This entry is officially the longest blog entry I’ve ever posted… warning you now(you’ll see why soon…)I absolutely adored her dress. It was as though it was made for her! Oh, and it had pockets. Where were pockets when I got married?! I was taking this photo, being sure to keep myself out of the mirror, when Margaret (Emily’s mother) said to me, “I love when your reflection is in those mirror photos!” So, I took a small step to the left and badaboom badabing… I aim to please! :D …meanwhile……so much happening!My favorite thing about this image? See in the small mirror? That’s momma MargaretEverything this day all happened on this property… they got ready in this old house, their ceremony was on the lawn, and their reception was in a tent attached to a barn built in 1837 (then moved to this location in 1914). These two were so cute walking down the aisle. They kept trying not to cry by laughing. Then the second they both got to the front and could no longer laugh… the tears started flowing… …all of a sudden, it got much much cooler…and breezier. The sun was hiding behind a big cloud. Given the ridiculous heat and humidity, the guests didn’t mind it! I, however, being married to Mike the weatherman, knew that on a hot, humid day when the temperature drops that drastically and the wind picks up… storms could be on their way. I looked over to Mike, knowing that he would be pulling up the radar on his phone and ran over to ask him what was happening. “We should be able to get through the end of the ceremony, but after that… we probably have very little time for family photos before it lets loose.”Emily, you’re cute.
uhm… wow to that sky! Notice her dress? Yeah… that’s the WIND!I saw this sweet moment happen… but, knowing that the storms were coming… …I quickly lined up what was starting to be a receiving line and made family photos happen right then and there…Immediately after taking this image… Mike said we needed to get indoors. So, we did…. Then BOOM! This happened!!!! This is part of the catering staff rushing food into the barn. Let me just say, given the circumstances… the fact that food wasn’t delayed is beyond impressive to me!Remember from earlier when I said that the tent was attached to the barn? Well, people were unable to walk between them without getting soaked. Here are two girls playing in the water while the father of the groom is getting soaked while attempting to seal it up (he succeeded!).…we stayed in the house until the intense rain passed over.Lori the wedding planner and her staff wait for a clear spot to take the cake over to the tent. …the rain didn’t pass quickly… and I think that cake got heavy, so she sat it down
….then, a little break in the downpour.They ate dinner, cut the cake…. Right after they finished their dinner, we took them out into the light drizzle, and finished up a few portraits of the two of them (as we weren’t able to do it after the ceremony because of the impending downpour). Mike warned us that we didn’t have much time as a new storm was growing directly northwest of us. He said, “these could potentially be kinda bad storms…” Emily asked, “Do you mean like tornadoes bad?” Mike responded, not wanting to alarm her… “nah… I don’t think so.” But, I knew Mike… I knew he was just trying to keep us all calm. And because of that… I knew that we needed to haul ass! Right as we were finishing, I looked to the sky and saw the incredible storm that Mike warned us about. Lori (the wedding planner) saw us heading away from the tent and said that we needed to get inside and do toasts. Now, I never insist “just one more” as wedding planners/caterers have very strict timelines to keep track of… and we always respect them. But this time… nope… I insisted, “just ONE more photo, promise!” She responded, “okay, just ONE more,” as she could see that it was important to us.We didn’t have the right lens with us (it was in the tent, and we were in a hurry!) to really capture this storm’s amazingness… as that storm was literally just minutes away. So, with my 35mm 1.4 lens attached to my camera, I snagged this. I SO wish you could have seen the true vastness of this!!!!
So, we head into the tent, the maid of honor starts her toast. I take a few photos and see that Mike is missing. Now, if you know Mike… you know that that’s VERY out of character. He NEVER misses an important part of the day, NEVER! And knowing that this major storm is about to blow through, I rushed into the tent to see if I could find Mike. There he was, trying to refresh the radar on his iPhone (you think connection speed is bad in the city!?), all while looking quite concerned. Now, again, if you know Mike…the guy who gets on a roof when a storm is coming… when Mike is concerned about the weather, things are about to get crazy. Also keep in mind that we’re in the middle of the country… where there is no such thing as a tornado siren. He said, “I see rotation in this radar…” UHM WHAT?! ROTATION??!?! Mike!!! Is this a tornado?!” He says, “I don’t know for 100% sure, but there’s definitely rotation!”
So, without hesitation, I run over to the wedding planner, and say, “TORNADO WARNING!!!! WE NEED TO MOVE THESE PEOPLE!!!!!” Lori immediately runs over to the DJ and tells her to make an announcement for everyone to head into the barn… remember the aforementioned barn that was built in 1837… yeah, THAT was the barn that was going to save our lives!!!! AHHHH!!!!! Right as the MOH is giving her final “raise your glass” the tent gets COMPLETELY dark (ISO 25600 below) and the wind picks up a LOT of speed. I snapped the photo below (which I had to manually focus because the tent was so dark that my lens couldn’t auto focus!). Notice Matt’s wind-blown tie? Yeah, crazy! So, anyway… the DJ takes the mic from the maid of honor and tells everyone that there’s a tornado warning and to head into the barn. So, shockingly quickly and calmly… the nearly 300 guests head into the barn.
Here’s the craziest part of the story… are you ready for this? Literally minutes after everyone went into the barn… the tent collapsed! In the image above, that pole right in between them (and directly behind the head table), was completely on the ground and bent. Right after the tent came down, I looked out the window and saw one of the rented carnival kiddie rides in the air (which I later found out was caused by 90mph winds!). I immediately crawled under a table (a table where the food was sitting) and went into the tornado drill position that we all learned in elementary school, all the while Emily’s and Matt’s guests were singing “Amazing Grace.” Blog readers, I genuinely, in that moment, thought I was about to die. This was the scariest moment of my life. You see, this all happened just 13 days after the terrible Joplin tornadoes went through, so it was all so fresh in my memory. It was in those few minutes under the table that I took the screen capture of the radar above. I knew that, regardless of my fear, it was still my job to document this day…. and in my emotional state, screen captures were the best I could do. I was only under the table as the funnel cloud passed over the barn, which only lasted 5 minutes (but felt like an ETERNITY!)… so, Mike and I were able to capture some of the reactions. At the same time the tent collapsed… the barn doors flew off. Now do you see why I was crying?! Man oh man I was so scared!
The tent material you see in the background… those aren’t the tent walls… that’s the roof. THE ROOF ON THE GROUND!!!! Also notice how high the water got? Yeah… we weren’t able to quickly enough grab our bag of flashes, and it was completely immersed in water. When Mike later told me that it was left under the tent I couldn’t have given two poopies! If that’s the worst thing we lost that day, I’d consider ourselves incredibly lucky. Though, that being said… when we unzipped the bag after everyone had left, there wasn’t a DROP of water on our gear… NOT A SINGLE DROP! For you photogs who want to know it was a Lowepro Omni Pro Soft Box, and that bag wasn’t even rated for water proofing. BOOM!And THEN… two firemen came to make sure everyone was safe.
So what do I do? I pose up a picture!Oh, notice on the right side of the barn…. that was where the barn doors were that flew off. But how did the wreath, hanging on by a NAIL, not get touched!!??
It was at that point that Emily and Matt decided to call off the rest of their reception… and the guests started leaving. Mike and I circled the property to photograph the destruction. All the while the rain still coming down… Notice there are no walls on the tent? What you see left standing there is only the roof. their beloved custom-made altar…As only their very best friends/immediately families remained, Mike looked over at me and quietly said, “I think the best man should give his toast as he wasn’t able to earlier.” GENIUS! So, I looked over at Keaton the best man (who had since changed out of his tux) and said, “You have to give your toast!” He responded, “but my notes are in the tent!” My response, “So?! You got this!” And then that’s what he did! And it was perfect! Then I looked over at the maid of honor and said, “Your turn!” Her response, “I already did it…” So I said… “well, we missed it in all the chaos… so, can you do it again please?” And she did. And it was perfect!
Meanwhile… as they are giving their toasts, Mike asked Margaret (the mother of the bride) what their first dance song was. Yes, I tell you… that Mike, he’s a damn genius! He told me what it was and I downloaded the song onto my iPhone, someone pulled up their car that had an iPhone jack, and badaboom badabing… their first dance!…and it was perfect! I can tell you right now, the way that these two, along with their families, handled this whole situation… remarkable. Absolutely remarkable. There was NO way that anything could have ruined this day, not even 90 mph winds!Even as the tent fell down, Emily laughed. I mean… what else is there TO do? Hide under a table and cry?!The limo arrived early to take them to their hotel…And just like that, their wedding day had come to an end… and it ended as perfectly as it could have
wedding planner • Boldly Chic Events (who I highly recommend!)
hair&makeup • Evan Todd Salon
florist • The Empty Vase
videographer • friend, Luke Helmer
ceremony&reception • Kelley Historical Farm
dj • 500 lbs of Sound
cake • Mammaw’s Sweet Shop
tent&rentals • Party Time Rentals
caterer • Shoup’s Country Food
dress • watters
processional • Variations on the Canon –Arranged by George Winston
recessional • Signed, Sealed, Delivered –Stevie Wonder
introductions • Say Hey ( I Love You) – Michael Franti and Spearhead
first dance • Lucky -Jason Mraz ft. Colbie Caillet (OH! The irony.. ;))
cake cutting • “Sugar Sugar” –The Archies
what were supposed to be:
father/daughter • “My Wish” –Rascal Flatts
mother/son • “A Song for Mama” –Boyz II Men
last dance • “Save the Last Dance for Me” –Michael Bublé
What was the most memorable moment of your day?
emily: Hearing the rest of the maid of honor speech and the best man’s speech. With no microphone, no lights, them tag teaming it, and the people we love the most around us. That was just wonderful.
matt: Definitely would have to be seeing the tent fall down. You can’t really beat that!
What was your favorite detail?
emily:Would definitely have to be the beautiful flowers. The Empty Vase did a fabulous job. The ceremony literally took my breath away it was so beautiful!
Any advice for future bride/grooms?
emily: Don’t worry about the little stuff. Unfortunately not everything will go perfectly, but enjoy it! It’s the best memories you have when things go wrong. And in the end all that matters is that your married
matt: DONT PLAN AN OUTDOOR WEDDING!
Funniest memory from your wedding day?
emily: Besides really the whole reception, standing with my dad before we walked down the aisle, both teary eyed. Then looking at each other and just laughing for no good reason
matt: Really do you even have to ask?
If you could do it all over, would you change anything?
Probably not, mainly because we had such a epic wedding. Pretty much everything that could go wrong in the reception did. Not many others can top us, and we will have people talking about our wedding for a long time. Scratch that I would, I would make sure everybody got cake before they left, because my parents were left with so much of it!
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
Dominican Republic, Punta Cana. We would highly recommend it, it was fabulous!
Emily and Matt, I can’t thank you enough for EVERYTHING that day. There isn’t anyone else that I would have rather been in that situation with… and that’s the truth!
And Margaret (the mother of the bride), I adore you 10000%. How you, the mastermind and perfectionist behind it all, handled the entire reception literally collapsing was beyond impressive. I can only hope that if in the same situation in the future with a potential daughter, I won’t be crying under a table ;). Thanks for making me laugh all day long.
Your friends forever & always,
What can I say? I’m a smiler!
Mike, you were so incredible that day. I often jokingly refer to you as “Mike the weatherman”… but on that day my weatherman may have saved a lot of people from getting very badly injured. From calling a tornado warning to suggesting they still have toasts and a first dance regardless of the situation… you’re one in a million. Thank you for caring so much about the people that we photograph. I love you so much.
The shoes were toast… but the suit… well, our dry cleaners got a tip that week!
You can’t tell here, but I have my camera tucked inside my coat jacket to keep it as dry as possible… it worked shockingly well.
For those who stuck through and read this entire entry… high fives!