Ashley and Lane had been planning their March 2020 wedding for months and months.
But as March 8th got closer and closer, I think we all started to get a little wary. Things were getting strange in the world, and the crazy that has become 2020 was really just beginning. Thankfully, their wedding was early enough to not have any restrictions and Marcia and I were able to travel over the snowy Cascades and over the sound to Eastsound, Washington for their intimate wedding.
The wedding was beautiful. I love it when couples see the value in recording their vows. It gives them a moment to breathe, to read through them (sometimes for the first time out loud), and get a sense of the magnitude of the day that is sometimes lost in all the busyness.
The dress was carefully put on, the flowers put in hands, and the long march to the ancient A-frame chapel under the heavy clouded sky was carefully taken. It had hailed, rained, sprinkled, and kind of even snowed a little throughout the day, but now, the rain was holding off and the sun was beginning to peak through the clouds. Deep breath in, and the double doors swung open.
Their wedding was beautiful. Edison lights hung from the ceiling and the late afternoon sun peaked in through the stained glass. The small crowd of their closest family and friends watched as Ashley and Lane said the vows they wrote themselves, remembering how they met and promising life and love for the future.
The sun was setting behind the mountains as they exited under the swords of Lane's military family, and after a few family photos and intimate portraits, Marcia and I made our way to the party and documented their beautiful first dance. Then we slept in beds up random flights of stairs and across creaky floors in the historic Outlook Inn. My younger self definitely would have had an amazing imaginary adventure in that place.
The next day, Marcia and I had a few hours to explore, and I decided to get a few aerial shots of the inn and the island for Ashley and Lane's wedding film. We found a good spot to fly, and I took the drone up. Our mouths dropped at the beauty of the Sound. Marcia and I are both from the midwest and completely HEAD OVER HEELS with all things PNW. And I think this might have been the most PNW place I've been yet.
Suddenly, a critical error flashed across the screen and the drone began to descend. Fast. I tried to fly it back to the shore, but instinctively knew it would never make it at the rate it was dropping. The viral video of the guy who jumped in a lake to catch his drone was flashing in my head as I steered toward a tiny island off the shore.
CRASH. Every attempt to get it back up failed. I could see through the camera, but nothing else was responding, and the battery was draining fast.
We decided to troubleshoot over coffee and grabbed lattes in the bookstore coffee shop (amazing coffee by the way). On a whim (remember this is the off-season and it was COLD and RAINY) we looked up kayaking rentals and thank God there was a place not too far away that seemed to be open. We drove down the road and found a little rental lean-to where the owners lived next door. Knowing that the options were either knock on their door or call it a loss, I knocked.
A friendly couple in their PJ's greeted us with smiles and soon enough I was pulling on a lifejacket over my winter coat and dragging a kayak out to the ocean. I felt quite trepidatious at the task before me. I had never kayaked on the ocean before, the rental lady had warned me about the currents off shore, and I had a long way to go...out of the bay we were in, around the next little peninsula, into the next bay, and across to the island. I checked the time...we had one hour to get to the ferry 15 minutes away. It was go time.
Marcia cheered me on from the shore and then went for a nice and peaceful walk (yes she totally abandoned me), and I paddled my heart out. Honestly, it was amazing. Beautiful and soul-filling. When I got to the island, I found the drone in less than a minute, which is a total God-story. I paddled back even faster, noticing a couple of golden eagles diving at each other over my head...good motivation. We loaded back into the car and hightailed it to the ferry, where they ushered us on without making us pay so we could get the last spot as the boat was pulling away. Adrenaline was pumping like crazy!
When I got home and looked at the footage, I saw a golden eagle land right in front of the drone and check it out for awhile before losing interest. So so glad it didn't try to crack it open or carry it off. I learned a few new lessons in flying, and I think the most important one actually wasn't about the error, but more that my drone can look like food, and I need to be aware of the wildlife around me when I'm flying.
I will never forget Ashley and Lane's wedding. Not just because of the beauty or the excitement the next day, and not just because it was the first wedding to start off my 2020 season that has become quite strange and not at all what I expected....no. It's because they are genuinely amazing people who obviously love each other deeply, and I am extremely honored to be a part of special days like theirs.