The Russell Wedding
July 14th, 2015
The story of how a photographer gets the opportunity to work with a client is either utterly boring or unique and extravagant in its refined detail.
I'm not sure where this falls into.
Anyway, I was lucky to have—somehow—convinced Jordan and her fiancé Christopher that I was worthy of being the one to create their engagement photographs. After the routine process of shooting, sorting, editing, uploading, and delivering the results I felt pretty satisfied overall with how they turned out. Chris & Jordan felt otherwise. In fact, they were so in love with the results that they decided to stick with my work and have me photograph their wedding the following Summer! What an awesome feeling. The three of us quickly became non-awkward client acquaintances; Chris and Jordan's personalities consisted of a culminated mixture of friendliness, selflessness, and a down-to-earth tone that made me believe they could be friends with anyone. This was later cemented upon receiving their wedding form:
"What are three words that describe you as a couple?"
"Fulfilling, selfless, and genuine. (Christopher actually came up with these)"
During our engagement session, Jordan reminisced on her first interaction with Chris when they met in class at BGSU. Chris, the romantic, recalls a Disney-riddled “love at first sight” tale—Jordan on the other hand loves to openly joke about how she thought he was “a bit of annoying”.
When I asked about the proposal, Christopher had immediately gone from photo-taking mode to published playwright. The story, so eloquently told and layered with romanticism, was truly inspiring and difficult to recall without it being re-told once more.
The tale, in a "condensed form" from Jordan's perspective:
Chris requested off work for me and stole the key to my apartment, sneaking in my room in the morning to set up a video he had created that included photos of us & clips from friends (it’s actually not creepy that he did that I promise). At the end of the video was a clue indicating that my day wasn’t about to go as planned; however, my alarm for work woke me up and I accidentally caught him in the process of setting up the video! There was a note on my dresser that gave details of an entire outfit he had bought for me that was placed under my bed, as well as the time for a mani-pedi appointment. After I went to the prepaid appointment, we met for lunch and made our way to the Toledo Art Museum (Sauder Village was plan A but they were closed). After the museum Christopher dropped me off at my house so that I could get ready for dinner. Two hours later he picked me up & we headed to what turned out to be a fully decorated barn with candles, rose petals, a tent, a projector, and beautiful lights hanging from the ceiling. It was so much more beautiful in person, he worked so hard. It was amazing. He told me we were going to watch the Notebook (love). We were enjoying the night just the two of us when the juicy scene where Noah yells to Allie that he wrote to her every day for a year when all of a sudden the movie freezes! Chris, slyly, tries to figure out the issue with the movie when he quickly tells me to close my eyes. All of a sudden music is playing in this beautiful setting and we just danced. Chris starts to pour his heart out to me, spinning me around; we’re dancing & swaying like branches burdened by a light summer breeze in the summer sky. Suddenly Chris is on one knee and I’m freaking out screaming “Yes, please!” and that was that.
June 3rd, 2016
On June 3rd, I met Jordan & Bridesmaids Brooke, Hailey, and Aimee at Shama's Salon in Perrysburg. It was quickly becoming a sweltering afternoon, with the June heat coming in strong early. We enjoyed a lot of sitting in the cool air and waiting for things to get started. Once everything was underway, I watched the gradual transformation from "this is my hair" to "I am auditioning for the lead role of Sleeping Beauty, bow in the presence of my locks of gold".
I still don't understand how it's done. But I did leave with a slight urge to get a haircut.
After everyone's hair was perfected we sped off to Little Flower Catholic Church to prepare for the ceremony. As the girls were finishing up their makeup and dresses, Jordan read a letter Christopher had written; privately at first, then Maid of Honor Aimee read it aloud for everyone else, while Jordan tried to refrain from ruining the makeup she just diligently put on.
Meanwhile, Christopher and the Groomsmen were having a bit of a moment as Pat, the Best Man, was without his white shirt. With its whereabouts being miles behind with no time to retrieve it, an anxious Chris awaited word about the proximity of a new one. Time was short; but Fear not, a proper replacement was bestowed (minutes before the ceremony, I might add. I was stressed).
There ceremony was beautifully officiated by Chris's good friend, Father Eric Schild.
The last photo rings loud when I see it — I can still hear the sound of everyone cheering, applauding, and see the flurry of bubbles. The sun was blinding but even it couldn't match the radiating light of pure joy from the newly Mr. and Mrs. Russell.
After the ceremony we rushed over to Toledo Botanical Garden's for a few quick photos of the wedding party. And when I say quick, I mean yelling out poses like a drill sergeant quick. We had a schedule to uphold and a lot of smiles to crack.
When I look back to Chris & Jordan's engagement shoot I think of how I felt afterwards when I was in the editing process. For a long time I felt like I had been off my game, not really creating photographs the way I wished to. I felt more rigid in my work than inspired. But after our shoot had come to an end, I really felt like that mold had been broken. I was excited and enthusiastic with how everything had turned out & not feeling too self-critical and defeated.
My favorite part of shooting a wedding is always the reception: it's where I (usually) get to eat and take a moment to re-calibrate. The Russell Wedding reception was located inside of a big, beautiful building inside the Wood County Fairgrounds. It sounds straightforward and pretty industrial, but just wait until you see their decorations.
I thought it was pretty neat how the Best Man & Maid of Honor bestowed their speeches to the audience of the reception from high above in almost a commencement address style.
I took absolute pleasure in watching so many great memories unfold before me. The exhilarating rush from the pressures of being the one to preserve them through my own eyes is, in my mind, the hardest gift to create.
Except Chris hand-made a luxurious wooden bed frame. That's pretty hard to top.