The way Michael Wolber and April Hartley were looking at each other, you might not know that a massive fire was burning nearby.
They two had just tied the knot in — hastily — at their Bend, Oregon, wedding venue on Saturday. But with a fire bearing down, they were preparing to pick up everything — tents, tables, chairs and flowers — and move their reception to another location.
But first, Santa Barbara-based photographer Josh Newton — a childhood friend of the groom’s — whisked them away for a few photos.
“They don’t need to deal with that stress and they should just be enjoying each other, so that’s why I took them away to go get the photos,” Newton said in an interview on Tuesday.
It took a little convincing, Newton said, but he managed to get the newlyweds to go along. “I’m a pilot, I have a motorcycle, I shoot a lot of documentary stuff all over the world, so I was like, ‘Do we really even have to leave?’” Newton joked. “But I think they were definitely, like, wanting to get out. I would have stayed at the ceremony site a little longer than they were comfortable with.”
While the rest of the guests and vendors were busy setting up at a new venue, Newton went to work.
In one of the photos (above), taken with Newton’s iPhone, Wolbler and Hartely look like they’re standing in the middle of a tranquil valley — but in the background, the fire raged.
“Even when we were underneath the huge plume of smoke, we couldn’t smell it at all,” Newton said. “It was totally apocalyptic.”
Their wedding might have been disrupted by mother nature, but in photo after photo, Wolber and Hartley were focused on one thing: each other.
Since Newton posted the images on his Facebook page Sunday morning, the wedding photos have gone viral. Wolber and Hartley — who met in the Portland area while in college — are on their honeymoon, Newton said, and off the grid.
“I don’t think they have any idea,” Newton said. “Honestly the fact that [the photos] are all over the place, is kind of, like, they’re never going to forget that day.”