JAY AND KAREN'S WEDDING DAY (that is - me and the wife)
A good friend had told me it would be like this and he was so right. In my nags I stood at the bedroom window peering out at the cloudy but dry day outside, feeling totally elated. Naturally high, a feeling not unlike xmas 1986 (the BMX year), I stretched and headed downstairs to feed the cats and put the kettle on. It was the day I was to be wed to my ultimate female, Kazoo, the 1st September 2012. After a quick but thorough shower and an intense 20 second yoga routine I juked through the fence to my ma’s house for a bacon buttie and the first of taste of what was to be thee social occasion of my youngish life. Hug number one, photo number one, glass of champagne number 1, many, many more of each to come.
Rigged out in a 2nd, possibly 3rd hand Donegal tweed suit, 2-3 inches short on the arms but sure that was the style in those days and feeling fresh we climbed aboard the Bambi campervan. My best, best man and brother DD riding shotgun and photographer in the back, documenting the journey like a Formula 1 race (a race that wasn’t to venture beyond 40mph).
It was on the outskirts of Buncrana our chariot coughed and spluttered a slight but that was only to be expected from the 30 year old 900cc engine, I was well in tune with her episodes. Onward towards the hills of Donegal we sped, onwards into the unknown with song our hearts and hope in our minds. 2 miles further up that road we sat in a layby, the van had lay down, 15 miles short of our destination – a scenario too far fetched to be real. The engine had backfired (something I'd only ever heard up in myth), spluttered, shuddered then decalred surrender. Note : I had opted for a more old school experience but this was a little on the extreme side. (My dads' Ford Anglia broke down on him and my ma on their wedding day, about a mile short of their honeymood destination in Moville). A 5 minute rest she was allowed seemed to do the trick and forth towards the almighty Mamore Gap, where the landscape and geography are enough to ignite the fires of any soul. Truely one of Irelan'd most magestic scenes. We stopped again for an engine break and to flag down a tractor for a few photos. As we attempted the climb over the Mamore gap in the campervan the sound of pain could be heard for miles around, the black smoke notified wedding guests of our imminent arrival. Smoke signals, where most would have sent a text message to say we were nearly there. Make it to our destination we did, just about, somehow, with the aid of the choke, several 3 man push starts and a few offerings to St Anthony. My hands were boggin, my new shoes had 5 shades of muck and sheep dung on them, sweat caked on my brow - a man well served up for his day at the altar - some craic altogether.
If this session of fear and raw nerves in the van served any purpose it was that I kept my mind of the fact it really was my wedding day so regular fears such as ’will the bride turn up’, ‘will the weather be OK’, ‘will I faint at the altar after boking down my shirt?’ simply did not enter my mind. One thing I had not really had time to consider during the past few weeks of intense preparation and labour was that today you really are a rock n’ roll star on your wedding day– although it was still me beneath that undersized tweed suit, folk seemed to greet my presence with a mix of tears, cheers and intense emotion. This was a truely beautiful and comforting feeling.People, the people around you are the true magic in this life. The love and the shared experience is what lfe is really about.
I was now within a half hour of the ceremony and a few dozen metres of my bride who was hopefully still in the area, at our own private thatched cottage.
As we made our way towards the marquee we stopped at a few stone walls and cottage scenes with my parents and groomsmen for photos, met friends and relatives for more reunion; the occasional kiss on the cheek, the odd mouthful of advice. Our photographers Leo and his wife Kirsty were with us at every step, like a good solid roadie crew. Leo had treated us to not only the finest digital equipment but a vintage film camera shooting square format black and white images, which for a photo nerd like me, was a proper treat. Cars, buses and donkey drawn carts arrived from all corners of the land and a few from overseas. Faces from my recent and distant past, smiles and kisses were flowing . The emotion level creeping skyward now, I hugged deeper than I thought possible, as these beautiful friends assembled to wish us well and join us in celebration. It really made me realise that nerves and fear, the mad amounts of cash invested, the 1 million phonecalls and arrangements, the decor, the screws and nails seem almost insiginificant. The love that now surrounded us was really the only thing that mattered.
I was handed a bottle of Black Bush at the door of the ceremony as a prop for a photo and it tasted silky smooth, the nerves were numbed a slight. Good Ulster medicine - I held it like an infant with their bo-bo. Inside the marquee, on rows and rows of hay bales, were our friends. The murmur of reaquintance and laughter all around, and a sense of joy – it fills my heart with joy to this day knowing that folk made great efforts to be part of this.
As a wedding photographer I had attended maybe over 100 weddings in the past 4 years alone and thought myself well versed in the ways of matrimony but nothing could have prepared my for the situation – a time to stand up and be counted. “Tonight LIVE on stage folks – ME!” There’s this place deep inside a man that’s under lock and key most of his life but today the gates were open for all to see. There I stood, open and raw, vulnerable as a child, swaying in the Donegal breeze. The crowd was hushed by our fine friend and registrar Owen, and the music began. Karen’s uncle John, got the guitar kindled up and the sound of ‘She moved through the Fair’ came from our sister Grainne. ‘There’s no place to hide now young Doherty’ I could almost hear my granda Davy whisper from the heavens. The wind outside whistled through the heather, the waves in the nearby beached crashed on rocks driven by the incoming storm, the turf smoke from the cottage blew sidewards and there was I, alone at the alter. A gasp from the crowd told me that the time had come, I took a massive deep breath, glanced skyward then turned to meet my bride.........