Every single wedding I agree to take on always leaves an imprint on my heart. Seeing two families come together to celebrate love is one of the most romantic things in the entire freakin universe. But for whatever reason, destination weddings always seem to touch my heart even just a little bit more deeply.
When I received a message last year for a wedding inquiry, I was quite surprised and definitely thrilled to hear from an old college friend that I hadn't seen in over 20 years. He was getting married, somewhere in Minnesota... and was excited to introduce me to the love of his life. We arranged a phone conference meeting, and I felt that we all so easily connected instantaneously. After chatting with them for a bit, they asked if I was up for an adventure... and well, if you know me, you certainly know what my answer was! :)
During our phone conversation I learned that Ali's mom was sick and may not make it to the wedding. My eyes filled with tears, and my heart instantly sank... I know exactly how it feels to not be able to celebrate one of the most important days of your life with both your parents by your side. I prayed that she would make it.
After a few more conversations, Andy and Ali graciously invited my husband Benny to come along since they knew it would'nt be an easy journey. Approximately 8 hours in the car from Milwaukee, and then a boat ride to a quaint little island in the middle of Pelican Lake, just outside of Orr, Minnesota. I was thankful that I had my favorite travel partner along to share in this journey. So, where do I start with describing this place? There was such a magical quality about it... the moment I stepped onto the dock, I instantly knew why they fell in love with it and wanted to get married there. There had never been a wedding held at the Strand Island Lodge before... Andy and Ali were the first to make their wedding dreams a reality. With the help of an amazing event team who worked nothing short of miracles, and many other vendors that were near and dear to their hearts, they were able to pull it off. Over 100 guests that came from near and far had to be shuttled to the island via boat. All of the tents/chairs/tables/decorations/food/drinks/ice absolutely everything needed to make it there as well. The craziest part about all of this was that if the weather conditions weren't right (wind, waves, lightning etc) , none of it could have happened. But Andy and Ali were willing to take a chance... Much like the chance we all take on love. With an open heart and a positive outlook.
So, a few months had passed since our initial conversation, and my heart sank when I heard the news of Ali's mom passing away. Now, even though I never got the chance to meet her... I can tell you one thing- I actually feel like I did. Not only did I strongly feel her presence during the entire day as she watched over everything... But I knew I was in some way also meeting her the very first time I met Ali. In the midst of the all pre-wedding chaos in a scramble to remedy a last minute boat cancellation, Ali greeted me with kind eyes and a huge contagious smile... sincerity at its best. You can truly tell the character of a person by how they act in strenouous circumstances... And both her and Andy handled it with grace.
From the moment I began to meet all of their friends and family, I immediately felt comfortable and at ease. They made me feel like part of their family, and not just a vendor. I had become a friend to so many there... I can't even begin to describe what that feels like. It was a very special feeling. One that makes me realize that I have truly found my calling... to document love stories.
Thank you, Andy and Ali- for trusting me with your forever memories... Here is just a little sneak peek from all of the beautiful moments, and I can't possibly be more excited to share the rest. Wishing you a lifetime of love, laughter and adventure.
***Also a very special thank you to the usher who saved me from having a heart attack on the dock when our little friend (the garter snake) decided to make an appearance. You win the "Usher of the Year" Award in my book :)