Sarah + Paul’s Kangaroo Valley Wedding

There are so many incredible things I could say about Sarah and Paul, and about their wedding.  It’s been over six months now and I still don’t know where to begin.  I’m incredibly lucky to live in the Canadian Rockies, and photograph in the beautiful mountain towns of Jasper and Canmore, Alberta, Canada.  Every day I am thankful to be surrounded by such natural beauty.  Australia’s landscape is far different from Canada’s, but no less stunning.  It was such a privilege to be able to photograph in such a unique place as Kangaroo Valley.  Sarah and Paul showed their good taste in every aspect of their wedding.  They chose an amazing location, and the perfect venue.  The Bush Retreat had all the necessary comforts to accommodate all of their guests, and it had all the rustic, fun, laid back appeal that is so suited to their demeanours.   It was the perfect gathering place for two families and a solid group of friends to meet and build new relationships.

The day before the wedding, Paul drove myself and my Aussie brother Lloyd out to Kangaroo Valley.  It was about a two hour drive from Sarah’s parents’ house in St. Georges Basin where we had been staying for a few days prior.  Approaching the turnoff to the Retreat, we came across two Wombats standing stoically on the side of the road.  They didn’t move, just stared at us as we passed.  We had seen plenty of Kangaroos and a multitude of different bird species, but Lloyd informed me that it was much less common to spot a Wombat.  Later on as we were chatting with some of the people working at the Bush Retreat, they told us that there was a Wombat den just down the hill from the Retreat.  Apparently the night before we arrived, one had gotten into the reception hall and couldn’t find it’s way out.  In it’s confusion it got a bit panicked, and wreaked havoc on the room.  When the staff found it in the morning, it was hiding under the bar counter in the corner of the room, tables and chairs askew.  I felt pretty fortunate to have seen the two animals on the road, and it was a funny coincidence that one had found it’s way into the wedding venue the night before we arrived.

During my time in Australia I had been doing a fair bit of reading, as usual, on a number of highly debatable topics.  Two of those topics included Native American Animal Medicine, and the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime.  Australian Aboriginal mythology speaks of the Dreamtime as being the time of creation, in which different totemic animals or beings created different aspects of the land and laid out the patterns of life by which the aboriginal people would form their societies and ways of life.  There are different types of ‘Dreaming’, featuring lessons from different animals found throughout the Australian landscape.  When a person experienced the Dreaming, they would be given knowledge that they could use to apply and to inform different physical and spiritual aspects of their life.  There are a lot of similarities between the Australian Dreaming and Native American Animal Medicine.  Animal Medicine to the Native Americans is rooted in the belief that an animal will cross our path to bring about a new awareness, and to bring opportunity to make changes in our lives based on that awareness.  Animals reveal themselves to us not out of pure coincidence of location, but rather to bring us a message of some sort.  The medicine they provide may be in the form of anything that strengthens us, restores us, or empowers us on our path.

What does any of this have to do with the wedding?  Probably nothing, but our encounter with the Wombats had me thinking about what message they would be bringing if indeed they had a message to share.  I did a (very brief) bit of research on the Wombat as a totem animal, and what meaning or animal medicine they would bring as such.  What I found, coincidentally, was very clearly in line some of the prominent themes that I noticed in Sarah and Paul’s relationship over the weekend in Kangaroo Valley, and the time I spent with them elsewhere.  Of the themes I found on the Wombat, the ones that most resonated with me were those of resourcefulness, stability, and foundation.  The love that Sarah and Paul share is deeply rooted.  They have such a strong bond, and it is clear that through the wide range of experiences they have created together in the past few years they have built a solid foundation.  Just like the Wombat with his sturdy legs rooted close to the ground, the bond between these two will not be shaken by any tremors or obstacles in their path.   Their love has a stability and reliability that can be seen in their exchanges, through the look in their eyes, and in the way they speak of eachother when they are apart.

The Wombat Dreaming also teaches themes of having the tenacity to drive for success, and the determination to reach any goal.  These two are a smart and resourceful couple, and I know they will be successful in all of their endeavours.  In addition, the Wombat pushes you to awaken to yourself, and use your natural gifts to the best of your ability.  Sarah and Paul empowered me with an incredible opportunity, and a challenge to use my own gifts in a foreign place.  I am eternally grateful for that challenge, and for the lessons I gained from my time with them and their families.

So without further ado, I am honoured to share their wedding photographs from the weekend in Kangaroo Valley.  I hope that through these images you will be able to see the foundation of love, respect, and stability that these two share.  I can’t wait to see these two again, wherever that meeting may be.

And no unfortunately, there are no photos of Wombats.

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P.S:  If you’re getting married in Australia and liked these photographs, my passport is always valid and I can pack my bags in a matter of minutes!

- Brian

 

 

Lanny Mann - Great work, Brian. What a cool ceremony site!

brian - Thanks Lanny, it was a very cool spot to photograph.

Kangaroo Valley Wedding – The Night Before – Sarah + Paul

Sarah and Paul know how to have a wedding.  They packed up all their friends and family and shipped them off into the wilds of Kangaroo Valley in New South Wales, Australia for the weekend.  It was winter down south, and for the greater part of the past few weeks it had been raining.  The crew at Kangaroo Valley Bush Retreat had the means to look after everyone regardless of the weather, but rain would make it much more difficult to take advantage of the beautiful property the Retreat featured.

I must say I’ve become a big fan of weekend weddings over the past few years.  This was the first of a couple that I photographed in 2013, and I’m looking forward to more in 2014.  While driving out to Kangaroo Valley from the coast I was like a kid in a candy store, wide eyed at the beautiful forests, steep rocky hillsides, and plentiful wildlife.   After most people had arrived, the parents cooked up a giant barbecue dinner giving everyone a chance to mingle and have some drinks as they settled into the Retreat property.  After dinner we piled wood on the bonfire to keep the drizzling rain off.  As you’ll see it worked pretty well.

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It was early to bed for myself and many others, but a few kept it going long into the night.  The next morning came fast however, and I’ll be sharing that unfolding later this week.  It was a pretty special day, so there might be a few photos to show.

 

- Brian

 

Jervis Bay, Australia – Sarah + Paul

This past summer two amazing friends of mine flew me halfway around the world to New South Wales, Australia to photograph their wedding.  Sarah and I worked together in Banff a few years back, but I had only corresponded with Paul by email prior to arriving in Australia.  We narrowly missed eachother in New Delhi earlier in the year, so spending time with them in their hometown was a great chance to get to know Paul, and both of their families better.  Whether we were sitting in their backyard, walking the beautiful beaches and shoreline of Jervis Bay or driving through the countryside, Paul was always telling me the names of the birds and plants and interesting characteristics of their nature.  I appreciate that knowledge and awareness of one’s surroundings in a person.  The more I got to know Paul over the next week or so, the more my respect grew.

We took these photographs after the wedding while walking in Jervis Bay.  This area was only a short drive from their home, but the wedding took place a little bit off the coast in Kangaroo Valley, which was a few hours away.  Sarah + Paul rented a bush retreat in the valley that had enough cabins to fit their awesome crew of friends and family for a weekend getaway.  I’m excited to share their wedding story in two parts next week.

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- Brian

Canmore Wedding Photography – Jocelyn + Alex

Jocelyn informed me that I was photographing her wedding well before Alex proposed.  After all the adventures these two had already been on it was only a matter of time before they committed to making many more, so she was by no means getting ahead of herself.  Sure enough, early on a cold October morning in Canmore, Jocelyn arrived at work only to discover a letter that sent her on a treasure hunt of sorts.  At the end was a proposal.

I had the pleasure of getting to know these two even better over the next year and a half as they planned their winter wedding.  We did engagement photographs in the summer, and before long the day had arrived.  Their’s was a very special wedding, and it brought together people from all over the globe.  Although Jocelyn and Alex were settling in the mountain town of Canmore, Alex’s family and friends came all the way from New Zealand.  Jocelyn’s weren’t much closer, having to travel across the length of Canada from Ontario.  Everyone was welcomed warmly by the close knit group of friends that the pair have made over the years in Canmore.

One of the unique highlights of the day took place at the start of the reception when Alex and three of his best friends treated the assembled guests to a traditional Maori dance called the Haka.  The Haka is an ancestral war cry, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen at a wedding before.  Aside from being a war challenge, the Haka is also performed as an enthusiastic welcome to distinguished guests, or as a celebration of a great achievement.  Jocelyn and Alex’s commitments to eachother are certainly one such achievement.

I’d like to give a big thank you to my good friend Kim Payant Photography who gave me a hand in documenting the day, and to Wild Magnolia for handcrafting a beautiful wedding album for the pair.  The biggest thanks of all of course goes to Jocelyn and Alex Large for inviting me into their wedding, and their lives.  I count myself blessed to have friends like the two of you.

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Hair:   The Loft

Makeup:  Alyssa Maria  (Bridesmaid)

Venue:  Ralph Connor Memorial United Church

Reception:  Canmore Golf and Curling Club

Music:  DJ Ben

 

- Brian

Jasper Wedding Photography – Dorothea + Holger

Dorothea and Holger travelled from Germany to elope in the Rocky Mountains.  They didn’t tell anyone back home about the true purpose of their holiday. Instead, they planned a birthday party for Holger shortly after they would arrive back in Germany so they could share the good news and photographs with their friends and family.  I love intimate ceremonies like this, it’s truly something special to be invited into such a personal part of a couples’ lives.  Their close friends Kirsten, Dirk, and Lars (the ring bearer) joined them from Edmonton, and Kirsten put together the flowers and cake for the occasion. They spoke their vows to each other on Pyramid Island without telling their family and friends, but they allowed my camera and I to bring colour and emotion to the imaginations of their relatives, and life to the stories they will undoubtedly share with their friends.  I am very thankful for the opportunity, and for the laughs and smiles we all shared that day.   A big thanks goes out to Beryl Cahill for performing the ceremony, and the always friendly staff at Alpine Village who hosted the couple and their friends for two beautiful autumn days in Jasper.

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- Brian

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