I consider my career to have been built in the short period after Tara posted a few of my images on Wedding Bee for the first time. It was in the wake of that blog post that my whole business was built. I booked 15 weddings that week. It was insane. I went from dreaming of being a wedding photographer, to, well. Being one. One of those very first weddings that I booked in this wave was with Tiffany and Jared. I think maybe we went from phone call to contract in 30 minutes. First off, they were getting married in Jamaica. And second, and consider this stereotyping if you will, but they are both from my most favorite part of the country. So I had a feeling that this would be a good thing. I had a great feeling that we would get a long.
I so love doing destination weddings, because it’s an opportunity to really dig in. Be part of a family, but still on the outside. You are privy to intimate moments. You are right there with them through triumphs and tribulations.
Husbone and I arrived late (well, it felt late) Friday evening. After a long bus ride we arrived at Tensing Pen, which I had only seen pictures of on Flickr and on their website. It certainly looks beautiful, but I think that the images on the website really don’t do it justice. And upon our arrival, I could only hope to.
The waters were torrential. Perched on cliffs, woven into coves and spreads of rocky black earth and coral, Hurricane Paloma, though at that time plowing through Cuba, wrenched the Ocean into a twisted disarray. It sounded like explosions. It looked really scary:
That was just one of very many giant tidal waves that tore up the place. At this time, we didn’t know about the Hurricane. Husbone and I thought that the choppy waters might have been a fluke. All should be calm tomorrow. The image above was taken from our deck, in a tiny hut with a thatched roof, perched on top of a stone pillar, at the edge of a high cliff. Much like the little hut being over taken in the above picture. Luckily, it was not a room, but just a place in which to take in the magnificent blue view.
It was not a restful sleep that night, as the constant pounding assured me that we would fall into the sea. We didn’t. And so after about 4 on and off hours of rest, we emerged from our tiny hut and made our way to the dining hall for breakfast. Tiffany and Jared and their families were there. It was an intimate affair with 11 guests, including Husbone and I. It turns out that most of them had been evacuated from their rooms. Tiffany’s sisters room had an actual river flowing through it.
Husbone and I shared a sigh of relief that our room was ok, and that Everyone got out in time before much was ruined. We went to fetch our laptop from our room after breakfast, and were met with something terrifying.
The heavy wooden doors we had bolted shut the night before had busted from the walls in a shower of splinters around the room. The bed was soaked, the curtains. I left some clothes on the floor, and I found them in a wet pile on the opposite side of the room. And to my absolute horror, my camera bag was a giant puddle of water.
My heart was pounding… I was shaking. I didn’t know what to do for a minute. And I grabbed the bag and ran out the door and back to the main lobby area to hesitantly inspect the damage. Everything. was. soaked.
Ok. But working. Ok. Everything was working. lenses were lensing, cameras were camera-ing, and I fretted about salt when everything dried. But to my wonderful relief, everything worked fine in the end. WHEW!!!
In any case, Jared mentioned. You could use our camera. I contemplated this for a moment, and then I saw his camera. It was practically as good as mine! Anyway. It was a lot.
So then came the topic of holding a wedding, that’s been planned all year long, in a place they did not plan to hold it. I was ready to shoot whatever was happening, but eventually we had to live with the idea of evacuating Tensing Pen, and moving to an all inclusive 45 minutes away. And so we moved. Tiffany and Jared were so amazing. I don’t think I would have dealt with the whole situation nearly as well, worst of all was the prospect of having the wedding at the all inclusive, over by the pool, with half naked onlookers, 45 minutes away from the cliff perch over blue seas in which they had so set their hearts.
The good thing was, that they were already officially married, so at least that was taken care of. We decided to stay at the all inclusive and head back to Tensing Pen in the morning and hope for the best. And we CERTAINLY GOT IT!!
WOW! The next day was SO BEAUTIFUL!!! And the folks at Tensing Pen did an AMAZING job of cleaning up all the damage. Despite some missing roofs of various structures, a water heater that floated away and chunks of the walkways missing, the whole place was pristine, and it was as if there had been no stressful Saturday. And I also would like to mention that they were so patient, helpful and friendly throughout the whole horrible ordeal, they were a great comfort in that uncertain moment. They made a destination wedding miracle!!! And so. Without further ado, I would like to tell the rest of the story in pictures:
Tiffany’s gorgeous Gucci shoes – in the time I’ve come to know her, the first thing I came to know is that she always wears amazing shoes.
Husbone and I held back tears when we saw the pure joy and elation on Tiffany’s face. There was a sense of “we did it!”, but more in a, thank goodness I don’t have to come back to Jamaica another time to have my wedding!