A The Roosevelt Lodge Wedding, Ashlee and Rob had one of the most heartfelt and touching weddings we have had the honor of photographing. As a disclaimer, I DO NOT cry at weddings! Ashlee and Rob pushed all of my emotional buttons to the point that a time or two I had to put my camera down to dry my eyes.
Last December I received a request from Ashlee inquiring about our wedding packages. From the first time she and I talked on the phone, I knew that God had put her in my life for a reason. She said, “I love your work, and I’m sure you’re not in our budget, but I thought I’d ask”. So I guess I’d say she had me at hello and thus our friendship began. It obviously helped that she and Rob are from the Cincinnati area, which is where Fred grew up, so we already had much in common. Common interests aside, I quickly learned just what an amazing woman Ashlee is. She shows unconditional love for those in her life and she welcomed Fred and I into her family with open arms.
After months of communicating via phone, we decided to meet in Gatlinburg. We drove in from Kansas City and Ashlee and Rob made the trip from Cincinnati. We met at The Smoky Mountain Brewery where we had a wonderful dinner and great conversation.
After parting ways, Fred and I knew their wedding was going to be an extremely special day. Ashlee was even more beautiful than I had envisioned and as soon as we met Rob we knew we were doubly blessed to have these two in our lives. He is one of the kindest men we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and his love for Ashlee is undeniable.
In one our emails before our April dinner Ashlee wrote; “We are very easy going. Our wedding is going to be pretty non-traditional. Extremely laid back and casual. We’re pretty go with the flow, so whatever you think I’m sure will be great. I’ve always been planning this big huge, elaborate wedding in my head, but never had the groom in the picture. Now that I’ve found Rob, all the details don’t really matter anymore, I’m just so happy to be marrying my best friend“. Now that you are in tears, imagine a wedding day filled with overwhelming emotions that would melt even the coldest hearts, yep, that’s the day we experienced with Rob, Ashlee and their absolutely AMAZING families.
Over the many months leading up to the wedding, Ashlee and I talked at length on the phone and via email about her dreams for her day, the sadness she was sure to feel knowing her mom would be watching from heaven. But, Ashlee and her family as well as Rob’s made sure that her lovely mom’s presence was felt in every detail, every word, and every picture. I know she was looking down from heaven feeling all the emotions that she’d have felt if she had walked Ashlee down the aisle herself. Following a wonderful evening of dinner and conversation with their amazing families, Fred and I arrived at the Lodge on Saturday afternoon to find perfection at every turn. The beautiful homespun details combined with blue skies, mountains peeking through the trees and a magnificent lodge to host their ceremony. Pair all of this with warm, loving people and a bride and groom so generous and giving of themselves, how could our day be anything but perfect. When I saw Ashlee in the final stages of getting ready I was blown away by her elegance and beauty. Right before she was ready Rob had a gift delivered to her. He presented her with perfume that she had never worn, now anytime she wears it, she will be taken back to their wedding day, how ROMANTIC! Once Ashlee was dressed her sister Andie delicately pinned a small piece of their mother’s wedding gown inside Ashlee’s dress right next to her heart and that along with the knowledge that her engagement ring was her moms, I knew then that my day was going to be a struggle to keep my emotions in check, let alone how was Ashlee is going to fare. With no clouds in the sky, birds flying above and the sounds of the rustling trees made in a setting for a romance novel. As Ashlee made her way out of the lodge I waited with Rob until he could see his bride for the first time. I could barely choke down the lump in my throat when I saw the look on his face when she touched his shoulder and he turned around. The tenderness in his eyes along with the gentleness of his touch is what fairy tales are made of and I was truly touched by this very private moment that I had been privileged to share.
As we quietly preserved these precious and intimate few minutes of Rob and Ashlee together we had the opportunity to witness love in its purest form. And as I looked at the love of my life, capturing beautiful images of our new friends I was reminded of a young couple 30 years ago and how in love we still are after all these years and that pesky lump presented itself again. We found time to have some fun photos with the families as well as some tender moments with Ashlee and her dad, as well as her siblings.
Ashlee’s mother was honored in the most tender and loving ways. And as close friends and family made their way to their seats moments before the ceremony, Ashlee had a few minutes with her dad, sister, and nieces. I relished watching these five spend their last few minutes together before she became Mrs. Beaumont. Watching her dad walk her down the aisle, I prepared myself for the waterworks that were ready to spring without warning.
Ashlee’s cousin Errin served as their officiant and while being fortunate enough to have your cousin marry you, only added to the amount of tissues needed as you profess your love in front of God and those you cherish. As Errin asked “who gives this woman to be married” her father with tears in his eyes says “her mother and I” and that was it, the tears flowed freely from all the guests and didn’t stop until Rob and Ashlee were husband and wife. Their personal vows brought even the toughest of grown men to tears. Tears continued to flow as her aunts and Rob’s mom read “Blessing of the Hands” and I could not hold back the dam of tears that had been threatening to spill. And I was pretty sure Fred was feeling the same emotions. What is it about weddings that bring out the tears? Tears of joy and happiness, tears of sadness for those not present to share in the festivities, but who is watching from Heaven above. I simply can’t answer that question, but I am humbled each and every time I witness a couple start on a new journey as best friends and husband and wife.
Ashlee and Rob, your day was truly magical and as you danced the night away under the Tennessee stars, our wish for you then and now is to remain true to yourselves, each other and the bond you have created. May God bless you with love and laughter that last an eternity. Ashlee, here’s to knowing that the first boy you ever danced with is the same boy who stole your heart, asked you to share your life with him and will spend his life dancing with you whenever you want. We love you dearly and are truly blessed to call you friends.
Deb & Fred