Handfasting Wedding Ceremony at a 400 Beach Drive Condo

Everyone at one point held hands during the handfasting wedding ceremonyFor perhaps the first time in my life I used valet parking as I pulled up to the condo skyscraper at 400 Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg.  Since I was going there to photograph a wedding and know how hard it is to park in that area, I did not even ask the price and just hoped it would not be outrageous.  Turns out its a service provided by the building and you just pay a tip to the valet person.  I was immediately impressed as I entered the 11th floor condo that was to be the setting for Hunter and Larry's wedding handfasting ceremony.  For four years I lived on the 11th floor of a state of the art apartment building in Tokyo, and I was immediately reminded of how nice it is to have a view.  Apparently Hunter and Larry are extremely popular people as their friend's condo was totally packed.  I had to watch every step I took roving around photographing the handfasting ceremony.

Hunter before the ceremony - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 640 1/60th SB-800 hotshoe mountedThe condo was huge and I have no idea exactly how many rooms it contained, with the master bedroom being exceptionally huge.  This is where I began photographing once I arrived.  Hunter and Larry and some other close friends who would be in the ceremony were all getting ready at their ease.  Once it seemed like everyone (100 people?) was there, it was on with the ceremony!

Presenting a ring with part of the great downtown St. Petersburg waterfront view in the backgroundI had heard of handfasting while a grad student in religious studies at USF and always thought it sounded like a great custom.  I believe I saw a photo in a reference book of a white ribbon binding the wrists of a couple together during the ceremony.  Other than that long held mental image, I had no idea what else to expect.  I liked the ritualistic presentation of the rings by members of the wedding party.

Not the white ribbon I had imagined for 10+ years

The practitioner did not bring out a wide, white ribbon as I had imagined for years, but actually a series of thin ropes that were placed on one-by-one with a description of the meaning of each in between.  They were also not tightly bound around their wrists.  I am now curious about what variations exist in handfasting ceremonies.  

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 640 1/60th SB-800 hotshoe mountedThe handfasting ceremony took some time, which I appreciated as it allowed me many opportunities for both shots of the couple themselves as well as all wedding party members and even some reaction shots of the guests.  In comparison, most beach wedding ceremonies are over in less than five minutes so I mostly just have time to focus on the couple as things progress rapidly.  

Their cake may have been the best I ever tasted in my life.Now the couple feeding each other cake custom I am of course very familiar with.  Neither made things get messy though, unfortunately.  However that would have been perhaps a food crime of sorts to waste even one bit of the cake, as it was quite possibly the best cake I ever tasted, and I am a long-time cake connoisseur often on the search for a palatable piece of cake after living in Asia for 9 years, a continent where good cake seems to go to die.  The cake itself was light, but solid with a touch of raspberry spread between layers and an extremely tasty frosting.  

I had a great time and experience photographing Hunter & Larry's wedding and seeing how the downtown St. Petersburg condo lifestyle really is (it's excellent).  Now if I could just get that cake recipe . . .