Call me crazy. Insane, really. We’re cramming a couple suitcases full of hiking boots, 3 seasons worth of layers, toiletries and camping gear for our 9 day, “roughing-it,” camper-van (Happy Campers) excursion around Iceland….and somehow come up with the idea to stuff my wedding gown in the checked bag, too? I know, it’s nuts. But when your wedding dress has to get ditched after the first 45 minutes of your reception because it has become too caked with mud to trudge around in for the rest of the night, it makes you do irrational things.
The thought of a few more pictures in my favorite dress I’ve ever bought in my life, in a breathtaking, intimate setting, taken by own amazing husband….how could I pass up the opportunity? So cram it went, into the suitcase (rest easy ladies, the two separate layers of slip and lace folded very nicely, and traveled even better than I thought they would), along with some new make up at the suggestion of beauty guru (and our new neighbor!) Liz Alfier. Liz was all too kind to give me a crash course in “how to make your face look halfway decent in the back of a camper-van” a few days before our departure. The look on her face when I had to break it to her that I couldn’t pack a hair dryer, since American and European voltages don’t play nice together? Priceless. However, she quickly imparted some wisdom on the only real option of dealing with my wet hair (which doesn’t dry so pretty au-naturale) and no blow dryer in sight: braiding a few different sections and letting it dry, then ending up with fun, voluminous waves. Sounds easy, right? Enter a girl who can hardly braid her own hair to save her life, and a husband tasked with braiding the back of the head (y’all, hysterical, I tell you)….let’s just say we made the best of it.
Bryan and I decided to take some photos in two different areas in Iceland, which meant two different sessions of doing make up, dealing with my hair and getting into my dress, all in the back of our beloved Happy Camper. Was it cold? Yes. Were there moments I was frustrated? Yes (read: completing the last step in my new make up routine, so excited to put my dress on for the first time since my wedding day, and rain drops start to hit the windshield. Or my “rustic bouquet of wildflowers that will be so beautiful!” wilting almost immediately after being picked). But was it worth it? Hell yes! Despite the obstacles and forty-degree weather – which sounds a lot colder in Celsius: nine degrees! – I had so much fun playing model in front of my husband’s lens. I now have beautiful photographs to treasure forever, not just as memories of my wedding gown, but of a truly incredible adventure to Iceland….made all the more special because they were shot by my better half.
My dress made it back in one piece (well, two pieces, I should say, but it started that way), and you know what? I may just wear it again sometime soon. Our muddy wedding day and packing it in a suitcase made me realize that just because that gown is the most expensive thing in my closet, doesn’t mean it wants to get left out of all the fun.
Call me crazy. Passionate perhaps. What photographer wouldn’t jump at the chance to do a photo shoot in an idyllic setting like Iceland? To photograph my own wife in her wedding gown (especially since the rain on our wedding day kept her from wearing it all night), at that. I was already packing a ton of camera gear, so why not bring along her beautiful dress from Maya Couture? (I in fact have to give a bit of credit for the idea to Misty, Staci, and Maya at House of Maya). However, I didn’t exactly anticipate the setbacks that would happen along the way to produce the images you will see below.
Sometimes you feel that everything that can go wrong, is in fact going wrong – and at the worst possible time. Our first full day in Iceland was going to be the first of two photo shoot evenings. We had scouted out the perfect setting near a waterfall (not a difficult feat in Iceland) with a beautiful hilly backdrop. We set off to see some other sights while the sun was at its peak in the sky, opting instead to wait for the subtle evening Icelandic light. That’s when it all went downhill. While visiting the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall, my camera slipped off its mount on the tripod and went crashing to the ground! Upon further inspection, a few tears, some rage, disbelief, and disappointment I realized the camera would no longer be functional. I had packed my digital camera, two film cameras and a GoPro, but it never crossed my mind to bring a backup digital camera body (I will now never go on another trip without a backup digital!)
After talking things through with Courtney, we decided that since we had some flex time in our itinerary, we could haul back to the capital city of Reykjavik the next day and buy a cheap Nikon digital SLR to hold me over until we got home. This would enable me to still do a couple photo sessions of Courtney in her gown, and of course be able to document all of the amazing landscapes we knew we would encounter on the rest of our trip. So, that is exactly what we did – a turn and burn 6 hour round trip. We were back to our perfect waterfall setting just in time for the right light to be setting, but by the time Courtney was hair and makeup ready, so was mother nature! Que fog, clouds, and heavy rain…and more frustration. We were able to shoot her for about 10 minutes before it began to deluge, and had to book it back to the van. This is when it pays to be cool, calm, and collected….which admittedly I was not. Fortunately Courtney was though, and suggested we drive further down the road to see what we could find. That is exactly what we did and we discovered amazing locations, as well as clearer skies.
Luckily for my mood, temperament and Courtney’s sanity (not having to deal with an unhappy Bryan), the second day we decided to shoot her in her gown (a few days later in our trip), we had a beautiful evening, free of rain, and a breathtaking sunset….we couldn’t ask for much more.
Despite the ups and downs, we were able to create these stunning images of my wife that we will both cherish forever. Iceland was a dream come true, just like having my beautiful bride in front of my camera. I think we may have to take her gown and do bridals in every country we visit from here on out. What do you say Court?