Finding Joy Amidst Change: Our Story

This has been a tough year for couples navigating COVID-19 and making adjustments on a global and a personal scale.  It has affected so many of your weddings and your dreams, and I’ve seen that.  I’ve seen how you’re fighting to have dreams and also letting go and embracing new ones.  I wanted to share my story, because Derek and I actually rescheduled our own wedding 2.5 years ago!!  I think our story, and some observations I’m making, may help you to embrace the silver lining even in all of this craziness!

Three years ago, my fiance Derek and I were so ready to be married.  We had weathered a 4 hour long distance relationship for 2 years when we got engaged, fought for each other and our relationship in ways I hadn’t expected.  After we got engaged, I remember receiving a Bride magazine and being totally overwhelmed at the thought of planning a wedding.  And here I was, a wedding photographer for 7 years already!  

Because I was a wedding photographer, one thing I knew, was I had to plan our wedding date on my calendar before anything else – we had to secure our venue and photographer quickly.  So we did – we made plans for a June 4th wedding, and I was over the MOON when we booked my dream photographer Katelyn James! (See a couple of our engagement photos)

View More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/derek-and-kerri-engagedkerri_lynne_photography_katelyn_james_engagement_cazenovia_central_new_york_0002Then, weeks after our engagement and coming down from the “high,” we quickly realized that there were areas of our relationship that needed tending to.  It needed time, care, and attention for us to build the foundation in our marriage that we wanted.  Trying to plan a wedding was just not where our hearts were anymore.

We made a hard decision – a decision I have never regretted since we made it.  We decided to postpone our wedding.  

We talked to our venue and wedding photographer, and the only date they both had available was October 29th.  The end of wedding season.  A Sunday, after peak foliage.  But honestly, I didn’t care.  I just wanted to be married to Derek, and I wanted my dream photographer to be there.  So we did what we had to do.  And actually, we realized a fall wedding was more “us” anyway.  I changed the color scheme to include some richer tones to accent the softer tones, and added in a whole bunch of white pumpkins to the décor.  Keeping it classy.   

We poured into our marriage, doing premarital counseling, and laying a foundation that we would have never had if we “rushed” into planning a wedding.  I am convinced that because we put “us” first, our life is so much more beautiful than it would have been before.  

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Our wedding day, October 29, 2017 was a rainy day – 100% chance of rain, all day – a Nor’Easter.  A shock to someone like me who thrives on “chasing light.”  But honestly, the day of our wedding was the happiest day for us – and nothing could wipe the smile off of our faces.  The day before was sunny and beautiful – so it was all chance.  But the rain did something special, too.  So many guests said that they felt something magical during our ceremony as the rain hit our tent.  And it was magical. 

Even though our day looked so different than I expected, after it was all over, I KNEW it was exactly the way that it was meant to be.  

Because in the end, our marriage wasn’t about anyone else than us.  And something happened on that rainy day in October – our love shone brighter than ever and it touched people’s hearts.  It wasn’t “perfect” by any conventional sense of the word – but it was perfect because it was ours, and it was our story.  

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As I think about our story three years ago, and I think about couples now, navigating so much change in their expectations of how they thought their day would be or would look or would feel.  They’re on a process to embrace what is and what will be.

Here is some advice that I have, and perhaps some silver linings that I can see in all of this change:

1. The Ability to Focus on Marriage

Trust me, I am a wedding photographer and I LOVE wedding details!  But sometimes, the details do cloud our vision and make us focus on things that ultimately are not important.  I think everyone right now is getting a chance to step back, to breathe, and to focus on what actually matters.

You have time to build the foundation of your marriage and to think about the two of you above everything else.  That is a gift.
And time – time isn’t always an enemy we’re fighting against or railing against.  Extra time is also a gift.  Breathing is a gift.  Re-evaluating priorities and making sure you’re on the same page as you move forward together is a gift.

2. The Ability to Connect with Family and Friends

As several of my 2020 couples are choosing to elope this year and reschedule for next year, I am seeing a shift in the focus on family and friends as the most intimate celebrations are coming together. 

As a wedding photographer, while I LOVE all of the details and I love big weddings, it’s been the most intimate celebrations that I captured that I have walked away from thinking, “this day really was about getting married in front of their family and friends.”  The details didn’t distract or take away from the intimacy of how it felt.  

This year, I think these smaller weddings and elopements have the potential to really FEEL and capture what weddings are really all about.

I know my couples eloping or having small gatherings will always treasure the people by their side.  

I have also seen my couples connecting with friends over Zoom to have virtual bachelorette parties!  Again, not anything like they pictured, planned, or wanted – but as I saw these happening, I realized how people rally to be there for one another.  It’s not about sipping wine in an engagement ring float in an infinity pool – it’s about people showing up to celebrate you NO MATTER WHAT.

3. The Ability to Be Creative and Adventurous

As I see couples having to come up with creative solutions and thinking outside-the-box, creativity is really flourishing  right now in the wedding world!

I’m seeing many elopements happening this year, as couples postpone the “big party” and still choose to get married with an intimate gathering of family and friends.  I am loving elopements because there really is NO LIMIT on where you can go or what you can do!  For my couples eloping this year (and marrying next year), I’m telling them, think big!  What is a place that is special and sacred to you?  What’s something FUN that you want to do?  The sky is the limit!!

If Derek and I didn’t get married in a Hudson Valley winery with 159 of our family and friends, I think I would have loved to marry him in the woods, amidst climbing pine trees and maybe a view of rolling hills.  I think I would have strung string lights and made it the most romantic setting I’ve ever imagined.   So simple, and so us.  And maybe we’d climb a mountain after in our dress and suit, with no “reception” to go we could just be wild and free, hand in hand, together.

Lastly, A Heartfelt Note from Me:

It’s okay, 2020 couples, if you are grieving what you lost before you can move on to something new.  Grieving is always part of the process.  And your grief can come right alongside these new dreams, too.  Know that there is more beauty to be had for you, more light, and more adventure.  Maybe it looks different from what you thought.  I do wonder, maybe it’ll be better?  Maybe, after all of this settles and you are pronounced “husband” and “wife,” you’ll look back as I did on your wedding day (or wedding days) and say what I said after our wedding: “That was JUST as it was meant to be.”

I truly hope that for all of you.

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