Jessie + Darin were an absolute dream from the beginning. The day before we received their inquiry, we were talking about how we’d love to go to Door County, but how we never take time to vacation and only go places when we have a session or wedding. When we received their elopement inquiry, it felt all too perfect!
During our consults with couples, a majority of the time is spent getting to know the couple and their shared interests. When Jessie + Darin shared that they were in the midst of a kitchen demolition + remodel in their new home, our eyes lit up and we immediately suggested crafting an engagement session around the demolition. They were immediately on board, and we knew that we had struck gold with them as our dream couple!
In fact, they had so many awesome shared interests that we ended up doing multiple engagement sessions – a home demolition session, a sunrise ice skating session followed by a cozy coffee shop session to warm up, and a snowboarding session at Tyrol Basin.
After having a blast with Jessie + Darin during all three of their engagement sessions, their elopement day finally came – and it was just as much of a dream as we knew it would be.
Despite having had a wedding the day before, we didn’t hesitate to jump out of bed when our 4:30AM alarm clock went off – our excitement fueling us more than our cups of coffee. As soon as we arrived to Door County, we checked into our Bed & Breakfast and then headed straight to Jessie’s Bed & Breakfast where she was getting ready with her closest friends and family members.
We were almost taken aback by how completely calm and carefree Jessie and her loved ones were. There was no sense of urgency, tension, or drama. Jessie was simply blissful. Two of her best friends helped with her hair and makeup, while another pulled us aside to share that Jessie’s little brother had passed away a few years ago so she had made a keepsake charm to be tied to the bouquet – which we noted the importance of to ensure we could capture the intimate moment in which Jessie received the gift.
With hair and makeup done, we safely loaded Jessie’s dress and accessories into our car and headed to White Dunes State Park where we would have a half hour to photograph them before Jessie + Darin arrived separately to begin getting ready. We brought our super funky antique brass hanger from Lithuania for the dress shots, which perfectly offset the dress and hanger from the trees and deep blue water.
When Jessie arrived, she asked where she should get into the dress. We asked if she would be okay changing outside in a beautiful and secluded area we had found. Without hesitation, she was fully on board, trusting our vision fully!
This trust formed the foundation of our time with Jessie + Darin. From the first engagement session through the entirety of their wedding day, Jessie + Darin repeatedly told us that they trusted us and our visions – no matter how wild they may be!
Once in her dress, Jessie’s best friends presented her with the bouquet keepsake, which was a beautifully emotional moment between Jessie, her friends, and her mom.
With Jessie tucked in the nook we had found in the trees, we ventured over to where Darin and his son, Gavin, were getting ready on the rocky cliff, as they were equally on board with our vision of them getting ready outdoors. We were emotional photographing Darin and Gavin getting each other ready, as the moment was such a stark contrast to the many rowdy getting ready moments with groomsmen that we’ve photographed. Darin asked Gavin for advice on whether or not his shirt should be tucked in and where to place the boutonniere, which meant the world to Gavin to have his dad’s trust on such an important day.
With both Jessie + Darin now ready, we strategically coordinated the first look, which involved having Jessie walk past Darin as he turned to keep his back to her until we were able to get her positioned behind him with the perfect view. Once in position, she walked along the rocky cliff and gently placed her hand on his shoulder, signaling him to turn around. With all smiles and a twirl to see the back of the dress, Jessie + Darin were ready to find the perfect spot to say their vows!
They had a couple ideas in mind for the ceremony location but repeatedly stated that they fully trusted us to choose the final spot. After exploring all possible options, we gave them our recommendation to say their vows on the outlook just above the cave so that their closest friends and family could gather in a semicircle around them and so that we could photograph them from both angles without being intrusive.
As their loved ones arrived for the ceremony, Jessie returned to the nook in the trees as everyone gathered on the cliff to await the ceremony start time. With a best friend since elementary school as the officiant, Jessie, Darin, and Gavin reunited on the rock ledge for their vows. Jessie read vows to Darin’s son, Gavin, first, which had not only him but everyone in attendance – including Jerry and me – in tears.
Following the short ceremony, the guests brought bottles of champagne back to the ceremony location where Jessie + Darin thanked their loved ones for coming then popped open a bottle to toast their new status as husband and wife.
Following a couple quick family portraits, their guests departed to head to a local restaurant to celebrate their marriage while Jessie + Darin had a couple hours to spend together taking in the breathtaking views and savoring their first moments as a married couple. As they breathed in their new beginning, we circled around from a distance, capturing the magic of their love and the location they chose for their day.
It was so clear that they weren’t under any pressure to hurry off to entertain their guests or be anywhere at any particular time – they simply existed fully in each moment they had together.
Once they had some quiet moments together, we stepped closer for more fine art portraits, to which Jessie enthusiastically responded, “Anything for the picture!” to every suggestion Jerry gave! She then asked if we could drive a couple minutes down the road to hike to a secluded beach. Without hesitation, Jessie + Darin ran down the beach with the water lapping at their feet, and then walked right into the chilly water.
Even with their plans for a large reception a couple months later, Jessie was unphased by her dress getting wet and sandy. Darin scooped her up and they spun embraced together in the waves – concerned only about the moment and having the best possible day.
It was, indeed, the best possible day.