Melissa is a kindred spirit. The same kooky, kinda crazy in a good way blood flows in both our veins. And her husband-to-be could be a copy of my own stoic-except-when-he-is-with-me-then-he’s-a-teddy-bear husband. I loved hearing of all the silly and sweet details as she and Jamal planned their wedding day. And all those plans, except the one where the weather cooperated, came off without a hitch. The rain drove us inside Rockwell Hall at Kent State University , but our spirits were not dampened. To get Jamal’s smile ready Melissa had arranged for her nephew, Malik, to don a silly mask and pretend to be Melissa sneaking up on him to reveal herself and her wedding gown. While he laughed at that, his smile only truly became luminous when he saw his Bride descending the stairs towards him. And from that moment, through to their ceremony and reception at The Italian Center the two were aglow with love. I am so blessed to have been there for that special celebration, and blessed to continue to call these two my friends.
It’s pretty rare that I don’t get to meet my couples in person until their wedding day. Frankly it makes me a wee bit nervous. Since Kaylee is a RN her schedule is always hectic and things just never aligned for us to set up an engagement session. But it took a whopping two minutes for me to get to know both her and Tyler. They are both no shenanigans and no fakery, just plain really lovely people. And throughout the day both family and friends commented both in speeches and just in conversation how wonderful they are for each other and how much they adore their son, Benson, who is admittedly impossible to adore. There was never a feeling of nervousness or fussing over details, just both of them initially looking forward to being able to see each other and then to just having a blast celebrating their union. It was a beautiful day and a amazing party!
Their wedding was my first opportunity to photograph the villas side of Gervasi Vineyard. I didn’t think anything could be better than the Pavilion, but The Villa Grande more than lived up to its name. The Tuscan feel of the villa where they glammed and dappered up was both inviting and lent itself to simply stunning opportunities for showing off the details of their day. The ballroom was a less rustic taste of Italian decor and I will not say that the air conditioning was not appreciated at the end of August! All in all it left me completely torn on which Gervasi venue is the more stunning, and once again confirmed that this is one of the most amazing locations in Northeast Ohio.
Every couple makes an impression on me. There is always something to be learned about love, respect and the joy found in one another. I am always looking for a lesson to take home to my own life. If I had to choose a word to sum up what I’ve learned from Emily and Quentin it would have to be grace. There are several definitions of grace; 1. simple elegance or refinement of movement 2. courteous goodwill 3. an attractively polite manner of behaving 4. a divinely given talent or blessing 5. a period officially allowed for payment of a sum due or for compliance with a law or condition, especially an extended period granted as a special favor. And while some of them may seem obvious and others odd, they all apply in one way or another.
I got to know Em & Q during their engagement session and I knew even then that they were amazingly connected and so kind to each other. And yes, you would imagine any couple planning to marry are kind to each other, and they are, but every action and gesture and spoken exchange between these two were showing kindness and definitions 2 and 3 of grace to each other. I couldn’t see how I would wait more than a year until their wedding!
As their wedding got closer we spoke more and met up for some coffee and to go over plans. Every detail they shared with me made me more excited! Pies instead of cake, complete with a pie fight in hazmat suits! Their desire to get the perfect photo of them with all their guests so they could frame it to remember everyone who celebrated with them. Everything was planned for maximum fun and beauty!
It was around then that I was told that Em’s Dad had brain cancer and that things were not looking good for him. Unfortunately things did not improve and so a few weeks before their wedding day they had a small, but lovely wedding ceremony so that her father, Tony, could be sure to attend. I was not there, but the joy made clear in the photos they shared could not be more clear.
When I arrived at Ricciardi’s Tree Farm I was immediately informed that Tony had become worse and that neither he nor his wife would be able to attend the wedding and that it was feared he would pass away before the day was through. I was not sure what to expect from Emily and entered the Bridal Suite with great trepidation. And there I began to truly understand definitions 4 and 5 of grace. There I saw how Emily, Quentin and everyone else in attendance carried Tony with them throughout the day. The gratitude that he had been at their wedding, that his wife, Meghan, was at his side to care for him, that there was a little breeze during the otherwise still ceremony that you could feel as his presence made almost tangible; his blessing on that moment made clear. There were moments of tears, moments of laughter and joy as so many family and friends came out to dance with Emily in Tony’s stead. And through every moment of the day there was Quentin. Being the strong and supportive man who was not taking the place of Em’s Dad, but continuing his legacy of love. There was a moment where I asked Q what would happen if Tony passed. He said, with simple grace, that he would take that call and would wait until after the wedding to tell Emily, as they agreed on earlier. And that floored me. I would hope that I could be that strong for my husband should he ever ask something so difficult of me. I don’t know if I could, but Quentin did.
When I got home I did the only thing I could, I sat down and edited their entire gallery. I was not sure then whether Tony had passed or not. I was not sure I was doing the right thing or being self important. But I reached out to Quentin and let him know that the gallery was done and that I would leave it to him to decide when was the right time to share it with Emily. I was glad to learn they were given the final definition of grace as Tony was able to see the wedding photos and share some precious time with his daughter and son-in-law re-living that day. I was sorry to never have met him, but through the people who loved him and were there to celebrate this amazing couple, I feel like I knew him. And I am so lucky to continue to know Emily and Quentin and see their marriage grow and their continued adventures and how they celebrate every achievement. Together.