You guys, this wedding was SO SO special and beautiful for a number of reasons! Firstly, it was just objectively beautiful: I’ve photographed a number of weddings in Florida at this point but this was the first one that was truly tropical and everything from the invitations, flowers, wedding attire, colors, and photo locations fit the theme. Even the stained glass windows in the church perfectly matched Bry’s bridesmaid dresses & bouquets!
However, this day was even more beautiful because of Bry and Brandon’s incredible story and their witness to the redemptive and powerful love of God. I actually first met Bry when we were both students at Franciscan University, we went on a week long mission trip to Belize together our senior year. That mission trip is also where I met Bry’s younger brother, Lucas. Last year I photographed Lucas’ wedding and saw Bry again for the first time since college. A couple months after Lucas and Mary Kate’s wedding, Bry reached out to me to share her story and ask if I could photograph her wedding. Bry gave me permission to share their story with their blog post, and I’m so honored to do so.
When Bry and Brandon first met, Bry had stopped going to church and Brandon had no experience or knowledge of the Catholic faith. They dated, fell in love, Bry became the step-mom to his two wonderful children, and last summer they decided to get legally married. It was at Mary Kate & Lucas’ wedding that Brandon experienced the Catholic faith for the first time and Bry was back at a Mass for the first time in a long while. As Bry wrote to me “Brandon was absolutely floored by the mass and felt God’s love in a very profound way. That whole day really moved Brandon towards the Lord which moved my heart back to the Lord as well…[later in the summer ] Brandon started bringing me to Mass and encouraging me to get back into my faith.” All of this lead to Bry reconciling with the Church and Brandon deciding to come in to the church with his two children and a desire from both of them to have their marriage officially recognized by the Catholic church.
I share all of this because I photograph a majority of Catholic weddings and as my couples often tell me, one of their main desires for their wedding is that their wedding mass be a witness and an opportunity for a deep encounter with God for their guests. And this is exactly what happened to Bry and Brandon at Mary Kate & Lucas’ wedding. It just is crazy to me that Mary Kate & Lucas’ beautiful Catholic Mass forever changed the trajectory of not only, Bry and Brandon’s lives but also the lives of his two children.
So fast forward to the first weekend of May, which incidentally happened to be Mother’s Day weekend, and Bry and Brandon had their marriage convalidated in the Catholic Church (which simply means it was formally recognized and blessed by the Church) with a beautiful reception following. They didn’t realize it was Mother’s Day weekend when the initially chose their date, but it added an extra special element as their wedding was not just about Bry and Brandon choosing each other for the rest of their lives, but also about Bry choosing Brandon’s children. During the reception, Bry read out vows she had written to her two step children and I’m not exaggeritng when I say there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. And I’m not even just talking about the guests, the DJ and his wife were teary eyed, Deirdre and I were definitely trying (and failing) not to cry, and even the servers were tearing up.
As Bry’s father said in his toast, Bry didn’t just fall in love with a man and give her family a son-in-law, she fell in love with a man and his children and she brought her family a son-in-law and two grandchildren all at once. And what a beautiful family they have become.
Thank you, thank you Bry and Brandon for allowing me to document and share your story!
A huge thank you to all the other vendors who came together to make this day possible!
CHURCH // Our Lady of the Angels
RECEPTION VENUE // Waterlefe Golf and River Club
SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER // Deirdre Coyle
FLORIST // Bradenton Flower Shop
DJ // Tampa Events DJ’s
VIDEOGRAPHER // Chiola Films
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