Merran & John: Married in Suffolk

// Love, Wedding

(foreword: this is not, i repeat, not a short story. it’s become my proposal story. you know, how girls have to tell how they got engaged about 39214 times. london is my proposal story. so i decided instead of just posting the wedding, i’d include the story that led up to it.)

 

first it started with a blog comment, “how much would it cost to bring you to London to shoot my husbands sisters wedding?”

that’s how it started. two summers back.

then it was 2012, i walked off the 10 hour plane ride and up to the customs desk. reported i was there to shoot a wedding.

then more questions. name of the bride. how they found me. what i was being paid. where was the wedding. oh no, this is a lot of questions. 

I’m going to ask you to sit down, i need to talk to my manager. you do not have a visa to work in this country, we may not grant you access today. 

so into a customs office i go. but first, and all my belongings are searched. all of them. every piece of paper in my wallet and the pages of my journal. then i was photographed. fingerprinted. belongings taken. then to wait in an office. fearfully sending out texts to Keith, his sister was getting married, they’re holding me up in customs. 

then into a holding room i go. the kind with one way glass. the kind with a key pad. and so i sit there for a good while. then brought out, down a hall and into a room to be interviewed. i tell them my story again. then back into the holding room. but before, allowed to send out a text to my boyfriend, “babe, i’m being questioned, i don’t think i’m going to be allowed in to the UK. call this number in the holding room so we can talk.”  

then back into the holding room. for a couple of hours. which i found out when your things are taken and your behind a locked door, an hour seems as if an eternity.

phone rings, it’s some lady with an accent trying to find her son who was in there 3 days ago. i’m sorry ma’am its just me in here, he’s gone! (doesn’t she know my boyfriend is trying to call! come-on!) phone rings again. its her. “I’m sorry he’s not here anymore, please I’m expecting a call, don’t call anymore, no one is here but me!” then CJ calls. i explain the situation. by this time, I’m absolutely almost hysterical. crying. sobbing. ‘they won’t have anyone to shoot the wedding and its in two days! our trip is ruined. all that money.’  not to mention, i was just frickin scared in there. tears tears tears.

then off the phone. waiting. officials come in to hear my story which is basically just me crying and telling the whole thing again.

finally.

the girl who interviewed me comes back. Andria?

she brings me out into the hallway. I’m really sorry Andria, but we’re not going to be able to grant you access into the UK today. we’re sending you home on a flight tomoro at 10 am. we don’t believe you to be a threat, so we’re letting you go tonight, but you must report in the morning and be escorted thru security. we’ll give you your passport back then. 

major monster tears.

but what am I supposed to do now!? where do I even go!?

I got off the plane at 130pm. this was now almost 8pm. so that was a fun 7 hours.

oh but wait. the nigerian man in the holding room is holding the phone for you. so back in the holding room to answer the phone. all the while, the shifts change. and a new set of staff come on. i get off the phone, but i am in the holding room. the new guard comes in, and asks why I’m there. i tell him. oh man! you should have just said you were going to the olympics! cool buddy. thanks. Im still fighting back tears as he tells me all the games he will be going to this olympics.

i tell him, well that other girl said i was free to go. oh no, she’s new she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. if you are free to go, they are arranging transportation for you and that can take 2-3 hours. (more tears) ….and well, between you and me, you don’t want to go where they’ll be taking you. you’ll be alone in a cell and there will be bars. you’d be better off to sleep here tonight. 

hysterics. this isn’t fair, I’m being treated like a damn criminal. 20 minutes goes by of me thinking I’m basically going to jail that night.

somehow, the girl who interviewed me comes back. oh no, she’s free to go. 

so out of customs i go. thru the damn heathrow airport. major disgust for that city was in my heart. back on the phone. cry some more. CJ prays over me. i find a bed and breakfast to stay at for the night. unload my things. walk down to a pub. makeup off and completely drained. i need a good beer after that day. or two.

into bed for 5 hours.

awake. talk to CJ. babe, i stayed up late and found the emails of the highest 4 people at the border and wrote them and told them what happened!” ……”that’s really sweet of you cj, but my flight is in 3 hours and its friday and i don’t think people are going to be reading their email. 

back to heathrow. 7am. the lady at the desk takes my information and is gone for an eternity. finally, she tells me an agent will come find me to escort me through the airport. oh, and your flight is delayed to 1. what, omg they told me i had to wait in the holding room again until my flight. shit, i have to wait in there now til 1?!

waiting on the floor. an agent comes to get me. escort me thru security. return my passport. i mentally get ready to go back in the holding room. then she tells me oh no, you’re free to go. 

awesome. thanks for freaking me out. once again.

so i wait. hours.

boarding time comes. i make it to the front of the line. hand over my passport to board and the airline official looks at my picture and then hands over my passport to the border agent. he walks up to me. ma’am, you need to come with me. we’re reevaluating your case. // but I’m going to miss my flight. // yes, but we never reevaluate cases, i think you’ll want to come with me. we got a letter from your boyfriend and it ended up in the right hands. 

so back we go. into the holding room. the entire process again. belongings counted and tagged. into the holding room with absolutely nothing on me.

an hour. a new agent comes to interview me. down the hallway. this time, she has my blog printed out. she’s read thru all of my website. and a very thorough interview begins. about my business. why i came over. how the couple found me. how we started a friendship. about Cj and I’s relationship. where he works. how long we’ve been dating. how we met. a lot a lot of info.

then back into the holding room for a good 2+ hours. i finally fall asleep. i’m going on no sleep.

then i wake up. a guard in the room tells me, you have good news coming. back to sleep.

my interviewer wakes me up. Andria Lindquist (in an undeniably cute british accent) …..I walk to the doorway to find out my doom. she tells me, you’ve been granted access into the UK. 

wait what?!

you are free to go. and you can shoot the wedding. 

wait, that’s it?! 

I’m stunned, shocked. grinning ear to ear. all the officials are so happy for me. I’m hugging everybody. i take out my phone show them a picture of CJ and I. this is him! 

a guard with a whole’lotta attitude tells me: girl, we’ve never seen this happen before while working here. you better give something real good to that boyfriend of yours!  she tells me that at least 3 more times before i leave. ok cool thanks for the memo. 

and so then out i go. free and no longer hating the country. 

i call keith and report the good news, i can hear major screams in the background. happy yelps. so he helps me figure out a bus to suffolk. 3 hours later i hop off the train. standing looking into the parking lot. where are they. then a couple races up behind me with a banner with “YAY” on it.

all is well. i go out to the house. the estate where john and merran will be married and it’s unbelievable. unbelievable.

walk into the house. cheers and cheers and cheers all around.

i tell the whole story.

we watch the olympics opening ceremony.

i go to sleep.

wake up and aim to shoot the shit out of a wedding i felt so lucky to be a part of.

Pimm’s. you’d want more than one.

keith and susi. the ones that brought me over. can’t even explain how wonderful, fun, gracious they are.

regardless of all that went down, it’s THESE weddings i aim to be a part of. sleeping under the same roof. brought into the family. learning way more than just the schedule for that day. 

it’s these weddings and experiences and people that make it all worth it. 

huge huge huge thanks to those that had prayers over me with this trip. and to my sweet CJ who told me ‘well I’m not stopping until I hear NO from the top person.” what a champ. and to the hundreds of replies i got, people offering up their services to shoot the wedding. our community is amazing. 

 

CJ did end up being able to come to london. and we had a lovely first trip together. if you’d like to see my non-wedding images in London. you can go right ahead HERE.

and don’t think one minute this will put a stop to me shooting more weddings abroad. i learned my lessons about VISA’s. I’ll tell you that much but i’m ready to travel and do more.

  1. simi

    OH. MY. I am absolutely head over heels in love with these pictures. don’t ever stop shooting, Andria.
    xo.

  2. Tori

    That is terrible story. So happy you had such a great outcome. So what was there reasoning behind not letting you have access to begin with? Because you were working there? Do you have to get a special visa to photograph a wedding there? We aren’t allowed to work there as Americans, but I would have thought photographing a wedding was like writing or other arts. Interested to hear what you have to do to be legit.

  3. Laura

    Amazingly, wonderful photos accompanied by such an incredibly story of a journey, struggle, and overcoming that. I can’t believe what you went through + how scary that must’ve felt. So glad everything worked out for the best + you were able to capture such storytellers of photographs for this beautiful couple. Love how you said, “I was going to shoot the shit out of that wedding I was lucky to be a part of.” I feel like saying that to myself with each wedding I’m humbled to shoot. Love your work! Times infinity!

  4. ~ callee ~

    Ok, I’m sitting here getting all choked up. I love this story. Hello love on so many amazing levels. I don’t cry over this stuff – girl, you’ve got something and it’s dang good. Love each and every one of these images.

  5. Em

    I love your heart. And seriously, you shot the SHIT out of this wedding. xo.

  6. Hannah Nicole

    Dang woman, you flippin’ killed this wedding. So good. AND SO GLAD EVERYTHING WORKED OUT.

  7. Inês

    I love everything about this. Amazing!

  8. susi

    I knew you were the right person for the job :). And I am so glad you were able to make it after all and be part of it. CJ is a legend and we owe him a beer (or two). Beautiful stuff.
    PS. I was told at the wedding that I am a photographer stalker … (quite possibly the worst chat-up line ever?! 😉 )

  9. lydia {ever ours}

    love every frame. you shot the shiz out of it. what a whilrwind of an experience. and you go, CJ!

  10. Amelia Renee

    ended up crying, reading this. so good. so so so good. Andria, you killed this wedding. like, 1000%.

  11. Sara Lucero

    I love it. It’s beautiful. I love it I love it! And you really did shoot the shit out of it!
    I found you through people RTing your tweet about being stuck with no access to the country. My heart sank for you and immediately couldn’t even try to imagine what that must’ve felt like for you and how lonely you must’ve felt. But man, what an awesome boyfriend taking care of you like that! What a hero! And what an incredible story. I know I’ll be telling it. 🙂

  12. Mamen (AM Fotografia)

    Amazing job! You’ll probably remeber this wedding forever!So glad you got access granted…you def. did a great job 🙂

  13. Ashley Dru

    Oh my goodness these are stunning! I remember crying at the computer when I saw your first Facebook post about not being allowed in…I couldn’t even comprehend what you were feeling. But man oh man were you meant to shoot that wedding…beautiful Andria!!

  14. Jessica

    This post had me in tears of joy. You are so such a talented person. You bless so many. Love love love you!

  15. Ruth

    What a crazy experience with an awesome ending! Beautiful couple and photos!

  16. Andrea

    Wow Andria you are truly gifted, these images stir my soul!

  17. Jacqui McSweeney

    I saw all this unfold on twitter, so glad it all worked out so, so well. Cool to see your take on an English wedding too, gorgeous. I’m off to shoot a wedding like this next week and I love how you describe that “all under the same roof” x

  18. Stephanie

    That story is incredible – and so are your images! If the boyfriend and I ever get married, we’re hiring you. 🙂

  19. Stephanie

    Also – just curious, what kind of lighting did you use in the dancing/reception shots? Was that a video light? I love the way it spotlights your subjects but I can’t figure out what exactly it is!

  20. Julia Manchik

    I’m so happy everything worked out! God is good at answering prayers. Photos are beautiful. And what an amazing story for you and CJ to have!

  21. Atalie Simpson

    The story – tears forever. So happy that everything worked out and these beautiful pictures were taken! These are some of your best and well worth it I hope! Much love friend. God works out ALL Things for the good.

  22. Monica Dart Photography

    really moved by your story…you poor darling having to go through so much at the airport…and then feeling freedom….and having so much support and love. happy ending for you, CJ and bridal couple!

  23. Mom

    Brought to tears again, I guess that’s what Mom’s do when their daughter goes thru this kind of situation.
    Another couple Blessed with your talent and gift of being amazing. I love the one towards the end where they are standing in the middle of the road and the path ahead of them as they begin their journey together. Sweet sweet shot.
    So proud of you…

  24. Amanda VanVels

    wowwwww. this is insane. so glad you finally made it through. i can’t believe cj made that much of a difference! i’m amazed!

  25. twiggs

    oh my goodness, the things you went through, i cannot imagine!!! and i complain about the 1,5h i waited to get in your country! but on the other hand, way to go with those pictures, awesome work as always! and i’m really proud of you and you should definitely be proud of your boyfriend, he totally rocked!

  26. Meredith Adams

    wow. incredible story. God totally wanted you to be there! And what an amazing godly boyfriend you have. When I was looking through the images I could tell that you were just so full of happiness – I could tell you thought every little detail was beautiful and you made it beautiful to me as I looked at it! you are incredible! xo so glad everything went well.

  27. Jenny Linquist

    What an incredible story, and such beautiful, meaningful photos. God is in control. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing evidence of that.

  28. Becci

    your mother told me what happened as things unfolded. she was in tears and joy for all you went through. i love reading your stories and seeing your pictures. you have a gift from God and are blessed top to bottom. your mother is an amazing woman who is so proud of all her girls…and has every reason to be so very proud of her ‘lil photographer. i love seeing all your families’ pictures and am so inspired by your love for life, photography, family and most of all God!

  29. sharon

    oh my I am so sorry to hear you had to go through all that! what amazing images of a beautiful wedding though!

  30. LACEY

    Even after that crazy crazy story, you still rocked this wedding. Amazing! What an amazing guy you have, too. 😉

  31. Darren

    Hectic. Terrible to have to experience, but…. A Happy Ending. Amazing Images. Incredible story. Ecstatic Bride and Groom no doubt. Well done.

  32. Anja

    Oh my, Andria! I knew you went and came back but ha no idea about the drama that had unfolded. “Chuffed to bits” as the Brits would say that it all worked out in the end (God bless CJ!) and that you no longer hate the country. I can’t even imagine how lonely and sad you must have felt in that holding room.

    As for the images. There aren’t any words to describe, really. So let’s settle for stunning. Love every single frame and the everyone shot is THE best one I’ve ever seen.

  33. Pamela

    Wow!! I mean WOW!!!!!!!!

  34. Jillian

    that story totally made me cry. i thought i was going to cry at the beginning and held it together, but the part at the end totally got me. beautiful, all of it. and cj- you are incredible.

  35. mike

    So fantastic.

  36. Rachel Soh

    Ohmygaaash! Your photos are insane! I get inspired and blown away by all your posts.