Janice Di Joseph took her daughter Ricchina, who has Down Syndrome, to many weddings as she got older, and as time went on, the 25-year-old Ricchina would ask why she had not had a wedding of her own.
“I would die whenever she asked, because I didn’t know what to say,” said the mom. But she knew one thing. If a wedding is what Ricchina wanted, a wedding is exactly what Ricchina would get.
“When it comes to Ricchina, I just look straight ahead and whatever she wants, I make it happen,” said Janice, who had the idea to make Ricchina’s 25th birthday party the best day of her daughter’s life.
She would turn the whole party into a wedding, complete with dress and limo ride — even the garter on her left leg. Janice made it happen, just as she had made so many other of her daughters wishes come true. Some previous highlights: meetings with Ricchina’s music idols Justin Timberlake and Lance Bass.
The wedding-themed birthday party topped even those memorable moments.
Due to a chance meeting on a train, photographer Lindsay Morris came to know Janice — and her daughter, Ricchina.
“She was so dreamy,” Morris said of her first meeting with Ricchina. “She had this air about her that was so soft and warm and welcoming.”
And then the outgoing Janice told Morris about her plans for Ricchina’s 25th birthday wedding party. Morris was on her way back from a photography conference where she had been inspired by a panel on the power of the photo essay. And here was an opportunity for a beautiful photo essay just landing in her lap.
Morris was already working on a book about a summer camp for children who don’t adhere to traditional gender roles. She was driven to photograph “people who don’t conform to our expectations of normal.” The opportunity to photograph Ricchina’s “wedding day” seemed more a mission than just an assignment.
“I think photography gives us the opportunity to tell a story compassionately and gives a glimpse into a world they’re unaccustomed to seeing,” says Morris.
Janice Di Joseph and Ricchina were thrilled with the resulting photo essay, “Ricchina’s Wedding.” The photos on this page are just a sample. You can see the full essay on Morris’s own site.
“I can’t stop looking at the pictures,” Janice now says. “It was just magnificent. Ricchina talks about it all the time and she relives that moment and I can’t ever get anything better than that, it’s just priceless.”
Ricchina even got a traditional first dance at her wedding — with her loving mom.
[Images: Lindsay Morris]