This is a long post, but it's totally worth it. Trust me.
I’m not a sappy person. I don’t cry super easily and I certainly am not a photographer who chokes back tears during vows at a wedding—I’m pretty stone cold ice princess when it comes to my work. I do this almost every weekend, folks, I’m a tough cookie.
But Ian and Emma’s story and wedding has caused me to tear up at least 5 times.
First and foremost, we were a match made in heaven because of the name similarities…Emily, Emma, Ian, Ian. Done and done. But we were also a match because….these were the NICEST people ever. As soon as we landed in NC on Friday, the day after Tasha’s great surgical adventure, the FIRST thing they wanted to talk about was if she was ok and how important they knew she was to us….they were so selfless and kind, it was like being welcomed by warm hugs. Seriously.
Now, onto the crying--The first time was when Emma and Ian shared their wedding preview form with me and they wrote about how unbelievably excited they are to see one another at the altar for the firs time. Then they wrote about how it had been a particularly difficult year because they both lost their dads fairly suddenly and that they would be greatly missed at the wedding. Then when Ian and I got to North Carolina and we met them we were both blown away by their authenticity and genuine kindness.
Emma and Ian chose to marry in a beautiful church in Hendersonville, NC (Emma’s hometown) and opted not to see one another before the wedding. Ian wrote:
“I (Ian) am most excited about waiting at the altar for Emma to come around the corner, I’m excited that moment to have an unexplainable combination of excitement, fear, nervousness, happiness, joy, terror, and love.” Love this.
Emma was escorted down the aisle by one of her late father’s dear friends, Enoch, who flew to North Carolina all the way from Ghana to be part of her day. He chose to wear a traditional khente cloth and they were quite a (beautiful) site walking down the aisle. This caused me to cry for the 2nd time.
Ian’s groomsmen also included his younger brother, Thomas, who was only 10 years old. As you look through this blog post you’ll notice a close up of a lady bug on the lapel of Ian’s suit. This is where I cried for the 3rd time. Emma explains in her own words the significance of this lady bug (and I am tearing up yet AGAIN reading this):
“Ian's dad passed away just over a year ago, and Ian's younger brother (Thomas, little groomsman) has seen a ladybug around their house for the last year that he's decided is his dad popping in to make sure they're okay. Just before the ceremony, a ladybug landed on Thomas's lapel. He told Ian "Look, it's dad" and put it on Ian's arm. It crawled up his arm and onto his boutonniere (photographer’s note: it stayed there for like….an hour, all through formal shots and with Ian walking in and out of the church and rectory, moving all over the place, it stayed…this wasn’t just some random ladybug, it was straight chillin and in no hurry to go anywhere. It also was the ONLY bug (lady or not) that we saw all day long…cause it was winter…and ladybugs and all their friends are dormant at this time of the year…except this one). I noticed it and nudged Ian's arm early in the ceremony during prayers - he was able to whisper to me that it was from Thomas, so I knew exactly what it meant. It was just amazing. The ladybug stayed there through the ceremony up until right after we took our vows, then it left.”
Guys. I know. You’re tearing up. It’s ok. I am too.
So there’s that. Which was awesome.
But beyond this, I can’t think of a more lovely wedding for the end of our 2013 season. Everyone pitched in to help and the vibe for the whole day was intense love of family and community. Emma’s mom made all the bread from scratch for the reception as well as the flower bouquets! The guest book was a vintage 1963 IBM typewriter, a tip of the hat to Ian’s job in Raleigh. The reception was filled with great dancing, wonderful heartfelt toasts and a lovely sparkler sendoff. The entire weekend was just perfect and I am so glad to say that Emma and Ian were over the moon happy to be with one another and to be married. So honored to work with them and so happy to see this love story come to a full fruition. Congratulations Emma and Ian!
Church: St. James Episcopal Church of Hendersonville
Reception: Broadway Arts Building, Asheville, NC
Emma’s Dress: Martina Liana
Ian’s Suit: Vera Wang
Groomsmen attire: Vera Wang
Flowers: Emma's mom
Emma’s shoes: H&M
Emma’s jewelry: All a variety of antique pieces from her grandmothers.
Catering: Celine and Company Catering
DJ: Tom Ciaramitaro, Mountain Top Entertainment
Cake: Ruth and Ranshaw
Second shooter: the amazing Ian DeGraaf