Ten days after Otto’s birth, the whole family…grandparents included, packed up and headed to Strasbourg, France. Normally this would be something that I wouldn’t suggest doing, so here’s my disclaimer…don’t try this at home ladies…or rather, don’t do what I did. BUT…I had a very good reason for this trip, and it had been months in the making. Sometime around August (or was it September?) I was contacted by a good friend of mine who I’d gone to middle and high school with talking about her and her fiancee potentially eloping to somewhere in Europe. Needless to say I was over the moon excited for them. Sean and I had talked about eloping at one point but decided against it when we started taking everyone else’s opinions to heart. <— I also don’t recommend doing that (hindsight is 50/50), if you’re getting married go balls to the wall! It’s your wedding! Anyway, back to the elopement.
Months of back-and-forth emails, and Facebook conversations had led to a day I will soon not forget. We can go ahead and forget the day before that though…man that was rough. Being lost in a city that is pedestrian friendly, and not vehicle friendly with you mother and infant son can really send a person over the edge. It was seriously one of those stressful moments that while driving you turn down the music just so you can focus on the fact that you are so lost and your son is going to need fed in T-minus ten minutes. Note to self, next time, don’t turn down the music, just switch it to something a little more soothing…may I suggest Bach or Beethoven? Here’s how not vehicle friendly that city is; the parking garage we were suggested to park in by the hotel staff had one entrance and one exit, and they were the same. It was like playing a game of chicken parking garage style!
Thank goodness I won my game of chicken and we finally made it to the hotel where we met up with Sean, my dad, and the minis. After a quick moment to feed my tiny human, and to decompress mom and I headed off to meet with the bride and groom to be. Talk about a laid back, fun couple. They pretty much told me as far as photography goes, they trust my work, so just do what I need to do. That is music to any photographer’s ears (show of hands…who has had the Pinterest couple who essentially prints off their Pinterest board for you to copy…EXACTLY?). The meeting was followed up with an oh so special sit down, stand up, crawl under the table type dinner at good ol’ McDonalds, because by this time I was so exhausted that I was DONE. That evening, following dinner we all called it a night, except the minis. Putting two two-nagers to bed in the same room as you is not easy. After much contemplation as to where their beds would go Sean and I had an “a ha!” moment simultaneously. We had two windows with small balconies in our room, which created a small sort or recessed space when the curtains were pulled. This is where the boys slept…with the shutters down and then the blackout curtains pulled around their beds, each with their own dark cavern so Sean and I could still have the lights on while they attempted to sleep. However not perfect…it helped, when the boys didn’t take their little cameras to bed with them. Liam wouldn’t hand over his camera no matter what we did, so after hearing the sound of a shutter release behind the curtain several times, Sean finally told Liam to turn it off or he’d take it away, to which he got a tiny whinny response of “no” back. “Liam put that…” “…no…” “Liam…” “…no…”. By this time I am delirious with exhaustion, and slightly in pain thanks to a lovely clogged boob, but that tiny “no” had me cracking up. It’s not every day that your curtains talk back to you!
The next morning my clogged boob wasn’t in much better shape. I had made it through breakfast but when it came time to do a little touring of the town before the wedding I decided against it. Me, my sore boob, and Otto stayed behind curled up with a heating pad and taking a much needed nap (yes, I jinxed myself by packing a heating pad). Come wedding time I knew I was in for a doozy of a day. My body was in full on attack mode…chills, chattering teeth, sore and achy all over, hot sore boob…mastitis is a nasty nasty biatch. With some help from ibuprofen, and tylenol I was able to make it through the wedding. Thank goodness for that, because it was so much fun, and so beautiful…not to mention it was freezing so my fevered body was loving the cold!
That wedding was so so so awesome, really, I can’t begin to explain the immense beauty and excitement of it. The nuptials took place on one of the old bridges with onlookers from all sides cheering their kiss on. Then we (my mom and I, because when you get the opportunity to take photos with your mom, who is your mentor…you do it (and because I don’t think I could’ve kept her away)) followed the newly weds into a bar where they partook in a beer for their first toast as husband and wife. The bar was dark, hot, and packed to the brim with people from all over. The scent of hot food, foreigners and cool beverages made it so quant and perfect, but dang was it hard to take photos in such a small dark place!
After the newlywed toast, there is of course the bouquet toss and the first dance to contend with. My friend’s bouquet was a mixture of white and pink flowers with an interesting twist. The bouquet was made entirely of…wait for it…wood! Yes! The little flowers were carved pieces of wood lightly colored to give it that realistic look. Talk about eco-friendly! Although I am sure there would have been many foreigners lining up to catch the bouquet, we all decided that tossing it into the main river would make for an unforgettable memory and fun photos to boot. The local ducks however, we not amused. Those feathery little vultures took off like a bat out of hell chasing after that bouquet thinking it was God’s gift to duck-kind. Needless to say, they were a wee bit disappointed when they discovered their prized dinner would’ve made for a better raft than a meal. And then there were the swans. Oh.my.word! How many weddings will I ever photograph that will have swans?!? Probably never again…
We left the majestic swans behind and looped our way through one Christmas wonderland alley after another, passing by the occasional Christmas market with scents that begged us to eat their decadent goodies from around the world, and gluwein stands steaming with hot wines just waiting to knock you flat on your bum. After stopping for a few quick photos in one of the alleys dripping in Christmas lights we happened to pass by a street performer playing an accordion. We had actually passed the accordion player when the idea popped into my head. It was like a little photography elf was screaming in my ear “FIRST DANCE! FIRST DANCE!”. After passing the idea by the couple, who seemed a little hesitant at first, they quickly warmed up to the idea. It was as if the world stood still for those few moments, the crowd stood back just taking in the beautiful moment the couple was sharing, and of course they cheered as the music and thus the dance came to a close. Perfection…
Our evening with them ended with photos at the cathedral and then at the giant Christmas tree just a few block from our hotel. We then parted ways and the couple went on to enjoy the rest of their wedding night, which also happened to be New Years Eve. How cool is that?!? Every year they will get a chance to have fireworks on their anniversary, so cool!
My night, on the other hand, ended on a low note. Probably one of the worst New Years I have had in a very long time. Once back in the hotel, repacking all of my gear, my body decided to fully realize how crappy it really felt. I suffered through dinner with my family (at an actual sit down restaurant) but almost lost it when the waiter suggested duck liver…”for the ladies of course”. How about no. Not when I have a fever so high that I am in tears, shivering in my coat, and can’t even think about stomaching a cheeseburger. The night ended shortly after dinner, and the boys were put to bed behind the window curtains, where the curtains asked Sean “Dad, did you fart” followed by little boy giggles. Oh joy, happy New Year to me!