The Story of Desrae and Shaun
In March this year I had the pleasure of photographing Desrae and Shaun’s wedding. My friendship with this couple began and is nurtured by our mutual love of photography. In the past Desrae has attended two of my photography workshops and she even worked as a second shooter with me at a wedding. So when she asked me to photograph her wedding day I was really honoured as I knew how important photography was to Desrae.
Desrae’s love of photography really surfaced when she lost her brother prematurely when she was only thirteen. She does not have many photos of her brother and so has made sure that she always captures the moments that are important in her life. This is one of the primary reasons why Desrae and Shaun were happy to compromise on many aspects of their wedding apart from the photography! In fact my photography fee comprised of 75% of their total wedding budget! Shaun notes that they made most things, such as the table setting for their wedding, but the one thing that they refused to compromise on was having me as their photographer! They were so keen to have me as their photographer that they chose to get married on a Wednesday to guarantee my availability!
Desrae and Shaun met at the BP service station in Barraba. Apparently Desrae was wearing pyjamas when they first met. In order to fulfil the ‘something old’ requirement as part of her wedding day, Desrae sewed some of the fabric from these pyjamas into the petticoat of her dress.
About a week after they first met, Desrae and Shaun went on their first date where they played pool and talked into the early hours of the following morning. Shaun asked Desrae if he could have a good night kiss but was mortified when Desrae said no. Things soon improved though when Desrae stated that he could instead have a good morning kiss!
According to some people’s ideas, Desrae and Shaun had a bit of an upside down wedding- that is they had their honeymoon before the actual wedding day. Apparently they both wanted to go on the Carnival Spirit cruise ship to New Zealand and the only time they could do this was month before the wedding.
Sometime before the wedding took place, I spoke to Desrae and Shaun about my ideas and theories about weight loss and diet. Armed with this knowledge and some cook books I told them about, they lost 30 kilos each before the wedding-sadly I think they passed this weight onto me! Soon after their wedding day, Desrae and Shaun found out that after years of trying that they were pregnant with their first child. Desrae had been told that she would have difficulties falling pregnant, so obviously the change in lifestyle had a major impact on their overall health and fertility. Within the next couple of months they will be welcoming their first child into their family!
Desrae and Shaun’s Wedding Day
It is fair to say that Desrae and Shaun’s wedding day was a bit different to others I have encountered. First of all I had a Channel 7 Camera Crew following my every move, and unlike many of the weddings that I shoot, Desrae and Shaun stuck to a tight budget on their wedding day.
When I first heard about this, I was a bit worried that the wedding would be not as elegant or polished as many others that I have captured. I should not have been concerned though, as this was one of the loveliest and most heartfelt weddings that I have ever attended. In fact when the wedding ceremony ended, I was so overcome with emotion that I couldn’t help but be the first person to give them a huge congratulatory hug!
The town of Barraba in the beautiful New England area of Northern New South Wales doesn’t necessarily get a lot of media attention. It is fair to say that as celebrity goes in Barraba, Shaun and Desrae are big news. In fact, Shaun first encountered celebrity when he won the Channel 7 reality show The Mole in Paradise: New Caledonia in 2003.
In March, Barraba was again abuzz with excitement when the Channel 7 video crew (albeit in shorts) arrived in the sleepy country town in order to document their wedding. In fact this event was probably the most exciting thing to happen in Barraba in many years!
The weather on the wedding day was lovely- in fact after a heat wave, it was actually the coolest that it had been for a long time. As Desrae and Shaun were having an outdoor reception with no wet weather plan, they were also fearful that it would rain as forecast. Luckily though the rain held off on their big day!
Both Desrae and Shaun note that one of her favourite parts of the wedding day was seeing each other for the first time. You see Shaun shaved his beard off on the day of their wedding in order to surprise Desrae. Shaun also promised himself that he would not cry when he first saw her but he failed in this pledge!
Like any memorable and interesting day in life, not everything went to plan on Shaun and Desrae’s wedding day. Moments, such as the minister dropping the rings during the exchanging of the rings only added to the emotion and fun of the day. Also, when the fire started as a result of a firework hitting some dry grass, this again only added to the excitement and authenticity of the day. Also before the wedding day, Desrae ordered what she thought was a beautiful dress online. Sadly when it arrived though she realised that it was nothing like the picture portrayed it. She instead decided to buy a new wedding dress and donate this dress to Angel Gowns Australia who makes burial gowns for babies who die prematurely.
Desrae and Shaun are an inspirational couple who focused on what was most important to them on their wedding day. They did not use their wedding day to show off to the world how successful they are, but instead kept true to their own values and the love that they have for each other. On their day, they chose to focus on the people that they loved and each other.
Their frugal approach to their wedding day now allows them to focus on building their future and marriage with a bit more money in the bank. Channel 7 may have featured them in a television show unfortunately titled ‘Australia’s Cheapest Weddings’ but the wedding and their marriage is anything but-it was authentic and real and focused on what was most important to the couple-their love for each other.
In terms of advice that Shaun and Desrae would like to give to others planning a wedding, they note that you should focus on what is most important to you. In Desrae and Shaun’s case this was each other, their loved ones and the photography! They note that it is the memories that are created that are important- flowers die, invitation get thrown out-it is the memories that are important!
Desrae & Shaun are so thoughtful. They surprised me with a gift which was a bowtie… not just any bowtie though! They had material made that had my logo printed on it and went to my favourite bow tie maker in Sydney (Hank in Chief) and had them make me a bowtie!
As Desrae & Shaun are great friends of mine, I couldn’t help but jump in a few photos 🙂
Also, Desrae had some very kind words to say!
“As I know that James is a very busy photographer, we decided to get married on a Wednesday so he would definitely be available to be our photographer. We had never seen photography like James’ before. He is able to capture the connection between people so beautifully. All of the other professional photography that we had seen was stiff and rigid but with James you don’t feel like you are being photographed. Instead he makes you feel loved and special! We felt good when James was photographing us and we have never felt like that with anyone else. He does an amazing job!
You simply must get James to be your wedding photographer- you would be crazy to go with anyone else!” – Desrae.