As a testament to how sentimental Erin is and how meaningful this wedding was, when she filled out my questionnaire asking for notable details, unique happenings at the wedding, and the stories of how they met and got engaged, Erin’s responses were about three times longer than average.  She was thoughtful and intentional with everything at her wedding, which took place at a house on the shores of Lake McDonald that has been in their family for a couple generations.  In the “how did you meet section?” Erin describes some difficulty she was going through when she met Mike and ends it with this, which was echoed in her vows: “He really did bring me back. His kindness, strength and humor through everything amazed me. He never pushed, and I loved him more and more. He’s basically a unicorn.”

One thing that kept coming up through our numerous conversations before the wedding and in the questionnaire was the importance of Erin’s dog, Spoon.  He’s been with her for nearly 14 years, through a couple long relationships, at least, and he clearly means the world to her.  The day before the wedding I received a heartbreaking text from Erin that Spoon had been hit by a car and was at the vet and she was shattered and not sure how the wedding day was going to play out.  Not knowing nor wanting to ask about Spoon’s prognosis, I hoped that we could get a photo of the three of them the morning of the wedding, even if it was in pajamas at the vet’s office.  And that’s pretty much how it played out as I met them at 9am and the vet’s office was kind enough to bring Spoon out on a stretcher for a visit.  He was heavily medicated so it’s unclear if he knew what was happening, but he did let out some groans that I chose to believe were acknowledgement of the outpouring of love.  I’ll be honest, it was hard for me.  I have a dog who I am very close to and I cannot comprehend something happening to him.  Erin and Mike were very open with their emotions and for the first time ever on a wedding day, tears filled my eyes while I watched Erin struggle.  If you’d like to read an update and see some photos of Spoon, I made an Instagram post here about it recently.

Erin had been touting her dress for over six months and I was pretty excited to see it in person.  I was also excited to try to do it justice in a couple photos, as I knew how much she liked its “flowiness”.  But when it came time to get into that dress it turned out there weren’t really any places in the house free of people so she decided to do it in the forest!  Shortly thereafter she and her dad went on a short hike to a knob above the house to visit a memorial of sorts.  The ashes of many people were spread there and Erin left a leash made for Spoon from fabric from her dress tied to a tree.  It was a special moment unlike anything I’ve witnessed before.  We did a few portraits in the sunset light, but also did a Day After session up in the Park the following day.  One of the most hilarious things I’ve seen at a wedding happened when Erin and Mike took off at the end of the night in the family’s Chris Craft boat for a short trip over to the hotel on the other side of McDonald Creek.  They shoved off and then when Erin’s uncle went to start the boat, it wouldn’t start.  He tried and tried and eventually gave in as they floated out into the lake, at which point Erin’s dad hopped to and took the rowboat out to complete the journey.  Everybody was laughing hysterically during it all!

One of the questions I ask prior to the wedding is about people who the couple wish could attend, but are unable to.  Here was the response Erin wrote for Mike: “His dad Bob. Two years ago, when he met me at Christmas, he wept as he said he could see what a special thing we had. He saw us getting married and having a blessed life.”  Mike’s father crept into my mind many times throughout the day as I tried to do justice to the wedding through my photos.  I know he and many others will be living this day through what they see here so Bob, I hope these photos help you understand how it felt to be there.

Venue: private residence on Lake McDonald

Music: Ross, Rmi and Myah Strauser

Officiant: Sarah Feldberg