As a typical November day begins, we woke up to a beyond dreary morning but our feelings were anything but. As we pulled ourselves together, packed our bags, and began to load the car, I felt the magnitude of what this day was.
It was almost three years ago exactly… Christmas Eve of 2014 that I met Michaela. It had been 5 months since I’d started dating Justin and countless stories of Jeff’s girlfriend, Michaela, would swirl when the family got together. I’d been told repeatedly that we would get along famously, and that Jeff’s girlfriend is this funny, smart, witty gal and that we shared so many things in common. While they were wrong, and we don’t share that much in common, she’s became one of my most cherished friends and our friendship started that Christmas Eve forming bonds over gift exchanges, Rent, and the hilarity of Justin’s corduroy suit.
Something that they didn’t share with me then is something I’ve learned about Michaela. She is one of the strongest women that I have ever met. If she is a source of strength for me when I need her, I know that she also has the ability to be Jeff’s strength. Michaela’s steadiness matched with Jeff’s compassion for others forms a duo, unmatched.
Jeff has this ability to show compassion and understanding while disagreeing wholeheartedly with you. He’s a caretaker by nature and puts the weight of other’s troubles on his own shoulders. He bears all of the traits that you’d think the greatest older brother should.
The night before Jeff and Michaela’s wedding, Ashley and I walked up the steps to our AirBnb and through the front door window, caught glance of Justin pacing. He was walking back and forth through the living room, staring at the words he strung together, rehearsing the Best Man Speech that he wrote for his older brother. He so deeply wanted Jeff to hear the speech that he deserved and in typical little brother fashion, he wanted his brother to be proud. In those moments of Justin pacing, my life slowed down. The man that I’ve come to love over the last few years was working through the history of their relationship searching for the perfect words to say to someone that he’s looked up to and leaned on for 26 years. I saw in this moment, for the very first time, the little brother within him.
It wasn’t until a full 24 hours later that I would hear those words. Justin, with tear-filled eyes, spoke a life’s worth of stories encompassed in a few short sentences. The only people who could understand the magnitude of what he was saying were his brothers, but the rest of the room could feel it. You could feel that this wasn’t simply a cliche line in a wedding toast. His words were real and they were heavy with gratitude. Michaela clutched Jeff’s hand and gave her husband the strength that he needed to not completely lose it as Justin’s words landed.
“You have always looked out for me. For us. You’ve taken care of us, even when we didn’t know we needed to be taken care of. You have overcome so much, and sacrificed even more. You’ve beaten the odds… that weren’t even in your favor. You’ve become someone that I’m very proud and very humble to be standing next to…”
In this moment, I had the honor of seeing the funny, witty girl that I’d met that Christmas Eve, beam towards Justin while effortlessly being the strength that Jeff adores.
Jeff and Michaela, watching your love grow has been nothing short of fascinating and beautiful. I believe there must be another love like yours out there, but it is rare to come across. We both, Ashley and I, love you so much and thank you time and time again for letting us crash at your place without complaint when we’re in town for work (although we probably still would even if you did.) We were honored to capture your wedding day – even if we gave you next-to-no-choice (because we wouldn’t have had it any other way.) I’m so proud of you both for everything that you’ve accomplished and we can’t wait to see where life takes you both.
To the wedding vendors that made the day effortless, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Minh-Tu and the gals at Hitched Planning & Floral, thank you for coordinating and designing the most beautiful wedding and being the best team in Kansas City. We absolutely love working with you… AND THOSE FLOWERS. I can’t. The Guild KC was the perfect venue for their classic, elegant wedding. Our favorite weddings are the ones with contrast. The Industrial vibe of your venue with the pretty details has to be one of our favorites to date. To the rest of the amazing vendors who are credited down below, thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing the possibility of us photographing two people that we care for so deeply, be so seamless. Without you, we may have been in automatic-photographer mode and not retain many of the memories that we adore. 😉
planning + florals x hitched planning and floral, kansas city
venue x the guild kc
rentals x ultrapom
DJ: DJ NICK NIEMEIR x DRESS SHOP: STEPHANIE’S BRIDAL BOUTIQUE x DESIGNER: MADISON JAMES x BRIDEMSAIDS DRESSES: AZAZIE x CAKE + DESSERTS: NOTHING BUNDT CAKES x RINGS: PREMIER DIAMOND SOURCE x MAKEUP ARTIST: PARADISE MAKEUP AND HAIR x HAIR STYLIST: EMMY MERRILL x GROOM + GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: MEN’S WEARHOUSE x INVITES: WEDDING PAPER DIVAS x PHOTOGRAPHERS: KAY + BEE
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