Genuine Love (aka Emily & Jon’s Wedding)!

On a scale of 1-10, I’d say I’m about a 7 when it comes to being sentimental and emotional. That means I don’t cry when someone proposes on the big screen a at a baseball game, but you can find me silently shedding tears when the main character dies in a movie… I consider myself right in the middle when you’re talking about girl sentimentality. So to find me crying during both a wedding and a reception for people I haven’t known for very long… well that must mean that there’s something really special about the people involved.  And that was me (hiding my tears behind my camera) at Emily and Jon’s Scottsdale, Arizona wedding… at multiple points in time.

I’ll start by explaining the couple.  Emily and Jon have been dating since high school (or somewhere around the end of it), only they have hardly ever lived in the same place for long!  I don’t know the whole story, but it has something to do with going away to college and lots and lots of trips over seas… or something like that (forgive me if I’m getting the details wrong on this… just post comments with the corrections)!  All I know is that Jon was living in South Korea up until about a week before their wedding!  Fortunately, he was still being a very good fiance’ and using Skype to help her with all the planning!

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You’d think the extreme long distance relationship would be what stands out the most about this couple, and it would be if it wasn’t for the fact that they are one of the funniest couples I’ve ever been around!  They had a slideshow at the very beginning of their ceremony, and let me tell you… you didn’t have to know them very well to be moved to out loud laughter and open mouthed moments of shock at their antics!  The pictures captured their personalities perfectly and it showed how much they really, REALLY love being together.  They truly are best friends and that fact was reinforced through many of the details throughout the day (including the repeat playing of the song “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat that says “lucky I’m in love with my best friend”- perfect for them).  I have to brag and say that one of the pics from the slideshow was a picture we took when they were in the bridal party at another wedding we shot.  We were flattered to be included and to be given the chance to show off the pic again (below).:-)

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So now that I’ve talked your ear off about the uniqueness of their relationship story, the hilarity of their personalities, and the beauty of their friendship, you’re probably sure that pretty much covers how awesome this couple is.  But oh no… there’s definitely more!  And this has to do with the pieces of their life that make up all of this and have brought them to where they are now.  What I mean by that is, both Emily and Jon have come from unbelievably beautiful families.  I met some of their family members on the day of the wedding for the first time, and even with being that new to my introduction to these people, it did not escape me that there was something very, very special here.

It seems like many people consider a wedding to be the one time that it’s OK for everyone to be selfish. You know the story, the bride is mad that not everyone is looking at her, or the mother of the bride gets upset if her dress isn’t prettier than the dress the mother of the groom is wearing… and it gets worse and worse. Of course this kind of thinking doesn’t make much sense considering that a wedding has to do with the uniting of two people into selfless love, but still… the story we’re fed our entire lives is that wedding days are all about ME.  So here was a family that disregarded that myth completely.

The bride was NOT demanding her bridesmaids pay attention to her every need and jump (out of fear) when called, but rather she was laughing with people and greeting everyone that came in with a welcoming smile.  She was so considerate to all her bridesmaids, family, and vendors… but not in a way that was trying to please everyone (therefore pulling her apart in too many directions), but just in a genuinely caring way.  It was so obvious that this day was about so much more than herself or her love for her fiance… it was about her love for EVERYONE around her general.  For someone to be really thinking about how to care for others on her wedding day (in a way that is not out of obligation or a desire to be a people-pleaser) is a pretty much unheard or thing and it is such a testimony to what a beautiful person Emily really is.  She was shining on the outside AND the inside on her wedding day.

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The mothers of both the bride and groom were NOT chewing out the florist because the bows on the flowers were not the right color (they were the right color, that’s just an analogy) or sitting around gossiping about one another, but rather they were talking to people calmly and basking in this special moment of love for their children.  Both mothers were just radiating kindness to both Scottie and I.  When they smiled at us, it was like we could feel their happiness and joy flowing out of both of them (rather than the usual stress and frustration that lies behind the mothers’ eyes at too many other weddings).  Both mothers were just full of genuine compliments and caring comments towards us the entire night.

The fathers blew us away as well.  It was extremely evident that both fathers were heavily involved in their families lives in a way that supported and encouraged all family members to excell in their own individuality, while remaining united in love to their families.  I know that’s a huge statement, but we just couldn’t ignore the strong leadership their fathers both expressed through a level of humbleness (rather than arrogance or dominance).  Both fathers were very verbal in their affirmations and praises of their children and of each others’ child.  They uplifted and spoke so highly of everyone around them, that you couldn’t help but tear up just from knowing how it must feel for a child to hear their father speak of them AND their new spouse in that way.

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And then there were the siblings.  Again, the sense of involvement in each others’ lives was apparent.  You could tell they were hardly able to contain their excitement for the wonderful things that were happening in their brother and sister’s lives.  Not to mention, the siblings were just as fun as the couple and the speeches reflected that very well (most the time I was laughing too hard to hold the camera steady).  The friends of the couple who were in the party were just as excited for this couple and their speeches were laced with a genuine awe for their friends who they look up to as examples.

Here’s a shot of Jon and his brother…

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This is Emily’s brother giving his awesome speech (and apparently Jon heartily agrees with what’s he’s saying)!

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So you try sitting through speech after speech that reflects the kind of love and genuine family bond that you’ve seen demonstrated all day, where a mom cries when talking about how much her son has affirmed and encouraged her since he was a little boy, and a father talks about his emotions throughout the progression of his little girl’s relationship from a crush to marriage and see if you can keep from tearing up… it’s really hard!

So thank you to Emily and Jon (and families) for letting us witness such a truly beautiful moment in the lives of such truly remarkable individuals.  We wish the best to all of you.

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P.S. I had the hardest time deciding what pictures to put in this post because so many of them communicate all the stuff I’m talking about.  So you really should check out all the pictures from Emily & Jon’s wedding.  And speaking of how fun everyone at this wedding was… check out all the wedding photobooth pictures (like the one below)!

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August 19, 2009 - 4:00 pm

Chelsea Hudson - yup – these totally rock. this last photobooth shot is THE BEST EVER!!!! i loved looking through these!

August 20, 2009 - 7:07 pm

Ann Kelley - Wow. I never expected the photographer of my son’s wedding to write anything, let alone this beautiful and touching observation of a very special day. Thank you for your words and for creating these creative and beautiful photos that all of us will treasure forever. By the way, even before this album was ready, I’ve been recommending you to everyone!

August 23, 2009 - 5:06 pm

trina - LOVE the pictures!
What a darling couple.
You must be so proud Ann and Doug.
Love, Trina

August 27, 2009 - 10:19 am

Lisa Harman - I did not read this until today. So here the mother of the bride sits at her desk at work crying with joy all over again! I am overwhelmed with God’s love and how He filled Jon and Emily’s day with love and JOY–now to hear your words. Wow! He is amazing! Thank you for writing these words about my wonderful daughter and son-in-law! You’re the best! (and there just are not enough exclamation points in the world to express myself! ) :o)

June 3, 2010 - 12:08 pm

The Harmons: Old Family Friends with New Family Pictures. « Radiant Life - [...] first met this beautiful family when we shot Emily Harmon’s wedding (she’s now a Kelly since she married Jon but we’ll still call them [...]

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