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This is not the love story of Lillian and Leonard (who were happily married for sixty years). Nor is it the love story of Cara and Nye, the talented pair behind Lillian and Leonard Wedding Photography (who have been happily married themselves for nearly five). No, this is the love story of me and them. It’s kind of a one-sided love story. I’m not sure they even know they’re in this love story. But it’s a love story all the same.
Girl meets photographers
Back in 2010, when I was in the midst of wedding planning, I would look at American wedding blogs and despair. The dreamy, creative, natural photography I was seeing on those sites didn’t exactly match up with the results I was getting when I searched for wedding photographers in my local area. Instead, the local trends appeared to be selective colouring, cheesy poses and those line-ups where the ushers are staggering under the weight of the bride like she’s a rolled-up carpet. It hurt my eyes. It hurt my soul.
So when, through some mysterious quirk of internet fate, I stumbled upon Lillian and Leonard’s site, I fell hard. Here, at last, was what I’d been searching for. Here was the beauty, the simplicity, the heartfelt emotion I hadn’t realised I was missing. It was love at first sight.
Girl freaks photographers out
Of course, once I’d found them, this wouldn’t be a love story if I hadn’t then endured the agony of possible loss. Uncertainty flooded in.
Would they be free on our wedding date?
Could we afford them?
Would they think it was weird that I’d read Cara’s entire blog from start to finish before I’d even met them?
Was my one-sided imaginary love affair over before it had even begun??
Girl hires photographers, gets total bargain
Cue the triumphant music: they were free on our date. And despite taking photographs that make me want to weep with joy, Lillian and Leonard were—and still are—shockingly affordable. I refuse to believe there are any other London wedding photographers of their calibre charging less than £2,000, especially not for TWO hugely talented photographers, for eight hours, with all six hundred of your images on disc in colour AND black and white. Yet Cara and Nye charge just £1975 for this whole shebang. It sounds a bit nuts. I think they might be a bit nuts. But I love them, so I’ll forgive them.
As for whether they thought I was weird, they were too polite to say. There’s a good chance they’ll think I’m weird after this, though.
Photographers shoot girl’s (and boy’s) wedding, do phenomenally good job
All good love stories end with a wedding, and this one is no exception. On an overcast day in July, my husband and I gathered everyone we love on a Scottish beach and Lillian and Leonard took the most joyful, glorious pictures of them. Each one is a tiny piece of art, and also a tiny piece of history. You see, since that day, some of the people in those pictures have moved across the world. Some have endured pain and sickness. Some have suffered sorrow, and heartbreak, and loss. The photographs Cara and Nye have given us are solid proof—proof that I can hold in my hand, and in my heart—that for one single, shining day, everything was just as it should be. They didn’t glamorise our wedding, or romanticise it. They simply captured it, as it was. And it was beautiful.
And they all lived happily ever after?
Well, not exactly. Cara and Nye don’t live in our house or anything, taking pictures of us going about our daily business. (Not that I would mind. In fact, if you’d like pictures of you and your family going about your daily business, Cara’s London family photography is just as breathtaking as her wedding work.)
This is one of those love stories where the object of affection is a bird that cannot be caged. It simply couldn’t last between us, not least because they had no idea they were characters in my one-sided imaginary love story, so I had to let them go. Sad for me, good for you, because now they can be part of your story instead.
Since we parted, Lillian and Leonard Wedding Photography have gone on to accomplish incredible things, moving their business and family to London and creating an outstanding body of work. I see them every now and then, and think of them often, recommending them to every engaged person who comes within shouting distance of me. My bridesmaid hired them to shoot her own wedding this past winter, which seems to happen to them all the time and is, I think, the highest praise a photographer could hope for.
I wanted to come up with a final phrase, some pithy piece of wisdom that would encapsulate the experience of having Cara and Nye be part of our lives for that brief, magical moment. Typically, Cara blew my own feeble attempt out of the water. Here is pure, unfiltered Lillian and Leonard, in her own words:
We believe in love. We believe that you and your love and your wedding are beautiful just because they are. We believe that love is all you need. Our job is to capture that love on film so that when the wedding is all over little bits of it exist somewhere outside of your memories. In other words we won’t tell you what to do, we won’t ask you to perform for the camera, we won’t ask you to be anything other than in love, because truly, that is enough.
Now tell me you’re not a little bit in love with them too.