first, the story:
as always goes in a story like this one, we had no idea what to expect as we rode the train from Knutsford, England into the Peak District. we knew that georgia and ali were going to be wonderful, and that her family had already been so kind and generous as we emailed back and forth. but as we arrived, as we went on hikes through the stunning wintry green hills of county derbyshire, as we unpacked our suitcase and camera gear at their family home in Matlock, we began to realize how blessed an opportunity we had been given in sharing this particular time with this particular family.
it struck me as I watched them that we had been invited, even paid to come eves drop on, something sacred. we weren’t just watching a bride as she got ready to be married, but as she turned in her key to the house, as she said goodbye to her childhood bedroom, and hugged her parents goodbye as their youngest child, their only daughter. we were watching them turn from a family into two separate families – the empty nesters and the newlyweds. history was happening right before our eyes, a right of passage unfolding, and we were invited to be the historians. and filling that role meant that we got to learn about the house they called home. We got to learn the soup recipe that her mom would always make on the weekends. We got to sit around and listen to her dad’s favorite records, and hear First Aid Kit (artists of the second song used in the slideshow) reverberate off the walls. In fact, despite family coming in from around the world, we were the ones who were offered the guest room in Georgia’s parents home.
We tell our couples that we come to their weddings not as a vendor, but as a close friend or family member. We have arrived at a wedding to discover we are staying in our own cottage next to family and friends. We have been given place cards and shared the reception meal with the couple’s loved ones at nearly all of our weddings. We have even been sat at the head table before. But we have never been so brought in, so honored, so made to be a part of the family in this intensely personal way. and what a family to be invited into!
these people were extraordinary and truly unique. and not just because it’s cool to say that about other people these days, but because for them it is true without their even trying to be. to be greeted in the peak district in the wintertime, arrive to a warm home and be offered slippers to put on our feet. then fed a hot pot of soup and offered good, cold beer while holding hands and thanking God for the food around a family table. that is truly unique. for a father to sing a song to his daughter all the years that she grows and then to learn to play the harmonica and perform this song for her with her mother and brother at the wedding, that’s unique. A bride who doesn’t need a fancy dress or kate spade shoes to impress anyone, but just has a dress made that she feels like herself in and can wear her favorite slippers with, that’s unique. the love these people had for each other, the lack of need to do the “status quo” for a wedding day and replace etiquette with house slippers and blue tights complimented with a flower crown, reindeer jumper and a brass band, it was all surprisingly poetic and wonderful. There are so many stories we could tell you about these dear ones, so many little endearments about each person we came across, especially georgia and ali. But part of the joy of being invited into a family is that sometimes, you just had to be there. and if you weren’t you have to hope that the pictures will somehow allow you to peek in the back window and feel what it might have been like to be there.
to georgia and ali and your wonderful families, this is our thank you note. it was one of our greatest honors to share that weekend with you.
to everyone else, this is the back window, we invite you to look in.
next, the experience, in motion:
finally, the stills: