I come to you today to tell you all about our last wedding of the 2019 season, Mathilde and Shayann’s wedding. This wedding had everything for us to love it : two cultures mixing together, a decoration on a bookworm theme, incredible cars, and of course a perfect couple made of two truly kind, generous and loving persons. Those persons for who we arrive as photographers and leave as friends.
Arriving in Vendée
As always when the wedding starts early and is far away from our home, we arrived on the day before the wedding. An arrival that didn’t really go as planned, as our van decided to scare us on the way. We weren’t sure whether we should stop and call the assistance, but we decided to keep driving, in 4th gear, to the wedding venue were we were expected. Our van survived and brought us there. A little bit of stress for us on the day before the wedding, but we decided to forget everything about this issue until the wedding was over.
We explained what happened to the couple and found a solution together so that we could sleep and drive around the different places where the wedding was taking place (the wedding venue was 1 hour away from the city hall). Mathilde’s family, who was hosting the bride’s getting ready on the next morning, welcomed us for a diner typically vendean (if you like baked beans, you should try mogettes next time you go to Vendée) and we were allowed in the garage with the mattress from our van, next to an old jaguar, an alpine, and an R8 Gordini, to spend the night. We spent a great night with them, and were grateful for this the next morning, as everyone was comfortable with us from the very first shots.
The bride getting ready
At dawn, the mist covered the salt marsh around the house, giving a mysterious and epic look to this day.
Hair stylist and make-up artist are settling in one of the buildings and are working on the bride, but also her mother, sister, niece, bridesmaids… A lot of people are passing through the brushes to be perfect. Everything goes smoothly. We can tell the emotion gets higher each time one of them gets ready. Seeing all these people we love around ourselves on such a day, it can’t anything else but a joyful time. No stress in Mathilde, only some expectation for Mathilde to be with Shayann. They slept separately the night before, as Shayann stayed at the bed and breakfast where he is getting ready.
The groom getting ready
Speaking of Shayann, we are on our way to join him and get pictures of him getting ready, leaving Mathilde with her hairstylist, with a mission : wait for us before she gets into her dress. Shayann is in as good a company as his future wife was, with his groomsmen and grand-parents. And he is also impatient to get to see his bride. We get a few shots of his getting ready. Shayann, very thoughtful and disciplined, takes his time to get ready, so that we can get as many shots as we want.
The bride getting dressed (well, almost)
Then we receive a text from Mathilde. She is ready, hair and make-up done, and her dress on. Her dress on? Wear does she mean her dress on ? Lucky for us, we were done with Shayann, so we get back to Mathilde’s parents home as fast as we can, afraid we might have lost the moment when the bride’s friend and family get to see her in her dress. Moments that are always really strongly emotional. We find Mathilde all ready and beautiful, in her lovely dress completed with a veil, and we are glad to find out that only the few persons who helped her with her dress saw her. Her parents and sister haven’t seen her yet, but it was close ! A few minutes after we arrived, they went in, making some joy tears run on a few cheeks.
Time for the first look photoshoot, planned in the salt marsh about a hundred feet from the house. I give Xavier and Shayann a couple of minutes of head start, then I start walking with Mathilde. Half-way, Xavier arrives behind us, running from the house. Shayann stopped on the way to say hi to Mathilde’s family inside the main house, so we left before them instead of after ! Luckily the bride and groom didn’t see each other. We hide with Mathilde in a neighbour’s garden, while Shayann and Xavier are passing by.
Then we are back on track. The suspense lasts for a couple of minutes more because two people are wandering on the path right behind the first look spot, dressed in red of course. Not really the kind of background you want on your pictures, don’t you think ? We usually prefer our couples to feel like they are alone. Finally we can give Shayann permission to turn around and admire his bride. He does so slowly, enjoying the moment, just like he did while getting ready.
Once they are facing each other, I invite them to follow their hearts and enjoy the moment without giving any attention to us. They fall into each other arms to kiss, look into each other’s eyes and hug tightly. A small tear gets in Mathilde’s eye.
Couple pictures in the salt marsh
Once the emotion levels are back to normal (whatever “normal” is on someone’s wedding day), we take advantage of this time alone with the couple to take a few couples shots in this nice place. Indeed the rest of the day is packed with things happening, so we are not sure we will have another moment alone with them.
We invite them to play a few mini-games to help them be natural, smile and laugh. They are loving it, especially Shayann, who happen to excel at this. They are the first one of our couples to master the “look into each other’s eyes and say a colour at the count of three. You can’t discuss which colour you will say.” They are perfectly connected (or are very lucky, it’s hard to know).
Shayann makes my hear melt when he has to find an adjective starting with a B describing Mathilde. After long and intense thinking he says : “there is beautiful, but it doesn’t describe you, because you are superb, so I’ll say Bsuperb”
On the road towards the City Hall
It’s finally time to give the lovers back to their families and leave for the city hall, the bride in an R8, and the groom in a Porsche.
The civil ceremony was delayed by 20 minutes on the day before, as a funeral was planned exactly at the same time and the church and city hall were adjacent. So it was better if the guests from the wedding and funeral were not mixed.
The schedule, already tight, was even tighter. And entering the city hall takes more time than planned. Right before we enter, the bride’s niece comes to ask me whether she can try and take a photo. Unfortunately the time is not perfect, so I answer it will be a pleasure, but on the next day as this day was a bit too busy.
French civil ceremony
The civil ceremony finally starts. For once there is enough space for me to get around, so I take a camera too. There are often too many guests for too small a room, so I let Xavier alone during the civil ceremony. Emotions and tears are invited, for instance with Shayann’s brother (and best man).
We notice while editing the pictures that a guest started wearing his sunglasses during the ceremony. We highly suspect him to have tried and hid his tears. But we were here to make sure he wouldn’t go unnoticed.
During the ceremony, an information that the couple asked to be kept secret is said by the civil officer. But Mathilde reacts quickly and the guests forget about this instantly. Weddings don’t always go as planned. But these little bums become memories once time passed by. And most of the guests have no idea of how the couple dreamed their day, so everything goes perfectly as far as they can see.
The ceremony goes on without extra surprises. They say yes to each other, and sign the registers, alongside the officer and the groomsmen and bridesmaids. Of course they also exchange wedding rings.
Once everyone is out we place the couple under the city hall chandelier, to take advantage of the stylish room for a quick photo taken with a flash.
On the road to the rest of the fun
The couple gets out of the city hall with cheering and coins tossed (fake ones, don’t worry, real coins would hurt and I don’t think anyone was rich enough to toss hundreds of real coins in the air without caring). We are on our way to the wedding venue to continue the celebration.
Xavier goes with the bride and groom in their Porsche Macan drove by Mathilde’s brother, and we meet directly at the venue.
Once we arrive, we start with a few group pictures with the close groomsmen and bridesmaids who are already arrived, then we steal the couple for a few couple shots behind the venue while the rest of the guests are getting there.
We ask Shayann’s mother, who is in charge of organizing the iranian ceremony, if it is possible to move the ceremony outside. The light is nice and there wouldn’t be enough space inside the wine cellar for all the guests to fit in. She agrees and the ceremony takes place outside, ending up with better pictures for us but also a nicer view for everyone.
There is a small wait before the ceremony starts, as the person who was expected to lead the ceremony is not here yet. Another bump in the program, but nothing that can’t be handled !
Golden hour starts, and group pictures have not been done yet, which worries us a bit. We take this time to take a picture of the couple while they wait for the ceremony to start. It would be a shame to not take a single picture during such a nice golden hour.
Iranian civil ceremony
Fortunately the ceremony is not very long, so there is still some light after it’s done. This ceremony is the equivalent of our french civil ceremony, without the official paperwork as the ceremony is not celebrated there. But it was important for Shayann’s family that they celebrate it. Plus it was great to get to discover this ceremony that we saw for the very first time. The ceremony was lead in farsi, so we don’t understand a word, but Mathilde and Shayann briefed us before, and they are a lot more visual elements than in the french civil ceremony, so it’s not too difficult to follow.
The couple takes place at a table facing the guests. On this table are a lot of delicacies (loukoums, oriental pastries, honey…), and candles. Two people hold a drape embellished with beads above the couple, and a third one grind two blocks of sugar during the ceremony above the drape, to wish them a sweet life.
Like in France, consent from both the bride and groom is taken. Tradition dictates that the bride is not supposed to say yes the first time the question is asked, but has to wait until she is asked three times. Mathilde didn’t know whether she would respect this tradition. On the spot, she decided to not torture Shayann with the wait and answered yes (well, she answered “Baleh”) as soon as she was asked.
Group pictures and cocktail
A large group picture is taken as a souvenir at the end of the ceremony, then the cocktail starts for the guests while we are busy with the official group pictures. The couple prepared a list, and put some of their friends in charge of calling the guests in order to be as efficient as we could be. Because what couple wants to spend their cocktail taking pictures instead of enjoying canapes and champagne with their friends and families ? Not them, for sure.
We start a race against the sun, because light starts getting dim, and we don’t want any important pictures to be left aside, nor having to take them by night. We could take them by night, but it’s not as nice as during the day. I manage to slip a couple of canapes to our bride and groom between two pictures, so that they don’t starve. Despite a few unplanned pictures that squeezed in and a few guests that played hide and seek, we manage to finish all the group pictures on time. Victory for us. Suck it, sun !
I bring two glasses of champagne to Mathilde and Shayann to officialise the end of group pictures and the beginning of cocktail (for them, because their guests are already enjoying it for quite a while) and we let them enjoy all the delicacies prepared by their caterer.
We take a couple of shots during the cocktail, but the late schedule is shortening the time available for these pictures. When the time comes the couple thank everyone and invite the guests to come inside to start the dinner. The room has been set up by the caterer, following the instructions left by the couple.
The dining room is already charming, with exposed beams and chairs covered with a nice red velvet. The decoration imagined by the couple is simple but elegant. Beautiful ancient books are resting in the centre of the tables, alongside harmonious floral compositions.
Guests find their tables without too much trouble thanks to the original seating arrangements plan found at the entrance. Once everyone is seated, the groomsmen and bridesmaids are up for some speeches, and the dinner can start.
We are installed at a table with the DJ. He is a very nice guy with good tastes in terms of music. Fun fact, we were supposed to have PostModern Jukebox played at our own wedding, but it didn’t happen, for some USB key was forgotten in someone’s pocket. Well we got to listen to some of their songs at Mathilde and Shayanne’s wedding, so it’s all fixed now.
The caterer was told about the fact I am not eating meat, so I got true alternatives to the meat-based courses. It’s all delicious and it was also the case for the meat-based courses according to Xavier.
Two wedding games are organised during dinner. The first one is a blindtest, lead by the DJ with the help of two guests. It’s perfect for everyone to participate regardless of the language or culture. A few persons try to cheat using Shazam, but they are confounded and it ends up being a fun time with lots of laughs. Everyone is having fun !
The second game is the game of similarities. I think I was the one who gave the idea to Shayann the day we met. He was telling me they had trouble finding ideas that could suit everybody, regardless of age and language.
The list spread on each table was translated in english and each similarity is written in both languages, so that everyone can understand and participate.
The DJ brings a twist to the original version of the game, by playing entertaining music while the guests are asked to stand up. All the guests are dancing instead of just getting up, so it gets very lively ! Once more, Mathilde and Shayann are killing the game by guessing really fast the similarities between the guests that stood up. They know everyone very well !
A champagne fountain is organised, and we take this opportunity to work on the lights, as the moment takes place far away from the dance floor and the DJ lights. We are proud of the result !
On the dance floor
After the desert, the tables on the dance floor are cleared and taken apart to allow our couple to have the first dance. Mathilde and Shayann took dance lessons and choreographed their dance. We knew it was a stressful moment for Shayann, but he does really well ! Their stress seams to disappear as soon as they start dancing, and their complicity and love are obvious in the way they move. I even cry, for the first time during a first dance which is usually not a very emotional time for me.
Dance night starts after their first dance. The dance floor is electric, and all the guests, even those who didn’t know each others before this day, are dancing together.
Later in the night, we get to watch a tradition from Vendee : a dance, that we were waiting impatiently as we never had a chance to see it : The brioche dance ! For this dance, you need: a couple of newly weds, a huge vendean brioche, a big wooden tray on which the brioche rests carried by the couple, and finally lots of guests holding hands that run under the brioche.
After some time the newly weds couple is replaced by other couples. Once the official brioche dance music is over, the DJ starts a brand new version of this dance : the iranian brioche dance. He puts an iranian tune on and tells everyone to keep dancing with the brioche on this song. It’s a great time, everyone is having fun and no one wants to let the brioche go back in the kitchen to get sliced.
All good things come to an end
We join everyone for a brunch the next day. Shayann’s mother comes and see us to thank us for asking that the iranian ceremony to be moved outside. She says even on her phone pictures she can see that it looks way better than it would have inside the wine cellar. The couple also thank us for our hard work and for saving the day by pressing things a few times to avoid getting late. We take this time to show them the different types of albums we offer, as we didn’t get a chance to show them before the wedding.
Before leaving (well, before going back to our van and start trying to find a solution to go back home), we have a last promise to honor. It’s time to give the bride’s niece her first photography lesson. Maybe in a couple of years you’ll start seeing some of her art !
We finally borrow Mathilde and Shayann for a last bonus picture, that Xavier had in mind since we visited the place on Friday night. I am not saying anything more and I let you discover the result !