Any Other Photo {Gemma and R}

We don’t really have rules here on Any Other Wedding, in fact, we’re pretty much an anything goes kind of a blog. But if there was one rule, it would be that Any Other Photo has to be ONE photo. No more. 

In life though sometimes something comes along that makes you want to throw caution to the wind and break the rules, and it’s the same for us here. If there was ever a good reason for having two pictures this post would be it. 

I give you Gemma… and Gma

I’m sure I could write an ‘any other photo’ piece  on, erm, anyother photo from our 500 long reel. I could wax lyrical about a photo of R and I, because there are lots oflovely ones, and a few very special ones that show what our marriage is allabout – that this is the man who made me a breakfast of champagne and creamcakes and chorizo on my birthday, in secret, while I slept a metre away in ourshoebox sized flat.  This is theman who tells me excitedly where the next CathKidson is opening up, even thoughhe gets sensory overload after being inside one for a minute.  This is the man who I have loved eversince he brought a book for me on our second date which he’d wrapped in thepages of the Australian news section of TNT magazine.   And when I realised that I’d met the man I wanted tomarry (hitherto never realising I was actually the ‘marrying type’) the firstperson I jumped on the phone to was my grandma, Pauline.

My mum died when I was 4,leaving my dad with two small girls with whom, it has to be said, he did abeautiful job.  Our wedding inNovember last year came together, in a large part, because of the rallyinground of my wonderful family who looked at venues, ordered cupcakes, seweddecorations  and spent hours on thephone listening to me rant. Watching them come together for a joyous occasion got me thinking abouthow they united when the chips were really down.  When my Dad spoke about how proud my mother would have beenon our wedding day, I realised how incredibly lucky I’ve been.  I didn’t have a mum, but my first femalerole models were my dynamic, creative, intelligent aunts, and my twograndmothers.  I’m close to allthose women, but Pauline, or Gma as she signs her cards and emails, my mother’smother, was my first ‘bff’. Despite being a chubby, awkward, precocious little girl, given tooutbursts like ‘I’m half an orphan, you know’ (yep, probably shouldn’t havebeen allowed to watch the scene from ‘A Little Princess’ where Lottie lies onthe floor wailing ‘I haven’t any mother!’, either) my Gma was patient and gentleand practical, and made my sister and I both feel special, beautiful andoverwhelmingly loved.

By the time she was in herearly fifties,  my grandmother hadlost her sister, her husband and her daughter.  And yet it’s only hit me recently, how, well, sadthat must have made her, partly I think because she never showed that sadnessto us.  She was, and is, my biggestcheerleader.  She drove me todebating competitions and spent the car ride home telling me why we should havewon. (often her reason was someone on the other team hadn’t polished theirschool shoes) She packed me epically proportioned school lunchboxes that gotauctioned off in the senior common room. She paid my rent when I had glandular fever at university and couldn’twork, and she was forever ‘popping round’ to our student flat with apple cakesand soup.  

When I chose to pursue acareer in fashion, I’m sure a little part of her was pumping her fist andsaying ‘yessss’ because she taught me much of what I know about fashion andstyling.  When I was little sheoften helped at an upmarket boutique owned by a friend of hers and I canremember hiding myself behind the counter where I couldn’t be seen and hearingher give honest, encouraging advice to her customers who, when they took in hermodel-esque poise and posture and Grace Kelly style glamour, probably figuredshe knew what she was talking about. She famously took herself into Sportsgirl (Australia’s answer toTopshop) a few years ago and came out with a train-driver style flatcap which shepulled off with aplomb even though it’d have looked ridiculous on many a 17year old, and which she’d purchased only after the sales girls had compliedwith her request to turn the music down so that she could hear herselfthink.  Which they did.

She listens to mix cds withNick Cave and Ben Folds while she does the ironing.  She does Philosophy and Italian courses in theevenings.  She has an encyclopaedicknowledge of quotes from Shakespeare, a great line in fabulous scarves,naturally blonde hair in an immaculate bob and a love of a good play onwords.  (once when R and I were inBrighton, he spotted a sign on a camping shop window that said ‘Now is thewinter of our discount tents’ and we just had to call her –internationalrates be darned, so that the three of us could laugh over the phone for 5minutes straight.)

So in this Any Other Photo,there we are, literally running into the church.  By that stage, R was waiting at the end of the aisle, (wherehe’d been pacing for 20 minutes, poor boy)  my sisters were giving a stern yet smiling peptalk to thelittle flower girls, and my dad was waiting in the alcove to take my arm andstart ‘the walk’.  And, just likeon all the mornings in my final year of school that she let me oversleep myalarm and miss my bus because I ‘looked tired’, (I imagine most people looktired while they’re asleep) she took her own time making sure I looked wasready and when the priest came out to fetch us, I was. 

When R and I got addicted toMad Men I couldn’t watch January Jones, in all her 50’s era blondegorgeousness, without thinking of the part of Gma’s life I wasn’t in – when shewas a young working gal and wife firstly in the dean’s office of a University,and then as a typist at the Supreme Court.  I just know she’d have been one of those women I envy andwant to be – perfectly turned out, on top of everything at home and at work,but impossible to hate because they’re so darn nice with it.

She’s now married to someonewho winds her up mercilessly but adores her, who makes himself scarce when hercore group of girlfriends come over for lunch, who keeps a modelling headshotof her at about 21 on the wall in his study and who has stood by her side forover 20 years.

Categories: Any Other Photo
18 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted October 21, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love this – thank you so much, Gemma (and, how gorgeous are you?!). Your grandma sounds absolutely amazing, and this has really filled me with happiness today.
    Now, I need to pull myself together at stop laughing at "Now is our winter of discount tents" so I can get on the tube without looking like a fool.

  2. Mahj
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    This is brilliant. Just so well-written and such an ode to your Gma, which is the


  3. Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    To coin an Ozzie phrase (in tribute Gemma!) your GMA sounds awesome! Loved this post – so beautifully written and a lovely picture too xx

  4. Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    This is so beautifully written and definitely one of my favourite AOPs. Gma sounds utterly wonderful, and so does your Dad, and husband! Both are gorgeous photos- and I'm feeling slightly envious of your amazing dress and hair do! I also want to be one of those fabulous glamorous-AND-efficient ladies like your Gma! PS coincidentally, my Any Other Photo featured mybest friend's Grandma who she calls Gma!

  5. Fee
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    This really bought a tear (well, many tears) to my eye, your Gma sounds amazing!

    And that discount tents line…. hee hee hee!

  6. Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Gemma, I enjoyed every word of this. Thank you for a wonderful read, and such pretty photos too. You and Gma are tres beautiful.

    Your Gma is truly amazing. xx

  7. Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    This has brought a tear to my eye too…my AOP features my beloved Nan. They are very special ladies indeed and this is a beautiful tribute to yours Gemma x

  8. Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Oh girls, thank you for such lovely comments. I have had Pma on the phone this morning to 'check in'! I frankly think she's on the gin to celebrate ;) (sun is over the yard arm in Melbourne doncha know!)
    And as for the discount tents – I know. A laugh every. time.

  9. Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I have such lofty ambitions of how awesome I'm going to be when I'm older, and Gemma, your Gma actually embodies ALL OF MY DREAMS. I feel like she needs to start a blog so I can take notes. I'm not even joking. Wow.

    Gorgeous story, gorgeous bride – Gemma you look a whole lorryload of stunning and I (fangirl) love your style. Beaut!


  10. Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    There are so many things I love about this. The story, the history, the love, the inspiration. The tribute to how strong women can be. How beautiful you look. How beautiful your Gma looks, then and now.

    But my overriding thought? Gemma, you should write your Gma's life story. What a woman she is. And you'd do it justice.

  11. Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    What a great read and what a glamour puss your Gma was – stunning wedding photo of her :)

    I reckon I'd like to meet your Gma, she sounds like my kind of lady (and Florences.)



  12. Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Gemma, I can not tell you how many tears this photo has brought.

    Everything you have written about your Gma reminds me so very very much about mine – in fact I could have written the exact same piece about her fashion styling, cheerleading and rent paying et al.

    My Gma died in April and the thought of her not being at my wedding just breaks. my. heart. She was so excited and was planning which hat to wear telling my Mum it was going to be bigger than hers.

    I have no doubt that you will, but treasure your Gma and the time you have with her.

    Gorgeous photo xxxx

  13. Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Oh Rachel. Oh my gosh, now I'm tearing up. I will treasure it, I always do, and I know you will feel your gma with you so strongly on your day – it's not the same but you'll know she'd have been so proud of you and so happy to celebrate with you. Anna, now there's an idea! and Rebecca – I think that's a big reason why I flipping well HEART Florence Finds so much – because of the history, and the strong women, behind it x

  14. Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    This has to be one of my favourite AOP posts ever. It's brought both tears and smiles to my face and made me think how fantastic women are in general. Gemma, you and your Gma look beautiful. And your words are lovely. I shall certainly be raising a glass of vino this evening to Gma's everywhere! Cxx

    PS A Little Princess – I LOVED that book!

  15. Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I should also add that our frankly amazeballs (to coin an Ashlingism) wedding photos were taken by the ridiculously talented Lisa Kuilenburg, and if anybody is getting married in Australia (what?) she is the one to make you look actually quite alright thanks very much and not like a monkey/giraffe in a dress.

  16. Posted October 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    This is the loveliest dedication to your Gma, Gemma. And rightly so, she sounds like an amazing woman!

    I lost my Mum when I was fairly young too and my wonderful Dad brought me and my big sis up on his own. It sounds like we could have done with a Gma of our own. What a wonderful lady to have around! :)


  17. Anonymous
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gema, i could read your article and i loved it, its really very emotional.
    i could never meet my grandmoms , both of them died whem my parents were of my age. now, i'm very happy because of you, and your Gma, who sounds to be a lovely person, same as you are.

  18. Suz
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Hi Gem,
    I stumbled across this and just loved it. Your Gma reminds me of my Nanna of course – immaculately turned out at all times, with a firm grip on life in one hand and a garment bag from the Potted Pair in the other. Hope you are well and remaining fabulous xx

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

More here.

image by Lucy Stendall Photography

Find me a random post