I was looking back through the photos and, man, I really can’t get over the fact that these folks for real became family over the course of the days I spent with them. I’ve photographed at least 200 weddings, for real - for real which is why I’m really trippin’....I’ve definitely felt connected to the families I’ve photographed in the past but just not like this. this was like a destination wedding and so I spent 3.5 days with the bride from breakfast until bedtime. On one of the last days I was with them, they had a “wedding” but not really, more like a commitment ceremony, 12 guests. when jess was getting ready, it dawned on me that I was her “lady in waiting.” she didn’t have a bridesmaid and her mom left the room to get dressed and so it was just jess and I during this sacred moment. i remember realizing that while it was happening, like, shit, I’m helping her get ready...this is so special, should I put my camera down? should I speak? I didn’t want to taint her memories awkwardly babbling, I’m really good at that. Jess asked me for my opinion on her hair, her hair pins, crucial shit! I felt responsible! I felt connected. One of my biggest responsibilities was to help her decide if she should wear this beautiful dramatic body chain or this unique handmade necklace. We went for drama and I put my camera down for a minute and helped her put it on. At the end of the night while I was walking out jess stopped me and put her hand out and told me she wanted me to have the other necklace she decided not to wear. I bawled. i live for these moments, not the gift, but for that real-real that money can’t buy.