"And we danced all night to the best song ever..." - One Direction
First off let me explain. This girl is a HUGE fan of One Direction. Now that we got that out of the way - and you've already seen about 125 reasons why I absolutely LOVE this couple I'll tell you the whole story. Haley + Hayden are the kind of couple that wedding photographers dream of. Completely beautiful together, and so full of love for each other that it spills over into every shot. What I really found myself captivated by with these two was their willingness to just be in the moment. So many of our couples these days spend their day instagramming their own wedding, and nitpicking the hair stylist that they don't realize that half of their wedding day is already over before they've even started enjoying it. This wedding was the exact opposite. Haley + Hayden were completely present all day and the photos reflect that in every way.
We took off from my house pretty early that morning. It's about a 3 hour drive to Benton where the wedding was planned and with a wedding the day before and another the day after we knew this was going to be a long day. The energy in the room when we walked into see the girls already in makeup was enough to really kickstart the photos and it never died down for the rest of the night. Haley is a laugher. She's sarcastic, quick witted, and always willing to laugh at a joke. With her closest girls around all morning we all spent a few hours just having fun watching her get dolled up. By the time we made it out to the venue (St. John's Chapel by the Creek) everybody was ready to get started. Photos with this group were a breeze. I don't do much posing these days but instead let our groups have some fun and direct a little bit just to make sure I'm keeping the momentum going. I'm not sure I said two words during the bridesmaid shoot just because they were all so fun to begin with. But without spending too much time on the stuff that isn't as important let me jump to the best moment of the day.
Hayden pulled up thinking he was scheduled for a few moments of "groom" shooting with just me. If you've been to a few weddings you know that there's no part of this process most grooms look forward to less that photos. We try pretty hard to be the exception to that rule but in reality there's time where it's kind of fun to play that card. So I put Hayden on the edge of the bridge and started shooting him. We chatted a bit and I shot. Then I had him fix his tie and I shot. I had him tell me about his cuff links and I shot. I dragged this process on for what seemed to him like ages all the while Haley was getting all set up on the other end of the bridge and laughing at his answers to my questions. What came next was pure magic. Hayden is an all around sweet guy. Southern as can be but in every good way possible. This is the type of guy who opens doors, pulls out chairs, and shakes hands but also has a pretty keen sense of style and a soft touch with Haley. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind what she sees in him. His friends, his family, and even his photographers grew to love being around this guy so I knew that when I surprised him with Haley his reaction would be not just sincere but extreme.
"Alright bro, just turn and walk away from me. I want to get some cool shots of you walking across the bridge." ..... MAGIC.
As Hayden looked up to see his wife to be on the other side of the bridge he didn't just smile he actually screamed.Not in a girlie way and not in a way he'd ever be embarrassed of. But he couldn't keep it in. As he walked to her the smiles just got bigger and after 300 weddings I can say without a doubt I am not sure I have ever felt time stop like that. The next 45 minutes were magic and we wrapped up just in time to watch a few dark clouds collecting in the distance.
The ceremony was short and super sweet. Both dad's had a part in the ceremony and technically both "married" Haley + Hayden. Such a neat moment to watch Haley's dad give her away and then take the stage in the best seat in the house. After the kiss and a long very southern receiving line the clouds had officially stacked and the first few rain drops fell. There's never been a moment in a wedding quite like this for me before. The moment when I decided I finally had the bride who would do exactly what I saw. "Haley - I know it's raining. Run out in that little sliver of light and kiss Hayden. You don't have to stay long - but it'll be worth it" .... MAGIC.
There are not enough ways for me to brag on the way I love this wedding. It was about the couple, it was about the venue, and it was about the story. But for every right decision that was made on the day of here was a million choices leading up to it what were just perfect. First and foremost these two finding each other. I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed being along at this wedding and how much it meant to me to watch them say I do. No matter where I shoot, whether I'm in Bentonville, or New York, Florida, or Mexico I'm always amazed at the couples who are so intune with each other that that they are willing to let me express their love on such a huge day. So grateful for these two and their kind families and so anxious to see them again at a few more weddings soon!