mid-summer wedding in claryville, ny

molly + derek

It was probably a random Tuesday afternoon when my friend (and super talented photographer) Amy Winningham asked if I’d second shoot a wedding in the Catskills with her in June. (A thousand times yes, because shooting with your amazingly talented friends is the best.) I didn’t have much intel about the weekend until I’d picked Amy up at the airport (she’s based in Portland, OR) and we were prepping in person for the big day between bites of Pepe’s pizza.

The basics were pretty easy. We’d be shooting a wonderful California-based couple named Derek and Molly, the ceremony and reception would all on Molly’s grandmother’s creekside property in a little town called Claryville, and maybe (if there was time) a quick little jaunt up the street for sunset photos to a spot that Molly really loved. Easy and sweet. A joyful day. I’d probably cry a few fat happy tears, like usual.

This magical day, though. Nothing like the usual at all. Molly’s Grandma? Total badass, and kinder than the day is long. Molly and Derek? Two of the warmest, most loving people I’ve ever met. That creekside property? Magical, because of the decades of history of Molly’s huge family returning to the same place and space to celebrate and laugh and love and share time together – I swear, you could feel all that time they’d spent with one another in the air and the trees.

And that little spot down the street? Molly told us on the way there that the family called it the Top of the World, and when we finally made it up the last massive hill, you could see why. You could see for miles – rolling fields and hills in every direction, with a pink and blue sunset edging beyond the horizon. It was breathtakingly beautiful in every way – and so were Molly and Derek as they danced and played and laughed through the grass until it was too dark to see.

There were so many details that made that day amazing – the way the entire family came together to build stuff, and design stuff, and prep the space, and support Molly and Derek on their way to their vows. The flower girls in the leaning afternoon light. The stars when the sun finally set (one of the many benefits of being in the actual middle of nowhere). The homemade s’mores around the coziest bonfire at the end of the night – and yes, I probably had at least one too many.

I’m so grateful that Amy asked me to assist her that weekend – to be a witness to all the love and joy and laughter with Molly and Derek and their families that day was a total honor.

And, gravy on gravy, I’ll be back in Claryville next June, in that very same magical spot, to capture Molly’s sisters wedding. Eily and Tim, I can’t wait!