In April 2006 Grant and I took a trip back to Georgia to see my family (and to see some of the Tour de Georgia). In Helen, GA, after a three hour road ride, in my sweaty spandex, helmet and awkward bike shoes, Grant stopped beside a stream, knelt down on one knee and offered this beautiful ring to me. And, this wasn’t any ring. This ring had been made with love by my best friend, Preston. Grant, who had never even met Preston, called him up months before he asked for my hand in marriage, and asked my best friend to make this beautiful ring for me. Even to this day, when I catch a glimpse of this ring on my finger, it feels me with so much love. My husband has always been sentimental and thoughtful, and it’s one of the reasons why I love him so much.
Just 11 short months later, we were married. Planning a wedding, as many of you brides out there know, is no easy task. At the time, I was just starting to enter the photography field, but still, the first question I got was “Who is going to shoot your wedding?” It was funny, I never shopped around. Not once did I consider choosing anyone but Cameron Clark (now of Cameron Kelly Studios). I was in love with her style, her ability to tell a wedding story, and her dedication. Now, eight years later, I’m so glad that I went with Cameron. Putting this blog post together, to celebrate our eighth year anniversary, has made me appreciate the importance of great wedding photography even more. Every photo brings back a memory, a tear, a laugh and a story. Thanks Cameron.
Now, I wasn’t a very compliant bride. Just ask Kim Duncan of KD Event Designs. Just three weeks before my wedding, I didn’t even have a wedding dress. I didn’t have a theme, colors or know anything other than I just wanted to walk down the aisle. Kim, literally, saved my day. Kim was just starting her business when I roped her into “helping” (and by helping, I mean taking over). And it wasn’t easy; we decided to get married in an aesthetically challenged reception hall. To put it bluntly, there were about 15 Elk heads in the reception hall . But, it had a meadow that viewed the San Francisco Peaks, and that sold it to me. Kim pulled everything together for me, not only quickly, but managed to make it beautiful and meaningful. She took our love of bird-watching and added it to the tables, brought beautiful earthy tones of purple and tans into the mix and even splashed purple irises around the room so that I’d feel my mom, who passed when I was a kid, around me all night. (Mom always had a beautiful iris garden growing up) Thank you Kim for making our day everything that we had hoped!
When the day arrived, we found ourselves surrounded my so many people that we loved and so many family members that had traveled great distances to join our little celebration. I remember getting ready at the England House Bed and Breakfast and just trying to take it all in. My beautiful dress, given to me by a sweet friend from GA, hung on the door and couldn’t have been any more perfect than if I had searched all over the world for it. My dear friend, Donna Shoemaker, did my makeup and also assisted Cameron later that afternoon. Sitting and laughing with the girls and Preston (who was a brides-man) still remains some of my fondest memories.
Now, every wedding has its funny moments. And this one still cracks me up. In my earnest to pinning a gardenia corsage on my step-mother, I stabbed my thumb with a floral pin. And by stabbing, I mean it was so far in my thumb that I couldn’t get it out. My brother, Tim, saved the day, and managed to doctor me up so that blood wouldn’t spill on my dress.
When I said before that I hadn’t done any wedding planning, I guess that was a lie. Because, we did ask our dear friend, Perry Davidson, to write us a poem. Perry, an accomplished poet, wrote us the most beautiful poem I have ever heard. If you can imagine, standing at the alter and hearing these words spilling out…yes, we were weeping…
if we could conjure heaven
sift it into the quiet of friendship
and brew it as soft leavening
for our most gentle ,risen joys
we could live on bread alone.
it is in the quiet
it is in the lacy shawl of the wet morning’s chilly shine,
each water drop cradling the entire sun,
just for the having.
it streams down the cheeks of our fears
it softens sight and vision
we may fail often
but love never will.
sometimes we eavesdrop
on the dark dialogue of flame and its wicked bloom
sometimes we see ourselves lost
without direction or season
but we found our way
we found our way here
to love and safekeeping
and , in sun and rain, this is where we will stay
My dear friend from college, Cindy, read one of our favorite passages, and Grant’s cousin, Kenny ( who was a professional opera vocalist), sang my favorite John Denver song, “For You”.
Kim choose delicate hydrangeas and stock for the bouquets, and used vintage Audubon bird drawings as table names. Derrick, one of the groomsmen, crafted the aspen print holders. The birds, found through out the room, were from my ornament collections that I had collected over the years. And while there isn’t a great photo of it, even our dear friend TC helped us by building a last minute aisle out of plywood so we wouldn’t have to walk through the mud.
When it came time for the toasts, there was not a dry eye in the house. TC surprised us all by delivering his entire speech with a Southern accent, which he promptly blamed on Preston. Preston took it in stride and took it as a compliment. Speaking of toasting, brings up my only regret for the day. I wished we had hired a videographer, if only for moments like toasting. My Dad speech was so sweet and sincere that thinking about it to this day still brings tears to my eyes. What I wouldn’t give to hear my father deliver his speech one more time.
Our ice-cream cake was topped with a present from Kim, a handmade tandem bicycle. What a sweet surprise and nice way to celebrate our hobby! Grant and I took ballroom dancing lessons for six weeks for our first dance. It turns out that Grant is a fantastic dancer, and I, well, I have control issues 🙂 But, he got me though it and we had a great time. I choose the song “Misty” to dance with my dad. I played the piano as a child, and that was his favorite piece that I knew. We ended up singing to one another during the dance, and I love the photos of that. Dad passed away last month and now these photos of he and I mean so much more to me than I’d ever realize.
Speaking of dancing, this was a dancing crowd! As you can tell from the photographs, it seemed that everyone had a great night. Our entertainment started early with the Mark Blackman Jazz Trio, which my Dad loved, and then we transitioned into a DJ with a little more modern vibe. The next day, I awoke with blisters on my feet. It seems that eight years went by in a blink of a second. I’m so happy that we have these photos to relive it again. Now, to make us a proper Wedding Album. Maybe for our 10 year anniversary! 🙂
Thanks for reading everyone! ~ Much Love, Melissa