March 5, 2009

An Okanagan Wedding with a Twist

I always love hearing a really unique wedding story, one that reflects the true essence of who a couple are and what they are most passionate about.  The story of Andrea and Kirby is a perfect example of that so when one of my favourite photographers, J. Kevin Dunn, sent me some of the amazing photos that he captured of their recent wedding, along with the behind the scenes story, I just new I had to share it will you.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Meet Andrea and Kirby...
The Intro

The email read something like this “Looking for a wedding photographer who can shoot sports. We’re a couple who loves to jump . . .”

Hmmmm, jump, eh.  I pondered - just weird enough for a look.

One more sip of coffee. Click.

The messaged continued.

We are searching for a photographer who would like to take on the challenge of photographing our wedding at Ironman Canada, this August! We will be married on Saturday the 25th on the beach at Okanagan Park, then on Sunday participate in the race and then Monday we will host a big brunch. 

We have viewed your website extensively and very much like your photojournalistic style, and would like to discuss your availability and if you are willing to photograph this crazy couple!

We look forward to hearing from you.
Andrea and Kirby  

This sounds good, I thought. I’m up for a challenge. Besides, anyone crazy enough to profess to his or her own craziness likely is, well, crazy!

Day 1 - The Wedding

Fast forward to August 25th, 8AM. My gear was ready, everything double-checked and charged. Shot list, yes, flash cards formatted, yes, extra batteries, yes, head on straight, hope so.

I arrived at the couple’s hotel across from Okanagan Lake to find Andrea, all smiles, pink flowers in her hair, sunglasses on, strapped to an IV bag.

“Yikes, what’s up with that?”  I asked.

“I got food poisoning at the carb-loading dinner last night” she replied with a what-the heck, take it in stride kind of shrug.

“I’ll be ready for wedding, don’t you worry!”

“Yeah, she’s tough” came a voice from the door, laughing, almost mocking the notion that there was a hiccup in the day’s plan. It was Kirby, of course. Who else.

Just to prove things were on the upswing, he grabbed Andrea’s hand and along with best man Donald performed the event’s first “jump”

This was the precursor to the entire weekend – high energy through and through.

By mid morning, the guests had gathered on the east side of Okanagan Beach, the summer sun already well overhead. On the horizon,  a drumbeat sounded, steady, then faster and faster. The crowd’s curiosity ramped up with each beat. All eyes faced the direction of the sound.

"Seventh Wave, ready ..." rang a distinctive voice. It was Andrea – at the bow, dictating the pace on a giant Japanese drum while a dragon’s head flared and paddles flashed. In perfect synch, she brought the team ashore where, in a continuous wave, they brought their paddles from the air to the sand. What an entrance!

With military precision, the Seventh Wave formed an arch of paddles under which Andrea and her father Frank followed to site of the ceremony.

Vows were simple and truthful followed by a huge group “jump” in which young and old reached skyward in celebration.

Day 2 - The Race

5 AM comes early, even during an Okanagan summer.

At the hotel, Kirby and Andrea were out the door well before sunrise, race bags packed with survival-kit stuff – power bars, power jells, power aide, power clothing and powerful good luck charms.

Midway through the morning race prep, they had already overcome the panic of a flat tire on Andrea’s rear wheel. On the beach, the dust was kicking up as several thousand swimmers made their way to the water’s edge.

Announcements blared over the noise of the spectators who were getting pumped to the tune of Van Halen’s “Jump.”

“Oh, yeah!” was Kirby’s response as he grabbed his new wetsuit-clad wife. Together they performed their signature “jump” just as the starting horn blared.
With confidence, the pair stepped off the beach, disappearing into the churning froth of fuscia and blue swim caps.

Kirby’s candid approach to the race was to have fun, participate and cross the line with Andrea. As he rose from swimmer’s mayhem in his tuxedo-style tri-suit,  Kirby headed towards the cycle transition with the grin of someone intent on making his own crystal clear memories.

Andrea followed suit by rousing the crowd before she even touched dry land. The transition following the 2.4km swim was a time to relax, change shoes and pin a veil onto the back of her helmet before pedaling onto the 112 km course of fruit- filled South Okanagan desert.

Kirby met the bike/run transition with the same enthusiasm, complete with a pre-marathon “jump.”

Andrea, however, had suffered several demoralizing flat tires on the course. The food poisoning and I.V. recovery had caught up to her. By the bike/run transition, everyone cheering for her knew she was suffering.The long run of hours passed. It was dark when Kirby crossed the finish line under a tuxedo top hat and a spot lit canopy of cheering.

Then the waiting began. An hour passed. No sign of Andrea, only whispers from the timing judges that she was “out there somewhere.”

Kirby, his best man and a few friends took a break from the crowded street, heading into the Lakeside Hotel for a beer.

Another hour. No Andrea. Then another. The 17-hour midnight deadline was fast approaching.

Aware of the unfolding drama, the crowd was steadfast, lining Lakeside Drive from end to end. Announcements of anticipation were rampant but still no concrete sightings could be verified.

Then, like slow motion footage from an old Hollywood drama, Andrea appeared, staggering. Her veil had hung on. The crowd was ecstatic, the near-midnight air electric!

Kirby was there to scoop her up and together, top hat and veil broke through the finish tape.

Wrapped in a silver solar blanket, Andrea’s visit to the medical tent was short and anything but sweet. An ambulance ride was next but by morning was part of an unforgettable series of events.

At Sunday’s brunch, the pair recalled their individual experiences but always within the context of achieving excellence together. After cutting a chocolate cake decorated with crystals it was time for one last family “jump”

As I released the shutter for the final time on the 3-day project, my realization had become clear: to jump is to participate, to engage and to inhale the spirit of the day.  All the guests, athletes and spectators who had “jumped” during this exceptional weekend had experienced a total immersion in Kirby and Andrea’s exuberance towards life.

Thanks Kevin for sharing the story of this amazing couple and giving us all a glimpse into their truly remarkable wedding journey.

If you are planning a destination (or local) wedding in the Okanagan contact J. Kevin Dunn or me.  Kevin and I love working together on truly amazing weddings for couples just like you.  Drop us a line, we'd love to hear from you!

1 comment:

t law photography said...

a photojournalist at their finest! What a fun and inspiring wedding! Great job Kevin!!