I’ve been holding onto this Hawksbill Crag intimate sunrise wedding for a while now, waiting for the right words to share with it. First, a bit of back story. Hailey and Guy are very adventurous and live their life to the fullest. Their love absolutely radiates warmth and security. They decided to get married at sunrise on a cliff. This required us all to wake up at 2am in 30 degree weather and hike nearly a mile, but boy was it worth it. The fact that everyone was more than willing to do this is a true testament to how loved these two are. But as with everyone in life, there’s so much more to them.
The bride wanted to tell her story, wishing that it can bring hope to others.
“I remember watching children’s movies when I was young and wishing I could put myself into the story. I remember wishing for a mom with a van and a dad that played golf. A brother and sister that would bust into my room to annoy me. Every child wants a family, and every child deserves one. Sadly though, abusive circumstances led to me being emancipated at a very young age and being off on my own. I couch hopped for the majority of my teenage years, yet I never gave up hope for my future. I wasn’t going to follow the statistics. I traveled, I focused on my education, and I focused on my faith. Along the way I grew an independent spirit that made me forget how much I still deeply wanted a family. That is until I met Gaetano. Gaetano was as pure as any children’s movie, with the kindest heart, and the most patience I’ve ever seen anyone have. I got to know him on a hiking trip and shortly after I was smitten. I found a home in him like I never knew before. The friendships I grew along the way mean more to me than I could ever put into words, and I realized that you choose your family. When I look back on my wedding photos and see all of the emotion in everyone’s faces, I feel so loved and I could never thank Keely and Aaron enough for documenting those memories so perfectly. This wasn’t just a wedding, it was my pieced together family coming together to support our new adventure. My best friends father gave our wedding talk, her mother did my florals, and another one of my best friends walked me down the aisle. (I also must add that my little old grandma surprised me by hiking the whole trail just to be there) I’ll never forget what a labor of love our wedding day was. Even though my parents chose not to be there, I know that the people that were there chose me as their family. The little girl deep within me that wished and wished for a family not only got what she wished for, but she got the coolest most adventurous taped together family she could ever dream of. My heart is so full, and I am so grateful.”
This wedding really resonated with me.
I’m not going to make this a boohoo post, but if you follow me on social media- you know that I value openness. I grew up without a close relationship to my parents. As a teenager, I bounced around from my best friends houses. I adopted myself into whatever family would take me. Knowing that people CHOSE to love me, chose to have me, chose to DEAL with me haha, was the worlds most important thing to me. The best part about that scenario is that I now have the largest and most diverse ‘family’ ever. This part of my life is really tough for me, but also my driving force behind shooting weddings. When I show up to a wedding and see all of the relationships, blood or not, it fuels me. It fills my passion. My heart truly swells to see the couple be supported and loved. To see all of their loved ones rallying around them and saying “Hey, I see you. I love you. I am here for you. Now let’s party.” That is the most beautiful thing. And for this reason, I ADORE weddings. There are a million little facets to a wedding day that I’ll never even see or know, but immersing myself amongst all the chaos- it’s when I do my best story telling and why I’m good at what I do. I am a part of that family for the day. And getting to have a new family every weekend? What a beautiful job I have. Now I know I’m not the worlds best writer and I can ramble a bit, but what I want everyone to gather from this is that family is what you make it. Truly. Love people hard, and don’t put limitations on it.
Please take a moment and view this absolute piece of art that Aaron created for Hailey and Guy at their Hawksbill Crag wedding. I’ve watched it 8 times personally, and guess how many times I’ve cried? All. Of. The. Times.
The significance to this last photo brings me to tears every time I think about it. In Arkansas, it is no longer necessary for witnesses or the couple to sign the marriage license. They only require the officiant to sign. Everyone was pretty disappointed about this, so without hesitation, the officiant (Hailey’s best friends’ dad) flipped over the marriage license and marked four x’s for everyone to sign. Those are the moments life is about…