It never occurred to me when we got married to get our wedding photos printed in black and white. I’m not sure why not; they make everything look classy and would hide the fact that I thought yellow, handmade bridesmaid dresses were a good idea. And now, with the explosion of scrapbooking, you can get picture corners and three-tiered wedding cake stickers and cool quotes like “love conquers all” and “OMG! Grooms cake!” I simply had to recreate my wedding in an album. With sayings and fake diamonds that could be applied with craft glue.
Over the last decade, I’ve occasionally (as in no more than seventeen thousand times) contacted our wedding photographer to see if he could print one or two pictures, seeing that we didn’t have two nickels to spend on photos when we got married. He was finally so sick of (1) me and (2) looking up negatives from years ago that he sold me the entire box of negatives for two hundred bucks as long as I promised to forget his phone number.
I trucked down to Wolf Camera and dumped my box-o-negatives on their counter, convinced by the one-hour-guarantee that I would have my scrapbook completed by sundown. The store employee glanced at the negatives with disgust and touched them with the tips of his fingers like I had brought in cartons of old expired yogurt.
The employee told me I should make three-by-five prints of every negative so I could see what pictures I like best. But that would require more money and another trip to the camera store, and I didn’t have any use for pictures that made me look the size of a soldier ant. So I declined and just tried to look at them in the store to narrow them down, but all I saw was a woman in a black dress apparently holding dead black flowers. I’m not good at translating opposites.
While I’m trying to determine if people’s eyes are open or closed in pictures taken years ago, my son decides that he hates camera stores and that he needs to eat immediately and that, in case I was unaware, his arms do have the capacity to hit random objects and pull down camera cases as we barrel past them in a stroller. Despite the fact that prints were seventy cents each, I just told the employee to process the entire box and left with my screaming son.
Two weeks later, I went to pick them up. My hands were sweating and my mouth salivating at the mere thought of all those black-and-whites. The kissing. The cake cutting. The dancing. The distant glares out a country-club window. The re-creation to make our wedding look better than it actually did.
When I got home, I ripped open the package of photos, anxious to pick out which ones would be enlarged to hang on our upstairs wall. But I didn’t recognize any of faces. I didn’t have a clue who all those people were staring back at me on paper. That certainly wasn’t my Four-Seasons cake. Is that a Catholic priest? Why are there twelve bridesmaids standing around holding roses?
As it turns out, someone named Rosalinda got married to a short dude and had an inordinately large number of cousins. They had a fabulous time! There was a DJ and cake! There were lots of smiling faces and cheap alcohol! I shook my head. It’s not like I could go back to the photo lab and say, uh, sorry. This isn’t my wedding. I want my three hundred dollars back.
A few mixed in the bunch were of me in my wedding gown, half sun-damaged and faded. There was one of my grandmother with her face in a contorted position, and yet another of me trying on my wedding dress, a petticoat up around my neck. I thought perhaps I should just embrace the disaster and make an album dedicated to Rosalinda instead. They were such a joyful bunch. After all, I have all the stickers.