Ritz-Carlton New York Wedding

New York City

I received an Elopement Story Award form the Wedding Photojournalist Association for this wedding. Check out the full story here.

The bride was getting ready, the officiant had arrived and it looked like this intimate wedding in a beautiful Ritz-Carlton, New York Central Park suite would happen. But then in a matter of minutes, everything changed. The bride’s father appeared to be having a stroke.

When I first received the inquiry for this wedding, I knew it was special.

She wrote, ”I’ve never wanted a wedding, but life took a big turn since we recently found out my dad has stage 4 lung cancer. The important stuff becomes clear so quickly & I realized it’s important to celebrate the good things.”

It was special to me because my own father-in-law had stage 4 lung cancer during our wedding. He wasn’t in the best shape then however, he was there. He even danced and stayed up late enough to get locked out of his room while having a good time! He died 2 months after the wedding.

So there we were all ready for the ceremony and her beloved father was in trouble. Paramedics were called. The officiant and I looked at each other and wondered if the wedding would take place or what would happen.

No one knew what to do…at first.

It wasn’t the ideal location (near the dining table with lunch remains) or the best timing (paramedics on the way), but all the important people were there. And so it would have to do.  It was a wedding that needed to happen no matter what.

Surrounded by their families, the couple are married by Rev. Annie in a brief but moving ceremony I will never forget. At one moment, her father reached out with his hand to touch her elbow. We heard the sirens and, for once, knew why.  I don’t think there was a dry eye. Just as it was finished, the paramedics arrived.

With her father in good hands and not in immediate danger, the couple decided to make the most of their time with me. After a much-needed group prayer, we headed to Central Park for portraits. It was a 90-degree day, the last gasp of an Indian Summer. In spite of this, I wanted them to have beautiful photos and be a bride and groom for a while. It was a bittersweet day but I am glad I was there to document it.

After I sent the sneak peeks, I got this reply from the bride: “The photos are LOVELY. Thank you for your great work and also for keeping your cool and for your kindness – it helped steady us through all of that and also helped us feel like it was our wedding day despite the challenges.”

I can’t ask for a nicer compliment than that.


Kristy May