I continually say to my brides and grooms that I can only shoot what is in front of me. To a degree, I can manipulate things – and I do – when I get stuck into the bridal party and family photos after the service. But for the rest of it, what is in front of me is what I shoot (well sort of, but now is not the time to be giving away trade secrets). Anyway, I always brief my brides and grooms, saying to them that if they, their family and guests really ‘come to the party’ then I will absolutely make sure that their photos reflect it. Trust me, my energy knows no bounds – throw it at me and I’ll capture it. It seems they took this little briefing to heart because yikes, did this mob go for gold or what. So here’s the story…

Bridal party at Matjiesfontein petrol pumps

I leave Cape Town on Friday morning. It’s very hot. I decide to drive over the Huguenot Pass instead of going through the tunnel to get me into the country life mood. I stop and have an ice cream, then head for De Doorns. The cops are out in full force diverting traffic what with the protests and all. I toy with the idea of maybe taking a few photos but decide that my life is probably still worth a bit. Eventually I get to Matjiesfontein. I get out of the car and hear the sounds of the piano coming from the nearby pub. A few family and guests are having a cold beer outside on the stoep. I book into the Lord Milner Hotel and then take a long walk through the town. It’s like walking through the pages of a history book. About 2 hours later I decide to have a beer. Tastes good – so I have another. Guests are arriving and I sit and watch them quietly, getting a feel for who and what they are. ‘Pretty bunch of girls’ I think to myself which is fairly encouraging. I see Lauren and Pablo and they both tell me to come and join in. But I’m funny that way – I’d rather sit back and just observe. The evening comes and there’s a mellow braai for the family and guests. I have a beer but don’t get too involved. Then it’s into bed and I read Keith Richards’ Autobiography for an hour before dozing off in a pool of sweat.

Next morning I get up, eat some breakfast and grab the camera. I don’t need much motivation – it’s going to be a great day. The guests start filtering out of their rooms and the next thing everyone is very, very hard at work setting up the venue. I drift, shooting here, shooting there, chirping them to work harder. The mood is very awesome and relaxed. Then I notice Taryn (Lauren’s sister) have a small wobbly. ‘Eish, here we go,’ I think ‘ game on.’ Now the wedding is a reality. But Taryn holds it together like a flipping star as she commandeers the troops. And the troops rise to the call and slowly but surely everything starts falling into fine shape. All décor at the wedding has been handmade by this group of friends who I observe, are very, very tight. It a marvelous thing. Here and there I bump into Pablo – he’s more interested in my own well-being than his own wedding.

Into Lauren’s room I go. Hair gets done, make-up gets done albeit with a bit of a make-up smudge on Sarah’s bridesmaids dress) and a somewhat inconvenient cigarette burn on Taryn’s bridesmaids dress. It’s not overly amusing at the time, but hey, it’s a good story to tell in years to come and I smile silently inside, knowing it’ll all be cool. On goes Lauren’s dress. Well actually, not. You see, the thing is, it really is very warm and those boobie-bra-chicken fillet thingies that you girls stick under your wedding dresses (that no one else sees, but that I know are there) doesn’t want to play ball. So out comes the tape. It’s like a bloody circus as the girls try to truss La up like a chicken. I’m finding this all incredibly amusing (with a completely straight, slightly concerned face of course). Eventually it’s agreed that the boobie-bra-chicken fillet number has to go. And so La gets married without it (thankfully) and she has her man Pablo and it’s job done.

So we go off and shoot the family pics with a lot of fun and laughter and then start on the bridal party. It was here that I saw the first glimmer of what was to come later. These girls and boys were up for it. I walked them up and down Matjiesfontein without so much as a moan from anyone. To add to things, Jo fell over a train track and landed square on her bum (flip it was funny – it’s okay Jo, I’ve left that shot off my website), then the bridesmaids ‘flashed’ the groomsmen to their absolute delight and then started doing strange sort of pole dancing stuff at the Matjies petrol pumps. I had a sore stomach from all the laughter.

Onto the reception where the speeches were top notch and I had the absolute honour of being able to photograph Dustin Hofmann make a speech. You don’t believe me hey? Okay, well then look at the photos below and you’ll see what I mean. ‘Yo Dustin my main man, howya doin?’ And then the party started. And it just kept going, and going and going. Eventually, much later, as I lay in bed, I heard the DJ bid everyone goodnight. But oh no, this bunch had a Plan-B. So out comes some chaps music system and boef-boef-boef, on goes the pardy. Then I hear a special announcement: ‘Hey people, we’re all going for a swim and then we’ll come back and party some more.’ The music goes quiet. For I don’t know, half-an-hour maybe. And then ‘boef-boef-boef’ on it comes again. By this stage I had completely giving up on any sleep whatsoever. I must have dozed off though because the next thing the sun was up. I had some Rice Krispies and then two fried eggs on toast before climbing back into the car homeward bound. What a great way to spend two nights in Matjiesfontein. Right now Lara is somewhere high above the ground, hurtling towards Pablo in Hong Kong. Pablo – the next time I fly, it’ll be on Cathay Pacific, you’ll be the pilot and I’ll be extremely happy I’m in your aircraft. La, travel safe (and I hope you didn’t leave your disc behind). See ya soon chaps!

Wedding decor preparation

DIY wedding decor

Pablo

Wedding decor planning

Wedding decor, Matjiesfontein

Amore wedding

Wedding settings

Wedding decor

Wedding sweetie table

Wedding sweets table ideas

Origami wedding decorations

Wedding service area decorated

Mac wedding make-up

Lauren make-up

Wedding reflections

Lauren calm

Lauren make up, black & white

Pablo ironing

Groom dressing

Lauren dressing

Bride's dressing room

Taryn

Wedding dress

Pablo and bestmen arriving at ceremony

Sisters kiss before wedding ceremony

Pablo and bestmen

Dad giving Lauren away

Dad crying, sister smiling

La and Pablo

Pablo loving La

The Look

Kirsten, Taryn and Lauren

Lauren's wedding vows

First kiss in Matjiesfontein

Kiss outside Lord Milner chapel

Wedding guests

Wedding guests pre-drinks

Wedding guests pre-drinks

Wedding guests taking photos

Family all together

Family fun

La and Pablo having fun

Matjiesfontein bus with groom and bridesmaids

Groom with bridesmaids inside Matjiesfontein bus

Bride on Matjiesfontein bus

Bridal party on railway tracks

Lauren and bridesmaids on Matjiesfontein station

Pablo and groomsmen on Matjiesfontein station

Bridal party playing on Matjiesfontein station

Bridal party outside Lord Milner Hotel

End of the road

Kirsten and Lauren

Speeches

Speeches 2

Speeches 3

Father of the groom

Guests laughing at reception

Guests celebrating

Celebratory toast

Cheers!

First Dance

Kirsten laughing

Party time

Bridesmaids partying

Girls laughing

Pablo and bestman

Self portrait

Lauren and Pablo on dance floor

Guests in great mood

Partying

Pulling faces

Staff and bridesmaids dancing

Bouquet toss

Matjiesfontein garter toss

Matjiesfontein garter throwing

Angelo on the dance floor

The night they gave it everything!