Nikki and Carolyn had the most beautiful, queer, powerful, love-filled celebration I’ve attended. These amazing humans were referred to me by their lovely officiant and fellow, Rachel Whitehurst of Adventure Photo Stories. They were looking for a queer wedding photographer for their summer camp wedding! If you remember the last camp wedding I photographed you will understand how excited I was to be photographing another one. When I met up with Nikki and Carolyn to chat more about their vision we immediately felt more like friends than just a professional relationship. I knew instantly that their story was one I wanted to tell.
“In the fall of 2016, the two of us shared a class together at Western Michigan University. I, Carolyn, had a crush on Nikki and Nikki…didn’t think twice about me, as I later found out. The closest we got to having a conversation was a desperate attempt on my end to compliment her by saying, “I like your style,” which came out more as a yell than anything else. Before she could even introduce herself, I ran out of the classroom. We would go on without another interaction until late the following semester….Nikki and I met each other for a second time and you would think I would have learned from our last interaction. But, no. After exchanging names, I immediately confessed my crush as if it were no big deal. From there, we became close friends – watching Parks and Recreation, driving an hour for the best pizza in Michigan and singing as loudly as we could in the car…but we remained just friends. In jest, Nikki would ‘plan our wedding.’ I eventually had to tell her that planning this imaginary wedding was not so funny if she was toying with me, as she knew I still had very real feelings for her. And you know what? I got what we wanted. We started dating – and we have been having a blast ever since, planning that very same wedding, but this time for Real.”
The wedding took place at Circle Pines Center in Delton, Michigan. Carolyn had a long history of working there during summers and knew it would be a special place for their big day. The camp is set in beautiful woods surrounded by a gorgeous lake. It is peak Michigan to be honest. When I arrived the two of them had their cabins and were preparing with hair and makeup. It was fun to be surrounded by the wedding party while they got ready too. Everyone was dancing to Lizzo and eating the homemade soup that had been prepared. Bunks were filled with blankets gifted by Nikki and Carolyn and there was such a good energy surrounding the couple. We headed to the emotional first look and I don’t think anyone had a dry eye. Gifts were given to the parents and we headed out to explore the camp for wedding party photos! I absolutely loved all of the coordinating without matching outfits the wedding party wore. During the ceremony, held in a labyrinth, the couple chose to honor the native land they were marrying upon, and included a handfasting ceremony to honor the queer couples that came before. The ceremony had such deep heartfelt emotions that were felt by everyone present. After the ceremony guests headed over to the main house for cocktails and snacks to enjoy in their personal mason jars. The reception was held in a pavillion simply decorated with florals provided by Viavi Flower Farm. Twinkle lights were hung above and provided a magical space for celebrating. Since Nikki’s father had unfortunately passed they asked everyone to share a dance with a loved on in honor of their dance that they never got. You’ve Got a Friend in Me played while everyone honored their relationship! Everyone clearly enjoyed the whole day!
I am so honored to share these photos from the most stunning queer wedding. I loved the personal touches and commitment to inclusivity throughout the whole day. Nikki and Carolyn embody everything I want to celebrate as a queer wedding photographer. This celebration surrounded by both chosen and blood family and close friends made it clear how loved the couple is. I know that the two of them will have so much joy in the coming years as a married couple.
To hire Liv as your own queer wedding photographer or to see more of her work check out the blog posts linked below or check out the website!