One year ago today, my assistant and I drove to Bailey, Colorado to photograph the wedding of Mike and Katie at Deer Creek Valley Ranch. It was a great day, no major hiccups, gorgeous overcast skies, and everyone had so much fun. I remember seeing Mike in a light I hadn’t seen him in before that day. He tends to be pretty sarcastic and never seemed to take much too seriously, always poking and making fun. Being in the Army, he had a rough exterior, and I could see him even be a thorn in your side if you took him to personally. But when it came to Katie, and especially their wedding day, he was much softer, way more serious, and showed a few more teeth with giddy grins and twinkling eyes. It was something that made my heart melt. He adored her, and they were perfectly matched. Listening to the toasts later in the day, it became even more evident the way they balanced one another and enriched each others’ lives – both of their families and friends overjoyed by their marriage. As a wedding photographer, these are the couples you never forget. These are the couples that give you hope. These are the couples that give you a reason for doing what you do.
But there is another reason this wedding will always be close to my heart. Less than one month after their wedding day, I received a phone call from their wedding planner while I was driving to another wedding. I wasn’t sure I understood her correctly when I got on the phone. My jaw dropped and eyes welled. Tragically, Mike had passed in an accident. This began a journey I never knew I would take as a wedding photographer. Feelings I hadn’t felt for one of my couples before. Something you don’t expect to deal with when you decide to become a wedding photographer. Tears poured down my face as I thought of Katie and all the events of the too recent wedding day. I was in shock and disbelief. Even mad that something so cruel could happen to two people so deserving of a life full of happiness. Furthermore, my mind couldn’t wrap around what Katie must be feeling.
To this day, I don’t understand why God chose to take Mike from Katie & his family so soon. And I never thought I would be speed editing a wedding to have photos ready for a funeral. But I have to trust and believe that we are all stronger from this, and He has a plan. I have to believe that Mike is still with Katie every single day. I have to believe in the power of love. It is after all the reason I do what I do. And while I didn’t know Mike all too well, I know that he was a great man who loved his wife more than anything. And as I’ve watched Katie navigate this unexpected and deeply heart wrenching time in her life, I am astounding by the life and love in her eyes. It’s so apparent that Mike continues to live in and with her every day. So I’m sharing this post today to celebrate the love that these two will always share. Because even love is greater than death. Happy Anniversary Katie & Mike! Your love lives forever and will always be close to my heart!