Jeannette & Brian’s Rehearsal Dinner

The happy couple had flown me out to California for their wedding, but I was by no means content to idly bask in their hospitality during the days beforehand.

I’ve mentioned before that my favourite part of a wedding is the preparation, when families and friends come together to make decorations and share the anticipation. By the time the big day arrived I was wholesomely drunk on the magnificent energy of the darling couple’s extended clan.

jeannette-brian-preparations-008The groom’s mother, Lindy, was a florist by trade and had taken it upon herself to produce the flower arrangements for the whole event. The house smelled of… Well, I’m no botanist. It smelled of flowers, is all I can say.

I joined Jeannette for her dress fitting, I busied myself with my camera gear while Brian tended to their beloved garden (I have two green thumbs, but they’re both left) met their relatives as they piled into the house and joined them all for the rehearsal dinner.

The rehearsal dinner has to be my second-favorite part of a wedding, and one in which I’m least often involved, at least as a photographer. While Dutch tradition has the couple and their witnesses sign their marriage certificate during the ceremony, the Americans do it beforehand, so in a way the dinner was a wedding in itself.

jeannette-brian-preparations-024I saw the future Mr and Mrs grin and glow as they signed their names, and looked on as their witnesses and officiant (a mutual acquaintance, and a writer of some note) added their scrawl, I heard Jeannette whisper her new surname under her breath with growing excitement. Brian’s best man and longtime friend, a rake called Gregg, cracked no end of ribald jokes at the couple’s expense, just loud enough for them to worry giddily that their parents might have heard.

While it’s bad form to take pictures of people while they’re eating (nobody looks cool while stuffing their face) there’s no such prohibition in play when they’re conversing. The rehearsal dinner was a chance for far-flung relatives and old friends to mingle and get to know one another in advance of the wedding – the nearlyweds had gathered quite a colourful collection of characters.

In moments like these, a photographer ought not to intrude, so I’d packed light, with only a single lens: my beloved, if somewhat ornery 85mm f/1.2 L, a rightly legendary portrait lens which allowed me to casually mingle and steal some stealthy shots on the sly, despite the particularly dim lighting.

The food, also, was excellent.

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