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Childhood Sweethearts get hitched at Canvas Lake Nona // Orlando Wedding Photographer

“For eight years we had no contact. But I never stopped thinking about her. And the longer it wore on, the more I dreaded the likelihood that she’d found someone else.” -JP

I’m often torn about how to name these blog posts. My business brain says “give it a name for SEO!” and my heart says to call this one “Childhood Sweethearts get hitched”.

People often ask if I’m sick of shooting weddings yet. Or other vendors behind the scenes do that whole “so…wouldn’t you rather be somewhere else right now?” schtick. No I would NOT like to be somewhere else. In fact, I wish every wedding was longer. I’m never ready to pack up my gear and leave. I cry at every wedding. I get emotionally attached to every couple. I hold you all in my heart forever. In fact, I often wonder if it would be creepy to have a wall in my home or office with all of my beloved couples. That’s not weird, right?

“He’s an incredibly kind, gentle and patient person.”

So. Andrea & JP. Here we are. A year after first being asked to be their photographer. Ok, I wasn’t asked. I heard they were having a friend of a friend who has a camera or something like that and I said “HELL. NO. That’s not happening. I will be your photographer.” Because friends don’t let friends have their wedding covered by a friend of a friend who happens to have a camera. So, yea, I kinda muscled my way into this one.

Either way, we’ve been through a lot together. We had to grieve the loss of their first venue (a popular hangar/warehouse who went out of business, jilting many couples at the altar). Then panic for weeks over an incoming cold front. But in the end, OH. MY. GOD. It was the kind of wedding day I dreamed of when I moved back to Florida. Sun soaked. Warm. Joyful. The air smelled like camomile tea and honey. Which is saying a lot because a beautiful day in England will ruin beautiful days for you anywhere else in the world.

As much as I love shooting a wedding, I love editing them even more. I spring out of bed as early as possible the next morning (moving pretty slowly cuz seriously shooting weddings is a 12 hour leg day). I grab my coffee, turn on my chunes and get lost for 10 hours. Add tears to the mix and it’s a pretty emosh editing session and Andrea & JPs was especially full of tears.

“I have always loved her. This is the romance people write about and I’m living it.”

I’ve known these two since we were all kids. We all met at “school”. I say “school” because we were homeschooled but belonged to the same co-op and we “went to school” every Friday.

They were each other’s first everything. And now they are each other’s last everything.

“Our break up had been bad. Scorched earth. No survivors. And I knew at minimum I needed to reach her just to say I was sorry.”

I asked JP to tell me their love story. And except for killing the heroine at the end, here is it in true Nicolas Sparks’ style:

“So, we met in school. We were kinda will they/won’t they all through high-school. We both ended up at FSU and were together until senior year. I’m honestly not sure why anymore, but we had THE breakup. Like, done-done. We didn’t speak the final semester. She graduated and moved to Atlanta. I ended up in Palm Beach. For eight years we had no contact. But I never stopped thinking about her. And the longer it wore on I dreaded the likelihood that she’d found someone and settled down. Married. Kids. I was all but certain she had. Because she’s amazing, why wouldn’t she? Shortly after I turned 30 it was weighing on me a lot. I couldn’t shake it. Because regardless of her situation, our break up had been bad. Scorched earth. No survivors. And I knew at minimum I needed to reach her just to say I was sorry. For a few weeks I thought about it.

Then one night I poured a heavy glass of bourbon and sat down at my laptop. All I had was an email address.

No phone. No Facebook (I was BLOCKED). So I wrote her and I was as honest as I could be. I wished her every happiness if she’d found it. Just wanted to talk. Hit send. And an hour later, she wrote back.”

I asked Andrea, “what did you think when you got that email?! After 8 years!”

“I think in all those years apart, I had mythologized him as a villain, so reading the sincerity in his email was surprising. And I remembered quickly why we’d been so in love when we were younger.”

Some notes about this wedding. The location was Canvas Restaurant & Market in Lake Nona, Orlando. It’s first and foremost a restaurant and they’ve done an incredible job of making it also feel like a dedicated venue for weddings and events. In the one small space, they were serving restaurant patrons, our wedding and a holiday party in the Lake House which is another venue on site. None of the parties bled into the other which was impressive to me, having done many weddings in many different types of venues.

The glass house is the work of artist Tom Fruin.

Also, a note about lighting: if you’re going to have a wedding at night or planning your ambiance to feel dark and romantic, I would recommend always seeking a photographer with a LOT of experience shooting in the dark who can show you MANY examples of their work AND talk you through their low-light workflows. This is not a time to be winging it or using a pop-up flash. Or flash of any kind, in my opinion.

By the time Andrea & JP cut the cake, it was SO dark that I got their guests to light them using their phones and it worked out really well!

I ran into Andrea & JP the day after their wedding. They were absolutely glowing. I thought “wow what foundation is she wearing?!” but as ridiculous and soppy as it sounds, I’m pretty sure it was just love. And she said to me…

“I’m not kidding. Yesterday was the most incredible day of my whole life”

I’m so blessed to have been the one to capture it for them to hold close to their hearts forever. Andrea & JP, this is your story…

Supporting Cast //

  • Infinite Possibilities Events
  • Cookies by Riley Bakes
  • Dress by Catherine Deane
  • Flowers by Events by In Bloom
  • Caky by My Bakers Cottage Cakes
  • Officiant David Netzorg, Emmaus Church Winter Garden
  • Hair & Makeup by Daeci Morton
  • Glass house at Canvas by Tom Fruin

The Author & Artist

I'm Elizabeth, the photographer behind Gracie May Photography. I've been shooting since my first wedding in 2008 on a borrowed camera.

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