A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing something very special. This was one day that even the bride kept saying over and over, “Is this real? Did this really just happen?”
On a Monday Brittney contacted me to let me know that she would be getting married the following Friday at the courthouse in downtown Charlotte, NC and would like to have portraits taken outside of the building after all the legalities were squared away. I agreed and was excited to be photographing something a little different from the average wedding day. During our phone conversation, she let me know that the decision to go to the courthouse and get married was extremely last minute and that they’d actually been engaged for a while, but wedding planning had become crazy a long the way and less of a priority with a number of life-changes coming in between them and their big day (having a sweet little boy, graduating from Grad School, finding a job, etc.) So they finally said, “Let’s just get married next week.”
A few days later I get a message from Brittney’s fiance, Rod, who informs me that his plans for their wedding day were going to be a little different from what Brittney had anticipated. Rod wanted to surprise Brittney with the wedding of her dreams at The Quarry at Carrigan Farms in Mooresville, NC. He had arranged plans for close friends and family to join them as they exchanged vows on Friday, August 1, 2014. Rod had the owner of The Quarry prepare a lunch for the crowd, and made arrangements for someone to have a bouquet, boutonnieres, and a cake ready. As he and I talked on the phone for the first time, I could literally hear the mile-wide grin on his face as he explained all the plans to me. His intentions were to tell Brittney that he had planned a special photo shoot with a photographer that he chose at a special location before their appointment at the courthouse. He explained to her that she needed to have hair and makeup done by a specific time so that he could drive her (blindfolded) to their surprise location.
The plan worked out perfectly. Rod sent out a mass email to everyone involved in the wedding and let everyone in on the surprise plans and thanked everyone for their participation. The morning of their wedding day, the sky fell out and there was a torrential downpour. I stopped by Walmart on the way to the venue to pick up some rain boots and was actually pretty pumped about shooting in the rain. I could tell just by only speaking to Brittney and Rod on the phone that they were the type of people that if it were to continue to rain on their parade, they’d likely dance in it. That’s just what I was hoping for.
Instead… another surprise happened. About 30 minutes before Brittney and Rod were set to arrive the sky cleared and the sun began to shine through the clouds. Those are the moments when you look up and know that God is real and that his timing is always perfect. At this point, family and friends took their places at their seats in the sand and Brittney’s father, step-dad, and I strolled up to the top of the walkway. We watched Brittney and Rod pull up and from around the corner popped out a beautiful bride with her eyes sealed shut, a beaming groom, and their handsome little boy. When Rod instructed Brittney to open her eyes, she knew exactly where they were and then turned around to see both of her dads standing behind her. With a big question mark on her face, she hugged them, glanced at me, and looked back at Rod to ask, “Are we getting married HERE today? Are you two our witnesses?” Everyone laughed and said, “Yep.” At this point she still couldn’t see the crowd that was waiting for her at the end of the walk way. Rod and their son, Reid, took the walk down the path first and Brittney and her escorts came down second. Half way down the aisle she looked over and could see white chairs and smiling faces looking back at her through the trees. That’s when she realized the man of her dreams had planned the perfect wedding day for them in only one week. What a guy?
This frame below is one of my favorites. Faded rock quarry in the background, the sun shining gracefully through the clouds onto Brittney’s shoulder, a hint of sparkle from her wedding gown, the ribbon from the head piece her Aunt gave her, hair whispies, and tiny rain drops on her back. Oh, how the rain drops make this image so perfect.