The time on my watch switches from PM to AM and I realize that in the darkness, lit only by a small table lamp, my face hurts—from smiling. Why? Because I've been editing Meghan and David's wedding photos and just can't stop (the editing and the smiling). I tell myself just one more of the lavender, sea blue and sage-green bouquet and one more of their dog Hero in a bow tie because yes you absolutely need more than two photos of your doggie wearing a bow tie on your wedding day. You know as a photographer when you are excited to go through hundreds of photos and are still smiling while editing them days later, that you are oh so lucky. To have captured the resplendent, magical wedding of Meghan and David in a mountain meadow this summer was a pure gift.
Stepping out of the truck my foot felt the ground give. Soft dirt— no, water and mud enveloped me in a squishy hug with each step forward. The air felt thick and heavy despite our altitude. At over 8,500ft in a Montane forest, I waited. No sound of thunder yet an endless shade of grey above. It had been raining on and off as the hours passed but something more important, infinitely more important than the weather was on my mind. Meghan and David's wedding. They had planned and prepared to exchange their vows high above Nederland, Colorado on a beautiful June day. Would they embrace this actual day and it's unanswered weather questions? Or, would it weigh heavier on their minds than the raindrops cascading gently off the vibrant red paintbrush wildflowers? As I waited and let my mind wander to what I wanted to capture: moments, apertures, emotions, shutter speeds, the landscape, Kelvin temps and of course the people witnessing it all, I paused. It was so quiet, peaceful and beautiful out. I hoped everyone else might see the beauty in it all as well. With the rain brought the seclusion and calmness that might have evaded everyone had it been a typical Colorado bluebird day. There wouldn't be people testing out their new "toys" in the national forest and surely no unexpected interlopers. Nope. We would get these mountains, the meadow, the wildflowers bursting with color and life, the ponderosa pines and the aspen grove all to ourselves. Immediately, I knew this day would be magical.
As David and his family arrived, that inner peace I felt turned to happiness. The second, the literal second I saw David and met his family at the trailhead, I knew they were good people who would only add to the magic of the day. And, since I pride myself on being a pretty great judge of character, I can happily say that I was 100% correct. They came prepared with rain gear as well as smiles and from that moment on, I was hooked. I knew this day would be special because of Meghan and David. I didn't realize until then, how much more incredible it would be with their families by their sides.
David, his parents and his sister began the short climb up to the meadow while I waited for Meghan and her parents (who were equally fabulous and wonderful) to arrive. As the truck came down the forest service road and the door opened, a beam of light and warmth emanated from within. Of course! It was Meghan. Meghan GLOWED! She was radiant not only because of her stunning wedding gown but because she knew what was obvious to me upon meeting her and David. They are a perfect match. Not perfect people (although honestly, from what I've seen, I think that's a reasonable assumption) but perfect for each other. Their ease, comfort and admiration for each other is palpable. This was a special day, THEIR special day and the enchantment was set in motion.
Meghan and her Dad walked together up the trail to meet David and their families. They walked past milkvetch, sulphur flowers, Parry's bellflower, penstemon, and more through an aspen grove and then out into the meadow. Minutes before Meghan arrived, David had already begun to smile. He couldn't yet see her but knew that she was on her way. He could feel it and as his smile grew so did the happiness around us all. Once everyone had meandered to the meadow the ceremony began with the roll of thunder in the not-too-far-off distance and the movement of clouds shrouding the nearby mountaintops. David's sister, Patty immediately sensed the preciousness of time (time remaining dry that is) and began the ceremony with a wonderful and hilarious nod to the wedding speech from The Princess Bride. Patty was a masterful emcee and you could feel that Meghan and David were more comfortable having her there with them as a part of it all than if it had been the two of them alone. Patty's intro sparked the laughter that would permeate the ceremony and day more than any amount of raindrops could. And in that moment, the fireworks, in nature and within every person there in that meadow began.
Each parent spoke kind, warm and at times unintentionally humorous words (given the weather) but what shone most brightly of all was the love they all had for Meghan and David. To have their parents there, supporting them both was indescribable. Then as the raindrops poured down from the clouds, the thunder began to feel much, much closer and sparks of lightning illuminated the sky, the beauty and love continued to shine through the words Meghan and David wrote and shared with each other. Their handcrafted, wooden and turquoise inlay rings were exchanged and beneath an umbrella they shared their first kiss together, married.
I'm not sure who had the forethought (or a crystal ball) but whomever was the genius that brought a tent to shelter us all after the ceremony, THANK YOU. For the next hour or so as we all huddled under that sweet, dry covering, I got to see and know each and every one of them even more and for that I am grateful. So often on a wedding day, things fly by and moments are rushed but the weather ensured we all slowed down, paused and just enjoyed the day together. There were stories traded, I quickly learned which university to NOT mention and a bottle of very aged champagne from David's grandfather was shared. Their rings passed through a beautiful shawl and thus passed an old Irish wedding test. Love and joy saturated every moment up on that mountain more than any amount of rain ever could.
Once the drops of water began to slow Meghan and David walked out from beneath the tent and then as if on cue, the clouds parted and the sun shone through. I was able to capture David's handsome blue suit and the beading on Meghan's elegant dress and laughed as we noticed her blue shoes had mysteriously changed to a darker shade than before the deluge. The photos of the families were punctuated by even more laughter and as I captured the very last frame for group photos, the rain started up once again. It was PERFECT. The families continued on down the trail where Meghan and David's dog Hero made an appearance. His love for them outweighed his dislike of rain and I was so thrilled to capture Hero in his bow tie with his favorite people. Afterward, they all continued down the road to the Gold Hill Inn for a fabulous meal and more magical moments together.
Thank you Meghan, David, your families (including Hero of course) for trusting me to capture your wedding so full of captivating moments and authentic awesomeness!