Its been nearly eight months since I shot Kelly and James’ Mt Princeton Hot Springs wedding and I’m just now getting around to blogging about it – which is kind of crazy considering all the amazing things this day brought into all of our lives.
I want to tell you that I haven’t blogged this one because I’ve been too busy (and I have been pretty damn busy) but the truth is that for an awful long time I just wasn’t ready. For a long time I couldn’t even look at these photos without crying my eyes out (and truth be told, I cried my eyes out prepping the photos for this post). I also felt like the story had already been told.
And it has been told – by everyone except me.
This is probably a good time to backtrack a little.
Before I tell you about Kelly and James, let me tell you about how I met them. 15 years ago (what?! how old am I?!) I was living in Kansas, racing triathlons, and heavily involved in dog rescue. I had a foster dog who needed to make his way to Colorado so I got on the phone with an internet friend who was also really into racing triathlons and rescuing dogs.
Two hours later we were still on the phone (which is saying something because I really hate talking on the phone). Two weeks later my now husband and I were headed to Colorado to hang out with her. Six months later she was one of our first friends when we uprooted our lives and moved out west.
A lot of the craziest, most fun things in my life have happened because of my friendship with Katie, the bridesmaid in these photos (hello, pack burro racing!). But I never expected any of this.
I was stoked when Katie asked me about shooting her sister’s wedding at Mt Princeton Hot Springs in Buena Vista, Colorado. I had met Kelly a couple times and knew she was my people. And by my people I mean crazy dog people, obviously.
What I didn’t know was that Kelly and James, both veterinarians, had met right before she headed off to Scotland for five years for vet school. Or that two of their five dogs would be in the wedding. Or that what was about to go down at the ceremony would lead to one of the wildest rides of my life and bring together so many people all for the love of one really special family.
Kelly’s best buddy of 15 years, a black lab named Charlie, was in the wedding. Charlie was in the final throws of battling a brain tumor and everyone was thrilled that he had lived long enough to see his mom get married. He had spent his morning walking around in the grass with some kids and that, coupled with the thin air at 11,000 feet, had robbed him of his energy. He walked down the aisle with no trouble and napped by his mom’s feet during the ceremony … but when it was time to go back up the aisle he just couldn’t do it.
That was when my dear friend said “Charlie, I am NOT leaving you here.”, scooped up all 80 pounds of him, and carried him up to be with his people.
There isn’t enough mascara in the world for moments like these.
None of us had any idea that any of that was going to happen. I was blinded by tears and sobbing right along with them. The fact that my camera still functions is a minor miracle.
When I got home I did a super quick edit on a few of the photos and posted them to Facebook. I thought maybe ten people would see them. As of today my Facebook post has been shared 30,000 times and reached over five million people.
While a lot of the fuss over these events has died down, not a week goes by that I don’t get some sort of message about this wedding. So many people were touched by Charlie, his family, and their story. And it happened during a time when the world felt like it had gone mad (hello, 2016 U.S. election). Being a part of something that brought so many people together? It felt so damn good.
This is a lot of words on a blog that is mostly for photos so I’ll wrap this up. Here are some photos of the day (mostly of Charlie because that’s what we ALL remember about this wedding). Thank you to everyone who reached out or shared Charlie’s story. It’s meant more to any of us, but especially Charlie’s family, than you will ever know.
In the days following this wedding these photos received a lot of media coverage. I spent a good week on the phone giving interviews and answering media requests. You can read more about this story in places like The Knot, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, People, CNN, and ABC News. Kelly was even interviewed for the local news.
Nine days after the wedding Charlie passed away.