Bittersweet Farm Wedding Photos
Michelle & Raymond
Bittersweet Farm, Westport, Massachusetts
September 1st, 2022
I can't pinpoint when the "rustic wedding" trend started but, for at least the last four or five years, it's been a theme adopted by more couples than I can count. It seems like everyone loves the idea of a rustic wedding in New England but what that theme means really varies from person to person and wedding to wedding.
At its heart, though, a true rustic wedding has a couple of key items: A barn or farm setting; a laidback and casual ceremony that never takes itself seriously and a relaxed vibe from start to finish.
Oh and it generally has a super chill, down to earth couple that wants to celebrate their love more than they want to throw an elaborate, over the top event. In other words, it's Michelle and Raymond's wedding day to a tee.
Michelle and Ray were married back in September at Bittersweet Farm in Westport, Massachusetts and they had a wedding day that was the very definition of rustic and the very definition of "them" and I loved every moment of it.
I knew heading into Michelle and Raymond's wedding day that this would be a laidback afternoon with a bride and groom who just wanted to get married and celebrate. I knew this because Michelle made it a point to have me arrive a bit before the ceremony and take "basic" prep shots but nothing over the top.
To me, this is a surefire sign that a couple cares more about the big moments of their day than the traditional "Pinterest" idea of a wedding but that didn't mean I couldn't still get some nice photos of the bride-to-be before she walked down the aisle.
In fact, Michelle was so relaxed that I was almost caught off guard when it came time to get her dressed and head over to the ceremony itself. The only time I saw her even show a hint of nerves was when I asked her to stand in front of a mirror and take a moment for herself before we got everything started. I'm glad she took this moment as the rest of the day flew by in an instant.
What I loved about documenting the pre-ceremony portion of Michelle and Ray's wedding day was how each mirrored the other. When I finally had a chance to head outside and meet up with the groom, he was also all smiles and ready to get the ceremony rolling.
I love when grooms seem excited for a wedding ceremony and Ray certainly fit the bill, especially when he saw Michelle make the long walk down the aisle to him to get their big moment underway.
Michelle and Ray's wedding ceremony took place during the brightest, hottest part of this September afternoon but you'd never know it from the way they were both locked in the moment looking at one another.
I have no doubt they both could have stood up at the gazebo for a lot longer just savoring every second of this special ceremony. In fact, the only person there who seemed restless was the little ringbearer but I can't even complain about that because his walking behind the bride and groom yielded one of my favorite candid ceremony moments of the entire year.
With their wedding ceremony in the books, Michelle and Ray headed off to their family and wedding party formals and I was sooooo glad to get them out of the sun.
Bittersweet Farm is one of the trickier spots to photograph formal photos at as a LOT of their best locations are really dependent on the weather and the lighting but, on this afternoon, a simple little spot near their iconic white fence was the perfect place to have everyone gather and speed run through the standard poses so they could get over to cocktail hour.
I must say, I was looking forward to finally getting Michelle and Ray alone so, so much on this particular afternoon. Even though we didn't really move from the one spot on the property, working with Michelle and Ray was so much fun, particularly because the bride stressed to me how much she hated having her photos taken prior to the wedding ... only to love the experience on the day of itself.
And working with these two was a breeze. Not only were they both head over heels for one another but they were super relaxed and easy to pose and the lighting was picture perfect. We may have only gotten 14 minutes together but, man, we made the most of each one of them.
With formal photos in the books, it was time to head inside for Michelle and Ray's reception. I'll be honest, shooting a reception at Bittersweet Farm ranks at the top of my toughest assignments each year.
It's undoubtably a beautiful venue but, man, it is a challenge to capture the look and feel of this rustic location if you're not familiar with it. Luckily, Michelle and Ray did a great job decorating their reception and it looked absolutely peak New England.
I knew from the moment Michelle and Raymond's reception started that we were in for a special night and not just because they chose one of my favorite wedding songs — Staind's "Tangled Up In You" — for their first dance, though that definitely helped.
Michelle and Ray's reception was beautifully lit and came at the perfect time as the sun started to set and the barn looked even more beautiful than usual.
But I'd be lying if I said their first dance wasn't the highlight of the night for me, personally. What a great moment, especially as these two were definitely tangled up in one another. It's hard to deny the look of love on their faces. What a moment.
One of the best aspects of Michelle and Ray's reception was that they really took a lot of time to think about the special moments they wanted or didn't want. Right after their first dance, the two had one speech by the maid of honor and went right into dinner.
And when dinner was over? We breezed right through a great cake cutting and two lovely parent dances.
There wasn't a lot of pomp and circumstance and this was clearly a night that everyone in attendance was looking forward to getting on the dance floor and partying and I, for one, couldn't wait until they did.
And when the dancing did start? Man. It was ON.
Michelle and Raymond's friends and family members took a moment or two to warm up but once the dance floor opened up, it never slowed down and it was clear everyone in attendance was having the time of their lives.
What was also great about Michelle and Ray's reception was, right before I headed out, we made sure to quickly cap the night with a couple of hilarious moments I know they won't forget. This included the standard bouquet and garter toss but also a super fun dance off to see who would get the centerpieces and a beautiful and sweet moment between Ray and his daughter in a twist on the traditional father-daughter dance.
While I may have only been at Michelle and Ray's wedding for five hours, it really felt like an all-day event for me as there was so much to document and so many moments that stood out.
I think this is one of the things I love the most about "rustic weddings." While they are, on the surface, more casual days than big church events or ballroom style receptions, they are also super intimate and just feel more personal. I adore that.
Michelle and Raymond definitely had the wedding day of their dreams and I'm so glad I was there to help document it so thank you Michelle and Ray for allowing me to be a small part of your special event and I wish you the best as you start your journey together as husband and wife. Congrats!
-Paul J. Spetrini
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The Vendor List:
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Bride's Make-up: Taylor Wiggin of TeWiggingMakeup; Ceremony & Reception: Bittersweet Farm, Westport, Massachusetts; DJ: Johnny Collins of Cloud Nine Productions.