As disappointing as it’s been to see so many of our 2020 wedding clients putting off their weddings until 2021, we couldn’t have been happier when Grace and Eric let us know that they were going to have a COVID19 backyard wedding with a very small number of family in attendance. As a wedding photography studio, we’re in the same boat as every other service-related small business and have been hit extremely hard during this pandemic. At the time of writing this, May 19th, nearly all of our wedding clients with original event dates between March and October have either canceled or postponed their weddings. We’ve been doing everything in our power to help ease their disappointment and help them navigate these unchartered waters even though we don’t always have all the answers. On a positive side, we’ve had a few clients opt for smaller, more intimate style backyard weddings with less than 10 people while keeping a safe social distance from everyone. Sadly, most have decided it would be better (for everyone) to reschedule until next year.
[ERIC & GRACE’S PHILLY ENGAGEMENT SESSION]
We’ve had two clients so far that have decided they didn’t want to wait another year to officially tie the knot and wanted to rather go backyard ceremony route at a family member’s home and save the larger celebration for next year. Eric and Grace’s backyard wedding was the first of two that I personally photographed, and after living in quarantine for the past couple of months it honestly felt amazing to get out and feel a sense of normalcy (even if only for a few hours). It also felt pretty special to be part of these two small and intimate wedding ceremonies that I felt extremely grateful to be part of.
Eric and Grace’s wedding was in PA, and since the Twisted Oaks studio is in NJ, we made sure that I looked up the PA pandemic guidelines for COVID-19 and all their rules on social distancing. Without hesitation, I can tell you that the ceremony itself, as well as everyone in attendance, followed the PA state and county pandemic guidelines and I was more than comfortable being there documenting the day.
With the guidelines in mind, as well as the safety of myself and my own family, there was a lot more prep that had to be done in order to feel confident and comfortable walking in ready to do my job. Not only having to come up with a solid game plan on how I could keep myself and the small number of family members at the ceremony feeling safe and comfortable but also how I would approach capturing everything as creatively as possible. Once I got there, I threw my mask on, grabbed my gear, and walked up to meet everyone. Reality quickly set in as I introduced myself at a “pandemic style socially acceptable distance”. Even though I was anticipating this exact scenario, the reality of it was a quick reminder of just how different this was going to be. Not only that but how different things could possibly be for a long time to come. I shook it off and let everyone know that I was more than happy to be there, which I was. Especially, as it was easy to see just how happy Grace and Eric were to be getting married, pandemic aside. There were 9 people total in attendance, including me, and it was comforting to see that even family members who hadn’t been living through this quarantine under the same roof were keeping a safe 6 ft distance from one another.
The ceremony was in a backyard with the ceremony being live-streamed via Zoom on several phones and tablets giving multiple points of view for everyone attending online. It was a short but beautiful ceremony filled with a ton of emotion from both those physically in attendance and those watching through the live feed. Grace’s father wasn’t able to make it to the ceremony so she held her iPhone as she walked down the green grass aisle with him on Facetime. As she met Eric just in front of the huppah, she handed him the phone for her father to say a few words to him officially giving his daughter away along with his approval. A pretty unique and special way to get a wedding ceremony started.
Afterward, I hung around a little to grab some photos of them in the yard, shooting a little further away than I typically would which was totally fine. I used my 35, 50, and 105 primes on the SL2 and even though I had to approach things a little differently (while wearing a mask) it really wasn’t a big deal and it felt good to be shooting again. The sun was shining bright without a cloud in the sky which I couldn’t have been happier about and I made the decision to not even open my lighting bag. It gave me the perfect excuse to push things creatively with just natural light, something I talked about recently in an IG interview with Leica Store Las Vegas. Being limited to a backyard with nothing but grass, surrounded by other houses, made for a welcomed challenge to have thrown at me. Mentally, I needed it. I needed to feel that pressure again. I struggled at first and really had to just calm my mind down, but I was able to walk away feeling pretty good with what I was able to capture.
I sent them these photos the next day and they immediately let me know how much they loved them which was all I needed to hear. I left that day feeling extremely thankful, grateful, and 100% comfortable with how everything went as far as social distancing and the fear of stormtroopers showing up to take us all away. (My 6-year-old has been obsessed with Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back)
I don’t know how many more of these I’ll end up doing besides the two I’ve already done, but I’m hoping there will be more. I wanted to share some of these photos from Grace and Eric’s COVID19 backyard wedding with everyone (with their permission) to show how happy the two of them were that they decided to have a Coronavirus backyard wedding ceremony. Looking forward to seeing them again this September for the rest of their celebration when hopefully they will be able to see a lot more of their family and friends in person rather than on the screen of an iPhone. Enjoy!
Rangefinder Magazine Feature
In many of these photos you can’t tell they are taken in the middle of a pandemic. Everything looks like a usual wedding 🙂 Well captured, Jay! Stay well and healthy!
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