Let 2019 Bring Love: Married in Chesapeake Beach

A few days ago I got a text asking if I could take some pictures on New Years Day. “I’ll just be coming back to town,” I responded. “Why, what’s up?”

“We’re going to get married.”

So I left my plans a little early to drive home to the other side of the bay and watch as Brittany’s granddad officiated her wedding. A family already in the making came together before the people closest to them to say they do.

It was without a doubt, the most laidback wedding I have ever been witness to. Planned in a few short days, with venue and time changes happening only an hour out. But none of that ever matters anyway, right? Because the best weddings aren’t about the wedding at all; they’re about the marriage.

If these photos are giving you a little bit of deja vu, it might be because this wedding is remarkably similar to my sister’s wedding this summer. When you come up with a good formula, why mess with it?

just around the bend

I can get bored with the most marketable love story. You know the one: a boy and a girl meet when they are in their physical prime. They're fit and their skin is clear and they both have full heads of hair.

And they date for a respectable amount of time before he proposes at a point that is both reasonable but still exciting. She hasn't started to drop passive aggressive hints and her friends aren't whispering behind her back.

And they marry at a point when their careers are well established and finances are stable, but not so late that their parents worry if grandchildren are ever going to happen.

The story continues after the "I do's", although the credits have rolled. We all know what happily ever looks like. They grow old together with only the normal sorts of disagreements, both content and healthy until they die peacefully in one another's arms in their 95th year.

It's the story I want for my children. A story that doesn't involve fear that love might never find them. The story that doesn't scare me for it all happening too soon. A story with no heartbreak.

But love isn't always pretty and it doesn't always come to us in a perfect package on our 25th birthday when we are fully recovered from the breakup that happened nearly a year ago and ready to start again. And love doesn't end without at least one person's devastation.

Love comes and goes. It must be fought for and worked at. And sometimes, despite everything, it evades us for a time.

But it can return. It will. In new forms and in unlikely packages, hidden in plain sight or found on the other side of the world.

And lightning can strike twice. Happiness can find you more than once.

You can be happily married for decades and suffer the deepest heartbreak, and on the other side, there is love for you again.

I want to honor all the love stories, in all their forms. Because sometimes when we don't see these stories or hear them, we start to wonder if they actually exist, wonder if they could ever happen to us.

They do exist.

They can happen.

Have faith.

always sisters

As we walked around Jefferson Patterson Park, there were more than a few strange looks. Three brides? And there are plenty of jokes to be made. Sister wives?

But strange looks, jokes, and confusion aside, these sisters are beautiful and a pleasure to photograph.  They have fun when they are together. They laugh and move with ease, teasing each other and complimenting one another in the same breath. 

So much of my identity as woman comes from my understanding of what it means to be a sister. What it means to have years of jokes and hurt feelings living together in a memory of unconditional love.  Getting to spend a golden hour with these three sisters reminded me of the power of sisterhood. And certainly the beauty of it.

wild shore

I love the water in all her iterations.

I love it when she's steamy and the shore stretches on forever.

I love it when she's calm and still, a glass castle bouncing off the sounds of children and birds and fleeing fish.

And maybe I love her most when she's moody. When she eats the at the earth with an insatiable appetite. When she is wild and free and full of life. 

And we get to stand at her edges, soggy and silenced, completely aware, and maybe slightly afraid,  of her power. 

to be remembered

My 2017 wedding season just wrapped up, and I've been busy talking with bride's planning next year's events. And autumn just started, and this time of year always makes me reflective.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about the great honor of getting to capture a wedding in one of the only tangible ways we have available. To try to make and find images that will speak the truth of the day for generations to come. It's not something I take lightly.

I love memories. I love their fuzzy edges and their rock hard centers that punch you in the guts. The way they leave you teary-eyed and grateful and angry that time passes so damn quickly.

And I love that I have made a job of collecting them for other people. I love that I get to look and listen and feel, and then, I get to give them back so that in years a white-haired old woman will pull out a dusty old album to show to her great-granddaughter as that young woman plans her own future. I like to think what that woman with the trembly hands and voice might say. The bits she will recall as she looks back on pictures of that handful of hours she planned for, saved for, hoped for.

Chances are, I won't be remembered. And while my ego is no small force, that realization doesn't sting. I'm happy to think that something I have made will be cherished for so long. It makes me feel brighter, fuller, richer.

Nikki and Reid's wedding was thoughtful. They wove generations through it, getting married in the house her grandfather built, under the same trees he sought shade under. Each detail was executed by their own hands or the hands of those they love: the food, the blankets their friends lounged on, the wooden tables, their rings. And it was done with such unwavering confidence, or rather, maybe unwavering competence. A union between two people who within moments of knowing, you feel certain that they could do almost anything. And how beautiful that they have chosen to do whatever it is that they will with each other.  

That great-granddaughter who will sit by Nikki many years from now will know her grandparents loved each other well. And she will know that her grandmother was strong and smart and capable of complete independence, but that she wanted to do life with an extra handsome physicist.