Image by Catherine (Creative Commons)
When I worked as a wedding videographer, this happiest day of a couple’s life could be filled with orchids and doves, but it could also show the worst in a person. Bridezillas exist, and they are even less attractive through the viewfinder of a video camera poised on your shoulder. And when the bride didn’t spring for you to have a soda from the bar during your 14-hour workday? She’s even uglier.
Tina and Drew paid for our premium package, into which we threw every bell and whistle we could think of, so we were making a “Love Story” video before the wedding ceremony. We shot them in a variety of deeply gazing scenes, over which we would lay audio of them talking about how much they loved each other. Tina was domineering and arrogant throughout the shoot, her right on her wedding day, but real problems started when it was time to get audio from Drew about how much he loved Tina. My husband Randy did the interview.
Randy: “What made you fall in love with Tina?”
Drew: “Well, you know, man. What are you gonna do?”
Randy: “But what made you realize Tina was special?”
Drew: “Well, she had a big rack and a fridge full of beer, so I figured what the hell.”
This was one of the more quotable exchanges, but it didn’t make it into their “Love Story” featurette and is published here for the first time.
So on this particular wedding day, when Tina told us to videotape her singing “Landslide” to her father, I braced myself for some insufferable schmaltz.
Tina’s father was very ill, and the thought of this oh-so-perfect bride using her dying father as a prop for an extra dose of the spotlight filled me with dread. I framed them in an intimate two-shot, though, and hit record.
“I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around”
After the first few lines, I realized this moment was not what I expected. Tina’s thin, pitchy voice whispered out the lines. She was terrified, and her voice cracked.
I slowly zoomed in. Through the viewfinder I saw her eyes fill with tears as she sang to her father.
“Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you”
The bride faltered, losing her way in the lyrics. The lead singer of the wedding band softly picked up the lyric and firmly carried Tina across. Tina got going again, tears streaming down her face with love for her father.
Tears streamed down my face as well.
“And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring you down”
I will never hear that song again without thinking of Tina singing to her dying father. I’d been guilty of ugly prejudgment before then, and I’m sure I will be again, but in that moment I knew that the ugliest person is beautiful too, and the worst singer can sing the most beautiful song.