There I was, in the middle of the aisle, my camera firmly placed against my right eye, focused, ready to document the bride and grooms’ first kiss as man and wife. I was poised and ready, like usual, to open rapid fire with my camera’s shutter as soon as I heard the words “You can now, kiss the bride.” Normally, this would be a very familiar scenario for me because I have professionally photographed weddings for the past 16 years. That day, however, was not just any old wedding.
My 9 year old daughter was a junior bridesmaid, my 6 year old son was a junior groomsman. Not to mention, I had known the groom since I was 13 years old. As the officiant proudly pronounced, “I now present to everyone, Mr. & Mrs. Shawn Gipford”, I froze and was instantly transported back in time. You see, 11 years prior was the last time I heard those EXACT words; on my own wedding day.
As I said before, this wasn’t just any old wedding I was photographing. It was actually my ex-husband’s second marriage.
I know, right? Pretty weird. Sometimes I forget the exact level of weirdness. I can’t speak for my ex-husband or Tina (his new wife) but, personally, I don’t think it is weird at all. Wait, let me rephrase that. Personally, I don’t think it SHOULD be weird and I’m still trying to figure out why, generally speaking, it’s considered so unusual. It’s actually right up there on my “best days ever” list, just underneath “childbirth” and “crossing the marathon finish line”. I wasn’t there as a favor to my ex-husband or his new wife, I wasn’t there to pry or “catch a glimpse” of my long lost love. I was there for my children. I graciously accepted the offer to be their wedding photographer because I wanted my kids to know, without a doubt, that mom was 100% O.K. with Dad getting remarried. Getting paid for it, was just icing on the cake!
And if that little glimpse into my past has struck you as interesting, then let me tell you, there is more where that came from. Which is exactly why, not only did I decided write a book, 6 years later, but it’s also the reason why I asked my ex-husband’s wife to co-author it. I figured hey, why not add to our already weird story! And the best part? I didn’t even have to lay out any fancy bribes, twist her arm or beg her to agree. Of course, I was a little worried that she wouldn’t be on board when I asked her about it because even though I knew in my heart it would be amazing, I had no clue what her reaction would be. Clearly, for at least that moment, I had forgotten that Tina was just as passionate, if not more, than I, when it came to co-parenting.
It was decided and agreed upon right then and there, outside on my ex-husband’s patio, Mother’s Day, 2018 (of all days!) that we were co-authoring a co-parenting book together. I would share my collection of stories from the mom perspective, and Tina would share the same story but from the stepmom perspective. Maybe we would let Shawn write a little blurb? Maybe.
Speaking of Shawn, if you could have seen his face when Tina and I came back into the house after our private meeting on the patio that day, discussing the book idea. The look on his face was absolutely priceless. Poor guy wasn’t sure if he should be worried of a conspiracy theory or happy and supportive that his wife and ex-wife just had a private conversation together. I just smiled and figured I’d let Tina break the news to him after I left.
Basically, it all boils down to one thing. Co-parenting is hard. Not just “I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning” hard, but downright “My identity was stolen and my bank accounts were drained” type of hard. It wasn’t any picnic in the park for us either but somehow and someway, the 3 of us have made it work. Our style might be considered “weird” but it has worked for us and we can’t help but think it might just work for some of you too. If you can take something positive away from our experience than documenting our unique journey was more than worth it.
Secretly, I am only writing this book in order to find out if anyone else has photographed their ex’s wedding in order to indeed find out if I’m weird or not… but shhh… don’t tell anyone.
No but seriously, just kidding! (As Ellen DeGeneres would say.)
Do you have a co-parenting story to tell? We want to hear it!
What’s hard? What’s worked? What hasn’t? We want to feature your co-parenting stories on our blog.