The day had finally come. After nearly a year of planning, re-planning and planning again, Anya would finally be Mrs. Joel Gatchell. They had met when they were pre-teens, and were high school sweethearts. After college, Anya began working as a nurse while Joel finished his senior year at Cedarville University. When COVID hit, Joel’s last semester of college, along with his last season of track was cut short, and he headed home to finish up. It was still months until their wedding, and they both thought that by June everything would be back to normal. I think we all thought (or hoped) that. Their venue and guest count changed so many times in the few months before their wedding, they were almost ready to head to the courthouse, if they had to. Thankfully they didn’t have to do that! Only a month before their wedding, they booked the most beautiful location they could have dreamed of. The Barn at Artemis is a hidden gem, in the small community of Brogue. It overlooks the Susquehanna River and has beautiful views from every direction. With it’s relaxing, natural and woodsy vibe, it was Anya’s dream come true.
Joel and Anya’s wedding day began with a gentle rain. Because they had an outdoor wedding planned, it could cause a disruption in their plans, but they are not strangers to changing plans so they were ready for anything. Anya and her bridesmaids got ready at her apartment. With hair and makeup all done, they headed to the venue to work on any finishing touches. The day before, Anya, her roommate, mom and future mother-in-law had arranged the girls’ bouquets, making each of them a little different. It was fun letting them pick the one they liked the most. As the afternoon progressed, the rain turned to a light drizzle and just an hour before the ceremony, the rain had stopped completely.
Anya and Joel had decided early on that they wouldn’t have a first look together, but that Anya would have one with her father. It was more emotional than she had expected. Before that moment, she had been relaxed and didn’t feel the nervousness she thought she would feel on her wedding day. When she saw her father, it suddenly became real….that today was the day her dad would be giving her away. It’s always fun to get the father’s point of view. When I asked about his feelings when he saw her, he said “My first thought was that Anya looked so beautiful and excited. I remembered the little baby I held when she was born; the little girl who would run to me and cling to me tightly; the long conversations and coffee dates as she grew into a Godly young woman. As all of these memories ran through my mind, a peace and great sense of joy came over me as I realized that very shortly I would be entrusting this wonderful daughter to someone who loves her as much as I do. It was definitely one of the best days of my life!” It was a tender and sweet moment between father and daughter and I’m so glad I was able to capture it.
The ceremony was intimate and simple. Everyone in the bridal party looked amazing. With the river as a backdrop and all of the lush greenery around, it was a beautiful wedding. One of the most touching moments was when Joel’s father prayed for them. It meant so much to have the blessing of both of their families on the best day of their lives.
After the ceremony, we walked around the grounds and took some stunning photos of Joel and Anya, the beautiful scenery and their guests. The reception was relaxing and fun. Choosing brick oven pizza from Forno Bova was perfect for the laid back feel of the day. And Beiler’s donuts instead of wedding cake…yes!! So many flavors. (Who knew there were s’mores and mocha creme donuts?) This was especially “sweet” to Joel who loves donuts and took Anya on many “donut dates” in college! After a sparkler sendoff, the happy couple traveled to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to honeymoon. As with their wedding plans, their destination had also changed…from Scotland…to Canada…and then finally they settled on Tennessee as they had to stay in the US. They had a wonderful time hiking and being together. Hopefully, they’ll get to their other choices when it’s safer to travel.
In a time when things seem uncertain and plans change every day, Anya and Joel are so happy they were able to get married. Even though all of their guests weren’t able to attend, they still consider it the best wedding they’ve ever been to. When asked what they’ve learned through all of this, I love Anya’s response.
“Through it all, God has taught me that He is always Sovereign and that His plans are always good. This is just another lesson to help me grow… I try to plan my life and make things work the way I want them to, but God is the One that is in complete control. I may think I know what is going to happen, but I really don’t and can’t change the way things go. Everyone said during this time that I was extremely calm and taking things so well, but I know that wasn’t me…it was God giving me a peace that was unsurpassing and a joy that was unshakeable. I felt that during this time I couldn’t do anything other than just trust God for how things would turn out. I couldn’t wait to marry Joel…we’d been waiting for many years for this moment. I would have married Joel in a courthouse if it came to it and I would have been content. In the end, God was still glorified and we still got married. The details are just an additional blessing, but they’re not the main goal. Am I a little sad about how our day turned out? A little, only because all the plans I put in for 10 months had to be completely replaced and because we had to un-invite so many people that we really wanted to attend. But am I content with how the day turned out? Absolutely. I’m still learning this, but it was another example of me learning that when you trust in God, He gives you things that you never expected or maybe even wanted, but you can say that they are truly better than what you thought.”
Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Gatchell! It was an honor to capture the memories of your day, and an even greater honor to call you friends!
Photography | John Malloy Photography
Venue | The Barn at Artemis
Bridal Dress | Alfred Angelo
Groomsmen | Van Heusen Style
Bridesmaids Dresses |Azazie
Floral Design |Hannah Warner
Hair Stylist & Makeup | Hannah Warner & Kate Warfel
Caterer | Forno Bovo
Cake | Beiler’s Donuts