Tanya & Max’s Lighthouse Lodge Wedding is one of the few where I don’t even know where to begin. But I’ll start by saying it’s a long-winded post. But it’s worth every word. Their wedding was everything. I still honestly can’t believe that of all people, Tanner and I were the odd ones out who were invited to celebrate with them. Tanya & Max’s wedding was something so special and unforgettable! This wasn’t just a wedding for them, but it was the celebration of their 3 year anniversary as husband and wife. They got for real married on Max’s birthday 3 years ago in Tanya’s father’s backyard. It was small, intimate, and the farthest thing from formal. So this time around, their wedding experience was MUCH different.
I truly believe that these photos speak for themselves, but for those of you who weren’t there, you are in for an amazing love story. Tanner and I woke up early that morning to make our way up to Monticello for their Lighthouse Lodge Wedding on Lake Shafer. We didn’t know what to expect, because this wedding was unlike any other that we’ve photographed before. But we did know that it was going to be incredible! Back in May when we met for their engagement session, we could not have had a better time! We all just… clicked! I swear, after their session, we talked about amazing it was the ENTIRE night! And when Tanner can’t stop talking about something… you know it’s good!
We made our way up the stairs to the bridal prep where Tanya & her beautiful bridesmaids were WAY ahead of schedule! The grass was still dewey from the sunrise, the girls had all of the windows wide open, and her father had just dropped off the prettiest bouquets, making the bridal suit smell like a floral dream! Oh and before I get ahead of myself, Tanya’s DAD made every single floral arrangement! Yep! He was the florist! Which only made their day even more special. Before we knew it, it was almost time for the first look.
Now, Max had already seen Tanya in her wedding dress, but that didn’t stop him from being SO nervous with excitement! I didn’t get to see this for myself, because I was prepping Tanya for the first look. But Tanner said that anytime Max would hear even the smallest rustling in the background, he would get so tense with nerves, only to find out that it wasn’t her yet. How cute!! And when they finally saw each other, it was pure joy! We jumped straight into their portraits while they were still high on those feel good vibes! Their bridesmaids and groomsmen joined us soon after and I’ll let you in on a secret…. Max. Is. Ticklish! Groomsmen do all sorts of things to get their best friend to laugh, but we have never seen such an awesome tickle fight between the guys before! Sorry if that embarrasses you, Max! We love it! 😉
It was now just about an hour away from the ceremony, so we headed over to Oak Grove Christian Church with their family & friends. This church might seem like an ordinary, old church, but it is much more than that. On the drive up, you could see this small, white church on the top of a hill, surrounded by open fields all the way out in the middle of nowhere. It was peaceful beyond words. And to the left of this little, white church, was the cemetery where Tanya’s mother was buried nearly 11 years ago. Their friends & family gathered around her burial site to say a prayer before the ceremony, and just like that, you could feel an overwhelming calmness in the air.
The ceremony came and went, but not before Tanya & Max shared their vows with each other for the second time. Their vows were funny & cute, and their vows were honest & real. After hearing what each of them promised to each other, it became obvious that they both truly live by those words every single day. Especially because of the fact that Max promised to always wear a hair tie around his wrist for the common occasion when Tanya didn’t have one! When you honestly live by your vows each and every day, your love deserves a massive celebration! Cue the blowout reception!
First off, their Lighthouse Lodge wedding had the coolest cocktail hour ever!! I mean, just look at the snack bar! Everyone was all over it, include Tanner and I! Once it was time for them to enter their reception, we really had no idea what was in store for the night. It started with the best man & matron of honor toasts that left everyones cheeks hurting from laughter. And what happened next was more meaningful than we could have ever imagined. Tanya’s father gave an incredibly powerful toast that left everyone in tears.
One thing John said that really stood out to me was that it’s funny how it takes a wedding to get to know someone. And it’s true. It’s true for both of their families, and it’s certainly true for us as wedding photographers. I wish everyone could know each other like they do on a wedding day. And I wish they could know each other more before that day comes. But that’s also what makes weddings so special. You’re there to celebrate with the bride and groom, whoever that may to you, but you end up knowing so much more about them and their lives by getting to know their closest friends and family throughout that special day. Relationships are created at weddings and relationships are the best thing in the world. At least thats how I feel.
But the portion of John’s toast that left everyone in tears didn’t come from himself, but instead came from Tanya’s mother. She had recorded a message for her daughter before she passed away. As her mother’s voice played over the speakers, you could feel that calmness again. That moment leaves me speechless every time I think about it. There are no words in the universe that could describe how everyone was feeling. And this is where we can let the photos speak a thousand words.
Tanya & Max’s Lighthouse Lodge wedding was full of intense emotional moments, but once the sun went down… they were ready to celebrate with their friends and family… who were now even closer each other. And let me tell you something… this group of people were party animals to the extreme! We’ve never seen such a rager reception before! It was basically the most incredible reception of all time. I mean… these people REALLY know how to party! We’re still in shock that all of their friends knew every single word to Spice Girls & Despacito! Talk about impressive! Not only that, but we were a little worried that the floorboards on the dock would cave in from all their jumping and stomping! What a crazy story that would have been!
Tanya & Max, I really only have one thing to say right now, and that is THANK YOU. Your wedding/not wedding made me laugh and made me cry… a bunch! We still can’t believe that you invited US, of all people, to be apart of this special day! We are so grateful for both of you and it was such a honor to get to know you two more! Being around your friends and your family really brings out the best in you. Every moment was special, and every moment was unique. Tanner & I honestly could not be more honored to be apart of your 1,100th-something day has husband & wife. You are so much more than the definition of true love. Thank you for inviting us to celebrate that with you. <3