Nicole & Cortlandt | Socially-Distant Intimate Backyard Wedding
Nicole & Cortlandt | Socially Distant Intimate Backyard Wedding
Nicole & Cort had planned a big wedding for this past May, but when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, they then changed up their plans to marry to this coming October. However, this past Saturday, I woke up at 5 am to an email from Nicole, asking if there were any chance I could photograph their socially-distant intimate backyard wedding that evening around 6!!! I guess they just couldn’t wait to celebrate!
Here is their story…
How We Met (Nicole’s Version)
By the time Cortlandt and I got to sit down and really meet each other we were both “local celebrities.” Living in the vibrant Southwest corner of the Dominican Republic, I was well known as “Americana” and Cort was the newest hot thing in town as the new NGO worker or ingeniero. On one of my bi-weekly days in the local town (I would take a 45 minute bus ride to visit) to use the internet and grocery shop, I was settling into my cafe con leche when I discovered the internet wasn’t working at the (only) cafe. Since I knew the last engineer that worked for World Water Relief and I knew the cafe owner pretty well, I asked if she knew the password to the internet upstairs in a semi-desperate plea. She said, “I’m sure he’ll give it to you, he’s a really nice guy. I’ll just call him so you can ask yourself,” and handed me the phone before I could even blink. Cort immediately jumped on the opportunity to come down and chat with me, hoping to get details on my community for his water project. The next thing I know, we’d chatted for about 3 hours and planned a hiking trip up Pico Duarte. Just a few weeks later, Cort asked me on a date and the rest is history! We made the Pico Duarte trip a reality 3 months later and had a blast, and loved introducing my brother Joe and his sister Kyla to each other on our first big adventure as a couple.
The Engagement Story (Cort’s Version)
I knew it was time when Nicole started wearing a fake engagement ring around the house (that she bought on Amazon for $2.52). After five and a half years together, I started to get the hint that it was time to make it official. It took almost a year to pick out just the right ring. I knew that she wanted something “conflict free” and not gold. I carefully measured her rings and settled on 5.75, a size not normally found in jewelry stores. So, I went searching and decided on an aquamarine gemstone (my birthstone and one of her favorite colors) set in a silver ring with a Celtic knot (she’s Irish) and twisted band (a reminder of our nautical roots). I ordered the ring, picked it up a month later and then just had to wait for the perfect time to present it to her with the question. The perfect time came almost 4 months later, just a few minutes before midnight, in the middle of a rainstorm, just a couple degrees above freezing, half a mile from our house at Rocky Point Park. Nicole seems to enjoy atypical and somewhat adverse situations, so this setting seemed ideal. We ran to the point, as we do several times per week and I got down on one knee and asked her, “Will you marry me?” I don’t think she heard what I said over the wind and rain, but she noticed that I was on one knee and said, “Yes!” I took her hand, slipped it on her finger and proclaimed, “It fits!” Her hands were cold as ice, so I gave her my big mittens and we walked slowly back home. She still had not yet actually seen the ring in the darkness, but was bouncing around with excitement and anxious to get a peek as we approached the nearest street light. She immediately told me how much she loves it and it makes me so happy everytime I see her and she’s wearing that ring.
The Wedding (Jennifer’s Version)
Last October, I met up with Nicole and Cort for their super sweet engagement session. We had started at their home and then headed down to Rocky Point Park, to finish off the session. This was a special spot as it was where they got engaged and where they planned to hold their big wedding ceremony, the following May. Cort is a pilot, so after the ceremony, they were going to have their reception down the road at the airpark where Cort flies out of. Usually, I suggest that couples choose different locations for their ceremony and engagement sessions- after all, variety is always nice. But I am so glad that they decided to hold their engagement session at the park; because, as life would have it, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and their May wedding would be abruptly postponed for this coming October. As unfortunate as that was, I was just thrilled that even if we had to wait, that I was going to get to see these two get married this fall.
Then, as things started reopening, and cases started spiking again, I realized that big fall weddings might sadly not be a thing this year. So last Thursday, I emailed my few remaining 2020 couples to make sure they knew all of their options, should they feel the need to adjust course.
This got Nicole and Cort thinking about what they really wanted– and what they really wanted was to get married.
After reading her email at 5 am, I scheduled a quick chat with Nicole to iron out some details for the day; then, I charged my batteries, grabbed my mask & hand sanitizer and headed out the door.
I arrived to Nicole’s uncle’s home in Ellicott City, where 14 of Nicole and Cort’s closest family (and their puppy Baxter) came to witness their union. I was shocked to learn that most of their guest list, having only been informed of the wedding less than 24 hours before, were from out of state! In fact, on the morning of his wedding, Cort flew a private plane to go and bring some of his family in for the ceremony. That’s a pretty significant errand for a groom on his wedding day!
Let’s face it- the coronavirus, Covid-19 and the resulting pandemic has had a significant impact on our lives, in countless ways. It’s kept families apart, emptied schools and impacted our health and economy. For couples getting married this year, it has thrown wedding planning into a tailspin. Most couples spend months, if not years planning their wedding day. So much thought, energy, love, and money goes into a wedding and every couple deserves to have the wedding of their dreams.
Sometimes though, life has other plans. While many couples this year may have dreamed of the big wedding with the packed dance floor, many are realizing that what they really, truly want, is to start their married lives together. Big dance parties are fun, but they can also wait until everyone can safely enjoy them again!
So Nicole & Cort chose to have their closest people gather for an intimate wedding in an Ellicott City backyard. Grandparents met their grand-baby for the first time, family who have been apart for months were able to see each other again, and those who couldn’t attend in person, attended electronically. It was small, it was sweet, and I think it was meant to be.
Congratulations Nicole and Cort! I’m so incredibly happy for you two- this may not have been how you initially envisioned your wedding day, but I could not have imagined a more perfect day for you two!