You may have noticed that we are on a decrepit railroad bridge, Karen and Brad, and what better place to begin your engagement photo journey? You are matrimonial hobos riding the rails! You are together forever on life’s defunct infrastructures! Now: join hands and walk towards the camera on the railroad ties. We’re trying to make everyone you know and love jealous by linking your hands just so. Holy crap, check out how the light is hitting that corroded crossbeam! Karen, give me your ring for a second. I’m going to get one of the ring alone on this sooty bolt the size of my fist. Oh wow, I am really capturing the diamond’s glinting quality, Karen. I’ll think you’ll be pleased.
Now if you’ll head this way, here are some balloons for you to hold. Yes, Karen, very astute, those are other, smaller balloons inside in the shape of your and Brad’s initials. Okay, but you have to act like you just found these balloons here, or it’s not going to work. Like you walked up and discovered them tied to this unpainted split-rail fence. Look, I’ll show you. What, these? These were, like, just floating here in front of this incredibly detailed meadow simulation. Weirdest thing. Get it? Coy and surprised, coy and surprised. Oh my, is there a balloon fairy in our midst? What a stroke of luck that they have our initials in them in a sort of bloopy and whimsical font.
Okay, follow me down this path, all the way to the moldering chuck wagon. Is that a knockout of a ruined wagon or what? Here’s what I’m thinking: turn on some music in your minds and then waltz to it, but waltz to it in place so I can capture you best. Please actually stand perfectly still. You are pioneers waltzing in front of your decaying, but, in its own way, glorious wagon! You are frozen in a timeless dance, symbolizing many things! Next, Karen, can you perch on that semi-buried wheel and show off your ring to its best advantage? Now pick up that rusty rake. Now lick it. Lick the rake, Karen! Okay, yeah, understandable that you wouldn’t want to lick the rake. You’re right, probably some kind of health hazard. Brad: leg up on an axle. Maybe contemplate the tattered sail of the wagon’s top? I’ll go over here and get a shot through these stalks of wheat or whatever they are. Oh, this looks terrific. If this is not wheat, then it will certainly pass for wheat to your friends and relatives. It will certainly be remembered as wheat by posterity.
Boy, you two really nailed it back there at the chuck wagon. If we could just ride that chuck wagon energy all the way to this abandoned warehouse right around the bend. On the floor there you’ll see some props. You guys can go ahead and use those; those are for you. No, it does not matter that neither of you weld. Why would it? And stop calling it a hat thingy. It’s a welding helmet. Calling it a hat thingy is not, I have to say, very respectful to welders, and wasn’t the whole purpose of all this—the railroad bridge, the moldering chuck wagon, the split-rail fence in need of repair—wasn’t the whole point to show your down-to-earth side as an engaged couple, while also referencing touchstones of America’s agrarian and industrial past? Yes, Brad, the welding helmet looks a little heavy, but you’re not seeming all that masculine right about now. Not seeming all that groom-like. Maybe we should get the bride to wear the welding helmet if you . . . okay, yeah that’s great. Visor down. And you, Karen, grab the blowtorch and brandish it at Brad. Brandish it lovingly at Brad. This is a metaphor for your future.
All right, on to the aquatic element. Really, guys? Wow. I have to say, I’m a little disappointed that you aren’t more excited about the aquatic element. People usually freak for the aquatic element. The aquatic element is kind of what distinguishes us. But okay, whatever, not everyone can be Terrance and Chelsea. Oh, they’re nobody, just a really cooperative and photogenic couple I worked with a few weeks ago who emanate that special brand of lasting love. Just two super kids making memories in a specially designed and likely one-of-a-kind aquatic element. You will? Terrific. That’s more like it. But pay attention because you might not be able to hear me when you’re underwater. Brad, there’s no getting around the soaked jeans and diaphanous shirt. The diaphanous shirt is integral. We’re going for merman and mermaid here. Merman and mer-wife. Beg your pardon? No, I guess I don’t know if mer-society has hetero-normative marriage as property contract like we do. I’ll confess to not being totally up to date on the mythos. That’s a sword I’ll fall on, Brad. Okay, when you get down there you’ll see an anchor painted with the date of your upcoming nuptials. We truly do think of everything. What’s your lung capacity, you suppose? In that case you’re going to want to swim for the anchor as fast as you can. When you get down there, if you can fondly embrace and look up at me, while also holding in your mind our country’s complicated maritime history and picturing the cherubic faces of your future children, then I think we’ll have the shot.
Rumpus original art by Annie Daly.
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