Life is funny. Several years back, right around the beginning of the economic collapse, the wedding industry started drying up. It wasn’t DEAD, but it sure felt like it as I went from having chaotic, full years to having only a few weddings scattered throughout the year. They were tough bookings then, too – no one knew what financial calamity was around the bend, so couples were putting their weddings off, or minimizing all of their plans dramatically – big, ornate weddings with 200+ guests became small backyard affairs with a handful of friends and family. The country was downsizing, and weddings were no exception.
Coincidentally, this nationwide downsizing resulted in a never-before-seen influx of new photographers to the industry – so, as we struggled to book half our years, the competition grew by a factor of ten or greater, most offering cut-throat pricing and infectious enthusiasm, making the recession even harder to get through without taking on the dreaded DAY JOB.
It was hard, I won’t lie. I networked and marketed, spent money I didn’t have on advertising and website upgrades, offered discounts and specials, slashed pricing, bartered and negotiated. The business was falling way short of where it needed to be, and after struggling for what seemed like an eternity, I finally cried UNCLE and looked for a job. (There’s a point to this, I swear!)
I managed to fall into an administrative position with a physician recruiting firm. It was a surprisingly great job with really wonderful people. I met hundreds of physicians, learned all about health insurance and hospital hiring practices, and gained a great deal of knowledge in an area I’d never even thought about before. The job got me through some of the hardest times in the recession, and made it possible for me to keep the business alive and running while the market was in the pinch. I left that job when weddings started roaring again and I could no longer balance the two priorities, but I didn’t leave empty handed. One of my co-workers was Eric, who years later would pop up to let me know he and his long-term girlfriend were (finally) planning their wedding, and would I shoot it for them?
You’re damn skippy I will! I’d always liked Eric – he was the three-parts-cool, one-part-geeky guy in the office who always had great music playing and the best comebacks during staff meetings. He was always pleasant and witty, easy to work with, and one of those people you don’t soon forget. My friendship with Eric didn’t extend outside of the office walls when we worked together, but I knew just from the 9-5 times I’d spent around him that his wedding would be very, very cool.
Rebecca is a graphic artist. An extremely talented, intense, passionate person with this quietly frenetic demeanor that you can’t help but fall in love with every time you’re around her. She designed their wedding stationery herself around the wedding colors and her incredible sense of balance and hip elegance – in fact, she designed every aspect of the wedding, all the decor, the colors, the floral ideas, all of it in like some crazy-making timeframe, like two months or something. We’re in our ninth month of being engaged and I haven’t even begun to figure out the details – it’s beyond me how Rebecca managed everything she did in such a short amount of time.
The City Club was a fantastic backdrop for their wedding – gorgeous greenery and florals in the garden, elegant manor for the dinner, it all worked so well with Rebecca and Eric’s subtle country-city vibe.
Oh god this ceremony was so great. Most couples try really hard to keep their ceremonies under five minutes, usually out of respect for a tight timeline or for their guests. But there’s something really special about a ceremony that takes its time. Where the officiant gives the event some attention, gives their histories a bit of the spotlight, where the ceremony is a story on its own. I don’t think this ceremony lasted more than ten minutes (which is, in real life, a very long time), but it felt like it flew by, because every second there was another hilarious moment, another tear-jerking reading, another unforgettable expression, and it all needed to be captured. I don’t think Mike and I have ever shot as many frames during a ceremony. There was just too much to see.
There are few things more emotionally satisfying in our job than watching a newlywed bride and groom get almost clobbered by their friends after the ceremony, in a show of elation and love and joy.
Everyone was thrilled. Everyone basked in the reality that yes, they were finally married after all these years. Yes, all the hard work had paid off – and the hardest part was over. MARRIED – and now drink and dance and barhop. It’s such a juxtaposition from the moments before a ceremony… all the stress and nervousness washes away the moment the bride and groom walk back down the aisle hand in hand. This delightful transition from subdued reverence to no-holds-barred elation, and it happens at almost every single wedding. Some are more outrageous than others, of course. Some couples surround themselves with people who invest all their emotions into that one day, and that’s when you see the biggest payoff after the ceremony. There’s really nothing quite like it, and every time I see these displays of raw joy, I’m thankful for the career path I chose.
Rebecca and Eric are exactly the same one-on-one as they are in front of their friends, their families, their distant relatives and co-workers. They’re genuine people, no fakery, no BS. Getting them away from their wedding party for the “alone” shots wasn’t much like it is at most other weddings – we probably could have had the whole crew tag along and Rebecca and Eric wouldn’t have been the least bit phased. They didn’t breathe easier when the crowd was dismissed. They didn’t change their demeanors, or become more snuggly or affectionate. They just WERE, and they continued to BE, and that was that. This, by the way, is a unique character trait and if you know people like this you know exactly what I mean. I have the greatest admiration for people who are always true to themselves.
You should know that Eric made his own wedding band, and that aside from the physician recruiting gig, he’s a solid, talented woodworking craftsman.