I got a call, out of nowhere.
It was over the phone, 996 miles away, that I met Ensign Nathan Williams. He and Nicole would be the best set of catfish I’d ever had the pleasure of working with.
We had 2 months to get a contract signed, details approved and security clearance processed to photograph their big day.
The wedding was set to happen at the United States Naval Academy Chapel on 30 March, 2019. Did I mention that the bride-to-be was still out on deployment?! Yea, I wouldn’t be meeting her until I saw her walking down the aisle with her father’s arm around her. Ensign Nicole Edmondson had spent a large amount of her deployment out in the ocean, with no-one able to consult her for much of this process. But that didn’t worry me. Being familiar with the military way of life, and really good at capturing the best possible with what I’ve got in front of me, we had this in the bag.
It was the first warm day following what had been a very long winter.
The sun was shining and the flowers had just begun blooming. Thank you, mother nature, for giving us a good one to work with. My crew and I arrived early, we parked our cars, and we made our way to the Chapel. Up the long steps, the large wooden doors opened up to some of the most stunning, traditional architecture in view. There was a massive dome just above the alter space that was pouring light down upon us. Guests began pouring into the space and making their way to their seats as music began to play from a large, old church organ. And then the processional began, just as expected, with Nicole and her father floating down the aisle, signaling the start of the ceremony. Nicole was wearing a beautiful, off-the shoulder wedding gown with a short, sequined veil over her face. Nathan waited patiently at the alter beside the officiant, with a large grin upon his face. Finally the two were getting to really see each other, for the first time in a LONG time. The ceremony carried on in a traditional manner and we watched as the sunlight through the dome changed its angle over the guests sitting in the church pews. Then it happened. There was a kiss, some happy cheering and then the ceremony concluded with the traditional Arch of the Swords.
We spent time touring the grounds with our newlyweds - capturing them as many moments of them together as possible so the next time they were apart it wouldn’t feel as much like it. We actually spent a little too much time but I felt it was worth it - the reception introduction could wait an extra five minutes. As far as I was concerned, this was Nathan and Nicole’s day to enjoy together before having to separate from each other on behalf of their orders once again. The DJ kept it all together for us as we entered the Reception Hall to get this party started. Our couple was greeted with cheers, whistles and a musical back up beat. The first dances immediately followed suit. The music playing around us, toasts being preached and delicious plates being passed about filled the space with merriment. Our couple even cut their cake with an actual sword - yes a sword. I’ve never seen that so of course I grabbed a few extras. I’ll admit, I felt a bit like we were watching a Game of Thrones cake cutting - very imperial.
It was time to dance.
The party had started and it didn’t stop for hours. People were swinging streamers through the air, breaking it down and laughing their faces off. Just how it should be on a day like today for the people we had infant of us. It felt great to be back together with my crew for this new year and even better to be capturing these meaningful moments for two people that have sacrificed so much already in their early military career that most of us ‘citizen’ folks take for granted. I respect you both, Mr. and Mrs. Nathan and Nicole Williams - wherever your orders take you. May you always have these memories to keep close to your giving hearts.