A Charming NYC Elopement, and a Lesson I’ll Never Forget

If you take nothing else from this blog post, please understand the importance of always having a form of state or federal ID on you.

I got an inquiry about elopement photography, and when I tell you I was excited!?  Around the time I was speaking to close friends of mine that I wanted to give elopement photography a try — I love weddings, don’t get me wrong —  but sometimes the full day itinerary can be tedious and stressful, especially when factoring in families who may be meeting each other for the first time.

Trust me, I’ve seen some things.

Upon our video chat introduction, I learned that they were visiting the Big Apple and lived in Europe (!) and they found me through a Google search (!!!).  They both agreed that eloping was best for them and asked if I was available to take their photos, then asked if I’d be their witness.  Their witness!?  Being their photographer was enough of a treat for me, but to be the one to watch them express their love for each other?!  That was the cherry on top!

On the day of, I got gussied up [which basically boils down to an all black ensemble] and made my way to City Hall in downtown New York City. The couple looked so beautiful together, even with their masks on.

Before moving into the waiting area, we pass through the meticulous yet speedy security area.  At the central desk, the couple show their IDs and are granted access.  When it’s my turn, I confidently show them my NYCID and expect to join my cohort…except I don’t.

The clerk asks me if I have another form of ID, and I confidently fish around for my passport that I always carry.  It’s not there.  She asks if I have another form of ID, and my brain offers a lifeboat in the form of my Excelsior pass.  It doesn’t count.

You know the GIF from Key + Peele where Jordan Peele’s character is sweating profusely with his eyes wide open?  That was me, internally.  At this point, I’m doing mental math to see how much I’ve spent before I need to refund them, crafting ways in which I can sneak past the central desk and barrel roll into the waiting area.  How quickly will security be called and grab me if I channel my inner Sanya Richards Ross and race past everyone?  Before I can tighten my shoelaces a voice breaks my dream sequence, it’s the clerk.

Let me make a phone call.

Immediately I’m brought back to reality where the desk clerk makes a call to their manager.  Two minutes has never dragged on the way that it did on this day.  She looks at my paltry city ID, then me, then my camera bag while on the phone.  She hangs up, and all three of us are looking hopeful while jittering our teeth through our masks, or at least I was.

Go ahead, you can go in.

Have you ever experienced something where you thought you were a goner? After you came out victorious, you pray to your deity of choice that you will never do anything that silly again? I’ve never given thanks to God in the way that I did in that moment.  Upon our turn to move into the chapel I was feeling my photo stride, and just like that, the ceremony was over.  Something so beautiful, so saccharine, took less than a minute.  Imagine!?

We spent the rest of our time together in a bubble of laughter, bliss, and love.

I wish I could tell you that I immediately went home and made a beeline to the DMV, but the bureaucratic conga line that is New York State had other plans.  

Trust and believe though, I will never forget my passport.  

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