Amanda & Josh
When I was growing up, I was raised in a pretty religious family and, for a very brief moment in time, considered becoming a priest. I never went through with it but there was something that always fascinated me about it, specifically the idea of a person finding their "calling" in life and doing what they were "destined" to do.
Destiny. It's a funny word really and, like many adults, I've never really believed in it.
But, honestly, I can't think of another word that could better explain why I was lucky enough to meet Amanda and Josh when I did and why I was lucky enough to photograph their October 2018 wedding ceremony in Orlando, Florida, a wedding that was, without question, the most rewarding experience of my professional career.
Now, that may sound like a bit of a stretch. Trust me, I know. But I write it without a single bit of exaggeration or hyperbole. Amanda and Josh's wedding was the dream shoot I didn't know I needed and working with them to capture this experience is a memory I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
It was that much fun.
And I can't think of another couple who deserved it more.
If you haven't figured it yet, let me clue you in one something: This isn't going to be my usual wedding blog.
My coverage of Amanda and Josh's wedding day began long before they said "I do."
For nearly two years before we made our way to the sunshine state, Amanda, Josh and I communicated regularly about what their day would entail and what they hoped to get from the experience. Despite all that planning, the entire trip was better than we could have even imagined.
I thought long and hard about how to write this blog to accurately reflect the experience of traveling to this wedding – my first destination wedding shoot – but ultimately, the beauty of their wedding day is something I felt needed its own spotlight.
So you'll have to forgive me for only briefly mentioning the amazing Disney character breakfast we had together with their family on my first full day in Florida or the beautiful rehearsal they had planning out the specifics of this day or even our fun-filled night hanging out socially at Disney's Magic Kingdom.
I leave all of that out of this blog because the reason we were all here was the bright and warm Monday morning when Josh and Amanda became husband and wife.
And what a day it was.
Amanda and Josh chose to get married in a small ceremony at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Disney is home to some of their happiest memories as a couple and while they would have a "traditional" wedding reception back in New England two weeks later (which I'll talk about in another blog), this trip was just for them and a handful of their closest family members and it was easy to see why this was the right decision right away.
First off, Amanda isn't one for the spotlight. While she's a lot more outgoing and relaxed than when I first met her back in February of 2017, Amanda is still shy at heart and would hate all the pressure and a spotlight of a wedding day. Having just those closest to her made each moment of this day a little more special.
Right from the start of bridal prep, I could see how much this day meant to her. it was all over her face, literally and figuratively as she did her best to try and not cry when the emotions kicked in. (Spoiler alert: it didn't work)
Amanda and Josh were a super fun couple to document but they couldn't have been much different when it came to getting ready for their wedding.
While Amanda was nervously taking in every second of her hair and makeup preparations, Josh was as cool as a cucumber and just ironed a shirt, tossed on his suit and got ready to go.
I loved seeing the difference in approach for the two of them and could see how they each compliment each other so well. This was especially true as we got ready for their first look ...
Speaking of their first look, I don't know who was more excited about this: Amanda, Josh or me.
The three of us spent the day before their wedding scouting for a location for this big moment and ultimately settled on a fountain right in front of their hotel at the Disney Port Orleans Resort.
I loved the location choice as it gave some great visuals in the moments leading up to the big reveal.
From the multi-colored buildings behind them to the perfectly maintained trees above them, this was a spot that just screamed first look the moment we saw it.
I loved the anticipation of Amanda and Josh's first look but what I loved the most is how silly this bride and groom stayed in what is normally a super stressful part of a wedding day.
I knew if they were both still smiling and laughing leading up to THIS, then the rest of the day would be a breeze and it sure was.
That's not to say Amanda and Josh didn't take this moment seriously. In fact, it might be the opposite.
While neither the bride nor groom left their unique personalities at home and took every opportunity to be goofballs when possible, at the end of the day these two have a beautiful love story and affection for each other that no amount of joking around or silliness could diminish.
They may do a good job of hiding the seriousness of how they feel each other but anyone who was watching their first look could see the genuine emotion leak out and I made sure to do my best to capture it as often as possible.
Following Amanda and Josh's first look and first round of bridal portraits, the three of us made our way to the Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel, the site of their wedding ceremony.
As we had JUST had their rehearsal here the day before, everyone in attendance knew what to expect and the ceremony went off without a hitch.
Amanda and Josh chose to come down the aisle together and, in a beautiful nod to their mutual love of Star Wars, the bride wore a pair of R2-D2 inspired shoes, the groom had similar socks on the two entered their ceremony to The Imperial March.
If that wasn't the first clue that this wouldn't be your average wedding ceremony, I don't know what was.
Despite Amanda and Josh's best efforts to subvert the many standard things you see at wedding ceremonies, the two simply couldn't hide their true feelings when the seriousness of the moment they were having really hit home.
Amanda made it three lines into her vows before losing it emotionally but recovered nicely and capped it with a Rick Astley-inspired play on words that I don't think anyone but Josh and myself caught.
As for Josh, his vows centered on the moment he knew he and Amanda were meant for each other and when he revealed it, Amanda gasped as it was the same for her.
It was one of the sweetest moments I've ever seen at a wedding and even got me a little misty eyed.
Speaking of moments I'll never forget, Amanda and Josh even managed to prank me during their wedding ceremony.
Two weeks before their wedding, as we walked through final preparations for their timeline, I humbled suggested they should avoid using tongue on their first kiss (a suggestion I made for ALL of my couples.)
Amanda and Josh aren't like any couple I've worked with though, and right as they went in for this first kiss, one of the most special ones of their life, they turned to me and did this:
I'll be honest. It made me laugh so, so very hard.
Nevertheless, their "real" first kiss was a beautiful moment and led to the photo I began this blog with as they embraced in a huge that, honestly, might be my favorite wedding ceremony photo of the year.
I love the emotion of that moment. It says so much and so little at the same time.
Following their ceremony, Amanda and Josh returned to bask in the glow of a laidback cocktail hour with their closest family members.
Amanda and Josh may have cast aside a lot of traditions of a typical wedding day but one I'm glad they stuck to was the traditional first dance.
The two chose Stevie Wonder's "You are the sunshine of my life" and danced under a beautiful awning on the side of their ceremony site. I could tell they weren't super comfortable with everyone watching them dance ... at first ... but as the song went on, it was clear they got lost in the moment together and it made for one of my favorite first dances ever. So much so, I immediately turned one of the photos into the cover for my latest business advertisement.
It was really that beautiful.
Following their first dance, Amanda, Josh and I went right into family formals. I think this is a good place for me to talk briefly about how amazing these people really were.
Despite having only met Amanda and Josh's family members 24 hours before their wedding day, by the time they were officially husband and wife, I felt like I knew everyone there for years.
And that made formal photos at the Swan & Dolphin Resort, and later back at the Port Orleans French Quarter, so smooth and easy.
While I loved spending time with Amanda and Josh's family, what I looked forward to the most was getting this bride and groom alone for some more portraits of just the two of them on the beautiful grounds at Disney.
We didn't go super crazy with photos as I didn't want to hog their wedding day for my own photo purposes but the shots we did get? Talk about stunning.
I think my favorite photo from this part of the day, without a doubt, is the one below of a fountain we stumbled upon that Josh really liked. Our initial attempt at this photo was from the other side and disrupted by intense sunshine but thanks to patience from the bride and groom and a little outside of the box thinking on my part, we captured a really sweet shot of these two that I might not have seen otherwise.
I loved working with Amanda and Josh and, much like their engagement session last fall, their formal portraits were a breeze. But what I loved the most is how these two were equal parts head over heels in love with each other AND absolutely, insanely ridiculous at the same time.
Nowhere was that more obvious than how we ended their wedding day coverage as Amanda, Josh and Amanda's niece Grace embarked on a family tradition: Smashing a cupcake in Amanda's face.
Bride or no bride, this was GOING to have to happen and boy am I glad it did.
By the time I headed back to my rental car and called it a day with Amanda, Josh and their amazing family, I couldn't help but take a few moments to really think about how special this wedding was ... not just for the bride and groom but for myself.
I've had a lot of amazing shoots in my life (and this year especially) but I've rarely felt as close to a couple's love story as I did with Amanda and Josh and getting to capture it with almost complete creative freedom is an experience I'll never forget.
What I think made me the most excited was that I knew this was only the beginning. Two weeks after Amanda and Josh said "I do," we got to do it all over again at their big reception for all their friends and family members.
But as much fun as that day really was, I think it's their wedding day that will stick with me forever.
It really was a perfect day for a perfect couple and I don't think any of us could have asked for more.
Tags: Florida Weddings, Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, Destination Weddings, Outdoor Weddings,
Paul J. Spetrini Photography.
The Vendor List
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Bride's Hair and Make-up: Lisa Lefferts; Bride's Dress: The Bridal Shoppe; Groom's Suit: Indochino; Ceremony Location: Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida; Transportation: Minnie Van Service; Officiant: Barbara D'Errico; Cupcakes: Just Marry; Wedding Planning and Coordination: Just Marry; Videographer: Steve Graham at Cinemedia.
Check out more of my most recent wedding blogs:
Nicole & Dan
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Date: September 22nd, 2018
Meghan & Brian
Immaculate Conception Church &
Date: September 21st, 2018
Adam & Ashley
Stepping Stone Ranch,
West Greenwich, Rhode Island
Date: September 15th, 2018
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