Monday, October 5, 2009


This past weekend I drove to Memphis and helped my friend Cydil shoot a wedding. I swear Cydil has the neatest clients! She and her husband Nathan work at Asbury College, a Christian college in Wilmore, KY, running the student center and educating college students on mission opportunities around the world. Cydil is a wedding photographer also, and many of her clients are students that she worked with when they were students. So, when Cydil emailed me several months ago and asked if I'd be available to help her with a wedding in Memphis, I had no idea what an experience it would be!!

The bride and groom were both prior students from Asbury. The bride and groom both currently work at an inner city hospital clinic. Jessica, the bride, is a nurse practitioner and the groom, Jon David, is a doctor. They also attend services at an inner city church, and it was important to them that members of their congregation could attend their wedding easily. So, they decided to hold both their wedding and reception in the backyards of homes near their church in a community of refugees from the Sudan. It was like nothing I've ever been a part of and probably will never again. It was amazing, and I wanted to share the beautiful celebration and the kind, giving, and serving hearts of all involved.

This is Jessica...the beautiful bride. Her parents were missionaries and she spent the first 12 years of her life in Kenya. On both a side- and selfish note, Cydil bought a new lens a couple of months ago and I was dying to use it. My favorite lens is the 85 1.8mm and Cydil has the upgraded version...the 85 1.2mm. I could have used it all day long. This picture is straight-out-of-the-camera with no editing. The creamy skin and blurry background is all from that lovely lens....well, and the beautiful Jessica.

Kids from the neighborhood watching as Jessica walks from the house she got ready at to the backyard where the wedding would take place.

This was the house next to where the ceremony took place. Notice the chickens.

The young lady in the long blue dress, I believe, was the daughter of the owner of the home where the wedding took place. I noticed her throughout the night guiding the neighborhood residents and playing with many of the kids. The woman next to her desperately wanted to watch the wedding take place and was thrilled like a small child when she was allowed to come into the backyard to watch the ceremony.

The ceremony. Look in the window in the apartment complex. Little kids in the window watching the ceremony.

During the ceremony these young girls from their church sang a traditional African song.

After the wedding was over, they serenaded the wedding couple as guests left their seats and made their way to a neighboring house for the reception.

I couldn't get this little girl playing the drum to look at me and smile. She avoided my eyes the entire time i was taking her picture.

Jessica and Jon David wow'd the crowd with their ballroom dancing.

And then the party began.

And it was a party like I've never been to before. There was never a song where the dance floor wasn't packed with people.

One of the guests.

Dancing. Dancing. And more dancing.

The man in blue is Peter...the DJ...and a member of their church....more on him later.

Practicing his air guitar.

Where my husband would have been sitting. :) No one here willing to attempt the "White Man's Overbite."

It was like Christmas for some of these kids. In KY there's a local soda made near Asbury called "Ale 8." It's really good. I've had it at Cydil's house. Jessica and Jon David had Cydil haul cases of this soda to Memphis for their wedding, and there were troughs filled of it. This little girl was so proud of her Ale 8 and sweet tarts.

And more dancing. And it was awesome music....not the traditional songs played at a wedding. Cydil and I were tapping our feet to "Ice, Ice, Baby" and "I Would Walk 500 Miles."

Here's Peter again. I first noticed Peter when I was standing near the DJ station and I heard him tell ten little boys "I am the boss of the music tonight, boys." I think they had a few too many requests or advice to give Peter on his music selections. However, they loved Peter. They would be dancing on the floor and would all start chanting, "Peter! Peter! Peter!" and he'd run to the dance floor to dance with them. Here he's doing the robot to "Ice, Ice, Baby" while they stood around him clapping and stomping their feet. Peter was hysterical.

It took this little girl a while to break out of her shyness. She sat at a table just watching the dance for the longest time, but she couldn't stand it for long. She had to join in with the festivities.

I had so many little kids come up and ask me to take their picture and then ask if they could see it on my camera's LCD screen.
Yep. I'm pretty sure I'll not ever shoot a wedding like this in Shelby County! Thanks, Cydil, for letting me be a part of this!
Thanks for checking in!! Kelly


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post, Kelly! I do not think there was one picture that I did not smile at! You can tell that everyone at the wedding really enjoyed being there! What an awesome couple to share their special day with so many people. Loved all the picturs but I think that the last one was my favorite!
Love - Kori

Allison said...

I agree with Kori - I couldn't stop smiling! What a great way this couple is showing faith and spreading the good news of Christ on to the people of the church family & its neighborhood - I'm sure it will be the talk of the year for many of those people!

Where are the pictures of the food? You know that's what I'm about! :) Any ethnic dishes?

Brittany said...

What a neat experience - like the others who commented, I was smiling at each photo. What a cool thing for the bride and groom to do. Not only was that day special to them, but they made it a special day for everyone who was able to be there. They seem like a really cool couple and their wedding will be remembered!! Great photos to capture such a unique day :)

Anderson said...

How cool is this! The bride and groom seem to be like the kind of people I wish I would be. Does that make sense? They're inspiring! How selfless to organize their entire wedding around their patients and church members!
Oh, and great pictures too, Kelly!

Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

What an awesome experience Kelly!! Thanks for sharing with us.


Rankin Family said...

for fun!!!
what a were so much fun I was smiling also at them all, the little girl with her ale 8 is so cute! and this is very inspiring!!!
great job!!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, "WOW!" This was very touching. I almost got tears in my eyes. Especially, the pic with the woman who wanted to see the wedding, and was allowed in. You can tell how happy she was about it. Any time I have seen shows about people from Africa, you always see them dancing and singing, and they always seem to be happy. Very inspiring for others who think you have to have alot of pocessions to be happy. You can tell just simply things like soda make these people smile.
Great pictures too, Kelly. the bride was stunning.

Anonymous said...

What an experience for you! I am so jealous! It looks like it was such a fun wedding and to share it with the people of the community speaks volumes about this couple! If only more people were as generous! Great pics by the way! Very moving! (you know me, I had a few tears)