Grab a hot drink and a Kleenex. This one’s going to be a tear jerker…
There I was one cold February day, minding my own business and probably sipping a glass of gin, when I got a text. I looked at my phone. The text wasn’t from my wife telling me she’d found an awesome new coffee shop; it wasn’t from O2 warning me that I’d reached my data limit; it was from Dave, a husband-to-be messaging me to say that his darling fiancé had a brain tumour.
Michelle - the bride-to-be - needed a lengthy and extremely complex operation to remove this cancerous bludger that had formed inside her brain, one which would leave her with a scar covering almost the entirety of one side of her head. So close to the wedding day, we all know that most brides would be in anguish at the thought of looking anything less than ‘perfect’ when they walked down the aisle - but Michelle wanted to redefine the meaning of that word. She wanted to create her own perfection; her own way of telling the world, ‘these are the cards I’ve been dealt, but I’m not going to let them stop me from enjoying the happiest day of my life’.
Well, I wasn’t going to stand in her way, was I?
Dave told me that they wanted to go ahead with a pre-shoot after the operation, and that Michelle was determined to carry out her wedding planning. But whilst the majority of brides would have been umm-ing and ahh-ing about which shade of white (even after many years in this business, they still all look the same to me) to wear on their nails, Michelle was preparing for the biggest operation of her life. It’s safe to say that I was in awe of this woman’s bravery.
The couple, who had been together for over a decade, turned up to the shoot one week after the op. Sure enough, the scar was visible - but Michelle rocked it harder than when Pete Townshend first smashed a guitar onstage. It was a serious rock and roll moment. A big middle finger to cancer.
The pre-shoot photos were raw and emotional, and the couple were keen to share them with their friends and family. Two months later, those same people were there to see Michelle arrive at church in a white dress, embrace her father and walk down the aisle to a grinning Dave. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. And to top it all off, the groom surprised the wedding party with a fireworks display to end the day with a literal bang.
I’d like to say that I’ve lived in Britain long enough to exercise a stiff upper lip in these situations, but I’d be lying. Maybe someone was cutting onions in the pews, or maybe it was my new suit trousers riding up too far. I don’t know. What I do know is that, if there was one couple more deserving of a long, happy life together, it’s Michelle and Dave.