I recently photographed a wedding that I didn't talk about much. I wanted to keep it private, to respect the family. The bride, Bethany, however, decided to share her love story - in a very big way. I admire her for having the courage and honesty to do so. It's an amazing story that should inspire others and reinvigorate your belief in love. It's also the perfect close to big chapter in my own life.
Those who know me know that I officially "retired" from photographing weddings last year. I have done it for 20 years and loved it, but I was ready to grow in other ways. I left the door slightly open, however, to do charity and very special events. This was one of those special events.
We got a call from our friends at the restaurant where this event was to be held - just days before the wedding. The bride had to move their wedding date way up because the groom had terminal cancer and they couldn't wait until their originally scheduled date. Their original photographer couldn't make the new date and they needed a good photographer - quickly. We agreed immediately without any discussion of fees. Frankly, we didn't plan to charge them anything - although the bride graciously insisted on paying us anyway.
The wedding was beautifully arranged, in a lovely romantic setting. Everything was wonderful - although it was honestly the most emotional and difficult event I've ever had to photograph. The love in the air was very different from the "typical" love at most weddings. It was rich, honest, and powerful. There was not a hint of pretense. It was an unusual kind of love – mixed with sadness, thankfulness, loss, and hope.
Bethany kept her beautiful composure as best she could, and Ryan managed a warm smile and deep hug for every person in the room. He was only able to stay until just after the ceremony, then had to leave. Bethany took him to the hotel to rest, then returned to the reception alone to be with her friends and family. I overheard them sharing fond stories of how they met, places they've travelled, and people they'd loved.
Ryan passed just over a month after their wedding. I am honored to have been able to document this poignant event in their lives and I am deeply thankful to Bethany, her family, and Ryan's family for their graciousness and trust in Clare and I.