Belle Mer Wedding Photos
Chris & Courtney*
Belle Mer, Newport, Rhode Island (Ceremony & Reception)
August 13th, 2021
In my time as a wedding photographer, I've seen well over 200 brides and grooms get married at more venues than I could even attempt to count but, regardless of how many places I've been, few locations cause me to perk up quite like Belle Mer in Newport, Rhode Island.
Belle Mer was home to one of my first-ever weddings and, in the decade or so since that event, each and every time I have been lucky enough to work at the venue, it has taken my breath away. And I can think of no better place for Chris and Courtney to have become husband and wife back in August.
Chris and Courtney were a late addition to my 2021 wedding slate as I was booked to second shoot their wedding a couple of weeks ahead of time but I'm so glad it worked out as their day was simply spectacular.
Whether it was the way the bride and groom both approached their event with no stress, the stunning ocean views we were treated to all day long or the AMAZING way their reception began, this wedding day was peak "Newport wedding" and exactly the kind of day to remind me why the City by the Sea is a destination wedding location known the world over.
* These photos were taken as part of my work as a second photographer for George Street Photography
and are presented here strictly for portfolio/display purposes.
My time with Chris and Courtney began a bit more hectic than I was anticipating as a late change in the groom prep location caused a bit of chaos and confusion but I knew we were in good hands when I arrived to Chris' hotel room and we got right down to business.
Within 15 minutes, we knocked out all of the traditional groom prep photos this laidback groom wanted AND we had plenty of time to head up to the rooftop and grab shots of the groom by himself and with his wild groomsmen.
I appreciated how flexible and relaxed Chris was as a groom as timeline changes and unexpected chaos on a wedding day can really delay things but, in my experience, the more capable you are of pivoting when things go off the beaten path, the better off you'll be and, with just a little luck, we made up all the time we needed to ahead of Chris and Courtney's first look.
And what a first look it was.
I'm always a little worried when I'm photographing a first look, or any special wedding moment really, before I've met the bride but I knew from the cool and collected look on Courtney's face when her soon-to-be husband saw her for the first time that these were my kind of people.
Chris and Courtney didn't make a huge production out of their first look and I felt that was so genuine and "them" and think that natural, candid nature really came across in their photos.
Speaking of their photos, I was so glad we could keep them in the shade for their early formals. As much fun as it would have been to photograph the Newport Bridge in the background for their first look and first round of family and wedding party formals, there was no way the sun was going to cooperate enough against the ocean to make that work.
But, again, pivoting is what I do best.
Speaking of the sun, man, it was in full force for Chris and Courtney's wedding ceremony.
I've only had one other wedding is sunnier and harder to shoot lighting wise than Chris and Courtney's but that wedding taught me all the tips and tricks I needed to get exactly what I was hoping for on this blistering hot summer afternoon.
And I'm glad because Chris and Courtney's wedding was otherwise gorgeous.
Seriously. For a 95-degree day out in the sun, you can't ask for a better wedding ceremony than Chris and Courtney had. It was just the right length and full of little, romantic touches that I know their friends and family members all loved.
As much as I loved the challenge of overcoming the sun to grab great candid shots of Chris and Courtney's wedding ceremony, I knew from the minute I met Chris' groomsmen that this would be a night defined by their wedding reception.
But, first, I simply HAD to grab detail shots inside Belle Mer. As I've said countless times, this venue is stunning and Chris and Courtney nailed the nautical Newport color scheme perfectly.
Speaking of stunning, I can think of no other way to describe the sunset we had on this beautiful August night. Chris and Courtney managed to break away from cocktail hour long enough to grab some nice shots with the bridge in the background and, true to form, Chris wouldn't have been Chris without hopping off the wall in one of my favorite shots of the entire evening.
And, yes, that shot set the tone for what was to come once we hit the Belle Mer dance floor.
One of the things I love the most about returning to second shooting this year is the beautiful wedding venues I've been fortunate enough to photograph receptions in and few stand out the way Belle Mer's does. With some nice green uplighting to match the bridesmaid's dresses and groomsmen's ties, as well as some great white ceilings above, I knew immediately this reception would be something special.
Then the bride and groom hit the dance floor and I knew even special wouldn't fully describe it.
Chris and Courtney's first dance surrounded by friends and family members, as well as the super fun rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" that got loud cheers from those in attendance, really broke the ice and set an immediate party tone from the jump.
And moments like this are WHY I love weddings so much.
Following a spectacular first dance, Chris and Courtney were treated to three awesome toasts that really showcased their unique personality and spirit and told everyone in the room that if they thought they were attending a stuffy Newport wedding, they had another thing coming.
Courtney's dad, as well as her maid of honor, and Chris' best man rocked their speeches and had the crowd laughing in a way I rarely see at weddings and I loved that so, so much.
In fact, the speeches were so good my only regret was that my time was up shortly thereafter.
Nevertheless, if my goal at every wedding is to leave with truly memorable photos of truly memorable moments, it's hard to say Chris and Courtney's wedding was anything but a smashing success.
I adored everything about this wedding day and am already counting down the days until I get to go back to Belle Mer for another wedding later this fall.
I know one thing already, though. That couple has big shoes to fill because Chris and Courtney's day is one I won't soon forget.