Photographer Dwayne Schmidt knew he had captured a special moment.
He was in Haywood County in the western N.C. mountains, shooting the weekend wedding of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Caleb Earwood and Maggie Edwards. Before the ceremony, Earwood wanted to take a moment and pray with his bride-to-be.
“We were about to take our first steps in life together, and we didn’t want to take a step without it being in God’s will,” Earwood said in an interview with Today.com. “I prayed to God for my beautiful and intelligent wife that he blessed me with and the amazing family I was marrying into.”
Keeping with the tradition of couples not seeing each other before the altar, Earwood and Edwards stood facing away from each other, holding hands as he stood on a staircase. Earwood is in his Marine uniform, Edwards in tears with her hand covering her mouth.
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Everyone in the room was emotional, Schmidt says.
Later that night, Schmidt posted the photo and a few other images from the ceremony on his Facebook page. He typically does that after weddings to give couples an early glimpse of the images he shot.
“This has to be one of the best things I have ever got to see, much less photograph,” reads part of his caption on the prayer image.
When Schmidt woke up the next morning, he says the photo had “exploded.” The image was particularly striking as the country prepared to mark Memorial Day.
More than 42,300 people have liked his original post of the photo on Facebook since Saturday, and it’s been the subject of stories from across the globe. Schmidt told the Observer he had already fielded calls on Tuesday morning from England, the Netherlands, Canada and other parts of the United States.
“It’s just been incredible,” Schmidt says of the response. He said he’s also heard from veterans thanking him for capturing the image.
The Earwoods, who are honeymooning in Tennessee, have been excited if not also overwhelmed by the reactions, Schmidt says. He’s been in touch with Maggie the past few days, and says the couple has even been recognized on their honeymoon from people who’d seen the photo.
The Earwoods, who met when they were growing up in Asheville, plan to live in Jacksonville, according to Today.com.
Bethea: 704-358-6013. Twitter: @AprilBethea