Taryn & Brandon Cross

Ummm wow.

It was the summer of 2017. I was thumbing through my Facebook feed when a little red blip alerted me to a new message. It was from someone named Taryn Turley, someone I didn’t know and had no connections with. The message was brief, punctuated with exclamation points, very hopeful. I read through it, then read it through again. She wanted me, a stranger, to shoot her wedding! I shot back a quick response. We met at a local Panera to confirm that we were the right couple-photographer match… and let me tell you, we 100% were.

My first impression of Taryn and Brandon was overwhelmingly positive. They were kind, cherished each other and their kiddos, worked hard. I liked them right away. Over the next couple days, we filled in details and got dates on the calendar. Engagement photos in October, wedding the following May.

So the fall came and went, and Taryn and I occasionally checked in over Facebook. In the meantime, I transplanted my life from Illinois to Indiana, earned my degree, created new circles of friends, started a full-time job. Between their engagement session and their wedding, my life really did a 180.

In February of 2018, I discovered that I had double-booked May 12. Somehow, I had failed to realize that their wedding was the day of my undergraduate graduation ceremony.

Shoot.

There was a brief moment of panic, and I felt sick. Graduation was important and I just knew my family wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t wear that cap and gown and walk across the stage and…

Then it hit me. My heart and mind grew calm, like a lake in early morning, as peace washed over me. I had already made my decision: I wouldn’t walk in graduation. That was that. After a quick conference with my parents (and many prayerful hours with God) I knew I’d made the right call.

It went beyond a simple scheduling mistake, though. It was a “just so happens” moment of forgetfulness on my part, one that was absolutely necessary and perfectly timed. Taryn & Brandon were worth more to me than walking across some silly stage. They are worth more period.

May 12 dawned a little sticky, a little wet. Rain threatened for most of the day and did fall for a while, right before the ceremony. But I was determined to give Taryn the prettiest pictures she’d every laid eyes on, rain or no rain. Their big day drifted by in a happy haze of hugs, laughter, tears. And praise God, I was blessed to capture every moment.

See, here’s the thing: Taryn & Brandon did it out of order. They’ve been together since high school, and have four beautiful babies, and already live together. My faith dictates (with good reason) that marriage should come before those things… but you know what? I witnessed more joy and unity at their wedding than I’ve experienced at some weddings of full-on Christ-followers. And the fact that the kiddos were there to experience mom and dad commit to each other forever? Wow. Just wow. It was 100% worth missing graduation to be at their wedding.

Marriage is sacred. It’s more than an excuse for a party; it symbolizes a much more beautiful, transcendent truth. Taryn & Brandon took part in that on May 12, and I’m overjoyed for the future they get to share.

Michelle & Denver

In my mind, “Fireman’s Building” doesn’t immediately intersect with “wedding reception.” But wow, Michelle and Denver took that blank-canvas space and transformed into something quite lovely.

M & D got married in the cold throes of January. They chose to delay their reception until this weekend, though, with near-perfect results. Almost all weddings have themed decorations; theirs was the Medieval age. Human chessboard, Maypole and all.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. But when I stepped into that unassuming building, I was greeted by pink roses and baby’s breath, long tables, linen napkins and neatly arranged platters of cheese and fruit. *Insert happy photographer.*

People matter most to Michelle. At lunch, she served her aging grandmother before getting her own meal, pausing to make sure the salad had the right dressing. Michelle also spoke with nearly everyone who stepped into her path, treating each as if they were the only person there. I’ve known Michelle for a few years; that open-handed sweet spirit has always been an inspiration.

And of course, the happy couple. Is it possible for love to be more genuine?

Wedding: Matt & Alessa

Saturday dawned bright and clear. Alessa and eight bridesmaids filled Alessa’s parents’ sun-room, casually chatting and sipping orange juice amidst makeup bags, curling irons and clouds of hairspray.

Everyone was excited but Alessa absolutely glowed; she couldn’t keep a smile from her face. From early-morning prep to late-night dancing, she bubbled with almost-tangible joy!

Matt and Alessa’s day was a dream. It went smoothly from start to finish; every detail was attended to, from the succulent-and-rose bouquets to the family pictures.

I’m SO excited to share a few images. Enjoy!