2009 was an amazing year for Ben Nunery and his bride Ali. They got married and closed on a brand new house. So they thought it would be great idea to do their wedding shoot in the still empty house. Little did they know that the photos would serve as a reminder of their past and a way for lives to move on.
Just 4 and a half years after the wedding photos were taken, 31-year-old school teacher Ali Nunery would die of a rare form of lung cancer, leaving behind a grieving Ben and their 1-year-old daughter Olivia.
The house that the couple started their married lives in together would now hold too many sad memories, so it was time for Ben and Olivia to move past the grief and find a new home. Before they moved out out of the house, Ben wanted to find a way to honor his late wife and the happy times they shared as a family. So he asked his sister-in-law, professional photographer Melanie Pace from Loft 3 Photography, to take photos of him and the now 3-year-old Olivia in their once again empty house. And since the house was now empty, they decided to recreate a few moments that the newlywed couple enjoyed in their wedding photo session in 2009.
“I was just really looking for a way to say farewell to the house, and have some things that Olivia and I can have to…remember the house,” Ben told TODAY.com. “When Ali and I got married, we closed on the house the day before our wedding, so we did wedding photos in the empty house.”
Ben said the photo shoot with his daughter was bittersweet. “It immediately brought up memories of being there the first time,” he said. “They were really good memories I cherish and want to remember. In a lot of ways, it felt like Ali was there, and doing that with Olivia I felt a closeness with both of them.”
Pace wrote a blog piece about the session, saying that she still feels her sister Ali’s presence, and that she was guiding her doing the photo shoot.
Ben said that the photos will be a part of his and Olivia’s memories of Ali forever, but he is also happy that the images have had an effect on others.
“I hope that people can see it as evidence of a love that Ali and I shared that is still very deep, [and] that love carries on, and it doesn’t die,” he told Today.com. “People who don’t know us personally but may have experience with losing a loved one can see that as an example of healing and life moving on.
“It doesn’t mean that we forget our loved ones, but find ways to remember them and keep that memory going.”
Head over to Melanie’s blog to see more of these amazing photos as well as read her moving commentary of the entire photo shoot.
Photos Credit: Melanie Tracy Pace / Loft3 Photography