June 19, 2012
I had the honor of photographing the wedding of one of my closest friends and big sister in my sorority (what’s up, Phi Mu?!). I went down to my ole college stomping grounds in Evansville, Ind., June 8 to shoot it. It was the most original and spectacular wedding I’ve ever attended. It was filled with love and friendship, and most importantly, FUN!
Now Shelley is not your typical bride, as she opted for a midnight blue knee length dress (made by another uber-talented Phi Mu sister). But WOW, that girl shinned “like the beauty of a million stars,” as how she referred to it. So funny, so laid-back Shelley, seems to not have a care in the world.
What you may not have noticed during the ceremony was her dad walking her down the aisle and sitting in the front row holding up a cell phone. Listen closely and you can hear Shelley describing what she’s doing (walking down the aisle). Zoom in on the phone, you see a Skype app and in the center of the viewing screen, Shelley’s mother. Sitting in a hospital bed with a gown on.
Previously in the day, Shelley, maid of honor and sister Emily, Alex (the groom) and Jerry (best man) all hopped into a car, all in their dashing wedding attire, and met on the third floor of Deaconess Gateway Hospital in Evansville. While entering Carla Dewig’s room, we see that she is dressed in her mother-of-the-bride dress and her hair is beautifully done. Turns out, one of her nurses used to be a hair stylist and made Carla look as lovely as the bride herself.
This has to have been my favorite part of the day. Carla got to be a part of the wedding day festivities even if she couldn’t leave the hospital. She was still included in her daughter’s wedding photos. And thanks to modern day technology, was able to view her daughter’s once-in-a-lifetime day.
We got her into a wheelchair and zigzagged our way down employee-only hallways (with help, of course) and found a beautiful secluded garden just waiting for our arrival. We took all kinds of family pictures down there, one in particular has to be my favorite. One of Shelley and Carla, Carla’s head tilting over to Shelley. You can see the love and excitement she has for Shelley and Alex.
After the photos are taken, we huddle back in Carla’s room, hand in hand, we say a little prayer. That prayer was answered as her pain has been taken away, as Carla died June 15, 2012, just one week after her first child’s wedding day.
I hadn’t been able to grasp why I was a photographer until now. And why I love shooting weddings so much. As I’m sitting editing photos of Shelley and Carla last night, I realize this is my purpose. To capture moments, happy and sad. Capturing what may not be there down the road. Capturing large and small moments, bridal and otherwise. I love being able to show to the world how perfect two people are for each other. How much love and how much support is apparent on their faces. Something small that I’ve done, doing something big for someone I love. Giving her memories of her mother one last time.
Shelley kept thanking me profusely as we left the hospital, headed toward the gorgeous New Harmony, Ind., where her wedding was taking place. I just kept replying (and still reply wordlessly today), “I’m so honored and glad I was able to be a part of this.” A part of something that’s so fragile, a moment that won’t last forever. I’m just grateful to have been the one to capture it.
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