Congratulations to the Otts!
What a treat I received this past weekend when I photographed the blessed union between BJ Ott and Sherry Hammack. I’ve known BJ for about 3 years now, 2 of which involved living with him as his roommate. In that time, I got to know BJ as a very idiosyncratic, meticulous, perfectionist, faith-filled, and loving artist. Was that enough? Do I need to say more? I could go on for days, but to keep it short, BJ is truly a wonderful person with a “beautiful soul” as they say. Not that I subscribe to those descriptions.
Now about 8 months ago, I received a brief but life-changing text from BJ. He was going on a date. Now, to some this wouldn’t mean anything, but after living with BJ for two years, not once did I see him “date.” BJ, to put it lightly, is religious. He doesn’t ascribe to certain lifestyles and, yes, he is one of those people who decided to wait for marriage. I’ve rarely heard of a success story from those kinds of situations and, honestly, was a little worried for BJ. I knew he deeply wanted to start a family, but if you knew BJ you’d understand. His entire community is a faith-based family with a heavy emphasis on family. So, Sunday after Sunday, for ten years, BJ gets on stage at Oiko’s church and plays his heart to more than a dozen smiling families. And all the while he’s just waiting. Hoping. Trying to find that perfect girl he knows is out there.
And all the while he’s just waiting. Hoping. Trying to find that perfect girl he knows is out there.
Enter Sherry. Did I mention the text? I mentioned the text right? Well, after my first meeting with Sherry, I quickly realized how well they fit together and by my second meeting, I was pretty sure, and on the third meeting…at her wedding, I was positive. BJ and Sherry were meant to be. It even sounds good, but I digress. Here’s what I found out during my first lunch date with BJ & Sherry. So, 10 years, week after week, playing for Oikos. BJ is just waiting for that perfect girl. And week after week for at least a year, Sherry is there. Watching him. Waiting.
And week after week for at least a year, Sherry is there. Watching him. Waiting.
Both of them held back by various levels of shyness and courtesy and religious discretion. To many people’s surprise, BJ was Sherry’s prize and she’d had her eye on him for quite some time. In their circle of friends, the best way to get to know someone is through a church group or bible study. So, she worked her way through bible studies. Trying to find the nights BJ went, hoping they’d both wind up at the same meeting and also with a chance to talk. The weeks turned to months and they’d only shared one evening together without a single chance to talk. And then that day in January, when I got the text, just a week after they finally had a chance to talk. Their first date. I was a little excited for BJ but had no idea what to expect. The days quickly passed and then, 3 months later, I’m getting another text, “I’M GOING TO LONDON,” BJ practically screamed via text.
3 months later, I’m getting another text, “I’M GOING TO LONDON,” BJ practically screamed via text.
“What?” I responded. The details poured in. BJ and Sherry were going to London and on very short notice. Sherry wanted, apparently, to introduce BJ to her abroad parents and it needed to happen soon. Hmmm…. I wonder why? Well, the trip was on the line, but through the grace of god, I SAID IT!, everything worked in their favor. A little extra money from Sherry’s boss. An extended vacation from BJ’s work. Some generous parents and London happened. And here’s where the last text comes in, the last one I’m going to share with you at least. “I’m sitting in the bar the Tolkien and Lewis used to meet at and I just proposed to Sherry. I had the ring in my pocket and everything just felt right. She said yes.”
“I’m sitting in the bar the Tolkien and Lewis used to meet at and I just proposed to Sherry. I had the ring in my pocket and everything just felt right. She said yes.”
Keep in mind, this is, what, 4 months since January? 3 months? Unbelievable. The day I moved out of BJ’s house, because even though he didn’t own it, it was BJ’s house, I never would have thought I’d be sitting at his wedding, much less photographing it, less than a year later. But here I am and here are these wonderful photos of this beautiful couple that are absolutely destined for each other. Two of a kind, christian to the core, faithful to the bone. They waited for each other and it’s probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Certainly, it was the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to. These two are made for each other and I think everyone in that congregation can agree with me? Did I just say congregation? Well, most of the guests were from the church anyway. No surprise there.
May BJ and Sherry have the happiest of marriages, the truest of loves, and warmest of friendships.
I hope to enjoy a meal with the two of you soon.