A special story… A special love!
This was going to be a day unlike anything I have ever photographed, but wait, I am getting ahead of myself.
I got the email on 25 September from Nicolette. It is their 20th wedding anniversary and they are having their vow renewals with family and friends on 9 November. Will I be their wedding photographer?
We chatted via email and, I said yes. It is always special to photograph people that have been in love for so long and are renewing their vows.
But, I had no idea what was in store for me.
5 Days later I got another email from Nicolette.
She said their situation is unique, and she would like to explain it to me before the time. She said if I am not comfortable with it she would understand if I said I don’t want to photograph them. (At this stage they already had two photographers that said no) I was getting curious.
She continued: “For us, this is just an important day that we want to celebrate with people that support us and stand by us.” I thought this was a strange way to phrase things. …”people that support us”
Nicolette continued: “ After years of fights, lots of doctors and misdiagnosis my husband was diagnosed last year as crossdresser/transgender. We as a family have come a long way and have decided not to give up on each other or on him. We are a close family and this changes nothing. His appearance has changed, but he is still the same person on the inside. The medication he is using has changed our lives and we accepted it! All of us are much happier now. “
I replied: “No problem, we photograph love”
This was going to be…different!
On the contract under “Groom” she wrote: Dee-Ann (we call him him Dee)
I Facebook stalked them. Dee now identifies as a woman, dresses like a woman, acts like a woman.
We left early in the morning for the wedding. The weather bureau predicted rain for the whole day.
I must admit I started to get a bit worried when I saw the sign about three km’s from the venue: “D&N” and an arrow to the left!
But all my worries dissipated when I got there and met Nicolette, Dee-Ann and their two lovely daughters.
I am sure this family went through hell and back over the last year, and I am sure they have lost a lot of friends and family. But the people at the wedding today will REALLY be the people that care for them.
But, today all the negatives are forgotten. Today we only focus on the important stuff. LOVE. Today I am really seeing two people that had to go through a lot of adversity to make their relationship work.
For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part!
I am sure they didn’t expect this 20 years ago today when they got married for the first time.
Nicolette was dressed in a beautiful dress that she made herself. Dee-Ann looked equally beautiful in her pink outfit.
We were between Dee-Ann and Nicolette’s rooms. Both getting ready, doing make-up, dressing up for the big moment!
Later we were all standing in church when Nicolette walked down the aisle on the arm of her uncle, her dad passed away a few years ago. She looked SO happy, and so beautiful.
It was a short ceremony, the rain was pelting down and it was cold outside, but inside the place was warm with love.
We managed to take photos for 10 minutes outside the church before the rain forced us inside. We did the rest of the photoshoot inside the chapel. This required some very creative posing techniques.
The evening was a normal wedding evening. Two people that love each other, and friends and family that care! I silently wonder how many people that attended their wedding 20 years ago will attend this one if invited.
Nicolette had a special surprise for Dee-Ann. In front of everyone, she gave a perfect rendition of Juanita du Plessis’s “Kies jou weer” for Dee-Ann.
As ek oor moet begin
As ek die pad weer moet loop
Stap ek elke tree saam met jou
Ek weet liefde oorwin
Dit bly my anker my hoop
As ek weer moet kies
Kies ek jou
Weer en weer kies ek jou
Die storms het ons sterk gemaak
Ek onthou, deur al die trane
Meer en meer liefgeraak vir mekaar
Ek vir jou, Lief
I saw a few people wiping the tears away.
I thought to myself: Love is not only what we perceive the traditional form of love to be. Love is also about making a choice, sometimes an extremely difficult choice, to stick with each other. And to live your life in a way that makes you happy!
One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder. Dee-Ann and Nicolette and their daughters decided to try harder. I respect them for that because I respect love!
Dee-Ann and Nicolette, it was an honour to be your wedding photographers.
JC and Timothy Crafford
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears – Nelson Mandela