Happy New Year!!!
After a rather slow (albeit dramatic) start to last year, I do have to say that the final leg of 2015 was incredibly busy. Where did the time go??!! I upgraded all my camera gear, finally launched my website, have been traveling left and right to start serving new clients, did a ballet guesting...and what else? Oh yes! Somewhere in there, Karen and Drew got married!!!!!
Karen and Drew originally met each other on OkCupid, truly by coincidence, as Karen just happened to be out of state visiting her mother when Drew's profile popped up on her screen. They agreed to meet, dated for several months, and became engaged in July of 2013. They were referred to me by Karen's childhood friend Casey. I first met the couple over Starbucks to discuss their wedding day and instantly liked them both. And by the end of their engagement shoot, I knew that I was going to have the most amazing time spending their wedding day with them.
The wedding day festivities started early on the morning of November 27, 2015 at Floyd's Barbershop in Ellicott City, Maryland. Floyd's is where I religiously went to have my hair cut before deciding to grow out the mop that exists today. They really are the best. And the best of the best is the beautiful Syvonne, who I convinced Drew to have his wedding day appointment with. You're welcome, Drew.
I arrived at Floyd's and was shocked to see the place so empty, as it's normally jam packed with people. Apparently 9am is your best bet to not wait. I greeted Drew, the handsome groom and Charlie, his best man. Charlie is Karen's brother and a gentle giant, standing tall at 6ft 4inches. As I hugged Syvonne she nervously looked at the back of my neck and asked if she could trim it. I refused, knowing that I would leave with hair shorter than Drew and Charlie.
Syvonne started with Drew, who was as calm as I've learned to expect him to be. Drew confessed that he hadn't cut his hair since the engagement shoot, which is saying something. Luckily, Syvonne truly is amazing at what she does and before we all knew it, Drew's haircut was done and he looked sharper than ever. Before he switched places with Charlie, Syvonne shaved Drew's neck with a straight razor blade, a signature at Floyd's.
With his old hair covering the floor and looking like a new man, the groom switched places with his best man. As Syvonne began to work on Charlie, Drew began to organize his thoughts about the amazing day ahead of him.
After the haircuts were finished, I had some time before I needed to leave for downtown Baltimore. The three of us hopped in our cars and headed to historic Ellicott City. I was told to meet them at a coffee place I'd never heard of called Bean Hollow, a favorite of Drew's. Upon parking my car and walking to the place, I was reminded how adorable historic Ellicott City is and what a gem exists in my very own backyard.
We got our coffee (which I KNEW I would need to make it through the day ahead) and then checked out one of the local shops before saying goodbye.
I showered, changed into my "wedding day uniform" consisting of a black polo and pants, and hopped in my car headed towards downtown Baltimore. As I was en route, I received a message that the hair and makeup artists had arrived earlier than scheduled. Panicked, I drove as fast as I felt I could legally get away with, determined to get the shots I wanted. Luckily as I arrived at The Grand, the hair was just being finished. Perfect timing!
Then it was time for makeup!
The ladies of the wedding party consisted of Karen (the bride), her sister Amanda (the maid of honor) and her best friend Casey (bridesmaid). Drew's daughter Riley was on flower girl duty and OH so excited about it!
I was informed that the girls had already cried several times before my arrival. The emotion was truly palpable, especially from Karen's mother Terrie and her Aunt Marmar, who both adoringly watched their beautiful (and all grown-up!) Karen get ready.
Time to put on the dress!!!!!!
As the ceremony drew closer, I dashed to the room where the boys were getting ready. Drew was there with Charlie (best man) and Duane (groomsman). Young Tyler looked nice and sharp as the ring bearer. And as the minutes ticked by, the drinks started to flow! Weddings are nerve wracking for everyone involved, and apparently make the ever-calm Drew drink with his pinky finger out. Nice.
I ran back upstairs to the bridal lounge. Karen's father Kevin had arrived and looked lovingly at his little girl, all ready to walk her down the aisle. Everyone took their final looks into the mirror and boom, it was finally go time!
I wished everybody good luck and ran out to where the ceremony would take place. The guests were starting to gather and I couldn't help but join them in their excitement! Karen and Drew had become very special to me by this point and I truly felt more like a guest at their wedding than their photographer.
As the ceremony started, the wedding party walked one by one down the aisle to "What a Wonderful World". Karen and Drew are huge book lovers, so instead of flowers, Riley threw pages from a treasured book that Karen and Drew sacrificed and begrudgingly cut into small hearts. It's possible this is an inside joke between the three of us. Just go with it.
Then it was time. The music changed to "What the World Needs Now"-a beautiful vintage song to go with the bride's gorgeous vintage hairstyle and classic gown. The doors to the hall swung open and there stood Karen, looking like a princess, arm in arm with her loving father.
Karen and Drew decided to keep their ceremony short and sweet, with their guests in mind. The guests got an unexpected surprise when Karen blanked on what she was supposed to say during her vows and got a little comic relief. I guess it was good champagne, Karen!
The ceremony FLEW by and before we all knew it, they were married!!!!
Just after the ceremony the family toasted the newlyweds.
After capturing some family group shots, I whisked the bride and groom away to get some more intimate photos.
Taking a breather before the reception started, Drew had a beautiful moment with his daughter. For helping out with the wedding and being such a wonderful daughter, Drew smiled and put a beautiful gold necklace around Riley's neck. It was incredibly touching to watch.
Karen and Drew finally had a brief moment to greet their guests and then it was time for the reception to start. Party time!!!
The reception took place in what's called The Mirror Room at The Grand. It was decorated beautifully, keeping with the theme of the couple's love for literature.
The bridal party entered the room and then it was time for the couple's first dance as husband and wife. Between the ceremony and reception, Charlie had Houdinied his way out, emerging several minutes later with a guitar. To my surprise, he was the one who serenaded Karen and Drew, playing "Grow Old with You" by Adam Sandler. It was the most fitting and beautiful way for the couple to start their lives together as husband and wife and made everyone in the room smile.
The couple and their guests then sat down for dinner and shortly after, the toasts began. Karen's father Kevin went first, saying moving words about the special relationship he's always had with his beautiful daughter.
He was followed by Amanda who made everyone cry and finally Charlie, who made everyone laugh uproariously. As Charlie hugged the groom, I captured one of my favorite moments of the night.
After dinner, Karen and her dad danced a gorgeous waltz to "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music. As a former professional dancer, I was impressed by how well rehearsed and sophisticated their dance was. Well done!
Drew and his mother danced to "Three Times a Lady". Drew's gentle touch around his mother's back truly moved me and I found myself crying behind the lens.
Then it was time for the REAL party to begin!!! The DJ started playing some fantastic tunes and everyone started to dance up a storm.
As my job was coming to a close, I took a breather outside the reception hall to check my photographs. While sitting on the floor, I was greeted by some fun, unexpected and intoxicated subjects.
Before finishing up, I was able to grab my final shots as Drew danced with his lovely Riley to "You've Got a Friend in Me". Again I was left in tears. As the song came to a close, the new family took a moment to embrace each other...and with that, I knew my job was complete.
The day was a whirlwind and an adventure, a day I will never forget as long as I live. I was honored to be given the chance to play a small role in their wedding and so thankful to have had a front row seat to everything as it unfolded. Karen and Drew are currently enjoying their time as newlyweds in Ellicott City. I wish them all the happiness in the world!
May everyone in the world be so lucky.