Shakespeare Garden Wedding – Golden Gate Park – San Francisco, CA
Now, this blog needs to be read with empathy. I am only a window looking into the situation which was Victoria and Joseph’s day. So please be kind while you hear a version of their story from this photographer’s perspective. I do not know all of the details, nor did I need to in order to be a light in the situation, but I do feel that context matters.
When Victoria (Tori) reached out to me about doing an intimate wedding in the Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA I was floored. I was taken by surprise (and some sadness) at the story she had to tell that led to the decision to put this ceremony together last minute.
Now, a last-minute ceremony is nothing to blink at. They happen all the time, but the circumstances broke my heart to hear. Joe and Tori had planned a beautiful and expensive wedding for the spring of this year, and then the unthinkable happened. The world went into quarantine and her day was in jeopardy. The two were devastated.
They so badly wanted it all to be righted so that they could have what all couples in their position long for… The dream wedding that they had spent so much time planning and dreaming up. It was unfair. It was scary. And it seemed like the worst timing. They wanted to push through it all to make the original plan happen anyway. That was when they received even worse news.
The Covid-19 Pandemic
She had lost her Grandfather towards the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The unimaginable happened. It became personal. The two no longer worried as much about the grand wedding they planned. They instead put their focus on social distancing and spreading the word that this Pandemic was serious. A loved one’s loss could not go ignored and they would not wish to lose someone that way on anyone else.
If I am being fully honest, I had heard some of their stories prior to receiving Tori’s call. My in-laws who trained me were her original photographers. I had heard from them just how devastating the news had been, first about what should have been their joyous wedding and then the loss of a grandfather. In a small way, I related to that horrible feeling. My mother has always had health issues, so we had postponed our wedding to wait for her illness to improve, I couldn’t imagine how it would have felt to have not had her there.
Their planned day came and went. They had planned to wait a year or so to reschedule, but the pandemic seemed endless. And the climate for romance felt tenuous to the bride and groom. It wasn’t just the pandemic that was causing unease.
Tori and Joe had decided to make a special day happen for just them, immediate family, and friends. Unfortunately, Joe’s dad was unable to attend as he had just been diagnosed with cancer and began to undergo treatment in southern California. You can still see him represented below, being in a portrait via facetime with his son. The pandemic has made technology that much more precious.
“… Can I still have nice things on my wedding day?”
At the end of a very long phone call, after all of the planning we had gone through and the list of items we would need the day of, Tori asked me this, “Brooke… I know it’s just a small, almost BBQ type of setup, but am I still allowed to feel that it’s special? Can I still have nice things on my wedding day?”
She was asking me permission to bring and enjoy some of the details they had left from their original wedding day, but she was also asking permission to not give up on it FEELING special. I felt so heartbroken for her at that moment. She had given up hope on it feeling magical.
I did everything I could from that point forward to help plan and organize whatever she might need. I often do timeline consultations for my brides, it helps them get a feel for what is and isn’t possible during their day. It also helps create some order and helps us to set up the perfect opportunity for beautiful portraits. For Tori and Joe, I knew that I was the only vendor.
There would be no DJ, planner, or event team. They had chosen to focus their budget for the intimate ceremony on capturing the moments between them and loved ones. They had prioritized what I value the most in a client, and that meant I would bend over backward to do whatever was needed for them and their day.
It was intimate, beautiful, and very, very SPECIAL. I loved the bridal portraits with Tori while she finished getting ready. I loved the half mile run from the only parking spot in San Fran that was close to the ceremony site so that I didn’t miss a moment. I loved seeing Tori’s glowing face walking down the paved aisle with her father as I gave the signal to start the procession. I loved teasing her husband Joe post ceremony with his groomsmen, and I LOVED getting to meet and photograph Tori’s grandmother, the partner to her late grandfather.
Tori and Joe, your day was very special to all who attended your day, and as I sit here in front of my computer near tears… I can truly say from the bottom of my heart that it will always be one of the MOST special weddings to me. You are why I do what I do. Your love and hearts are inspiring. Thank you for choosing me for your beautiful, wonderful and perfect wedding.