Amanda & Josh
October 14th, 2018
There are some shoots you just can't help but look forward to and I knew the moment I left Amanda and Josh following their October wedding at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida that their reception two weeks later in Lakeville, Massachusetts would be one of them.
But no amount of planning could properly prepare me for what took place on this beautiful fall afternoon at the Loon Pond Lodge as Amanda and Josh formally celebrated their marriage with a giant party for all of their friends, family members and a couple of surprise guests no one but Amanda and I knew would be making an appearance.
Yes, make no mistake. This was a party. And it was one party I don't think I'll ever forget.
It was that good.
My coverage of Amanda and Josh's wedding reception began with a super sweet callback to their wedding day as the pair got ready together at the Three Dogs Villa bed and breakfast in Middleboro, Massachusetts.
I loved the parallels of seeing Amanda and Josh getting ready for this much more laidback day and thought it was really a nice touch that, this time, it was Josh helping his wife in her dress.
When I first spoke to Amanda and Josh about their wedding reception, the idea was to create a huge party that was a lot of fun for all their friends and family members and you could see that vision became a reality the moment you walked into their venue as they opted out of all the "standard" wedding reception decor (floral centerpieces, assigned seating) and create a much more relaxed vibe with themed tables, silly decorations and games scattered throughout.
This setup served as the first sign to guests that this wouldn't be your "standard" wedding reception.
It wasn't the last.
One of my favorite parts of Amanda and Josh's wedding reception was how they decorated and, I'll be honest, I loved seeing the table of photos they put on display from the wedding itself.
This happens to me somewhat regularly as clients will often display photos I've taken of them at their wedding. Usually it's from an engagement session, though, so it was a pretty cool sight to see shots I had just taken two weeks earlier, and sent to them as a sneak peek, displayed so prominently for their guests to see.
The entire reason Amanda and Josh were having this reception was to thank friends and family members for the role they've played in their lives and this was obvious from the moment the reception started as Amanda and Josh personally welcomed everyone who arrived with hugs and special programs explaining (most of) what would be going on today.
And even though we took more than our fair share of formal photos of this bride and groom in Florida, I felt I would be remiss if I didn't ask for a few minutes to take some on the beautiful grounds of this venue as well.
I mean, how could I pass up the chance to include their adorable dog Odie in the photos?
He pretty much always steals the show.
With formals out of the way and the guests having arrived, Amanda and Josh officially kicked off their reception with a few words of thanks to those in attendance.
But anyone expecting a normal afternoon was quickly shown that wouldn't be the case as the reception started off with a flash mob dance routine with Amanda and some of her close Zumba friends from Mind and Body Studios in West Warwick, RI.
Amanda has credited this studio for helping her become a much more social person and, as a Facebook friend of hers for quite some time, I knew well before her reception how much these folks meant to her so seeing her start her reception off with a tribute to that relationship was a really sweet touch.
But what came AFTER Amanda's Zumba flash mob is what really stole the show at this reception.
First, a little backstory: About a year before Amanda and Josh were married, Amanda let me in on a little secret: She had hired two people to come to the reception dressed in costume and steal Josh away without him knowing it.
When she told me who they'd be playing, I laughed REALLY HARD.
When I saw it play out in real life? I laughed even harder.
It was, and is, one of my favorite moments I've seen at a wedding and not only did it catch this groom off guard but it caused a ton of confusion among their guests and tons of laughter ... which is exactly what we were going for.
Yep. That's Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper.
And for a pair of Star Wars fans whose entire wedding and reception were lowkey Star Wars themed? It's practically a dream come true.
I loved the look on Josh's face when he was finally able to process what was happening and the photos of Darth Vader stealing him away and Amanda "battling" him when they returned are some of the most fun shots I've ever taken at a wedding.
I've got to really give credit to Party Princess Productions Boston for the two people they had arrive as Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper. While it was a bit awkward at first for the characters who I can only assume aren't usually hired for an adult event like a wedding reception, once they realized how much fun this day really was, they leaned into it perfectly and were down for ANY crazy idea we could come up with.
And there were a lot of them. Like, a lot a lot.
But how could I resist? I probably won't have THAT MANY weddings in my career where I can have Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper strike a prom pose and/or pretend to have killed a groom on his wedding day. :)
We had so much fun with these two characters and so did all of Amanda and Josh's guests as we held an impromptu formal photo session with the characters and anyone who wanted to get a photo with them.
Afterward, Darth and the Stormtrooper were all too kind to entertain some more silly ideas before heading out.
What I loved the most, though, was how much fun the person playing Darth Vader had. On the way out, he made sure to compliment BOTH Amanda and Josh for the amazing time they all had, calling it one of his favorite experiences.
And when Darth Vader is saying you've got a great wedding reception, well, that just means a little more.
Amanda and Josh's reception wasn't without its serious moments, of course.
The two decided to have their traditional parents dances here instead of in Florida and I'm glad they did as the three dances they had – Amanda with her stepfather, Josh with his mom and Amanda with her mom – were all really sweet and touching and a nice balance to the ridiculously fun stuff the rest of the day was centered on.
Speaking of fun, following their parent dances, Josh and Amanda really turned up it up to a ten with a bunch of games for their guests to play.
My personal favorite to photograph? Definitely laser tag outside. Talk about some funny candid photos.
After laser tag, we went back inside for two of my personal favorite moments of the day.
The first Amanda and I came up with as an idea two days before their reception.
If you read my blog on Amanda and Josh's wedding day, you'll likely remember how it ended: With Amanda's niece Grace smashing a cupcake in her face.
In what I thought was the only appropriate way to pay tribute to that moment, I asked Amanda to bring another cupcake and told Grace, simply, that we had a cupcake for her.
What I didn't tell her was that, this time, she would be the one on the receiving end of the dessert treat to the face and her look of surprise and the reaction afterward make me smile every single time I see it.
But that wasn't the only way I was involved in Amanda and Josh's wedding reception.
In one of our very first conversations, I casually mentioned to Amanda that I am terrible at karaoke but that it doesn't stop me from doing it and making a fool of myself and, sure enough, Amanda remembered.
I knew the moment she brought up the idea of having me sing at her wedding reception that it was going to happen and as embarrassing and ridiculous as it was (and as ridiculous as the photos by my second photographer Stacey came out), I'm glad I did it. It was a personal highlight for me this year and, I'll be honest, having Amanda and her friends behind as backup dances made me laugh. A lot.
Following my "performance" (if we can call it that), the big events of Amanda and Josh's reception were over but the fun was just beginning as the bride and groom got to spend quality time with those closest to them and whether it was dancing, posing for silly photos or making smores, I could see Amanda and Josh were soaking in every moment of this day and truly loving every bit of it.
As the night began to wind down, I went around with one of the video cameras Amanda and Josh had out for guests to record moments from the reception and asked their guests to leave a few words for them.
To top it off, I asked the two of them to leave a message to their future selves.
I could think of no more appropriate way to cap off one of my favorite weddings ever and seeing how emotional Amanda and Josh got when the weight of the moment really hit them was incredibly touching to see.
All in all, I don't know if I could ever truly sum up what it means to me to have photographed both Amanda and Josh's wedding and reception.
Over the nearly two years in which I worked with them, I felt a connection with this bride and groom that was super personal and an amazing reminder of why I became a photographer in the first place.
Seeing all their planning come together in not one but two absolutely perfect days was so rewarding for me both personally and professionally and I can't wait to see where our friendship goes from here because, if the wedding and reception was any indication, Amanda and Josh are two of the most amazing people you can be around and their love story, friends and family reflect that perfectly.
So thank you Amanda and Josh for including me on your insane journey down the aisle.
I can't wait to see what's next.
The Vendor List
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Bride's Hair: Studio 54, Lakevile, Massachusetts; Bride's Dress: The Bridal Shoppe; Groom's Suit: Indochino; Reception Location: Loon Pond Lodge, Lakeville, Massachusetts; Zumba Flash Mob: Mind and Body Studios, West Warwick, Rhode Island; Darth Vader and Stormtrooper Rental: Party Princess Productions Boston; Catering and Chocolate Fountain: DeAvila's Catering; Bar: New England Bartending Service; Day-of coordinator: Nicole Phillips; Laser Tag Rental: Laser Tag Source; Lodging: Three Dogs Villa, Middleboro, Massachusetts.
Check out more of my most recent wedding blogs:
Amanda & Josh (Wedding)
Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Date: October 1st, 2018
Nicole & Dan
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Date: September 22nd, 2018
Meghan & Brian
Immaculate Conception Church &
Date: September 21st, 2018
Got a thought? Leave a Reply