In a previous blog post, I talked about ideas for folks who were facing challenges during 2020 wedding planning because of COVID-19. One of those ideas – and my personal favorite because it meant that I would get to celebrate with a couple twice – was to have a smaller ceremony or elopement on or around the original date, and then save the big party for later. Well, this is exactly what Dana + José did, and I’m so stoked I got to document this day AND will get to also capture their bigger celebration next fall.
Dana and I met almost a decade ago when I worked as a veterinary assistant at the animal hospital her mom owns in Eugene. We bonded over a mutual obsession with Lord of the Rings, a love for animals, and an overall shared life view and values. Dana is what I call a “forever friend”, and even though we now live in different parts of the state, I know that no matter where either of us is in the world, it’ll always be as if we were never apart when we finally get the joy of spending time together again (probably for Lord of the Rings Extended Edition marathons).
There’s a cool side effect to an elopement or small ceremony like this: The focus is so naturally and completely on the couple. The formality of the whole day is pretty much nonexistent, and honestly, that’s pretty magical because things just happen when they feel right. This creates a relaxed, genuine atmosphere that really highlights the emotions and momentousness of the day. Ultimately, it’s almost as if an elopement/small ceremony serves a different purpose than a big party. The former has a focus on the couple and their experience, while the latter often has more of a focus on the gathering and experience of the guests. Neither is necessarily better than the other, and both are important in their own right. It just depends on the couple and how they want to honor their wedding. And I’m fully on board with the “Let’s do both!” idea. In fact, can we turn this into a thing?
So, what experience did Dana and José decide they wanted for their small ceremony? Ultimately, it came down to simplicity. They chose a public park where they wanted to have both their ceremony and a very short set of group portraits. Dana’s biggest priority for the day in terms of anything even vaguely “formal” was photography, so we planned some time for just the two of them to have couple’s portraits in the park as well. Dana studied journalism and has lots of experience with videography, so she knew she wanted the ceremony to happen at sunset when the light would be just right. And as you’ll see shortly, that really paid off in their photos.
Being the journalist she is, Dana wanted a true and full representation of the day, which meant that they wanted group photos even with everyone masked, to document the fact that yeah, they did get married during a pandemic and it was a crazy, challenging experience, but it was real. There’s something poetic and moving about that sentiment – Imagine the conversations they’ll have with their kids when looking through these photos. What a powerful wedding story, indeed.
There weren’t many vendors for this one, but Dana made special mention of the flowers being grown by a very sweet family in town.
Flowers: Grown by Flicker Town Farmettes (DIY arrangements)