Today I’m getting personal. While the house is silent of daily chaos, I’m reminiscing on the story I share with our new couples, and my heart aches with each keyboard click. Most of you know me only as a wedding photographer, not the twenty-year old with a toddler almost two decades ago planning her own wedding. Back when I knew nothing about the wedding industry and didn’t even own a camera. I was the black sheep of the family. The first grandchild, the one everyone had dreamed would go to college, ended up graduating high school six months pregnant and working at a grocery store. I have to admit, life wasn’t easy. At times, it was really tough. But would I go back and change a thing? Not a chance. It formed me into the strong woman I am today (even though I’m typing this through tears). With that little one growing in my belly, this time in life would transform our lives and open up doors to a career we never even know existed.
I was the first of my friends to be getting married. I had never been a bridesmaid, I had actually never even been to a wedding. All I knew is I had the most amazing man in my life, who had put a ring on my finger, and asked to spend an eternity with me. That’s all that mattered. So where does a bride-to-be that knows nothing about wedding planning start? A bridal show of course! I was pinned with the “Bride” sticker and walked that show with a hop in my step and an act like I knew everything. Chaz and I walked the floor hand-in-hand sampling cakes, smelling flowers, and planning our dream honeymoon. Any wedding planning nerves were gone and we were confident we could book all our wedding vendors in one spot.
We came across a photographer who had these huge canvases hung all over his backdrop with special lights pointed in every which direction. In our mind at the time, he must be amazing, right? He’s at a bridal show, he has three great photos hung up, and a sample wedding album. Plus, if we hire him on the spot, we get a discount. We just have to hire him! And we did. Oh boy, I pause here for a moment shaking my head, just wondering what were we thinking. But we didn’t know any better.
We met him at his day job office during his break. He sounded professional and we had our engagement session. Everything seemed to be going smoothly. The wedding day had arrived and we were SO excited! He was the only one who knew after our vows of the grand exit we’d planned. We’re mountain bikers. Like a true die-heart mountain biking family, so our exit was us to ride away on a tandem bicycle. It was perfect. We had practiced, just without me in my dress. Image this… I’m in a huge puffy dress, sidesaddle, on grass, plus we have to make a turn. This was our big moment and it went PERFECT! Everyone stood and hooray’d as we rode away. That moment will be etched in my mind forever.
Months and months after the wedding we kept getting the run around about when we would receive our wedding photos. He wouldn’t respond to emails or phone calls. We actually went by his office that we had met with him at before, which was now empty. Our hearts sank. Where was this “professional” we though we had hired. This man who held all the photo memories of our wedding day was gone. Just like that. I think in our minds, we had wrapped around the thought we just weren’t getting any of wedding images. There was nothing else we could really do. Then one day about six months after the wedding, we receive a call from my mother-in-law that we had received a package. Her home was where I had gotten ready on our wedding day, so the photographer had been there before. We opened the box to find two small white albums filled with proof size prints. I just started crying. Our wedding images were in our hands. We shuffled quickly to our tandem bike getaway to find not one single image of in the book. I can’t tell you exactly what the note in the box said, but it ended with “I’m sorry the roll of film with your bike ride was lost.” That moment it was heartbreaking.
After we shared this story with our best man and his wife, she mentioned she had taken a few photos while in the audience of our getaway and would give us the photos once developed. To our surprise, she captured THE image we to this day have HUGELY framed above our bed. This one single image, with my mother-in-law with three year old Rachel cheering us on in the corner, is what I want to be past down from generations to come. This is the one moment I want to be remembered. We had just pledged our love to each other in front of all our family and friends. From that day, we’ve traveled all over the country with our bikes in tow. We call it, our life cycles.
Now you know where I come from, and what our wedding photography experience was. We know what it’s like to be on the other end and that’s why we do what we do. Photography to us isn’t just about snapping pictures, anyone can do that. It’s about a friendship we have with each and every one of our couples, and our promise to serve them exactly as we would have wanted to be served. We go over and beyond for our couples, because we wouldn’t have it any other way.