Rebecca & Michael | 6.22.19 Crosswater Hall at Nocatee Ponte Vedra, FL WeddingJul 15, 2019
Where do I begin with this one? Grab a cup of coffee and maybe some tissues before you sit down to read it.
I met Rebecca probably 10 years ago when I was hired to photograph her older sister, Jessica’s, wedding. I actually got to photograph Jessica’s now-husband David proposing to her – it was a sweet plan that he came up with. After he had proposed, her family met us up at the park just to congratulate them and share in the excitement. There was Becca, always tiny, but tinier, with hardly any hair, and obviously very sick. It turns out that Becca was in the fight for her life against brain cancer. She had already come so far when I met her, and was at the most fragile part of her journey. After a year and a half of chemotherapy and rounds of radiation that her body responded poorly to, she needed to be a bridesmaid for her sister. They fitted her with a wig, but worried that she might not make it down the aisle. With lots of help she did, and Sondra, the girls’ mom, has reminded me over the last few months that those pictures represent such an important time in not only Jessica’s life, but Becca’s too. (Sondra has had me in tears quite a few times over the last few months) 😉
About 9 months later, they were told the tumor had returned and there wasn’t anything they could do. They went to Duke for an experimental option, but the tumor wasn’t large enough yet for them to get the info to build their vaccine. They were asked to come back later, so they headed home so Becca could enjoy her 16th birthday. Friends organized a prayer night at their church, and hundreds of people were praying for Becca during this time. A few weeks later they went back, and a literal miracle had happened. There was no sign of the tumor. Sondra told me she doesn’t have the talent with words to describe that day (my legs are covered in goosebumps as I write this).
I apologize to Michael for not having nearly as much backstory for him, but I’m sure he will forgive me. He knows what a special girl he has, and it was so apparent while we worked with them all day. He is sweet and fun with her, and as Sondra stated, “he challenges her to embrace life and adventure, but accepts with grace and care the challenges that she still faces.” They met at Baptist Hospital downtown after Becca began a job there as a social worker. Come to find out, Michael’s mom was the anesthesiologist for Becca’s first surgery to remove her brain tumor all those years earlier.
It was a joy and a privilege to document this day. There were so many beautiful moments, and I hope you all enjoy them here!
Ceremony: Beaches Museum Chapel
Reception: Crosswater Hall at Nocatee
Ceremony coordinator: Monica Bernhardt
Floral Design: David of Flower Works
Cake Artist: Publix
Disc Jockey and saxophone for cocktail hour: Pierre Kendrick
Ceremony music: Jaclyn Duncan Music
Videographer: Adi Meco Productions
Officiant: Dr. Rick Marks
Hair and Makeup Artist: Paulina Perez Makeup Artistry
Wedding gown and veil: Debra’s Bridal Shop at The Avenues
Photobooth: Picture Time Photo Booths
Ice Cream Cart: Doughsserts
Caricatures: Cartoons by Rob Smith Jr.
Dance floor fog: White Tie Events
This might be my most proud image capture of the day, and I’m pleased to say that it wasn’t “staged” at all. We had hung the dress there earlier to get some shots of it alone. Becca’s mom had put generations of bridal portraits on the mantel. But after that, Becca sat down to write her letter to Michael and it just kind of unfolded:
They exchanged gifts, and we all sat quietly while Becca opened up Michael’s gift to her. We could tell it was a journal, but then as her reaction progressed we could tell it was a lot more than that. Turns out Michael had been writing in the journal every day for 10 weeks leading up to their wedding. I think Becca only got to read a sliver of it, but I’m sure this will remain a special keepsake for a long time!
A little help from my sisters!
I have gotten a bit flower obsessed, and this bouquet is just so pretty to me. I can pick out the roses (of course), peonies, ranunculus, hydrangea and thistles…there’s more in there though!
Becca’s mom thought of everything, including little Jack and Coke setups!
This might be one of the most important shots of the day, especially since they hadn’t seen each other yet. Ryan nails it every time!
Trying not to let that tear fall:
Ringing the churchbell after they tied the knot!
The Beaches Museum Chapel made for such a fun little backdrop!
Becca’s mom and sisters are all incredibly crafty and talented. They left no spot unturned in this room with a sweet or beautiful detail!
If you can’t read the sign, Michael introduced Becca to the art of soapmaking on their 3rd date, so he made a ton of little soaps as favors!
This fog! I don’t really need to explain how much fun it was and how well it photographed:
Heartfelt toasts all around:
One of my favs of the night!
I knew when Becca’s dad put these ruby slippers on the ground before their dance, they had a special meaning. I found out that when Becca was sick he used to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to her. So that’s what they danced to, ruby slippers and all:
A fun thing that we’ve only seen at a couple of weddings is to have a caricature artist to draw the guests. It’s such a fun activity and provides an even more fun keepsake! We wanted to recreate Becca and Michael’s:
Pretty sure the fist pump happened right when Steve Perry belts out “Doooon’t stop! Believin’!” :