Everyone knows that in order for a tree to grow it needs one main thing: solid roots. I'm pretty sure that the same good be said for people most of the time too. In some ways, family roots can be deeper than even the oldest, biggest trees. Because families go back generation upon generation, spreading out even further than the largest forest. And it's those family members that make opportunities possible, create traditions and, quite literally, bring you into this world. More so, your immediate family members are the people that help shape you into who you become and stand by you as you find your way in the world. They are the roots that help you grow and remind of where (and who) you came from.
Nancy and John could never forget where they come from, it's part of who they are, integrated into everything they do. For Nancy, it's even a part of what she does. She's a dancer - something that was past down to her from her mother, who inherited it from her own mother as well, three generations of dancers. For both John and Nancy, family is the most important thing in their lives and the mutual understanding of that importance is one of the things that drew them to one another in the first place. Nancy says that one of the things she first loved about John was how much he cared about (and cared for) his parents. John was drawn to Nancy's passion and creativity, something she learned from her own parents.
That's not the only thing Nancy learned from her parents. She and John both learned from the solid examples of marriage they both saw on a daily basis growing up. Between both sets of parents, there is nearly 100 years of marriage. And it's clear that they are all still quite obviously in love. When being introduced at the reception, John's father took his wife's hand and gently kissed it as they walked into the room to joyous applause. Nancy's parents were tearing up the dance floor, swing dancing faster and with more energy than people half their age, smiling at one another all the while. Seeing the love between the two sets of parents makes it even more clear why Nancy and John's relationship is so strong, they were surrounded by love and examples of love all their lives.
Their love of family goes deeper as well, remembering not only the relatives they have around them currently, but the ones that came before, the ancestors that paved the way and set down those roots generations before. When beginning the planning process for their wedding, Nancy decided the best way to honor all of those relatives was to incorporate them into day itself having a "family tree" inspiration to their day. She carried that idea into nearly every aspect, as you'll see in the (many) photos below. My personal favorite had to be the favors Nancy and John gave to all of their guests, saplings - so they could go home and plant a tree of their own.
If any of those trees grow to be as strong as Nancy and John's love for one another, there will be many trees that share the very thing that makes Nancy and John's relationship so strong: solid roots.
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We started the day at Nancy's house, excited knowing their would be a lot of great details and accessories to photograph. She had told us after their engagement session, that she was so happy that we had gotten so many shots of them by her favorite tree in Harkness, because it tied in to the theme of their wedding (she had even incorporated the tree into the invitations, which she had made herself). From that session, we had learned that Nancy wears red shoes for every special (photographed) occasion because that was what her mother would dress her in as a little girl, even on the day of her very first dance recital - a big event in her family. She showed us the red shoes first, and then all of accessories she had for the day. In lieu of a bouquet, Nancy carried the prayer book that all of the women in her family have carried (and signed) on their wedding day. On top of the book, she had a small bunch of flowers with locket-sized pictures of all four of her grandparents. She had a Paloma's Nest ring bowl engraved with "Happily Ever After" in Italian, a nod to John's heritage. We literally could have spent all day photographing all of the great details, but there was a wedding to get to. Nancy put on her beautiful Watters & Watterswedding gown, we took a couple of pictures and then hopped into a Mini Cooper (another little theme of the day - Nancy loves Minis) and headed over to Rocky Neck State Park for the first look.
Much like Nancy and John, the first look was sweet and emotional - just a few moments for the two of them before meeting up with the bridal party and doing some shots around the park. We spent a while enjoying the sunshine and then the entire bridal party hopped into a series of Mini Coopers to head over to Saint Francis Summer Chapel in Niantic for the ceremony. Several of Nancy's dance students were in the back of the church, very excited to see their teacher get married. After the ceremony, we grabbed a group shot of all of them with the happy bride and groom.
From there we headed over to the Saltwater Farm Vineyard in Stonington for the reception. It was our first time there and we loved it - the grounds, the old-aiport-hanger-ness, it was gorgeous, especially on the sunny warm day that Nancy and John had. The tables were decked out with beautiful centerpieces done by Thames River Greenery in New London, and all of Nancy's special touches added to the atmosphere. The catering staff from a A Thyme to Cook outdid themselves with some seriously delicious food - the crab dip at cocktail was incredible, as was dinner. Thanks to DJ JD from Dawson Entertainment the dance floor was packed most of the night, no surprise considering there were many dancers in the crowd.
We ended the night with a sparkler send off, with Nancy and John walking through a row of their friends and family cheering them on as loud as they could. They headed out to their red Mini Cooper to the start of their life together as husband and wife.
We had a feeling Nancy would be wearing red shoes on her wedding day, a nod to her mother (a framed shot from her own wedding day on the right) who used to put them on her when she was a little girl. These Nine West ruffled heels were perfect.
We were having sensory overload with all of the great details - the Paloma's Nest ring bowl , the invites, the tree necklaces Nancy gave to each of her bridesmaids and the flowers that adorned Nancy's prayer book complete with small pictures of her grandparents.
Even Nancy's Watters & Watters gown tied into the theme of the day, with the flowering leafy petals cascading down one side.
In place of a traditional bouquet, Nancy carried a prayer book - a tradition that each of the women in her family had done on the wedding day for generations. Before their wedding day, both Nancy and John signed the inside pages, just like the men and women before them had done years before.
Nancy's dad arrived and promptly told his daughter how beautiful she was before a quick kiss on the cheek.
Another tradition in Nancy's family - all of the women have had their picture taken on this couch on the wedding day, with a family mirror behind them. This was one of the last family mirrors they have left.
Nancy helped her day with his boutonniere as he gave her a sweet little smile.
Nancy jumped into a Mini Cooper to head over to Rocky Neck State Park to meet up with John for their "first look."
When looking for the location for their first look, we figured it had to be under the branches of a tree. Thankfully, Rocky Neck provided many great trees to work with and tons of little nooks for Nancy and John.
The best way to describe the dynamic between Nancy and John is that they have a sweet contentment about them - they just seem genuinely happy to be around one another, like within one another they have found some calming energy.
We headed to the beach for a few more shots of Nancy and John, enjoying the beautiful weather.
We saw this field on the way into the park - right at the entrance gate and we knew we had to use it for some shots to play up Nancy's veil.
John escorted both of his parents down the aisle at the start of the ceremony before the groomsmen pulled out the runner for Nancy and her bridesmaids.
Nancy and John had two ring barers, her two nephews, who were adorable.
Nancy shared one last moment with her Dad before heading down the aisle to meet John.
The first kiss as husband and wife!
Many of Nancy's dance students were in attendance at the ceremony, excited to watch her get married. We took a group shot of all of them all together.
We thought it would be important to get a shot of both Nancy and John's parents, since they are so special to them.
Nancy hopped back into the Mini (this time with John at the wheel) to head over to Saltwater Farm Vineyard for the reception.
Nancy loves Mini Coopers and had them to transport all of their wedding party. We have to say, they did look pretty cool all traveling together up the highway and then parked in the vineyard parking lot.
We really enjoyed being at Saltwater Farms - it's a beautiful place and we were even able to enjoy our own delicious dinner just steps away from the vines. Not too bad for a day's work, huh?
Before introductions, we spent a few minutes with Nancy and John in the vines.
A fun shot of the wedding party before heading into the reception.
As we are up bright and early to get ready for a weekend full of weddings we couldn't be happier with how nice it is outside! We hope that you get out their and really enjoy the next couple days. If you are looking something to do at night and haven't yet seen it, go and see Toy Story 3. As many of you know we LOVE Pixar and they really outdid themselves with this one. We already want to see it again!
One of the many things we love about our job is all of the interesting places we get to visit while photographing and getting to know our couples. The last couple of weeks have certainly not been an exception. We have been all over the place including up to Saltwater Farm Vineyard for Nancy & John's Wedding, followed by further up to Newport for Jenny & Brett's Engagement Session. We spent some time in New Haven as well, first at Yale for Jennifer & Jeff's Engagement Session then over at Lighthouse Point Park for Lee & Patrick's Engagement. Just last weekend we enjoyed absolutely beautiful weather for Valerie & Kimber's outside wedding on Candlewood Lake. We can't wait to share all of these amazing events with all of you, for now here is a quick preview from each.
We hope you all have an absolutely amazing weekend. Check back very soon for more images!
Suzanne has always been willing to work as hard as it takes to accomplish her dreams. As dedicated as she is sweet, when she puts her mind to something nothing can stand in her way. That's how it was for her as she pursued her career goals. She wanted to become a physical therapist and she knew it would take tons of studying, a bit of sacrifice and lots of hard work. But that was nothing for her, she strives when she's working toward something she loves. Eventually it all paid off and she had the career of her dreams.
Dave was the same way when it came to Suzanne, from the minute he spotted her while working together at St. Vincent's he knew he wanted to get to know her better. So he put all his effort into finding out who she was and, more importantly, if she was single. Fortunately, it didn't take him quite that long to find out the answer and ask her out on a date. Pretty soon they were inseparable, Dave acting as a source of relaxation for Suzanne reminding her that taking a day off from working so hard could actually be a good thing. They balanced one another out. And no matter what obstacles got in their way as they were navigating their journey together, they held on to one another and did what they do best - worked, together, as hard as they could. And eventually it all paid off. This October, after five years together, they'll become husband and wife.
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Rob's known Suzanne since they were kids together in Naugatuck. She's the sister of Carlos, Rob's best friend and father of sweet baby Stella. Rob and Suzanne became good friends in their own rite while in college together at Sacred Heart University. So when she gave us a call to let us know that she and Dave were tying the knot, we couldn't wait to be a part of her day and were even excited to be able to capture it all for them. Suzanne and her family have been a big part of Rob's life for years, their entire family even drove down to NJ to come to our own wedding.
When Suzanne and Dave told us they were interested in going to a beach for their engagement session we suggested one of our favorites in the area, Walnut Beach in Milford. We're excited for all of our engagement sessions and we were especially psyched for theirs since it gave us the chance to catch up a bit with Suzanne and Dave. We haven't seen them any where near as much we would like to - between their schedules and ours it's way too crazy! It was a nice relaxing afternoon on the beach, exactly what we all probably needed in the middle of a hectic work week - the chance to enjoy the outdoors and chat with old friends.
Of course we had to start in this field of tall beach grass, it gave Suzanne and Dave the opportunity to snuggle a bit.
We totally lucked out with the weather - the morning before the session there were a series of big dark rain clouds hovering about. Thankfully, they all passed away and we had a sunny day with white fluffy clouds.
We love it when the low tide creates these cool little areas like this one, that won't be possible to use during high tide.
We got out of the sun for a bit and headed underneath the large pier at Walnut Beach - doesn't it feel a bit like California?
We were having a good time making Suzanne try not to laugh, thankfully she was having a hard time.
We were loving how calm the water was, giving us some great reflection off the water.
Suzanne and Dave are really good at making one another laugh.
After a quite outfit change, we headed out to these awesome rocks for a bit.
She smiles like that every time Dave gives her a kiss on the cheek. Every time.
Or when he whispers something to her. Ok, he makes her smile like that a lot.
In the middle of all these rocks, there was big patch of incredibly healthy green grass.
Last stop - our favorite walkway at the beach for a few final shots and Suzanne and Dave totally bringing out their inner models.
Thanks for a wonderful afternoon Suzanne & Dave! Can't wait for October, but we better see you again before then!
We have photographed a lot of different people at a lot of different events and as varied as they all have been, they are always a few constants. At a wedding, you know you're going to see the love between the bride and groom but one of the things that we like to watch for as well is the pride the parents are feeling on that day as well. We're always looking for the look the parents have on their faces as they watch from the front row and see their son or daughter say their vows. And as different as all the couples and all the parents we have met have been, that look is always the same. Last month, we learned something about parenthood - that look isn't just reserved for a wedding day. Although you might see a glimmer of it on the sidelines of a little league game or in the audience of a piano recital, it's those big life-changing moments that bring that look of pride out in full force.
That was particularly clear at Maddie's Bat Mitzvah, where her proud parents and grandparents lined the front row and beamed with pride as she read from the Torah. What a remarkable feeling for each of them to see one of the moments that truly mark her transition into the next stage of her life, knowing that they have seen her through every step along the way. When Maddie finished reading, she looked up at them all and gave them just about the biggest smile we're ever seen. She knew she had made them proud and seeing that made her happy. And the best part is that it's just the beginning of moments like this - moments where they'll be there in the front row and she'll smile at them as she completes whatever task she sets her mind to. In the meantime, they'll be plenty of recitals and games to fill the gaps.
The Bat Mitzvah ceremony and party that followed all took place at The Water's Edge at Giovanni's in Darien. Since we arrived early, we had time for some portraits of Maddie on the grounds of The Water's Edge before everything began.
There were tons of details - all in Maddie's favorite colors purple & pink (with touches of silver.)
The ceremony began with the Rabbi leading everyone in song.
Maddie's father Peter heard about us from Ginny Bales of the Bales and Gitlin Band, who have performed at weddings we have photographed. Peter actually plays the drums in the band and had them come to play at Maddie's Bat Mitzvah as well.
Maddie receives her prayer shawl for the first time during the ceremony.
Holding and carrying the Torah is part of the tradition in the ceremony.
Maddie read from the Torah in Hebrew for the first time, in front of all her family and friends.
See what we're talking about with all the details?
The room was divided into a "kid's side" and an "adults side" with different centerpieces on each. On the kid's side, Maddie made these creative centerpieces emphasizing some of the things she loves most - music, theater, dancing, etc.
Only in Yiddish would there be a word that can so perfectly define the seemingly undefinable. Klutz, shmooze, nosh, shlep, shmutz - the list could go on forever. Words that so perfectly describe not only an action or thing, but the feelings they conjure up as well. Can you think of a better way of describing lugging your baggage around than shlepping? Doesn't it just convey the entire experience? And shmutz? Can't you just picture your grandmother whipping something off your face by simply hearing the word? In a culture so rich with such descriptive words and traditions, it's no surprise they have found the ideal word to describe the one thing that playwrights, songwriters and poets have devoted endless hours trying to define: true love. The magic that occurs when two people that were meant for each other finally meet and fall in love. How can you ever find a word to describe what that person is to you? The person that has changed your life simply by becoming a part of it and has made you a better person in the process. Well, luckily, there is a Yiddish term to describe exactly that: Bashert. It's exact translation is "destiny," and it has more commonly become known as the person that you were destined to find. The person that compliments you perfectly, and you do the same for them.
There is no truer example of that term than Keri and Casey. Their love for one another is so evident that by simply observing it you have to acknowledge the fate really must exist. That they were meant to find each other. Born over 3,000 miles apart, they ended up in the same city at the same time - eventually logging onto the same website, chatting for a while and making a date. If that's not destiny, I'm not sure what is. Because not only did they fall madly in love, but they also ended up being one another's perfect compliment. Over their years of dating, Casey has managed to instill a touch of his laid-back California attitude into Keri, a girl who has always felt at home in the fast-paced environment of the Northeast. In turn, Keri has taught Casey the benefits of punctuality, a big accomplishment considering he was even a few minutes late for their very first date.
More so, the interaction between them really shows just how much they care about each other. The way he gently takes her hand, the way she melts into his arms every time he holds her. You can tell that they both know just how lucky they are that they found each other. After all, this is guy that actually had flowers sent to Keri's dressing room when she had her final wedding dress fitting. Does it get any sweeter than that?
Through being together, they have each become a stronger, more confident version of themselves. They have challenged themselves to take on new things - both of them even participated in marathons in the midst of all of the wedding planning. I like to think that's what happens when you find the love you were destined to find - all of a sudden the world makes so much more sense than it did before, because you're no longer viewing it alone. And you can take on new tasks and challenges that you may have shied away from before. Now you have a partner that will hold your hand and help you navigate through all the twists and turns. Someone who knows you inside and out and loves you without hesitation. Your soul mate, your destiny. Your bashert.
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We started the morning at the Trumbull Marriott where Keri and her girls were getting ready. They had all returned from getting their hair done over at David Macin Fairfield. In their super-sweet hotel room, Keri was seeming to take a page from Casey's book, laid back and joking with her group of bridesmaids while they were all having her make-up done by Jennie Fresa and her team. It was a family affair, with Keri's mom, Gale, and her future mother-in-law taking part in the festivities as well. From there, we headed over to the The Waterview in Monroe to finish capturing all of the details. There, Keri's Jim Hjelm Couture dress which she got at Kleinfeld's was waiting for us. We spent a few minutes with Keri's dress and shoes before her flowers done by Diane Gaudett arrived.
Soon, it was time for their "First Look," which was especially sweet because even the looks between Keri and Casey seem to say a thousand words. After a few quiet minutes as just the two of them, they were ready to sign the Ketubah. If you haven't seen a Ketubah ceremony before, you definitely should. It's the moment in the day when the bride and groom officially become husband and wife, even before the ceremony that happens under the Chuppah. The Ketubah ceremony usually just includes close family and friends and is filled with many traditional events. This particular ceremony ended with a veiling, known as the Badeken, where Casey and Keri's mother placed the veil over Keri's face. In tradition, the meaning behind the Badeken is that by placing the veil over the bride's face they groom is saying that he is interested in her for more than just her outer beauty, but for her inner beauty as well. The rabbi took it another step as well, pointing out to Casey that when he raised the veil over Keri's face she would no longer be simply his girlfriend or finace, she would now be his wife.
The reception took place in The Waterview, where Keri and her mother had transformed the ballroom into something we had never seen before. With CT Party Pros providing the up-lighting and fabric draping and Diane Gaudett gorgeous orchid centerpieces, the room looked stunning. They even brought in an extra section of dance floor to accommodate their particularly dance-inclined guests. Literally, we were stunned at how gorgeous it was. The guests agreed as well, oohing and ahhing as they entered the room after the cocktail hour. The JK Band had the floor packed all night, starting it off with the traditional Horrah, which had nearly every guest up on their feet. Thankfully we were able to get up on some chairs ourselves to capture it all, along side the video crew at Bruno St. Jerome.
Pretty much all night, Keri and Casey were standing right next to one another, holding hands, dancing and smiling all night long. The night was exactly as they dreamed it would be - probably even better. Now they were finally husband and wife, just as they were always meant to be.
It's Jewish tradition that the couple give one another a simple gold band during the ceremony. So Keri has two bands - the simple band on the right and the one she'll wear every day in the center.
Their videographer, Bruno St. Jerome supplied a camera for the beginning of the day. Kind of a smart way to reduce the number of people in the room and get some fun video. This is Keri's Maid of Honor was capturing some fun moments.
A quick toast with Dad before getting into her dress.
We loved Keri & Casey's blue and purple color palette - very different and perfect for a spring wedding. The orchid bouquets provided just the right dramatic touch against the simple style of the bridesmaids dresses.
First look!! How happy is Casey just knowing that Keri is coming toward him?!
They totally just melt into each other - and steam up the camera a bit in the process!
Keri looked absolutely gorgeous and had a sweet smile like this pretty much all day.
Before going under the chuppah, Keri and Casey sat down with the Rabbi and signed the official Jewish marriage contract, the Ketubah, in front of their immediate family.
After the Ketubah was signed, Keri's mother Gale started the Badeken ceremony where the veil is placed over the bride's face.
Casey helps place the bride over Keri's face to acknowledge that she is in fact the woman he wants to marry. This goes back to the Torah story about Issac and Rebekah. Read it if you get a chance, it explains many of the traditions in Jewish wedding ceremonies.
Time to head to the chuppah. Casey was escorted in by his mother.
Then Keri was walked in by both her mother and father.
Once they were both together, they performed another tradition that we had never seen before, but was really beautiful. First Keri walked in a circle around Casey several times..
...then Casey did the same.
Shortly into the ceremony, the Rabbi presents a cup of wine that they will both drink from.
The Rabbi made a mention of Casey's beloved California sports teams, to which Casey had to express his support.
After the vows, the bride and groom are wrapped under the same prayer shawl while some blessings are read before the final stomping of the glass.
First kiss as husband and wife!
Walking out! Don't you just love the way Casey is holding onto Keri? So sweet.
Before letting them enjoy cocktail hour, we took a few minutes with just the two of them to take advantage of the glowy later afternoon light on the grounds of The Waterview.
For any couple getting married at the Waterview, we always highly recommend using CT Party Pros for uplighting. It really shows off all the unique design features of the room and creates a great party atmosphere for the reception.
Keri's mother, Gale, really had a vision for what the wedding decor would be and she definitely outdid herself. We joked with her that the Waterview should hire her to decorate for all of their weddings.
Once cocktail hour was over, the guests were welcomed into the ballroom by the JK Band, that had the party going all night long. Keri and Casey worked their way through the already crowded dance floor after being introduced as husband and wife.
Keri and Casey did their first dance to "To Make You Feel My Love," one of our favorite songs.
After the first dance, time for the hurrah! Casey was excited to go up on the chair, Keri was just a bit nervous. Can't really blame her, I would be too!
It's tradition that the oldest patriarch of each side of the family, Casey grandfather and Keri's grandfather, has the honor of cutting the challah.
Keri danced with her father and then Casey danced with his mother.
Keri & Casey, we had such a great time capturing all the amazing moments of your wedding day. We have loved getting to know you and hope to catch up again soon. Maybe dinner the next time we're in NYC?
Here's a fun bonus!!! At this wedding we had FOUR of our couples. They're all referrals off one another. Left to right - we have Liz & Don, whose wedding we'll be doing next May, Lisa and Dan, who were married September 2008, Keri & Casey!, and Deb & Tim who were married October 2008. We loved getting to see everyone again! It was great to see some familiar faces on the dance floor.