The first thing you need to know about Elyse and JR’s wedding day was that this was their “Plan C” – they were originally supposed to get married in May 2020, but then postponed with their vendors to November. Once we got into the fall months and after some complications with their original venue, Elyse and JR decided to pivot again, this time canceling with the indoor venue altogether, moving the date up to September, and taking their entire celebration outdoors. It was (another) huge shift, and by the time they were changing gears to Plan C, I was already monumentally impressed by these two and their ability to roll with the punches.
I think this is one of the many reasons why when this day finally arrived and as I watched them so joyously in the midst of the moments you see here, I cried more than I’d cried at a wedding in a really, really long time.
They spent their mornings with their friends and family – Elyse at her parents’ place, JR at the home the two of them share – and they had drinks and joked and got excited about the day ahead. We arrived at the property where the ceremony and reception would take place and it was clear that this process had been a labor of love as the finishing touches were being put on the table décor and the beautiful arbor. The arbor actually fell over a few times throughout the day, and each time the wedding coordinators and the groomsmen and some of the bridesmaids would jump in, working together to re-stake it and laughing about how they hoped it made it through the ceremony. (And it did!) Their ceremony was thoughtful and fun, just like the two of them. Their loved ones shared readings about how marriage is sometimes not beautiful and instead can be messy and hard, and how great it can truly be because of all this, and we were all reminded that we were looking on at two people who had already been in the midst of that and stood smiling in front of us despite it all. From there they enjoyed one of my favorite cocktail hours ever, as they sipped on delicious cocktails, smoked cigars, and mingled with their loved ones on this perfect fall day that they had finally made it to, quite imperfectly.
I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I love observing Elyse and JR together – they’re lively and playful and witty and energetic in a way that gives their relationship a sense of dynamism, because to watch them is to feel their force as a couple. You want to be in their presence, to watch them laugh and dance and ice each other and hug on their friends, simply because it feels damn good to do so. I loved watching the way they shared looks with their younger siblings as Elyse’s sister and JR’s brother both spoke of their lifelong admiration toward their older sib, and again later when they would casually find their new siblings on the dance floor. So to say I was overcome with emotion throughout this day feels sort of obvious, and yet, I’m saying it anyway – because watching their day made me realize that in a year that made weddings and life so complicated, it felt good to let their joy engulf me. It was a much needed reminder that because so many things can go wrong, it feels that much better when something finally goes right. I was photographing everyone on the dance floor later that evening, and as the band played “When My Time Comes” by Dawes, and Elyse turned to her girlfriends and they all belted the lyrics as hard as they could, everything was right.
Band: Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press
Florist: Linnaea Floral
Coordination: Willow Street Weddings
Dress: Lovely Bride
Videography: Sculpted Films
Paperie Design: Thea Baldwin
Hair + Makeup: Taryn & Patty
Bakery: Nothing Bundt Cakes