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weddings

Thomas and Guy at Wits after their wedding

A December Wedding in Joburg

Wedding photography triggers my imposter syndrome.

I’ve been asked once or twice to shoot weddings, and each time an evil little voice inside my head whispers, “Only real photographers do weddings. Don’t try this. You’ll fail — fail miserably, I tell you — and ruin everything. Bwaaaaaahahaha!”

But several months ago Thomas and Guy emailed and asked if I would shoot their wedding. They made it clear they wanted me to do it — despite my total lack of wedding photography experience — because they like my pictures.

Thomas and Guy also love Joburg. I met Thomas in 2011, soon after moving here myself, when he was writing this cool blog called Urban Joburg. Thomas and Guy have been living in the U.S. for the past couple of years and moved back to Joburg two weeks ago — just in time for their wedding. They are the loveliest of people.

Guy (left) and Thomas, hiding behind the curtain just before they got dressed for the wedding.

So I swallowed my fear and said yes. On 16 December, still wobbly from my own case of jet lag, I shot Thomas and Guy’s wedding. It was the most fun I’ve had taking pictures in a very long time.

Thomas and Guy’s Wedding

I love these pictures so much — probably as much as Thomas and Guy do. Yesterday I uploaded the pictures online and sat gazing at my computer, watching each image load slowly onto the screen and reliving each moment.

Two guys ready to get married.

As the wedding photographer for Thomas and Guy, I felt like I had this special little window into their souls on what was probably the most important day of their lives. Even though I don’t know them extremely well as a couple, I could see how much they love each other as I watched them get married through my camera lens. That experience was a huge privilege.

Thomas and Guy got married at Wits (the University of the Witwatersand, for those of you not from around here), in a hall with a giant organ in the balcony. I’d never realized what a beautiful campus Wits has; Thomas and Guy and I had so much fun taking photos there, playing with the interesting architecture and public art and landscaping.

At the end of the night, exhausted as I was, I wanted to do it all over again. Anyway let me just show you some of the pictures.

The stunning hall in the Wits South West Engineering building, ready and waiting for Thomas and Guy.
Socks! Not sure if those flowers are water lilies or proteas but we decided to assume they’re proteas (the South African national flower).
Tie tied, boutonnière pinned.
Obligatory pre-wedding jumpstagram with friends Alistair and Michael. This photo and the photos above were taken at a beautiful guesthouse in Parktown called Doveton House. Thomas and Guy stayed there on their wedding night.
Guy practicing vows in the hallway upstairs, just before the ceremony.
Ruth, Thomas’ mom, leads a choir made up of guests at the wedding. They sounded amazing. Ruth also played the organ at the end of the ceremony, which was so beautiful it gave me chills.
Beginning of wedding vows for Thomas and Guy
Thomas’ sister, Jenni, officiated the ceremony.
Thomas reading vows to Guy
Reading vows.
I think they’re married now.
Andrew, the ring-bearer for Thomas and Guy.
Thomas’ brother, Andrew, was the ring-bearer.
Looking down from the organ balcony.
Guy and Thomas walk down the stairs after getting married.
Married!
Thomas and Guy wedding group photo
Obligatory silly wedding group photo.
Thomas and Guy at Wits after the wedding.
Grooms.
Thomas and Guy with public art at Wits.
We weren’t sure if this was allowed but I’m glad we did it anyway.
I love the architectural lines in this little corner.
Thomas and Guy at Wits
Who knew Brutalist architecture is a great backdrop for wedding portraits?
Kissing beneath the Hillbrow Tower. Perfect.

Thomas and Guy’s wedding happened at a pivotal moment, when I was experiencing a lot of emotional turmoil and uncertainty about my life and my future. I’m grateful for the timing.

This wedding reminded me how much I love this city and this country, how fortunate I am to live here, and how determined I am to stay. I’m so lucky to live in a place with such beautiful people and places and things — a place where two wonderful humans can get married regardless of their gender. A place with so many problems but also so much potential. A place that, despite all the obstacles, feels unmistakably like home.

I’m not leaving.

Thanks Thomas and Guy for the reminder. Also congratulations. Your wedding was the best.

Photo: Cian van der Sloot
Shawn and Rodney at Randlords

Two Men Get Married on the Roof of Johannesburg

This week I went to a wedding at Randlords. The wedding was on Monday, December 19th, which might seem strange. But this is Johannesburg, where a wedding on a Monday evening in late December makes perfect sense.

I felt a little sad the day of the wedding. That same day five years ago, also on a Monday, was the day Jon died.

Just before the wedding, while Ray and I were waiting for an Uber to fetch us, we had a fight about pants. It was a stupid fight and it was my fault. Ray and I talked to the Uber driver on the way to the wedding but we didn’t talk to each other.

Then we arrived at Randlords and took the express elevator to the 22nd floor.

Wedding at RandlordsRandlords is an events venue in Braamfontein. It’s a rad spot for a wedding.

The marriage at Randlords was between two men, Shawn and Rodney. I met Shawn and Rodney in 2012 at the Ansteys Building with their tiny baby, Xavier, who is now a grown-up boy.

Shawn and Rodney met exactly ten years ago — December 19th, 2006 — on a street corner in Washington D.C.

Shawn and Rodney at RandlordsShawn (left) an Rodney (right), on their wedding day, exactly ten years after they met.

 The wedding was awesome, as you might expect, and I cried a lot. The view was awesome too.

View of Braamfontein from RandlordsThe view of Braamfontein and the Jozi CBD from Randlords.

View from RandlordsA similar view, slightly later.

Sunset view from RandlordsStormy sunset.

Lightning strike over Joburg, seen from RandlordsIt stormed all around us all night. I probably watched 200 lightning strikes (although I only caught this one on camera). Somehow it never rained at Randlords.

Ray and I forgot about the pants fight. We said we loved each other and agreed we were happy to live in a country where men can marry men and women can marry women and fabulous weddings can happen on Mondays. We agreed it’s fucking ridiculous this isn’t the case in every country on earth, but that is a topic for another post.

Then we went home in another Uber (sorry we ghosted, Shawn and Rodney — you know how I roll), drank lots of water, and went to sleep.

Wherever Jon is, I know he approves.

Congrats, Shawn and Rodney. Your wedding was rad.

Two Weddings and a Funeral

My oldest, dearest friend Claire got married yesterday. (You might remember Claire from my tattoo post.) Happily for Claire, but unhappily for me, the wedding was in Kona, Hawaii — possibly the furthest location from Johannesburg on this earth. I coudn’t go. Sniff.

In an interesting twist of fate, I was invited to a wedding right in my own time zone on the same day. (Well, technically I wasn’t invited. But I went. More on that later.) I was grateful for the opportunity. I couldn’t be with Claire on her special day, but being at someone else’s nuptials made me feel closer to Kona.

I wasn’t in Kona though. I was in Kroonstad.

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