoreline mixing with the hiss of sand as it tumbled in the wake of the retreating foam. And the over-arching cries of coastal birds as they prepare for the day.
I woke up to these sounds on the third day of a week-long wedding shoot in the Dominican Republic in 2010. I am always more comfortable under stars than ceilings, so that night I decided to sleep by the shoreline.
I remember standing and brushing the sand from my shirt, stretching as I watched the resort come alive to the west of me. I smiled and made my way to breakfast, where I was joined by Graeme and Angela, two of the wedding guests that I had met on the trip. We exchanged pleasantries and sat together. They asked me if at some point during the trip I would be able to take some photos of them together, as they didn’t have many at the time. I happily agreed and later that week we met up one evening and took some couples portraits against the backdrop of the setting sun.
After showing them some images on the back of the camera Angela laughed and said casually “You know, if we ever get married, you’re going to do the photos” I looked up thoughtfully “Really?” She nodded, and Graeme added his assent. And as we got off the plane in Vancouver later that week it was with a smile and a wave that we parted ways.
This began a six-year friendship.
Since then I have shot well over a hundred weddings, traveled to dozens more countries for work and pleasure. And I will always have that memory of waking up next to the ocean in the Dominican. The smells and sounds will never leave me; neither did the joking promise made between friends.
But years pass, as these things do, and it was with a bit of bemusement I received a phonecall from Angela saying “So, what are you doing August 2nd, 2016?” well, more accurately she gave me a list of dates, but the answer was “I suppose I am spending some time with you and Graeme”
And that morning as I checked my cameras and my memory cards, my shoulder straps and lenses, I was thrown back six years and a lifetime of experiences ago to waking up under a pale sunrise in the Dominican, to the sounds of laughter mixing with the rush of waves that was the beginning of an incredible friendship. As I opened the door to see Angela standing there in her wedding dress, my breath caught in my throat and I just nodded, humbled beyond words at the culmination of a promise made six years ago a world away.
Congratulations you two. It was an honor and an incredible privilege to be a part of your big day.
Photography: Andrew Snucins
Hair / Make up: Fancy Face Inc.