Kate & Jeff’s Wedding | The Barn at Raccoon Creek | Colorado Wedding Photographers | December Weddings | Barn Wedding Photography
I first heard from Kate and Jeff when we were honeymooning in Jamaica. We were introduced via Frances, who is an amazing and badass photographer that I love to shoot with. Frances absolutely raved about Kate and would be a guest at the wedding, and knew that Kate and Jeff were looking for a photographer for their wedding that they were planning on a short timeline. They actually got engaged the same day that we got married (fun fact) and when we first started emailing, I knew we would be a great fit. Even though our wifi was spotty at best and we didn’t have an international cell plan in Jamaica, I remember walking around the house trying to find a connection with my phone hoping to get our emails through! I looked like a crazy person, waving my phone in the air in our villa, but I was just so excited even then to work with this awesome couple.
Then we met up for coffee in Denver in the beginning of December and immediately hit it off. I loved their vision for their wedding: sentimental, with a big focus on family, a lot of kiddos, and some rewriting of traditions. There were a lot of things that really resonated with me because just like us, they did a circle ceremony without a traditional wedding party. Kate’s brother, Andy, would be officiating and they were going to self-solemnize. The six munchins would be throwing paper airplanes instead of flowers as they walked down the aisle to celebrate Jeff’s job as a pilot. It all sounded great to me! I love when couples use their wedding as a platform to really showcase their relationship and values, and I knew from the beginning that this wedding would be exactly that.
We chatted and chatted over coffee just getting to know each other, and I could tell quickly that these two were just beaming together. They told me all about how they got engaged which basically made me melt—Jeff took Kate up for an airplane ride in a little Cessna and flew it over her house, where her closest friends and family were all cheering around a big poster that read, “Will You Marry Me?” How awesome is that!? I realized then that Jeff loves big, over the top grand gestures for all of the right reasons. There would be more of that to come on their wedding day…
But fast forward to Christmas morning at 4:00AM. I was in the hospital and my hemoglobin was dropping fast. The doctors suspected that I was rupturing, but we weren’t sure at the time. I had to make a decision right there and then whether to go into surgery. I remember asking the doctor if I would be able to shoot my weddings that weekend and she said that if we did surgery and as long as I was feeling up to it, there was no reason not to. If we decided not to do surgery, I could be in the same position a day or two later and might not be able to shoot. We weighed all of our pros and cons and ultimately, did the surgery. It ended up being the right decision for so many reasons, especially because once they opened me up, the doctors found that not only had I ruptured, but I had a lot of internal bleeding which was life-threatening.
So three days post-op, I pulled up to The Barn at Raccoon Creek at the same time at Kate, who looked so excited that it made me forget everything that we had just been through. She helped me get my equipment into the venue, which seems like a small thing but really isn’t. I couldn’t lift or carry anything because of the surgery, and it would have been so easy for a lot of other women to play the bride card and not want to help a vendor on their special day, but Kate was so kind and understanding that I knew the day would be amazing. With one arm holding her wedding dress and the other helped me get my camera bag out of the car, she gave me a warm smile that suggested I didn’t need to apologize. There was a sense of friendship there that means everything to vendors, and it really made me grateful for my clients and my job.
Shortly after, Katie rolled in to second shoot for me. I was originally going to fly solo for their wedding, but once I ended up in surgery, I decided that the most important thing was to get amazing photos whether or not we were budgeted for another shooter. Katie has worked with me before and I knew she would be a great addition to the day, so with almost no notice, she stepped up like a rockstar to help the team. Kate had a sense of calm to her as she was getting ready, and I think there is something really peaceful about not having swarms of bridesmaids buzzing around you before your wedding. She had music playing, was doing her own makeup, and casually sipping on some champagne. All was good, so we just started snapping away.
Kate and Jeff were earlyfor pictures, which basically never happens. The whole family was organized, and even the kiddos had their shit together. This was such a rarity, but couldn’t have come at a better time. Everything was so organized and we were able to have a really sentimental and private first look and then do family formals without any chaos or drama. Again, a real luxury for photographers! Guests began to trickle in and Kate and Jeff were able to have some quiet time before the ceremony.
The ceremony was cozy and sentimental, exactly as they had imagined it. Once they had exchanged their vows, everyone gathered outside for a big group photo before the guests went off for cocktail hour. The sun was inching towards the horizon line and I knew we didn’t have too much time before golden hour. We hopped in the golf cart and drove off to the most scenic place to do some photos of just the two of them, with the golden light pouring over the yellow grass, and I watched as Kate and Jeff just basked in the company of one another. They danced, they laughed, they cozied up in a blanket together, and I just snapped away.
The sun fell behind the mountains and we retreated into the cottage where Kate and Jeff were going to sign their marriage license and have some quiet time to themselves before the reception. I took some pictures of them signing and then they looked at me and asked me to be their witness. I was so humbled in this moment because they clearly had a ton of friends and family who adored them at this wedding, and yet here they were handing me the pen. Of course, I was honored to sign and then they offered me a taste of the special wine that they were sharing. I still get emotional (blame it on the hormones) thinking about their kindness on their own wedding day. I think that says so much about a couple, really.
The reception was fun, vibrant, energetic, and of course sentimental. I had been let in on a little secret that Jeff had up his sleeve, but wasn’t prepared for how amazing it actually would be. I mean, thinking back to his epic proposal, I should have known that he had a big surprise for Kate, but this was truly one of the best things I’ve been a part of at a wedding. They had planned their first dance to be a special song by Brendan James, one of their favorite musicians and had fond memories of listening to this song when their relationship first began. Jeff loves music but loves sharing this passion with Kate even more. So behind the scenes, he had flown Brendan James out himself all the way from Charleston and had him tucked away from all of the guests. Jeff took the microphone and surprised Kate while Brendan came out to perform their first dance song for them live.
After all of the applause settled down, the whole room got quiet, Brendan sat down at the piano and magic happened. I was so wrapped up in the moment, seeing how happy Jeff was to surprise his new wife, watching the gratitude sweep over Kate, and listening to the amazing sound of Brendan’s voice. I watched his hands floating effortlessly over the piano keys, and just kept shooting away, trying to focus on my job but unable to ignore the magnitude of the moment I was in. I remember looking over at Kate’s father and holding eye contact with him for a moment, I watched a small tear fall from his face and then I began to cry hard. After such a hard few weeks, I realized in that moment that life would go on and it would be beautiful.
Then came another surprise, and this time Jeff wouldn’t be in on it . Another awesome performer was stashed away and this time Bradley Rhodes came out to do another amazing live set. Everyone hugged and danced, and all came together to celebrate exactly as Jeff and Kate had imagined. Eventually, my coverage was long over but we got to spend some time with guests and get to know their families better. They had been so sweet to invite Terrence as a guest, and when we finally made it out to the dance floor, Frances stole my camera off my harness and took over shooting for a little while. The wedding was beautiful but it couldn’t have come at a better time. Some people think I’m an animal for working during a time that I could have very easily justified subbing in another photographer, but I really wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. I want to extend a huge congrats to this amazing couple and a lifetime of love to both of them.