As with so many weddings during the time of coronavirus, Beata and Jim ended up married — just not the way they were expecting.
Originally scheduled to be married in August in Boulder, with dozens of family and friends flying in from around the U.S. and overseas, the couple instead decided to marry at the last-minute in a small ceremony with immediate family at Roxborough State Park in late May, with the hope of doing a larger event in 2021. We quickly reached out to the park and secured a permit to ensure we would be allowed to photograph.
When we met Beata and Jim for the first time last year to discuss their wedding (well before the pandemic upended all of our lives), we connected to them immediately. Beata works in technology (a field that Dan works in now for MediaNews Group), and Jim had worked for years at the Chicago Tribune. Anya and I swapped stories with him about working for a newspaper (we had both met at The Denver Post in 2009).
Back to the wedding: The setting could not have been more dramatic for a wedding ceremony — Lyons Overlook. We trekked down to Littleton, Colorado, then hiked in with the couple, Beata’s mother, brother and her sister-in-law, passing only a handful of people along the way.
By the time we reached the overlook, we were alone. Beata did some last-minute touch-up, and then they event began. They had prepared powerful but simple vows that they read as the sun set behind the dramatic, angular red sandstone formations. The two spoke of how they first became close friends, their deep love for one other growing over time, and the joy they felt from supporting one another in their lives (and raising their rambunctious dogs Benji and Boomer).
“Falling in love with you took me by absolute surprise,” Beata said. “I can still hardly believe it. I feel like I stepped into another world, one I was supposed to be in all along.”
Afterward, we hiked with the couple back to the car, stopping for photos along the gravel trail and an open field, just as the radiant orange sun was tucking behind the rock formations. It was the perfect end to a beautiful and intimate ceremony.