Note: Shot for Val McCormick Photography
When Jillian and Dan began planning their dream winter-wedding, I’m sure they never thought that they would have to share their big day with a gal named Charlotte… or is it a guy named Nemo? On February 9th, 2013 a massive Nor’easter dumped record-breaking amounts of snow across Connecticut, effecively locking down the the entire state. Not to be discouraged, Jillian and Dan pressed on, and like a determined postman spouting “Neither rain,nor snow nor sleet nor gloom of night…”, their wedding would not hault due to a mere 3-feet of snow.
On the morning of Feb. 10th, I woke to a sight I have become almost too familiar with in New England: a world frozen and disabled by snowfall. No big deal, right? Stay in for a day, take it easy and wait for the snow plow to show up. Hot cocoa in-hand, I settled in to my comfy-chair and pulled up Facebook to read all the buzz from friends around the state. There were lots of photos of snowflakes and snowdrifts and, well put “snow” before any word and there was something written about it… But one thing stuck out: my friend Val McCormick was snow-locked in to her home in West Haven when she had a wedding to shoot later that day.
I hadn’t given it much thought at first. After-all, there was a travel-ban, declared by the Governor, in effect across the entire state. There was a mountain of snow outside, and it certainly didn’t seem like any one was going anywhere that day. I know when I first heard that a bride and groom were going ahead with their wedding that day I thought “They’re crazy.”
However, I didn’t consider three important things: Luck. Fate. And amazing neighbors. As the last sip of cocoa cooled in my cup, the snow had stopped falling and I suited up, shovel in hand and began the Dig Out. Likewise, so had our neighbors begun to emerge from their homes.
Now, as a community, we’ve been through this before. Two years ago in a similar nor’easter, we were all… let’s say, “let-down” by our snow-removal contractors and stranded in our homes for nearly 48 hours until we dug ourselves out. So, this time, we were all of a like-mind: get out there and do it fast and do it together. Within a few hours we had nearly 30 cars freed from the snow. Including mine.
As I came in from the snow, I heard the news on the TV saying that the travel ban would be lifted within the half-hour.
Now, imagine if you will a little light-bulb going off above my head: My car is free. I’m now allowed on the roads. There is a wedding without a photographer. I called Val and said “I don’t know how the roads are between here and Hartford, but I think I can get there. I don’t know when, but I’ll get there.”
And, so, still in my snow pants, I threw my nice working-clothes in a bag, packed my cameras in my old trusty Domke journalist’s bag from my days with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and headed out the door ready to capture Jill and Dan’s wedding as best I could.
When I got to the Hartford Hilton, I quickly changed out of my snow-removal gear and into something more presentable and then hunted down the wedding party. Their entire plan had changed. The reception venue was forced to remain closed. The cake baker couldn’t make it from their shop to the hotel. Over half their guests were unable to make the trip in the weather. But the Hilton… the Hilton came through. Inside of a day, the staff and management at the Hartford Hilton had prepared a ceremony and reception for Jillian and Dan. Simply amazing.
As I entered the Bridal Suite, I was delighted to find that during my snow-ladden drive than another colleague had also come through and shown up, camera-in-hand. Rich Rochlin, who is also one world-class litigator, was already handily covering the bride getting ready. After a few words and nods, we set about our jobs.
It was not about the hours of a contract (especially since the contract wasn’t ours anyway). Or how tired I was. (And, believe me, I was tired when I got there after shoveling for 3 hours.) For this couple, everything had changed, last minute. But one thing remained: Jillian and Dan’s love, devotion and determination to get married on this day.
So, I left all my expectations at the revolving door of the hotel. It was now my job to capture this story. Their story.
For many of us, the story of “the 2013 Nor’easter” is one that we won’t soon forget, but for me, for Rich, for Jillian and Dan and all their guests this is a story which we will never forget, for it lasted until the bitter, cold, end. (As Jillian ran up and down the snowy streets of Downtown Hartford at 12:30 am.)
Now, I need to put this in here: to her credit, Val never stopped trying to get to this wedding. She was even trying to bribe neighbors and relatives in communities that hadn’t been hit so hard. It was nearly 8pm when I finally sent her a text-message that said: “Val. I got this. Relax.”
So, if you’re reading this and thinking “Good job, Kris.” I do appreciate that, but I really don’t deserve the praise. I helped out a friend and a couple who needed me: nothing more. The real credit goes our entire community of wedding photographers who have nurtured the kinds of personal and working relationships that ensure that no couple of ours (not just mine, but the big ours: the whole community’s) never, ever will be left without a qualified photographer on their wedding day.
And to be able to be a part of that community, I am truly grateful.