Meredith + Jim

Meredith and Jim are such a beautiful couple. Meredith first reached out to me a few months back, asking if I could photograph their elopement. They live in Colorado, but have always loved Santa Barbara, got engaged in Santa Barbara, so naturally, they wanted to get married in Santa Barbara! I jumped on it. Traveling is one of the BEST parts about my job!

Her dress, her hair, her make up, her jewelry... ah, Meredith took my breath away! Her look was timeless. She wore a cap sleeve lace gown, dainty earrings, and an elegant updo, and dressed her now husband, Jim, in beige and blue {along with the rest of the family}. The colors looked really nice together and with the rest of the venue. Her husband, by the way, is just the nicest, most down-to-earth man. I could truly feel the love when they were together. In fact, everyone was just awesome! I felt the warm welcome of the whole family. Laughs were shared, {happy} tears were shed, and we had nothing but fun. And elopements are kind of my favorite, simply because I LOVE giving all of my attention to just the couple, after all, it's THEIR day! No scrambling to get everyone together, no need to worry about confusion between the vendors, just pure love.

BUT...

As peaceful as the ceremony was, the journey to GET to the ceremony was a completely different story!

With all that has been going on (the devastating fires in Santa Barbara and all over L.A., the floods in Monecito, etc.) there have been some road closures that have posed travel issues to the area. I was aware there were road closures, so I decided to leave early. I knew Santa Barbara was about 2.5 hours away, so I thought I would be safe leaving about 5.5 hours early. I put the address in maps, trusting that it would guide me through the correct route. Maps typically shows when there are accidents and road closures and reroutes accordingly. It's never been a problem before, so why should it be a problem now? Well, I was very, very wrong. I knew that the freeway was closed in certain parts, but unfortunately, I was unaware that side roads were closed too. And not only that... ALL SIDE ROADS were closed!

I went into panic mode when I was only 8 miles away from the venue (EIGHT! LIKE, SERIOUSLY?) and all of the sudden, my austrialian virtual assistant {Siri} tells me that there is a road closure ahead, and I have been rerouted. See the problem was... well, the new route was a FIVE HOUR detour! It was 10:30am at this point, and the wedding started around 1. My heart dropped. "There is no way. I'll just try another app," I thought. So I pulled over and downloaded Waze and put in the address just to see in big, red letters "NO ROUTE DETECTED."

At that point, I was in major freakout mode. Is this seriously happening? No, no, no no no. It can't happen! I've never missed an event before, there is no way in hell I'm going to miss one now! I called a few friends, completely panicking. I was told to use google maps, as it's been said its better than Apple maps, and viola, there was one side road open! {or so I thought....} I took the side road, got about half way there, and then ran into a closed road sign and a cop. "The cop should know a way," I figured.

I pulled up to him and he asked, "Where are you headed, Miss?" I FRANTICALLY told him, "Santa Barbara! PLEASE tell me how I can get there!"

"Well, I have no good news for you," he said. My whole body went numb and I burst into tears. "I can give you the emergency number and you can ask them to escort you through, but it's a total long shot."

I called the emergency number to no avail. I was bawling my eyes out telling him that this was a MAJOR emergency, and that there was no I could let my bride have no photographer, and he told me with sympathy that he is sorry that I have an emergency, but that they have a bigger emergency. And he was right. I understood that their emergency is of a much greater magnitude, but I couldn't even imagine not being able to fulfil my part.

I was on the side of the road crying to my fiance on the phone, and he suggested to try the train. Apparently, the train was the only way anyone has been able to get from Carpenteria to SB according to the internet. An instant feeling of relief came over me until.... I saw that the train was scheduled to leave in a few minutes. I was about 8 minutes away from the train station. I SPED to where maps said the train station was, only to find it wasn't there. It was a few blocks away. I couldn't see it from where I was, but I parked in two hour parking, grabbed my gear and TOOK OFF!

I was asking strangers on every corner where the station was! As it turned out, it was probably a half mile away. And I was so frazzle brained that I ran right past it. I ran and ran {with 60 lbs of gear on my back}, drenched in sweat, re-freaking out because I knew there was no way I would make it on time. I hopelessly looked at my watch {it said 11:23a.m., the train was scheduled to leave at 11:20a.m.} How in the world was I supposed to tell my bride what was happening? This was something I never thought I would have to do. I am always so on top of things! In fact, I am always incredibly early to things, and always prepared for the unexpected. How was this happening to me?

I got to the train station and saw hundreds of people waiting. "Oh my gosh, maybe the train is late!" And turns out, IT WAS! My prayer had been answered! Some nice lady in line helped me purchase a ticket on my phone, and FINALLY I had boarded the train.

How in the world did this work out? I felt so lucky, so relieved, so blessed. I could have cried. But the journey was not over.

I got off the train, and the venue was a mile away. So again, I walked and ran. What the hay, at least I was getting a good workout right?!

I made it to the venue with about 10 minutes to spare. I started looking at booking a return ride back to my car in Carpenteria only to find that all the train tickets for the rest of the day and the following day were sold out. Oh my, that's another story. At that point, I didn't care what I had to do to get home, I was just ready to make this the best day of my clients' lives.

We had such a great time, and they had no idea... until I eventually told them. I was terrified that they would think that I was irresponsible and be upset, but it was the total opposite. They were so incredibly grateful that I never gave up (apparently, they had some complications with hair and make up because these poor people couldn't make it to Santa Barbara!) and in addition, we shared a lot of laughs while I was telling the story. It was the most insane thing that could have happened, but there was no way in hell I was going to let them down. At one point, after the emergency call, I was looking for a spot to park my car preparing to RUN the 8 miles!

Their day was everything and more they dreamed it to be. And once it was time for me to come home, that's when a minimal amount of stress set in. Hopefully I COULD get home! But I didn't even care. At least I made it!

I walked back to the train station and luckily, there was a cancellation for the latest train home. I got my ticket and started walking back to main street to get some food, and a thought occured to me: MY CAR! I realized I had to worry about a ticket, or worse, it getting towed. Maybe I could just get on the earlier train.

Apparently, everyone and their mom had the same idea as me. There had to have been 500 people waiting to get on that train. WAY over max capacity. I made friends with some of the nice people in line, some of them had the late tickets too. We thought there was no way in heck we were going to make it on this train, but we may as well try. What did we have to lose?!

It was posted all over the website and repeated several times by the announcer that due to the crazy travel situation, there would be extremely strict boarding regulations on these trains. But I knew most of the people waiting to get on the train didn't have tickets at all! If anything, wouldn't they be kicked off first?

Well, I was right, I didn't get kicked off. In fact, no one got kicked off. Every single person waiting for the train made it on! We were like sardines in a can! Everyone was breathing in someone else's breath. It was hot and sticky, and people were even riding in the bathrooms in attempt to find more room. On the bright side though, I got to talk to some awesome people, and we all just kind of laughed at the situation. My body was in so much pain, but I was the happiest camper alive!

I got off the train and walked to my car to find that it did not get towed and there was no ticket, thank GOD! How did I get so lucky?! I had no idea! I WAS IN TEARS by the end of the night! I was so happy that somehow I walked away from that crazy day WITHOUT A SCRATCH! Not only without a scratch, but my wonderful clients had me on cloud 9! It was all a miracle.

Moral of the story... Don't just double check. Triple check. Quadrouple check. Quintouple check (lol, you get the point) and be grateful for each situation as it makes you stronger! My beautiful couple was more pleased and thankful than ever to have a photographer that would go to such great heights (as all should!) and I was thankful that I was able to figure out a solution and the situation didn't end badly.

I am so grateful to be able to do what I do, to get the opportunity to go to awesome locations, to get to meet new incredible people, and to help people create memories that'll last a life time. Every experience makes me realize this more. This job, although crazy at times, is life's biggest gift!

Check out some of the highlights from Meredith + Jim's day:

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