In May, Katie Swantek and her husband, Brett Swantek, were kayaking in Loup River in Nebraska when an accident claimed Brett’s life.
In an interview with KSNB, Katie explained what happened that day on the river:
“There was an undertow and it just sucked him straight under, kayak and everything. I saw him three more times and then he just didn’t come back up. And then he didn’t come back up for 10 days after that.”
Katie said that day in May changed her life forever, and that three months later, she’s still having trouble coming to terms with her husband’s unexpected passing.
Then in a moment of grief, and in an attempt to “de-clutter” her life, Katie told KSNB that she was going through her storage closet when she stumbled upon her wedding dress, which she put on for the first time since their wedding day and cried:
“I just put it on and didn’t want to take it off and just sat in it for most of the day and really cried and watched our wedding video.”
However, while the dress brought even more emotion to the surface, Katie said it also gave her an idea. She wanted to do a photoshoot in her wedding dress as a way to honor Brett, who was a volunteer firefighter from Genoa.
That’s when she asked her friend, photographer Miranda Helmuth, for her help.
However, as KSNB reports, the photoshoot would be more than just her in her wedding dress, it would also feature a group of her closest friends in theirs. Katie said she was inspired by an episode of “Friends,” the one where Monica, Rachel, and Pheobe put on wedding dresses to drink and eat pizza.
Katie said on Facebook:
When eight girls showed up in their wedding gowns last night to just be silly and drink beers and eat pizza with me, I think I was the happiest bride on the planet again! We shared wedding memories, compared stains on our dresses, and laughed so hard we cried. It was so much fun to let loose and just be silly for no reason at all. And we all got to wear our expensive dresses and feel like princesses again—BONUS!
The story behind the session: "After unexpectedly losing my husband in May, I think it’s more than fair to say I have…
And while the shoot ended up being therapeutic, Helmuth admitted that it was also very difficult at times. Especially when Katie stood alone, holding the American flag that was presented to her at Brett’s funeral.
However, as Helmuth explained, “the magic” shared between the group of friends was evident in the photos. Katie said of the photoshoot:
“It was needed and it was fun and there wasn’t a time when I felt like I needed to break off and cry because I had all of this awesome support around me. Had he not passed away, I know he would have said, ‘go do it, if that’s what you want to do and you think you can get the people together then do it.”
As Katie told KSNB, her and Brett loved each other unconditionally; he told her so every day. But it’s because of that love, she admits that she’ll never be the same. Nonetheless, with friends like this, she knows she’ll never be alone.