During my many years as wedding photographer, I watched many smokers suffer through their wedding day as they tried their best not to smoke in their wedding attire. Others simply did not care and were almost permanently walking in a puff of smoke through the whole thing. One of them learned a lesson.
She was the nervous bride times three. Her support party were made up of sisters and friends – all smokers, so the day was going to be filled with the smell of cigarettes. I must mention at this point that I cannot stand cigarette smoke and have since stopped booking smokers all together. Back to the bride.
The hotel where we were getting dressed at had a strict no smoking policy, so the door to the bridal suite was one of the busiest I have seen in ages as smokers made their way in and out for a puff. The bride joined in the nervous smoking frenzy and had about ten cigarettes during the first hour.
All this running in and out of the room put serious time issues on the table as we dragged more and more behind on the schedule, but finally the dress went on. She looked amazing and just, as we are about to go for a few photos, she again rushed out for one more ciggie before brushing her teeth. I was made to wait another ten minutes before she arrived – her dress smelling like she had been to a cheap bar in Collingwood.
On went copious amounts of perfume to mask the smell. This just made her smell of smoke and perfume. Finally she went off to brush her teeth and returned smelling like before with a faint hint of mint lingering as she smiled. On went the veil and out the door we walked to do a very short pre wedding shoot.
The bride had a nervous moment after the first click of my camera. She called for a cigarette to help her calm down. One of the bride’s maids produced a packet from her underwear and soon the little group were puffing away. I had no choice but to keep on shooting and it was very endearing to watch them try and hide the cigarettes behind their backs in the photos.
Little white smoke trails went up behind them curling into the air. I shot them with the same dedication I would do my non-smoking bridal groups. ‘Shoot one with your veil on’, another bridesmaid jumped my gun. The veil was lowered over her face and we started working the shot. True as God, the bride snugged a puff under her veil, but oh dear, as she moved the cigarette away from her face, the veil was filled with a lot of exhaled smoke. Instinctively she tried to lift the veil away and in the process her cigarette went right through it leaving a large hole right in front of her nose.
Screams filled the afternoon – mostly hers followed by hysterical screams as one by one the other smokers inspected the damage. ‘What did you do?’ the one yelled and as the bride showed her mate, she burned another hole in a different place. This time she was floored. Her bridesmaids quickly tried to put out their smokes and help, but there was nothing to be done.
As is usually the case in these emergencies, all eyes turned to the photographer as we apparently have the ability to solve any last minute crisis. I watched the bride loose all hope as the final bit of smoke escaped through the holes. What to do?
‘Light up girls’, I instructed the stunned group. Half afraid they went to the box again. Soon they were puffing away. ‘Now follow my command,’ I told them, ‘and burn more holes in the whole veil. Here and there and there.’ At first they were petrified, but as soon as they saw the result, they had to be stopped from burning away the whole veil. Our bride stood smiling with the worlds first holy veil – not a soul will ever have known that the veil with the well spaced holes in it was not meant to look like that.
As the bride got into her car to go to church, veiled and ready, I could not help but smile as I saw many trails of smoke escape the many holes in her custom made smoker’s veil.