I'd begun expressing a serious interest in wedding photography this summer when my coworker, Cathy, mentioned her sister, Gayle, had gotten engaged. With the wedding only a month away we had little time to prepare. Some needed background: Gayle and Dal(las) are living in Marion, MD on the Eastern Shore. For those of you who may not know much about Maryland's Eastern Shore, it's a whole other world compared to the Central Maryland region that is home to Baltimore City. Imagine that time stood still, somehow preserving small town American charm and accompanying sense of community. This area flourishes with the hard work of farmers growing multiple bounties and the watermen fishing for the famous blue crab. Oysters are prized as well. Smith Island is a gem of a tourist destination, a tiny community teetering on the edge of becoming a modern day Atlantis, sinking below the waves of the gradually rising waters of the Chesapeake Bay. With a current population hovering around 200, it was once around 800 strong. The islanders possess a unique heritage complete with an English accent and dialect more similar to Shakespeare than anything anywhere else in the USA. Cathy, Gayle, Dal, and their entire families grew up on Smith Island. Thus Gayle and Dal's families were always close. But it was in adulthood through reconnecting at the Christ Fellowship Bible Church in Marion that Gayle and Dal became more than just friends. Appropriately, the Church, a quickly growing nondenominational congregation right off of Crisfield Highway, was the venue of both wedding and reception. Having heard so many intriguing stories about the locale, watched so many fascinating documentaries on local PBS stations, and drooled over multiple photographs of the waterfront, I couldn't wait to drive down.
The wedding of course didn't disappoint. There were about 150 guests in attendance, many having taken boats from Smith Island that morning. Typical for this time of year, the weather was blisteringly humid, AKA "hotter'den Lewdy" in Smith Island-ese. But no one was complaining, especially as the vicinity had narrowly dodged Hurricane Florence. The humble bride and groom kept things very low key, transitioning into their ceremony after a 15 minute break from the morning's usual church service. Gayle's old pastor from nearby Salisbury, MD served as the officiant. The couple assembled a unity cross to symbolize their marriage, and there was plenty singing. Everything was do-it-yourself, from the custom water bottle labels, to the centerpieces arranged by the pastor's daughter, to the pot luck lunch complete with 6 different flavors of Smith Island cake (think traditional chocolate, but also peanut butter and coconut variants). The theme was fittingly nautical. There were many memorable moments: multiple first kisses, Pastor Steve photobombing family photos, the reception game that tested how well couples (including the pastor and his wife) knew each other. Over all, the day seemed to prove that God is love!