By Mike Jones
These newlyweds appear to have hit a rocky patch already – posing for an extreme wedding photo shoot 400 feet up a cliff.
Brave bride, Melissa Kornexl can be seen hanging perilously from the cliff face at Cathedral Ledge in New Hampshire as she appears to put all her faith in her new husband, James, to stop her plummeting to the ground.
However, the clever snaps, taken by Jay and Vicki from Philbrick Photography, actually cleverly disguise harnesses safely anchoring the couple to the rock.
The daring newlyweds braved winds of 45 miles per hour to capture the unique photos and climbing guide, Marc Chauvin, cut holes in Melissa’s wedding dress and James’ suit to thread a rope through and stop the couple falling.
Melissa, 26, said: “If we were to fall to our death, at least it would be well documented.
“Some special rigging was in order for the cliff hanger shot. Everything was possible because of Marc’s brilliance with ropes.
“He repelled down and started in on my dress. A Swiss army knife, a bit of blood shed and a few minutes of struggle and Marc managed to get through all of the dress layers and get me secured to the cliff side.
“With the same dull knife, James cut a small hole in his jacket to run my rope through his sleeve to the anchor in the wall.
“I stepped back off the edge of the cliff, letting the rope and anchor hold all of my weight. Once my feet were set on the rock face below the ledge, I grabbed my husband’s hand.
“With some position coaching from Jay, he was able to get some amazing shots.
“At that point I had completely forgotten how cold I was. All that went through my mind was how dapper my husband looked on this beautiful autumn morning, and that this was an experience of a lifetime, unlike any others, that held no regret, no matter the outcome.
“When it was time to get a different angle. I was able to pull myself back up onto the ledge, and sat there at my husband’s feet, holding onto his left leg as Jay climbed back up to shoot from above us.
“It was time to get back into position but this time was not so smooth.
“As I scooted off the edge, I couldn’t manage to find the same foot holds I had on the previous attempt, and swung off to the side. No big deal until I heard the rope and the cams.
“As I swung, James was pulled a little off kilter because my rope went through his sleeve. The rope and the cams that connected us to the anchor in the wall rubbed against the rock, making a less than desirable noise.
“That moment was the only time I considered the potential for a very real possibility; this could be the end of me.
“At the end of the day, we had some beautiful photos. My wedding dress may be gouged, haphazardly sewn back together, adorned with a bit of blood, pine needles, and colour from smoke grenades but it is beautiful and unlike any other.
“We have a story to share and an experience that we would gladly do again.”
Photographer Jay, who used to work as a climbing guide, added: “We are well known for our photos of couples and individuals in dramatic locations. We often use this cliff for these kinds of dramatic portraits.
“We had photographed this couple’s wedding earlier in the season and they wanted to do a portrait session on the cliff.
“Besides our normal images of the couple standing on the ledge, they had the idea of doing a ‘cliffhanger’ shot of the groom hanging onto the bride while she is hanging off the ledge.
“Everyone was always safely anchored to the rock. No one was ever at any real risk.”
“We always use a highly trained mountain guide, certified to an international standard to do all the rigging, climbing, and safety work on these sessions. I myself used to be a professional climbing guide.
“We don’t approach these sessions lightly. A lot of thought and effort goes into making these sessions as safe as possible.
“The techniques and methods used are not obvious. There is a lot of advanced rope work and redundancy in use. Don’t try this at home.”