Shark Infested Waters doesn’t photograph too many weddings. That’s because generally we’d rather die in a fireball. There’s something creepy and sacrificial about most weddings that makes us a little uncomfortable. It’s no coincidence that most Royal Weddings occur in times of deep international aggression and serve to distract the population from the sinister forces of armageddon. Look! A bride! Awwwwww…
Years ago I knew a girl in Bromley. Everybody thought that she was as timid as a moth. Gill had long red hair and worked for Barclays Bank. She planned and paid for her wedding using her father’s credit card. She organised the grand event down to the last little detail. She organised the church, the choir, the flowers, the photography, the food … no tiny token was left unforgotten. The only detail that Gill forget to organise was the small matter of an actual human fiancé. Her family immediately sectioned Gill into Farnborough Hospital. One night, however, she managed to break out and walk barefoot through South London in her wedding dress to London Bridge where she promptly jumped into the abyss. All of which would be a tragic story if Gill had not landed on a sand barge chugging downstream. Gill ended up in Canvey Island with no more than a few bruises and a dented tiara. It’s always the quiet ones.
All brides are deranged. Something happens to perfectly sane women just seconds after a wedding is announced. They develop an invisible veil of sanctimonious virtue and moon-brained intellect. It’s as if every bride has suddenly been unplugged from the real world. The same thing happens to every new mother but at least childbirth is neither sanctimonious nor graceful.
Planning the wedding becomes an obsession. Brides revert to their inner spoilt child and throw hysterical tantrums over paper doilies and place mats. Fortunately there are several million old hags who are able to offer their services to help the bride plan her special day. These hags circle like scissor-lipped vultures around the wedding conventions and Expo centres. Their mission is to survey and then attack the vulnerable, the oafish and the plain stupid with admirable precision. Weddings are a financial bloodbath committed in a saccharine, taffeta wonderland. And destination weddings – although the weather is usually better – are no more graceful than Dunkirk.
Photographing a wedding on a Greek island is a battle between pride and survival. The industry itself is rife with greed and incompetence. Everything – from the weather to the price-fixing – is designed to leave a bride exhausted and humiliated. Most brides don’t realise that Europe’s favourite wedding location in Lindos is actually down a very steep hill. Most brides don’t realise that wedding planners will tie them to a contract that forbids the use of outside service providers. Most brides don’t realise that the Mayor of Lindos takes a back-handed bribe amounting to €130 to officiate for three minutes at every ceremony. Most brides realise fuck-all.
Photographing these Mediterranean goat-fucks and car crashes is a major pain in the arse. The conveyor-belt schedules allow barely enough time to do anything more creative than breathe, point and shoot. Everything is white. Everything is bright. Everything is hot. Everything is the same. When Shark Infested Waters got married in London we had five photographers. Well, to be honest, we had five drunken friends with cameras. It was exactly what Karen and I wanted. We spent more on alcohol than we did on food and the best present was a box of Golden Virginia. Heat stroke and public ridicule, on the other hand, simply does not appeal.
This week’s wedding is next week’s vanity crash. People don’t like newlyweds at all. No one wants to watch a wedding video and no one wants to dry-clean a huge dress that now looks like a mountain of inner-city slush. In Greece no one can hear you scream.
Go on honeymoon, for christ’s sake, and come back normal.