“I could not tell you if I loved you the first moment I saw you, or if it was the second or third or fourth. But I remember the first moment I looked at you walking toward me and realized that somehow the rest of the world seemed to vanish when I was with you.”  ― Cassandra Clare

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There's a weird feeling of full circle about this wedding story. I don't get down to Fort Smith that often these days. It seems I'm almost always either much closer or much farther away from home but when a wedding down in Fort Smith pops up it's a nice way to have a bit of a change of scenery without having to go through airport security so I'm always excited to say yes. I'll rave about Sydney + Clinton soon enough but first I want to day dream for a minute. Delyn and I drove into Ft Smith the morning of the wedding having no real idea where we were going. I always try and show up a few minutes ahead of schedule so we can poke around and figure out where we’re going to be able to take our couple for a dreamy couples’ session. So as we drove around and looked for the right light and the right scene we pulled up in front of the church just in time for me to have a wild flash back. This church has always had a bit of a special place in my heart. The very first wedding that Melissa ever joined me on was Susan + Jason back in 2008 (or maybe 2009). A few hundred weddings have happened since then but that one is burned into my head. Melissa and I weren’t married yet but we were so happy together and she was so anxious to learn this passion of mine. Though she taught herself how to use her camera mostly from watching me work this wedding was her first experience getting stuck on a balcony on the other side of a large church without me to help. So neat to have those memories and how proud of her I was at the time. This little company has grown so much since then and Melissa doesn’t have her camera around as much as she used to since her biggest passion these days is for our kids but to start this company hand in hand with this amazing woman has literally shaped the way I view my world through a viewfinder. I’m at my best when she’s with me - and so grateful for memories just like this. Flash forward 7 or 8 years and Delyn and I pull up ready for a great wedding with a beautiful couple in time for me to see this church and just smile. I knew at this exact moment that I would absolutely love this day.

 

Sydney has one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever worked with. Her bright red hair just glowed as she walked around in her beautiful dress and I can say that from the moment I met her and Clinton I was blown away by their love for each other. There’s a comfort there that is rare. They’re not giddy, not overly flirty, but far from distant. You can tell that with each other they’ve both found a real comfort zone that works for them and seeing it up close is pretty amazing. I’m super uncomfortable with the status of “fans” of our work. I think it gives us way more credit than we’re due to have “fans” but if we did Sydney would likely be on that list. She’s seen and read through most of our work and getting to know her and her anxious anticipation of what we would do with her in front of the camera really did drive our creativity on this day. So much of a wedding is just a few degrees of separation from the next wedding and largely the thing that separates them to us is our relationship with the couple and their relationship with each other. Decor at the end of the day is just decor. What matters to us isn’t the flowers or the lighting but the time we get to spend with them when they’re away from the distractions. This day was a perfect example of that as we drove off in two cars so they could spend a few minutes together after their first look and headed down to where we had a beautiful view of the river and the big puffy summer clouds in the background. We wanted this day to be perfect, but not for the photos - for them. We want the memories to be organic and real. We want the experience to be seamless and easy, but perhaps most of all we want the groom to have the chance to spend a few minutes in awe of the gravity of this day. It’s pretty fair to point out that most of a wedding these days is built around the bride and “her day”. I’m comfortable being the other voice here. Of course we want that beauty and confidence to take over a bride but for her to find a place where she get’s to witness just how much she means to her groom is something that’s completely irreplaceable. 

 

This wedding was a bit perfect from start to finish. The bridesmaids were beautiful and so kind. The guys not only kept things fun all day but were super fun to be around. The families of these two are absolutely amazing together. The decor was incredible but what stands out to me really was Sydney’s trip down the aisle. We weren’t sure we were going to have a view of this moment for a few minutes. The church is pretty strict about ceremony photos and as much as we hate those situations I never blame a church for having rules. Truth be told, at least most likely, some photographer in their history took advantage of the honor of shooting a wedding and distracted people during it so the church feels the need to limit a photographer in order to try and protect some level of respect for how sacred these moments are. I couldn’t agree more if I’m honest but also know that my job is to do my job. So we were able to work out a deal and though it left us with very little wiggle room watching Sydney walk to Clinton was a moment I can’t imagine not having witnessed. If you go to a few weddings you’re likely the type of person that thinks that a grooms face is magic when he sees the bride. I don’t want to squash dreams here but a first look 100% of the time leaves a groom with a much bigger, much more genuine smile. That said regardless of whether they see each other or not it’s the brides face that honestly shows the moment. Think about it like this - no matter how hard that guy is biting his tongue trying not to cry she knows him - knows his heart - and knows in that moment how he’s feeling and almost always she reflects that love back. I know I likely just got a bunch of you up in arms about your favorite part of a wedding and how a first look ruins the tradition (which is an absurd tradition and is far from romantic) BUT regardless of my feelings we NEVER push a couple into a first look. In fact all I care about is that WHEN they see each other they’re able to truly show how they feel in that moment. Nothing held back and nothing between them. That is what matters because for as much pressure as we put on a wedding to be any number of things in my mind what it should be is simply a commitment to God and to two families that these two are better together than apart. That moment is the magic and Sydney + Clinton are a perfect example of that magic. Even after 45 minutes together before the ceremony Clinton still lit up when he saw her. His smile told half the story and her’s the other half but the story within those moments is on her dad’s face and in her mom’s tears. There was so much joy in this wedding and we were so blessed to see it all. Sydney is a pretty remarkable person. I believe she actually asked me for a job at the end of the night and I’d be lying to say I wasn’t tempted. She’s just the type of girl we love to hang out around and the girl that all of our wives would love. She’s kind, strong, organized, and motivated. Clinton is quiet and calm with a bit of a shy smile. He’s the type of guy you can tell is so smart that he’s always reading a situation even though he’s not necessarily saying it. Together these two really do fit perfectly and I can’t say enough about how bless we were to be a part of it!

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