Being in a job where you regularly get to meet couples in love can be really interesting.
There are 'opposite couples' who are so different that they leave you scratching your head wondering how they work yet, proving that opposites attract, they do. You have 'reserved couples' who are very much in love but don’t share this overly in public, you have 'extrovert couples' who shout their love from the rooftops…. And then you have couples who as soon as you meet them you just know they were made for each other.
One such couple is Leslie and Ben. I was lucky enough to photograph their beach wedding on Racecourse Beach, in Ulladulla, NSW and from the very first moment, it was obvious they were soul mates and meant to be together…. And it seemed the Universe felt exactly the same way, putting on a special show making this one of the most memorable of wedding days.
From beginning to end Leslie had a magical smile, the type of smile that lightens a room. You could be standing behind her ten feet away and you would still know she was grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
That smile was perfectly matched by Ben’s intensity. The total focus of a man who knew that he had found everything he ever wanted in the world and he would do whatever was needed to protect, nourish and nurture that relationship.
Their wedding was a relatively simple affair, and all the more beautiful for it. Close friends and family gathered among the rocks at the Ulladulla beach for a meaningful ceremony followed by the reception at the beachside Mollymook Surf club.
Despite concerns about the weather and high winds, the afternoon sun shone from a deep blue sky with just a hint of clouds on the horizon, promising an epic sunset. The wind died down to a gentle, cooling whisper which complimented the sound of the surf breaking against the rocks behind them.
That idyllic scene alone was enough to convince anyone that the Universe was smiling on their union, but for these two passionate conservationists who make their living caring for the environment, it seemed the Universe wanted to underline it’s thoughts on the day. Not to mention, Leslie & Ben channelled their passion for the environment into their day making it a waste free wedding.
As we got the post ceremony family photographs underway, on the rocky shoreline a cry went up from Leslie. We all turned to face the sea to find that two large pods of dolphins had chosen that moment to play in the surf so close to shore that you almost felt you could reach out and touch them.
We stopped for a while to watch the show as they played in the waves directly in front of us and surfed for seemingly no other reason than to gate crash the wedding and join the party.
It was a magical moment and one that perfectly mirrored the sheer joy on Ben and Leslie’s faces.
Then as the Dolphins moved on and we started to reorganise ourselves for our family photos the Universe had one last parting gift. With a whoosh and burst of spray, a whale wondered past surfacing out to sea almost directly in front of the wedding party and signalling it’s presence with a spray of steam from its blowhole as it took a breath and prepared to move on.
Anyone who has shot with me will know I’m seldom lost for words when on the job, but I don’t think I have ever seen an entire bridal party, let alone myself, speechless just a few moments after a ceremony.
We paused to take in a truly magical moment in a truly magical wedding. People think that as photographers we love our jobs for the art we produce. That is a part of it, but for me my love of this job stems from meeting people like Leslie and Ben and experiencing moments like these. Their wedding will join those other snippets in time from my career that will live in my memory for evermore just as I hope these images will live forever in Ben and Leslie’s lives and perhaps one day in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
I hope that long after we are all gone, these images might help preserve a family legend of the day when the Universe itself seemed to smile down on two people and say: “Yep…. You two were made for each other.”