Unpopular opinion: the people who say your engagement is supposed to be “all about you” are wrong.
As we’ve gone through the last 10 months of wedding planning and 6 months of pandemic protocols, it hasn't felt like my partner and I are the main focus at all. More than ever, it’s the relationships we’re forming with each other’s families as we get ready to be symbolically and legally bound to one another that have taken priority in the most beautiful way during these **unprecedented times**. While it’s been tougher to connect with my partner’s family because of the distance, his connection with my family has grown deeper and stronger with our proximity in Chicago. After six years of knowing we'd be in it for the long haul, sometimes I feel like his initiation of sorts into our family deserves to be celebrated even more than our actual engagement! We’re committing to spending the rest of our lives celebrating each other, but there aren’t many opportunities other than weddings to celebrate the joining of families in such explicit and meaningful ways. So when it came to planning our engagement photos, I knew I wanted to include my family to celebrate his relationships with them too.
Immediately following our dreamy engagement photoshoot in the woods we went to my parents house (my childhood home) to take family portraits and have a garden party. After months of separation from my sister because of the pandemic it was a riotous reunion with much needed laughter and champagne. We traded up our well-worn cozy house threads for some properly stylish ‘fits, threw on makeup for the first time in forever, and popped some bubbles to pair with some bocce. Honestly, we really needed an excuse to blow off some steam... so why not look good and nab a holiday family photo or two while we were at it?
After the serenity of the forest Jared and I walked into an entirely different scene. My parents house, despite hosting less than a handful of the usual suspects, was full of life as my mom put the finishing touches on her stunning (as always) table arrangements. I don’t know why we were surprised she went full out with carefully curated florals (she famously creates gorgeous tablescapes on the reg for all her events), but the gesture was so thoughtful and unexpected all the same. What we thought would be a very casual afternoon on the porch was immediately elevated, both aesthetically and emotionally. From the pristine lunch setup to my father’s painstakingly manicured grass bocce court, we felt the love from the Voci parental unit in big ways.
As several of us are immunocompromised it was an incredibly strong mix of emotions; we unmasked to take a couple of quick family photos, our joy of embracing briefly so authentically captured by Mike and Kristin’s lens, and yet the heightened feelings of embracing each other for the first time since isolating left an anxious electricity lingering in the air. Looking back at these early days of combining our Covid pods feels like a lifetime ago, and yet that same energy persists as we continue navigating the pandemic together. In some ways it absolutely added to the sentimentality of the day and makes it that much sweeter to reminisce about.
That we were able to be together at all, let alone celebrating such a huge life event during a collective crisis, was and is appreciated immensely.
With our extended family spread out on both coasts the Chicago Voci’s have always been somewhat of a satellite surrounded by a constellation of close friends. We’re a tight knit bunch, and even with our long courtship (idk why I got so formal all of a sudden, but it feels right) it still took six years to the day and an engagement for Jared to snag an official invite into our family group text (his addition the holiday card we’re not super great at sending comes next). Living so much closer to my family in Chicago after years away, watching them form their own tight relationships with my partner is a joy I fully underestimated. I realized that he doesn’t just make me want to be a better person, but he affects all of my family members with that same enduring positivity and patience that inspires me every day. (I mentioned we’re Italian, right? That patience is KEY)
I hope you enjoy these gorgeous photos of my parents celebrating their soon-to-be son, my sister’s excitement for the brother she never had, and me, bursting with joy that they all love AND like each other almost as much as I do.