Anya and Arlo live in a tiny community on a tiny island about two hours north of Seattle, Washington, so it only made sense for their wedding to also be...tiny. Word spreads like wildfire in the unique area where they live — which is how I found out that they were getting married — so they had to pull off a wedding without all of Guemes Island (population 605) showing up to celebrate with them. They told me that they were going to do something simple, like hop on a boat and get married on a neighboring private island with only their family and closest friends aboard, and they did exactly that.
Arlo and Anya got engaged several months prior while vacationing in Mexico with their daughter, and I found out on their wedding day that during that same trip they also bought Anya's wedding dress and Arlo's shirt from a small shop in Mexico. Between the time that they were engaged and married, they also got pregnant and had their second daughter, and eventually they purchased dresses for the girls from Etsy that were inspired by Anya's Mexican gown.
On the day of their wedding, I found them at Anya's mom's house in an enormous flurry of wedding excitement with the only calm being Anya and her warm mama vibes as she got herself and her girls ready. We then headed to the beach where Arlo's sailboat was moored, and along with a couple of other boats we sailed to the neighboring island called Cypress. We hopped off that sailboat, and like the unraveling of a mystical fairytale, I couldn't believe how the backdrop of their wedding seemed to create itself out of sand and sea. They created an arbor out of driftwood and adorned it with flowers they had brought from the island and made a quick decision to place it in the water and hope that their ceremony wasn't longer than the incoming tide would allow.
And then they got married. I will never forget Anya standing on the beach with her Dad, while Arlo was so overcome with emotion that he stood there and spoke loudly and with so much conviction, telling Anya how much he loved her. He was proclaiming his love for her through tears, to her and to their families and to the sea that surrounded them...and this was before the wedding had even begun, so you can only imagine how emotional the actual ceremony was.
Arlo's Dad married them, so many of his words were said through his tears of pride for his son and the love he had found. And inevitably, their girls couldn't hold themselves together any longer and also joined their parents in the water as they were married.
After a ceremonious dive into the ocean water together, they celebrated with their closest loved ones with beer and champagne and a boat ride back to their home island for a wedding feast by sunset. It was as perfect a day as I could possibly ever imagine.
Words and photos by Catherine Abegg
Catherine Abegg is a family and wedding photographer based in a small town just south of Seattle, Washington. Her award-winning work has been featured on many blogs and magazines, including being highlighted by Buzzfeed as one of the top queer-friendly voices in social media. Her work can be described as happy, loving, and genuine, and she seems to attract couples and families whose love stories reflect the same qualities. A fun fact about Catherine is that right before her daughter turned 18 years old, she found out that she was pregnant with surprise baby number two...so these days she and her partner are busy at home nurturing and loving on their adult child and small baby child.