The incredible social distance wedding of two nurses, a moving tribute to the couple’s loved ones, and a whole lot of emotion.
Man, we’re living in a completely different world these days, it seems. Times are so hard, for so many people right now – and the ways in which we’re having to adapt in our daily lives is constantly changing.
While COVID-19 has left a lot of heartbreaking stories in its wake, it’s also produced some pretty incredible ones. The resilience of the human spirit never shines brighter than it does in tough times.
Clare and Mel, here, are just two of these bright lights.
What was it that Mr. Rogers said?
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
These guys are both nurses on the COVID unit in one of our local hospitals. And at their very core–regardless of their job titles–they are helpers.
I had the privilege of photographing their engagement session in the days before the world lost its mind. And, while spending that time with them solidified the fact that their wedding would be a blast…I had no idea at the time just how moving it would be.
Little did I know that their wedding would happen during a global epidemic, in restricted circumstances to follow health guidelines, and manage to rock the world of their loved ones… as well as total strangers. That they would become mini, viral celebrities and be featured on talk shows and news articles far and wide. That they would have total strangers buying gifts for them off of their wedding registry, just because their work and their story was so moving.
Clare and Mel’s wedding day looked a little different than they’d planned it. Attendance was limited to ten people, a distance of six feet between them was maintained, and the large reception they’d planned for would need to happen at a later date.
Despite the need to adapt on the fly, though…this day was a wild ride full of joy, and laughter, and meaning. Times like these really bring it home that we only get one crack at the story our lives tell–and that every page of that story is worth savoring.
I don’t know how Clare had the fortitude to pivot her wedding planning in the midst of a global crisis and constant 12-hour shifts, but she did it. It wasn’t really an option, to postpone the wedding – as Clare’s dad has cancer. They knew they wanted to make their original day happen in whatever form it could safely do so. I was so, so honored that they asked me to still be there. As their friend and one of their “ten”, I got to witness it with them and their closest loved ones.
I was determined to make this day magical, with them…but of course it was magical all on its own. I just got to be the day’s historian, and make sure all the love, tears and joy-in-the-midst-of-chaos lived on in a visual record.
As wonderfully as Clare had planned this day, her friends and family had plenty of surprises and tricks up their sleeves to push this amazing day over the top. Social distance wedding with a couple of nurses? Sure, that’s memorable, and all, but…how about having every guest who would have attended send in their photos? And print them, then tape them to the church of Mount Carmel‘s pews–so they could watch on in spirit? All while everything was being streamed via Facebook live.
That’s next-level love, right there.
From Zoom conferences so that her girls could virtually “help” Clare get ready, a mother of the groom’s tight hug at the end of the aisle, to the sneaky looks during ring exchanges and near-constant smell of hand sanitizer…
This social distance nurse wedding was one that the history books didn’t see coming.
I think the first time I teared up on this day was when Clare told me her dad had insisted on walking her down the aisle, despite his health issues. He was not about to miss out on his girl’s wedding day! Watching the joy bloom on his face as he saw his daughter walk out in her wedding dress was something that I’ll remember forever. Abundant caution was taken to protect him throughout the day, and I’m so glad he got to experience these moments with the two of them.
And, as far as tearing up goes….well, let’s just say that it may have been a shortened wedding day, but we all packed a whole day’s worth of tears into it. So I was kinda toast for the entire thing.
The guest list may have been significantly shortened. The family photos may have needed to be taken while standing six feet apart. And Clorox wipes may have been used extra-liberally…but this day could not have been more perfect. Because it was all about what really matters, in the end.
Two people, loving one another…and surrounded by love from friends and family (even if most of them were far away).
Check out some of the most excruciatingly joyful, beautiful and memorable photos I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking, for these sweet friends of mine. ❤
A prime example of how moments of connection are magical, no matter how they happen! I love the look on these girls’ faces as Clare showed a photo of her hair!
Safety first…and *then* thumbs-up.
This (carefully spaced) first look, though… 😭
Who’s got a measuring stick? Anyone?
Clare’s personality, in a nutshell. She’s a UNICORN, in summary.
Possibly my favorite photo of the day. Okay, fine – there’s a tie, with a lot of them.
Washing hands = very important
These photos on the pews were a complete surprise! How amazing is this?!
This hug between Mel and his mom…magic. To be topped only by the look on mom’s face during just about every moment, the rest of the day.
That Clare’s dad got the chance to do this for his girl moved me SO MUCH!
A groom-look never to be topped. Thanks, Mel–and thanks, Mel’s Mom!
Is it just me, or is this photo of Clare’s grandma with her Virgin-Mary-encased phone not the funniest thing?!
Another surprise – Mr. and Mrs. Keefer walked out to the courtyard, expecting a simple, quick first dance. To their surprise, friends and family showed up to cheer on their dance from their vehicles!
I could NOT get enough of the looks on these faces, watching Clare and Mel have their first dance!
Clare makes the best faces. THE BEST, I SAY.
I mean…we had to, right?
Showin’ off that bling!
I swear, this was not at all staged. Kudos to these two, who didn’t ask a single question when I suddenly yelled STOP RIGHT THERE as I saw these accessories just hanging out on the church steps.
The nurse social distance wedding of Clare and Mel, in St. Francisville, Louisiana.