I first got a call from Winnie while I was in the middle of filming a short film. She said she was having a Justice of the Peace wedding, which piqued my interest, because I have shot a lot of different weddings, but the one I’ve wanted to most, but always seemed to miss, was a Justice of the Peace wedding.
Winnie & her husband Ely are both from Congo, and mainly speak French (which is all I heard them speak to each other), and considering it was a Justice of the Peace wedding, were very prepared, since they filed their paperwork almost two months in advance. Winnie arrived from work a little late, out of breath, and with a huge smile on her face. Once the judge saw that they had hired a photographer, she asked me if we’d like to go outside in the nice weather for them to get married in. We found a little area around some trees between a government building and a parking lot, and got started. I’d been warned how fast these things go by, so I was rushing to get all the pictures I could. My favorite part of the ceremony was when the judge asked if they’d like to say their vows in their native tongue, so the judge would say the words in English, and they’d translate their vows to each other in French.
After the wedding, we went to a nearby park for some more photos. That’s where I learned Ely is a cinematographer not used to being in front of the camera, and he was oblivious how serious he looked when he wasn’t smiling. All it took was for me or Winnie to give him a hard time about not smiling, and suddenly he’d light up as much as Winnie and they would joke around.
It was by far the quickest wedding I’ve ever captured (about an hour total), and certainly one I won’t forget anytime soon.