Prepare yourselves: I’m about to get all fangirl on this blog.
Due to a last-minute change in travel plans, I was able to book a plane ticket to London in order to be IN THE STREETS for the ROYAL. WEDDING. Shut. Up. like, omygawd.
Disclaimer: I was at the event as a fangirl first, photographer second. While I secretly hoped to cover it in a meaningful way that might make for at least a few portfolio-worthy pictures, I’m not sure that I did — regardless, the photos have great meaning to me because the experience itself had great meaning to me. It’s always hard to know when to put down your camera and when to shoot, but my instincts told me to do a mix of both that day and I’m totally happy with that decision.
Truth be told: I was in completely over my head. I love to photograph events because I’m quick on my feet, work extremely well under pressure, and I’ll do what it takes to get the shot. But I had never in my photographic career thusfar attempted to make good imagery at an event this big. To call it overwhelming would be an understatement.
So I snapped photos when I felt inspired, and the rest of my time was spent settled into a nice viewing spot outside Westminster Abbey for the same reason we all were there: to catch a glimpse of Will & Kate.
I saw them. It was ridiculous and amazing all at once.
I don’t ever feel like I have to justify my obsessions, but I will acknowledge the absurdity if only to say that, yes, there was an obscene amount of hype and media attention going to one couple getting married, but that wasn’t what the Royal Wedding hooplah was about for me. Besides the fact that I am anything but a pessimist when it comes to pop culture, I simply saw it as an opportunity to be a part of something major so that I could look back and say: “I was there.” I mean, really, how many times can we say we’ve been a part of anything THAT significant in the world? And sure, it wasn’t one of the many politically shaping protests, revolutions or wars we know have an incredibly weighted impact on humanity, it only had to do with love (and power, depending on how you look at it) — but who’s to say love isn’t just as important sometimes?
(for the record: I believe those kids are straight up meant to be, no bullshit)
As a creative person working on projects that are generally positive in nature, and a self-proclaimed pop culture junkie, I am obsessed with obsessions. Seeing UK’s citizens in the streets, decked out in union jack memorabilia and hand made signs, outfits, and anything else created by their wacky imaginations made me feel like I was surrounded by a million kindred spirits. It was infectious. I even got my cynical friends Jenise and Jimmer to care a little bit, if only to text me updates while they watched the footage an hour away on their TV back at fangirl headquarters.
Of course, being part of the fandom came with its own price to pay. After Will & Kate left the Abbey I wasn’t terrible sure how to pursue the remainder of the day’s events or where to go next. Armed with only one lens (as was the case my entire trip), I didn’t exactly have a professional advantage for the kiss, nor much interest in it as I am a photographer who likes to shoot things on the sidelines and behind the scenes, rather than the action itself. Without thinking, I headed toward the Buckingham Palace and was subsequently trapped by mobs upon mobs of people who were also trapped, united in their wait for the gates to open and the rush to the balcony viewing to begin.
I was only barely able to make it to the Queen Victoria statue before I realized I would be stuck there with an obstructed view, which was clearly counter-productive for a proper fangirl viewing, and then once the kiss(es) were over I would be extra stuck as we all tried to leave at the SAME time. Did I mention I was surrounded by over a million people? I needed to get my exit strategy in order — it was hard enough just to get that far.
So I turned around early, listening to the the roaring cheers from behind signaling kiss one and kiss two. I couldn’t wait to watch the replay later.
The rest of the day I spent wandering aimlessly, hoping to come across a block party or two. Instead I ended up in Trafalgar Square where they had set up giant screens and the crowd collectively watched Will & Kate drive off in his father’s Aston Martin. In true English fashion, everything shut down promptly at 4pm (seriously, what is the DEAL with that?!), and within a blink of an eye it felt like a typical day in London again. Like nothing ever happened.
Thankfully, I still vividly remember every anxious, impatient moment waiting for the wedding to start — from the second I caught an early train out of Liphook, to the moment they rode by in their horse and carriage outside Westminster. I even remember the excitement felt 28 days before, when I made my immediate order of business upon landing in London to walk into the first souvenir store I saw, asked a man dressed as a Buckingham Palace guard to show me to the absolute tackiest item on sale, and walked out with three Will & Kate condoms. Plus a flag.
I ended up coming home with several unique Will & Kate tacky wedding souvenirs, including (but not limited to): a Will & Kate dress up doll activity book, salt & pepper shakers with their poorly Photoshopped faces on them gifted to me by Jenise, royal family tea bags, a shortbread cookie tin, and my good friend Jimmer even got me the official stamps as well as few extra editions of the various newspapers featuring the big day (he’ll tell you he did it to make me happy, but really I know he’s a closet W&K fangirl himself).
All in all, being a part of the Royal Wedding was a dream come true for me and easily one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Any haters can suck it — Will & Kate 4ever <3