I can remember so vividly the day that I very hopefully emailed a wedding photographer asking if I could just assist with a wedding of hers - to spectate, to help with the bags and the train of the dress, to learn, to just maybe snap some photos alongside her. I had just bought an entry level camera, girls my age were already photographing weddings independently, and I was full of the "Wedding Season" spirit. I did not care about receiving payment or whether I could pose anyone or not - I simply wanted to tag along to a wedding and learn the ropes that these big wig photographers tackled. I remember refreshing my inbox countless times a day and feeling those nervous butterflies of waiting for a reply.
And then my high hopes shattered into teeny tiny, itty bitty, microscopic pieces.
The reply I got informed me that I was not qualified to go into the wedding field so young and so inexperienced, how herds of photographers think they can photograph a wedding, but many times, don't know enough ins and outs, so are therefore not qualified, and how having me assist would be not be good "teaching time" for her. I can still remember that stinging, gut wrenching kind of feeling. I just wanted to learn. After reading the email and the word candy of encouragement at the very end, I felt like a complete and total failure. I felt like my work absolutely sucked. I hated wedding photographers (*hoists bouquet*). I saw not the slightest glimmer of hope of learning about, much less photographing, a wedding. Ever.
And then one day, the sweetest lady graciously agreed to meet up with me at a little coffee shop after sending her an email. This lady happened to be a wedding photographer. And she happened to understand my vision to pursue photography. And she happened to take me under her wing and not "assist", but actually "photograph" two weddings with her. And she happened to give the kindest words of encouragement, despite the fact that I was a lost sheep in the wedding photography realm and proudly wore a cheap, entry level camera. I decided then and there that I wanted to be a wedding photographer.
Fast forward 2 years. My vision in photography changed and wedding photography no longer appealed to me. I was at a retreat in Chapel Hill one night when we were discussing what we were currently pursuing and/or wanted to pursue in the photography field. A few girls piped up and stated their love for weddings. I didn't understand. "Ugh," I said, "I could NEVER photograph a wedding as the lead." Well, I don't know about you, but God tends to shake things up when I deny that I could "Never" do something. Just a few hours later, I refreshed my inbox, and BAM! Right there, sitting at the top, was a wedding inquiry. Excuse me? Is this real or is this a figment of my imagination? It was real. Very real. And I agreed to photograph my friend Ashley's wedding.
Clint + Ashley met in high-school. Basically, Clint had a "thing" for Ashley, but Ashley? Well, not so much. She did not immediately ride on a stallion into the sunset and let him sweep her off her feet. "He liked me, but I didn't at first - I ran from him!" Slowly but surely though, things changed, and the feeling became mutual. They were in l-o-v-e (cue candlelight + romantic jazz music). They were so much so that they dated all through high school, and then got engaged, and on Saturday, May 10th, 2014....did that thing where you place a ring on each other's finger and Mademoiselle is graced in a gown of white and the lad wear's a tux... What's that called?
Oh yeah. MARRIAGE!
It may have poured down rain, hailed, photo schedules become twisted around, my 50mm accidentally knocked off a stand (resulting in the poor guy literally flying across the room), and my car may or may not have broken down at the end of the day - but the Lord's presence persevered and there was peace (even as I watched 50mm fly across the room and hit the hardwood floor;)) and joy and love. There were maybe 2 or 3 moments where I looked at Kiley, my 2nd shooter, and said, "Oh my gosh, I don't know how we're going to fit in all of these photos with the schedule so delayed," but she would reassuringly and confidently reply, "It will be alright!" And that was all I needed to hear to continue allowing God's peace to just flood the day (no pun intended;)).
Ashley was all smiles, there was much laughter, everyone looked sharp as ever, and did I mentioned that the venue was at a Victorian style cottage? If you could take a mixture of something from Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden, that would be just where we were. Beautiful yet quaint; charming and cozy. Swoon, swoon, swoon - it was such the loveliest.
These ladies were wonderful to be around. You walk downstairs and onto the creaky floors of the kitchen, and there they are, chopping and washing bowl after bowl of fresh strawberries. Not once did I hear a single complaint about the time they spent in preparation. There was joy. Joy in preparing, joy in washing the strawberries, joy in good company with one another. As the light poured in from the windows and as they laughed and were literally beaming during the preparation, all I could think about was how they reminded me of Scripture talking about having the heart of a servant.
And they did. Even in a little kitchen, the joy of the Lord was evident.
And even as the rained poured down and it thundered (all while we were on concrete under a tent with metal poles), there was still joy. My tendency was to begin worrying, but with all of the happy faces, the savvy umbrellas, "Everyone is either laughing or crying right now - it is one or the other!" (quoted from Kiley), bursting out giggling before the ceremony, and hello, two gorgeous folks getting married, what was there to even begin worrying about?!
So maybe little Mr. wasn't the biggest fan of the rain.
Clint is friendly, eager, prepared, and quiet in spirit - but don't be fooled, this guy can also be a cut up. Most of all though, he loves Ashley. It isn't just the romantic, "Hey, let me kiss you over and over." kind of love either. He encourages her, appreciates who she is, brings out her chipper, giggly side. His affection for her is sincere.
Ashley is a spit fire of a gal with the most precious southern drawl. Talking to her just makes you happy. I don't think I have ever seen her not smiling - every time she turns around to talk, her cheekbones are high, laugh lines showing their history mark of exuberance, and laughter awaiting. She is determined, bubbly, strong-willed, but is the most kindhearted and has such a welcoming spirit. And boy oh boy, is she bananas about Clint.
What I noticed about both of them that I think we do not see enough in this day and age, is the genuineness in their love for each other. Plato once said, "People don't appreciate what love really is." and I couldn't agree more with that statement. In our generation, Love is something that is tossed around, degraded, and honestly, something that is quite often taken lightly. Let's just say, Plato would be proud of Clint+Ashley. During the vows, everything was said with the utmost sincerity. There was not a vibe of any word candy and masquerading through the ceremony. There wasn't a need to conceal any emotions, and that was such a beautiful thing.
Clint was ready for a drink...
...Ashley...not so much.
I want to take just a moment to give one big, huge, gigantic "Thank you!" to my dearest friend, Kiley, for photographing alongside me. A portion of these photographs were created by her artistic vision and I am so grateful that she was able to capture such special moments. You were a gem to work with!
---------Clint + Ashley - thank you for allowing me to photograph your special day. It was beautiful and filled with such joy and authenticity and so much love for one another. I pray that as you continue on this journey of marriage, that you will never stop seeking the Lord and that rest and joy and steadfastness follow wherever you may go.