Malee and Dane’s Intimate Backyard Wedding

Backyard wedding photography in Elkhart, Indiana

I met Dane about eight years ago while waiting for the Red Hot Chili Peppers to come on stage at Lollapalooza.   He was in the handicap section, sitting in a wheelchair after having surgery just before the festival and I was pressed against the fence separating him from the crowd. The wait for the rock band dragged on for hours, so eventually, we struck up a conversation.  After the show, we kept in touch via Facebook, using the site for years like modern-day penpals.  As happens in life, we eventually fell out of touch.

Our friendship started with social media, and it was social media that reconnected us.  When I joined Instagram a few years back I got to catch up on Dane’s life through pictures.  Most of his photos at that time were of his very handsome dog with a charming personality. After a while, a beautiful girl with a striking smile became peppered into the mix. That was Malee–the person who became his wife this past September.  From posts of her, I could see she was a kind and unique spirit. She complimented Dane’s energy…even enhancing it, like salt in a recipe.

When Dane called to ask me to photograph their wedding, I was completely surprised and touched.  It’d been years, but I still had a great fondness for my friend and was thrilled at the prospect to capture this special day for him.

The wedding was an intimate affair, taking place on their property along the river in Elkhart, IN. The guest list was small–close friends and family, the details handmade, and the vows were written by the couple.

Malee was even sweeter in person than I imagined. Dane was full of tears throughout the day, so happy and overwhelmed by it all.

Dane’s dad, his best man, gave a great speech, reminiscing about the first time he met Malee. He described it like a movie scene in which she speeds toward their dock on a wave runner,  backlit, with cottonwood seeds waft through the air behind her.

The first dances were touching for all.  Malee’s Dad made it through the whole song, before getting choked up at the very end. Dane’s mom danced like no one was watching, embracing her son with the love of a mother.

As though specially designed for the couple, the day was capped off with a breathtaking sunset-a perfect storybook ending.

Scroll down for all the photos from their backyard wedding.

Dane’s works on his vows only hours before the ceremony.