I glanced across the restaurant and was surprised to see my childhood friend, Derek, who I hadn’t seen in years. We’d spent our summers as children running around the soap box derby track and if you’re a derby person you know that the people you meet in derby are more life family than just friends. As I bounded across the restaurant to say hello, what I didn’t know was that Derek and Heather were on their first date. (I turned bright red when I found that out – believe me. Way to interrupt that sweet moment Ali.) But I quickly saw that Heather was full of grace and so very kind and I liked her instantly. Of course, back then on that first date none of us knew that these two would be getting married and that I’d be their wedding photographer, but I sure am glad it worked out that way!
The morning of the wedding was a rainy one. As we pulled into the parking lot of Heather’s family church in Portland, Indiana, rain splashed up from puddles and we dashed inside to avoid getting soaked. However, once inside things were cheerful and bright! Heather spent the morning getting ready with some of the ladies that are most special to her.
On the other side of the church Derek hung out with his groomsmen and together they mastered the art of folding pocket squares. When it was time for Derek to get dressed, his older brother Daniel stepped in to help him get wedding ready. Though it turned out that Derek might have known just a bit more about how to tie a tie, Daniel was still a great help and kept Derek laughing as he prepared for his first look with Heather.
Derek and Heather opted to do a first look prior to the ceremony and as Derek turned to see his bride for the first time, the rain clouds parted and this bride and groom were bathed in sunshine! Derek’s reaction to seeing Heather for the first time was incredible and you could really see how in love they are.
When it was time for Heather and Derek’s portraits, the sun was shining as though it hadn’t rained at all! The backyard of the church provided the perfect spot for some sweet photos of these two! I couldn’t get over how beautiful Heather looked and her bouquet was just perfect for spring!
Just before the ceremony, Derek’s sweet mom, Laurie, helped him with his boutonnière. Guests began arriving and finding their seats. As the sanctuary started to fill with so many people who love Derek and Heather, one seat remained empty. This seat was empty in honor of Derek’s father, Kevin, who passed away a couple of years ago. Having grown up with Derek and his siblings on the derby track, our families were close and I adored Kevin as a child. He was funny and had this booming laugh that I can still hear when I think about it. Back then all of the parents looked out for all of the kids and Kevin was sort of a second dad to me in the summers. He was someone that made things fun and wasn’t afraid to be goofy. And though that chair was empty, I know with certainty that he was there for Derek and Heather’s wedding, smiling that big grin of his.
Their ceremony was sweet and filled with laughter thanks to Heather’s childhood pastor who officiated the ceremony. Derek and Heather performed a braiding ceremony and then invited their family to join them onstage to pray over their marriage. And then they were announced as husband and wife as their friends and family looked on. It was a beautiful moment!
On our way to the reception, we made a quick pit stop at Hudson park for some photos with the bridal party. We decided to take photos here because this was the very place where Derek proposed!
Even though the fog rolled in we still managed to get some good photos of the new Mr. & Mrs. before we were totally chilled to the bone!
Finally it was time for the reception! Twinkle lights lined their head table and lanterns sparkled across the room. Guests were served a wonderful dinner by friends of the family and everyone enjoyed the most delicious mini cupcakes I’ve ever had. (I’m still thinking about those cookie dough cupcakes!) After speeches Derek and Heather cut their wedding cake, which was made by their friend Shelbi! How cool is that? It was gorgeous! Before long the dance floor was full and everyone had a great time. Heather and her bridesmaids danced together to Miley Cyrus and Derek danced to well.. everything! I couldn’t help but laugh because he wasn’t afraid to be goofy, just like his dad. I think it’s safe to say that Derek and Heather’s wedding was a huge success and Zach, Megan and I are so thrilled for them!
Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Etherington!
Venue: Fellowship Baptist Church, Dress: Unique Boutique and Bridal, Hair and Makeup: Shelby Gierhart, Flowers: The Flower Nook, DJ: Howell’s DJ Service, Cake: Shelbi Etherington, Video: Nick Ewing Photo and Films, second shooter, Megan McMullen.
About the author: Alison is an Indianapolis based wedding photographer who loves working with joyful couples, celebrating timeless love and helping other small businesses grow.