Aly & Elroi’s Washington DC Wedding Ceremony at Big Bear Cafe

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  • October 24, 2013

Today’s wedding is the epitome of what a wedding really is: two individuals, confessing their love for each other, in front of family & friends that they hold dear. A Practical Wedding (one of the blogs I most look up to and hope to emulate) featured their wedding & story on their blog, so please hop on over there, as Aly (part 1 of the couple) wrote the most beautiful write-up of how she and Elroi ended up in Washington, DC to have a “federally official” wedding ceremony.

The short of it is, they were married in Atlanta in 2007, but came to DC to make it federally official. Thanks to the Government Shutdown, their original plans took some twists and turns, and they ended up with a small civil ceremony at Big Bear Cafe! If you haven’t been to Big Bear Cafe – GO. The entire place is magical, and they very kindly offered their patio space up to make Aly & Elroi’s wedding a special one. Special thanks to Sarah Gormley Photography (one of our hand-picked DC wedding photographers!) for sharing her images and insight into this awesome wedding.

Aly & Elroi’s Washington DC Wedding Ceremony at Big Bear Cafe

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Photography: Sarah Gormley Photography | Venue: Big Bear Cafe | Officiant: Maureen Burke | Dress: Dig for Victory

Since APW already has all the touching details from Aly, I thought I would share some really fascinating insight from the photographer’s perspective! Sarah wrote a great reflection of her interactions and experience with this special wedding and I found it too moving not to share.

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In Sarah’s words:

Aly & Elroi’s wedding was a very different experience for me as a photographer and I’ve been sitting at my desk for the past few hours trying to put that experience into words. It’s perhaps best to start by explaining that I don’t typically photograph weddings by the hour. Instead, I encourage my couples to choose up to twelve hours of coverage, with a minimum of eight. Over the past few years that I’ve been working in the world of wedding photography, I’ve learned that it’s very difficult to take the sort of meaningful, candid images that are at the heart of what I do if I don’t commit enough time to the couple, their family and their friends.

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And while some photographers do a beautiful job with shorter time frames, I’ve held that my key to stronger, more emotional photos lies in this time spent becoming comfortable, and not rushing that process or packing a whole bundle of portraits and group photos into one forced and possibly stressful time slot. Love is calm and steady and warm, and I believe that your wedding day should reflect that as much as possible, as should the photographs you have to remember it by.

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But not every couple has the luxury of eight hours. And to turn those couples away would be to miss out on meeting some beautiful and inspiring people. I met Aly & Elroi for the first time at Big Bear Cafe just moments before they would be wed. Aly & Elroi were married in Atlanta in 2007 but were not given the legal rights that their love and loyalty so clearly affords them. So they came to Washington DC with their two boys and a small gathering of family to make it federally official.

LGBT DC wedding commitment ceremony big bear cafe
LGBT DC wedding commitment ceremony big bear cafe

Click inside for the rest of Aly & Elroi’s beautiful DC wedding ceremony at Big Bear Cafe!

LGBT DC wedding commitment ceremony big bear cafe

They had planned to marry in a national park and when the government shutdown spoiled those plans, we scrambled to find another place. When I told the folks at Big Bear Cafe about Aly & Elroi’s situation, they offered up their ivy-covered patio free of charge and transformed it into the most beautiful space for a quick and intimate ceremony. Aly & Elroi were married in a matter of minutes and managed to get close for a few photos while their kids bounced around them on a nearby playground. Then they ate dinner and went on their way.

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My whole experience with Aly & Elroi lasted just about two hours and while I’m left wishing I’d had more time to hear about their lives and try to transform their stories into photographs, I’m more so overwhelmed with gratitude for the chance to have met them. Once again, photography has led me to some amazing people and challenged my notions of what a professional wedding business has to look like. Thanks to A Practical Wedding for the introduction, Big Bear Cafe for their incredible kindness and generosity, and Aly & Elroi for their inspiring love.

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Congratulations Aly & Elroi! I officially now want to get re-married at Big Bear Cafe :) Thanks again to Sarah Gormley Photography as well for sharing her images and insight into this special DC wedding ceremony! Happy Thursday Romancers.

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