Hold on, "Zelda Saves The Day" is personal and hits close to home. For as long as I can remember my mom's older half-sisters were the 2 most important old ladies in my life. I wanted more than anything to have them present at my wedding. While I held out for my perfect mate I grew into my 40s & those old women passed away.
My mother made it to my wedding - thankfully. Her half-sisters were 20 and 29 years older than my mom. The above photo is from 2003. And it is one of the last with all three great ladies. My faith comforts me when I think of them. And my faith tells me they were there with me in spirit at my wedding. I miss them & think of them often.
Fast forward to late June 2016. Ashlynn & Bo are one of our couples to marry next May. I received a text from Ashlynn asking if we could chat. Uh oh. I braced. First thought is the wedding was called off. That's how this goes. I responded, “Call anytime.” My phone rang immediately.
The next sentences are fuzzy in my mind. Ashlynn spoke of tests, hospitals, not much time, grandma was really sick - late stage cancer. She wanted to move her wedding date ahead so her grandma could be a part. Her voice cracked as she scrambled with details & what it would take. Was the venue available? Caterer? What dates did I have? Am I doing the right thing?
I told her I'd accommodate any way I could. Emails with spreadsheets were exchanged between vendors. Stress. Scrambling. We had another phone call or two. This was not going to be easy. Maybe move it to a Sunday. Lots of maybes. Lots of unknowns. But, as it often does, the power of love and wisdom showed up. Grandma spoke.
I wasn’t there, but even as I type these words my eyes fill with tears. Ashlynn told me her grandmother, Zelda, requested the date not be changed. Grandma said, “I want a front row seat from heaven with your grandpa.” I am unsure how Ashlynn responded in the moment, but she reached out to me sometime after and shared. She would keep her original May wedding date. Her voice cracked as she asked me if we could have a photo session with her, her grandmother, mother, aunt, & great aunt. I was all in. I am a syrupy wedding photographer and I chase syrupy love. This certainly qualifies.
Ashlynn asked how soon could we make it happen because she knew that grandma was close to seeing grandpa again. I moved some appointments around and got it on the calendar within a few days. We picked Axley’s Chapel United Methodist Church, as it was special for Ashlynn. Now I am a fairly rambunctious photographer so I was not prepared to capture women sitting in church pews. I love natural light and wanted to get outdoors. But Zelda told me the outdoors was not easy for her. She was strong in spirit but frail and delicate in stature. I could not ask her to brave the oppressive July heat and humidity. I should also point out I was pleasantly surprised to find Ashlynn in her wedding dress. I had no idea it would be ready. The wedding isn’t until May 2017. But she wanted special memories with her grandmother.
I am not sure if the surprise and shock showed on my face. I was floored with emotion as these ladies looked to me to capture this for them. What follows are a few of the images we created.
Like I said, this is personal for me. As I shot the photos, I imagine all the photos sessions I missed with my loved ones – especially those two special old ladies. I can’t wait to capture Ashlynn & Bo’s wedding next May. And I can’t wait to feel the spirit of Zelda and grandpa in the front row. And who knows, maybe they’ll show up in our photos.
If you think you have the syrupy kind of love that requires a rambunctious, sentimental photographer, then I’d love the chance to meet you and talk about being your wedding photographer. And who knows, maybe each of us have "Zelda Saves the Day" stories.