11th April 2016
Jene and Thierry
A Wedding and a Wildfire
Pictures welovepictures Words Maike
We have been feeling a little torn as to whether or not we should share this wedding. Jene and Thierry got married a few weeks back, and unfortunately it was the day that a massive wild fire spread through the Elgin Valley. The fire also raged right past the door of Old Mac Daddy which meant that the couple, along with their guests (many of whom had travelled all the way from the Island of Corsica), had to unexpectedly evacuate shortly after the ceremony.
Unlike most wedding celebrations which include a wide range of joyous moments, this one also involved a whole other sphere of emotions – at times it was frightening to be a part of, at times we were sad and there were even times we found it hard to photograph. But most of all it was heart-breaking to watch the disappointment on Jene and Thierry’s faces – it broke our hearts that the day they had planned for so long didn’t quite work out the way they had dreamed and there was nothing they could do about it.
But on the other hand, we feel that Jene and Thierry’s wedding day was possibly the most honest and beautiful representation of true friendship and love. For us, it was a wonderful showcase of of love and determination to make the best of even the worst kind of situation, and we couldn’t help but document it all. We witnessed friends and family make a steady but miraculous effort to turn this day around and to not only “make the best of it” but also turn tears into smiles and disappointment into laughter. Crates of booze, instead of passports and suitcases, were frantically packed into car boots during the chaos of evacuation. Glasses of champagne were passed around the meeting point car park at Peregrine Farm Stall to help calm everyone’s nerves. The wedding cake survived, albeit a little wounded, the manic car ride out of the burning valley. And when faced with no option for a backup venue an incredible offer was made for the party to continue at the home of a guest. It was this point, and when DJ Rene exclaimed in his classic French accent “We go where the party goes…” we knew this was a turning point for this wedding!
As the convoy flew down the highway to Stellenbosch the wedding plan B was starting to come together. Pizza’s were being ordered, we picked up ice and boerwors rolls from the petrol station and one of the bridesmaids did her best to find last minute accommodation for over fifty stranded guests. A fire was lit, chairs we spread out around the pool, fairy lights were hung the DJ Rene set up his gear just as some of the now emotionally exhausted guests began arriving. You would think that, given the days events, the party wouldn’t stand a chance but people are resilient. Incredible amounts of champagne was consumed, pizza has never tasted so good and DJ Rene played what must be his most memorable set. We left as giant sparklers appeared out of nowhere and from what we hear, everyone danced late into the night!
This is as real as it gets. There was no other way of photographing it other than telling it like it is, even the difficult parts. And it was a beautiful wedding day, there is no disputing it, that celebrated what a wedding really is about and one helluva story Jene and Thierry will be telling their grandkids one day. Documenting this day in this raw and honest way truly feels like a wonderful, unexpected gift and we are deeply grateful to have been a part of it all.