When I photographed my first wedding, I had only attended a few weddings in my entire life. And yet there I was, throwing myself head first into a world I knew very little about (so little, in fact, that I was changing lenses during the “first kiss” of that wedding because I knew next to nothing about the general order of events within a wedding ceremony – thank goodness for the understanding couple who was willing to do a reenactment shot, amirite?) I’ve learned a lot since then, and one of the biggest takeaways is a bit of a cliché, but hear me out – that ultimately, something will go wrong on your wedding day. Sometimes it’s big, sometimes it’s tiny, and sometimes you don’t find out about it until weeks later because everyone was trying to hide it from you on your big day. But it’ll happen.
On Jenna and Joe’s wedding day, it definitely happened. While the original plan was for Jenna’s mom to help her get into her wedding dress, life got in the way and she ended up not being able to be there in time to do so. While I see things “go wrong” all the time at weddings, this one broke my heart a little extra for them. I have yet to experience motherhood, but I imagine this as one of those moments a mother may envision sharing with her daughter: helping her tie the bow on the back of her dress, watching her put on her earrings and giggle nervously, giving her that big hug as you hold back tears. So when Gretchen wasn’t able to be there in that moment, and despite the sheer amount of weddings I’ve shot, my heart did a deep sinking on this one.
The day was filled with so many happy moments from there – Jenna and Joe’s first look on his family’s farm, and a greeting from Buford, the family dog, and a beautiful ceremony in a small town church, and drinks and dancing and cigars with friends and family embraces. The first moments for Jenna and her mother were emotional ones, where they shared what felt like a mixture of happy and sad tears. But as the afternoon turned into evening, I felt myself grin as their tears turned to laughs, and watched as they were in the midst of creating the memories that would top that initial one of “how they’ll remember their wedding day”. Jenna’s parents welcomed the wedding guests at the reception with a toast, wherein they spoke of how much they love Joe and his parents, and how much they admire the community they’ve all fostered with their neighbors, and family, and friends. And I thought about how fortunate a group of people can be when they’re surrounded by mutual admiration in the way that Joe and Jenna and their two sets of parents are with one another. There are so many other big, important memories that Joe and Jenna are going to create in the future beyond their wedding day, and I have no doubt that all of these people will be right beside them, hugging and crying happy tears and rooting for them every step of the way.
Church: Wiley Lutheran Church of Ellisville
Reception Venue: Jerry Lewis Barn in Good Hope, IL
Dress: Adore Bridal and Specialty
DJ: All Occasions DJ’s
Tuxedos: Ducky’s Formal Wear
Bridal Cake: Cake Creations by DeAnn Price
Catering: M & E Catering | Becky Ellison of Monmouth, IL
Invitations + Programs: Kellogg Printing of Monmouth, IL
Flowers: Cooks and Company | Galesburg, IL
Hair: Becca Price & Jacqueline Clark
Settee + Vintage Furniture: Vintage Finds by Jenna’s Mother
Catering Tent & Linens: Peoria Rental
Tables + Chairs: Sara Chance | Good Hope, IL
Videographer: Shoot Your Day Video | Eric Hanson