This is a special one for us! Jody has been a dear friend of ours for a very long time. We watched as she gracefully navigated the challenges of divorce, being a single mama to four young precious children and working daily to pursue her relationship with the Lord.
She wasn’t expecting someone so special to enter her life this soon, but God had different plans. It’s been so beautiful to see the incredible gift Jonathan and Jody’s relationship has been to each other and their sweet kids, who have never been looked at as “baggage,” but instead the most amazing *bonus.*
Since we’ve been photographing weddings for over a decade, we’re usually pretty good at holding it together during wedding ceremonies and staying in “photographer mode,” but with this one, we were both moved to tears as Jody and Jonathan not only made promises to each other, but also to each one of their children.
As one of their closest friends pointed out, their ceremony arch was a beautiful symbol of two families joining together, pointing to God’s goodness and drawing closer to each other as they pursue God’s will for their lives. As one of their talented friends sang “As For Me and My House,” the seven of them joined together in creating a new masterpiece together. Seven brushes, seven colors all mixed and blended beautifully on one canvas.
Jonathan wrote a letter to Jody’s four kids, and spoke to each one individually. He shared the character qualities he loved about each child one, and it was so sweet to see each of their faces light up as he spoke words of encouragement and affirmation over each of them.
He ended with:
Jaxon, London, Ember and Phoenix, I have always dreamed of having more kids, and my sweet girl has always wanted sisters and brothers. I can’t believe that as of today, right now, that dream has come true. I never thought I would meet any kids as kind, loving and fun as the four of you.
I want each of you to know that I love your mother with all of my heart. Also, I will never replace your dad. But I do promise you that I will love you and care for you as if you were my own children.
I promise to listen to each of you.
I promise to be a safe place for each of you.
I promise to protect each of you, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I promise to respect and honor each of you as individuals and as members of this family.
I promise to love, support and encourage each of you as long as you need me.
It is such an honor for me to be your bonus dad.
I love each of you with all of my heart and am excited to join my family with yours, today.
Then Jody read a letter to Jonathan’s daughter, where she described what she loved about their relationship, the special times they shared together and what she loved about her:
I have loved getting to know you, whether sneaking off to create something special for your dad, secretly playing the same team as we win at a board game, or just being together. You are one incredibly thoughtful, tender, creative and special little girl and I am so lucky that I get to be your bonus mom.
I am never here to take your mom’s place, but what I commit to you, is to love and treat you as my own, point you to Jesus, and always be the safe space that you can run to, talk to, confide in, laugh with and plan fun surprises for your dad and beat him together at games. As of today, you are now officially a part of our family. I no longer have four kids, but five. And I am so glad that I get to call you my daughter. I love you, sweetheart.
Now you can understand why our viewfinder were fogged up! It was such an honor to host their wedding in our backyard, take their portraits in our neighborhood and bear witness to the beautiful things God is doing in their story. One of the moments we’ll never forget was at the end of night after toasts. Their entire community wrapped their arms around Jody, Jonathan and the kids and took turns praying out loud for their marriage, for their family, for their kids and for their future. We have chills reliving it and can only imagine the power that memory will hold for them the rest of their life and for generations beyond.
Jody and Jonathan, we love you, friends! We were so honored to capture the first day of your new lives together! We are so incredibly happy that you each found your person and the beautiful story God is writing for you and your family. Thank you for letting us be a small part of it! We had a heck of a time narrowing down for this blog post, but here’s just a few of our many favorites!