Claire + Pim

It's been just a little bit over a year since I first met Claire, who is also an American woman living in Groningen on account of a swell Dutch guy, at a Thanksgiving potluck in an Australian pub in town. I was so pleased when she reached out to me about doing a photo shoot of her and her fiancé, and even more pleased when she told me that they wanted to do the shoot in the most photogenic part of town, complete with cobblestone streets, converted warehouses, gorgeous views of the Der Aa church and beautiful sail boats on one of the canals. As we kept an eye on the ever-changing forecast in the days leading up to the shoot, we joked about making Fearless Photographers-worthy shots of gorgeous light, ominous clouds and inside-out umbrellas. Well, when the light was good, it was very good, and when it was gone, we definitely had our share of dramatic umbrella moments (especially during a downpour in the Noorderplantsoen when Pim proved chivalry isn't dead and gave Claire my busted umbrella while I waited inside a nearby restaurant - see the triptych below). Thanks for braving the elements with me, guys! 

Inge & Helen's wedding day

These two are awesome. Inge and Helen are two of my favorite people on the planet and among a handful of people that I am willing to travel across continents to hang out with, which Elger and I just did last week when we visited them in Toronto. They got married at the spiffy, modern city hall of Lochem in the Netherlands on a bright blue day in May surrounded by their closest family members and a couple of friends, then had their reception in the back yard of Inge's dad's home in a nearby town. A couple of chickens and pigs were also guests at the reception, but they didn't exactly dress for the occasion. It was intimate, personal, warm and laid back - everything a wedding day should be. Congratulations once again, ladies, and thank you so much for letting me be a part of this beautiful day. 

Tom & Naomi's Wedding in Nant Peris, Wales

This wedding was featured on the Whimsical Wonderland blog on October 3, 2012.

Oh, my goodness. Being friends with fun, adventurous, kind people is something to be grateful for daily, but especially when those friends ask you to be their wedding photographer, AND their ceremony is in the mind-blowingly beautiful Welsh mountains, AND they are willing to climb hills in rain boots in their wedding outfits for portraits. Tom and Naomi are two of my favorite people on earth, and their thoughtfulness and love for each other came through in every lovely detail of their wedding, which felt like the whole village was a part of the party, and not without cause - the 90 residents of Nant Peris, where the groom's parents live, all played some role in the wedding, be it providing flowers for the entrance to the marquee, decorating the cake, and catering locally-sourced food, in addition to serving as the mountain rescue team (whose services in that role were thankfully not needed). Tom is British, and Naomi is Canadian, and they met at their international high school in Groningen when they were teens, and have been together for nearly 10 years already. As a friend, being at the wedding was a beautiful event to witness, but my talented fiancée' Elger (his photos are credited underneath) and I were even luckier to get to spend the most time with the bride and groom as their photographers. Elger spent the day of the ceremony with the groom, groomsmen and groom's family, all of whom performed in the various creative portions of the reception. Tom and Naomi are not only very creative people, but their families and many of our mutual friends are also expressive and generous, and there were musical and theatrical performances throughout the reception. It's almost impossible to describe every wonderful little thing about the wedding, and I am absolutely gushing and biased, but hopefully the photos can help to share the downright magical feeling of being there, with the misty green Welsh mountains in 360 degrees around the glowing marquee, and the love, and the music, and the lanterns, and the happiness! Congratulations, you guys :)

Naomi's bridesmaid, Johanna, gave Naomi a manicure of sorts while her hair was up in curlers.

Naomi's mom, Joyce, went along with her daughter to the salon and got her hair done for the day, too.

Photo by Elger Abbink - this was the point at which Tom, when he was beginning to get dressed, realized that, if the weather got warm enough to justify doffing his jacket (haha - it was pretty unseasonably chilly so that never happened), his shirt was a tad too transparent...

Photo by Elger Abbink - Joe, Tom's brother, and Tom quickly drove to Bangor, about 20 minutes away, to buy an undershirt for the groom.

Photo by Elger Abbink

Photo by Elger Abbink

Photo by Elger Abbink

Photo by Elger Abbink

While Naomi, her bridesmaids and her mom were getting ready at the guest house where Joyce was staying, a hilarious moment of pure Welsh stereotype occured: a flock of a hundred sheep poured down the main road of the village and very briefly into the yard of the guest house. Some wedding guests were actually delayed in getting to the venue on account of the sheep traffic. Only in Wales!

The third photo in this series was featured on the excellent Moment Junkie site on September 13, 2012.

Photo by Elger Abbink

Photo by Elger Abbink

Tom's family's home has a well on the grounds, Ffynnon Peris, named after an early Welsh saint, Saint Peris, where Allan conducted a blessing for the couple to close the ceremony.

Sidenote: these portraits were all actually taken on the day after the wedding, when we had the whole day to scope out the most beautiful spots around Nant Peris.

I LOVE their boots! Naomi's have pink VW Beetles on them, and Tom, the British groom, has Union Jack wellies. It gets no more British than this, folks :)

Photo by Elger Abbink

Photo by Elger Abbink

Photo by Elger Abbink

Photo by Elger Abbink - Northern Wales is the home of Mt. Snowden and the biggest mountains in the country, so there are tons of hikers around (including in the back yard of the groom's family's property), and Tom and Naomi volunteered to hike a little way along the mountain pass to take advantage of the awesome view, when some hikers naturally came along.

In the Netherlands, The Impossible Project has revived the development of Polaroid film after its production ended in the United States. Tom graciously let me use his Polaroid camera with some color film to add to our photo coverage of the day!

(Yes, despite knowing the frame is square, my SLR instincts still kicked in for this frame.)

As the tent made the transition from ceremony hall to reception hall, guests were treated to bara brith cake and, naturally, tea.

Tom and Naomi are both members of an improv group, Stranger Things Have Happened, and their fellow improvers created a show for them during the reception.