Many of you have asked about the story of the bride in the flannel. I love that so many have been so curious! I know that Wray, would be happy to know that her story has been shared, in many uplifting conversations, many times, and after the telling of the story most respond either with welled eyes, or some kind of “Ohhh, that gave me chills!”, response!
When Wray and Cody were dating and she was trying to decide what to wear she would ask the quintessential question, “What should I wear? I have no idea what to wear!” Cody would always respond, “Wear my favorite flannel!!” So she would.
When Wray initially contacted me she was planning a regular wedding: lots of people, big party, etc. There was a shift somewhere in the planning that shapeshifted the entire wedding day. It went from formal celebration to intimate mountain elopement with a guest list that could be counted on both hands.
It is one of my most favorite weddings I have ever shot. Ever.
This is what I believe: I LOVE all weddings. ALL of them! Big, small, near, far, party, romantic dinner, formal affair, all of it, I LOVE!! This wedding was different because I feel it really captured the true reason weddings happen, to promise to live a life of honesty, integrity, service, devotion, and full purpose focused on one other person. It really all gets down to the vows that happen that day, the promises that are made!! I love, love the vow part. The part where they swear, where they “promise, promise”, as Wray and Cody would say, to love, that person the most, for the rest of forever.
Wray and Cody realized during their planning that a big event wasn’t true to their hearts or their romance, so they decided to elope to Big Bear to make their special promises the nearest to God you can get: in the gorgeous mountains, the fresh air, and the tall trees. They brought their closest people: parents, grandparents, and a few dear friends. What mattered to them most was that they were making that promise, their promise. Not that there would be a big fanfare after the fact. In reality, it was a very “spiritual” event. It was still, quiet, and one of the most intimate and truly romantic ceremonies I have ever witnessed. I am emotional thinking about it. Their love, their day, their families and friends have filled a few of the holes in my heart. Wray didn’t know when she hired me how much I was going to need her and Cody! She had no idea why I would need to be a witness to their wedding!! I am so grateful I was there. So thankful for the experience. Thank you Wray; thank you Cody!! Thank you for loving me and sharing this time with me!
Their preparation time was different as well. Everyone got ready together in a cabin they had rented for the weekend. They saw each-other prepping, Wray fixed certain things on Cody, got her man all set. We all chitty-chatted, laughed and relished in the happy we were all feeling while Wray’s finishing hair and make up touches happened (Her mom is a stylist; how special to have your mom do your hair on wedding day!!).
Then there was a calm when everyone but Wray and her mom left to head to the ceremony site. This is another moment I love on wedding day, when mother dresses her child for her most special moment. As a mom myself I dress my kids every day. I have, obviously, since they were infants. There is a symbolism behind dressing your daughter on her wedding day, a significance much deeper, than we think: I have dressed you, cared for you, loved and nurtured you your whole life. I have covered you not only with literal clothes but also with the warmth of my heart. And now, I dress you one final time, wrapping you up in all the memories of your childhood and youth, all the moments, all the time, and all the space of your life, I pour it all back into you as I latch, wrap, and tie you beautifully into the last dress I will put you in.
There was a sweet stillness as Wray’s mom dressed her in her most beautiful dress of her life.
“We can’t forget the flannel!! That’s the most important part!”
I thought, “The flannel? Oh, maybe it’s a flannel piece of blue.”
Her mom reappeared with a flannel that had just come from the cleaners, pressed and ready for its next wearing. Its next wearing as a part of her wedding ensemble. Wray told me they bought the dress with this flannel in mind, that it was Cody’s favorite, and that she had to wear it on their wedding day!!
When a groom see’s his bride walk down the aisle to him, it is special, regardless. When she walks down the aisle to him wearing not only a beautiful gown, but also his favorite flannel, the emotions that evokes are truth, personified.
There is so much I want to share from this day, my heart is full again, remembering it all. I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. One more thing before I do: Wray and Cody wrote their own vows, another touch I adore, they kept saying something different: I promise, promise…” I loved it. I knew it had sentiment to them and meant something. It was endearing, sweet, and made the promises they were making more, real, more solid, more emotional.
I asked Wray if they would share their vows with me so I could post them publicly, because they were beautiful and because of the “Promise, Promises” they made. She, I am so grateful, obliged!
I also asked if she would share where the “Promise, Promise” came from. This is what she told me, “It’s hard to tell exactly when “promise promise” came about, because we’ve used it ever since. We were most likely having a serious talk about something in the beginning of our relationship and one of us asked, “Do you promise?” And the other responded, “Promise, promise.” It’s kind of like a pinky swear. It’s a double promise! You can’t break a double promise!”
I LOVED their double promises. Thank you for being willing to share them publicly here. May they inspire and touch the hearts of all those who read them.
I promise, promise not to be the best man I can or the sweetest, kindest, or most caring, but I promise, promise that I will always be the man you fell in love with. The man who stole your heart knowing all of the imperfections and struggles I came with.
I promise, promise to be your big booty boyfriend who didn’t know you even saw him come in (to The Coffee Grove) let alone watch him walk to his truck.
I promise, promise to be your best friend, your partner in crime, your soul mate.
I promise, promise to be understanding, loyal, and genuine, but most of all, I promise, promise to just be. To be who you need me to be then and there at any moment, at any time because just being who we are and doing us is what led us here. The most natural thing I’ve felt. Our love. Our relationship. Us.
Before I met you I had the strangest feeling that there was this huge love out there for me and it was right under my nose. And that morning when I saved your bagel I really had no idea how far that would take me, but now that I know you, I know that that was the greatest decision I could have ever made.
Our journey has been magical. From how unbelievably sore my cheeks were after our first date, to after you told me you love me for the first time and my body literally felt like that sparkly tornado thing that happens to Disney princesses.
I feel like everything in my life had lead me to this relationship. All of the heartbreak and sadness was so that I could laugh the hardest with you. Life with you is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I was, without a doubt, put on this Earth to love you.
With that being said…
I promise, promise to continue to laugh with you and keep you happy.
I promise, promise to hold your hand and walk with you through the darkest days and brightest moments.
I promise, promise to keep your belly full.
I promise, promise to be patient in times of change and the pace of which it comes.
I promise, promise to share your dreams with you and support you as you work hard to make them come true.
I promise, promise to always keep faithful to you.
I promise, promise to be the best parts of me that fit perfectly with the best parts of you.
I promise, promise you today and forever because I know that through our union we can accomplish more than I could alone.
I love you Cody James. Every time I think about how much I love you, I realize that I love you even more than before.
I promise, promise to love you even more tomorrow and for the rest of our lives.
Wray and Cody, I promise, promise I will never forget those moments, never, in all my life!! Or the rest of the day for that matter. Especially when Grandpa gave me that big smooch!!
And just for the fun, let’s all flash back to this awesome moment from Wray and Cody’s day!! I got a big smooch from Grandpa!! Grandma said it was ok; so I went for it!!
Everyone there was filled with such a great love for these two. Their favorite friends were our favorite friends by the end of the evening too.
My good friend and colleague Amanda Jane was with me for this awesome day!! She grabbed the next few shots!! LOVE the bridal party ones! Thank you Amanda!! So glad you were there!!
I shot this one while I could get all these party people to hold still!!
Then there is the peaceful moment when everyone leaves but the bride and groom. There is a visible, sometimes audible breath because they are alone (well, kind of…).
Their party was intimate, petite, and sweet; I would have expected nothing less to cap off the day!! We were welcomed as guests and treated like family.
To Wray, Cody, your families, friends, and especially Grandpa, I promise, promise I will remember this day forever, too!! May you continue spreading happiness, joy, friendship, and love to all you meet; you have touched my life and I am thankful! Thank you again, for sharing it all with me!! From my heart, thank you!! xx KJ