There is a disclaimer I give all of my couples the first time I ever meet with them: don't book me if you just want a vendor. When couples choose me as their wedding photographer, I want to build a relationship with them through that season of their lives, get to know them, and learn what's most important to them about one another, their friends, and their families, so that on the wedding day, I can create their story in the most compelling way. Many times my couples become wonderful friends, long after the wedding day. However, even with that disclaimer, I feel like Alex + Sam should have given ME a disclaimer: that I would fall ridiculously in love with not only them, but both of their families, and have my face rocked off by their utterly fantastic day!
I'm convinced it was divine providence when I met Alex at a wedding in 2015. He was there as a hair stylist with the always amazing Salon EXP (Seriously, if you need a hair stylist for your wedding, love yourself and check Alex and his crew out. They're amazing!), and we immediately hit it off. Many times, with me bobbing and weaving in stylist's area, it's tough. Alex was so calm, collected, and flat out FUN to be around, that I immediately gravitated toward chatting with him as I worked, and when the day was over, we exchanged cards. We became Facebook friends, and I told him he HAD to let me photograph him and his then-boyfriend, Sam, at some point. Which, I'm so grateful he did, because when I met Sam, I realized how special of a couple these two are together. They're simply two halves of a whole, and they compliment one another so, so very well. They're hilarious, and it was a joy to hang out with them. Then, when they became engaged, I was absolutely honored when they asked me to be their engagement and wedding photographer!
So fast forward to their wedding day, which was amazing on so many levels, but first off, I had the honor of having one of my very best friends, Jess, fly down from Canada to shoot their day with me. It was such a wonderful time, getting to work together on a wedding and bounce ideas off one another, and I really cannot understate how phenomenal of a photographer she is! Below you will see not only my images, but hers as well; she inspires me to tell a better story at every point in the day! But, I digress. When we arrived to Alex + Sam's house, we were absolutely floored at how welcoming their family was. Both families milled about, as Alex helped with styling bridesmaids' hair, and Sam went for a morning run. The genuine excitement, joy, and support that exuded from their home was simply beyond words. Even now, months after the wedding, I still haven't come up with a word for the love I witnessed and felt first hand on their day. The only word that can even come close is transcendent. Their friends and family are truly, truly one of a kind, and it was pure joy to get to capture their moments as they got ready and allowed Jess and I into their home and into their space. It continued throughout the day, as their families and friends were truly so, so gracious, so kind, and just a wonderful group of people to spend time with.
While they both got ready in their home, they made sure not to see one another until the first look on the footsteps of the grand staircase at their venue, The Dayton Art Institute. The Dayton Art Institute is one of my favorite venues in Dayton, and it transformed perfectly into the Gatsby-esque venue that Alex + Sam had in mind for their day. Jess and I had jokingly placed bets on who might cry at the first look, and I was completely thrown off--and fought back tears of my own--as Alex teared up, seeing Sam for the first time. It was an intimate, beautiful first look, and one I won't forget for a long time.
And, in similar fashion, their ceremony was one that has stuck with me for months now. Adorned with gorgeous lilies from Mark at The Flower Shoppe and masterfully lit by Entertainment Unlimited, the Dayton Art Institute's Great Hall was a perfect backdrop to their classic, black tie affair. Alex's father welcomed Sam into the family with a speech that I doubt left anyone with a dry eye, Sam showed off the amazing ring Alex had custom-designed for him after seeing it for the first time at the ring exchange, and they had one heck of a first kiss that may never be outdone! Clearly, these guys know how to leave an impression!
Which brings me to the reception. Oh, my word. The reception. These two put together one heck of a party, with Prime Time Party Rental turning the Shaw Gothic Cloister into a stunning Gatsby-themed afterparty. And this crew knows how to party! Coming into the grand entrance, Alex had changed into a black and gold sequined jacket, and from there, the party kept going until it was time to close shop! Jess and I had a blast capturing all of the shenanigans, dancing, and wild cheers of the night, which were complete with the Rubi Girls kicking off the dance party. From start to finish, Alex + Sam managed to throw one of the most inviting, exciting, and truly heartfelt weddings I've ever been a part of. It was an absolute blast to capture, and Jess and I both left feeling both completely jacked and completely exhausted at the same time...now THAT'S when you know you've got a fantastic day!
But beyond the wedding itself, I would be remiss to not mention how much Alex + Sam have become dear friends to not only me, but to Jess as well. They are truly two of the most kind-hearted, genuine, loving spirits I have ever met. You cannot help but smile when you're around them, and you cannot help but to absorb the happiness they seem to exude at all times. They are simply two of the most wonderful human beings I've had the pleasure of meeting, and I'm so thankful to call them friends. Alex + Sam, I know I've told you before, but thank you for being you. Thank you for the joy you bring not only to my life, but to all of those around you. You two are so wonderful separately, but together, you are even more. Thank you for letting me capture your moments, and thank you even more for becoming such wonderful friends. I wish you both all the best, and we really need to plan a date for Salar soon! :)