Just days before I left for Cambodia, I attended one of the loveliest, love-rich weddings I’ve ever been to. It was on Block Island, Rhode Island and the honored couple is my gorgeous friend Anna and her now-husband Ben. Words can’t do the ceremonial weekend justice, but I’ll try.
I’ve often described Anna as my most “open-hearted” friend because she’s kinder than anyone I know. She also happened to be born with a heart four times too large. She received a heart transplant several years ago and has recovered beautifully. The love it took to create this wedding weekend is a testament to all the lives Anna and Ben have touched. I’m so grateful to have been one of the guests to share in the celebration – it almost feels like the very smallest of thank you’s for all the love they’ve given.
I used my old-school Minolta with black and white film to capture some of the magic. Here’s what I wrote in my journal the day after the ceremony, sprinkled with some of my iPhone photos and photos from another friend-photographer, Kelsey Kent.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much love. Even the dolphins danced on the way back from the island. A girl on the ferry said she had ridden it all summer and hadn’t seen dolphins before. I think they were driven out of the water from all the love emanating from shore.
We arrived on Block Island and Anna and Ben were there to pick us up. We gave hugs, piled into a car and drove to a cottage on Mansion Road. Anna told us about a book with ghost stories of the island.
At the cottage, we changed into bathing suits and walked to the beach. We watched surfers and playful pups and a turtle no larger than my palm make its way back to the sea. We stood on rocks and walked in the foam.
That night we ate pizza at the Lynn House, the mansion where most of the ghost stories took place. We talked and laughed. Then Anna said they needed to juice lemons, green apple, and ginger for lemonade, so we all went to the kitchen and got to work.
Then others came. Soon the kitchen was packed with family and friends peeling root veggies for roasting, chopping bread for bruschetta, and mixing maple vinaigrette with the fresh maple syrup someone had made and brought.
A team of five of us taste tested the lemonade until it was perfect.
When we were good and tired and in love with life, we went back to the cottage and crashed. The next morning we woke up early for a vegan breakfast with Anna. We had smoothies and talked about the island and the wedding and the beautiful sun. Anna insisted on driving us around to see the island after breakfast – just two hours before the ceremony – because all she needed to do was “put on her dress and do a little makeup.”
Ben’s sister made the dress. It was simple and elegant. She did final touches while Anna was wearing it just before the ceremony.
While the girls were getting ready, Ben entertained guests. Everyone ate pastries and fruit and drank coffee on the porch, facing the sea.
When Ben and the couple’s parents gave us the word, we started moving toward the beach. Slowly. Taking it all in. Walking just fast enough to get there before the bride. There was no set up – just a chair for Ben’s grandmother and a few other family members. The rest of us made a semi-circle around Ben. He fidgeted and smiled as we waited.
Anna’s friend Sarah played gently on the guitar until we saw Anna walking to the beach, wildflowers in her hair, both parents at her sides.
Her father conducted the ceremony, which was brief, but so filled with love that I couldn’t help but cry. I kneeled in the sand facing Ben, looking up at his reaction as Anna read her love letter to him. He cried and smiled. I just cried, especially when Anna said Ben had known her with both hearts.
He read his letter, they kissed, and concluded with a request that everyone take a moment to reflect on love. Two little girls – nieces – passed out seashells and rocks and we threw them into the ocean together. After the ceremony, we mingled, savoring the sun, sea and newly wed couple, before heading to lunch.
Ben and Anna had spent a month making the food, including homemade ravioli, for the wedding. It was heartfelt and delicious, and I just adored these stacks of tupperware storing all of it.
There was home brew and another friend made the lemon lavender wedding cake. It was the sunniest, loveliest, most gentle luncheon.
After lunch we went back to the beach. That evening six of us walked to the lighthouse at the northern tip of the island. We didn’t plan it, but we arrived just in time to see the sun set over the ocean. We sat in a row on some logs and watched the spectacular orb disappear.
Then we walked back, made a communal taco dinner with the other guests at the cottage, and read ghost stories.
The next morning, I grabbed a few more shots of Ben and his family before heading back to the mainland.
Congratulations again, Anna and Ben! May this be the beginning of a lifetime of love. ♥