The afternoon that Dan surprised Bella with a sparkly ring, he also surprised her with an engagement party at her sister's house. It was mainly just family and close friends, but the majority of the people there were Bella's Italian family. The whole night was peppered with various kids performing songs, stories of Dan and Bella, laughter, and dancing. A whole lot of dancing. I remember being asked one question more than any other that night: "Have you ever seen 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'? Good. This wedding will be exactly like that".
When I showed up at the house where Bella and her bridesmaids were getting ready on the morning of September 17th, I was greeted by an excited bride who asked if I needed something to eat or drink. I told her not to worry about me, but thanks. About 20 seconds later, two other bridesmaids asked if I needed anything. Then, another asked if she could help me find anything. When I took the dress outside to photograph, another bridesmaids in curlers offered to help me set it up. Soon after, the girls received word that the limo was on its way and none of them were ready. In a flurry of coffee, hairspray, and "which one is my dress?" "is this my mascara?", they were ready. When Bella came out of the room in her dress, time stopped for a second while all promises "not to cry yet because I'll ruin my makeup" flew out the window.
We all arrived at the venue and the butterflies got real. One thing I always recommend (and was the best part of my own wedding day) is having a special first look moment for the bride and groom. Dan and Bella's was so pure and sweet and made me cry like a baby. Even going back and editing it. Tears.
You know how there are just some couples that are just undeniably meant to be together? Of course, I believe that about every couple I've photographed, but every now and then, a couple comes along and everything in their story is like wow. There's something different here. Well that's Dan and Bella. Their story and all the events leading up to their wedding were just so ordained. That's the only way to describe it. God was weaving their lives together years before they got together and His timing culminated in one of the sweetest love stories I've ever heard. It was evident on that cloudy day when Dan and Bella said "I do. Forever." that everyone in the crowd of over 300 people gathered that day knew they were witnessing a long-awaited, long-prayed-for blessing borne of patience, faith, and obedience. It was sincerely one of the most beautiful weddings I've been a part of.
Congratulations, Dan and Bella. It was an honor to photograph your wedding.
P.S. In case you were wondering, the Italians totally held up to their word as I've never laughed so hard at a wedding before and the dancing was some of the best I've ever seen.