Grainy, soft photos of a candlelit dinner; a shaky video of the couple’s backs; a kiss captured on a mobile phone… it sounds like the latest celeb gossip posted on Perez Hilton, right? But actually, I’m talking about my wedding and the various tactics our personal paparazzi squad – aka friends and family – used to document it.
Not that I’m complaining. In fact, I’m partly responsible. We knew our photographer would cover the essentials, but we also wanted a guest’s-eye view of the party. So my husband and I went retro and placed a disposable camera on each table personalised with stickers instructing everyone to “get snap-happy for the bride & groom”.
Our first inkling that the resulting 12 rolls of film (yes, film!) might not be the hilarious photologues of table antics we’d hoped for came during dinner. As I tucked in to my Chilean sea bass, I spied a friend of my parents (let’s call her Linda) hovering around the edge of our table. The speed with which she pumped her shutter finger – from my left side, then my right, then the front – would have been awe-inspiring if it hadn’t been so bizarre. I even caught myself attempting to pose with a forkful of sea bass.
Later, as we made the rounds, we were greeted at each table by a red-carpet-worthy explosion of flashbulbs. It escalated to the point that people were snapping photos of people snapping photos of us. But where were we going to put all these duplicate (and triplicate) shots, I wondered. And why did our guests feel they needed image after image of my updo stored on their digital cameras?
There’s something about a girl in a white dress that drives otherwise sane people to jockey for position and start clicking like crazy – and, I confess, I’m no exception. At weddings past, I’ve slipped into the role of guest-papper, breathlessly angling for the must-get shot: me and the bride (like any good celeb spotting, proof is essential.)
Once it was our turn in the spotlight, all that attention was disorientating at first – but it was also part of the day’s magic. For 10 hours, everyone wanted a piece of us. So we flitted from friend to friend, shared a dance, sipped from the wine glasses that somehow kept topping themselves up, and just did our best to take it all in. Meanwhile, guests burned through memory cards and iphone batteries doing their best to stay in our orbit.
We got lucky, too, and were spared the cacophony of camcorders powering on and off that had plagued friends’ vows. “it was like a chorus of badly behaved r2-d2s in there,” my husband noticed after noisy camcorders disrupted our friends’ ceremony. With that in mind, our vicar requested that guests keep any gadget use to a minimum during the ceremony. (Note to casual filmers: silence it, or leave it at home.) At the reception, all bets were off, but with the party in full swing there was less risk of disruption.
When we returned from our honeymoon, my parents had a surprise for us: all 12 disposable cameras developed and packaged in individual envelopes. And the results were surprisingly brilliant. Alongside the deer-in-headlights shots were instant classics of the two of us hamming it up with our biscuit favours, both our dads seriously working the dancefloor, and those jokey moments we’d missed on our friends’ tables.
“Maybe we can narrow these down to the top 50?” I suggested. But my husband insisted we keep them all. “I love them,” he said “and it’s our wedding.” So into a giant album went the lot – even Linda’s photos of me and my sea bass.