Any Other Photo {Helen and Ben}

Oh readers, have we got a Friday for you.  When Helen emailed me this AOP, she said “I’ve been hesitating because I realised that even though lots of the photos featured are unexpected or not technically perfect, they are still often darn beautiful! I didn’t think mine fit in. But re-reading the submission information finally gave me the push. “Perhaps it just emotes a feeling in you that no other picture can” and this is how my photo makes me feel.”  Yes, that’s it, that’s the point of this series.  Helen’s writing is evocative and her picture radiates joy.  And that is what we all seek. 

Happy Friday, readers.  Over to you, Helen:       

I hadn’t even had a sip of champagne and yet I had already given myself a stitch from smiling and laughing too much. It was a Wednesday afternoon, not even 4pm and we’d just bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate our marriage.

Not that it was our wedding day…well, not really. It was the legal bit, the registry office procedure we had to do ahead of our humanist ceremony and ‘proper’ wedding the following day. We were determined to attach as little significance to it as possible, playing it right down so that nothing was taken away from the actual day we’d so carefully planned.

We picked the absolute bare minimum to say and booked the tiniest room. We asked our sisters to be witnesses, asked their partners to come along too, but told everyone else to stay away. Whenever we discussed it we’d say, yeah let’s just rock up in t-shirts and jeans.

Then as the day drew nearer there was a subtle change in our approach. Ben mentioned that he was thinking of wearing a shirt. He was keen to wear some cufflinks I’d bought him, unaware that his wedding shirt didn’t need them. Then on a sunny Saturday just before the wedding, we were back inBristolto sort out final arrangements. I walked past H&M and a gorgeous white lace mini dress caught my eye. Yes, I thought, I have an excuse to wear that!

So things got a bit smarter, verging on bridal, but it was still just something to be done. Until the day. Walking through St Nicholas Market the six of us felt like naughty children, skiving off and running away. No parents, no adults! We larked about taking photos while we waited for the registrar but I was aware of an odd sensation tightening in my chest. The importance was dawning. The registrar warned us it would be over very quickly, but the moments in that room felt slow and special.


I love this photo because of the sheer joy evident on our faces. Mine in particular. Such a smile had been absent from my face for an awfully long time as I slogged through a PhD and felt I’d lost myself somehow. Ben’s proposal and planning the wedding was the light at the end of the tunnel and kept me going through particularly dark times. This is the light I find radiating from my face. Joy, relief, excitement. I expected it to come on the Thursday, on our ‘proper’ wedding day. It surprised me by coming when it did. It ended up being the most wonderful bonus day. Like the Christmas Eve before Christmas Day. A step forward, something to celebrate, yet it didn’t dent the anticipation of what lay ahead the following day. It seemed decadent and extravagant and I smiled until my face hurt and my sides ached.

Categories: Any Other Photo
18 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted June 15, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink


  2. Esme
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I love this. Partly because you’ve summed up the emotions that I felt about the registry office/humanist wedding conundrum but mainly because you wrote this so beautifully.

    • Posted June 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Esme, your writing on AOW about humanist ceremonies was very inspiring as we prepared for ours. So, thanks!

  3. Emily
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Helen this is lovely writing, and I think the pic is darn beautiful.

  4. Posted June 15, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful pic and story – “Like the Christmas Eve before Christmas Day” – awwww.

  5. Mahj
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    This is just, well, I’m searching for a word….joyful. And real. A really wonderful write-up, I felt like I was there with the 6 of you!

    Happy AOP Friday one and all!


  6. Posted June 15, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Oh Helen, what a lovely shot and a lovely story! xx

  7. Steff
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Lovely story, even lovelier grin – Helen you look sooooooo happy. Love the genuine emotion in this pic and in the writing. Gorgeous. x

  8. Posted June 15, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    What a gorgeous write up. That and the massive happy faces have made me a bit teary.

  9. Posted June 15, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I love this story Helen, especially the part about larking about without any adults…that’s such a sweet way of putting it x

  10. Posted June 15, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful AOP, up in my Top Ten. And Helen please wrote another post for AOW reading your writing is a joy.

  11. Katielase
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    This is completely perfect, I love everything about it. The writing, the story, the huge gleeful smiles, the love and the JOY! Fantastic AOP.

    K x

  12. Roz
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    As all the other girls have said I LOVE this AOP. I don’t think it’s possible to look at that photo and not grin like a loon :D especially when the story that goes with it is so well written xx

    • Posted June 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Currently grinning like a loon right now after reading these comments :) Thank you all so much for your lovely words x

  13. Sarah
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink


  14. Posted June 15, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    love this story and photo. You look like you’re having the best fun ever! x

  15. Posted June 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    SQUEAL Helen! This is so adorable. I love the way you start out with the slow build and then explode into the ridiculous giddy joy on the picture. Such a great AOP. You both look like the cats that got the cream!


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  • By Working 9-5…Trying to Remember How on October 2, 2012 at 7:03 am

    [...] Helen writes eloquently and with great wit about her dilemmas, I think you’ll agree that she’s handling the 9-5 very well indeed… [...]

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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.

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