Poor Amy. Poor resilient, amazingly tough to kill Amy (more on that later).
Amy and Mark had a rough go at this one. All the forces were lined up against them. I think lesser human beings would have thrown in the towel, but Mark and Amy persevered and their love truly did conquer all.
I don’t know if I can even recount this story, some of it is so heartbreaking…
First off, earlier this year Amy lost her mom. I don’t know the how, when or why’s of it all (and I don’t know if I could handle it), but it was a emotional thread to every conversation we had with them about the wedding. Amy was clearly heartbroken, but she put on a brave face and pushed forward with her wedding plans. Mark was her stalwart companion, his quiet strength resonating through it all.
Soon, wedding plans came to fruition, and we found ourselves in the week before the wedding. Mark and Amy broke up some of their photography, opting for some pre-wedding couple photos a few days earlier at Glen Eyrie Castle. This is where the near-disaster scenarios begin: just as Amy and Mark were finishing getting ready and were leaving to meet me there, this weather front whipped in. And I mean whipped in! Driving rain, wind, freezing cold: it was a doozy. And to make matters worse, when I arrived at the castle gatehouse and asked the guard, “Have a bride and groom come through yet?”
“No , sir,” he answered confidently.
So I pulled over by the gate and waited, and waited, and waited… all the while the storm is in a frenzy outside. Finally, the storm passed and I was still waiting. So I waited more. And more. And more…
Finally, the guard leaned out of the guardhouse and asked, “Say, that bride and groom… what were they wearing?”
“I dunno,” I answered, “some kind of formal attire. A tux and gown maybe?”
He looked concerned, “Uhhh, well, you know? I think now I might have actually seen them come through earlier.”
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!?! For real?! What part of “bride and groom” wasn’t clear enough for him?
So I raced of through Glen Eyrie (“raced off” is relative when the speed limit is 10 MPH…), and lo and behold, who is standing there, waiting? Mark and Amy! Yayyyy! Thank you Mr. Guard! You made me 45 minutes late.
Fortunately, Mark and Amy were very chill about the whole being late thing, and more importantly while we were waiting, the horrendous storm passed and the sun began to set and we suddenly beheld amazing sunlit clouds and the beginnings of a sunset that was simply to-die-for. I took full advantage of it all and Amy and Mark gave me some really sexy, romantic stuff. So a storm, a slightly dim guard, and being late did nothing to hinder all of us from getting terrific photography.
Great! We got through that near-disaster. Now on to the wedding day, which came very quickly. And there we were: late September, the bride respendent in her gown, the family gathered from across the world (Mark is from Holland), and even a horse were gathered in anticipation of this terrific day at Fox Run Park in Black Forest. It was perfect. The Problem? How about a freak winter storm warning? How’s that for a disaster. Amy and Mark had planned an amazing evening wedding in September. They had no indoor back-up plan, because you know, it’s September. But yet, there we all were, standing in driving winds and wet heavy snow trying to make the best of it.
And Amy tried so hard to stay strong and positive, but I could see her resolve slipping as the snow got heavier and the wind got stronger and the snow was coming kinda sideways-like. Finally she did break a little and began to cry, and Mark just held her and covered her against the storm as I finished the family formals with about 30 people smashed behind me under the only shelter there was: the gazebo. (Amy is so cute, she told me last week on the phone, “…I never thought I would be one of those brides.” Silly Amy, I don’t think quietly crying (she was very subtle about it, I think I was the only one who noticed) because your early Fall wedding is frozen over qualifies you as “one of those brides”.)
But again, after a deep breath, Amy and Mark’s resilience shined through and inspired the entire wedding (guests and all) to simply grit their teeth and endure. And just like Glen Eyrie taught us, there is always a silver lining. Always. The falling snow amongst the lush green trees and early fall colors gave the ceremony a surreal, almost magical feel (the majestic arrival of Amy to the ceremony on a horse didn’t hurt either).
Yes, everyone was cold. Yes, everyone was wet. But as I looked around at the guests and family, it was clear that nobody cared. As Mark and Amy began their achingly personal and emotional vows to each other, every last one of us were enraptured by this couple that had been through so much and persevered to be here this day.
When the ceremony was finished we zoomed off to Manitou, expecting we’d need some kind of back-up plan for the couple shots, but when we got there we were shocked: Manitou was dry as a bone. It was cold, but not bad. We were able to get some great couple stuff before the reception. Ahhh, Colorado.
Once we finally got to the reception, Amy and Mark put on a show with a true tango for their first dance. Mark exemplifies what a good male tango dancer do: you should have a look in your eyes like you want to “ravage” your dance partner. It should be nearly feral in its energy.
Finally there was what became my favorite father/daughter dance shots of all time. When Amy and her dad danced all of the emotions of the year came out for both of them, and to see Amy’s dad holding his daughter so tightly like he’d never let her go, you could tell that a real moment of closure and healing was happening right in front of us. It is such an honor to do this job.
So there you have it: the dramatic and nail-biter tale of Amy and Mark’s wedding that had all of the cards stacked against it, but through perseverance and great attitudes, ended up perfect…
Thank you so much, Amy and Mark, for having me photograph your wedding. It was an honor (and a challenge) and I’m proud to be a part of your wedding story.
… oh, and a week after the honeymoon Amy was hit at 80 MPH by a drunk driver.
She walked away. The other driver is in the ICU.
Hence, Amy is tough to kill.
So bring it on world. Amy can handle anything you can throw at her.