Pre-wedding photos are supposed to come at a happy time. That photoshoot is a kind of symbol — a way of officially starting one’s journey as a married couple together. There are many people who find such photos cheesy but when they’re done for love and not for show, these photos become full of meaning and remain a special memory for as long as the couple is married.
This is what Hannah Darr wanted to do with her fiancé before getting married. But sadly, unlike other couples, Darr will never get the chance to marry the love of her life.
22-year-old Darr was much like any other bride. She was excited to start her life together with her fiancé, Layne Merriwether. Her house was brimming with wedding decorations. Everything was ready. They were ready. What Darr was not ready for was a tragedy.
Merriwether passed away in a tragic car accident before he and Darr could walk down the aisle together. It was the worst news any bride — any woman — could ever hear. But despite grieving, Darr still wanted to do something as an ode to her fiancé and to remember the time that they did have together.
Darr and Merriwether watched each other grow up. When they went to high school together, they finally became a couple. The two even went to the same college so that they could stay together. It was as if the two of them knew that they had to savor each minute they had together.
They were together as a couple for seven years when in April 2016, the two got engaged. Their engagement was a happy and exciting time for both of them. But sadly, things changed very quickly. Four months before their wedding day, Merriwether died in a car accident.
“My house is full of all my wedding decorations just waiting for my wedding day that will never come,” Darr wrote on Facebook in a heart-breaking post. The 22-year-old could have grieved in the worst possible ways, she could have let anger get to her and become bitter, but Darr chose to take another route. This bride-to-be wanted to have a chance to get one more pre-wedding moment with her fiancé, and that’s exactly what she got to do.
“Even though I will never get a wedding with him, I wanted to at least have a picture of him with me in my dress to […] remember him as my future husband,” Darr explained. And so, the young woman contacted photographer Holly Gannett for the shoot. Together, they created a photo shoot that would serve as a special memory Darr could hold onto forever.
For the photoshoot, Darr chose a very special location. It was the place Merriwether had chosen to propose to her. Besides the location, Darr also wore a very special gown. She wore the wedding dress she never got the chance to walk down the aisle in.
The photoshoot exuded a rustic romantic theme. Darr held a bouquet and she was shot smiling while tears were running down her face. It’s no surprise that emotions were running high for Darr during the whole shoot.
In one of the photos, Darr dons a cowboy hat and she’s holding a chalkboard in one hand, with the other holding tight on her bouquet. Written on the board are the words, “Remember the love, not the loss.” The words sum up perfectly what this woman is doing. She is honoring the love she had with Merriwether, despite such a tragic loss.
But the photoshoot becomes even more beautiful and emotional thanks to some Photoshop magic. Gannett, the photographer, photoshopped Merriwether in some of the photos with Darr. Merriwether is edited in the photos, a ghost-like image holding Darr’s hands and even smiling.
In one of the photos, Merriwether is Photoshopped in a photo with Darr, looking as if he is whispering something in her ear. Darr’s face looks very serene in this shot. It’s as if she knows those secrets he whispered and those memories they shared will never die, because her love for Merriwether will never die, either.
It was an emotional photoshoot. More than that, it’s unlike any other shoot out there because Darr will never get the chance to experience married life with her love. And yet, she can hold onto the memories of growing up together. She can think about how she even made decisions that would allow her to always be close to Merriwether, even when it came to her college years.
So I guess we can learn something from this story. I won’t mention the clichés here, we’ve heard them all a thousand times before. But maybe this story can teach us something more about time and love. Yes, we need to learn how to be independent. Yes, we need to make a life for ourselves and we need to see the world, we need to focus and work on creating the life we have always dreamed of for ourselves. Having said this, if we do find the love of our life, let’s do all we can to hold on to this person. We can never be sure how much time we have with them.