Houston couple Shellie Schoellkopf and Robert Callaway had already postponed their wedding twice before setting their date for Oct. 7. Then Hurricane Harvey came through town — sparing them, but destroying the homes of some of their close friends and family members. It was then that the couple knew they couldn’t go through with their wedding as planned.
“We just wanted to do right by them and be respectful of what they were going through,” Schoellkopf tells Yahoo Style. Callaway suggested they keep their ceremony date and cancel the reception, giving the money they’d spend on it to people who needed it to rebuild their homes.
“Fortunately this venue was very accommodating — they didn’t charge us any penalty fee,” she said. “We weren’t having a massive reception, but it’s still more than we would have been able to give if we had gone through with it.”
According to Click2Houston, which first learned of their gesture, Schoellkopf and Callaway are donating about $5,000 directly to these loved ones, along with whatever they can collect from a Venmo account that’s taking the place of their wedding registry.
With the reception off the table, the couple decided to hire their photographer, Bryan Anderson, for a very special wedding shoot in the Baytown house of a family friend. The entire first floor was ruined by floodwater, and the couple had helped gut it.
Anderson, who himself just lost his home to the flood, was skeptical about this shoot.
“People hire me because they want these dramatic, beautiful photos,” he told Yahoo. “They’re telling me, ‘We want to do it in front of this house with all this trash.’ My first instinct is, ‘You’re paying me a lot of money per hour, so let’s make sure these are going to be pretty photos.’ They’re like, ‘It’s going to be pretty because it means a lot to us.’ ”
Because Callaway didn’t want to miss out on certain aspects of a traditional wedding, Anderson set up a “first look” to begin the session. To make sure the shoot was authentic, Anderson said they made it a rule that they couldn’t add or take away from the surrounding debris. The result is still dramatic.
“Most brides, they get self-centered, because there’s so many decisions to make and budgets on their back,” Anderson remarked. “But this bride, she’s the opposite.”
Schoellkopf and Callaway haven’t yet revealed who is going to receive their donation, because they want it to be a surprise announcement after they’ve figured out how much they’ve raised. Then they’ll hand those families checks directly, without going through a charity.
“We really don’t feel that we’re doing anything amazing,” Schoellkopf said. “We’re recognizing that we have this opportunity to step up and help people close to us. We’ve been in a position where we needed people to step up for us, and they have.”
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