For a photographer, one of the great fringe benefits of weddings is that a couple who gets married always ends up having friends who get married down the line. One wedding leads to another and before you know it, a neat little circle has been created.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Lisa Butenhoff, someone who I got to know while doing photography for Food & Friends, a great organization that provides meals to people living with HIV/AIDS. Lisa has one of those infectious smiles and infectious personalities one never forgets and I could have bet we'd cross paths again. It was great to walk into a room in Charlottesville, with time having passed and children having been born, and see that Lisa was a bridesmaid.
I also had the pleasure, a few years back, of shooting what had to be the greatest beach wedding ever, the marriage of Lily Fu and Scott Claffee. (I say greatest, because this was not some prissy island wedding but rather a classic Jersey shore affair, complete with ancient Italian bakeries and Bon Jovi karaoke.) Since then, Lily, Scott and I have shared a great love of the Washington Capitals, with Lily even taking me to a playoff game last season when Scott was out of town. And so it was great to walk into a reception in Charlottesville and see my old friends, one of whom now works with the bride.
This is the way the circle works and I'm always grateful for it, because the wedding of Amanda Engstrom and Eric Eversole at Keswick Hall earlier this month was just absolutely beautiful. Beautiful weather, beautiful light, beautiful manor, beautiful couple. The Quadfecta, to a photographer.
I shot a great wedding at Keswick, ten miles or so outside Charlottesville, Virginia on New Years Eve and I was eager to see how the spring differed from the winter there. I wasn't disappointed. While the first event was twinkling with holiday lights, Amanda and Eric's wedding was bathed in gorgeous sunlight. You really can't lose at this place.
Speaking of light, I'm always worried family members are going to think I'm crazy when I find a nice spot for bridal party pictures. As I've written before, I tend to get a tad vocal with my sense of wonder. But if you saw the light we had in the garden out front, you'd scream too. Piercing backlight, beautiful flowers, and a fabulously beautiful bride.
Earlier in the day, Amanda and her mom played parcheesi, a game that has special meaning for them and provided something of a theme for the gifts she gave her bridesmaids. Later, guests had cocktails around the infinity edge pool, a floral "A" and "E" floating on the surface. Amanda had told me that one of her favorite views was the one out the back of Keswick, with it's views of the Blue Ridge. I made sure the newlyweds had a chance to take a little walk in that direction; after all, you never want to get so caught up in the day's craziness that you don't have time for a nice evening stroll.
But at Keswick, you don't want to stroll too long and miss out on some of the best Southern cooking around. Little barbecue sandwiches, grits, fried pickles. My assistant Cliff came running up to me and said, "Have you seen the buffet?!? The best wedding food ever!" and he was right.
And when it came time to dance, these guys danced. And danced. Some weddings, the couple will do their bit and leave the dancing up to their guests. But not this night. Eric and Amanda were back out on the dance floor again and again. And late in the evening, just after I thought they couldn't possibly give me any more dancing photos, I shot a picture of Amanda whispering into her husband's ear. Just a simple act--not a kiss, not a hug, just a whisper-- but it's a photograph that instantly ranks among my all-time favorites. I know they will cherish it forever.