While Bernadette and Michael’s beautiful Clare wedding was my first of 2017, it was also the end of an era – one that lasted exactly a day short of 5 years. In early February 2012 I first met the Crowes, then photographing Sinead’s wedding. With five daughters, dad Tim was bracing himself for a busy series of walks down the aisle of one of my favourite churches in the heart of Sixmilebridge, across the road from the family shop. Over the years that followed, Marie got married, as did Jo and, last August, Flora, bringing us to last weekend, when it was time for the last Crowe bride of this generation – Bernadette – to walk down the aisle. And for four of those five weddings, I was there to capture everything!
[As an aside, I’m fully expecting to photograph Marie’s renewal of vows in a few years time, right Marie?!?]
It genuinely is lovely to visit a family again and again to photograph wedding after wedding – it’s easier too, in a way, but also (as I’ve written before) you endeavour to photograph each wedding a little differently from the last. This wedding differed from the others for me in terms of the gear I was using – it was shortly after Flora’s wedding that I switched from Nikon to Fuji – and so that helped a little to capture this wedding in its own way. That said, even though this wedding bore similarities to some of the others, as a general rule every wedding is different, even those of sisters.
The ceremony was presided over, once again, by Fr. Harry Bohan, a former Clare hurler. And like almost all the Crowe weddings, this one was a bit of a who’s who of Clare GAA, with Mikey himself an accomplished hurler and footballer for Cratloe GAA Club, and many other familiar faces present from inter-county Clare teams (and indeed at least one current Galway star hurler).
Such is the rivalry between Mikey’s Cratloe and Bernadette’s Sixmilebridge that, the following morning, when I mentioned to an aunt of a friend of mine (who hails from Cratloe) that I had spent the previous day photographing another Crowe wedding, she said to me “You didn’t! You spend the day photographing a Hawes wedding!”
You don’t get married in early February and necessarily expect good weather – you hope for it, for sure, but know to be realistic. Still, as we drove from the ‘bridge (as they call it, and sure I’m practically a local now!) to the Armada Spanish Point, I was getting more and more hopeful that we would indeed get some photos on the beach, as was our Plan A. Hopeful, that is, until literally the last mile of the journey where it went from dry to drizzle to rain to torrential hailstones. Plan B it was, then – straight to the hotel, a quick cake shot, and regrouping once the bell went for dinner to grab a few quick bridal party and bride and groom photos. [Plan B did mean a bit more mingling time for Bernadette and Mikey, and did also get the bridesmaids off the hook for their unscheduled stop off at McDonalds en route to the hotel!] Once we got those formal photos out of the way, everyone got well fed, and the Armada lived up to its reputation for great food, before the amusingly named Free Beer Wedding Band set up for a night of dancing.
With all the Crowe daughters now married, and all but one of the many grandchildren being boys, you’d imagine it’ll be quite a while before I get to photograph another Crowe wedding, but I’ll be back in Sixmilebridge next weekend to photograph cousin Zoe’s wedding – it’s time to branch out along the family tree!