Lord, if I have any favors left.
I’d sure love, to make it here.
I’d love to make it to this place.
Hurricane Nate, turned this Pensacola, Florida wedding, into FATE>
& man, oh man.
Was it beautiful.
The first time we met, I knew they were genuine.
It isn’t something you can fake, and I am a soul searcher when it comes to first impressions with my brides.
The deep belly laugh her mom let out within moments of meeting her, and her well manicured nails, and effortless hair told me this event, would be pulled off.
One way or another.
& it would be flawless.
They’d get ready at her childhood home.
“with loads of natural light, and sentiments.
I couldn’t wait.
It was a neighborhood, known for charming porches and larger than life ceilings and molding.
A historic collection of old houses, mostly redone.
The wedding would follow, at a downtown venue,
I’d shot atleast a dozen times,
it would be perfect.
I assured her.
At our final meeting, we chatted for hours.
Savannah wasn’t able to make it.
They’d moved to DC for her husband’s new position. . .
and so her mom and I would just sort as much as we could, without her.
Not about wedding things of course.
But about life.
I’d just gotten a phone call from my sister, before pulling in.
She wouldn’t be coming to visit, like I had been anticipating for weeks.
& I was devastated.
Embarresed, I walked into Starbucks, more than a few minutes late, with bloodshot eyes, having cried off all the concealer I’d caked on hours before. . .in a full blown pity party.
She let me vent a short bit, of my heartache,
then shared with me some terrible news,
she’d just learned of,
and it eased the sting of my sister’s failed trip.
We sat outside, and chatted like old friends.
I listened to her talk, all the while knowing,
she had no idea I was soaking in her wisdom
like a sponge.
Like a small child,
listening to their favorite person speak,
at career day. .
“My son, he is so smart.
But he really loves music.
I just, hope he doesn’t lose that,
I hope he keeps that a part of him”
She went on.
She raved of her success, and how she envied all the neat places she was close to, in her new “hometown”. How quickly she picked a unique dress.
How easy, she was.
at the end of the day.
She knew what I did.
What I continue to learn.
All we want, is for those we love most.
To be happy.
And for a mother, that’s a lot.
Not for them to appear happy, at the hands of expensive homes, and cars.
Thriving careers, and achievements would be wonderful additions, but if they weren’t genuinely happy, in the life that they lived, what would the rest, truly matter??!?!?
of course, it wouldn’t.
We laughed, a lot.
“I feel like, you’re my best friend right now” she joked.
I felt the same.
I was already late for the two appointments that followed our coffee date.
I thanked her for conversation.
She pulled out her pen.
“A check, I know that’s what you need!
Hello! That’s why we are here!”
It’s why we met. Of course.
Though, I’ve learned.
Money always comes and goes.
Though it seems to be going more, than coming, here lately.
She hugged my neck.
I told her to go with the false lashes and makeup at the house, and sped off to my next meeting.
The day before her baby’s BIG DAY.
The weather looked about as bad, as weather can,
here on the coast.
Within hours, a hurricane would completely eliminate the months of hard planning and preparing.
The venue, was in an evacuation zone.
I was hopeful, they wouldn’t call it off.
I joked with Savannah, that it would all be ok during our late night phone call.
After all, at least her groom had made it in town!
((He’d just accepted a new position and had several tests, from what I could remember of my meeting, with her mom))
“Actually, he isn’t here yet either” she half chuckled.
I would have physically stuck my own foot,
down my throat,
if I could have.
“We’re doing it though! We are moving everything to the house.
So. I guess we will just see you in the morning!??!!”
I assured her, I would try to make it there, despite the uncertainty the comes with these type of things.
“Thank you, for everything!” she said.
I arrived to the loveliest corner house.
& began to worry.
It was beautiful, but cozy.
Cozy, as in.
for 80 people.
+ an indoor wedding. . .
it maybe difficult to move,
much less, capture moments,
that I knew they’d be looking forward to seeing.
I made my way. . .
& my fears, were relived,
as soon as the front doors opened.
with an open living / dining/ kitchen allowed for a lovely ceremony spot. . . right infant of the windows, that overlooked the porch.
Her mother’s great taste in furniture,
meant that dining room chairs
would look like the most splendid ceremony chairs. . .
even if there were only 4 of them. . .
Her father found me, and showed me a photo,
of what the house looked like, many days, before today.
With the tv, showcasing the latest weather news behind us. .
I glanced down at the photo,
It was him, in a giant hole in the floor.
right in the middle of the “chapel”
as he later referred to, their living room.
I greeted Savannah in the master suite where she was prepping and asked where her details were. . .
The things I don’t love to shoot,
but that look pretty, in magazines,
and story boards, and on Pinterest.
“They’ll be in the last room of the house” she said > >
I slowly made my way.
I passed the formal dining, where the cake would be. .
Then the library area, where the bar was set.
I rounded a corner, and saw the light, coming through the door, to the last room, of the house.
My eyes, watered, as I walked through the threshold of what I knew, would be her childhood bedroom. . .
All alone, in private,
while the rest of the (front) of the house was in full-on
prep mode. . .
I slowly, took it all in.
I felt, as if, I had been here before.
Though I knew, it was my heart,
anticipating, being here, one day in the future. . .
The furniture, was antique.
The first set, her parents ever owned.
A full size bed, and dresser, became Savannah’s first,
and only bedroom set.
On top of the dresser, were all of the details.
A vintage napkin,
that also belonged to her mother.
Something borrowed, old, and blue,
the one she carried at her own wedding.
Next, was another dresser.
Not as expensive, in terms of wood and quality.
But far more valuable.
To a girl, who holds onto things,
such as memories. . . of her own childhood.
It was a hand painted mermaid dresser.
A blonde mermaid. On on side.
Her friend, reaching toward her, on the other.
Paint had chipped in some areas, but it still looked relevant….
& somehow, matched the lovely light purple, linen drapes. . .
and throw pillows. . . that sat perfectly on the window seat.
even years later, when the mermaid theme.
and the small girl, who loved mermaids, had long gone.
had a place.
& as I looked towards the windows,
my eyes, already welled up,
finally gave in.
the tears started steadily flowing and dripping onto the carpet below.
The light, was pouring through the windows, as promised at our first meeting.
& despite the category one hurricane that was barreling towards the coast, it felt like any other Saturday morning.
Perfectly strung between the two sun-filled windows,
was the most delicate baby mobile.
& knowing what I knew, of her mom,
It was Savannah’s.
Surely, it had been strung over her crib,
many, many years ago.
And now, hung in this window.
Something, that only a mom, like her. . .
Held so much value.
I was instantly reminded of our coffee date, weeks before.
I shot all the details,
not yet knowing,
or having fully confirmed the stories above,
I felt embarrassed, and wiped my eyes, yet again.
and headed back to the master bedroom,
at the front of the house.
where everyone was still applying their own makeup,
and fixing their own hair. . .
as almost all vendors, (and venues) had been cancelled.
Then I saw her.
the mother, of the bride.
She hugged my neck tightly.
“I am so glad you’re here!!!!
AND I AM SO GLAD, WE’RE DOING IT HERE!!! ((she danced))
I think all along, this is what I hoped would happen!
I just love it! ”
Though I knew she hadn’t prayed a hurricane into her daughter’s wedding plans. I loved, the lemonade, they’d made.
I wanted to tell her, how I more than agreed.
But I knew I couldn’t do so,
without a full on breakdown.
in front of all these beautifully done women. . .
who had no clue what I had been doing. . .
the stories, I had already been told. . .
while they were sliding in Bobbi pins and spraying what was left of the hairspray.
It was time.
Ceremony would be starting soon, and we’d yet to get her dressed.
When we walked into her room . .
watching, through my lens.
and weepy eyes. . . .
helping her slide into her tea length gown. . .
That they were exactly,
where they were supposed to be.
So, was I.
I said to her mom later,
while sneaking in dinner in that back bedroom.
That her home, told a story.
One of the most beautiful, I’d ever been told.
Of a life, so well lived.
Most people, would never believe it.
& that she, was at the center, of this fairytale.
The life, that as a mother, she’d helped to cultivate.
She teared up.
“well I don’t know about all that” she said softly.
But I did.
For me ,these days.
I am less envious.
Of the dresses.
The hair, and makeup.
As a mom, I try and see. . .
How a family, such as this. . .
How they do life.
“I’ve never, in my life. Seen that woman, not happy. Not ever.”
someone spoke to me,
as her infectious laugh, filled a room full of people.
I believed them.
Today, was about Savannah.
She was beautiful, a talented swing dancer whose tea length gown, filled effortlessly atop original hardwoods, in the middle of the living room. . .as her groom, twirled her around, for her first dance.
wildly succesful in all regards.
marrying a doctor,
while also, becoming one, herself.
So how, does a young, freckled girl, in small glasses, in multiple frames, all over a home. .
grow into such a woman.
I could see it.
You didn’t, have to look far.
Here is to beautiful women.
The ones who raise them.
The ones who become them.
& the ones, who inspire us,
to go home.
And first, love those,
who matter most.
When I left for the night,
Savannah said “Thanks for everything!
Now go home and see those babies!”
What I wanted to say was.
“I’ve never wanted to go home and love my children and my family> >
anymore, than I do, right now > > >
and it’s all because of you.
& your family.”