This weekend, Adam's brother and my dear friend walked down the aisle and joined hands. We couldn't be happier for them. Last weekend was also special in that it marked the beginning of our wedding season...our last wedding season.
For 14 years, we have been a part of the happiest day of over 250 couples' lives. 258, I believe, if I counted correctly. I've loved every moment. There is something special about being a part of pure happiness. Not everyone gets to go to work and witness pure joy. We have been extremely lucky.
Now, after a decade of witnessing other people's beginnings, we embark on our OWN new beginning. 2015 will mark the "official" last year of our title as wedding photographers. As we take our lives and our business in a new direction, I can't help but feel a little nostalgic about my role in capturing couples' first moments. What an amazing experience I've had!
I'm a crier. I cry sometimes when the bride is getting ready to walk down the aisle. I've cried at first dances and first looks. Lots of "firsts" on wedding days. I've sat with a grandfather crying because his granddaughter looks so much like his own bride did 50 years ago, and now he's sitting alone after losing the love of his life only months before. I've cried with a bride who broke down during photos because she just didn't feel like she deserved the man that was going to call her his wife. I tear up at the moment I realize that the two people standing at the front of the church were really, truly meant to be together. And don't even get me started on the music. I used to check the program to see what songs were being used so that I would know how many tissues to grab. We've been fortunate enough to meet people from all walks of life. I can't imagine a religion that hasn't been represented over the last decade. We've taken communion with wedding guests, and sat in fascination of a Buddhist incense ceremony. Faith is a wonderful thing, no matter the denomination.
And then, there is the laughter... Like when cages full of butterfies were released during a couple's grand exit, only to find that ALL 200 butterflies were dead. That's funny, I don't care who you are. I've heard some hilarious best man speeches, and seen some really bad dancers trying to catch on to the Macarena. Twin flower girls once curled up on the bride's train to take a little nap during one ceremony. There are always those much needed moments of the absurd that make for great stories. I'm going to keep those moments tucked away. One day I might write a book.
My biggest lesson is this: I've learned to not say that I've "seen it all." Because, sure enough, the moment I utter those words, I'm proved wrong. I've been witness to runaway brides and a lot of last minute panic attacks. I've seen a lot of cake smashed into faces, some met with amusement, other times not so much. I've seen sound systems that refused to play, venues spring a leak and flood the dance floor, and a florist who had their calendar marked wrong, only to be found mowing their yard two hours before "Go" time. I've searched for missing wedding rings, missing groomsmen, and missing bouquets. I've pitched in, lit candles, rearranged chairs, and served food. I have occasionally taken out the garbage. All in a day's work.
I expect that we will never give weddings up completely. But, we welcome the hiatus. As newlyweds ourselves, we want to take some time to experience life and make our own memories. Our own wedding could not have been any different from some of the elaborate productions we have seen. We planned our own wedding in 48 hours! We were married in a former skating rink turned not-quite-finished church by a minister wearing jeans and a ball cap. We didn't even buy new clothes, and my mom bought my bouquet at the last minute (which was beautiful, Mom. Thank you!). After years of photographing some magazine-worthy events, we realized that the most beautiful part of the day didn't stem from a candlelit reception venue. It was in that quiet moment in front of a minister, surrounded by family, when we said our vows. It was magical. We wouldn't have changed a thing. My stint as a wedding photographer has shaped me into the person that I am today. I appreciate the tiny spaces of time, the moments in between the "MOMENTS." Those are the things worth remembering.
We wish all of our couples and their families a lifetime of love and happiness! I am thankful for every one of the families that welcomed us into their lives for such a special day. You all have brought us so much joy. We hope that the photos we captured have returned the favor. So, this year isn't the beginning of the end. Just the opposite. We're starting a new chapter in our lives. I love a happy ending, but a happy beginning is even better. Please pray for us as we navigate this whole new world as a married couple, and as business partners finding a perfect balance between work and family. We will certainly return the favor. Because while I've lost track of how many dresses I have bustled, I have not lost track of the number of couples that we have prayed for. That would be 258.