Way back in August 2010, I was photographing a wedding in Northern Ireland. Little old me didn't fancy the Hilton that day, so I opted for a budget hostel in the heart of Belfast. This turned out to the be the most incredible decision of my life, because in this particular shared dorm I met a traveller called Grace.
In this short period of time, I found 3 of my kindred spirits (sorry Ester, can't find a photo of you!) The more I think about how I could've missed these incredible girls - from literally being booked into a different dorm room, to returning at a later time, the more insane it becomes.
What's spiraled from this coincidental meeting has defined my life. Boy, what an understatement that is! The most recent being the fact that Grace asked me to be her wedding photographer - IN HONG KONG! Grace reminded me that I said I'd do it when we first met 7 years ago. It's incredible and I'm very honoured to have even been asked!
This image was taken in Maastricht, not quite Belfast. Not quite the same country. This was the second time we met up with Grace. The third time had a 5 year gap between it, but I can tell you that wait was undeniably worth it. Here is Grace on the morning of her wedding in the Tsuen Wan district of Hong Kong. No spoilers, but I can tell you the whole day ended up being enchanting in every way.
I was comfortably cushioned in the bride's hotel suite, moving freely between rooms and being the ultimate fly on the wall, when I noticed Grace's family had taken their own unique spin on tradition. Fei, Grace's husband-to-be was there! Him being there was far from unlucky, in fact, even I could feel his presence was a good thing, family was everything - it was making Grace smile!
There were some Chinese traditions, however, that were adhered to! Like Grace's FIVE DRESS CHANGES!!! This is normal apparently. It took months of organising from Grace but she made the whole thing look effortless.
Considering Grace and Fei's wedding was on a Saturday, Lido Beach was entirely ours to play in! This was a wonderful secluded moment between the two. The whole thing felt really special because this was the first time I got to see Fei and Grace have a breather from the wedding day chaos, and look at them! They're adorable!!
Being at Grace and Fei's wedding was one of the most extraordinary things that's ever happened to me. (And I was an extra in a Hollywood movie!) The amount of planning and effort that Grace alone put into her wedding was nothing short of a miracle. She even managed to take care of me from 5,000 miles away, by putting a welcome pack together. It contained details of guests, times and places and even an Octopus card (Hong Kong's version of Oyster card). It was a shame it never made it to my house!
Hotel rooms and flights were all arranged for me, and to be honest, I was a tiny part of this whole day! Grace was simply unbelievable and I will forever admire her for this. She really does deserve all the love in the world and from what I witnessed, she's definitely found him!!
How could I not mention all the guests?? Considering I didn't speak a word of Chinese, I used hand gestures and my very animated face to convey things, every person at Grace and Fei's wedding were so lovely and accommodating. They really made me feel a part of the family!
Not forgetting the real heroes of the day, mum and dad! I think every newly wed should aspire to be like Grace's parents, they had some wonderful words of wisdom. I wish I knew what they were, they said it all in Chinese!
This is by far my most favourite shot ever taken of me, ever! Thank you guest for this amazing behind the scenes shot! I wish to give credit so make yourself known!!
When Grace told me about the clinking of the glasses, I thought awww that's nice! Thanking each guest, that's a lovely approach to see everyone! However, what proceeded next was something out of this world!
There was a constant buzz throughout the day, probably because of Grace's influential smile, but around dinner time I was whisked off my feet to photograph as much of the clinking of the glasses as possible.
Grace, along with Fei thanked everyone on each table. Following Grace and Fei were parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins you name it they were right there! It was like Grace had her own clinking glass army!
She did warn me at this point to shove in and get the shot because it was basically dog-eat-dog at this point.
I'm hoping I caught the feeling of bustling excitement within the images and the amount of chaos that occurred in such a small space of time!
What really topped this wedding off was Rachel. Rachel was Grace's sister, maid of honour and one epic dancer! She got mum and dad involved in a number that had me in tears. I had never seen anything like this!
Honestly, the effort that everyone went to was impressive on every level and I felt so honoured to even be there, let alone photograph the entire day! Grace, I love you so much and I have been grateful to have known you ever since 14th August 2010, room 6, Belfast.