I first met Troy at a little cafe on the outskirts of Denver, where we sat down together and went over the ‘intel’ that Troy had gathered for his upcoming wedding at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo .  By ‘intel’, I mean that Troy had made several visits to the zoo to scope out various photogenic locations and to give me the rundown on the ceremony and reception sites;  I was totally impressed, as I normally end up doing all the research on new venues so I can find great vantage points for my photos.  However, Troy is not just any groom;  he’s a captain in the Special Forces, and such a standup guy.  Troy is one of those guys that’s seen more reality in his life than most people will ever experience;  he’s been to some of the most dangerous places in the world–literally, in the thick of it–and yet he’s one of the most friendly, down-to-earth guys that I’ve ever met.

I was going to wax poetic about how Troy & Duchess first met, but Troy tells their story so well.  He writes, “I first met Duchess at church as she set next to me.  I listened to her sing, and after service asked her out for coffee…..we grabbed a Starbucks and then headed to the beach in Waikiki. We sat there on the sea wall for 3 hours…..I fell in love that day to the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline, and the gentle whisper of her voice. I deployed 10 days after we met, and we began communicating by internet until I returned.  We dated until I proposed on valentines day of 2013. We met on September 11, and were married almost a year later on September 1st.”

The couple originally planned on having their ceremony outside the Lodge at Moose Lake at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, but rainy weather forced some last minute decisions.  They were going to just move everything indoors inside the lodge, but I suggested that they should consider the covered patio of the restaurant and bar that sits on the cliffside opposite the lodge.  We already shot some of their bride and groom photos there, and I knew that the lighting and views from this spot were fantastic.  With nothing but the sky as a backdrop, I knew that the bright, overcast sky would act like a giant softbox and create light that just wraps around so beautifully.  I’m not sure if this location has ever been considered for a ceremony at the Zoo before that day, but I do know that the rainy weather  was totally a blessing in disguise.

What stands out to me the most about their wedding day was the RAW emotion I witnessed during one of the speeches.  One of Duchess’s daughters, Elise, took the microphone to explain how much Troy’s presence in her and her sisters’ lives means to them.  Troy is the father figure that the girls never got to have growing up.  I watched in awe as Elise was overcome by tears as she thanked Troy for being part of their lives; this young, teenage girl struggled so hard to find just the right words, and to work through such raw emotion.  The look on her mother’s face during all of this was something i’ll never forget.

The couple has since honeymooned in Hawaii where they first met, and Troy has just been deployed again until early next year when the two will finally be reunited back in Colorado with their families.  I’m sure I can speak for all of us when I say, “Thank you for your service, Troy.”  I wish you & Duchess the best!