It was some time in June when I received a message from a woman named Karen for more information on our wedding photography. Usually, the wedding date is some distance away but this was a lot sooner. In fact is was in about a month's time.
After talking with Karen on the phone she explained that her and her fiancee, Steve, were having a low key wedding on July 12th and their photographer had backed out last minute. They had chosen a friend to shoot the wedding who wasn't a professional but someone they thought could do the job and was close to their family. She had been scrambling to find a replacement and seemed very happy to see that I had the date open. From there she went into some more details about their situation...
She told me that her fiancee, Steve, didn't really want to get married and that it was her who had convinced him. I thought it was strange that she was telling me this and it honestly didn't matter too much to me. However it happens it happens. I listened on. Karen went on to explain that Steve was sick and the reason he didn't want to get married wasn't because he didn't feel ready, or that he thought they were happy enough in the relationship they were in. It was because he didn't know how long he was going to live. Steve was terminally ill with cancer.
I listened quietly as Karen explained that he looked fine and that the medication was working well but that it was probably a matter of time until the cancer started to evolve and counteract the effects. It didn't matter. She was so in love with him and this wedding was very important. She told me it was important to have good pictures of their wedding day because one day those pictures would be a big part of remembering him.
I can't remember how long the phone call took but when it was over I started to realize how important this was. This was a big deal!
I called my brother and told him the story and he was as shocked as I was. Karen didn't need to tell me all this. I could have showed up and done my job and been non the wiser but she wanted me to know. She wanted me to be a part of their important day. I hadn't felt this way about my job before and it felt good in a strange way.
The day arrived. The ceremony was in Andover MA in a wildlife preserve. It was a 5 minute walk down a path to get to the spot. Along the way there were small signs leading the way with inspirational sayings on them. A friend was putting everything together when I arrived. There was a runner leading to the altar with inspirational phrases and sayings written on it as well. Guests arrived and it got underway with Karen arriving very stylishly in a golf cart she convinced a nearby hotel to let her borrow!
As with most weddings this one flew by. It was a happy occasion and there was no sadness or looks of pity. It was about miracles and a day that they never thought would happen. But it did. Towards the end of the day we had just finished shooting some group shots with family and friends and Karen pulled me aside and told me that I was a part of this miracle and that she was so thankful that I was there. I almost think that it meant just as much to me as it did her!
When I got home and started looking through the shots it was hard not to get a lump in my throat. The reason I enjoy wedding photography is that you capture raw emotion in people. Formal shots are great but nothing replaces that image of someone right in the middle of one of the happiest and most important times in their life. Every wedding is a special day but the emotion involved in Karen and Steve's big day was noticeably palpable and unique.
I wish them nothing but the best and know that their love will last forever.