Today, is international women’s day. A day where we recognize the strength, power, and beauty behind the word “woman.” A day where we can lift up women in our lives that have truly changed us. Gina is this woman, but she certainly deserves more than just one day of recognition.
This is a story of a couple who traded in their big city wedding plans for a quite desert elopement after the bride was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkins Lymphoma. These images tell the story of what their elopement felt like. They are emotional and truthful and I hope they provoke feeling in you as if you were living in these moments.
Gina and Aaron’s original wedding date was May 4th, 2019 and was going to be held at the Bride and The Bauer in Kansas City, MO with all of their friends and family.
Here is how I remember the series of events leading up to the big day:
11/16/18: “Also seriously can’t wait to meet up again before our big day!!! Giddy thinking about it!”
1/20/19: “Hi Steph! Just wanted to let you know I have some unfortunate news. Last week I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and am starting treatment in the next few weeks! We are wanting to get married in the next few weeks at the courthouse or a small ceremony somewhere if possible. I understand how busy you are but I would still love for you to capture our day since I have been daydreaming of you doing our wedding photos. Talk soon. ?”
I remember this like it was yesterday. It was a Sunday morning, I was driving home from a wedding and I shamelessly read this text while doing so, only to feel my heart suddenly sink deep into my black leather seats. I think to myself in a series of thoughts that ran a mile a minute through my overwhelmed mind, how is this possible? The wedding is only a few months away. She was just telling me about how giddy she was for me to capture her day. This isn’t fair. Why now cancer, why NOW?
I began to cry holding onto my steering wheel trying to see the road through the tears that filled my eyes. I prayed to whoever is out there listening to people like me who live in this confused world. My little heart quivered for what seemed to be an endless amount of time until I receive yet another text back from Gina,
“You are so sweet thank you! Luckily Aaron and I are in such good spirits about all of it, my cancer is very treatable so it’s just a little bump in the road right now. My little brother also had this exact cancer so my family in strong and ready to beat it again! Hoping to get married before treatment or right after I start so hoping to hold on to my hair ? we will see! It just seemed silly to try to make May work when I got the news. So very fast and furious but we are making it all happen!”
I shook my head, the tears began to dry up. Holy freaking moly…. this girl has to be the most bad ass bride out there! She just got diagnosed with cancer and she is already in “good spirits” about it. That’s MY girl! Cancer doesn’t stand a chance against an attitude like that!
Fast forward to planning time. Gina and Aaron decided to get married at the Dry Lake Bed near Las Vegas, Nevada on February 6th, 2019, but they informed me that due to treatment cost they wouldn’t have enough funds to pay for my flight from Kansas City to Vegas or stay at the MGM hotel. But don’t fret my friends! I coincidentally I was going to be in Phoenix, Arizona on the day of her elopement! I originally was going to drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas, but the night before the elopement I decided to book a round trip flight instead to save on travel time. What are the freaking chances that this worked out the way it did??? I am still shook to this day thinking about it!
So as you can tell, I arrived safe into Las Vegas, got a rental car, shot this crazy, wild, emotion filled elopement, and flew my happy photog butt back to Phoenix with the biggest smile on my face!
These are the images I created along the way.
List of the creative team from the day:
Photographer: Stephanie Nachtrab Photography
Planner/ Florist/ Teardrop pop up/ Officiant : Flora Pop
Hair and Makeup team: Ruby Finch Salon
Bride’s dress: Saldana vintage
Groom attire: Express
Here are a few notes form Gina:
In late 2018 I noticed swollen lymph nodes on my neck which led to a biopsy. After the holidays, I was given the call that it tested positive for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the same cancer my little brother had beaten years prior. After meeting with my Oncologist and being given my vigorous treatment plan, we decided that cancelling our original wedding plans would be the best choice so I was able to focus on my battle ahead. As heartbreaking as this was, Aaron and I didn’t want to wait any longer to be husband and wife!
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Steph Photo Co. photographs intimate weddings in the St. Louis area & is available for travel