Elizabeth and Chris are true high school sweethearts in every meaning of the word. From the moment I met the two of them I fell head over heels in love with their love and with them as wonderfully kind people.
Chris and Elizabeth’s wedding was an example of young love at its absolute best. The two met in high school when they were 15, got engaged while they were still in college, and made the mature decision to wait until after they graduated to get married. But for those 7 years they were just as devoted to one another as a married couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Elizabeth’s dad told me what a stand-up gentleman Chris is when it comes to taking care of his daughter. During one of Elizabeth’s nursing Co-Ops, when she had to work late night shifts, Chris would drive out in the middle of the night to walk Elizabeth home, just to make sure she was safe, even though he had to wake up early for his own internship. To say the two of them are completely and utterly in love and perfect for one another is a massive understatement.
Their whole wedding day, Elizabeth and Chris couldn’t keep their eyes off each other…sweet glances during the ceremony, passionate gazes during their bridal portrait session, and joyful connections during their reception. Everyone there could feel the intensity of their love. It brought most of the wedding party, as well as myself, to tears. You just don’t see love like theirs every day. So it was fitting that they were blessed with a beautiful day for the wedding day they had been planning for nearly one third of their lives.
Elizabeth, who’s maiden name is Rose, started her day off with a bouquet of red roses from Chris and a simple post-it note saying “Your losing a Rose, but you’re gaining a husband. I hope these make up for it.” He also wrote her a letter on notebook paper for a taste of high school nostalgia. Elizabeth donned the same string of pearls that her father had given her mother years before. When it came time for Elizabeth to walk down the aisle, the two of them could barely hold back the tears. Once her father gave her away though, it was nothing but smiles and laughs, they were practically giddy during the whole mass.
As soon as the ceremony was done we had a very tight timeline to work with for photos. I was very thankful that Elizabeth and Chris trusted my professional judgement with regards to plans for the family formals and bridal portraits. A few days prior to their actual wedding day, I took a trip out to their planned locations, to find the typically picturesque Atkinson Common, which was a short drive from the church, had not yet filled the fountains with water or put in the flowers for summer. Additionally the Common provided little to no shade at that time of the day, so their family members would have been very hot waiting for their turn for their photos and they would have had very dark shadows under their eyes and noses from the midday sun. During that trip, I found Bartlet Mall, a park that was right across the street from the church that provided marvelous shade. Without ever seeing it in person, Chris and Elizabeth agreed to do the formal photos there. To make things run as smoothly as possible, my second shooter, Jenn Alton, set up the lights during the ceremony, and my other second shooter, Shawn Black, drove on to the beach to get the other set of lights ready there for the bridal portraits while Jenn and I shot the family formals. I could not have gotten the amazing shots we captured that day in that short amount of time without their help.
After finishing up at Bartlet Mall it was off to Salisbury for their bridal portraits on the beach and the reception at the Seaglass Restaurant. Jenn captured the details inside while Shawn and I took Chris and Elizabeth down to the beach. The sand leading down to water’s edge was soft as sugar, so it would surely fill up their shoes. We didn’t have time to go and grab their flip-flops, so in a pinch I slipped off mine and gave them to Elizabeth and put garbage bags around Chris’ feet and ankles to prevent the sand from getting into his shoes. It worked like a charm.
Because it was still the middle of the day we needed to have some shade or else the two would be squinting into each other’s eyes instead of gazing lovingly. The underside of the Salisbury pier made for an unusual, but perfect, location for bridal portraits. The light was fantastic. I was so thankful that Elizabeth and Chris trusted my judgement on the location choice once again. Shawn and I were in photographer’s heaven. At the end of the session I was so thrilled, we had seemingly accomplished beaten the clock. We finished early enough that Elizabeth could use my hair curler to freshen up her lovely locks and still have them make their entrance right on time.
The reception was absolute perfection. Elizabeth had curated a lovely collection of beach related wedding decorations. The favors were white and dark chocolate starfish and chocolate seashells. Rather than having a traditional guestbook, they had their guests leave them a message in a bottle. Little love poems were written on driftwood and oars. Their wedding cake was adorned with pearly white chocolate starfish and seashells. Speaking of the cake, the on-site coordinator, Stacy Kelley, worked with me and my team to make the near-impossible possible.
Chris and Elizabeth love the ocean, so I wanted to be able to incorporate the water into their cake shot, instead of just photographing it in the reception room. Taking the cake outside in the heat wasn’t an option, so Stacy’s team moved the cake into another room for us and helped us move furniture so that we could place the cake in just the right spot in front of the window so that we could make it look like the cake was photographed outside on the beach. This was just one of the many things Stacy did that day to earn her the title of best on-site wedding coordinator I have ever had the pleasure to work with. She ensured that my whole team had their meals before any big event like the parent dances took place. Anything she and her team could help with, they were happy to do it, and they did it well. Frankly, while the venue is beautiful and the food delicious, Stacy’s talents for day-of-coordination are reason enough to have your reception at the Seaglass in Salisbury.
After the cake was cut, the dance floor was constantly full. Their DJ had a great sense of what the mixed-age crowd would love. The day ended with a tear-filled last dance for the couple. There was barely a dry eye in the house. Elizabeth and Chris couldn’t believe their dream wedding was coming to a close. Luckily, the love they have for one another is never-ending. They have their whole lifetime ahead of them to enjoy wedded bliss together.
Photographer’s tips and tricks:
There were many things that happened on Chris and Elizabeth’s wedding day that ensured they would have great pictures. Here are a few of particular note:
- The bride was not the last person to get her hair and makeup done. She was ready in plenty of time to stay on schedule for photos of her getting into her dress. When scheduling hair and makeup appointments, make sure the bride and mothers of the bride and groom are scheduled before the bridesmaids. It is far more important that they are properly coiffed than it is for the bridesmaids to be picture ready.
- The couple worked with me in advance to create a schedule that reflected their personal wishes while at the same time created realistic expectations as to what we could do in a limited amount of time.
- The couple trusted my professional judgement when it came to selection of locations for the family formals and bridal portrait session. What may seem like a pretty background for photos to a person who isn’t a professional photographer may actually not be a great location for bridal photos. When picking a location for photos consider the following:
- How much time will it realistically take to get there if there is traffic?
- Do any guests have mobility issues to consider?
- Will the family members be very hot or very cold while waiting for their photo to be taken?
- If the photos are being taken midday, are there any spots available with large amounts of shade so that people will not be squinting in the photos?
- The venue provided the vendor meals before the guests got their main course. This is an unusual practice, but it should really be the norm. Very rarely does anything important photographically happen during the salad course or during the main course. Usually as soon as the main course is cleared, events like parent dances and cake cutting take place. Unfortunately, this is usually the time the vendors are served their food. This leaves the vendor, who has often been working non-stop all day, little to no time to eat their meal. The photographers and videographers are often left running out on their meals to capture those special moments for you. This results in shots that are not as well prepared as they could be. So when you are setting up your contract for your reception, talk to the coordinator about getting the vendor meals out first. This will give you the best possible chance of getting the emotional shots you have dreamed of.