Point of view matters. As a photographer, I can't be in all the places all the time when I am working a small wedding alone, and the more I shoot weddings, the more I realize how crucial it is to stand in a place where I can have multiple vantages of different aspects of the wedding. Point of view matters. I can’t even begin to count the times I have said this to students in my English classes over the years, and while I never taught either the bride or the groom, I did teach the bride's older sister Bailey, and I am pretty sure she heard me say this often. The connections with this precious family are many. I worked with Alyson's mom, Kristy, at SMS my first year teaching at Tallassee in 2004, and Keith has also worked closely with Greg at times. Needless to say, I love this family. 

This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending the morning taking pictures of Jarrett Casaday and Alyson Mann’s wedding. The seriously fun ceremony, sweltering as it was on a terribly hot July morning by the lake, featured the usual retinue of really cute ring bearers wearing matching shirts boasting of their ring security roles and beautiful little girls in pretty dresses strewing petals, making a visible path for the bride to walk. Then the beautiful bride stepped into view from behind a black Chevy Silverado wearing a dress fit for a princess. As her groom turned to see her, she was being escorted by her daddy down an isle created between hay bale seats facing the Middle Pond. Her groom stood waiting in his jeans, boots, and a white cowboy hat, but the thing I really noticed was the way he looked at her with love beaming from his eyes. 

A hay bale ring topped by a European mount deer skull framed the bride and groom, and they were attended by members of the wedding party as the pastor officiated the ceremony, leading the bride and groom through vows and the exchange of rings symbolizing their love for each other while family members and close friends watched from the available shade with smiles on each face. It was easy to smile at this wedding, and I am pretty sure there was no excuse for not laughing out loud. Every opportunity was given.

Joy characterized a ceremony filled with love and laughter and the unexpected. I am sure the strutting of the brother-in- law of the bride dressed as a rooster down the isle in front of the flower girls entertained everyone there even if I am not in possession of the back story. Surely there is one, but maybe not. I do know that it was actually 95 degrees in the shade when the ceremony began at 9:30 a.m., which tells me just how much Brady loves his family to don that get up and run around in it and later answer a curtain call for the rooster’s appearance in pictures with the bride and groom (in between driving the truck pulling the trailer that transported guests from the upper area where parking and the reception were down to the lake where the ceremony took place—and back again). He was a busy rooster, and Bailey, his wife, was the matron of honor for her sister. Did I mention the lovely cool mint dresses that the bridesmaids wore? 

At one point in the ceremony the pastor said the bride and groom would step away for a minute to create a unity painting, and everyone had an “Ahh! How sweet” moment, which promptly ended when the bride and groom pulled out some seriously giant paint guns and started shooting them at the canvas set up just to the right of the groomsmen, who were all wearing their black cowboy hats and white shirts with jeans and boots. I might have almost gotten in the line of fire as one picture shows, but I think I moved pretty fast for an old girl in order to get out of the way, even if I do say so myself. ;)

Everyone sweated through some serious and some really fun pictures (did I mention the groom is a deputy sheriff?), and they had some old-western feeling poses that I might honestly never get to take again at another wedding. (Please note that even while having fun, everyone was very responsible and careful with their weapons; I asked them to verify the guns were empty and they showed me, handing me bullets from an already-empty gun for pictures. I appreciated that. Really. Life is precious.)

The reception shenanigans began with the groomsmen and a friend handcuffing the bride and groom together upon exiting the truck and pretending to throw away the key, symbolizing that they are bound together forever. (Later I am pretty sure the groomsmen handcuffed the maid of honor and the best man together and really did throw away the key into the hayfield in an effort to get them to talk to each other. I am thinking it worked pretty well.) 

After cake cutting and smashing said cake into each other’s faces, the reception continued with sweet dances featuring the bride and the groom, the groom and his mother, the bride and her dad, the bride and her mom (how fun!). The silliness that I loved continued throughout the reception with groomsmen appearing behind our serious veil pictures at one point holding one of the men in a pose (I might have made them hold it extra long . . . ). It was about this point that I threw away getting any more formal pictures and just enjoyed the morning with them and took pictures as opportunities came. I am pretty sure the muscles in my face were exhausted by the end of the day from smiling and trying not to laugh so that I could hold the camera still enough to take pictures; I was mostly successful. 

At one point the groomsmen lined up for Alyson to sneak up behind them and "arrest" her husband; honestly, they were good sports, especially considering they had no idea what she was up to. Later one of the groomsmen switched places with the bride for the garter removal while the others escorted a hooded groom to the chair. He was pretty quick to pick up on it, but it made everyone laugh. 

Back to point of view mattering, after the ceremony was over down by the lake I hopped in the truck with the newlyweds and the best man and maid of honor to get back to the reception area. I asked how the newlyweds met and everyone in the truck busted out laughing. I understood immediately that there was a story there that had two distinct versions about that fateful day a few years ago that set this day in motion, and I asked for the quick version of the story since I knew there wouldn’t be very much time before we arrived at the reception.

The couple agreed that they met while Jarrett was working for the Dadeville Police Department and Alyson was working at a vet’s office in Dadeville while finishing college. Jarrett said he just happened to pop in the vet’s office to do a quick welfare check . . . I immediately commented that it was more likely he heard there was a pretty new girl working there that should be checked out as soon as possible. Alyson laughed and said that was more like it, but I will let Jarrett keep his version of the story. I am quite sure that somehow it is true too. By this time, we had arrived at the reception, and as things typically go in the busyness of a wedding day, I didn’t get any other chances to get the rest of the story from either perspective, but honestly it really doesn’t matter that I know it or record it. They are now happily married, and they will have something to debate for the next 50 years or so, the story growing with each retelling, exaggerations making it even more absurd and precious and unforgettable. It will surely capture the hearts and imaginations of their children and hopefully one day their grand- and great-grand-children the Lord may bless them with. All this to say point of view matters.

Congratulations, Mr. And Mrs. Casaday! I can’t imagine getting to take part in a more beautiful day or fun wedding any time soon, and I am so glad I got to see it from my point of view behind the camera. Å