A sign marks the Village of Yesteryear, a sprawling collection of historic buildings in Owatonna.
WHILE WALKING TOWARD THE HISTORIC CHURCH, I first saw her. The woman dressed in black. With a camera. Although I wondered at her formal attire, I didn’t consider that she might be someone other than a photographer interested in the Village of Yesteryear.
The District 14 school moved here in 1963.
I took this photo of the old school before the bride and her bridesmaids arrived.
From a distance, I photographed the photographer at work.
But soon enough, when I saw a bride and her attendants rounding the back of the 1856 District No. 14 schoolhouse, the photographer’s purpose became clear.
Trees frame the steeple of the Saco Church.
By that time, I’d reached St. Wenceslaus Church of Moravia, a church built in 1891 and moved here, to the grounds of the Steele County Historical Society in Owatonna, in 1962.
While I’ve previously been inside this historic church, it was locked on Saturday.
I pondered for a moment whether a wedding was planned here, but saw nothing to indicate that. So I took a few photos of the aged church, which was locked, just like all the other buildings in this historic village on this late Saturday afternoon. And while I did that, I kept my eye on the nearby photo session.
For one, I didn’t want to stray into the path of the professional photographer. I’ve been in her shoes and understand the frustration of dealing with wedding guests who get in the way and want to take photos. That presents challenges in time and management and more.
I stood to the side and photographed the bride and her attendants.
But, as I neared the group of women while en route to the parking lot, I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “Is it okay if I take your picture? I’m a blogger.” The bride was quick to approve and the photographer invited me to stand next to her. I declined. “I don’t have my mask,” I explained. She didn’t have her face mask either.
From the back of the church, the bride and her party are visible from afar.
That is the reality of living during a global pandemic. As excited as I was to happen upon this most common of summer scenes—an outdoors bridal photo session—I still remembered COVID-19. Minutes earlier I’d congratulated the bride on her wedding day, specifically commenting on the challenges of marrying in a pandemic.
You can see and feel the love in this photo.
But, as I framed a few photos, my thoughts shifted back to the moment, to the celebration, to the joy. Here were four beautiful young women, stunning in their sparkly dresses, arms wrapped around one another, luscious bouquets of peonies clutched in their hands, posing for portraits against an historic backdrop.
In that moment I witnessed life. Ordinary and celebratory. Life full and joyous. Life as lovely as a June bride.
© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling