I met Jack and Andrea at my very first i-didn’t-have-to-beg-for-the-job wedding (I can’t believe that was only last year – so much has happened since!). Some of you may know Mrs. Tulip from WeddingBee? Well Andrea is Mr. Tulip’s sister. And when I met her, and she told me that she was in love and living in Alaska, not so deep down inside I really hoped she called me when wedding bells came a ringin’. But NOT just because she lives in the foothills of Mt. McKinley, which I can finally confirm is the most amazing place I’ve ever seen in my life, but because from the moment I met her, I was so deeply struck by the open and deep sincerity she beams in her easy smile. And I was further struck by the sincerity of Jack and Andrea’s love for each other. I took a picture of them looking at each other fondly at Tara and Ed’s wedding. Whenever I went through the photos, I found this simple photo always striking. It always made me pause and smile at the love they so obviously share.
I often find myself lucky enough to shoot weddings all around the world, often my couples are of those places. This was a wedding in Alaska at it’s finest. For a state inhabited by less than 630,000 people, the whole vast and beautiful state is a small town. The sun doesn’t set until 11:30 pm, and then it’s merely dusk until 4:30am. Andrea mentioned she fully expected people to arrive with their side arms, that the reception would be nothing more than hanging out – no toasts, no dancing, just chillin’, catching up with neighbors, and enjoying the amazing weather. A little girl even brought her fishing pole, and people sat on picnic tables and talked about camping. I also have never seen so many injured wedding guests in my life – even Andrea had tore her ACL the week prior in a skiing accident and was wearing a pretty insane knee brace under her wedding dress. But it ain’t no thang. It’s Alaska, and we are in the wild. And in Talkeetna, most people live off the grid, and a lot of people don’t even have running water. It’s a remarkable place where everybody knows everybody – to the point that people driving by saw the tents set up for the party and stopped to see who had gotten hitched and what time they should come by. Hell – I even picked up a hitchhiker – the day of the wedding! When I asked about the schedule and about what time things would be wrapping up, I was told that since the sun takes its sweet time going down, things just kind of end whenever. Dinner was ribs and salmon (ah-hem. best ribs ever!!). I had dinner at Andrea and Jacks amazing house the night before and ate fern sprouts they picked from the river side. Amazing. Oh, and Alaskan salmon is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Also, King Crab legs. I love food.
Having a little free time to myself the day before I decided to take a small plane up to the base camp on Mt. McKinley. Unfortunately it was cloudy and a fog sat over the camp, making it impossible to land. So we detoured our way over to Ruth Glacier, to my surprise – that’s where the wedding was supposed to be! And in that light, the first few images here are from that trip. It was cloudy that day – the wedding day was a cloudless sky. It looks amazingly unbelievable either way. And I have to tell you it’s REALLY hard to tell how big everything is, but just know that every mountain, cliff, snow capped peak is miles away in the background.
The first thing I thought was… ummm… why am I doing this??? I am TERRIFIED of heights!! Like, trying really hard not to pee in my pants, can’t breathe, can’t move until it’s over terrified. I didn’t think about this until I was on the plane, and there was a considerable amount of jostling, in my opinion. But I forced myself to relax, thinking, if the plane crashes, there’s just nothing I can do. So just relax. RELAX!! But the best thing for it was when something like this caught my eye, and for a moment I was floating forever with no thought of the ground 2 miles below.
And a quick self portrait. That mountain is about a mile away from me. Insane. (please forgive the dust bunnies!)
The ground was so white that I didn’t even realize that we lifted off until I looked out the window.
To the wedding!
In the copilot seat!! My fear provoked many thoughts of preparing myself if the pilot has an unexpected aneurism. I kept looking for possible runways – cause I would know what to do (shakes head at self).
The bride arrives! Now, I am a shallowest depth of field kind of gal, but even shooting at 50 iso, 8000th of a second, I still had to shoot at f/8.
Since you can’t really bring supplies to the glacier, you just kind of land there and stand somewhere, so there’s no aisle, no runner, no altar. Just people. It doesn’t get simpler than that. SO beautiful.
Suddenly over our push to talk headphones we heard some people singing “Goww-ing to the Gla-cier and we’re — Gonna get ma-a-arried.” Andrea got a kick out of it.
When I get the film, there’ll be more to come!!