The memory of Cindy and Tim’s Chatauqua Park elopement is one that is going to stick with me for a long time – a story I will likely share with grandchildren that ever ask about my photography career. If they do, I will tell them this:
The day started cloudy, but as we gathered at the parking lot to begin a short hike up the mountain for their ceremony, we all crossed our fingers and held our breath that it would hold off long enough for us. Our wishful thinking was in vain. The moment we started walking, the clouds broke their walls and rain began to pour down. The higher we hiked, the stronger the downpour. Eventually my sandals began to slip on my feet, so I took them off and climbed in the mud, my toes digging into the earth. Cindy, the beautiful bride in a light lilac dress and carrying a delicate bouquet of lavender orchids, kept a smile on her face. We kept glancing to the sky, and we unanimously agreed the rain would pass in time. We pressed forward.
We found a large tree for us to huddle under while we waited, but the rain did not slow. Finally, Cindy + Tim, still as happy and glowing as ever, decided to begin their ceremony under the cover of their tree. Rain dripped onto their faces, and those of us on the outskirts of the branches were beginning to feel drenched, but it didn’t dampen our spirits. The couple gushed. They flew to Colorado from Wisconsin to get married under these mountains and they weren’t about to let a little rain stop them!
After beautiful words from both the reverend and their own vows, they slipped rings onto each other’s fingers, and finally sealed their marriage, in front of their closest family members – their children, and Cindy’s sister.
We noticed that the skies had settled, and the rain had paused, so we untucked ourselves from the shelter of the tree, and climbed into the open field at the base of the Chautauqua Mountains for family photos.
After a quick celebratory drink at a nearby brewery, the family returned to Cindy’s sister’s home for a quaint and delicious dinner with only a few additional guests joining them. The entire day had been filled with such intimacy that I couldn’t help but feel lucky to be a part of it. Cindy sat with me as we sampled appetizers from the chef and chatted with me! The bride! I’m not sure I’ve had a bride spend such dedicated time with me on her wedding day, and I felt included and heard.
These two, and their children and families, are special people. This day was a special one. I have always wanted to photograph a mountain elopement, and it was every bit as magical with Tim and Cindy as I would have wished it to be!