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I assisted Angela Mildon, photographer, of Las Vegas at a Mormon wedding in St. George on Saturday. The wedding was held at Sand Hollow State Park, a resivoir and recreation area, located just outside of the city proper.
The day started and ended early-Angela and I left for St. George before 7am, and were back in Las Vegas well before 6pm. It was one of those days that you tick off on a list as a Life Experience; never before or since have I been around so much Mormon culture, let alone at a Mormon mass and wedding.
Our first stop in St. George was the Target superstore for hair styling supplies, and it was there that I had my first Life Experience of the day: A clutch of fundamentalist Mormons families doing early-morning shopping. I vividly remember that they stared at Angela and I for being in the store at that hour, and then double stared at us when I opened my mouth and gave forth with my Irish accent. I stared right back, given that I was probably never likely to see such a group again in my life, not at that short distance.
One second stop was a takeaway for breakfast, and our third stop was a stylist’s where the bride was bedecked for the day ahead. I cannot recall anything about the bride; her name, or family, or husband, beyond that she came from St. George. She was very beautiful though. Does that count? My first task of the day was to discreetly (as discreetly as you can be with a Canon EOS-30D, grip and flashgun) capture the bride and bridal party as they were prepared for the day. I got some decent photographs there, although there were none so stand-out that I chose to put them online.
The fourth stop was the bride’s family home where she was dressed. I was politely and tastefully excluded from that, so I hung around, took in the wealthy family home, enjoyed the views from the mesa down into St. George, and girded myself for the ceremony.
As I said above, the wedding itself was held outdoors at Sand Hollow State Park, just outside of St. George. It was, in my opinion, the perfect spot for the wedding. The views were breathtaking, the water refreshing, and the iron red rock the perfect counterpoint for a sapphire sky.
Again, the wedding was a Life Experience. Holy crap, it’s a Mormon wedding! The bride’s friends joshed her about being the last person to class to get married. They were all young, younger than me, married, and sported children aplenty. It’s an entirely different, alien culture, compared to Ireland’s Catholicism. Eh, sure, we had the whole “marry young and pop out kids” thing going not too long ago, but there were so many little things that added up to a marked difference.
I’m honestly not sure what to make of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. On one hand, my personal interactions have with individual Mormons have never been anything except positive. I’ve found them to be universally reserved and cordial. They’re likable, and I like them. On the other hand, I’m aware of the dark threads that wend their way through the LDS. I see outspoken homophobes and bigots like Orson Scott Card, have heard verifiable stories of abuse against homosexuals, the transgender, minorities, and foreigners in Utah-St. George included-and I’m aware of the deep hypocrisies of many of their younger member. They marry young because they’ve been raised to believe that sex before marriage is a Bad Thing, and like any other young person, they want sex.
Real boats rock, eh?
Okay, okay, back on topic. The scenery was beautiful, the bride was beautiful, and I took photographs. The harsh weather and light made for a huge challenge. I underexposed and flash filled as much as I could, right up until the moment I dropped my fucking flashgun and turned it into a paperweight. I do not believe that I ever replaced it, because Mariah constantly vetoed any outlay on a replacement.
In the end, while Angela was satisfied with my work as an assistant photographer on the wedding, it wasn’t good enough for her to hire me on a more routine basis.