Neighbours lounge in their wedding dresses during lockdown for photo shoot

Texas neighbors Jamie Egloff, Bryce Ellerbroek, Jaime Sladek, Shannon Thomas and Nina Wagner participate in a fun social distancing wedding shoot. (Photo: Elyssa Seibel/ A Joy Story Photography)

A Texas photographer decided to have a fun social distancing photo shoot with her neighbours to help bring joy during this uncertain time.

Elyssa Seibel of Georgetown, Texas is a photographer and owner of A Joy Story Photography who has been feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Seibel tells Yahoo that her business has been devastated by the pandemic.

“Myself and so many of my fellow photographers have essentially had to give up our businesses in order to protect our clients,” she says.

“I normally work with so many babies and young families. ... Normal sessions are impossible — so all of my booked sessions were refunded with the hope of rescheduling in the future. But I miss my clients! And I missed photography so much.”

Seibel, who has multiple sclerosis, explains that she has been quarantined with her two kids while she and her husband work to keep them busy with creative activities.

In the meantime, Seibel says that she has been in a group chat with other mums on her street. According to the mother of two, this is not out of the ordinary for the tight-knit neighbours, who, under normal circumstances, would have had the street blocked off with “children at play” signs so their kids could have a good time.

“So our group chat has been a lifeline,” Seibel admits. “Sharing memes, funny stories about our kids or coping mechanisms and encouragement.”

It was in this group chat that Seibel came up with the idea to have a photo shoot after one of her neighbors came across her wedding dress.

“Nina [Wagner] then decided she absolutely needed a fancy wine night, so she went into her closet and found her wedding dress. [She] put it on, and sent us all a picture. At that point my photographer brain kicked in and I knew this would make us all laugh. So I asked for volunteers and somehow managed to get five of my neighbours out in the street in their wedding dresses. It was amazing.”

“Wedding Dress Wednesdays” was born and Seibel’s images of six of her neighbours in wedding dresses posing while sitting in lawn chairs, riding on scooters and lying in the street while being six feet apart went viral.

The photographer says that the casual way her neighbours wore their wedding dresses was hilarious. Jaime Sladek, 43, one of the women in the photos, agrees.

The women shared some laughs during the shoot. (Photo: Elyssa Seibel/ A Joy Story Photography)

“I never really thought I'd put my dress on again and definitely not for a photo shoot in my front yard, but it was one of the funnest days of my life!” Sladek says.

“The laughter, smiles and stress relief were exactly what we all needed.”

Elyssa Seibel wants the photos to bring smiles and laughter during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Elyssa Seibel/ A Joy Story Photography)

Sladek, who is a teacher, has been quarantined with her husband and kids. She says that they have been trying to enjoy the good weather by having picnics at home and going for walks. She admits that though this time has been difficult, she hopes people enjoys that photos.

“So many people just need a good laugh or a smile these days,” she says. “I've gotten such great comments on my Facebook page.  Several women even mentioned that they would be getting out their own dresses for some similar fun!”

Seibel also hopes her photos continue to bring smiles to people’s faces, and encourages others to use their creativity to help make this dark time a little brighter.

“There are so many outlets for creativity, [and] know that your sanity is worth taking the time for yourself and doing something you enjoy,” she advises.

“Also, look for ways that your hobbies and interests can help others or spread joy. I have had friends sewing masks and giving them away for free, sharing creative writings and poetry, reviewing takeout restaurants and local craft brews on Instagram, recording themselves playing instruments and collaborating with other musicians. Creativity does not have to involve art or music — everyone has something uniquely positive to share, and now is the time!”

The photographer says to expect other themed shoots, like “Tux Tuesdays” and “Suit Sundays,” and she will include prom dresses and letterman jackets in the future.