Four years ago, on a plane ride like any other, I sat quietly editing photos from a family vacation I had just taken in North Carolina. I briefly noticed I was sharing a row with a guy about my age. In our cramped quarters, we started the flight in our own worlds. But little did I know how much the future had in store for us.
Before too long, I felt a tap on my shoulder and saw a grinning face. “Wow, those pictures are incredible!” I heard, while removing my headphone from my left ear. “Thanks!” I replied, surprised. The stranger sitting next to me continued to ask questions about my photography, what programs I was using to edit, and eventually Jacob and I got to just plain-ole chit chatting. It was relieving to sit with someone with a similar personality and interests. Our time chatting was short, and at the end of our conversation, I handed him a business card before we parted ways.
Three years later, I got an e-mail from Jacob, who had kept my card and had been following my work. He explained he was getting married in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, and wanted to know if I could shoot it! Well, dozens of phone calls, emails and months later, this is what became of that happenstance meeting of two like-minded individuals…
On April 25th, 2013, Audrey and I hopped on a quick flight from Iowa to Florida, shifting 30 degrees in the process! We had been mentally preparing for this wedding for months, as the intense heat, beaches and palm trees are a far cry from the Iowa weddings we’re accustomed to.
On their wedding day, Jacob told me that after we first met on the plane 4 years earlier, he went home and told Jo that he knew he had found their wedding photographer — and they weren’t even engaged yet! I still think it is amazing that Jo trusted in Jacob’s decision to hire a complete stranger from halfway across the country to shoot her wedding. I told Jo “Thank you!” a million times for trusting in me as a photographer, but one more time won’t hurt: Thank you, Jo! :)
Jo’s dress by Alvina Valenta, fit like a glove. Katherine’s Bridal Boutique helped her find the stunning dress.
Back in Iowa, I had gone as far as using Google’s street image to view the beach house where we’d be shooting, hoping to scope locations with the best lighting while some 1500 miles away. But when we met Jacob the day before the wedding to go over specifics, he casually mentioned that we wouldn’t be doing much shooting at the beach house. “WHAT?!” Audrey & I were stunned — why wouldn’t you take advantage of this gorgeous setting? “We have a villa about a mile away,” Jacob told us.
We left the beach house and hopped over to “Villa Ostego” where Jo and Jacob would first see each other on their wedding day.
The setting was perfect, definitely not the let-down we were expecting after the beach house! A beautiful balcony overlooking the front of the villa was the spot the couple chose for their first look. We had Jacob patiently wait for Jo to come to his side. His reaction was priceless.
Ever since Jo started vacationing with Jacob’s family in Fort Myers, she always wanted to rent a scooter. Jacob decided what better day than their wedding day to make that wish come true :)
After their journey on the scooter, we went behind the Villa to take in the view of the back bay. It was a beautiful day to shoot!
The inside of the Villa was a breath taking scene. Walking through the front door, the house greets you with 3 beautiful flights of stairs. It made for a very dramatic shoot.
We headed back to the beach house to get some pictures of the wedding party, who were all dressed in white. I’ll admit, when I first heard the wedding party and all guests would be wearing white, I was surprised (Typically I choose to purposefully wear bright colors at weddings so I can be easily identified by guests)! But as soon as we paired the wedding party against the beach setting, it all made sense — It was beautiful!
Jo carefully carried a rare and fragile bouquet of Lily of the Valley around with her all day.
A quick car ride took us to Lover’s Key State Park, where the ceremony and reception were held right on the beach.
After the ceremony, their guests walked about 50 feet to the tent for cocktail hour and live music. This provided a great opportunity to catch the beautiful evening sky with a walk on the beach.
I think that was the most beautiful first dance I’d ever seen :)
Just as the sun was finally setting, I looked out and saw dolphins swimming around! Being from Iowa, this was extremely exciting! To Jacob and Jo, it was a little more routine, but they were ecstatic that dolphins decided to show up at their wedding! Jacob forewarned me, “Don’t bother trying to get a picture of the dolphins, it’s like trying to catch lightning.” I took that as a challenge (especially since I once kept one camera on lightning duty during a wedding in Colorado for the duration of the ceremony and didn’t catch a single bolt!). Well, I lined them up with where the dolphins seemed to be and one shot later, boom!
The sunset was like a magnet! Jacob & Jo’s guests spilled from the tent out onto the shore, soaking up the beautiful evening. It was about this time I began to appreciate the unlikely series of events that lead me to this stretch of beach on this perfect day with an amazing group of people.
Jacob, a graphic designer by trade, whipped up a custom light that shone on the dance floor that read “JaJo” (their names combined, as we would often hear chanted throughout the evening by their guests.)
Jacob & Jo opted for a live band that played classic music through dinner, but really let loose during the dance! They were outstanding performers and kept the dance floor busy all night! Great job Clint Wiley’s None Other! We had a blast!
Their wedding night ended as epically as it started: dozens of dancing guests circled the couple, chanting and cheering and celebrating the love that brought them all together on that night.
Dress: Alvina Valenta, Katherine’s Bridal Boutique
Decor and planning: Carrie Darling Events
Food: Artichoke and Company
Make up: Duality Makeup Artistry – Dani Taverna
Hair: Katie Perkins, Fort Myer’s Beach
Lighting: Artistic Science
Thanks to the Nature Recreation Management at Lover’s Key State Park