When Maureen and Fionnbar came to me for their pre-talk to discuss their plans and sorting out the finer details for their wedding, which took place on Saturday 15th Dec 2018, at Bellaghy chapel. I had no idea how honoured I was going to be to help capture their day in a very special way …
During the planning of the wedding Maureen and Fionnbar were confident enough to book me online without meeting in person , so the pre-talk a couple of weeks before the wedding, was actually the first time we had met in person. I never hesitate at an online booking and meeting couples for the first time just weeks for I shoot one of the most important days of their lives. I gather a great sense of who they are with merely communicating online or on the phone. Their online presence are always super nice so when we meet it’s like I know them well already. When they both arrived at my photography studio in Dungiven, Co Derry. H.E teacher Miss McCann and soon to be Mrs bride to be was so so sweet and gentle and I knew instantly that I was going to get on so well with them both for their big day as we just clicked and felt comfortable with one another.
It was only later when I asked Maureen if there is anything else i should know , and i often ask the question to couples - if there is someone close to them who may not be with you at the wedding that we need to remember … this is when maureen continued to tell me the unfortunate story of her dear little brother who tragically passed away 9 years (today ) at the age of 19 , losing a fighting battle with cancer. you can only imagine my heart sinking , i could still sense maureens pain and it seemed as raw as the day she said her goodbyes. knowing just how important this now was to maureen i wanted to do something really special and ensure that we captured shaun and brought his presence into their wedding day. i asked for stories which maureen told me that her brother shaun , her dad and her self were all very musical and had hours of craic and time spent together just playing along with their favourite instruments . maureen even told me that shaun’s banjo which he played still sits as does his shoes at the back door even with the time that has passed.. i loved this and i knew that i can use these sentimental elements as a means to bringing shauns beautiful spirit into her day.
maureen told me if shaun was here with them ‘he would have been the life and soul of the wedding and I think he would have loved Fionnbar although they never met. They would have had similar interests in machinery/farming and family is everything’
Their day had arrived and as much as we were relying deeply on shaun working his magic and bringing us some sunshine from above , unfortunately for us he sent showers of blessings instead! as it lashed down all day, they often say that a wet wedding day is a blessed wedding and this was sure blessed lol this didn’t spoil the day though as there was nothing going to get in the way of these two getting married maureen and fionnbar wanted nothing more than to be husband and wife , so much so that they brought their date forward to dec 2018 from their original date in july 2019 :)
Arriving at maureen’s home that morning i could see beautiful pictures placed all around their warm welcoming home , child hood images of maureen and her only sibling shaun , and fionnbar had bought his beautiful wife to be a bubble for the tree with shaun’s name on it so this was unveiled - i continued to get comfortable with my surroundings and then thought i would ask maureen and her dad to play a wee tune together in memory of shaun.
the morning flew by as it alway does , maureen wanted every thing to be perfect and fussed around as did them all , i set up a reveal wanting it close to shaun’s picture so that he can be brought into the frame as if he was seeing his sister for the first time as a bride aswell - i know the beaming smile on his face in the picture, that sat on teh side board would no doubt be a match to what maureen would have received if shaun was there… running a little behind we quickly grabbed the brollies and made our way to the chapel … there to be greeted with a chapel full of guests waiting to see the beautiful bride.
maureen’s bridesmaid song beautiful songs and the music was just out of this world, i even fought hard to hold back the tears , as much as maureen didn’t want to make the wedding all about shaun and to have it as a celebration and not mourning his absence , his presence was felt with pictures and stunning music and readings.
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Maureen had chosen a little Irish cottage for a location to stop off on the way to Their wedding reception at the Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny. known this prior to leaving. i had a vision and asked that maureen take her accordion that she played in the wedding car as i had an idea . when we got there it was so dark and wet and there was no light what so ever so as i wanted to add to the warm feel of the fire and i envisioned a sense of warmth from shaun in my vision - i created my own sunlight using my of camera lights - this created the effect of golden sunlight from outside the window that i imagined. an old rocking chair sat empty …after i set up i then asked maureen to just start to play. as we all sat to listen to the beautiful tune. you could barely hear a pin drop it was a beautiful moment. and i knew instantly when looking through my view finder i had caught something very special and something that maureen and finbarr can treasure as a homage to her late brother.
i wanted to share this story so much and asked maureen if she would mind if i could - this was here response :
No I wouldn’t mind at all Audrey because ‘I really felt you understood what we were looking for in remembering Sean in a tasteful way without it taking over the day’. It’s actually his anniversary on Wednesday so it will be nice to see his images.
thank you to maureen and fionnbar and the mc Cann family for letting me share these precious moments - it was such a privilege