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I Always Like to Take a Camera to Weddings

I Always Like to Take a Camera to Weddings

Even though the people getting married almost always have a photographer hired, you can sometimes capture something special, which makes a great gift after the fact. I also generally shoot in black and white if the photos are at night, because otherwise I make everyone look shiny and yellow. I asked Justin Bishop, the staff photographer at Vanity Fair and VF.com about this, and he told me it’s because I don’t have enough light. Washing people out, it turns out, makes them look better. Anyway, here’s two of my best friends, Charlie and Kent, at their wedding at Frankie’s in Cobble Hill almost exactly a year ago.

A Canoe Filled With Beer

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This is a picture of a canoe filled with beer.

I know you can see that it’s a canoe filled with beer, but I just wanted to be clear: there’s not a name for this contraption—it’s not a “thing.” You don’t see these at Fourth of July parties, and it’s not on the list of catering options when you book a soiree at the country club. It is just a canoe that someone filled with ice, into which they stuck a bunch of beer.

This also happens to be a picture from my “Wedding” board on Pinterest.

The state of affairs wherein I have a mood board where I’m pinning “inspirations” for my “dream day” is, on the face of it, a little bizarre. And then the idea that I went out, found a picture of a canoe filled with beer, and then put it on that Pinterest board, is some next level shit.

I’d started the board because the wedding planner we are working with had told my boyfriend and me to each make one, so that she could get a general sense of our taste and what our vision was. “Pin anything, it doesn’t have to be wedding stuff. It could be clothes, colors, whatever!” So I did that. I pinned painted mussel shells that someone used as seating cards. I pinned Maine-themed bottle cozies.  I even pinned those stupid hand-painted sign-boards that everyone now has, with directions like, “Drinks! Thatta Way. Dancing – Up Heah!”

I actually wasn’t really thinking very hard about it when I pinned the canoe image. I don’t even remember doing it. I think I had Googled “Maine Weddings” or had searched that team on Pinterest, and the photo turned up. I was probably pinning pictures of lobster buoys and sailing pennants when I came across it. (More on that later.) I imagine I thought, “Oh, canoe filled with beer, duh.” And then I pinned the image and moved on.

Not long after, the wedding planner e-mailed the event manager at our wedding venue, with a list of questions. One of them was this:

“We are considering bringing in a wooden canoe as a part of the cocktail hour bar service to fill with ice and chilled wine, beer, etc. Is it an issue for your bartenders to serve from this? (Have attached at photo.)”

I’m sure my fiancé read those particular sentences with great interest. Was this woman already running wild and loose with our event? Who had told her we needed a canoe? I remained mum.

Later, after some light miscommunication between the two women, we had a follow-up e-mail from the wedding planner that included the following paragraph:

I will ask [the event manager] again when I meet with her about having a canoe for bottled beer – she has not answered the question yet. I am sure a piece of it is liability. But I think if the canoe is monitored by a bartender next to the actual bar (perhaps they even grab the bottles out for service) that it really shouldn’t be an issue. Or another idea is to use the canoe as a part of the dessert display…. 

So now the canoe was a thing. Part of me wanted to say, “Forget the canoe filled with beer! I wasn’t even thinking when I pinned that!” But then another part of me was like, “Um, hello? A CANOE FILLED WITH BEER. It makes perfect sense.”

Because, actually, at weddings, I find it frustrating when the cocktail hour begins and everyone has to wait in a long line to get a drink at the two overworked bars. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just cruise up to a giant beer canoe, get a Sam Adams, and then start your chit chatting? Best canoe ever! That’s a good ten-fifteen minutes where you get to talk to your real friends instead of getting stuck waiting in line next to the couple you kind of know from that one dinner party when the couple tried to “mix up their different friend groups.” (Oh man, more on that later, too.)

This is the kind of thing that happens when you plan a wedding in the era of Pinterest, and e-mail, and when you are a gay man in your thirties. Something you click on after having thought about it for half a second becomes an “inspiration” for someone else. Communication through e-mail becomes fraught and over-serious. And when you’ve been to dozens and dozens of weddings (because you are in your thirties and you are gay) you actually find that you do have very firm opinions on the way things should work.

I’m not sure whether we’ll end up having the canoe. It sounds like it’ll be logistically difficult, and even though we’re not inviting children to the wedding, it could be a legal issue. But I do like the idea of it—I like the way it looks in the picture: so simple, functional and straightforward. There are even bows on it! It’s functional, uncomplicated, and fun. Just the way a wedding should be.