Hurricane Irene Wedding: Erika and Chip

UPDATE: Read more, including the bride’s perspective, at this Junebug Weddings feature.

It looked like everything was going to be fine. The wedding was a day before Hurricane Irene was supposed to make landfall — a lavish, fun affair at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. “Look at it this way,” we’d joked, “You get to have the stories of a hurricane wedding without the hassle!”

But when Erika called me that morning, I knew plans had changed. In an unprecedented move, New York had shut down the entire subway system. It would be impossible for most of her guests to get in and out of the city. A wedding that had taken almost two years to plan had to be completely re-planned in two hours.

It was heartbreaking that this had happened to a couple as wonderful and fun as Erika and Chip, but I also knew that if anyone could manage to have a great time with each other and the friends and family that had made it, it would be them. I spent most of their engagement session cracking up at the way they poked at each other, a relentless barrage of laughing both with and at each other.

A little while later, she called again. They were getting married anyway, at a small midtown restaurant. It was right around the corner from their florist so their flowers could be delivered on foot, ensuring that this would be the most gorgeously decorated spur-of-the-moment wedding ever. Wendy and I walked to meet them at the Hotel Roger Williams and we headed out together from there.

They knew right from the start that they would still have their Botanic Gardens wedding, so there were no gowns or tuxes, just close friends and family and a gamut of emotion. I’ve seen people collapse into nervous wrecks because their catering hall had the wrong chair covering, but despite everything their good humor and strong connection prevailed, and it was a wonderful day to be a part of. I can’t wait to see everyone again for Round Two.

  • Maximiliano Barros

    It must be so tough to reschedule a whole wedding in 2 days! I love how you see from the pics that Irene hurricane had the streets desolated… Nice using rain in the pics! I love these Ryan.

  • Ryan Brenizer

    Two HOURS, Max. ;-) Thank you!

  • Karen

    WOW. Two years to two hours. What troopers!! I’m in the midst of planning my own wedding so my heart goes out to them! You definitely put it in perspective when you mention some people breaking down because of the wrong linens etc… The way you manage to use the weather (esp rain) makes me sometimes hope for a rainy day for the wedding. Makes for more unique, fun, and dramatic photos! I won’t turn down a clear sunny day though :P

  • Melissa

    This story warmed my heart. They sound like fantastic people. Wonderful shots and I love the one with the weather channel playing in the bar. Great work.

  • Drew

    What a truly touching story, the emotion just burst from every frame, love it!

  • Rachel Wilks

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the door way shot!

  • Dan

    Beautiful set of images – and I’m in love with the rings and corks shot!

  • benj haisch

    so good. so natural, so intimate.

  • coler

    This is the most emotionally jam-packed wedding I can remember you posting since I started following your work. An ass-kicking post, Ryan.

  • Diane Hornbuckle Dobry

    beautiful! as usual.

  • Mary Stoyles


  • Stephen Rotondo

    beautiful images ryan, loads of emotion and a great ring shot!

  • Cassie

    Wow you really captured the emotion wonderfully! Love the last portrait (the one on the left) it is amazing.

  • Joey Chandler

    Nice work. love the b&W of her looking nervously out the car window. The day must have been filled with so much emotion with the chaos of the hurricane. Great job making it look beautiful.

  • tobiah

    Wonderful documentation! Love it!

  • Lyn Ismael-Bennett

    That little flower girl is so cute! Great emotions and beautiful portraits…well done!

  • Caroline

    Ryan, you are such an incredible story-teller. I am IN LOVE with the shot of them on the floor with the Hurricane Irene screen behind them. SO great!

  • Darin Collison

    Incredible. Every frame packed either an emotional wallop, or ethereal beauty. You nailed it.

  • Hilary Mercer

    I love all the emotions! Love the umbrella shot!

  • Helder Silva S

    el numero uno!!

  • Kellee Walsh

    Absolutely beautiful Ryan! Love the emotion throughout.

  • Jamie Minieri

    one word – GORGEOUS.

  • Breanna Thurston

    More beautiful than any lavish affair…excellent work, gorgeous couple.

  • David

    Ryan, you set the standard. So much emotion in this post. Well done.

  • ed peers

    So good Ryan… Unreal.

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  • Missy Grandberry-Brown


  • Aditi

    Absolutely lovely pics….the way you could capture the emotions with the rains as the backdrop is wonderful.Loved the b&w shot of the couple against the light…..simply shows the love they share is so strong!!

  • Anton Chia

    Love the LOVE shot!

  • Fotograf ślubny Lublin

    Great emotions.Perfec colours and BW.

  • সায়কা শাহরিন

    wow! I wish u could take my wedding pictures! :)

  • Pingback: Erika and Chip’s Hurricane Irene Wedding, featured at Junebug » Ryan Brenizer — NYC Wedding Photographer. Problem solver, storyteller.

  • Darrin Estep

    Ryan, you take such amazing pictures. You can feel the story unfold just from looking through each page of the images posted. Great work!

  • Becky Male

    Amazing work. I love all the emotional faces, you can almost feel the crackle of the emotion in the air. I can’t believe they turned it around in 2 hours. I really love your work Ryan, I’ll be checking back at your blog lots !

  • Ben Clark

    Awesome work Ryan, I really love the emotion you’ve captured in your images ..

    Great work !

  • Emi@1314

    You made the best out of that day. I too have a wedding on the Irene date and the couple’s synagogue/venue lost electricity the morning of their wedding. Lucky the hotel they stayed at has the venue hall open so they shift everyone over there instead. They also managed to call all of their guests to notify them of the new location.

  • Russ Barnes

    That backlit mono in the middle is spectacular. You’re the best man…

  • John Barwood

    Im so glad I found this because of your most recent post, as always its just stunning. Ryan have you done any posts about exposure at weddings? Im not asking what you dialed in on photo X but anything about your general thoughts behind each situation.

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  • Santiago

    This story gave me goosebumps. It is tough to understand it till you go through it. Great job and kudos for keeping their spirits high!

  • Chris

    Stunning Photos, especially in what looked to be tricky weather conditions! You most certainly have captured the atmosphere of the event!

  • Pingback: Coming soon, Erika and Chip » Ryan Brenizer — NYC Wedding Photographer. Problem solver, storyteller.

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