60 : Eden and Curtis
I arrive five minutes ahead of the scheduled time but the celebration for Curtis and Eden's wedding is already in full swing. Within moments of walking through the front door of Model Milk, I was pulled aside by groomsmen and groomsmaids asking me to capture photos of the party.
I had met the full wedding entourage three days earlier at Curtis and Eden's Banff wedding. They opted to have their ceremony on a Wednesday so they could keep the anniversary date they've already been celebrating for 7 years. Their ceremony was small and intimate, with only their closest friends, Eden's parents, the officiant, and myself in attendance. With majestic Mount Rundle as a backdrop, they said their vows and kicked off the multi-day celebration of their relationship.
Fast forward to Saturday night, and the celebration was taking a markedly different form. The breathtaking mountain landscape was replaced by a stylish cocktail bar. Champagne was replaced by luxurious bottles of wine. A few close friends expanded into a larger community. Across both days of wedding festivities, the strength of their relationship shone through. I heard Eden and Curtis both talk about how much each other’s support had meant during different life phases. Emotion brimmed through their typically stoic exteriors while all around them, a community celebrated two people who love each other.
As a photographer's aside, it's important to be extra mindful when photographing same-sex couples. Here my main tips for other photographers to consider:
a) When photographing the couple getting ready, be prepared for unique moments that may not unfold with different-sex couples. For example, Eden and Curtis chose to get ready together, helping each other fasten bow-ties and attach boutonnieres.
b) For the ceremony, be cognizant of the fact that many wedding traditions are based on stereotypical gender roles. In my experience, this gives same-sex couples more freedom to choose which traditions they want to include, which ones they want to adapt, and which ones they’d rather throw to the wind. As a photographer, take the time to ask questions about the details of the ceremony, and which traditions the couple is incorporating. Ahead of the wedding day, ask about the support of family and their projected involvement in the day. For Eden and Curtis, they chose to start the ceremony with everyone standing in place. During the reception, their bestmaids gave speeches dedicated to each groom.
c) During the couples photo session, be aware of how same-sex bodies mesh. Our society feeds us so many heteronormative depictions of love that it can be easy to fall back on the stereotypical poses often used by different-sex couples. Using prompts to elicit natural interactions, keep your directions open ended so the couple can decide who takes action. Choose prompts that will work for bodies of similar sizes. For example, I captured Eden and Curtis holding hands standing side by side with incredible grins across their faces. When I prompted them to give each other a hug from behind, I gave them the choice of who stood in front. During our session at the abandoned building, I followed Curtis and Eden's lead of where to shoot and how they wanted to stand and interact. Be sure to treat each partner with care and attention during the photo session. Depending on the comfort of the couple, you may need to create extra space for intimate moments to unfold. Always ask which photos they feel comfortable having posted online before making a post public.
Ceremony Venue: Tunnel Mountain Reservoir, Banff, Banff National Park
Reception Venue: Model Milk
DJ: Revolution Entertainment Inc.
Limo Service: Quest Limos
Wedding Cupcakes: Sweet Relief Pastries
Flowers: The Treehouse Flower Shoppe
Rings: Maison Birks
Marriage Commissioner: Vows by Judy (Judy Wiltse)
This Life by Selena Photography blog post about wedding photography was written and photographed by Montreal wedding photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle. As a queer photographer, Selena photographs celebrations of love of any kind. Here you can see this Edmonton gay wedding or this interfaith Banff wedding. Selena often travels for projects, and accepts commissions worldwide.