How do I even begin to write this post for this wedding, and tell you all about every little and big meaningful thing here? This feels like a big task so I am going to just jump right in. I met Tammy way back in 2006, the now ‘old fashioned’ way. We met online. This was way before Facebook and Instagram and any social media platform that united us. This was back when us photographers blogged on our souped up Blogger Blogs, we didn’t even use Word Press back then. We knew there were others like us out there, working at home alone late at night in the dark editing our photos with feverish excitement. We would work them up and then post them on our blogs and hit publish, craving any little connections we could glean from visitors all over the world. Back then we got excited to install the site tracker apps that would show how many visits you got publicly and where they came from. We collected visitors from other countries like proud Girl Scouts, earning our badges in Online Community and Photography and Writing all in one fell swoop.
One day, I decided to see who exactly these visitors were. I saw the visit numbers, but there weren’t a ton of comments in relation to how many people I saw visited. So one day, I called them out. I said something to the effect of ‘I can SEE YOU! Who’s out there in this big internet world reading my blog? SHOW YOUR FACE!’ The images I got sent back to me were so funny. This was also when the photobooth ap was on the iMacs and everyone loved using it, so the majority of the pics I got back were those. No duck lips here! Tammy sent a pic in and called herself out for the giant can of Spam she looked like- and I knew right then and there we were going to be friends.
Flash forward to a year or so later? and I taught my very first photography workshop ever before heading to Vienna with my friend Steve DePino to teach a workshop there. Tammy signed up, drove in from Rochester that day, took the workshop in her Totally Tammy Socially Awkward Way and then left to head back to Rochester that same night. DUDE. That was intense! But over the years I have come to know that when Tammy lets you in to her social circle, you are IN. At that point, I was not quite that in, she was sniffing me out and making sure I was a keeper.
Lucky for both of us, I was. And here we are, almost 12 years later and Tammy is like my older sister by choice. Our friendship has survived some really hard lows and some really great highs and then all of the life that happens in between. We were there for one another through tragic deaths, divorce, break ups, career highs and career lows. We have traveled the world together and still remain the closest of friends. Tammy balances my obsessive need for order and being to the airport 5 hours too early with her chaos and swirly fun; she loosens me up and I help her get her shit together. We are brutally honest with one another in a healthy way, with care and love and respect. I RESPECT my friend, her views on the world, her opinions. She is a tireless observer, I envy her memory and the card catalogue way she can file away memories and then can recite them back as if they just happened. Colorado, Grand Cayman, Florida, Aruba, Cape Cod, NY, CT, India, North Carolina, Mexico. I love seeing the world with Tammy Swales and marveling at it all. She’s quirky and awkward and weird AF and I wouldn’t have her any other way. She accepts me and loves me and just allows me to be me and feel like I am DOING IT ALL RIGHT. Like, I am a totally lovable and amazing human being and how DARE the world not see that? That’s pretty powerful, to have a friend like that in your corner. I am the luckiest.
So to now photograph a (wedding) photographer’s wedding is a tricky little dance. You can almost not pull anything past them! Unless of course you are like Tammy, and it’s like someone wiped your memory from your entire head and you act like you have never been to a wedding before and don’t know anything about a timeline or how the day goes. TRUE STORY! So then I could pull all of the things past her, and set up the timeline with Jess (and Tammy and Jason of course) but honestly we set it all up and it worked magically, perfectly.
Segue to Jason Dufair, the love of Tammy’s life.
The image below shows Tammy reacting to a text that Jason sent her. They have a ritual of sending a text each morning, and this one was extra special. (Of course I took a photo of it, but it’s none of our business) See, Tammy and Jason met online, too. Just like we did! Through our blogs. Jason had a blog where he shared about being a widow and raising his three children without their Mom. Tammy read his blog and was so moved she left a comment- which is weird for her because we all now know that she is mostly a behind the scenes stalker! Aren’t we all happy that she did. And Jason immediately wanted to know where she found his blog and who was she and he got all super sleuth internet nerd on her. And well, it all worked out in the end, didn’t it! They were online friends for years before they met in person when Tammy had a photo job in Chicago- Jason lives in Indiana, Tammy was in Rochester. They met, and the rest, as they say…. was a hot mess of ‘I thought you would be taller’s’ and awkward outfits (Jason) and much bumbling around but here we are at their wedding so they did something right!
I am one of the lucky ones who really got to know Jason well during their courtship. We spent time in Cape Cod together with a few families and listened to Jason sing ‘Just Breathe’ by Pearl Jam to Tammy and watch her (and all of us) weep quietly. That night showed me that THAT kind of love exists. The kind that finds you, late in life. When you are ripe, and wise, and older and awkward AF. When you are settled, when you have roots and don’t want to leave. But you do anyway. Because you found one another and leaving your hometown for that love makes it all worth it.
So, yeah. Jason texted Tammy that morning and she wept.
And so did I.
Their wedding was brunch style, and coffee. COFFEE. Tammy doesn’t even drink coffee, she loves herself a crisp cold Diet Coke in the morning, but she wanted it to be so extra special for everyone else. Plus she made these coffee mugs by hand, with witty quotes from shows like The Office and Parks and Rec (two of many very faves) Me and the kids were fighting over all of the Dwight Schrute quotes, because. Dwight.
This one ridiculously amazing woman, let’s call her Tammy… bought cards for each guest, and wrote something personal in each one for each guest. It was so special to watch everyone read their card. I slipped my card open at the table, gave it one little look before my throat closed up and I said ‘OK. Nope. Not gonna happen here.’ Then read it alone in my bed and cried my eyes out at the words they each wrote to me. This also served as their seat assignment! Totes. Cute.
Tammy just wanted an explosion of color and fun and comfort for her guests. And she got just that!
This is Tammy’s Mom Lois. This is one of Lois’ braids. I am obsessed with Lois, who is also a YouTube Star. Yes I capitalized Star. She is such a Begrudging Star, too which makes her even more endearing. Lois is also where Tammy gets 100% of her Quirk from. Capital QUIRK!
My favorite moment of the day. They did not see one another before the ceremony, and shared this sweet little hug in the kitchen, amongst the chaos of bagels and boutineers and hair and makeup. I saw Jason. And I saw Tammy.
And then I laid one hand on Jason, and one hand on Tammy, and I said: ‘I see you both. I am so lucky to be here with you both.’ aaaand I am weeping again. That’s this image below. Weep fest.
This image below is by my Georgie Girl! I had her on for my second for a part of the day!
My Meta Moment. Since Tammy is also in the Industry each person ‘working’ the event was super important to her and Jason, so we were actually looking to include one another in the images! A welcome treat, for sure.
Rain makes things so beautiful. I love the rain. Love it. Love it. Love it.
When we talked about the day and what Tammy wanted from it, she made sure to tell me that she really wanted a moment with her Mom. Just them, dressing her. I felt a little out of body here when this all happened, because I was so happy that my friend got what she wanted and needed on her wedding day; a special time with her Mom, alone. Well, minus the camera crews and Jason, but as alone as she was going to get. I didn’t take a ton of pics, I wanted them to have this moment as preserved as possible, just them.
I am so happy this image was captured by my Georgie Girl. Like. Beyond. The string Quartet was a surprise for Jason, who is a musician. Tammy had them play ‘Perfect Day’ by Lou Reed in its entirety so that Jason could hear it before she walked down the aisle. He was taken by such surprise and cried, standing there all alone up there, swaying and laughing and weeping and saying ‘Wow, this isn’t fair!’ I had to put down my camera and snuggle my friend, so vulnerable and open. My second favorite moment of the day.
Jason sees Tam for the first time, in the rain and chaos of a crowded tent. It’s like they are alone and time has stopped.
I was so focused on Tam, literally, that I would have missed this moment if I didn’t hear Lois’ gentle sob when her daughter walked out. Cue my heart melt! Once of my favorite photographs.
There was so much emotion, so much happiness, love, adoration. It spilled all over and out in that tent and it was beautiful and perfect.
Another amazing Georgie Girl catch! Jason Ripple, Tammy’s best friend, stylist and officiant let out an audible sob in the ceremony ! It was so moving, and so…. loud! Go Jason, let those emotions out, baby!
Another Georgie image below! Tam and Jason are sandwiched between my Jack and Jason’s Ian, TWINS omg.
Perfectly timed portraits. OMG. It literally started pouring right after we stopped!!!
They didn’t have an ‘official’ first dance, but when the band started they asked ‘what song?’ and Tam had the best, most perfect response: ‘Harvest Moon’ by Neil Young. Other perfect favorite moment.
I may or may not have just head butted Jason here. Probably. Most likely. Don’t you love how concerned Tam and I are! And Jason is all… Winnie the Pooh Happy back there!
In the end, I think the wedding was everything Tammy and Jason wanted from the beginning. Not one person said ‘Too bad it’s raining’ Not one. A rainy outdoor wedding is like a Halloween Party. It bonds you so much closer than the warmth of the sun. Oh! I remember you, you were the slutty Cookie Monster! Or Oh! I remember you! You were in the pool in your dress when it was raining! Perfection.
This day would not have been possible if not for the long long long list of amazing wedding and event industry experts that shared their talented selves with us all. I am more than obsessed with … all of you. ALL OF YOU. You know who you are.
Tammy and Jason. I am the luckiest. I love you both beyond beyond. BEYOND.
Innovative Graphic Design | Alex Rogerson, Suitesmith
Incredible Photography | Carla Ten Eyck
Creative Video | Sullivan Slentz, Optic Sky Productions
Masterful Music | Mike Napoli, Breakthrough Entertainment
Amazing Food | Kristin Klock, Root Catering
Captivating Crepes | Simply Crêpes
Funky and Fun Pop Up Coffee | Ugly Duck Coffee
Gorgeous Venue | Webster Properties
Fantastic Flowers | Stacy K Floral
Awesome Tent | Hank Parker Rentals
Valiant Valet | Lakeview Valet
Perfectly Personal Hair and Makeup | Jason Ripple and Michelle Rauber, Rock Paper Scissors Salon
Jason’s Sexy Suit and Shirt | Valentin’s Clothiers
Tammy’s Magical Dress | Rebecca Schoeneveld, Alice in Ivory
Perfect Wedding Rings + Jewelry | Mann’s Jewelers
Transcendent Yoga | Tisah Leigh
Cool Website Concept and Design | Jason Dufair and Tammy Swales, Tammy Swales Studio
Can’t Live Without Her Wedding Coordinator | Jessica Slentz
Creative (and Patient) Consultants
Jason Ripple, Rock Paper Scissors Salon
Alex Rogerson, Suitesmith
Stacy K Ercan, Stacy K Floral
Jenna Knauf, Bella’s Event Planning