- photos by Love Tree Studios
“Love is a great beautifier.” — Little Women
We crash weddings and love it. There are times, though, that we miss the real story.
This is a story of strength, love, endurance, and, of course, women.
A couple months ago, we met Rachel Bollenbach and Ben Brammeier. We have always been overly enthusiastic when it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July and were thrilled to hear about a wedding taking place over the holiday weekend. The couple had arranged to be married at the First Baptist Church and then walk over to their reception at The Roof, both off of Broadway downtown. Fireworks were expected to light up the sky from surrounding neighborhoods, and the couple was delighted by the idea of celebrating their favorite holiday with loved ones. Ben is an Army man and is now in the Army Reserve. Everything in the wedding, from the men’s suits to the invitations, were branded by their love for this country.
I could go on about the wedding details, but let’s begin our story here.
“I do think that families are the most beautiful things in all the world!” — Little Women
Weeks before the wedding, Rachel’s grandfather unexpectedly became very ill. Grandpa had stomach cancer. His condition was critical, and he was placed in a full-care facility in the midst of wedding planning. Rachel visited him as often as she could, and many of her bridal activities had to be scheduled around her grandfather’s needs. Rachel recalls her grandpa telling her how much he wanted to see her get married one day. That seemed to be impossible now.
The special day, July 3, was full of excitement, though Rachel knew Grandpa couldn’t make it. The rain clouds lingered throughout the morning, and the hopes of a rooftop reception were not looking promising. The women gathered together and got ready at The Loft while the rain began to pour. However, nothing could ruin Rachel’s special day, especially when she was spending time with her favorite women.
Rachel arrived at First Baptist Church to find that her mother and grandmother had not yet arrived from the salon. Rachel checked the time. It had just turned to 2:30. The skies seemed to clear, and the sun peaked through to give a glimmer of hope. Rachel’s mother and grandmother arrived an hour later, but Rachel didn’t seem to notice with all the commotion. Time flew by, and the guests began to arrive.
The ceremony was officiated by a sweet friend’s father, who spoke of the couple with fondness. Tears were shed and laughs were shared. The wedding bells rang, and the couple had their first kiss as husband and wife. Their choice of photographer was perfect for their special day — Love Tree Studios paid close attention to the most intimate details and captured the most significant part of this love story. It did not involve the dress, or the cake, or all the other wonderful details that they had pored over in the last year of planning. Sometimes, we’re so engrossed with the details that we miss the most important moments in life.
“The love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy.” — Little Women
In an instant, a picture is taken and a moment is captured, and we end this story with the most captivating of pictures. Grandma was photographed in a beautiful blue gown and a crisp red shawl, clasping a necklace that carried her husband’s ring near her heart. Much to the surprise of the gorgeous bride, Grandpa was able to see her get married from the best seat he could — heaven. Her grandfather had passed away at 2:30 that afternoon.
Looking back, Rachel recalls that the moment he took his last breath was the moment she looked up and realized the clouds were clearing. As she retold the story, Rachel expressed in tears that it was a sign from her Grandpa that he was with her.
The hour delay in Rachel’s mother and grandmother arriving to the church was due to their last visit to the hospital. They held back tears and kept the secret hidden for the remainder of the day so their sweet Rachel could celebrate without a care in the world. Most of the women in their circle knew and gave each other an incredible amount of support. They all managed to dance the night away because of their love for the bride.
Which brings me to the quote above, rephrased here: a mother’s sweetest reward is the love, respect, and confidence of her daughters. Rachel walked away from her wedding with not only a new life partner, but with the loving portrait of a family life that possesses a lasting vitality to support each other through all life’s ups and downs.
Edith Hall Cakes
Prairie String Quartet
First Baptist Church
Alan Anderson’s Just Fabulous!
The Loft Hair Design, Cherie Doyen
The Broadway and The Roof
The Ink Cafe LLC
Mary Kay Cosmetics, Sandy Ollar
KC Groove Therapy
Love Tree Studios
White Knight Coaches & Limos
Wedding Day Attire
Bridal Dress: David’s Bridal
Veil: handmade by Rachel’s aunt, Lesa Brocksmith
Shoes: Antonio Melani