Today, I’m launching a new blog to tell the stories of some of the incredible weddings, engagements, mitzvahs and other special events that I photograph.
To kick it off, I can think of no better wedding than the one I just shot of Jeremiah Starling and John Adams. Jeremiah (who is in his 70s) and John (who in in his late-60s) have been partners for 25 years. They live in North Carolina, where Jeremiah is a professor at Duke University, and John works in real estate. Since North Carolina has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages and civil unions, they came to New York (where Jeremiah’s children and grandchildren live) to do something they never imagined they would be permitted to do: get married.
To see two older gentlemen able finally to marry (this is John’s first marriage) was incredibly touching. I can only imagine how it would feel to have one’s father come out as gay, but Jeremiah’s children are the couple’s biggest supporters. John’s siblings were equally supportive, though they all grew up in a world where gays were not embraced. Best of all, Jeremiah’s grandchildren are growing up in a world where they find nothing strange about their Grandpapa marrying another man. They simply have a new “Papa John”.
The icing on the (wedding) cake was that many guests were John & Jeremiah’s fellow congregants from the Episcopal church in Raleigh where John and Jeremiah are active members. I’m confident most of the guests had never been to a gay wedding before, nor would they have supported the idea even a few years ago. But they clearly love John and Jeremiah, so they have come to support a gay marriage. Unfortunately, their rector wasn’t permitted to marry John and Jeremiah. Therefore, Reverend Steven J. Yagerman of New York’s All Saints Church stepped up to the podium to marry them instead in a beautiful Episcopal ceremony. I’ve photographed numerous same-sex weddings but this was my first in a church (where the congregants received communion, no less), and it was beautiful to see a religious institution and religious people so welcoming of John and Jeremiah. Rev. Yagerman presided over a tear-inducing ceremony, and attended the reception afterwards at the 21 Club. (Big props to Rev. Yagerman and the Episcopal Diocese of New York, which has been permitting gay marriage since September 2012.)