Boston Elopement Wedding Photographer :: Kari + Debbie

On August 29, 2013 the US Treasury and IRS announced that all legal same-sex marriages would be 
recognized for federal tax purposes providing certainty, benefits and protections under federal tax law for same-sex married couples. This is a great step in the right direction but frankly I think it's absolutely bananas that same-sex couples still can't get legally married in certain states in the US.

On the positive side, here in sensible New England same-sex couples can get legally married in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island. Gotta love New England :)

Kari & Debbie have been together for 14 years in a happy and committed relationship. They married 11 years ago and have a beautiful baby girl together. As their first wedding ceremony wasn't recognized officially within their home state within days of the IRS ruling they'd booked plane tickets to Boston to get "legally" married. I guess that means two wedding anniversaries right?

Someone once asked me what I most enjoyed about being a wedding photographer. I thought about it for a few minutes and then tried to explain how it's pretty amazing to be invited into such a special day and trusted to document it for the couple and for future generations.

I was reminded of this conversation never more so than at Kari & Debbie's Boston Elopement Wedding where other than the officiant and two friends I was the only other person present.  I've photographed a number of elopements at Boston City Hall and the ceremonies are sweet but so short - like just a couple of minutes long plus it's not exactly the most visually attractive space. Kari and Debbie were open to alternate ideas and we settled on the Boston Public Gardens (remember your permit people!), I also put them in touch with Justice of the Peace Leslie Zises who would perform the ceremony.

Anyhoo, I'm jumping ahead of myself. We started with some pictures in the iconic Boston Public Library. A wedding rehearsal was happening in the courtyard so we stayed out of the way inside:

Although we were only minutes away from the official wedding ceremony the general public in Boston weren't to know that. As I took pictures of Kari and Debbie snuggled up on the steps I loved how passers-by shouted out "Congratulations!!!" and "You guys look so good together!"

A shout out to Kerianne at Les Fleurs in Andover - my very favorite florist - she quickly put together this beautifully simple bouquet in the middle of one of their busiest wedding weekends.

As Kari refreshed her lipstick I took this picture of Debbie holding Eliada. Best hair ever.

And with that it was time for us to meet Leslie at the Public Gardens to make this relationship official! An amazing coincidence meant that Catherine & Paul - friends of Debbie & Kari - just happened to be in Boston on this day and they met us to help with Ellie during the ceremony.
 Kari & Debbie seemed pretty relaxed about the wedding ceremony mentioning they'd emailed Leslie just that morning to ask her to bring some vows. I think they thought it was just a formality as they already considered themselves married. So it was beautiful to watch them go through all kinds of emotions once the ceremony got underway - they laughed, lips wobbled and eyes were swiped at while they stood at the edge of the lagoon shaded by a willow tree.

Debbie and Kari both did a short reading of favorite verses from the bible and Leslie performed a beautiful ceremony.
I love love loved Debbie's reaction when she said to "I take you Kari to be my lawfully wedded wife!"

Ellie was less impressed :)
Leslie declared Kari & Debbie legally married and then stepped aside for their first kiss (Yay Leslie! Nothing worse than a first kiss with a random head in the background!!!). Debbie and Kari then scooped up Ellie for their walk down the "aisle". Hoorah!

I'm pretty good with children once they're maybe 3 years or so and you can attempt to reason with them. Babies less so! When I was talking with Kari and Debbie I'd wondered out loud if there would be anyone to help with Ellie while I took some (re)newlywed pictures. And what happened? Audrey to the rescue! She raced out of work and flew down to Boston to not only photograph the ceremony with me but then happily fastened on a baby carrier and gently bounced Ellie up and down until she dozed off.

I could have happily carried on photographing these two but
a) the sun was going down
b) Kari and Debbie had dinner reservations at Mamma Maria (where I'll be photographing an intimate wedding very soon!)
c)Audrey was getting drooled on by a sleeping Ellie. Audrey is the best.

Here's my favorite:

The next day I got the nicest message from Kari and Debbie and they kindly said I could share it here:

"We didn't realize until last night until everything was over; we met 14 years earlier to the exact day!!! We can't thank you enough for spending all that time with us to capture our day, for getting the flowers, and then for bringing your assistant photographer. Please thank her for us; I don't know what we would have done without her help. We've come a long way from meeting in '99, being closeted to EVERYONE until '09 and now sitting on the steps of Boston Public Library in wedding attire, cuddling in public and having passersby wish us congratulation..."

And to that I say Kari & Debbie - THANK YOU! Thank you for finding me online and trusting me not only with documenting your day but also with your baby in an elevator!!! :) Thank you for choosing Boston for your wedding. I enjoyed every minute of photographing your ceremony and your beautiful family; Ellie is a lucky girl to have you as her parents. You have to promise to let me know when you come back for your anniversaries or just to eat more Mike's pastries! Congratulations!!!

Next up I have a couple of fabulous engagement sessions for you followed by an epic camp wedding on an island in the middle of Lake Winnepesauke....


  1. Leah, how sweet is this elopement?! I feel like I've never seen the Public Gardens so bare... Clever girl, how did you work your magic? Your work is incredible! Beautiful each time I gander over to your blog. :)

    Also, Connecticut (the southernmost state in New England) was the first in NE to "allow" gay marriage and is the longest in standing in our nook of the woods. Basically, we accepted it nearly as soon as Mass. did, but did not repeal! Basically, ALL of New England is gay-friendly!

  2. Wow, Leah! We are in awe at what you've captured. Thank you!

  3. Beautiful! Glad Boston can play host to occasions like these! What a beautiful family. And the photos are gorgeous!