In the 6 years that I’ve been photographing weddings, I had never captured a wedding like Ashley & Chad’s. The majority of the weddings I’ve had the privilege of photographing have been beautiful, elaborate weddings full of incredible and meticulous planning. They are days that are structured minute-by-minute and filled with hundreds of guests grinning from ear to ear. And while photographing those large, fast paced weddings is how I energize myself, photographing intimate, slow days like Ashley & Chad’s is how I fulfill myself. It’s like giving an oxygen tank to whichever organs are responsible for my creativity. And, most importantly, days like these teach me the most about love.

Ashley & Chad chose to get married in Couer d’Alene, Idaho alongside their 20 closest family and friends. When Ashley first inquired about having me photograph her wedding, I literally said “where the hell is this place?” out loud but after a quick google search I immediately felt the magic of the small town that’s surrounded by water and mountains. They said their vows in a church before heading to a restaurant on the water to dance to acoustic music and laugh at the strength of the wind that day. Then, as if the magic of the scenery wasn’t going to be enough to make capturing their day special, the personalities and stories of Ashley, Chad, their families, and friends were going to shape me in ways I wasn’t expecting.

I won’t share the details about Ashley & Chad’s love story, but I will tell you the ways in which witnessing their love has changed me. By listening to their stories and watching the way they held one another I was reminded that finding great love is sometimes painstakingly slow, painful, and daunting. It doesn’t always happen when you think it should, and most of the time it happens when you think it shouldn’t. But, for those lucky enough to find it at what seems like an unlucky pace, it is even sweeter. The heartbreaks that get you there only strengthen your ability to love and teach you to appreciate the moments and humans that make your heart feel whole. Maybe the truest romantics are the ones who take the longest to find love- because they don’t dare settle for anything less than wondrous. They become resilient fighters who use love as a compass for their lives no matter the rough terrain.

Somewhere between walks in the sand, hugs with their families, and high fives with their son, Bear, I felt an immense gratitude for Ashley & Chad. Not only because they trusted me to capture their day- but because they gave me such a gift by letting me be a part of their wedding day. Witnessing their love came at the perfect time in my life, and I’d like to think there’s some cosmic reason for that.

Thank you for being the authentic and genuine humans you are, Ashley & Chad. Thank you for giving me an excuse to take a 7 day road trip out west, for convincing me to drive up to Glacier National Park on a whim, and for giving me a moment to breath and reflect when I needed it most. I know you two are happy you found one another, but boy am I sure glad too.