It’s the big day, I’m driving with the windows down (unless it’s -35), blowing holes in my rattling minivan speakers because being a photographer at events of love is second-to-none. I need a song or two to mirror how pumped I really am. Recently, it’s been Summertime Sadness by Lana del Ray, or Genghis Khan by Miike Snow. It’s clearly not about the lyrics...
But on this day, on Barb and Eric’s vow-renewal day, I was all about classic rock, and the radio Gods sent me Foreigner and, finally, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. (And this one was about the lyrics.)
It was easy to wait for the song to fade as I pulled up into the parking lot of the Discovery Center because on that day, the sky cracked open and purged its angry guts out, lets it all go, all that had been brewing for two bone-dry, incinerating months. Rain pelted the concrete, broke the sand-yellow grass, etched gulleys in the cracked earth of Fort Henry Hill.
A single solitary gull stood watch & witness.
When nothing of the storm remained but mist, extracting from the ground, I waded through parking-lot rivers in my low flats - now drenched for the day - and wove my way in.
I saw Barb, and for a second lost my words.
Her dress: a fierce coral pink and flowing in the breeze, a faultless complement to the earth’s dry tones. Her hair and makeup and all the pretty stuff: impeccable, too, but not even the most important. The most important were her eyes. Even as she flitted from spot to spot, called here and there by the staff for last-minute details and decisions, her dark eyes shone with peace and fervour, in equal measure.
Today Eric and Barb celebrated 25 years of love. The type of love that brings unbridled joy, and family, and camping trips, and grey hairs (for Eric), and all the minutiae of life. But also the type of love that asks you to endure losses heavier than most of us will ever know.
When Barb and Eric lost their 14 year-old son Johnathon suddenly, ten years ago, one of their orbiting suns stopped shining. When Barb’s own father passed mere weeks before today, another light went out. But Barb and Eric palpably carry the light of these two lives and all that they had been. As Eric looks to the horizon, under an umbrella on the swing bridge, escaping the last bit of the rain, the light that greets him is anything but ordinary.
After the family pictures, it’s time for the day to start. The guests arrive, bringing life, love, powerful embraces, laughter, vibrant outfits, and funky shoes. The open bar is a success – who knew? – and the feeling is celebratory. Fuck the rain: The ceremony moves indoors.
The flautist plays, accompanied by soft guitar. Voices hush, the vows begin.
The words are honest, from the heart, spoken to each other and for each other. The audience looks on with bated breath and glistening eye.
The lighting of a candle: Barb and Eric celebrating the lives of those they’ve lost, the endurance of their own love.
Afterwards, the band begins to play. Because with so much family and love together tonight, four men in a rock-and-roll-band is the best way to clear the electrical charge from the air. Or maybe it’s the best way to stoke it. After the first dance, the party goes on and hard. The dance-floor’s never empty. Kids jump in the air and adults snuggle, steal a kiss, or shred out air-guitar solos for hours in silent accompaniment to the rockers.
Selfies, philosophical discussions, slow dances, and cartwheels – all memorialized this night, a night that will shine on for forever. The band ends the night with Journey’s epic hit. And isn’t that fitting?
Because today, the day the Earth renewed itself with rain, we photographed the vow renewal of two people who simply never stopped believing.
Her job brought her here. He followed. Because lovebirds stick together.
The journey took him from sky-high Shanghai, population 34 million… to Kingston, home of the Tragically Hip, population 117 thousand at a stretch.
These urban lovebirds had a stint in Vancouver in between, but now they’re here, in this beautiful city, and on this particular night had their minds set on Korean food for dinner. Which they discussed in Mandarin, beforehand.
As lovebirds are wont to do, they can be seen preening each other lovingly. Mostly, they laugh a lot. If laughter is health, as my grandmother used to say, then these two are among the healthiest.
They’re both into photography, particularly street & urban. They get the world of digital and Instagram. They get our project. They get love.
They met in Ireland, where he's from, and where she lived for years.
Now they're back in her home, Canada, living elsewhere, but wanting to be in Kingston.
And who can blame them?
She brought home a bit of the accent along with him.
We caught them for five minutes between drinks and dinner.
Now they're gone, we hope they make it back.
They came from Pennsylvania... in search of stellar IPAs.
we saw them holding hands,
and chased them down the street.
We asked them if we could photograph their love
[we said pretty please],
and they somehow agreed.
They’d worked together in a hospital, side-by-side, for many years.
Both previously married,
their first marriages gone
flitted past, because life and luck and so on
forces you to press on.
Their friendship to each other, though, was strong,
and friends began to ask,
why they had never dated.
...and, yes, why hadn’t they?
From platonic love on to romantic love
[or some other cliché]
they’ve journeyed a long way.
Two weeks ago, they got engaged. He asked, she feigned surprise,
Kindness for family.
They came to Kingston for
a respite, after a very recent death,
[to get their footing]
a chance to catch a breath.
But to us, they are already on solid ground.
So here’s to love. To life. To family.
Wendy and Mario decided to throw a birthday party for Wendy and invite all of their friends - then surprise everyone and announce they were actually getting married! People were wearing shorts and flip flops, the caterer sang a song before putting the finishing touches on the meal - it was amazing!
A wedding to beat, that's for sure!
Liz & Viara
We want *real* love, raw, & unplanned. unposed. Quirky Love hits the streets looking for the type of love that doesn't need fuss.