Josh & Jesslyn: An Intimate Backyard Wedding

Life is about relationships. I don’t think that’s ever been as apparent as it is right now, as the world is collectively facing a global pandemic. It’s strange. People on the other side of the world are quarantined inside their homes just as we are in America. In a sense, it has made the earth’s population feel so much smaller. Nearly 8 billion people going through the same thing. Together. 

This season of downtime has given me the ability to finally tackle my administrative to-do’s, tasks that don’t necessarily fuel the creative side of me, but that need to be accomplished regardless. I’ve been reflecting on and looking through all the galleries from the past year, blogging them, and sharing them with those who might come across my little corner of the internet. 

As I thought about the importance of relationships, this particular day came to my mind. Bigger does not always mean better. And in the context of a wedding, I am finding more and more that I am drawn to these intimate celebrations, where the timelines are a bit more flexible, the couples are a little more laid back, and family is the focus. 

I first met the Mooibroek’s just over six years ago, yet it feels as though we’ve been friends for a lifetime. I had just settled into my Haiti home when Steve, Kara, and their three kids, Josh, Alli, and Luke came to visit for a week. Little did I know then just who this family would become to me. Over the course of time, our stories have been woven more closely together as we’ve shared experiences, battled loss, faced struggle, and learned to love in country and a culture outside of our own. They have become like family to me and even now, though I no longer live in Haiti, we remain in close contact, reminiscing over moments shared while also creating new memories together. 

Last summer was no exception when I had the honor of documenting Josh and Jesslyn’s wedding at his childhood home. And it was perfect in every way. Their closest friends and family traveled from near and far to gather around these two as they became man and wife, the beginning of their forever story. 

It is never lost on me that I have the privilege of seeing these stories unfold through an external lens. To witness and experience the emotions as they unravel in real time. Documenting moments that will soon become the memories of their lives. 

Because after the party is over, after all the decor has been cleaned up, the food as been eaten, the cake has been cut, and the guests have gone home, what remains is the relationships. And those are worth cherishing for a lifetime.

March 25, 2020 – by Lauren Neal

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Photography & storytelling with purpose
Feet in Cincinnati, Heart in Haiti