Real Wedding Day Story in Sydney – not for the faint hearted!

Those who have been in the wedding industry as long as I would be forgiven in thinking they probably have seen it all when it comes to things that can go wrong.  I personally do not have this opinion because of an incident that occurred about eleven years ago.


In fact it is such a weird and unusual tale, that when I am attending a party with friends who are familiar with the story, will inevitably by the end of the night say “Oh Sarhn, tell everyone your wedding story with the duckling”.


So here we go……… real wedding day story number three…….the wedding and the duckling story.


The story starts for me at Athol Hall; a little cottage restaurant in ‘Middle Harbour Sydney’, which boasts one of the best views of Sydney harbour and the city.


As planned I arrived before the ceremony to photograph the groom with his family and groomsmen.  The groom asked if he could get a photograph taken with the Kookaburra he spotted sitting in the tree.  “Sarhn, Kookaburras are my favourite animal.  I just love them”.  For those who are not familiar with the Kookaburra, let me fill you in…….it is a medium size Australian native bird that makes a very loud laughing noise, as if it is mocking your every move.


After taking the photographs with the Kookaburra, sitting in his old gum tree (sorry… promise not to quote from any more Australian children’s songs), we headed back towards the location for the ceremony.


The ceremony was beautiful as was the bride as she walked down the aisle.  Once the ceremony had concluded, family photographs captured and the guests thanked, we headed down towards the beach of Athol Hall.  This spot is a little secret beach in Sydney, which generally means you will have it all to yourself.


On the sandy beach I was photographing the bridal party candidly as they opened the champagne and laughed while swapping stories from before the ceremony.  It was around this time, that a very small duckling waddled out towards the bride.  Upon seeing the little, fluffy, yellow duckling the bride gushed “Oh Sarhn, can you take a photograph of the duck.  I just love ducks they are my favourite animal”.


This really was a photographer’s dream; a very happy bride, smiling and laughing bridal party and flower girls, amazing soft light with the backdrop of Sydney’s harbour.  Everything appeared perfect as I thought “these photographs are amazing”.


Unawares to the bridal party, looking on directly above in another gum tree was the Kookaburra.  Then before anyone could do or say anything, the bird swooped down, grabbed the duckling by the neck then flew back to its tree perch. 


“I thought Kookaburra’s only eat leaves” yelled one of the groomsmen as we all listened in horror as the duckling squawked from having its head and neck trashed against the tree.  “Oh mummy what is the Kookaburra doing” screamed one of the littlest flower girls, as I was thinking “oh how horrible we need to move away from here before the girls start crying”.


My thoughts were not fast enough because right at that moment the duckling’s body went limp as blood and features fell like rain upon the bridal party.


It is usually around this time when I have been forced to share this story at a party; someone will ask “What the hell did you do then?”


With that I say “I did the same thing as everybody else…………..I stood frozen in time for what must have only been a couple of seconds but felt like a very long, uncomfortable amount of time”.


It is interesting that it wasn’t immediately apparent but many days after the wedding that I thought about the irony in the story.  Is it ironic that the groom’s favourite animal killed and consumed the bride’s favourite animal?


Some may say it was a bad omen; others bad misfortune but I think the bride and groom looked at it as a really entertaining story to tell the grand kids (with the blood and guts taken out of course).  J


Beach at Athol Hall Sydney

These photographs were taken around Athol Hall but were not from the wedding ducking day story.    🙂




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Casting New Channel 9 Show

After my extremely long post last week, I thought it might be nice for a lighter look at weddings and marriages.

On Friday I received an email from Rachel Moses who is a producer with the Nine Network in Australia.

I definitely thought ‘Wedding Planning Tips’ readers would be interested in this.

Channel 9 is currently casting a brand new show and are looking for newlyweds (couples that got married under 5 years ago), or couples who are about to get married (before October), to take part in all the fun.


It is a great new show that tests how well couples know each other, their communication skills and there are big prizes up for grabs.

They are interested in hearing from couples from all walks of life.  Couples who experienced love at first sight, or maybe met online, an arranged marriage, high school sweethearts and different cultural backgrounds.

So if you and your partner are up for the challenge and would like the chance to be apart of the fun log onto to apply. 

Good Luck J

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Have your dog share your wedding!

“Do you have the rings?’ was more a prompt for the best man than a question.  The Minister spoke those words just like many times before.  This time however the response was different. 


I watched on, together with the 100 plus guests as the best man fumbled around his pockets, while the Minister held out his right palm in anticipation of the rings.


The bride’s response quickly altered from amusement to interest to annoyance as she looked towards the groom for a solution.  Sensing his bride’s concern, the groom made the decision it was time.  With that he whistled loudly while turning his attention towards the back of the church.


All heads spun around to witness two little dogs proudly walking down the aisle towards their master.  On closer inspection, we noticed attached to their backs with ribbons were tiny pillows. Closer still and we saw the wedding rings were securely affixed to the pillows.


Oh my gosh………..this was one of the cutest things I ever saw at a wedding.


It inspires me to write a post about dogs at weddings.


If you too are now inspired, here are some things to think about:


1)       Get Permission!    Check with the church minister if they will allow your pets in their church.  If the wedding is outside in a public area, check local council regulations.


2)       Allegis?    Not a bad idea to make sure no guests have allergies to your four legged friends.


3)       Make Sure!   There is nothing at the location that can harm your dog e.g. main roads the dog can run onto if it gets away, cliffs without fences etc.


4)       Help Needed!    Have a handler who will be responsible for picking your dog up, adding bows /ribbons if needed, providing drinking water and ensuring the dog is safe and not running muck.



‘Porter 4 Pets’ is a Sydney based company who offer pets at wedding handling services.


I have personally worked with Janet Porter on weddings and can honestly say having her expertise and knowledge makes my job in capturing images of the bride & groom with their fur kids so easy.


From German Shepherds to Miniature Poodles, Janet is a dog whisperer.


Tips Janet has taught me (and just some idea of her service)


1)       Take the dog to the location well before it is required (and before people start to arrive) so it becomes acquainted with the surroundings.


2)       Take the dog for a long walk/run beforehand so they don’t have so much energy.


3)       Liver treats, liver treats, liver treats.  Dogs love liver treats and are more likely to sit / stay / come for one.  Try this before the wedding day.



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Family Members Behaving Badly at Weddings

I can still recall many years ago, one of my very first weddings as a photographer.  The bride and groom were excited to have me photograph their wedding however they neglected to share that the bride’s mother was not.


Actually it wasn’t until their wedding day that the couple revelled their fears to me.  Apparently the bride’s mother wanted her brother (keen amateur photographer) to photograph the wedding and not a stranger.


Talk about feeling unwanted!  From the moment I arrived, there was no doubt in my mind the mother was unhappy with my presence.  Figuring it was too late to problem solve this with the happy couple, I decided to do my best to avoid any confrontation with the mother.


With five minutes before the bride was due to arrive at the church, I walked outside to find a good vantage spot from where I would photograph the cars as they drove down the road.  In finding my spot I crouched down ready for the cars arrival.  Not long had I squatted did I feel a hard thump on the back of my head.  I span around quickly to find the mother standing behind me yelling “move away, I want to take a photograph from this spot”.


Nursing my head with one hand while holding my camera in the other, I responded relatively calmly “Mrs Robinson that is assault and if you do that again I will have no other option than to call the police after this wedding is over”.


I don’t remember ever hearing or seeing the bride’s mother for the rest of the wedding and the bride and groom never mentioned the incident to me after the wedding.  I assumed the mother realised she was being a bit neurotic and thought it best not to mention the incident to anyone so not to increase the already strained relationship she had with her daughter.


Weddings bring out the very best and the absolute worst behaviour in people.  I think after 17 years of being a wedding photographer, that family are the worst offenders in regards to bad behaviour.


I will write a lot more about dealing with problem family members (and sometimes friends) in future posts.


For now I think you may enjoy a little lighter side of this topic.  This video captures a family celebrating a wedding in Russia.


Enjoy with the knowledge your family is not this bad





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