In the hills of  California.

On a beautiful Sunday in the hills of California, Brian & Jeannette got hitched. I had the privilege of hanging out with the darling couple and their family in advance of the big event, artfully dodging the mothers’ subtle invitations for me to make myself useful with the flower arrangements they were putting together. I had other work to do, though!

In the morning, Brian and Jeannette took a little time to give their respective mothers their Mother’s Day gifts, though both remarked that for a mum, there’s really no better gift than a nice big wedding. The girls went up to the venue in advance of the boys to get ready.

The venue, I should mention, was Hakone Gardens, a Japanese garden in the Saratoga hills, and was absolutely stunning. In the Zen Garden House, built in 1922, the ladies were gussied up and after photographing Jeannette’s stunning dress I left them to their traditional seclusion to document the guests rolling in. A colorful bunch, to say the least. Artistic ingenues mingled with avant-garde anarchists, stately gentlemen of leisure sat shoulder to shoulder with ravishing vamps, enjoying the fragrant garden and the slowly setting sun while Brian and his groomsmen waited stoically by the flowered nook that served as the altar. “Remember Brian, don’t squint,” I whispered to him, but with the sun in his eyes and his fiancee just around the corner, I knew it was a vain admonishment.

A hush fell as the strings rose, the beautiful bridesmaids strolled up the aisle and the groom caught his first glimpse of his bride, arm in arm with her father. The celebrant held a tender but rousing speech. Brian and Jeannette said their vows, exchanged their rings and with a kiss, the deal was sealed. Thoughtfully, cards had been left on the front seats to remind the family members to remain for the portraits after the ceremony’s conclusion, saving me from the task of herding scattered relatives.

Drunk with elation, the couple’s family barely had the discipline to face the camera, but who could blame them? Brian and Jeannette already had their minds set on a few choice locations in the gardens for their wedding portraits, and the race was on to get the shots in before the sun set. Brian manfully assisted Jeannette with her dress as we hurried through the gardens, the pair of them giddy as school kids. Jeannette’s sister had thoughtfully suggested I bring some fish food, so when the couple posed on the Moon Bridge, the thrashing koi could be summoned from the depths of the pond.

With the day’s official work over and done with, it was time to join the reception, where Mr and Mrs Thomas were formally introduced to their loved ones to the sound of applause, whoops and cheers. I’ve got to hand it to the Americans; they know how to celebrate! ​