Ada & Hayden had planned to be married on their neighbors property in Central Point, Oregon. It was a very hot and windy day with high temps of 115 degrees. We were all prepared to have the ceremony and photos outside with lots of sunscreen, water and fans and then the reception in the yard of Ada’s family home just up the road. However, when I arrived at the ceremony location, I could see a big black cloud of smoke ahead of me. … It looked like a fire had started down the road and we could hear the crackling and pops of things blowing up. We had still planned to proceed with the ceremony until policemen came speeding up the driveway telling us to evacuate. This all happened within 10 minutes of me arriving on site for the wedding. Their unexpected Oregon wedding turned from calm and planned to rushed and pressured in a matter of minutes.
But what I saw in the next 3 hours as I photographed this beautiful couples wedding was remarkable. Ada’s mom Ann was cool and collected as she directed family and friends to pack up the whole wedding, including decor and food into their vehicles to be transported to a church building a few miles away so Ada & Hayden could still get married. … Now, if you know anything about California and Oregon fires in the summer, you know that this is no small thing. Winds and temperatures are so high in the summer that fires can get out of hand SO quickly. In fact, when we lived in the same area just 2 years ago, there was a fire that destroyed more than 2500 homes (which you can read about here and here) so this wasn’t something to take lightly. …But all of Ada’s family put her & Hayden first that day. They had no thought to worry about what might happen to their home being that close to a fire. They just packed everything up and headed out.
Once we all got to the church, EVERYONE was helping to set up and get things organized. … Ada didn’t want Hayden to see her until she was walking down the aisle, which meant that this whole time she had to spend without him. Of course, she still wanted to get married but was crushed with the change. And not just because the outdoor spaces were more pretty for her wedding, but because her family home was being threatened with a fire, because she had to wait at least an hour longer to see her fiance and get married and because everything she had planned and anticipated was changed in an instant and she couldn’t do anything about it. … But what I got to witness next touched me beyond measure. … Ada’s mom asked to have just a moment alone with her daughter. And she was solid as a rock. She didn’t tell Ada to stop feeling what she was feeling, she acknowledged that it had been a rough day with a number of other things going wrong leading up to the wedding. But she also gave Ada some hope. She described that any time something big is planned in their family, something goes wrong but that we can choose how to react to it. She encouraged Ada and helped her to get through the shock of this last minute change and reminded her that she was going to be married to her best friend that day even if it wasn’t in the way she had hoped. … What I saw during this unexpected Oregon wedding was faith in action. It was a numerous amount of people putting aside their comfort to make SURE that Ada & Hayden still had a wedding and could still stand facing each other to promise themselves to each other. … They hung up the floral chandelier, put together all the centerpieces and even made a make-shift backdrop out of a tablecloth, flowers and a whiteboard. And IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. Seeing everyone come together in this way for this couple was something I’ve never seen before. And right after Ada’s mom left the room, all of her bridesmaids came in and gave her a giant group hug and helped her compose herself so she could walk down the aisle.
The ceremony was beautiful and filled with lots of laughter, lots of irony, and lots of tears but also lots of love. Ada’s older sister officiated and mentioned that 2 of the qualities Ada & Hayden had as a couple were spontaneity and humor. And their wedding was no different! Their unexpected Oregon wedding was definitely not what they had in mind, but ended up being so beautiful. Ada & Hayden still kept laughing and joking the whole way through and they even did a special handshake before their first kiss as husband and wife! I am beyond grateful that I was able to just be there for this wedding and I am SO happy for Ada & Hayden! Congrats you two!
*There were no injuries as a result of the 5-acre fire and we are truly so sorry for those that lost their homes. You can read or watch more about the fire here