Category Archives: DESTINATION WEDDING
I’d never found myself getting emotional at a ceremony before Monika and Chris’ wedding. There was something about the orthodox Coptic ceremony that felt so connected to history, so rooted in story and tradition. It was beautiful, and it moved me more than I was expecting. The priests, the choir, the robes and crowns, and the sheer length of it made such a distinct impression, especially when you compare it to the casual, efficient ceremonies we often see in the northwest. Neither is better than the other, on the contrary, I see them working hand in hand to highlight the vast beauty the humanity of our world holds. Our separateness as people is so often a negative, just watch the news. That being said, I found myself drawn into a community I wasn’t a part of, but was invited to enjoy, quite literally, in fact. I was given strict (and stern) instructions from one of the priests before the ceremony about never stepping up on stage, and any time I went back stage, beyond the threshold of the pulpit area, my shoes must be removed. I’ve photographed orthodox ceremonies, so this was no problem, and I never get on stage during a ceremony. I removed my shoes for the whole ceremony, problem solved. Then, to my surprise, the eldest priest waved my up on the stage during the ceremony. I enjoy being as invisible as possible at weddings, so this was far outside my comfort zone, and I hesitated. He locked eyes with me and insistently waved me up. Up I went, an outsider, a firm hand on my shoulder from a man I’d never met, who didn’t speak a word to me in my language, and I forgot all about the lack of invisibility for a few short moments.
The father of the bride sent me a wooden cross in the mail, and it sits on the stand to my monitor, along with school pictures of my kids and polaroids of a couple friends who run a local dance studio, as well as one of me and my wife that my daughter took. I keep it there as a reminder that you can build your chosen family out of whomever you invite in.
It’s quite possible people read these posts and wish I would shut up and tell me about her dress, and which caterer they used. I wouldn’t blame you if you felt that way, it just seems like there are so many large wedding blogs that cover those kinds of details already. For me, I can’t help but tell wedding stories from my own perspective. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to hear the same “OMG WHAT A GORG BRIDE AND OMG I CAN’T EVEN WITH THESE FLOWERS Y’ALL” over and over again. Ignoring the fact that it would be beyond disingenuous, seeing as how that isn’t how I talk, it feels boring and sterile. I see so much vibrancy in the couples I am fortunate enough to photograph, and I always want to do them justice.
The couple planned an immaculate wedding, and Detroit did not disappoint. Both elegant and regal, Monika and Chris have an undeniable magnetism, a gravity that is hard to escape or ignore (not that I even tried). You can see it in the faces of their friends and family, and most certainly in the way they look at each other. I was an outsider for only a short while at this wedding, welcomed into the extended family made up of siblings, parents, and friends. It still gives me hope when I think about it… we all have the opportunity to show hospitality to each other on a daily basis. We don’t even have to be particularly magnetic personalities.
WORDS OF ADVICE FROM THE BRIDE: The paradox of choice is something that is very real and can become paralyzing—but only if you let it. The choices and decisions a couple makes during wedding planning are no exception. This is probably obvious, but keep the fact that you are choosing one another at the forefront of every decision you make. At the end of the day, your marriage is what will make the rest of the day perfect. Surround yourself with people who will listen to your tantrums (be it the bride or groom), supply wine and chocolate on command, or bring you back to earth when appropriate. Find an outlet other than these people to release your stresses, because these people are feeling stressed too (see: MOB, MOH(s), bridesmaids, in-laws, siblings, etc.). Don’t let crazy wedding-brain get in the way of showing these people how much you love them; it is very easy to take these people for granted. You know they love you, so show them you love them.
That being said, it is your day. Let your relationship with your fiancé and your shared (and separate) tastes design what your day will look like. Sure, some things will maybe make the day ‘more perfect,’ but nothing will overshadow your love for each other and all the love that people are sharing with you. It is a remarkable feeling and one that you cannot be prepared for. The time spent planning will pass quickly. Be fully present with yourself and with one another. Don’t underestimate how much you can grow as a couple during this phase. And remember -it is a phase! After all, you will be married.
Sometimes in life you have to call an audible. It’s tough to see what is coming your way until it stares you in the face. Football season is starting, so you get a football reference, but I promise it makes sense. Urban Dictionary time: For non-football folks, it means “to decide what to do at the last second after seeing all possible options and obstacles that come up. It comes from football, seen when the quarterback goes up to the line of scrimmage, sees a defensive alignment he wasn’t expecting, and adjusts by yelling out a new play.” There are occasions when planning a wedding and you realize things lined up differently than expected. Audible time.
Alyssa and Adam switched from planning a good-sized Oregon wedding, to a small destination event in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, where Alyssa has family. Fun fact, if you ever go, wear your fitbit… it’s fun to see how much more you walk when that’s your best option. 18 miles and 58 flights of stairs later, we spent a memorable day in the rain, visiting landmarks like the Castle, the Charles Bridge, the square with the Astronomical Clock, and some sort of magic luck-dispensing genitalia statue. I really don’t know what to tell you about that one.
Everyone involved in the wedding treated me like family, and that’s not an exaggeration. I sat with them at dinner (hellooo duck and polenta at Villa Richter Piano Nobile), and I stayed with them in the flat (I think it had 58 flights of stairs all by itself). It’s always such a privilege to be invited into people’s world at their weddings. The stillness of the private moments, the boisterous joy of the celebration… being along for the ride is quite the honor.
Cheers to the many happy decades to follow.
WORDS OF ADVICE FROM THE BRIDE: Weddings are hard, stressful, and often result in a large consumption of wine mixed with tears of frustration and happiness. I might sound pessimistic, but I’m not. I want to offer counter-advice to every article written telling you that planning your wedding is filled with nothing but stress-free happiness. I should add, despite all the stress that came with planning, I can honestly say our wedding was perfect for us and the best day of my life. I had more fun and felt more love than I ever could have imagined.
My best advice is to make sure the wedding you have is the one you want. Don’t let other people influence your decision, and recognize that it can be a stressful process, and that’s ok. If planning sucks, grab a bottle of wine and vent to your sister, best friend, mother, dog, or whoever will listen until you laugh about how ridiculous everything can be. Honor what you and your significant other want, in the end that’s what is going to matter for that day, not to mention the rest of your lives. Most importantly….have fun! You’re getting married, and that is definitely something to celebrate. I promise you, your wedding will end up exceeding all your expectations, and you will feel more happiness in that one day than you had imagined… if you let it.
The internet has created a strangely connected world. Not only are products and information readily available, so are new people and potential relationships. There are countless friends I would never have met without three little, sequential w’s, and I am really grateful for that. The internet has opened doors to business opportunities, photographic inspiration, and a wealth of resources. Plus, Netflix. 😉
Brittany found me on Green Wedding Shoes because of another elopement which featured a couple referred to me by another photographer I have never met, although I “facebook know her.” The elopement was in Glacier National Park, which is definitely a location that was on my bucket list, and elopements also make my heart so happy. I love connecting those kinds of dots. From the moment Brittany, Scott, and I scouted locations for the next day, I was positive that this was going to be my kind of wedding… and my kind of couple. The whole weekend did not disappoint. A dress modeled after Grace Kelly’s wedding gown, a couple with such a visible connection, bison burgers, snow (kind of, I guess), and views that just do something to you, at a soul level. This is a couple I want to remember, and a place I know I probably won’t soon forget.