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Katie Jane & John


*Katie Jane, Elopement Photographer & John, Engineer at Etsy*

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

Today’s wedding graduate post is one I’ve been waiting for, for a long long time. Katie Jane is a long time reader of APW who left a crazy joy filled comment from her honeymoon where she raved about her wedding and happened to mention the wedding photography business she was starting. One thing lead to another, and she’s become one of APW’s go-to elopement photographers in NYC. But today’s post is about her wedding and, more importantly, about why we really get married and what it all means. It’s about the impossible transience of our lives and why that makes the huge love of a wedding day matter. That, and the joy shining out of Our Labor of Love’s pictures is absolutely palpable.Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

John and I got engaged on the first day of spring in 2009. We were watching TV when he turned to me and said, “Do you want to get hitched?” I thought he was kidding, “Yeah, right.” “No… seriously… do you want to get hitched?” “What? Are you serious?” He nodded. I started sobbing but somehow managed to say yes. The next day he took me out to pick a ring.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

We love a good party, but we had little enthusiasm for wedding planning, so we started planning an elopement—Hawaii on our fifth anniversary: October 9, 2010. We were just going to run off and do it and it would be amazing.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

Both our families were thrilled we’d decided to get married. They were not thrilled about being left out and had no problem letting us know. “Well, what if we just decide to go to Hawaii at the same time?” While John held fast, they started to get into my head. I worried I was going to be missing out on something huge.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

A few months after we got engaged we were sitting on our terrace drinking beers, talking about the future. “I think I want a wedding,” I said, out of nowhere. John, who knows me so well, smiled, “I knew it was only a matter of time before our elopement became a wedding.” We talked about the good and bad of a wedding—he didn’t think “because I’m worried I’m missing out” should be our only reason for having one. We took a while to mull it over and finally came to the conclusion yes, we’d have a wedding, but we’d do it on our terms. And so it began.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding\Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

Deciding to have a wedding didn’t make us suddenly interested in wedding planning. We decided to do it together, to prioritize what was important and not worry about the rest, to go with our instincts, and if something didn’t come together… oh well.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

I designed our save the dates, invitations, menus, and programs myself. We had a friend who is an awesome DJ and booked him about a year before our wedding at a much lower cost than a typical New York City DJ. Our photographers gave us a deal on their travel expenses because they were already scheduled to be in New York City that weekend anyway. Since I could not have cared less about flowers or centerpieces, when John’s aunt offered to hire a florist, I told her to go for it. I wanted fall colors, but other than that, I didn’t care what anything looked like. (Giving up control and letting John’s aunt do that for us was one of the best decisions we made.) I found the perfect shoes for $20 online. A close family friend agreed to become ordained and officiate our wedding, so we didn’t have to have someone we didn’t know marrying us. Everything was coming together perfectly. Until it wasn’t.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

A month before the wedding everything started to get a little hectic. I hated my dress. Actually… I loved my dress, but I had very bad feelings associated with it. The day I picked it out was not a good day in wedding planning land, and whenever I put on the dress, all those awful feelings would rush back. Our DJ called one day out of the blue to tell me he couldn’t be at our wedding anymore because he “had another gig come up,” but he had a friend that would step up and DJ for us. WHAAAAAAT? It was an incredibly awkward situation—I felt backed into a corner—but when the new DJ said we could pay him whatever we wanted, I felt like we should just do it. We were less than a month away from the wedding—it was this new DJ—Tim Martell—or an iPod. So we took a chance and went for Tim. Then one of my best friends/bridesmaids just completely dropped out of my life—she stopped answering calls and emails, I didn’t know if she was still coming to the wedding or not. I still have no idea what happened and why she disappeared from my life without warning. I feel dramatic for saying it was one of the most devastating things to happen to me, but… it was. Realizing that she would not be there on my wedding day was heartbreaking. I couldn’t imagine doing this without her standing by my side.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

I started to feel like I just wanted to get it over with. Maybe this whole thing was a mistake. (Not the getting married part, the having a wedding part.) And then I got a wake up call. I was getting ready to head out to shoot an engagement session one Saturday a couple of weeks before our wedding, and John was on his way to Brooklyn on his bicycle to meet some friends. About fifteen minutes after he left, he called me. He was calm, but he sounded weird, “Don’t freak out, but I was just in an accident in Midtown.”

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

The bike path he normally takes was closed off, and he’d had to go down another street. A taxi had pulled in front of him and stopped short—he tried to swerve and was thrown from his bike. He came down on the sidewalk, face first. Four off his front teeth were just gone. His mouth was full of shards. His left arm was fractured. He was bloodied and bruised. Had he not been wearing a helmet, he may not have survived. (PSA: Always wear a helmet, people!)

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

Although I had spent almost a year and a half not stressing about making this wedding come together—I had somehow gotten to this point just before the wedding where I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I had been so focused on everything that was going wrong that I had lost sight a of what the real end goal was: for John and I to bond our lives together. Everything else was incidental. It took me coming scarily close to losing my groom altogether to remember that. So I felt weird about my dress… so our DJ bailed at the last minute… so one of my closest friends wasn’t there… so our menus came back from the printer two days before the wedding completely messed up. Oh well. We’d roll with it. John would be there, and I would be there, and it didn’t matter what I was wearing or what music was playing. We’d be married.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

And that’s what happened. We danced our faces off and ate and drank and cried and laughed like crazy. John abandoned his sling for the night, and I kept jumping into his arms, forgetting he had a broken arm. (Whoopsie.) John’s brother wrote us a song. I literally hugged every person there about twenty times each. I watched all my friends and family come together with all of John’s friends and family, and everyone partied like they’d all known each other forever. And our DJ ended up being amazing: Tim Martell stands head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

When I think about my wedding, I don’t think about the ruined menus or even my dress. I think about how I felt as John slipped my ring onto my finger. I think about kissing my new husband over and over all night. And I think of him twirling me in circles on the dance floor, my dress flying up around me, and everyone we love standing around us singing and clapping and laughing. A lot of little things went wrong all day long, but we got the really big thing right.

Katie Jane & John | A Practical Wedding

The Info—Photography: Our Labor of Love / Venue: Bridgewaters / Dress: Priscilla of Boston / Headpiece: Whichgoose / DJ: Tim Martell

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  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.com Amanda

    Oh wow, this sounds so much like our wedding planning. Of course it all came out well in the end, because you married John, but amidst the planning sometimes it can get difficult.
    I had some close friends that did not come to the wedding and did not tell us they were not coming (I had to track them to get an answer about a month before) so it is one of the most heartbreaking parts of the preparation.
    Also your parents response to your elopement: ““Well, what if we just decide to go to Hawaii at the same time?” was exactly what happened to us. See, the husband is shy and though we were going to have a religious ceremony + day reception, for the civil marriage part we had wanted to go to city hall on a monday morning just the two of us with our 2 witnesses (his brother and a friend). But when we told our parents about it (for logistical reasons this was to be months before the religious ceremony) they were like, oh really, well we will come as well. (From across the ocean). It was great because we ended up having 2 ceremonies, the first one with about 16 people in all where it really was city hall + breakfast, and the second more traditional one, but so much for a pseudo elopement. I had not read the rules from Meg here at that point (you do not tell anyone until after it is done) but to us it was not really a secret it was just practicality.

    Oh and that cake, with the skyline, is way original and cool. I hope John is doing fine now !

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Yes! I didn’t think about the not telling anyone until it’s over thing either. But I’m terrible at keeping secrets in general. I’m glad your two weddings were both awesome though! That sounds so nice.

      John is totally fine! We found a great dentist and he got new teeth a couple of days before the wedding and his arm healed up perfectly!

  • http://smittenimmigrant.wordpress.com Pluis

    I hope John has made a full recovery. It must have been intensely scary when you got that phone call.

    It’s also very affirming to read a process that mimics my own, with regards to wedding planning. For a long time, our wedding, too, was just something to be done with as soon as possible. And, like with you, in the end the day had a quality to it that made it very worthwhile.

    I love how totally at peace you look in the first picture of this post, by the way. It’s gorgeous.

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Thank you! And yes, John is totally fine. Lovely new teeth and his arm healed perfectly. :-)

      • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

        (A year+ later…)

        I’m so glad to hear that. I broke off some adult front teeth as a kid, and have been dealing with dental issues aver since then. I think I finally have the last of it sorted (knock wood) but mouth trauma in other people always makes me wince and grab my own mouth protectively. Ow!

        And yes, thank god for helmets. They can’t prevent everything, but they certainly help.

  • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

    You certainly did get the big thing right, and a whole lot else! Even though I’ve heard this story in person before I love seeing it here — the pictures of you and John just make me so happy for you all over again!

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Aw, thanks Zan. :-)

      • maura

        new idea for the next apw book club-
        everything brings their wedding albums and talks about their wedding! how i wish i heard these stories in person! and who doesn’t love photos filled of joy and love.

        • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

          i know!

          i did not know this story and wow it is a doozy! makes me glad i ONLY sliced off a chunk of finger in the weeks before the wedding. physical injuries are a fast track to wedding zen, i’ll say that much.

          wonderful gorgeous wise grad post.

          and yes, helmets, people, helmets!

  • http://suburbaliciousliving.blogspot.com Lauren

    Katie Jane! I love this whole thing, but that picture of your wedding party under the elevated tracks?!?!? There are no words.

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Thank you!! I want to blow that up and put it somewhere awesome in my apartment.

  • carrie

    You are so, so right about not seeing the forest for the trees. I’m so sorry that something so scary had to happen to John to make it all come into focus, but the end product was beautiful and you all look so happy. (Can I use “so” one more time??) I’m very glad John is okay, and congrats!

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Thank you!

  • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com d-day

    Katie Jane! you just made my day. so happy to see this post aahhhh!

    So much joy and fun in these photos. You both looked amazing. And I have to agree with Lauren about the wedding party photo under the tracks. Jeez!

    Also, had forgotten about John’s accident, holy moly. Nothing like a brush with death to make your perspective snap back into focus. So glad he’s ok. yay helmet!

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Aw, thanks!! Yes – I am obsessed with making people wear helmets now! ha.

  • Kate

    awww. choking up. blessings to you and your husband!

  • http://emiliajanephotography.com Emilia

    YAY!!!!!!!! I love every single part of this!

  • http://www.christytylerphotography.com Christy T

    Umm this gave me crazy goosebumps! I absolutely love this. You two are so sweet together and goodness – you are stunning! LOVE.

  • http://sogladthatyouexist.blogspot.com Nina B.

    Gorgeous.

    And I don’t mean to pry, but am I the only one curious about what the heck happened to your friend?

    • http://www.northof59thstreet.com Katie Jane

      I’d like to know what exactly happened to my friend too. :-) She just kind of disappeared. She’s had a lot of personal issues over the years, and she up and moved to the midwest out of nowhere, just before the wedding. She dropped out of my life and a lot of other people’s lives too. She doesn’t answer calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages. We offered to fly her back out for the wedding so she could be there, and she never responded. I know she’s alive and I assume fine, but I eventually had to go through her mother to get confirmation of that, because she just vanished. I’m finally making peace with the fact that I will probably never speak to her again, but it took me a long, long time to get to this point. She was like a sister. It sucks.

  • http://www.jasmineephotography.com Jasmine E.

    Katie! Wowzerz!! You know, I would have never thought you experienced all these crazy things through YOUR planning process. It makes me all the happier I had you there to capture my day. I can tell where your passion for weddings comes from and you’re amazing at what you do! After having gone through it myself and dealing with all the things I had to put up with in my own planning process, I love weddings in a whole new way! Thank you so much for sharing and Congratulations to you and John again!!

    P.S – Your wedding photos are awesome – I love your dress and your cake!!

    • http://www.northof59thstreet.com Katie Jane

      Thank you, Jasmine!!

  • http://twitter.com/emilyrose423 emily rose

    “I started to feel like I just wanted to get it over with. Maybe this whole thing was a mistake. (Not the getting married part, the having a wedding part.)”

    We hit that point, too. Maybe everyone does? I’m glad, too, that we pushed through – I love how you had such a powerful wakeup call right when you needed it.

    Also… I need to get a bike helmet.

    • Jo

      “I started to feel like I just wanted to get it over with. Maybe this whole thing was a mistake. (Not the getting married part, the having a wedding part.)”

      So we just officially announced that we’ve decided to have a wedding and I’m already having those moments. My partner would prefer to elope, and I used to think I didn’t even want to get married (meaning never, had nothing to do with my partner who I am completely committed to permanently, it’s an ideological thing). I’ve been reading APW for the past few months in order to come to terms with my conflicting desire to have a wedding, and it’s given me worlds of comfort. But now that the cat’s out of the bag and reality is setting in – family expectations, etc – I’m having these moments of regret. I had to tell my parents that I am comfortable calling this whole thing off if it isn’t true to me and my partner. We’ll see how that sets in as we start making plans and decisions. My partner is convinced that they’re going to win in the end and that it’s going to be something he’ll hate and I’m determined not to let that happen.

  • http://www.hibouphoto.com kandise

    Yay!

  • http://www.koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate ⎨Koru Wedding⎬

    “John would be there, and I would be there, and it didn’t matter what I was wearing or what music was playing. We’d be married.”

    Perfection. From these happy photos, I can clearly see you & John nailed the really big thing!

    p.s. that is the best NYC theme cake i have ever seen!

  • Granola

    Congratulations!!!! I bought my dress this past weekend, and I know that it looks beautiful, but part of me wishes I had more of an emotional attachment to it. There was another one that emotionally I liked better, but this one was cheaper, a sample so I could take it home and not have to fly back home in 8 months for a sitting, etc…. on and on. But it heartens me to know that I can let it go and it won’t define my wedding one way or another. There aren’t a lot of things that I’m emotionally tied up in knots about, but that means when I am, I think that I should really listen to it because “I only care about this one thing…” Thanks for the reality check.

    I’m so glad your husband is ok and that you found a comforting takeaway from the scary experience. Best wishes to you both.

  • Elle T.

    beautiful wedding, incredible story. And for the record – I love your dress and it’s just the style I am looking for too! You look so gorgeous and full of love and joy! Who needs menus when you have all that love and joy?! And yes, people – wear your helmets!!

  • http://onwardfulltilt.blogspot.com Caitlin

    Oh I love this so much. I did a little gasp at the bicycle phone call and then teared up through the rest. The photos, the story…so much love here. And can I be superficial for a minute and say my god that dress is perfect. I’d like to wear it right now. Which would be awkward because I’m at work. But still. Right now please. This is so beautifully written and I love that a comment here from you helped start what is now such an amazing business that brings joy to so many people. I remember meeting you at Justin and Mary’s workshop this past winter and not knowing that we had the APW connection until you told me you recognized me from my post here. And now I’ve been following your work ever since. APW in full force. Love it.

    • http://www.northof59thstreet.com Katie Jane

      Aw, thank you!! Yes – I want to wear my dress again too! I keep trying to think of a good excuse. ;-) I actually might have some layers taken out of the skirt, have it shortened, dyed, and turned into a cocktail dress. I don’t want it to sit in a box forever.

      It was so nice to meet you at J&M’s workshop! I’m glad I didn’t come off as a total weirdo, because I was debating all day on whether or not I should mention I recognized you from APW! Haha.

  • http://jessicaschillingphotography.com Jessica Schilling

    So much wisdom, so much joy. Love all of the photos, of course! Congrats, Katie Jane and John!

  • Erin H

    Oh thank god for the dress reality check! I keep having everyone tell me that I’m supposed to have a MOMENT, and I’m like, what if I don’t have time or the money for the moment? What if I feel just fine in a dress I tried on, and my moment was like “hey, my boobs aren’t falling down, and i actually look alright, and this is in my price range, and I need to go write a paper”?

    The dress I tried on is a very similar dress to yours, just now I looked at you in your dress (we have similar body types) and thought “OH, I could look like THAT!” Totally gorgeous. Done and done.
    The important question: Where is that shrug from?! It’s beautiful.

    • http://www.bluscelebrations.com bec

      You don’t need a moment over your dress. This day doesn’t have to be about anything other than getting married. THAT will be your moment!

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      You definitely don’t have to have a MOMENT. Some people do, some people don’t. I didn’t. I liked it a lot when I put it on, but there was another dress I probably liked as much, so I went for the one that was slightly cheaper. Not exactly a magic moment, and I think that’s fine. And then the rest of that day was clouded for me by family crap that completely overshadowed the picking out of the dress anyway.

      Ahhh… the shrug is the best part! It’s Marc Jacobs, but I got it on eBay for $25! And I still wear it all the time because it’s not too wedding-y.

  • Grace

    What a fantastic story, congratulations! Also, that degree of aplomb that John has is quite amazing. And for the dress to have such terrible associations – what kind of a catastrophic day in wedding planning land did that have to be?

    On the elopement thing: I am so awful at not telling anyone before it’s signed sealed and delivered. We also wanted to elope, and wanted things to be done with as soon as possible, but out of respect to our parents, had a guerrilla micro-ceremony in the park in a culture where guerrilla micro-ceremonies are Not Really Done. And then because we live very far away (like 20 hours flight time) from a large chunk of our friends and family, we aren’t having A Wedding – but we are having three (mini and not-so-mini) parties in different places.

  • http://www.bluscelebrations.com bec

    “A lot of little things went wrong all day long, but we got the really big thing right.” Best. Ending. Ever.

    Katie Jane, thanks for sharing your beautiful day with us!! It makes me love you even more, to see your happy face and hear your wedding story. You are most awesome!!

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Aw, thank you so much! xo

  • http://www.suncentered.com Jenny

    That last paragraph made me tear up! You are so right about getting the “big thing” right!

    I’m glad to hear John is well. YES to helmets! My boyfriend got in a bad accident once, too, and is sure his helmet saved him. Some idiot made a right turn in front of him without looking. Super scary stuff… :( I’ve almost gotten run over a few times myself for the same reasons.

    My first thoughts on seeing your dress before reading your comments was how beautiful it is/how beautiful you looked in it!

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Thank you so much!

      And yes! Helmets FTW! I’m glad your boyfriend is okay. I am way too scared to bike on the New York City streets like John does. I’ll only ride in Central Park.

  • http://nycfaces.net NYC Faces Makeup Artist Anni Bruno

    Oh my god. How incredibly cool to see you guys on here and to read your story. Thanks for sharing!!!! Katie Jane you are the coolest. :)

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Aw, thanks Anni!!

      (P.S. I hope I will be seeing you at the Etsy party in two weeks!)

  • Kinzie Kangaroo

    Katie Jane, you are gorgey gorge. Also, I just sent my bridal brigade this link, because you have your ladies all in purple and they don’t match! For some reason, this concept is difficult for my people to comprehend… They keep asking for swatches and samples and ideas. So I hope they can look at how good your peeps look and take it from there. Love your pictures, love the post.

    • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

      Thank you! Yeah, when I told my girls I wanted purple, but I didn’t care what color of purple, everyone had a hard time with that too. I just had to convince them that I *really really* didn’t care what color of purple they showed up in, and then they nailed it. I loved what they all ended up wearing.

  • Teagan

    I love posts like this. Hugs for making me feel better about wedding planning.

    Also, it is always awesome to find some who got engaged in a similar way to me.

  • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

    So glad to hear that John is alright — bike accidents can be so scary. Hugs to you both, and a big big congratulations.

  • http://www.sadiesadiemarriedlady.com Sadie

    Wow. I’m sitting here at my desk and just crying. Seems a bit of an extreme reaction, but wow, I really hope I feel that way after my wedding is over. Nothing bad has even happened (yet), but I am looking forward to being on the other side. All I want is to feel all that love and joy and not be worried about anything else, and I guess I’m worried that the people that love me won’t get the idea. When I type that out it doesn’t make much sense, but it’s what keeps me in a state of semi-anxiety whenever I think about the wedding.

  • Heather Gardner

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your wedding story. It happens to the best of us – we say we’re not going to be those “brides” that get caught up in the details, but it is very easy to do so and before you know it, our heads spin madly in circles and we’re breathing fire. But you know what, it happens.

    So glad that John wasn’t *seriously* injured and you both were able to have an amazing wedding!

    Congrats!