Our earliest memories of Kern seem to exist in another lifetime. Books, class schedules, fraternities, our University’s rock wall, and wondering what would become of our future as we navigated our college years.
I remember him as a bright light – a vagabond full of sincere joy, possibility, and leaning into a life that was marked by “jumping off cliffs that seemed a little too high.” I’ve known him to swim in freezing cold waters in February, hike the Appalachian and John Muir Trails, live in a 1983 Westfalia with 2 other guys, and drink down 3 milkshakes no matter the consequences.
Kern lit me up and though our distant proximity limited our friendship, I’ve truly grown to love and respect his relentless effort to squeeze the juice out of life.
After a few years of not seeing Kern, we met Mikaela. She was a quiet soul, a talented artist, and appreciator of (what translated as) a slower pace of life – the outdoors, Mary Oliver, the delicacy of a flower, and the open road. We spent a year sharing workspace at WELD and came to truly enjoy the friendship formed between the three of us.
But then, one March day right as spring set in in Nashville, Mikaela left in van (named Fran) and headed West. And just like we had watched Kern years before, she adventured (solo) across our fine United States. From the Shenandoah Valley to Bryce Canyon, Mik kept our wanderlust tank full and inspired so many of her friends.
It would be a few years before we were in touch again. We knew Mik had found a home on the West coast and began to see images of our past mutuals starting to cross over. I remember one day looking at Jen asking, “did you see Mikaela Hamilton & Kern Ducote were hiking together today? Do you think they’re together?!”
It made perfect sense and Kern lit us up, yet again, with the news that they “were going steady.”
Two incredible souls, two colorful stories, colliding on West Coast.
We crossed our fingers we’d have the opportunity to document this day and are so grateful to be sharing this Hill Country Wedding outside Austin, TX with all of you. This day was beautiful. Filled with intention. More celebration than we knew how to capture. And a big love that you’ll feel in their vows (highly encourage you to listen in the slideshow below).
May we all learn from Mik & Kern, who have shown so many of us what it looks like to take risks, to drink life in slowly, and to “jump off cliffs that seem a little too high.”