Deep in the mountains of North Carolina on a summer’s day dripping with humidity, I sat in an oversize caravan with Charlie on his wedding day. He was scratching out his speech as we had one of the realest conversations I’ve ever had with anyone. I spent the morning walking the dirt track between Charlie’s caravan and Ali’s wooden cabin, camera in hand, breathing in every detail of what was unfolding.

Earlier in 2017, Ali and Charlie had sent me an email, explaining that they’d been following along with my family on Instagram and would love for me to come out and photograph their wedding in a place I’d never heard of, a few hours outside of Charlotte.

Skip forward a few months and Ali was preparing to walk down the aisle to marry Charlie. Stood on the river’s edge with sand underfoot, Charlie waited as Ali realised what was happening. While it had started out like any other summer’s day, in the minutes leading up to the ceremony clouds had built over the mountaintops and rain had started to fall. Normally, this isn’t a good thing. Rain on a wedding day creates stress for pretty much everyone and results in a fair share of drama with plans being changed last minute. Not today though. Guests were given umbrellas and Ali walked down the aisle as drops of rain wet her hair and fell on her face. She held her Dad close and blinked back tears with each step, her eyes firmly on Charlie.

The rain didn’t stop. For the duration of the ceremony, it continued to fall. And you know what? It was freaking beautiful. If I had the option and was asked for my preference, I would have chosen the rain. It added an emotion to the ceremony that was so deep and I am truly thankful for the rain that fell. It felt like we were having a spiritual experience and I hope you can feel that.

The ceremony ended and we jumped in and out of forests, over rocks and through rivers before heading back to the lodge for the reception. It was a truly special night that I’ll never forget. As it ended, I headed back down to the river once more. I grabbed my tripod and fired off a couple of long exposures. With each 30 seconds the shutter was open, I breathed in the rich mountain air that was thick once again with humidity, knowing I might not ever make it back to the magical waters of this river. I have so much gratitude in my heart for coming to know this group of people and this part of the world.

The way we were treated here went above and beyond ‘Southern hospitality’ and I am so grateful for the kindness that was shown to Kesh, Roo, Zion and me as well. Mama Fry, Bootsie and the collective group of Ali and Charlie’s friends – we thank you for making an impression on us that will last a lifetime. We fell for the South and each of you, really hard. See you again soon 🙂

*I make no apologies for how many photos there are in this blog post.