I’ve been nervous about blogging this one. Typically, when I write about what being a part of a wedding day was like, there’s no pressure. I can pen a few sentences about how kind the couple was or how welcoming their families were or how beautiful the light was or all three, and be done with it. It’s a format, and just because it repeats itself doesn’t mean it’s devoid of meaning.
This wedding isn’t so easy for me to approach with some formulaic paragraphs on the nature of my interactions, both with the camera and the people in front of it. This couple isn’t like my other couples. It’s not that I love the rest of you less, it’s just that I love these two more. Sorry. I said it. They’ve been in my life individually for a long time, since before they were even glimmers in one another’s lives, since before they were commenting on one another’s myspace walls or using falling leaves as a means of flirtation. I’ve already talked about their talents in illustration, photography, and comedy when I shared their engagement session, but today I want to talk about their talent to keep going, to persevere when there are many signs around you telling you it’s going to be hard, or challenging. So, allow me to present the story of Heidi and Aaron’s wedding: An Allegory for Adulthood.
When I woke up the morning of Heidi and Aaron’s wedding, I was nervous. I could see that the forecast wasn’t looking good, and since they first got engaged and we began talking about their wedding, all Heidi talked about was an outdoor backyard ceremony at the home where she grew up near Lake Huron. It wasn’t raining yet, but the sky had that “just wait, it’s coming” shade of grey to it, and it was cold: mid 50s near the end of June. “I just know it’s not what she hoped for” I said to my husband, as we drove to Heidi’s childhood home, stopping at target for 3 umbrellas along the way.
We arrived, things were running a bit behind. Preparations were being made to protect the tent from the rain. Heidi was in sweatpants eating leftover chicken noodle soup. I was worried she would be crushed and sad about the weather, but she was something else. She was resolute. Aaron is one of those people who just wants the people he loves to be happy, so if Heidi wasn’t freaking out, he wasn’t freaking out.
We stood around, talking about the rain, the entire time me insuring Heidi (and myself) that I was down for whatever and the rain wasn’t going to stop me. “My camera and lenses are weather sealed and I brought my rain boots.” The truth is, as photographer, we can wax poetic about how romantic rain is, or how it’s good luck, but those are just things you tell people to make them feel better about rain on their wedding day (cue Alanis). The fact is, it’s a pain in the ass and everyone knows it.
Finally, I herded Heidi inside, told her she needed to start getting ready if this thing was going to happen on time. Fast forward an hour or so to the first look, there was a light misting threatening to be real rain. I checked the dark sky app on my phone every 2 minutes, trying to help Heidi and Aaron make the call on if we were going to be able to do the ceremony outside in the backyard as she had always imagined, or if we would need to shuffle everyone into the tent in order to keep people dry. About 3 minutes before the ceremony was set to start, the forecast updated and my phone informed me we were about to have 25 minutes without rain (seriously, Dark Sky is that accurate). I told them we could do the ceremony outside, but we needed to start drying off the chairs now.
We got towels, wedding guests pitched in, the chairs were dried, and the ceremony started exactly on time, almost down to the second. The rain held off for 20 minutes so Heidi and Aaron could say a bunch of nice stuff to each other in front of everyone (their words, not mine), and as they shared their first kiss as a married couple, the rain started to trickle down. You’ve had your fun, kids. Now it’s going to storm.
And storm it did. Turns out it was one of the windiest days of the year. So windy, in fact, that a tree blew over and came through roof of the tent. Seriously. When the man from the tent company came to see the damage, he informed us that another tent at a backyard wedding on the lake had collapsed with people inside of it. They measured hurricane force winds on Lake Huron. Mother Nature was not playing.
Through the entire day, Heidi and Aaron stayed focused on one another, on their families, on their commitment. No one complained that their curls fell flat or that their shoes go covered in mud. People huddled together in groups of 3 under umbrellas to walk back and forth to the bathrooms and when the wind started to blow the tent walls loose, wedding guests pitched in to fasten them back down. Everyone was together, in that small tent with it’s hole in the roof, enjoying one another and ignoring the storm.
It’s no coincidence that I’m choosing to blog this wedding after my husband and I spent the weekend with Heidi and Aaron in Chicago. Their character, the type of people they are, and the type of moments that make their love work are fresh in my mind. At one point this weekend, as we reminisced about their wedding, Heidi said something along the lines of “It was a shit show, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was amazing.”
So without further ado, here is the amazing shit show that was Heidi and Aaron’s wedding.
(Sidebar: My husband was there not just as a friend, but also to film the wedding. The result took my breath away, and I’ll share that first. You can find out more about his work at http://clarkmotionpictureco.com).
PS: I wasn’t lying about the tree thing.