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USS Battleship North Carolina Wedding | Joanna+Nathan

Sometimes you get lucky.

Sometimes one of your best friends in the world meets her soulmate, falls in love, and gets engaged. And sometimes, if you’re really really lucky, you are the people she turns to for her wedding photography.

Sometimes, your friend decides she wants a rockabilly wedding on a decommissioned Battleship on the Cape Fear River. Yes, sometimes you’re really that lucky.

Sometimes, that best friend has a little girl who is best friends with your own little girl. And all the bestest friendses get to be together on one of the biggest days in all of their lives.

Joanna and Nathan have three little girls between them – and as of this writing, a little boy to follow! It’s nothing short of amazing to watch people you love dearly expand their hearts and homes and worlds to make a bigger family together. It’s… it’s just awe-inspiring.

You should know that Nathan’s last name is “King”. The crown, well, you know. The ODB on the iPhone? All Mike and the Best Man, Charles.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you might recognize Casey from our Fort Fisher portrait session (that was featured on Offbeat Mama) a while back. Casey was one of Joanna’s bridesmaids, and the craftmaster/cake-pop provider of the day. Shameless plug time: Poppinz Gourmet Cake Pops and Truffles is who you want to call for your wedding or event cake pops. Casey is a beautiful spirit who works way too hard and still seems to have enough time for everyone in her life… and I want her to find the greatest success.

So Joanna wanted to do a first-look with Nathan, mostly to calm both of their nerves before the ceremony, and to get some pre-ceremony pictures when we knew we’d still have plenty of time and before the chaos of post-wedding crazy hits.

This is where I almost lost it. I cry at every wedding, I won’t lie. I’m not jaded by the years of shooting, I can still be moved by a simple smile, a special song, a glance… I get to see these moments at every wedding, and I never know which moment, which part of the day, will bring on the waterworks, but they’ll come at some point.

But I can compose myself pretty easily. Usually. But not this time. Oh man, did I cry. I cried when they had their first look. I cried when I saw the light hitting the Battleship in the distance behind them as they talked quietly to each other in the tall grass. I cried when I watch Joanna walk down the aisle, I cried when Nathan’s little Abby ran up to him to give him a kiss at the ceremony. I was NOT strong. How could I be. These two amazing people waited a lifetime to find each other, and parted seas and climbed mountains to be together and make a life together, and here they were, making it legal. Making it official, with their three daughters dressed alike, watching, participating, and loving them. You would have been a blubbering mess, too.

Just… how beautiful is this? You don’t even need to know the backstory to appreciate how much JOY they’re sharing in these moments, you know? You can just feel it. You just know.

These beautiful girls are such a big part of our lives. The spunky middle-heighted child is our Ellie’s BFF. They get along mostly. Sometimes I wonder how they manage, what with all the fights and disagreements. But they’re nine and ten. I forget how moody I was at that age. I like to think I was an angel, but Mom tells me otherwise.

See Abby giving her Daddy a kiss before the ceremony? Is that not the most adorable thing ever? Right?

Their officiant is a friend of all of ours, Kris, who bartends at our favorite Downtown Wilmington bar, Cape Fear Wine and Beer. You should stop in and say hi to him sometime. He’s a riot. Also an ordained minister. You’d be surprised at how many people in downtown Wilmington happen to be ordained ministers.

Joy. I’m not sure how I caught any of these shots because my viewfinder was completely blurred by all my tears. Thank you autofocus.

Joanna did an amazing job of creating her look for the wedding day, and I think the photo below shows it off the best. She is positively STUNNING. Just a beautiful, glamorous, rockabilly bride, with the sweetest expressions in the world.

I don’t think there’s anything better than the look of adoration. Nathan’s got it for Jo in abundance. I’d put this picture in Target 5×7 photo frames all over the country if I could – it’s just happy and perfect.

Or maybe it’d be this picture. I mean, c’mon. Look at that family.

Fortuitous graffiti is fortuitous.

I’ve tried to write this blog post at least a dozen times now. I could type words for hours and still not quite describe the honor and the emotion of being such a big part of such an enormous day in the lives of people you love so very much.

To be chosen to document not only the new family with whom you’re so close, but to photograph all the mutual friends, the extended family you’ve grown to know and love over the years, and to be part of every group hug and every inside joke.

To be trusted with such a delicate and important job, by people you respect and admire.

YEAH I cried. If you must know, I’ve got a tear or two running down my cheeks right now. So?