If there’s ever a wedding that’s a reminder of what’s important, it was Holly and Paul’s. Holly had initially contacted me in 2012 saying that one day soon, her and Paul, who live in the south of England, would be getting married and that if it was possible, they would dearly love for me to photograph it for them. We kept in contact and in 2013 during our Euro travels, I spent a few days with them (and their beautiful rescue greyhound Gypsy) and discovered two souls who reminded me so much of myself and Kristen. It was inevitable that we would be friends and when they decided they would be getting married in August 2014, I knew that I wanted to be there. They were one of the main reasons I ended up in Europe in 2014.

Holly and Paul had initially planned on having a wedding at an amazing ruined manor house near where Paul had grown up on the Isle of Wight, just a short ferry trip from Portsmouth in the south of England. But as time went on, Holly and Paul realised that it just wasn’t them – the spirit of everything they were planning didn’t fit. After a period of reflection, they decided they would have a private ceremony with their immediate families at the local registry office followed by a bigger reception at a nearby village hall. All of their guests would bring a vegan dish to share and there would be live music, swing dance lessons, a magician/hypnotists and plenty of great memories to be made. This was more the Holly and Paul I had gotten to know and their wedding was a reflection of the community that they wanted to be a part of and the lives they wanted to lead. We were amazed at the effort that people made to share in it and the spirit of the day was truly very special.

But the real lesson about weddings for me sadly came a few months later. One morning, I woke up to an email from Paul saying that Holly’s mum Heather had suddenly passed away. I immediately thought about the day after the wedding – we were staying with Holly and Paul and on this morning Heather had popped in to drop some things off after the night before. We were sitting on the couch in the lounge and I showed Heather a photo of her own mother and her granddaughter. She grabbed my arm and had tears flowing down her face – “It’s so beautiful Lucky” she said. I was nearly in tears too but her smile of gratitude was infectious and I smiled back, feeling grateful and proud for being able create something so dear to her. And it was this smiling face that I remembered when I read Paul’s email. I also remembered her face with the cheeky smile she had as she waited for Holly and Paul to walk into the registry office for their marriage ceremony. It was truly sad but Heather reminded me the importance of love – the love of a mother, the love of a family and the love of a person that shares in your wedding day. THIS is the real heart of a wedding – the other stuff is just a bonus.

It’s been about 2 months since I read Paul’s email but Kristen and I both still think about Heather. We only met her for a few days but she had a big impact on us and we’re so honoured because we got to spend some time with her and were also able to share in Holly and Paul’s beautiful day. I will always feel like the images from their wedding are a wonderful reminder of not only their love but also Heather’s warm smile and generous heart. I should also say, these photos for the blog post were picked straight after I had delivered the images to Holly and Paul so the presence of Heather in so many images is simply because she was so heavily present in the day – nothing more, nothing less. It’s a testament to the important role she played in many peoples’ lives and I know that the memory will keep our sad hearts warm.

Holly and Paul have kindly allowed me to share their story and I am grateful for being able to speak about not only their wedding day but also about a beautiful person who so tragically left a giant hole in so many lives.

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