Lauren & Spencer Elkmont Wedding
September 9th, 2022
Lauren, when you asked me to do your flowers so long ago, I never dreamed it would turn out this beautiful. Since then, we’ve bonded through difficult seasons of life and wedding “planning.” “Planning” because we had to be very flexible. Flexibility was the name of the game it turns out.
Spencer said “We gotta be just like water. Be fluid.”
The first time I met Spencer was at the ranger station in Elkmont. We found out we had been double booked. Twice. Quadruple booked. In fact, I pulled up to Spence Cabin, the original venue, because we had confirmed just an hour earlier that the venue was ours. This was after a week of Lauren trying to figure out what had gone wrong. So when we had confirmation that a ranger would meet us at the venue at 1pm with a key to let us in, we were ecstatic.
My plan was to build a beautiful floral installation on the arch entrance to where the ceremony would be. Lauren and I had scoped out the venue only a few months before and taken measurements, so I felt prepared. When I pulled up to the cabin and got out of the car, a man asked whose wedding I was looking for. Then he told me I was at the wrong wedding.
Back at the ranger station, a groom I had not yet met was dealing with the ranger. After I introduced myself, he asked if I could call the wedding planner with the ranger’s phone. If y’all know me at all, you know I’m a huge advocate of anyone who has been wronged. I feel the need to stand up for anyone who doesn't feel heard. And in that particular moment, I felt a strong urge to talk to whoever had double quadruple booked MY bride on HER wedding day and messed up communication so badly. But Spencer was gentle about it. He wasn't overly flustered. He didn't curse or raise his voice at the ranger... both of which were ideas in floating around in my own head. He simply wrote his last name on a piece of paper to direct the wedding party to their venue.
That situation could have gone much differently. A lot of people could have gotten upset and made a scene. We could if we wanted to; we were in the right.But it didn't happen that way and I'm thankful. I'm thankful for a gentle reaction. And do not mistake me: gentleness is not a weakness. Completely the opposite. This response to a high stake situation on a high pressure day gained all of my respect. Maybe it was simply because he knew in the back of his mind all that really mattered was he and his bride were going to be together in a few hours and that was the most important thing.
It was a good first impression to say the least.
After much ado, we wound up at the Appalachian Clubhouse. It was very dark and had a lot of paneling and not much light. Under normal circumstances, I would have been exploring the old cabin and imagining what it was like in its original days. Instead I was feeling bitter in my head and wondering how in the world this would turn out beautiful.
Spencer and a few of his groomsmen were exploring the venue. I asked him what he thought. He said there was a little backyard area and told me we were going to have to make an executive decision since the planner had not arrived yet. We then ventured down to the grassy area in the back and scoped it out.
"Should we take a chance and just hope the rain holds off? Will chairs even fit back here? I need to see if the rangers have any structural pieces I can build off of."
We decided to take a leap of faith. Unsurprisingly, the rangers looked at me funny when I asked them if they had anything I could build an arch with. I had a small vision in my head of some kind of unfinished arch way with one side reaching taller than the other. Trying to explain this lofty idea while asking people to carry buckets of flowers to the back and ordering that sticks be found for me... it was a lot. I kept telling people I felt like I was on some kind of creative competition show. It wasn't far off honestly. My flower helper for the day looked at me and told me I had an hour or so. So I just went with my idea, put my head down and went to work.
Historically, I don't work well with people watching me. I don't enjoy public speaking, I don't enjoy my face burning bright red while people stare at me, and I especially don't like working in front of or around people when I have to focus. But for some reason, a sort of confidence has entered my life when it comes to flowers. I knew there were people all around and I knew there was nothing I could do about it. So I just went with my creative instinct and kept going until I was done. It's a strange feeling being in charge. Normally I could look at someone and ask them if I was doing it okay or have someone else to lean on for advice. Not this time. I knew that if I didn't put my head down and work, they weren't going to have flowers at their ceremony. What a sick kind of pressure. And I thrived.
It seems like such a big dramatic story over a simple little arch. But I'm proud. That day ended up with so many question marks but I'm so glad I was able to provide something solid, something tangible, and beautiful, that they would remember on their wedding day.
These two people are special.
Lauren chooses to cultivate relationships with people and loves deeply. Authenticity is a thread that weaves its way through our conversations often. I don't think she knew it at the time but making that decision to intentionally get to know her vendors created a smooth experience out of chaos. Her and Spencer's smiles are genuine and full of joy. They weren't feigned or composed to hide disappointment. In fact I highly doubt that even crossed their minds when these pictures were being taken. And that's important.
Lauren and Spencer,
I'm so happy to have been a part of this day. Thank you so much for allowing me to be creative and trusting me with something so important. Your belief in me has ended up meaning more than you know. Enjoy Belize!
All photos by the wonderful Rachel Britt with R Photos
you can find her on social media @rphotosforall and her website https://www.rphotosforall.com/