The first time I witnessed Emily and Bryan’s love was actually prior to them inquiring with me about the wedding they were planning – I first saw them about 1.5 years ago, when I photographed them dancing together at Emily’s cousin Elizabeth’s wedding. As you can probably imagine, I photograph a lot of couples at weddings – on the dance floor, having drinks at the cocktail hour, holding hands during the ceremony – and I’d be lying if I said I remember them all. But when it comes to Bryan and Emily, I remembered them because I remembered the way they looked at each other, and the way their foreheads found one another as they grinned and laughed. And then they eventually reached out to ask if I would photograph their wedding, and I had the chance to see that love up close.
Sometimes a wedding day comes along and it shows me a new form that these celebrations can take; I talk often about how people can do and say and make their day whatever they want, but I’m continually surprised in the best of ways when a couple shows not only me, but everyone they know and love, a new version of what that can look like. Emily was in the middle of getting into her dress that morning when she asked her bridesman, AJ, to hand her a drink, and she tipped her head back to take a gulp as they all laughed together after their calm morning of hair and makeup and watching Parks & Rec in the hotel room, and sometimes these are the little moments that give you an indication of what the rest of the day will be like.
Later that afternoon, Bryan and Emily broke off from their wedding party and the bustle of their guests filling the venue to a room upstairs, where they signed their ketubah with their siblings and parents as witnesses. This was the first of many important traditions they included within their wedding day – they chose to connect Emily’s Lutheran faith with Bryan’s Jewish faith through an interfaith ceremony led by Rev. Mary and Bruce, and it was one of the most unique, meaningful ceremonies I’ve witnessed. Their messages and traditions were seamlessly woven together and the intentionality was evident through every statement and sip of wine. From that moment on, they were mingling and taking family photos and sipping drinks and cutting their cake and being boosted up in chairs during the hora, and between the laughs and the smiles I’d catch them pausing to take brief moments away from it all, to sit quietly together and kick up their feet and acknowledge the wildness and the whirlwind that a wedding day is, and to be there with the person they just married and bask in the love surrounding them. I appreciated seeing this balance because I think after planning for something like this, you need a moment to catch your breath and recognize that you did it, and that all of the things that were important to the two of you happened and happened beautifully, and that everyone in that room had the chance to witness something special because of it.
And when I think about all of this as I edit and share a couple’s wedding photos, I often think about how I hope seeing these images helps settle the remnants of the whirlwind in their minds. I hope the wildly exciting haze of the big day you’d been planning for for so long clears a bit as the specific moments that made it up come into view, and that you can kick your feet up and bask in it together all over again.
Venue: The Morton Arboretum
Catering: Gingko Catering at the Morton Arboretum
Makeup: Pretty on Point
Hair: Juanita Morek
Dress: David’s Bridal
DJ: Crestline Entertainment
Cake: The Cakery
Florals: Annie Occasion for Any Occasion