Not everyone is lucky enough to have grandparents still around for their wedding. And of the ones remaining, not all would be as outspoken as Lenore Cusick’s grandma, Jean “G” Altman, who made her wishes known far in advance of the big day that she wanted a special photo taken of herself with the bride. Perhaps the results will remind everyone else to set aside extra time with their photographers to catch a similarly moving moment.
“Months before the wedding, we met with the bride and her mom, and she said, ‘My grandmother, who is feisty, as hell wants this one photo,'” photographer Virgil Bunao tells Yahoo Style. The request had all but slipped his mind when he was shooting Cusick’s May wedding at First Scots Presbyterian Church in Charleston, S.C., but Cusick, her wedding planner Heather Barrie, and Altman herself made sure to remind him.
“I’m her only granddaughter, and she passed down her love of fashion to me,” Cusick explains to Yahoo. “She always let me play dress-up in her closet, and since my wedding day was the ultimate dress-up occasion, we had to capture it! My mom and I were showing her some of Virgil’s photos from previous weddings, and we came across one of a bride and her grandmother; she was insistent that we add it to our shot list and didn’t let us forget on the big day.”
Altman, 92, was a military wife who loved traveling the world and entertaining, her granddaughter said, and she still hosts cocktail parties to this day. Bunao captured that outgoing personality in another photo of “G,” as Cusick calls her, riding in a rickshaw as the wedding party and guests paraded from the church to the reception hall.
But before that party started, Bunao shot the pic that’s gone viral this week (since wedding blog Snippet and Ink picked it up). Bunao photographed it with his 1956 Rolleiflex camera on Kodak film. And just like the camera, the image of Altman holding her granddaughter’s dress feels like something classic — full of life and yet also stopped in time.
“I shoot digital as well, but my favorite photos are the ones that are shot on film,” he said. “It’s more real to me, more honest and authentic. You’re inundated by a lot of wedding photos out there, and I try to create images that stick out.”
Bunao recommends that brides and grooms ask their photographers for time with their grandparents, beyond the typical family group shots.
“They’re not going to be around forever, and you’re going to cherish those photos for a long time,” he said.
That’s why Cusick was happy she heeded Altman’s request. “My grandmother has always helped celebrate the big and small milestones in my life — she even came the day I got my ears pierced!” she tells Yahoo. “So it was really important to me that we captured the special role she played in my life on my big day.”
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