Mandy and John’s Wedding

In the past I’ve hurried to get blog postings up so my photos could be seen. I neglected to tell the story and my experience of the day being such a visual, right brained individual. This year, I plan to tell my story of each individual wedding as the day took place for me. Though my stories will mostly portray the delightful side of the story, I may occasionally joke about an odd occurrence of annoyance. With every wedding there is good and bad, planned and never imagined. Now I’ve decided to walk my audiences through the wonderful life that I live as a wedding photographer.

May 25th – Meg (my delightful, optimistic, crazy happy assistant) and I travel to Benton Harbor for the night to get an early start on the wedding for Saturday. We arrive late. It’s midnight-thirty and we’re both ready to sleep. Find the hotel. Done. Check in (for half an hour). Done. Park. Done. Go to room….. gross. The room is barely bearable. Meg says it’s ok, trying to keep positive. I go to sleep pouting that I have to sleep in such a place.

It’s a new morning and though I’m still worrying about the possible bed bugs in my clothes, I’m comforted by the thought of happy union and wedding food. After having a huge meal at Ihop and purchasing some more hats for the photo booth, Meg and I drive the half hour to the reception site where the bride and her bridesmaids are to be getting ready. It’s a very small downtown area. Dewey Cannon Winery, a winery nestled between hundred year-old buildings. Brick. Vintage. History. I can’t wait to see the inside. New venues make my life interesting. We knock on the front door and nothing. We go to the back door we’re so obviously not supposed to enter. They let us in making it clear it’s not an entrance for us. Oops. A photogs gotta do what a photogs gotta do. A nice lady gives us direction as to where the girls should be. Before we head there we stop at the reception room. So beautiful, as if a winery wasn’t beautiful enough. The bride went above and beyond to truly make this a wonderful experience. The long skinny room was put together with multiple long tables. The centerpieces, which we later discover were completely made by the bride, were tall moss balls. Every place setting was complete with a scrolling name card and a chocolate bar. These Russian chocolate bars we found to be some of the best chocolates ever. Wow. If this room explains the characters of the bride and groom, I’m going to love them.

It’s time to get to the bride and her bridesmaids, we walk up a stairway and into a gorgeous redone room. Though the girls are nowhere to be found, Meg and I are instantly taken by the photographic opportunities to be had. The room overlooks the main street. It’s one open room with brick walls and gorgeous wood planked flooring. Forget pictures, can I live here? I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen an apartment I liked more. Her simple yet elegant dress hangs, just waiting for us to capture. We photograph the dress, shoes, and flowers before the women arrive. The flowers are gorgeous. Colors and flower types that I can truly appreciate. Once again- the bride and her bridesmaids put together the bouquets and the floral pieces scattered around the venue.

After a fun hour of photographing some details, finally I get to meet my Mandy. For a year we wrote back and froth by email. Often my relationships with my brides and grooms are by email right up until the wedding day. I knew she was sweet, kind, and laid-back. A future doctor working her way through med school, she seemed so involved and caring. My original conclusions of her were accurate. The bridesmaids in general are sweet and sincere. Never have I seen a bridal party completely style each others hair. We are working with 3 future doctors and a future nurse I hear. Apparently they can do it all. I’m taken by Mandy and her patience, her caring while she does her mothers hair on her own wedding day. Beautiful!

Getting lots of great candids, we completely miss our time frame for posed shots of the girls. They are definitely good under pressure and being completely cool with not getting one posed shot. I guess I was sweating enough for all of us. We race to the wedding. A whole half an hour late. At least the bride shows up in style in an old Rolls Royce. Problem diluted. All the stress I was feeling to get to the venue, get enough shots, not hold up the walking down the aisle completely faded when I saw the site. We travelled many roads, a ten minute drive country drive through well-developed farm land and residential areas. When we finally got out of the car I looked around. The Willow Harbor Vineyards was an unbelievable site for weddings. There were no distracting parking lots, no unsightly buildings. Driving on a windy dirt path, we were completely surrounded by beauty. One direction was grape vines, one a pond with chairs and guests, one a field and trees, and the last a beautiful barn and winery. Oh joy. The pictures will be a breeze. I spot the groom. I wave. My first impression is that he’s a wonderful man truly in love. He sheds tears as Mandy walks the aisle with her mother. Time for the marriage.

Afterwards I saw a little more of the groom. He is happy, patient, and very nice. His Russian accent was enough to make any girl blush. Ahh, this wedding couple seems right. We take the usual family photos, bridal party, and bride and groom photos. It’s a whirlwind as once again – time is of the essence. Back to the reception site. We take some photos outside.

Some things were memorable to me during the reception. Upon entering the bride and groom were greeted with a bread called the Korovai that the groom’s mom held awaiting them to break off pieces. The bread symbolizes health and prosperity in the marriage, and sharing it among guests is to celebrate the union. It is jokingly said that whom ever breaks off the largest piece is the one that wears the pants in the relationship.  John breaks the bigger piece. 🙂

Mandy and John fed Meg and I chicken dinner to not be forgotten. Wedding food! =) I feel pretty special when I get my own name card. The family continued with some nice toasts and the party began. I’m not sure why, but talking with the guests who have russian accents entertains me.

To end the night, we go outside for some interesting photos. We start with Mandy standing in the middle of the street. The car lights make awesome accents. Mandy looks so pretty. Then we move onto letting lanterns go. At first we hesitated to whether or not lanterns can legally be lit and let go. As luck would have it, we see a street cop walking. We ask him and he says that it’s not illegal, but he’s not going to tell us to go ahead…… lol, so of course they decide to let them go. A hand full of guests go around to the back of the 100 year old buildings into the alley where they light these three foot lanterns. It’s very pretty watching them float away.

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5 years ago

Love the pictures Leah! Thank you so much for your hard work.

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