Allison & Len
Roger Williams Park Casino, Providence, Rhode Island (Ceremony & Reception)
September 16th, 2017
There are a lot of sacrifices you have to make as a wedding photographer but I think one of the toughest is almost always losing the ability to attend a friend's wedding as "just" a guest. Now, don't get me wrong. I love being able to photograph my friends' weddings but it would be nice to go to one of these events without a camera, and just enjoy the night.
And that was my original intention with Allison and Len's September 2017 wedding at Roger Williams Park. In fact, it was one of the first things we talked about when she told me Len popped the question and they were getting married.
I've known Allison for most of my adult life and she is one of my closest friends so I really wanted to celebrate this incredible night of her life like the rest of her friends would ... but then something funny happened.
On my way to a boudoir shoot about a year before her wedding, I received a text from the bride asking me to reconsider being her photographer because she couldn't find anyone else whose style she liked, she's watched my work grow since the very first wedding I photographed and she knew I could tell her story in the way she wanted it to be told.
I had never really considered that side of it before and, the more I thought about it, the more I knew I had to photograph this day.
Because I simply couldn't trust anyone else to tell this particular story for this particular couple.
And boy am I glad that I did because this was a night I know I'll remember for the rest of my life. So, too, will Allison and Len as it was the wedding I always hoped for for one of my closest friends and being there to capture it all made the experience that much sweeter.
My coverage of Allison and Len's big day began with an abbreviated bridal prep session deep in the basement of Roger Williams Park's Casino.
As a Rhode Island wedding photographer, I've been up, down and all around this park but this was my first trip to the Casino and it was simply unreal. The building itself feels like a timeless, classic, grand ballroom where you'd expect to watch an opera being performed in the 1930s or 1940s and walking into this location, I knew we were in for a special night.
What I didn't know was how emotional we'd start the day as Allison had a slight bit of nerves ... right up until she saw her soon-to-be husband.
I've seen Allison is just about every possible state of emotions but it wasn't until she walked over to Len for their first look that I saw the look of total happiness and deep, deep love that she always spoke about but holds close to her vest in her daily life.
But there was no hiding the way she felt in this moment as both she and Len shared in one of my favorite first looks. I could tell just by seeing the way any and all stress melted off of this bride that this was a moment she will cherish for a lifetime.
And I can't think of a better way to kick start a wedding day.
Allison and Len's wedding ceremony was a celebration of their love story and their journey to becoming husband and wife.
Set in a beautiful bandstand area next to a gorgeous lake that bristled with early fall colors, the location was the epitome of perfect and creating a movie-worthy atmosphere. I found that fitting, of course, because I, and many of Allison's friends, have watched this relationship blossom like a classic fairy tale from their first date to wedding day.
As I watched, I couldn't help but notice how incredibly happy Allison looked in every moment of this ceremony and, standing in the back row of the bandstand, I felt a sense of pride that she had made it to this milestone life marker. It took everything I had not to get too emotional as I had a job to do but, I'll admit, I took a moment or two to really take in what I was witnessing. I'm sure both the bride and groom did as well.
After Allison and Len said "I do," it was time for us to head to formal photos. I knew from their engagement session a few months ago that we were going to have fun with these photos. What I didn't know was how quick it would go as Roger Williams Park was incredible on this afternoon and everything we shot came out exactly as I envisioned it, a rare sight indeed.
I loved Allison and Len's formal photos for a number of reasons, not the least of which was how comfortable the groom looked in front of the camera. Len isn't much of a smiler but when you're as happy as he was in that moment, it's not hard to capture that spirit in your wedding photographs.
Following their formal photos, the three of us headed into cocktail hour and their reception. This was the part of the night I was most eager to get to as Allison has a large Italian family (Much like I do) and I knew we were in for something special.
I could have never guessed just how crazy it would really be, however. These people know how to party.
Before we could get to the party part of the evening, though, we needed to get the big moments of the night out of the way and, starting from the first dance and all the way through to the bouquet toss, Allison and Len made every marquee moment of their wedding reception better than the last.
Starting the night off with their first dance, Allison and Len turned heads in the giant ballroom and, to my surprise, actually seemed well coordinated and in complete rhythm. Knowing both of them, I would not have guessed this but loved the way they looked in each others arms and circling around the golden-colored room fit for a beautiful performance.
Following this dance, the pair made their way to their sweetheart table and we were treated to four great speeches as Allison's father, Len's two best men and Allison's sister all toasted to the newlyweds and wished them success in their life together.
If I had to choose one of my favorite moments of Allison and Len's wedding day, it would probably be the fact that their dance floor spontaneously opened up well before dinner.
As a wedding photographer who goes to somewhere close to 40 weddings a year, I can tell you this almost never happens and, when it does, it's a sign that you have an awesome crowd and it's going to be a great night, both of which were true here.
Still, it was a little odd to see the band have to stop the party briefly so guests would eat their meals.
Thankfully, once dinner was over, we moved right into the cake cutting and parent dance portions of the evening so it wasn't long before these wild guests could get back on the dance floor ... and, trust me, they did.
Following Allison's bouquet toss, which featured an incredible one-handed grab by one of our mutual friends, it was time to resume the partying and this group didn't miss a beat.
Buoyed by the brilliant live band Steve Anthony & The Persuasion, the Casino ballroom at Roger Williams Park was home to one of the most nonstop, dancing-filled nights I've ever witnessed at a wedding.
By the end of Allison and Len's wedding, I felt completely and totally drained ... and not just because I photographed a wedding.
No, this day was about so much more.
Mainly, for me, this day was the culmination of a story I've watched grow over many years. It wasn't always an easy story; no relationship ever is. But in the time from the moment Allison and Len met until the instant they said "I do," I could see how much this bride and groom had changed and grown into the people they were on this wedding day.
And maybe that's why, somewhere deep down, I knew I'd always be the one to photograph this amazing experience.
I love Allison and Len and seeing the pure look of bliss and joy in their faces in these photos is something I wouldn't trade for the world.
More importantly, I know this is just the start of their life together and it makes me incredibly excited to see where this life takes them next.
So, congratulations Allison and Len. This is where I would normally say I hope you loved your wedding day as much as I loved being there to document it but I don't need to say that here. All I need to is look at the photographs above to know that's true.
Now. And always.
Tags: Roger Williams Park Casino, Rhode Island Weddings, Outdoor Weddings, Providence, Paul J. Spetrini Photography
The Vendor List
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Hair: Imagination Salon; Makeup: Ali Lomazzo Beauty; Allison's Dress: Wishing Well Bridal; Allison's Shoes: DSW; Len's Suit: Men's Wearhouse and Tuxedo; Ceremony/Reception Location: Roger Williams Park Casino; Officiant: Jessica Castigliego; Band: Steve Anthony & The Persuasion; Cake: Carina e Dolce; Caterer: Cozy Catering; Flowers: Cherryhill Florist.
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