“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Morning weddings just might be my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, mornings are terrible awful things that should happen much later in the day, but morning weddings are a very wonderful thing that are probably worth getting up for. First of all, there’s something really beautiful about starting your new life together early in the day, when the world is still clean and fresh and peaceful. But mostly, because I’m just a bit singly focused (ahem), I really just like making your wedding portraits in the beautiful first rays of the morning sun.
That happy couple you see up there is Keri and Jon. They were married one early morning in a joyful celebration in the Dysart Chapel at the Hinton Rural Life Center on the shores of gorgeous Lake Chatuge, just outside Hayesville, North Carolina. It was cooooooold and windy that morning, but nobody complained. Well, maybe a little teeny bit. And there may have been a couple of involuntary shrieks (sorry about that). But that’s really all. You see, Keri and Jon are really special people, and I can prove it. The first time I met Jon and Keri, we talked a little bit about their wedding, but we talked more about Jon’s upcoming adventure. For the six month period before their wedding, Jon was planning to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia, in reverse of what most people do. And that’s just what he did (which totally explains the epic beard).
A few weeks before the wedding, Keri and I were finalizing some details and she mentioned to me that Jon was due to arrive in Georgia on Springer Mountain in a few days. Struck by mysterious photography forces beyond myself, I immediately volunteered to hike up a mountain to the trailhead of the AT to photograph his victorious homecoming. Now, this may not seem like a big deal to you, but I have suffered from The Curse of the Appalachian for nearly two decades, including, but not limited to, episodes involving frostbite, hypothermia, knife wounds, ticks, blizzards, debilitating blisters, Lyme disease, tornadoes, giardiasis, and halitosis. My family and I have vowed to stay away from the AT for our own safety. And yet, there I was. On a chilly afternoon in December, deep in the woods with bags of photo gear and two of our kids. Now, here’s the thing, it was my assumption that we would be hiking up an access trail to the AT trailhead to meet Keri and Jon. So you can imagine the size of the cold knot of fear I felt deep in my stomach when Keri explained to me that I’d misunderstood everything and Hiked An Entire Mile on the Appalachian Trail of Terror! With kids (and camera gear)!
Which brings me to the part where I offer you actual proof of how special Keri and Jon really are. They have so much awesome to spare that they were somehow able to shield us from the curse. For an entire afternoon, we hiked and played, had drinks and snacks, and the kids climbed trees and explored… all on the AT. And everyone is FINE. Not a scratch on anyone. It’s practically miraculous. So as a treat to all of you for making it through all these talky words, there will be extra Appalachian Homecoming photos at the end of this blog post. Enjoy the beard!
And that, friends, is the story of the amazing Keri and Jon. A couple of extra notes… if you saw some familiar faces, that’s because Kitty (one half of the incredible duo of Kitty and Lex) was a bridesmaid. This is also the first wedding I’ve ever photographed where the bride photo-bombed someone else’s event. Also, Keri and Jon’s families have some really neat traditions, including The Singing of The Song. And top hat photos. If you weren’t there, you missed a lot of fun.
Thank you Keri and Jon for inviting me to witness, document, and be a part of your story. It was a lot of fun getting to know you over the past few months, and I wish you both all the love and joy that life can bring. And a little bit more.
PS. Scroll down for the AT photos…
Keri & Jon’s Creative Team
Hinton Rural Life Center – venue, catering, lodging
Day of Coordinator – Amanda Lewis Day
Keri’s Hair – Kaleigh Norman
Keri’s Makeup – Stacy Fulford
Stationary Design – Tanner Smith
Officiant – Jonathan Chapman