John and Laura's High-Flying Wedding Vows Aboard the Key West Bi-Plane

The wedding for John and Laura will certainly go down as one of the most unique weddings I’ve ever seen, and having photographed hundreds of weddings since 2001, you can bet I’ve seen a lot. From pirate officiants, to historic schooner sailboats, to Civil War fortress cannons, to weddings under water and over mountain cliffs, I’ve seen it all.

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You can imagine my surprise when I got the inquiry from John and Laura, explaining that they wanted to get married - get this… the air….but not just on any airplane….on an open-top biplane…..and not just ANY biplane….they would be exchanging their wedding vows from the passenger seats of the biplane flown for years by the late Fred Cabanas.

And fly, fly, fly they dd!

I met the couple at the BiPlane Tour office at the Key West International Airport. While I had photographed one session here before, it had been for a very specific image for a modeling campaign; not a wedding. I found myself in rare territory for a destination island photographer - being in a venue I had never photographed before! If anything will test your metal as a professional, it’s getting out of your comfort zone and being able to come up with ideas on the fly while not only remaining conversational and easy-going, but also working fast and keeping technically sound.

PIlot moving the plane by hand before biplane wedding.jpg

An airport is not like a normal venue. Normally if I end up at a new place, I wander around when I arrive and pre-plan a few ideas, and then even during the shoot I’ll look for serendipitous scenes that can add some variety to the session. But when you’re working at an airport, security is tight and we needed to have an escort everywhere we went, not to mention having to watch out for recently-landed planes trying to taxi into our area, and at one point a helicopter that wouldn’t turn her blades off so we could drive by on the golf cart. Definitely not something you deal with everyday!

So I was so happy when Bill, the pilot, offered to move the plane over to a more picturesque spot. Instead of fuel trucks and golf carts in the background, I wanted blue skies. What did he do to move it? Crank it up and drive over? Nope! He literally pushed the plane with his bare hands. Now THAT’S service!

Laura and John shared that they are from Orange County, New York, and had been to Key West before. Not only that, but they had ridden in a biplane once before as well. During that ride, they wore the old-fashioned skull caps and had some iPhone photos to share with me. This time, they opted for radio headphones that would allow them to talk to each other and to the pilot throughout the flight. So, naturally, I had to use the headphones in a ring photo!

As the pilot began to get everything ready, I took the couple where I could and we got photos over the plane, behind the plane, near the plane, and even where the plane sleeps at night (the nearby hanger with the giant American Flag - pretty sweet!

Once we got all the photos we could take, it was time to suit up and the couple to get into the biplane. Laura got in and tucked herself neatly into her passenger seat. John was next and was happy to give me an enthusiastic “thumbs up” before takeoff.

Once they were buckled in and the pilot did his pre-flight checklist, the big metal bird taxi’d out onto the runway, with me following in an airport golf cart, courtesy of one of the Signature Flight Service professionals, Andrea, who was happy to serve as my chauffeur. We sat parallel to the runway, allowing me to capture images as the plane accelerated and ultimately took flight into the crystal clear blue Key West skies.

Married couple laughing with Key West photographer
Bride pops her foot for a Key West portrait on the rocks of Higgs Beach

We wish the couple well and are thrilled to have been part of the start of this new chapter in their lives!

Friends and Family, view their full gallery HERE

Special thanks to

Officiant and Pilot: Bill Gordan IV
Venue: Key West BiPlanes
Hair and Makeup: Beauty Boutique & the Glam Squad
Key West Photographer: Karrie Porter
Referred by: Key West Finest