• Emily Wilkerson

Unique wedding: nature & sophistication combined

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Last November, an actor, Bryson, proposed to an actress named Kelsey on a bridge in downtown Lititz, Pennsylvania where they'd had their first kiss. When Bryson called me to ask me to photograph the proposal, one of the first things he said about Kelsey was that she loved animals so much that she might actually die of happiness because there are hundreds of ducks that sit on the river under the bridge where he was going to propose. That was my first peek at how lovely and kind-hearted Kelsey was: the kind of woman who dies of happiness if there are too many cute ducks around. Yes, she is as adorable as she sounds.

From there on out, it seemed like they would be entering a normal wedding-planning experience and saying their vows on May 17 after a 6 month engagement. They were going to get married in a white church in the historical town of Lititz, PA, which had won an award for "cutest town in America" over ten years ago, and is still very cute today.

However, their wedding planning experience and consecutive wedding trilogy was anything but typical, and I had the fantastic responsibility of photographing each step along their journey.

Only weeks before their wedding was scheduled, the couple was forced into an outdoor #microwedding at the venue that was originally going to be the reception site because only ten people were allowed to gather at one time, and they were required to be outdoors. Because of this, they had the lovely privilege of being the first ever couple to get married at Elizabeth Barns Christmas Tree farm! Elizabeth Tree farms is a precious addition to the wedding industry of Pennsylvania. It's a truly luxurious and nostalgic place to get married. Kelsey had gotten her Christmas trees here her whole life and last Christmas when she was cutting down the tree with Bryson and his family she suddenly realized this was the perfect place ever to get married. How fortunate that this was the first ever year that Elizabeth Barns had started functioning as a wedding venue!

That first adjustment Bryson and Kelsey had to do was only the beginning of their journey. By the time the year 2020 was up, Bryson and Kelsey had a rural microwedding, a wedding on a world famous stage #sightandsoundtheatres, and a wedding at the historical park where Bryson had proposed to Kelsey. Three wedding ceremonies, one couple. Each ceremony reflected the heart of the couple, their devotion to their marriage, and their distinct classy style but in three very different contexts.

Their first ceremony, the legally binding ceremony that sealed them as husband and wife was in May, and was by far the most emotional wedding I have been part of.

At their first of three weddings, Kelsey did a #firstlook with her dad behind the trees then they made their way toward the aisle. Bryson stood with his back toward Kelsey, chatting with his dad who would be the one to marry them. Bryson and his dad are quite close.

Kelsey is one of the most radiantly beautiful women inside and out. Here comes the bride! Kelsey wore a classic tulle and lace gown of a soft white and had on a special necklace that her dad gave to her mom on their wedding day!

Bryson's reaction to his bride as she walked down the aisle was the kind of reaction every girl dreams of. He couldn't stand still, he couldn't take his eyes off of her.

Everyone bowed their heads to pray before Kelsey's dad handed her over. Then Bryson's father started the wedding ceremony. Conducting the wedding ceremony of your child must be the highest honor a parent can have.

The weather could not have been more perfect. There were supposed to be thunderstorms but instead there was a gentle drifting cloud coverage, which makes afternoon lighting soft and gorgeous!

Before we were five minutes into the ceremony, everyone was already crying. That's the groom's mom in the back. She was so serious and teary the whole time and it was so beautiful.

The bride's parents held hands the entire ceremony and the bride's mom seemed to be holding back tears the entire time.

Grandpa prayed over their marriage before the vows and exchange of rings. It's really powerful for me to have worked with this couple through multiple wedding ceremonies because I was able to take similar images at each ceremony. These two images were taken six months apart and that is so special because the second time Bryson and Kelsey made their vows, they understood the levity of the promises they were making more than the first time, simply because they had already been doing married life for several months.

One of the most precious times of a wedding day for me is standing behind the officiant to watch the couple during the message. Usually, they have their backs toward the guests and the guests don't get to see their faces except for the photos I deliver.

I love watching the parents of the bride and groom and imagine what they must be imagining. Maybe they're thinking about all the trouble Kelsey caused as a kid. Maybe they're thinking about the first time she slept over at a friend's house. I always watch the parents of the couple, because this is their day too.

Kelsey's best friend was beaming the entire time. She didn't stop smiling for even a moment.

The way Bryson looks at Kelsey is out of this world. She is his treasure, and she adores him with her whole heart.

They exchanged rings and said their vows.

Mr & Mrs! Man and wife! He can kiss his bride.

They set a whole new bar for "joy" on their wedding day. I have to take breaks editing their wedding because the emotions were so strong, they love each other so much, their families love each other so much, and the happiness brought everyone around them to tears.

They walked to the bottom of the aisle then turned and stood this way, and told everyone they just needed a few minutes with cracking voices and teary eyes. What a perfect celebration!

Bryson and Kelsey set up a livestream of the ceremony as is typical for modern weddings and took a moment to address their viewers and thank them for their support and love.

Kelsey and her mom have a very special bond. Though her mom hadn't yet let the waterworks flow, in this moment when she hugged her daughter, she lost it.

Bryson hugging his dad, and Kelsey in the corner hugging her mom. They hugged their relatives without once letting go of each other's hands.

One of the best parts of Christmas at the Barns at Elizabeth Tree farms was always the horse drawn wagon. After someone cuts their Christmas tree down, they can ride home through the snow towed by two massive horses. What a dream! So of course, it was absolutely necessary for the horses to make an appearance and bring the guests home after the ceremony.

As soon as the guests pulled away and it was just the bride and groom and I, they turned to me and screamed together "we're married!!!

We took the vast majority of their portraits on their spring wedding day because although there were plans for a second, large-scale wedding at the time, it was a good opportunity to capture all the original joy, and who knows what the future holds?

The bride and groom headed back to the trees to have some portraits taken and spend some alone time soaking in that they are now married, and for the rest of their lives they belong to each other.

Bryson was very helpful with Kelsey's massive dress. Kelsey and I tried our hardest to keep it clean and did very well thanks to Bryson's carrying it everywhere over dirt and wood chips. Kelsey's train was very long and fragile and we already knew it needed to be in impeccable shape for their full sized wedding in October.

Kelsey as a little girl would look forward to this day and be so, so excited that older Kelsey married someone like Bryson in the most magical place in Pennsylvania.

Not only were there gorgeous Christmas trees, but there's a gorgeous textured skyline right when you walk out of the trees!

Kelsey wore a pearl-drop necklace given to her mother by her father on their wedding day.

I think Kelsey might like horses as much as she likes ducks.

This picture always stops my scrolling. The horses, the giggles, the perfect spring weather, this will definitely be a long-time favorite photo of mine.

Fast forward six months, it's wedding week. Kelsey and I had a leisurely timeline-planning conversation with her mom the Monday before the wedding, and then a rather spontaneous call on Thursday. The plan had been to marry in the historical park where Bryson proposed to Kelsey- but days before the wedding, a last minute second ceremony at a separate location was added into the wedding day. By adding a second ceremony at Sight and Sound Theatre, their fellow actors and dear friends could participate in their wedding day without being exposed to the rest of the guests at the wedding and avoid potentially contracting illness that could result in the closing of the theatre. Kelsey and I drafted up a plan to fit a second ceremony into their wedding day!

The morning of the wedding came. It was the month of October and the air was fresh and the leaves were colorful. All of the bridesmaids and groomsmen were able to spend the morning together with Kelsey and Bryson respectively- a luxury they had not had at their wedding in May.

In the six months since their last wedding, Bryson grew a legendary beard. He's a classic sort of man with vintage tastes and classic style, and his beard suits him magnificently.

Kelsey and her ladies spent the morning at Kelsey's parents home listening to love songs and enjoying each other's company.

Kelsey and her mom embraced before heading off so Kelsey could have a "first look" with her husband on the bride where Bryson had proposed almost a year ago.

A few images of the bridge as Bryson proposed to Kelsey nearly a year ago:

Bryson and Kelsey exchanged letters on that very bridge before heading off to the first of the two wedding ceremonies that day.

Bryson and Kelsey were not aware that the guests at their first ceremony- all singers and actors, planned to burst into song at the end of the ceremony. They headed off to what they thought was a simple exchange of promises and some quality time with their closest work friends who were not able to join them at the main ceremony on their wedding day.

An empty theater is a very majestic venue to be married at.

After prayers and the kiss, the cast was ready to burst into song.

An ancient city is a fantastic backdrop for a kiss!

At the first note, Bryson and Kelsey burst into tears.

Time for a few posed portraits of the bridal party!

The fantastic thing about working with actors is that I don't need to watch their posture or placement. They automatically fall into an automatically staggered position, showing their best angles, and with correct and flattering posture.

The outside of the theatre is just as lovely as the inside!

On to the third of the wedding ceremonies! Lititz Springs Park, the historical park where they had their first kiss and where Bryson proposed to Kelsey. What a lovely wrap-up to their wedding journey, to end their wedding trilogy in the place where it all began.

Another prayer from grandpa and the tears are flowing.

The groom's mom and grandmother stood side by side, holding each other's arms during the whole ceremony.

Bryson & Kelsey finally had the day they dreamed of- surrounded by all their loved ones. For the third time they go over their vows, and share a kiss as man and wife.

The whole group walks across the park to the reception area. The wedding theme is travel, with flags from different countries marking each table, and the wedding favor is honey. Bryson has a bee-keeping hobby and so the gift of honey is a very intentional gift to the wedding guests.

I always try to make friends with the flower girl and ring bearer so they won't be shy towards me and I will hopefully be able to get classic images of their personality shining through. I certainly accomplished that at Bryson and Kelsey's wedding.

Before the dances I took Bryson and Kelsey off to the side to recreate a photo we took at their proposal.

Bryson and Kelsey enjoyed the traditional dances with the father of the bride, the mother of the groom, and a first dance as man and wife.

Congratulations, Bryson and Kelsey. You aren't ordinary people. You aren't ordinary wedding photography clients. You aren't an ordinary married couple. Who you are and who you serve shines through you and I know you'll be a beacon as you walk through life together.

It's bittersweet to send you your final wedding gallery. I've spent so much of my year with you at your different celebrations, editing your greatest memories, and getting to know you at a level I never get to know most clients. Thank you for the journey, my friends!

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© 2018 by Emily Wilkerson because she is too fussy to let someone else do this. Proudly created with Wix.com

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Lifestyle photography, documentary videography. Authentic, unposed storytelling.