On my way to Aaron and Jason’s wedding at The Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston, my Uber driver and I began chatting. I told him how Ben and I were photographing a wedding today for a couple from Washington DC, and how it’s kinda crazy because the groom, Aaron, grew up on my street.
He said, “Wait, what’s his name?” Turns out my Uber driver, William, also grew up in the neighborhood and knew Aaron from when they were kids. His face took on a wistful expression as he told me how he always knew Aaron would make something of himself, how his mother raised him that way, to be smart and kind and driven.
Then he said, “So the bride must be from DC then?” I said, “Actually, he’s marrying a man.” This being the Deep South, you can never be sure about anyone’s views on gay marriage, so I waited as he considered this. He said, “This is really making me think. I’ve gotta get my life together!” He was simply impressed, as most people are with Aaron.
Aaron came from very humble beginnings right here in downtown Charleston, on the same street where Ben and I now live. He has become that super-impressive person who commands a room, who entertains, who loves on everyone, and who everyone loves to be around. As someone pointed out in their wedding speech, Aaron’s story is unlikely: A gay, biracial man from the South, who moved to DC and became a lawyer for Futures Without Violence, which works to end violence against women.
Jason, who works for the Department of State, is just as impressive, just as kind, and has that same innate desire to care for those around him (during one of our portraits, he couldn’t concentrate because he was worried about his mother feeling OK on this very hot day). And, in that amazing small-world way, even though they met in DC, Jason was also a South Carolina kid. They met through an online dating app. Neither expected anything to come from their first date, but they told us that something was different right away. They felt a deep, instantaneous connection.
To see Aaron and Jason together is to see the natural flow of love. They move with and around one another as if choreographed – each one taking up where the other leaves off, each one anticipating the next step, the next word, the next move.
Instead of a first dance, they surprised their guests with a vocal performance on stage with the band. Jason, who is not normally the singer in this duo, got on stage again later in the evening to perform solo, and then hopped on stage yet again to dance with the band. Everyone went wild!
Aaron and Jason’s wedding day was the same day that the US Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice. The last speech of the wedding brought up this fact, and urged everyone to come up on stage to show how they will stand beside one another through whatever challenges, hardships and heartbreak we will be facing as a nation. Instead of sadness, it felt more like hope and inspiration.
Love wins again, and it will continue to win, as long as there are people to protect it, and as long as there are people like Aaron and Jason who show us what the best version of it looks like.
Before you go, check out our other LGBTQ weddings.