Thursday, May 31, 2012

Howies Restaurant Wedding, Edinburgh ::Lorraine & Steve

She was pacing the room, "Are you sure I look alright?". 
"YES, you look gorgeous." we all replied. I don't know what was running through her beautiful head, Lorraine was so stunning from the beginning of her wedding day straight through until the end. The whole morning she'd been the epitome of 'cool beans'. "I can't get over how calm you are!" everyone kept saying to her as they ran around buzzing with nerves and excitement.
Lorraine began her day with a run through Edinburgh followed by a reflective lovely little stroll up Calton Hill with her bridesmaid Suzi. Meanwhile, of course, her groom was off preparing in true Scottish fashion…golfing.

I arrived at their GORGEOUS old fashion suite in the Parliament House Hotel and was instantly taken back to sometime in history when everything was vintage ;P There was an out-of-use lift in the lobby that had a sofa and a telephone and was surrounded by a rod iron cage! The rooms had ceiling to floor curtains and the ceilings were engraved with floral designs. The flowers from Demi's Florist arrived and then not only did everything look beautiful, it started to smell delicious. Pink and yellow roses with ivy and thistle button holes! They went perfectly with the dresses.

Anne arrived to create some beautiful hairstyles, followed by the very talented Louise with her massive make-up box! (I love make-up boxes!) When Lorraine emerged from her bridal bubble bath (loving the alliterations today) she was disappointed to realise that she had completely forgotten to pack her bathrobe. 

Never despair when you have amazing bridesmaids though…in walked Suzi (as if on cue) with a hand-wrapped pink box containing a silk robe covered in butterflies! I found butterflies all over the place — I found them frozen in flutter on the invitation and hair jewellery and when I asked Lorraine if butterflies were her theme she laughed and said "No! It just kind of happened."
And then Anne brought out this 20 year hair rollers that added to the vintage glory of the morning and I was practically obsessed by that point wanting to take at least 100 more photos of their heads all rolled up in curlers. My mom saw this photo and thought it looked like a flower :) hehe

The ladies found their dresses at Pan Pan Bridal in Edinburgh and both were designed by Jenny Packham whose name I see everywhere in magazines these day. :) 
Lorraine stepped into her dress with 20 minutes to go until the ceremony. Now the real butterflies were settling in. She was suddenly feeling the nerves, worried about being late. This seriously wasn't a problem considering that the ceremony venue was literally in the next building (a 10 second walk). 

I went down to the ceremony before Lorraine and found a very handsome Steve standing at the front of the room, checking his watch and signing nervously. I had a chance to go up to him and give him a big hug :D A smile appeared on his face when I let him in on the secret that Lorraine was on her way and looking beautiful.

Suzi and Lorraine have been friends since primary school and it was so heartwarming to notice that during the first part of the ceremony they were actually holding hands. The officiant, noticed too and threw in a little "Why are you two holding hands?" half way through the ceremony. The girls shrugged and everyone laughed :D
Their humanist ceremony led by Tim Macguire had the whole room laughing away as we enjoyed hearing their love story and what marriage meant to them. The short and sweet version went a little something like this...Lorraine had been working in a bar and Steve was hired as the new manager. She had planned to quit that night but something made her change her mind…. :) Happily ever after hehe

Family portraits were taken in Princes Street Gardens beside the Royal Scottish Academy art gallery. We took all of their family formals in like 10 minutes — my speediest portrait session ever!! But hey...why take longer than necessary, right?

Back to Howies for  the reception — the restaurant's team was working so fast  to turn the place around, they were incredible.
Dinner was divine (Is it just me or is food always better on a wedding day?!) and speeches were hilarious (the best man's speech led the room in a round of the Heart's football chant...since the team had won a big game the day before). Their cake was DELICIOUS (yes, I snuck a little bit — they did offer so I wasn't being completely cheeky hehe). The top layer was chocolate with Baileys. The middle layers was chocolate fudge and the bottom layer was chocolate and Malteaser! Ummmm....Yummmm!!!! It was designed in the shape of Tunnucks TeaCakes; one of the most delicious human creations ever! Steve was really excited about the cake and bless him, he told me multiple times as the night went on that they'd chosen a Tunnucks TeaCakes Cake because Lorraine used to work at the TeaCake factory packaging them up! :P

Can I just say that they picked the best band in the history of bands to play at their wedding! JAMMY DEVIL! I had so much fun bopping along to their groovy beats I genuinely had a difficult time leaving the wedding. They played all the classic tunes that get people tapping their feet and running out onto the dance floor. Hard to resist the classics!
At one point, one of Steve's best friends asked for my camera and in a leap of faith I handed it to him. Before I knew it, I was swooped into a dance by another friend. I swear, Lorraine & Steve must have hired professional dancers to come along to their wedding and pretend to be super keen guests. There was this little tribe of dancers who couldn't be bribed off the dance floor even for that delicious cake. My camera was basically hypnotised & glued to them all night. :P

And I mustn't forget to mention the most beautiful little girl who was out on the dance floor all night as well. Olivia, Steve's niece, CUUUUTE!
To see more of Lorraine & Steve's Wedding at Howies' Restaurant in Edinburgh, CLICK HERE to see their wedding slideshow of just watch it here ::

{Credit to the Lovelies}
Preparation Venue :: Parliament House Hotel
Ceremony & Reception Venue :: Howies Restaurant on Waterloo Place, Edinburgh
Dress :: Jenny Packham from Pan Pan Bridal
Cake :: 3D Cakes
Hair :: Anne Quin of Hair at Home
Make Up :: Louise
Florist :: Demi Florist in Portobello, Edinburgh 
Band :: Jammy Devil

Old Course Hotel, St. Andrews :: Bridal Shower

I felt a bit like a zoo animal on the loose in the Ritz Carlton last Thursday. I walked into the lobby and asked the concierge in the kilt if he could escort me to the main bar, hoping he wouldn't notice my bike helment hanging of the side of my bag — it would have looked much better if I'd been twirling some Mercedes keys in my fingers. Anywhozie, past the massive floral displays, walls covered with mirrors and marble floors I was taken to the mirrored elevator. Floor 4 please.

The lift stopped a couple times to let hotel guests on, my eyes widening as I peered out into the hotel hallways. I'd forgotten that this 'chateau' stationed in the center of the world's most famous golf course was actually a working hotel...with real live guests and turn-down service and chocolates on the pillows. In my mind I guess it had almost just become a fancy ornament that served hors d'oeuvres to the town's overly-wealthy aristocratic students.

I'd only been in the building once before and that was for a  fashion show, so again, not exactly a 'normal' experience. This time I entered the bar, bike helment swinging in toe, and was greeted by the curious eyes of what I judged to be a sample of New England's finest families — on golfing holidays and visiting their children at university. Having grown up in 'granola-land' Seattle where the masses wear jeans and Birkenstocks, I still find it surprising to see American's (in the flesh) that look as if they've just emerged from the pages of a catalogue — fancy hats and tailored jackets. But on with the show...I found Brittany at the bar, sorting out a booking 'issue' with a waiter who couldn't find our reservation. In the end that little mishap just meant free drinks and a glorious seat on the balcony...perfect for a surprise bridal shower!!!

One by the one the girls started arriving, everyone excited but hesitant. I apparently was the only one who had ever been to a bridal shower (it was my own) hehe We had pretty treats to eat, a bit of bubbly and no idea what we were going to do when Louise (our beautiful bride-to-be) arrived. 

We decided to play a question game, quizzing Louise on what she thought Mike's (her fiance) answers would be to the same questions. This of course, required that we had Mike's answers would be. Cue...stressed and frantic moment of trying to get Mike on the phone without Louise noticing or arriving prematurely.  Lots of nervous giggles, shaky fingers desperately trying to dial numbers and scrambling for pieces of paper. SUCCESS!

Louise thought her bridesmaids had won vouchers for drinks at the Old Course Hotel Bar....little did she expect our SURPRISE!!!!!!! She really loved it and was so happy to see some of her friends from school were able to make it. It was especially wonderful because term has just come to an end and all of these girls are going their separate ways for the summer. Her bridal shower was a last hoooorah!

As a gift, I'd chosen one of my favourite photos from Louise & Mike's engagement session and had it printed out nice & big & mounted for them. It was soo exciting watching her unwrap it and since I'd chosen a sweet one, as the tissue paper was peeled back a big 'awwwww' went around the table :P hehe (My job makes gift giving so easy! — people always like photos hehe)
It was such an honour to have been invited along to Louise's bridal shower. + Fab to meet more of her friends & to finally enjoy the 'Old Course Hotel Experience' before my days at St. Andrews come to a beautiful end. Thanks again ladies for letting me celebrate with you! 


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oh the Places You'll Go!!!

When I graduated high school, our youth pastor gave each of us our own signed (with an encouraging message...not just an autograph :P) copy of "Oh the Places You'll Go" by good ol' Doctor Seuss. I remember Pastor Ben saying that we would all be extraordinary and do extraordinary things. That is the only word I can remember from that speech ... EXTRAORDINARY.

Since then 'EXTRAORDINARY' has been living on the 'special shelf' of my mental library. It was wonderful to have such strong encouragement at that potentially scary and vulnerable stage of my life — leaving one school & traveling around the world to start all over again at another. I didn't know what to expect but it didn't matter...I was excited out of my mind!

One year ago, I found myself in the same boat — graduating university this time and standing on the edge of the sidewalk, looking out into the hazy future, drawn towards it like a moth to the light at the end of the tunnel. I had no idea what was in store for me...just 1 year ago! Oh the possibilities! Oh the places I could go! It only took a couple months of meandering for me to find the road I wanted to adopt for my life's travels. So 10 months ago I stumbled across my passion for photography & somehow managed to start my own photography business. My father-in-law asked me just the other week....

"Had you ever done photography before you became a professional?"

I LOVE this question because its so backwards and yet totally encapsulates the spontaneous nature of this whole adventure. And yes...I was into photography before 'going pro', I just didn't realise it. 
I was always the one carrying the camera, recording all the dinner parties & traditions. "Are you still taking pictures?" and "Are you videoing?" were probably two of the most heard sentences in my life. I couldn't help it — I just LOVED capturing the memories, knowing that one day we could all look back at them and laugh (then my friends would appreciate what I was doing, then they would understand the value of saving our memories and then they would forgive me for all of the times I annoyed them by hovering my camera(s) in their faces).

It wasn't about the pictures — sure I had times when I'd get all artsy fartsy, but most of the time it was always about saving the memories. And not just for myself. I wanted to save the memories for all of my friends who were so busy enjoying the moments they would never have the time or even consider taking photos for themselves. In retrospect I realise that for as long as I can remember I have assigned myself the responsibility of being the collector & keeper of memories. For years I've photographed my friends, smiling to myself from behind the camera, thinking..."They have no idea this moment is being saved for them. One day they'll look back at it and treasure it."

It's not really my photographs that they'll treasure but rather the memories that they are able to recall because of the photographs I took. In their own way, photographs break the rules of time; they freeze it and make it possible for us to travel back through it; to see & re-experience a moment that has been fading away since the moment it occurred. 
You may be thinking, "But what about your own memories, Chamonix? Didn't you want to just live in the moment like your friends?" 

Well, I know exactly what you mean & that's a big greasy pig I've been wrestling with for years. Sometimes I leave my camera at home on purpose so I have the chance to get more involved. But I'm usually more comfortable & have more fun with my camera. My mom always reminds me that when I was a baby I entered the world with big eyes, open and observing — wanting to take everything in. Then, (according to mom), as I grew into a toddler, the teachers at day-care were concerned that I wasn't socialising because I would sit quietly in the corner watching the other children playing. The teachers reported their worries to my mom who tried her best to explain that observing was my 'thing' — observing was my way of participating (geez-o this makes me sound like a crazy sad loner kid — I totally wasn't, promise. lol). I wasn't just staring off into space feeling sorry for myself...I was watching them (now I sound like a creepy stalker child...again, totally not the case hehe) 
Anyway, I clearly haven't really grown out of this observing habit but at least now I look cool cuz I've got a fancy camera in my toybox. Plus people are no longer worried about me (at least I hope not lol) !because as an adult I can stick this snazzy label on myself that explains away everything about me that's weird, abnormal, bizarre & extraordinary.....