Christynne + Benjamin | Athenaeum Hotel and Chautauqua Institution
One of the most beautiful love stories ever written in reality by one of my absolute favorite couples I have ever had the opportunity to work with. When I first met Christynne and Ben, it was over a Skype meeting to talk about their wedding. I had all the feels about these two then and just KNEW we were meant to be a team. I decided after our conversation that I just might cry and be devastated if they didn't decide to move forward with me to document their wedding day. Well, we didn't' need to worry about tears and consuming copious amounts of chocolate. We chose eachother! Fast froward to June 2017 and we were ready to celebrate and commemorate their biggest destination in all their travels: their wedding day. Family, faith, friendship and love run through the veins of this couple and are the cornerstones of their relationship. It was not possible to have a moment of dry eyes or silence during their wedding. There was just so much happiness and joy surrounding and within them. And their story, is one that deserves to be told straight from the source. To say I enjoyed documenting Christynne and Ben's wedding day and telling their story would be an understatement. I am head over heels for these two and I know you will be as well.
"On an unseasonably cold March day outside of Chicago, Ben was doing wind sprints on the street outside his childhood home. He was in town for his mother's birthday, but training for an upcoming U.S.-government administered physical fitness test en route to his dream job. He learned a lot that weekend: 1) always stretch before sprinting, especially in cold climates, 2) it's probably not wise to wear compression for three days straight after spraining a muscle (he'll learn that later from Christynne) and 3) fate intervenes quickly. Once back in Atlanta (and after postponing his physical fitness test) Ben was met with a fateful choice: where to do physical therapy. The choices, as they were presented to him, were a facility in the opposite direction of work with dismal parking or a clinic on the way to work, next to a gourmet donut shop, with ample parking. He chose wisely. Ben attended his first appointment, located the donut shop and tried to focus on rehabilitation. While on the stretching table, he saw Christynne effortlessly interacting with other patients, freely laughing and constantly smiling. She made an immediate impression, as she is wont to do. Over the course of his rehabilitation, Ben interacted with Christynne sparingly. He says he was nervous. She says he didn't talk at all. Both are true. They did chat in depth about travel, family, friends and faith (things that are the bedrocks of their relationship today). Christynne had been to South Africa. Ben was planning a trip. Christynne lent Ben her travel books. Ben brought them back the next day (after copying the appropriate passages, of course) and announced he was healed. Christynne wasn't so sure about that. Ben was. It's their only recorded disagreement. At that point, Christynne's and Ben's paths had crossed, but their lives weren't connected. For the next few months, Christynne pursued her life and Ben pursued his. Little did Christynne know that Ben told one of her colleagues that if Christynne was ever interested, to reach out. On the day of his rescheduled physical fitness test, Ben was sitting in the parking lot dreaming of all the ways his life would change if he passed. He would relocate. He would train. He would change careers. He would make good on a five-year pursuit. He would...who would text him at this pivotal moment? Wait. What? She is. No way. Now he really needed to pass this test. Ben couldn't start a first date by telling Christynne that his rehabilitation was all for naught because he failed the physical fitness test. That day, Ben never felt more athletic in his life. He passed. And, so did the weeks that followed before they could actually meet. Business travel. Visiting relatives. Everything seemed to be keeping crossed paths from becoming connected lives. But, they finally did. And, that first date spanned from Historic Oakland Cemetery to getting stared down by waiters wanting to go home to sliding between closing doors to get ice cream to staying up way too late to continue a poolside chat into the wee hours of the morning. Upon further review, it took roughly 10 hours for crossed paths to become connected lives. Adventures would follow: Chicago, Bemus Point, Greece, Turkey, Turks and Caicos, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Kansas City, Boston, New Hampshire, Maine, Raleigh, Philadelphia, Grand Canyon, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh and, finally, Chattanooga - where Ben asked Christynne to marry him. And, Christynne held it together for the both of them before saying, "yes!"
"Over Labor Day weekend, we decided to take a short trip to Chattanooga, TN. Christynne had been interested in going there to do some hiking and see a few waterfalls, neither of us had been there before so it seemed like a fun weekend adventure. Because Christynne basically planned the weekend, she had no idea that in place of going to visit the Aquarium, was a scheduled engagement shoot. On Saturday evening, they planned to hike to Rock City at sunset to take in the views and see a beautiful cliff side waterfall. As Christynne was taking photos of the beautiful scenery, Ben told a few of the other visitors to hold off while he got down on one knee. It was so perfect and magical, and Christynne had no idea! After that, Ben had a beautiful dinner planned with a pre-selected menu that was personalized just for the two of them. They laughed and cried until the restaurant shut down. What was once just a cute little town in Tennessee, is now one that holds a very special place in both of their hearts."
"We wanted our wedding to be fun and meaningful. It was set in Christynne's home town of Bemus Point, NY and the ceremony took place at the church she grew up in at St. Mary of Lourdes. We wanted there to be meaning behind everything. The rehearsal dinner was at the restaurant where Ben first met my father. The Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua Institution was where Ben first met some close family friends that had to give their stamp of approval. The decor was travel inspired because that is a passion of both Ben and myself."
Ben and Christynne shared some of their most memorable moments from their wedding day:
Ben: "I loved the boat ride after the ceremony to the reception. All of the nerves were gone and I could enjoy being with my wife and my closest friends while we cruised on Lake Chautauqua."
Christynne: "When my dress was sewn shut!? When I changed out of dress 1 into dress 2?! haha kidding (partially). My favorite memory had to be sitting at our sweetheart table during the speeches, and seeing everyone that I love the most smile and laugh and just enjoy the celebration. That made all of the stress of wedding planning worth it."
Ben: "I felt overwhelmed in a great way."
Christynne: "I felt calm. Ben has the ability to make me feel calm and at peace. My heart was full."
Ben: Christynne was changing into her second dress, while sipping on an espresso martini and I was about to pass out from exhaustion/heat/hunger. It's all pretty funny looking back! Christynne: I went to the church earlier that morning to turn the AC on, and I brought Dawson along so we could practice going up and down the aisle. He nailed it, no problem!! Of course, when it came to the actual ceremony, there was clapping, music, noise and he was going crazy! He finally made it up to greet us and was jumping all over the place like a mad man! Probably not the best idea for a 9 month old puppy, but we continue to laugh about that!
"He is witty and smart and always keeps me on my toes. Ben also loves to plan, so our trips are always full of exciting things and there is never a moment that goes to waste!"
"Christynne is always optimistic and can keep me in check when I start to get too stressed out. She keeps me at ease and has made me the happiest I have ever been in my life."
Some words of wisdom from Christynne and Ben for anyone planning their wedding:
"I feel like every website or blog gives the advice to stick to a budget and also to not sweat the small stuff. Obviously sticking to a budget is crucial, but also, don't let Pinterest and social media dictate everything you do. Do you need printed menus? NO! Do you need fancy seating arrangements? NO! Do you need table favors? NO! Just do what feels right to you, and know at the end of the day, no one will remember if you had peonies or roses, or if the champagne came from Costco and wasn't Moet. It matters that you both showed up, said yes, and that there was food and music for all to enjoy!
"Michelle made us feel excited from our first Skype interview! We had to plan our wedding from Georgia, and she constantly put our mind at ease. In the middle of all the stress of wedding planning, she would send an email that was a breath of fresh air! During our wedding day, Michelle was so pleasant, not pushy, and we barely even noticed she was there! Weddings are a LONG day for everyone, especially the team working, and she always had a smile on her face. Not to mention, the photos were AH-mazing!"
Invitations/Stationery: Anna Watson
Hair and Make up: John David Salon
Ben's Attire: Calvin Klein
Bridesmaid's Dresses: Lulus
Cake/Dessert: Icing on the Lake
DJ: Millenium Sound
Videography: Black Horse Videography
Wedding Planner: Dawn Schregel-Distinctive Occasions