Mark and Elissa
My marriage to Elissa was organised over a couple of months to coincide with my mother visiting from the UK. She had originally booked her flights over to see our latest addition to the family (baby Leo), and Elissa and I thought it would be a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone – how romantic of us, right?!
Since I’m a wedding photographer, I’ve seen plenty of weddings. Elissa has also seen plenty too, most of which were over my shoulder while I’m editing! Needless to say, we were both very keen to make our wedding the most informal and relaxed ‘non-wedding’ as we possibly could.
The location we chose was Mavis’ Kitchen, a beautiful country-style restaurant near to Elissa’s home in Murwillumbah. Our guests, all 21 of them (family only), would stay in the cabins in the gardens behind. The usual spot for weddings at the venue is in front of a large pond, but we chose a secluded spot next to the creek.
As for the photography, up until a week before the wedding we weren’t going to have any photographer at all. Our desire to keep the occasion as natural and organic as possible meant that we didn’t want anyone fussing over us during the day.
However, the fear of forgetting it all finally got the better of me, and on the day I decided to pick up my camera and start documenting what was happening around me. I got ready in Elissa’s home with her family and our kids around us, which was perfect. I felt very present with what was going on, but also felt comfortable lifting the camera to my eye every now and then.
During our wedding ceremony, I threw my camera to one of the guests (who’d never touched my camera before), instructing him to just “point it at things and press the button!” In retrospect, a quick camera lesson wouldn’t have gone amiss, since 99% of the photos were out of focus… but we happily kept them all as they still tell the story.
As a side note, it did remind me of the importance of capturing moments during my wedding photography work. Whilst I’m always striving to achieve something creative my work, even the most technically banal image to a photographer can be the most beautiful thing in the world to a client.
Later in the day Elissa and I took advantage of the stunning sunset from a nearby hill, setting the camera up on a tripod for a couple of in-focus photos that included the both of us! As you can imagine, the whole situation was hilariously awkward, but in the end we were left with a photo of us laughing and enjoying the moment naturally, which was exactly what we wanted.
With all the bells and whistles of the modern wedding, it’s easy to get caught up in the details. Although shooting your own wedding may not be advisable, remember what’s most important on your wedding day – the two of you doing something special that you’ll never repeat, surrounded by your closest friends and family.
Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Elissa and Mark – your wedding day was so intimate and romantic – and your images are truly beautiful!
About Mark from Gold Hat Photography: I’m Mark, lead wedding photographer at Gold Hat Photography. I absolutely love shooting weddings. No other day contains so much love, laughter and tears than the day you say I do. I live for half the year in Alexandria in Sydney, and the other half of the year in the U.K. working as a Nottingham wedding photographer. This allows me to shoot destination weddings all over the world.