“We’re having a wedding at the zoo”, Kim says to me over a chai latte and some tasty sandwiches. Say no more! I thought to myself. What a fun place to get married! I recall my phone conversation with her a week prior in which she stressed, “I’m not your traditional bride” referring to her age. Of course this means nothing to me and I simply could not wait to get to document her and her fiancé Mark’s special day. I could tell from just two meetings with these two that they were madly in love and had found exactly what they each wanted in a partner.
Fast forward to Saturday, August 12! The wedding day is here, and my excitement builds as I pull into the zoo parking lot. The sun is getting low in the sky, and the golden sheen of end-of-day light covered the buildings, decorations, flowers, and zoo animals. The clouds rolled in and out, teasing but never actually raining down any unpleasantness. Such a perfect night for Kim and Mark to say “I do!”
My favorite photos during weddings are usually the images of just the bride and groom completely wrapped up in each other. Kim and Mark’s couples photos were certainly no exception. As we walked around the zoo grounds they needed no coaxing to laugh, smile, and embrace each other in the most natural way.
Before long, the guests had piled in and were enjoying themselves at cocktail hour. I found it fascinating that at least 75% of those in attendance were family members! How wonderful that these two had so much love and support from those they most cared about going forward. Everyone gathered together for one of the biggest group photos I’ve taken just prior to the ceremony.
The short and sweet but also incredibly meaningful ceremony made this photographer smile from ear to ear. Both Kim and Mark were so enthusiastic about saying their “I dos” that they loudly made improvisations on the two traditional words with more colorful exclamations of “Absolutely!”. With cheers from the entire crowd of onlookers, the happy couple had their first kiss and immediately celebrated!
One of the highlights of this wedding for me was Mark’s infamous “No Journey Jar”. As was announced to everyone in attendance, the groom completely despised the popular rock group and was going to require a financial contribution to be made every time someone asked the DJ to play one of this band’s songs. Of course the inevitable happened, and Journey songs were being played left and right soon after the announcement. Mark came prepared, though, with his own set of headphones which he promptly placed on his head to block out the racket. All contributions were to be matched by the bride and groom and then donated to Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in memory of a grandson who had recently passed. What a beautiful way to honor him and help other children on their wedding day!
The reception was filled with amazing picnic food that everyone thoroughly enjoyed and the most fun animal noses in all of the guest's favor bags! This addition made simple traditional events like toasts so much more colorful and entertaining!
The night concluded with an appearance by one of the zoo’s adorable elephant residents, and a completely cordial cake cutting. Kim and Mark decided that time with their family and friends was more important to them than additional sunset couples photos, and after seeing how much they were loved by all the aforementioned people, I more than happily obliged this request.
Kim and Mark, photographing your day gave me such a happy feeling inside, and I drove home with a renewed passion for what I have chosen to do for a living. Even though I had only known you for a short while, I was able to glimpse inside and outside of my lens what truly amazing people you are. Thank you for approaching me and trusting me with this all-important task. I wish you the very best in your future life together!