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Caitlin + Ben’s Wedding at The Gardens at Elm Bank

I don’t even know where to begin to tell you what this day was like, so like in the Sound of music, let’s start at the very beginning:

I remember the exact moment that I met caitlin 11 years ago at Eastern Nazarene College in the lounge of the freshman girl’s dorm. She was sitting on the stairs with a friend she had known from high school and I was alone, knowing no one, and terrified. Rather than letting my fear get the best of me, I scanned the room, saw these two girls sitting on the steps smiling and laughing and decided to myself, they are going to be my friends. I mustered up every ounce of courage in my tiny 5′ tall body and walked over to them and said “Hi, I’m Lauren and I have no friends. Will you please let me sit with you so that no one knows that? And maybe, you could be my friends?” Though I was probably terribly awkward, Caitlin met me with her huge smile an sparkling brown eyes and said “Absolutely!”. Caitlin and I ended up becoming best friends and even roommates in the years to follow at ENC. During those years we had many conversations that lasted all night and into the morning hours about how she always wanted to be a phlebotomist (until she became a stay at home mom) what her dream wedding looked like, her 9 children (8 biological and one adopted) that she planned on having and her prince charming. She had been dreaming this up her entire life, and couldn’t wait a single second for it to become reality.

Well, God had other plans. Fast forward to 10 years later when Caitlin finally decided to sign up for online dating because her prince charming had yet to walk into one of her many blood drives (yes, her dream of being a phlemotomest came true!) and she was sick of waiting.  I heard about a few guys here and there, and then suddenly I didn’t hear much from Caitlin at all. When I finally reached her, she apologized a million times (like she does) for being so busy and caught up with life because she had met this guy and he was INCREDIBLE. She went on and on describing to me this southern gentlemen who was better looking than any guy she’d ever met who made her laugh and loved God. She told me she thought he might be too good to be true so she was going to play it cool for a little while until she figured out what he’s really like, but it was clear that Ben was different. He was special. Little did we know, he was the one.

After meeting Caitlin, Ben made a very smart (yet brave) move and relocated from Nashville, TN to Boston, MA to see where this thing would go. They overcame many obstacles including job hunting in a new city and Ben’s first apartment that ended up being filled with mold and had a stove that didn’t work but nothing could keep their spirits down: they were IN LOVE.

They knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, so when Ben asked Caitlin to marry him it was a yes all the way and they launched into wedding mode! Caitlin and Ben planned so much of the wedding themselves, keeping it a surprise for the rest of us so it was incredibly exciting to see it all unfold. I was incredibly honored to be asked to be a bridesmaid and also couldn’t imagine not taking the photos for their big day, so after a quick chat or two, we decided that with the help of my good friend Brad Smith, I would do both.

I had never photographed a wedding while also being in the wedding party, but I knew for Caitlin and Ben I would make anything happen. It took some finagling, and I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was the worst bridesmaid in the world when I walked down the aisle, took my place in line, set my bouquet down, and then ran around the crowd to grab my camera and started taking photos. (Maybe we should’ve told all the guests I’m actually the professional photographer, too!). They’ll all figure it out once they read this, then maybe they’ll forgive me. I didn’t really realize how strange that would look to all the guests! Ha! Oops!

Anyhoo… despite a few things being stacked against them (a forecast for rain, their hotel getting struck by lightening and having no power or AC on what turned out the hottest day of the year and a blaaaaaaazing hot day of 99 degrees with “oppressive humidity”), nothing could dampen their spirits. I like to think Caitlin’s dad was looking down from heaven and pulling some strings to make sure his baby girl had the day she had always dreamt of because as soon as the ceremony began, an angel pushed the biggest cloud right in front of the sun, casting us all in a blanket of shade and making sure there was zero sign of rain in sight. Caitlin and Ben got their perfect garden ceremony and romantic candlelit reception.

Caitlin + Ben wanted their day to be honoring to God, one another and to their families. They added many special touches, like a foot washing ceremony to model how Jesus washed his disciples feet and commanded us to do the same. They wanted to begin their marriage by humbling themselves and serving one another as Jesus served his disciples. What a beautiful example to all of us. Caitlin also put together the most heartwarming slide show of images of her and her Dad (who passed away from cancer several years ago) and was joined by her big brother, Collin, who danced with her to the song “You should be here”. She wanted to make sure that the role her father played in her life was recognized and honored. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It was such a beautiful moment.

The night wrapped up with a little cake in the face (ahem! Mr. Bratcher!) and then a whole lot of singing and dancing! I’m happy to say that my sweet friend found her prince charming and got her fairy tale wedding, after all. Caitlin and Ben, I love you both and am so incredibly overjoyed that God has brought you together. I’m so excited to see what life brings you in Nashville and can’t wait to get my first announcement that baby one of nine is on it’s way! JK, I think they have settled on three ;). Love love love you.

Caitlin + Ben, Here is your story:

If you want to see ALL of the images from Caitlin + Ben’s wedding or purchase prints or digital files, you can do so here: Caitlin + Ben’s Full Gallery


Also, I need to point out that I could NOT have done this day without the help of Brad from Brad Smith Photography. He took over while I played the role of bridesmaid during the ceremony and the formal photos that I had to be in. Thank you so much for your help and for making this dual bridesmaid-photographer thing a reality for me so I could photograph my friends wedding AND stand beside her as she said her I Do’s!