They technically met twice. “The ‘first-first’ time we met was the last day of freshman year at Luther College in 2017. I was hanging out with friends in the dorm when Isaiah walked in to say goodbye to a mutual friend (because he was transferring schools). I had heard of him but never met him, and surprise, surprise, I offered him to sit in the open spot next to me and stay awhile. We talked about our families, our life goals, and about his new school like we had been friends forever.
“But then he said goodbye and I didn’t see him again until two years later when we both randomly decided to visit our mutual friends in Illinois on the same date. Our mutual friends had the great idea to go to Six Flags, and I officially met Isaiah again for the second time. I knew that out of the 4 of us, I was probably going to have to work hard to stay in the conversation with everyone, because I didn’t know Isaiah as well as the other two had for 2 years. However, Isaiah one-up’d me and had a full blown conversation with me for a whole hour of the car ride. (I was incredibly impressed because I had never met someone who was so friendly and sincere.)
“Skip to Six Flags and I attempted to flirt on the first ride – you know, put out some feelers – and he gave me absolutely no response other than friendly. Until the end of the day when he clearly started flirting with me like a 2nd grader and trying to scare me on one of the rides. (I have my suspicions that our friend, and officiant, Ryan smacked him on the head and let him know he has the flirt-radar of a turtle.) And then the rest is history from there! Six hours long distance lead to living together during quarantine, and now living in Arkansas together.”
“Before the proposal,” said Isaiah, “I had pulled all the arts and crafts skills I could muster up (not a very artsy person unfortunately, haha), and I had drawn up and written out my ten favorite memories that I have had with Hannah with number one being, ‘Getting down on one knee and proposing to you.’ It was such a fun time making the cards as I was able to reminisce and think about some really sweet memories we have had together.
“Then came the day, I was definitely nervous, but a good nervous. It was kind of a cloudy, drizzly morning, but it looked like the afternoon was clearing from the rain. We spent the morning at a family member’s house and I had hid the cards I made and the ring in my jacket. We left the house and Hannah thought we were going straight back to her mom’s house. However, when I drove past her mom’s house towards Cornell’s campus, Hannah said with lots of excitement, ‘Oh my God, is it happening! Is it really happening?’
I had tried to play it as cool as possible, but I knew the jig was up. She may have known leading into it that it was happening, but she still wasn’t sure how. We went to Cornell campus (which was a place that her and I have shared a few great memories together) and we went through the cards I created and reminisced about each memory that I had put down. Additionally, we both were laughing a little bit about how I drew some of the cards as they were not drawn up by a true artist. I got to my favorite memory and my hands were shaking and my heart was pumping, but I shared with her that it was getting down on one knee and asking her to marry me. Then I got to see her say yes and cry and it was such a beautiful moment. We both were questioning if it really happened because it felt so surreal.”
Hannah without hesitation described Isaiah as “the kindest man I have ever met. He is kind to strangers, his family, friends, my family, and me. He opens doors for people, has real conversations with strangers, helps the moment someone calls, and always lets me trade drinks with him when mine is horrible and his is delicious. (He recently told me that he specifically orders sour beer, coffee, and smoothies based on what he thinks I’ll like just in case my order isn’t good, which I never noticed until very recently and questioned him about it.)
“He is always thinking of others and putting them first, and, it’s sappy to say, but he is the first person in my life that I have felt puts as much effort into me as I do him, and cares for me just as much as he cares for himself.
“Isaiah Chad Filley is the nicest, most supportive guy I have ever met.”
Isaiah said, “The thing that I admire most about Hannah is that, no matter what, she is going to work as hard as she can to achieve her dreams. She has always worked extremely hard to set herself up for success in becoming a doctor. This determination she has doesn’t just go for medical school; she is always working so hard to spend time with me during her ridiculously busy schedule. And, in turn, her hard work makes me feel loved and it motivates me to push through things that are difficult. Ultimately, I admire how much a role model she is to me and that she will be a great role model for our kids and any young women who gets the pleasure of meeting her.”
When planning for their wedding, Isaiah told me he may have a “sell out answer,” but he was most looking forward to “getting married to my best friend in the world and making Hannah a Filley! I am also looking forward to sharing our big moment with our parents and siblings because I think the energy and atmosphere of having all of our family together in one place is going to be so much fun. I am looking forward to making it a day that we will always be able to look back on and reminisce about how beautiful Hannah looked. I think knowing that I will get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend Hann is an extremely comforting thought, and I am very excited every time I think about it.”
Hannah said she was most looking forward to spending time together alone and then sharing the evening with their families and friends playing games. (They love to play games and themed their reception around being laid-back and game-filled!) “Honestly, I’m so excited to take photos with Isaiah cause that will be our most ‘alone’ we will be that day.”
Knowing how special those photos and time are to them, we planned their timeline to include a lot of time for portraits, a treasure that I rarely get on wedding days! A few weeks before the wedding, Hannah let me know she had torn the plantar fascia on the bottom of her foot, making mobility minimal. They arranged to have golf carts on hand for transportation and she wore comfortable white sneakers under her wedding dress, using crutches to move from the golf cart to where I instructed and then putting her weight on one foot and Isaiah. She never, ever complained once, about either discomfort (I kept checking in and making sure I wasn’t asking her to do anything too wild) or about the circumstance of an injury on her wedding day.
In addition, we also had some very tricky weather to navigate. The day was forecasted to be rainy, but when I arrived, it wasn’t raining yet. We made a very quick call based on the radar to completely rearrange the entire timeline, had Hannah and Isaiah get ready quickly, and started their photos almost two hours early to avoid the rain that was coming in. The wedding party, bless, also got ready quickly and met us outside for photos right as the rain hit. We knew we would have to just make the call as we went, but I was so impressed with the calmness and happiness of Hannah, Isaiah, and their wedding party, to go with the flow, being available when the rain cleared even if that meant being ready hours early and then having lengthy downtimes of waiting. We ended up with a little bit of everything: storm clouds, lightning, torrential rain, humidity, sunshine, light rain, blue skies, thunder, and even occasions of a cool breeze! We sheltered when we needed to and embraced the humidity in between. The skies cleared up long enough for their outdoor ceremony to go ahead as planned and the rain held off until we were inside at the reception.
I feel so so honored to have been able to photograph Hannah and Isaiah’s wedding day, but even more honored with the trust they had in me and their amazing attitudes and flexibility throughout a very weather-changing day!
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography
Venue: Cornell College
Makeup: Moods Salon
Hair: Lauren Hoffman
Bridal Gown: Something White Bridal
Maids’ Gowns: Birdy Grey
Suits: Men’s Wearhouse
Invitations: Truly Engaging
Jewelry: Diamond Center
Chairs & Linens: Big Ten Rentals
Catering: HyVee Mt Vernon Road
After they ate dinner, we went back outside for a few more photos. We didn’t get a sunset that evening, but, even more special, they wanted to do a private first dance so I queued up Hannah’s song request, Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”, on my phone, turned the volume all the way up, and they danced (swayed, beautifully, I’ll add, on account of Hannah’s foot) together where they had just an hour earlier made their vows. I wish every couple would do this! It was so beautiful and intimate and perfect.
The most perfect timing of the breeze…