I've been thinking about this blog post all day--what I want to say & what photos I want to share. It's the continuation of Sandy & Ben's fairytale, and today's story is all about a wedding. I'm going to show you a lot of photos from the day and tell you a little story along the way.
Hmmmm....there's that lovely photo again.
When Sandy & Ben became engaged, they picked June 20th, 2020 for their wedding date. Would I be available, I was asked. Yes, I am! was my happy reply, and the date was put on the calendar. The wedding would be in Wrightsville, Georgia, and the hope was to have the ceremony and/or reception at the little pizza shop where they "met" for the second time.
The bridal suite at The Country Club in Wrightsville, GA
In the meantime, Sandy's planned retirement date from United Bank approached, and I received in the mail an invite to the party UB was throwing her. Not as the photographer, mind you......I was an invited guest. I was just tickled & honored. I knew a little of her planned direction for after retirement, and it was an exciting time.
Styling by Courtney Wingfield, daughter of the bride.
This was about late January or February of 2020, and life was just rocking along. What could possibly go wrong? We all KNOW what could go wrong--COVID! Her party was put on hold, though she did retire. And after much waiting & wondering & watching as restrictions in the state changed & changed & changed again, the decision was made to push the wedding back.
The shot that had to be.
In the overall scheme of life and 2020, these are small items. I'm sure they were disappointed--I was--but Sandy & Ben took it all in stride. At some point in the late summer, Sandy asked me if I'd be available April 03, 2021 to photograph their wedding. Absolutely! and I can't wait!!
Testing the Zoom setup.
For the next few months, I saw Sandy or Ben on occasion, mostly when one or both come over to pick up dog food. (Their dogs are raw fed too.) It was a treat to see them and visit and catch up, and I always wondered why we don't get together more often.
Wes Willis, Officiant and friend.
Sandy always texts me and asks if she (or Ben) can stop by and pick up dog food. I get it ready and meet her out in the driveway. And so it was December 10th; she texted me the day before and asked if she could stop by. Perfect timing because Jamie & I were leaving on the 12th for our big trip to Montana to pick up our truck. We would be gone until the 19th.
The gorgeous rings...
I met her in the driveway and noticed right away that she was very subdued. This is very unlike her. She's never loud and over the top, but she's always smiling and chatty. I asked her if everything was okay, and I'll never forget the quiet way she said, "No."
Ben and his best man, Charles Rachels.
She told me that recent scans showed the endometrial cancer she fought in 2018 has returned and is in both her lungs. It was recommended that she begin treatment--chemotherapy--immediately. She had tears in her eyes; I had tears in mine. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
The mirror in the bedroom = perfection.
"We're getting married January 2nd," she told me. Three weeks! I don't think she was gonna ask me to photograph it, but she didn't have to. I told her, with her permission, I would be there. I had zero idea what kind of wedding could be pulled together in three weeks, but it didn't matter. She had to have photography; it was much too important not to. When she left, I went inside & cried.
The beautiful bride, Sandy. As soon as she put on her gown, all nervousness left her.
Flash forward three weeks: a small army of friends & loved ones pulled the day together for this special couple at The Country Club in Wrightsville, Georgia. And Wow! Did they ever pull it together! The decorations, the food, the cake, all of it was on point!
A break in the rain allowed a first look outside.
Rain--not a little, a lot!--was the weather almost the entire week of the wedding. Everyone rolled & adjusted. What was supposed to be a lovely outdoor ceremony under an arch was moved indoors to the bridal suite at the venue.
Twirl your bride...
I drove down a day early and spent the afternoon going over all parts of the wedding. We discussed & planned for different scenarios--if it's raining, if it's not raining, where to do photos, where to exit, when to exit. I'd like to say we left nothing to chance, but honestly, though you can plan plan plan, once a wedding starts, it all goes out the window.
I wonder what he's whispering to her.
When I saw thunderstorms were forecast to begin at the same time as the start of the wedding, I knew I had to roll & adjust too. Thunderstorms meant low light. And though I have never ever used flash of any kind during a wedding ceremony, it was much too important to capture this day to not use off camera lighting during the ceremony. With Sandy's permission, I set up two lights to be triggered remotely.
Sandy was escorted by her lovely daughters, Courtney Wingfield and Heather Bales.
Sometimes when you think you've rolled & adjusted all you can, you find out you can roll & adjust even more. The officiant's wife tested positive for COVID a day or two before the wedding, which meant he had to quarantine and wouldn't be able to be at the wedding. Oh! My! Gosh! What to do, what to do! He was irreplaceable to them, and so it was decided he would perform the ceremony via a Zoom setup. There is no Wi-Fi in this building, and there was a thunderstorm predicted to hit the area at ceremony time, so there was a little anxiety about the connection being lost.
I love the way Sandy is peeking over at Ben.
All worries were for naught. It all came together beautifully and went off without a hitch. And may I just say it was one of the loveliest weddings I've ever had the privilege of photographing. From start to finish, it flowed so easily.
The ring exchange...
Simple, elegant, easy, natural, and fun. The small army that came together for this day pulled together a very classy wedding.
The moment Wes is about to pronounce them husband & wife.
Sandy was beautiful and glowing and happy. Ben was handsome and beaming and so attentive to his bride. The rain came, but it couldn't dampen the spirit in that room.
You may now kiss your bride...
I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the photos. It was my pleasure and privilege to be a part of the day. There was so much more I could have shared; it was hard to narrow it down. It was a beautiful day of celebration, and the love & joy was overflowing. I think it was perfect.
The "formal" portrait.
The "fun" portrait.
I still love how they look at each other.
First dance. The song playing was The Sweetest Thing by Juice Newton.
Unplanned, unrehearsed, and so Ben.
Just a little tap. And yes, the cake was that good.
Food, cake, and decorations by this fabulous lady, Maxine Garnto.
A toast by Sandy's matron of honor, Karen Rachels.
Family, friends, and love.
Did someone ring a bell?
How all fairytales should end....
Sandy started her chemo treatment three days after the wedding, and she had her second treatment last week. She's lost her hair, but I know she's still beautiful. She's given me permission to share all this with you. I'm sure she would appreciate any love, prayers, and good thoughts you can send her way.