I’ve said it before and I know I’ll say it again: I have the BEST clients. My average clients are backyard bbq-ing whiskey drinking party people who just want to get married. Melissa and Austin had planned their wedding at the Chart House in Lake Tahoe and modelled it, or, in Melissa’s self professed words “copied” it from Ashley and Tim, down to the dancefloor. They even stole their photographer (me!) and are claiming to keep me as a friend forever. When their destination wedding was cancelled due to the pandemic, Melissa said she was “expecting some shit to hit the fan but man oh man this went above and beyond!!!!” Despite the setbacks and cancellations, Melissa was incredibly positive, rolling with the punches and making decisions in stride. In an incredibly moving and generous gesture that completely floored me, Melissa offered to pay me in full even though she wasn’t going to be able to use my services.
In those first moments of the pandemic, when the world was just coming to grips with what their new reality was looking like, and dreams were being dashed, and trips were being cancelled, and the world was unemployed and losing their jobs and unsure of the future, people like Melissa are the ones that brought hope to others. She brought hope to me, in a time where I felt like I was drowning and that my business might not recover. In a month where I made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy. Melissa made these decisions while working as a nurse practitioner under her own stress, making it through like the rest of us on “zoom wine and tequila shots.”
When Melissa and Austin came up with a new plan, it was completely and totally reflective of their personality, which Melissa said has “always been a wild ride.” They told me they were going to have a small Missouri backyard wedding in a split event, with the ceremony at Austin’s parents home in Louisiana, MO and the reception two hours away in at her parents home outside of Washington, MO. They put their limited guest list on a party bus and drove them from one spot to the other and back again. They stopped at their local watering hole on the way. They made up for the lack of a Tahoe destination wedding with a fireworks show over their own backyard pond. They partied with all the positivity and good spirits that Melissa had shared with me along the way and I know it to be true because I was there.
Their wedding got moved to the middle of June and as an effectively unemployed photographer with an abundance of time and free flights, I did everything I could to be there for their revised wedding day and I’m so thankful it worked out. If you’re really lucky, your photographer will not only fly across the country in a pandemic to photograph your wedding, but also chauffeur your drunk friends home and take them through the Taco Bell drive through on the way (true story). It was my first COVID wedding, and one of only 5 with actual guests that I will be photographing this year. It felt joyous to be around people and dancing and camaraderie. It felt amazing to capture a day that although it wasn’t what they had initially planned, was absolutely perfect for their union in every way.