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A Chilly, COVID Wedding

Heyyyyy, everyone!  I have a WEDDING to show you all…A WEDDING!! That’s right!  EEEEEEKKKK!! I can barely believe it myself.  Pre-COVID, I would have been three weddings into the 2020 wedding season by now.  These past two months seem like a real blur to me and still feel like a dream.  Did all this craziness really happen?  Did more than half of my 2020 wedding season really flash before my eyes?!  It’s craziness!  But…then you have people like Brooke and Cody.  They were one of my couples who were on the ball when it came to their wedding and COVID and having a plan B.  They’ve always been one of my calm, level headed couples anyway.  What I did not expect was to have tears in my eyes on the way to their wedding this past Saturday.  They were happy tears, of course.  You see, I always knew I loved weddings.  I was that stereotypical, little girl who panned her wedding.  I imagined it.  I LOVED attending them.  I loved being a part of my friends’ weddings.  Yep.  I’ve always been this way.  When I started this photography journey, I knew I was SO lucky to have a truly “fun,” new career that let me do what I love…spend time…at weddings…with amazing couples who I love dearly.  Like many other people, these strange times in quarantine really opened my eyes.  I don’t just love this job…I NEED this job.  It feeds my happiness and my soul.  I’ve always been a hopeless romantic.  I was always that little girl who loved watching fairytale princesses find their prince and I always cried during the happy endings.  I’ve MISSED those feelings that weddings give me so much!! We all know there are so many cynics in the world who say that those love stories you see in movies and read about don’t exist.  After the last almost five years of shooting weddings, I can confidently say those cynics are wrong…sooooo wrong.  Brooke and Cody are two people who could prove it.  So, back to my tears while driving to this wedding.  There I was making the wrong turn in the interchange on Wheeling Island (I took the first right to get on Route 7 like I was going to the hospital I used to work at not the second right).  I was listening to my wedding playlist and “Marry Me” by Train came on and I just started to tear up.  I was SO happy to be out and about and I was so happy to be going to a wedding (even if it wasn’t the wedding I’d originally expected to go to).  I was so thrilled these two decided to make it official on their original wedding date.  I was so happy for them.  I don’t really know how to explain it except I just felt relief…for soooOoOO many reasons!  AND I’m just so stinking ecstatic for these two!  So, now that I’ve gotten all sappy, let me just show you this COVID, wedding magic!  Fairytales DO come true!

Wedding Invitation

Yep.  I sure did take that invitation shot on aa aisle runner in a garage.  Sounds crazy, right?!  Man, do you all remember their engagement session?  Yep.  You guessed it!  It RAINED!  I remember being so pumped up because of their enthusiasm to just get the photos done no matter what (not to mention they were out of town so we had to make it happen).  I KNEW they would take amazing wedding photos and I’m pretty Julie (former Hannah Barlow Photography  bride who had it rain on both her engagement session AND wedding day) even commented on one of Brooke’s replies on my page about the magic that can happen.  Well, I think Brooke beats Julie in the department  of “what can go wrong will go wrong”.  Brooke had it rain on her engagement session.  Then, COVID happened and we all know that threw everyone for a loop AND THEN…she had record breaking temperatures AND SNOW on her mid May wedding day.  I mean…REALLY?!  I was panicking for her!  It just felt so unfair.  I just wanted to scream, “WHHHHHYYYYY is this happening?!”  But then, those moments you see on Hallmark movies where the town comes together and makes it happen….well, it happened in real life and I got to witness it!  Thanks to the help and love of all their close family and friends, they were able to get married on their original wedding date surrounded by just a few of their closest family and friends and it was just beautiful!!! AHHHH!!!  Huge shoutout to Brooke’s sister’s family for allowing us to use the garage and serious recognition to Hillary who decorated this garage and transformed it!  You just wait and see!  Enjoy!  Seriously, someone call Hallmark right now!

If you would have told me last year (or even three months ago) that I’d be excited about color coordinated masks, I would have told you you were a crazy person!

Can we just talk about the chairs?!  Hillary said she got them cheap and just spray painted them to match!! AHHH!! I love it so much!

For real though, praise hands for Hillary the planner/decorator!

It was my goal to make this as “normal” as possible while wearing my mask and maintaining six feet.  So, some “getting ready” photos were in order.  I was being the ultimate creeper!

Rebecca (Brook’s sister and the “venue owner” for this wedding) and Hillary were working hard to make sure EVERY detail was perfect!  Remember, it was cold and windy and the snow had just melted!

…and some “getting ready” photos for the bride which included the bride and her dad sitting in the car.

That was happening while Cody had to stand with his back turned, because remember, we were in a garage and the bride was in a car right by the driveway!  Strange times call for desperate measures.   I kept thinking, “but it’s happening” and I was a crazy, excited, squealing machine!

…and then the music played through a bluetooth speaker from Hillary’s phone and it was pure magic!

The small, intimate ceremony in her sister’s garage was something I will NEVER…EVER…forget!  Just look at these smiles!  It’s important to note the only people who didn’t wear masks were the ones who had already been together during quarantine.  Everyone else wore masks and were spaced apart (I know I’ll get questions about this because they have become the Hannah Barlow Photography poster couple for COVID weddings and how it’s done).

I mean, you can’t really get better than this!  Look at this joy!  Also, for those of you who are super nervous about me shooting upcoming weddings by myself, I CAN get all the angles…I just look crazy when I’m doing it! HA!  Remember, I used to shoot weddings by myself so it’s just a throw back to the old times!

Lots of friends got to “attend”!

They’re married and officially husband and wife and on their original wedding date!

Then, the light was popping in and out of the clouds so we did some formal photos.  Yep.  These are right behind her sister’s house and about 20 feet from the guests who watched.  Again, it may have been very different from what we expected BUT it was really perfect.  At one point my eyes were watering because of the wind (I keep telling myself that, at least), but watching these two just enjoy the first moments of officially being married, having made it happen despite the odds, well….it just made my wedding photographer heart want to explode!  They do make a beautiful couple!  Again ,with trying to make it normal, I did some individuals!

…and some together!! WEEEEE!

Brooke wanted to play with her dress!  I mean…it’s GORGEOUS! AHHH!!!  Can you just feel the happiness coming off of her?!  I get to see this dress again in November too!! WEEEE!

I mean, if you can’t feel it from these pictures, then something is wrong!! I was 100% jumping up and down like a maniac!  How could I not though?!

Just a few more!

Then, Cody wanted some pictures of being a perfect gentleman (ok…he didn’t say that…but that’s what was happening here!)

…JUST one more!  I called this “their first dance”!

Then, after only about 10-15 minutes of photos (which was all I needed anyway…you saw them…they’re GREAT), they had their reception!! They got to mingle and cut cake!

Who would have thought we’d have people in masks and gloves filling champagne glasses and serving cake!  Hillary is a true gem and I loved spending time with her and Kelsey (who is a friend of the couple and filmed their day for them).  I told Kelsey she should get into wedding videography and be on the Hannah Barlow Photography team! HA!! I’m always poaching people…you all know that!  We just clicked!

Brooke’s sister had her mask on upside down and we had a HUGE laugh over that.  I was nervous to tell her but figured she’d want to know.  She confirmed it fit MUCH better when on correctly! HA!  I’m telling you.  There was just something about this day.  So much love and laughter!

Brooke called it a “weird day” but when I look at these pictures, it was just a great day.  Different, yes!  It definitely wasn’t what we expected but how can you not just love the fact that this couple powered through the stress of these uncertain times because deep down…they just wanted to be married!

These times call for a drink!! We chuckled so much.  Brooke was trying to figure out how to drink with a mask.  She said this photo was perfect, “My mask hanging off my ear and a drink in my hand!”  Yep.  I’d call this the cover photo for the wedding!

…and just after a few hours, I was on my way and heading home.  Record breaking low temps didn’t stop us.  Luckily, the snow went away.  You know, this wedding really touched my heart and soul in a way that is hard to explain.  I just keep saying that because I still can’t put my finger on it but it was perfect.  I’m a big wedding, lots of people, kind of gal.  I knew this wedding wasn’t what this couple had originally planned.  Heck, Brooke and I had texted like mad people just a few days before this because we couldn’t believe it was going to be cold and rainy/snowy.  She had planned the wedding reception for November already.  She planned to get married outside in the grass and THEN she had to replan AGAIN thanks to this crazy mid May weather!  GAH!  Talk about frustration.  In the end, you know what she said?  I was texting her this week about their amazing day.  She encourages all couples to make it work and said she’s happy to share her own experience.  Honestly, she says she’s so happy they chose to go through with it.  She’s right too.  She said so many people say their wedding day was a blur but she “remembers every second of mine”.  It wasn’t a frantic mess like the stories I often share.  She said it was “just a celebration of love with our immediate family.  It was so great.”  And I think that’s the perfect way to end this blog.

For real though, who is calling Hallmark?!  CONGRATS TO THE MCCORMICKS!

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i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a s n will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

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