Shooting weddings is always a source of stress. What if my equipment fails or I miss that all important shot? Add the potential problems of travel to a destination wedding in rural Alabama and you have all the ingredients for a recipe that could give the most stalwart photographer ulcers. Delayed flights, lost equipment bags or an unmet and uncooperative groom all loomed in my imagination as I planned my trip.
The Flight to Birmingham went off with only one minor glitch which was remedied by a very understanding and helpful flight attendant. "No I really can't gate check my camera bag." "Yes sir, just leave it up front here and we'll figure out someplace to keep it safe." What a relief.
I'd driven across Alabama when I was much younger and only had a vague memory of interstate highways and rest areas. I did not remember the natural beauty that truly is Alabama. The area around Bessemer and McCalla, southwest of Birmingham, marks the southern geographic terminus of the Appalachian mountains. The high rolling foothills are covered with hardwood timber and grassy glades resplendent with wild flowers. The deep valleys are filled with innumerable ponds, lakes and streams. This verdant land is home to deer, turkey, fox, geese and much, much more.
With my equipment intact and my travel fears allayed, it was time to meet Beau and his family. They are the true genteel south, have never met a stranger and make you feel instantly at home.
This was to be a barn wedding on the family farm and both the bride and groom's families were on hand to transform a basic equipment shed into a party palace.
Party lights and streamers strung from rafter to rafter and billowing drapes adorning the doorways, bestowed an air of elegance on the wedding venue.
The wedding was to take place at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon and the rehearsal was held at 4:30 on Friday.
Having the rehersal at the same time gave me a great preview of what the light would be for the wedding.
Everyone seemed to know their lines and places so the rehearsal was quick and the party moved up the hill to the family home and the rehearsal dinner around the pool.
The morning of the wedding dawned clear and warm and any anxiety about the weather and an outdoor ceremony were quickly dispelled. Both families again gathered to put the finishing touches on the decorations and I met the bride on site at 2:30 to take bridal portraits and group photos of the bride with her attendants. The farm provided many different and unusual backgrounds both rustic and elegant.
The ceremony started right on time with about 200 guest in attendance. The bride looked beautiful walking down the isle with her proud father who performed the ceremony, after an opening prayer by a dear friend.