Having a camera can get you into pretty cool places but nothing compares to the kind of access a wedding dress gets you. Jamie and RC had a permit to get photographed on Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan. Originally, we wanted to take some portraits in the conservatory but it was one of the busiest days on Belle Isle. That day was the first sunny day as Michigan emerged from a cold winter. The staff working at the Belle Isle Conservatory saw Jamie and decided to let us into the lower section of the Fern room. This part of the conservatory is typically off-limits to the general public.
On this Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share Megan and Andrea’s story. This holiday is so commercialized and that leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths but I have always thought of Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate love. How cool is it that we have a day to make people around us feel loved and feel special? Answer: very freakin’ cool.
I get to photograph people on such a special day but in Megan and Andrea’s case, I had gotten to know the two of them throughout their relationship. I met them when they had just started dating. Then, as if no timed had passed, I was photographing them on their wedding day.
This wedding was full of personality and character. Megan and Andrea incorporated their family members and their personal traditions into their wedding. All of these things made for such a beautiful and meaningful ceremony. To top it all off instead of dinner, their wedding had brunch! YUP, this was a bunch wedding. gah! So cool.
After the ceremony, Meg made this speech and it brought tears to everyone’s eyes. No picture could do justice to the sentiment behind these words. I am including it here for you.
“I want to take a moment to acknowledge how we all got here today. Many of you know that I was previously married to a man; it’s been my experience that nothing tests a man’s character quite like his wife telling him, “listen, I’m gay and we’re getting divorced”. What I saw after that conversation was that he was kind when he could have been cruel and supportive when he could have been destructive; he showed me what it looks like to value your partner’s happiness even when it comes at the expense of your own. Some of us have probably learned these things from observation, but I had to learn them from experience, and what I am bringing to my marriage to Andrea is what I learned about love, commitment and support not only from my first marriage, but from its dissolution.
We would have celebrated an anniversary just a few weeks ago. I still celebrate that day for the optimism and hope I brought to my first marriage. Of course, some of that hope was that I wasn’t really gay, and here we are. Being openly gay is a privilege that many around the world will never experience. Andrea and I are fortunate to be celebrating with so many LGBTQ-identified individuals. And we collectively are fortunate that despite unequal rights, overt oppression, very real physical danger, lack of representation in everything except voting rights for the TONY awards, family opposition, and a heightened awareness of the risks and benefits of simply existing, we’re all still here.
We’re here because other people came before us: our ancestors who contributed the genes that made us so stubborn and so good looking, our families and friends who support us but still challenge us to grow, and our civil rights ancestors: the labor organizers, feminists, desegregationists, revolutionaries, and violent and nonviolent protestors whose work has brought us here today. None of their accomplishments are perfect, and none of their work is done, but it’s a start. We also owe a debt of continued remembrance to LGBTQ individuals who have suffered and died, and to those who have suffered, but lived.
And everyone here who is not an identifying member of the LGBTQ community is an ally. This means that you support us. You support our right to get married; our right to not lose custody of our children because of our gender identity or sexual orientation; our right to a life free from physical and sexual violence; our right to be addressed by our chosen names and pronouns; our right to not hide our identities to keep our jobs, find housing, belong to a religious congregation, or simply walk down the street; our right to access healthcare appropriate to our unique needs, and to document and celebrate our own history. If you didn’t know what you were endorsing when you came here today and you’re just here because you like brunch, don’t worry. We like brunch too (we might have invented it), and someone will be dismissing tables very soon.”
I really hope you are ready to see an awesome wedding because this one blew me away. Meet Aaron and Laura; they are two of the kindest people I know. On top of that, they have a great sense of style and their wedding definitely showcases their aesthetic. Before I get too far ahead of myself let me tell you a little bit about them. They both live in Chicago but Laura went to school at Michigan State University and they decided to have their wedding at the MSU gardens.
They met each other on a train … yup, just like in the movies. As you can imagine, with a story like that, everything that follows starts having a romantic snowball effect. I hope these pictures can give you a glimpse into how much they love each other and little cross-sections into their wedding day.
If you hover over (tap on mobile) some of the pictures you can read more of a back story about each of them.
I still can’t get over this but Aaron’s suit was the definition of how a suit should fit. He got it custom made for his wedding and had incorporated a bunch of details to match his style.
Much before the wedding, Laura sent me an email with photos of this dress. I had been waiting to shoot it since that email.
So many of a wedding’s stories are hidden in the details. These were beautiful shoes and they perfectly matched Katie’s personality.
I want to introduce you to two clients who became amazing friends. Attending this wedding was like attending a best friend’s wedding and every moment of this day meant something special to me. I have put together a small set of images from their wedding to give you a taste of what’s to come.
The wedding ceremony was on Kenny’s family property and they invited their closest friends and family members. We went all over their farm for some of these photos.
This is exactly the kind of smile I was hoping to capture. I love how Katie looks here and I think this expression will be so familiar to everyone who knows her.
Katie and her bridesmaids next to one of the barns on their family farm.
When I drove up to this property I immediately gravitated towards these grain collectors; they were a perfect backdrop for the groomsmen’s photo.
This was such a beautiful intimate wedding on the farm.
I couldn’t believe this bouquet was real; I think at some point I asked if I could touch the flowers.
The night ended with lots of dancing but this one between Kenny and his mother was the first.
A moment alone between Culver and Alysandra after they got married.
Photography is all about capturing moments like this. The little interactions between the big milestones of a wedding day have these glimpses into people’s lives. We tend to be in front of cameras so often these days; either we are taking pictures of ourselves or other people are taking pictures of us. Many of us form on-camera personas but the best emotions overcome our expressions when we are lost in a feeling.