I will be the first to admit that waterproof mascara is a MUST on a wedding day, and I thank the camera-creation geniuses for auto-focus. I'm a sap, and I adore weddings, so there is often a moment during the wedding day that makes me a bit teary. But to date, I am happy to say that there has only been ONE wedding where I've had to leave the room and have a mini-cry by myself. And this is why:
The happy, smiling couple dancing above (on the right) are my high school classmates, Nikki & Ben. They've been married for several years and have a beautiful family. This is the second wedding I've photographed for which Nikki has been a bridesmaid. Both brides are also high school classmates of mine. Typically, wedding days leave very little time to reminisce and catch up on things for me, since I'm - ya know - working. But as I was photographing Nikki & Ben jitter-bugging so beautifully together, they leaned over to me and said, "your dad taught us how to swing dance- remember?"
Honestly, I hadn't remembered until that moment in time. And while Nikki & Ben didn't know it, that little moment in time hit me like a ton of bricks and I had to leave the dance floor. You see, my dad DID teach Nikki and Ben and I, along with five other classmates of ours, how to swing dance. It was for our history department's mock USO show. Upon hearing of the upcoming event, my dad got really excited and suggested that he teach me and some of my friends a fun routine to a classic song, In the Mood by Benny Goodman. For weeks, we met in my parents' basement and learned and rehearsed. Our performance was fabulous and the memories priceless. It was the first time my father taught me a dance. We used to meet in Madison to attend swing nights at a local restaurant (where we sometimes enjoyed more beer than dancing). Then, Dad taught me to waltz and rhumba for my wedding. And then we taught the fox trot to another couple of friends whose wedding I photographed. We even learned to tango and salsa together. My dad and I were a pretty darn good dance team, and it all began with that swing dance performance thirteen years ago.
In January of 2012, my dad suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm with stroke-like effects. We haven't danced together since. He has recovered well and is living in a nursing home, fairly oblivious to the life he lost and enjoying the amenities of his new "retirement." Even though he is wheelchair-bound, he is always in good spirits. I speak with him regularly and see him as often as I can make the five-hour round-trip drive. I will always be "daddy's little girl." But it devastates me that I cannot foresee us dancing together anymore.
And so with that heavy on my heart, yes I did step out of Angie & Jeramie's fun reception to have a little moment of recovery (and a hug from my dear friend & favorite wedding planner, Jenny). But once the fleeting tears were dry, my heart filled with joy. Ben later told me that he and Nikki had spent a lot of time swing-dancing their way through college together, and even doing well in some competitions. They don't dance a ton anymore, but that night at the Milford Hills Gun Club brought it all back and they looked so happy and wonderful together.
It fills me with pride for my father to know that this couple of high school sweethearts were brought closer together by a love for something that my dad shared with them; and it reminds me that we should all share our passions and our gifts with others, because we never know how we might impact their lives.