berry picking and cheese tasting and laughter and sweet honey and off-key kazoos playing Here Comes the Bride.
the local high school marching band with sparkly sashes, surprising guests and leaving them in fits of delighted laughter, leading them down the hill, from the clearing where Steph and Brian declared their love and commitment under the old, wise oak tree and the reeds soulfully swaying, to the red wood barn, adorned in twinkly lights.
Freeze-pops handed out to guests and a rockin bluegrass band (that was playing the night they met) and feet tapping and frisbees tossed and shoes kicked off and bridesmaids dresses lifted to the knees to kick soccer balls.
origami bouquets and boutonnières handmade by the bride and groom and chalkboard signs and haitian rum and the sweet smell of old wood and damp hay and juggling and camp fires and roasted marshmallows.
Blow-up swords and board games and double decker bicycles and PEEL PEEL PEEL! [the Virginia Reel] and bubbles and glow sticks and twisting and turning and dancing and jumping and oh! the energy and even more, the love.
Every time I try to write something about this wedding, my eyes well up and spill over and I literally start sobbing tears of joy.
I met the bride, Stephanie, when I went to volunteer in Haiti one year ago. Steph is the director of the English in Mind Institute, and one of those beautiful, vibrant souls, the best kind of human that there is, the kind that makes you want to be a better person, just by being in her presence. (I make that bold statement with complete and utter confidence).
One day when Steph and I were lazily cooling off in the ocean with some other volunteers, she told me about the man in her life. As I listened to the tale of how she met Brian, her then boyfriend of 7 months, her eyes sparkled and her face lit up. And she told me that Brian makes her want to be a better person, and for someone like STEPH to say that, I knew that Brian was an extraordinary human being.
One year later, and here I was, shooting their wedding on a lovely sprawling farm in western Virginia, surrounded by friends and family, most having made the trip from other states and other countries to be there.
ENGULFED in SO. MUCH. LOVE.
Stephanie and Brian: I am so incredibly grateful to have been given the privilege to document your wedding. I love you both from the bottom of my heart.
And… I hope you have enough of an internet connection in Haiti right now to be seeing these images….. And please send my love to Bengie and Willio and Brunell and all of the students and Hana and all of the volunteers and to Rustik and PaP and HC. I will be back, I promise.
[understand my personal Haiti experience HERE]
[learn more about the English in Mind Institute HERE -- and see the photos that I shot for their website]