Last year, for the first time, I opened a wedding giveaway and had the honor of photographing a couple’s wedding day for free. They get a whole wedding photography package for free, the engagement session, 8 hours of coverage and part of my heart. You see, we share something not so many share: we have both lost a parent.
Like me, Haylee had lost her dad. At the time that I posted this giveaway, it was a new loss for her and an older one for myself. As I read her entry into this giveaway, I was taken back to all those feelings of loss. I remembered all the times I’ve thought how I wished my dad was here to experience something, the meeting of my husband, my Master’s degree graduation, the birth of my children. They aren’t easy feelings to navigate through.
Haylee & Brian, have such a unique love story. They met in college and became inseparable nearly from their first meeting, despite Brian being from California. They had so much in common, Haylee was on the soccer team in college and Brian was on the baseball team and even when college breaks had Brian moving home to California, their feelings for one another only grew stronger, always allowing them to pick up right where they had left off.
Over the course of their relationship, they have endured the intensity of college sports, working on their degrees, having a long-distance relationship, experiencing the loss of a parent, but another battle was on the horizon.
In late January 2019, Brian was diagnosed with testicular cancer. While I won’t go into all the details, I can honestly say, I was stricken with an intense feeling of “how could this happen to such an amazing young couple”. They had already worked through so much in their years together.
Over the course of the next 6 months leading up to their wedding, I thought of them often. They had so much support during this time. Haylee was also working on completing her doctorate degree (yes, you read that right, Doctorate). I’ve never been more impressed by two people in my life. Their dedication to one another, their spirit and their love during this time was absolutely breathtaking.
As we were leading up to their wedding, I didn’t know what to expect. Brian had just had a serious surgery only a couple weeks before the wedding and had already experienced three rounds of chemotherapy. I just prayed for them and hoped that they would receive a miracle to begin their married life with.
A few days before the wedding, I get a text message from Haylee explaining that during the reception after the Best Man and Maid of Honor toasts, her and Brian would be making an announcement. An announcement that after a hard-fought battle, Brian was officially CANCER FREE!!! I can’t tell you how I felt in that exact moment but I can tell you that when that announcement was made during the reception, there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire place. Clapping rang through the whole building, tears streamed down every face and every face lit up with hope.
Haylee + Brian, you have been generous in allowing me to play a small role in your life’s story. You will always own a place in my heart.
Wedding Date: July 6, 2019
Venue: Third Degree Glass Factory- St. Louis, MO // Gown: David’s Bridal // Suit: Kohls // Hair: Special Occasions by Stephanie // Makeup: Brooke’s Bellas Makeup Artistry // Florals: Sola Wood Flowers // Catering: Pappy’s Smokehouse // DJ: House DJ St. Louis // Videography: Physical Memories // Second Photographer: Brooke Beeson