Blog— Weddings — Rhode Island — 2021 —
Camp Hoffman Wedding Photos
Clarissa & Daniel
Camp Hoffman, South Kingstown, Rhode Island
August 21st, 2021
I'm the type of wedding photographer who tries to find the beauty in everything he shoots so it's not uncommon for me to leave a session that maybe wasn't in the best location and smile when I think of how happy the couple I worked with was or for a bad weather day to leave me focused in on how cute a bride and groom's umbrella was.
But I have to say, I much prefer those types of wedding days when you're literally in the middle of the session and need to take a minute to appreciate how beautiful everything around you truly is.
It doesn't happen often but Dan and Clarissa's wedding day back in August at Camp Hoffman in South Kingstown, Rhode Island was FULL of those moments.
Sometimes they were literal pieces of beauty — like when we took stunning bride and groom formals in the middle of the woods. Other times they were moments of beauty — like when Dan lost it seeing Clarissa walking down the aisle.
Either way, Dan and Clarissa's wedding day was so touching, so beautiful and so moving that it's almost hard to put into words.
My coverage of Dan and Clarissa's wedding day began with a little bit of musical chairs as I bounced from groom prep to bridal prep and back a few times to document BOTH Dan and Clarissa's final preparations before they walked down the aisle.
Unlike a lot of my couples, Dan and Clarissa's prep sessions were a tiny bit more stressful than I'm sure either of them wanted but I totally understand how they felt as I could see how much this day meant to them and they wanted everything to go perfect.
The thing is, weddings almost never go perfect and that's why I loved seeing how relaxed Dan and Clarissa got as the minutes ticked down to their ceremony. Sometimes, you have to trust the work you've already put in and know the day you planned will come together somehow and that's exactly what this bride and groom did.
I try pretty hard to keep my brides and grooms relaxed before their wedding ceremonies but, sometimes, I know that's just not going to happen. In Clarissa's case, I knew pretty early on that there were a lot of emotions riding on this day and the fact that she planned not one, not two, not three but FOUR different first looks told me a lot about how important this wedding was ... not only to the bride but to those closest to her.
While it was a bit odd to prepare for four official first looks — none of which involved the groom mind you — the backstories to each one were all so touching and personal that it was an absolute delight to see them all play out.
There was the predictably emotional one with Clarissa and her father. Then the largest one between Clarissa and a group of ladies she's affectionately dubbed "The Moms." Add in an unveiling with Clarissa and her bridesmaids and then one with her and her sister and I'm amazed anyone had any tears left before we got to Clarissa's actual ceremony.
The nice thing is, even if Clarissa and all her family and friends ran out of tears, there were still plenty to be had from the groom himself.
Granted, you wouldn't have guessed that by seeing how relaxed Dan was in the final half hour or so before his ceremony as we did some formals with him and his groomsmen and tried not to pass out in the humid heat of a warm August afternoon.
But those tears weren't far away. He just needed to see Clarissa. And once he did? Well, it's easier for me to show the moment than describe the moment.
Needless to say, Dan's reaction to Clarissa's walk down the aisle ranks pretty high on my list of top wedding moments of 2021.
I'm a sucker for an emotional wedding ceremony and Dan and Clarissa's had everything I love about weddings and so much more.
First off, Clarissa's stepmom was their officiant and, boy, did she craft a beautiful moment for these two. Dan and Clare rarely, if ever, took their eyes off one another and whether it was reciting their vows, exchanging rings or kissing, I don't think I saw them look at anyone but each other the entire time they were up at the front of the altar.
It's easy to lost in a moment on a wedding day and Dan and Clare did just that. Together.
After Dan and Clarissa officially tied the knot, it was photo time and boy was I in heaven here. First off, Camp Hoffman in September is stunning. Second, despite the asinine humidity on this day, we were able to do almost all of Dan and Clare's wedding photos in the shade and that makes SUCH a big difference.
I adored their family and wedding party formals but I really couldn't wait to get rid of everyone except the bride and groom and start capturing some couples portraits. And once you see what we were working with, I assure you that it's hard to blame me.
Without moving very far at all, Dan, Clarissa and I were able to document a TON of great shots and even took a couple of breaks to catch our breath and give the groom a minute to cool off from the heat.
I could have worked with this bride and groom for HOURS in this location but I knew right away we had everything I wanted and so, so much more.
It's hard for me to rank my favorite bride and groom formals in a given wedding year until said year is over but I have to imagine Dan and Clarissa's shots will be at or near the top when 2021 is over.
There's a reason I turned the lead image of this blog into the main photo on my homepage. Seriously. I loved these photos and this couple THAT much.
With their formal photos over with, it was time for me to turn my attention to the 'girl scout camp' part of Dan and Clarissa's wedding day.
Dan and Clare chose to get married at Camp Hoffman for a number of reasons but the main, of course, was the rustic feel of the venue and nowhere was that more evident than in their reception.
All of Dan and Clarissa's wedding decor fit the theme perfectly and I knew within moments of their introductions into the venue that this would be a unique reception to photograph.
Dan and Clarissa's reception got off on an interesting note with their first dance, which the two had a hard time focusing on in between laughs. Camp Hoffman is a beautiful venue but it's a bit jarring to see a bride and groom swaying to a love song in the middle of what essentially feels like a cafeteria before the lights come down.
But, somehow, it fit this moment beautifully as it gave Dan and Clarissa's biggest moments an intimate family function feel.
I loved their first dance and especially adored the never-ending smiles on both the bride and groom's faces as they held each other and tried not to let go.
Following their first dance, Dan and Clarissa turned their reception over to five different toasts, all of which had a different vibe to them.
First was Clarissa's dad's toast, which was super emotional and heartfelt. Then there was the toast with Dan's two best men, which was played for laughs and lightened the mood substantially. And, of course, Clarissa's two maids of honor closed this portion of the day with a little bit of both emotion and humor.
In all, the toasts gave a great picture of who this bride and groom are and why their love was so special to those in attendance.
I'll be lying if I said I wasn't eagerly anticipating the conclusion of Dan and Clarissa's toasts. But mainly because their dinner was, quite possibly, one of the best I've had in years. Dan and Clare had a stacked buffet meal with wood grilled pizza and, honestly, it was absolutely perfect.
Just not as perfect as the sunset photos I talked about earlier. We may not have spent a TON of time on the dock area at Camp Hoffman but we made the most of every second and, were it not for the beautiful formal photos we took earlier in the afternoon, these would have been my favorite shots of the entire day.
No good wedding is complete without a great reception and I could tell the minute Dan, Clarissa and I walked back into the Camp Hoffman reception building that we were in for something sweet. And by that I mean the dessert table because, seriously, these two did. not. play. when it came to treats.
That's only fitting, of course, because a good dessert table is a fantastic way to kick off the second half of a reception and Dan and Clare did just that.
Within minutes of finishing up their sunset photos on the dock, Dan and Clare were cutting the cake and dancing with their parents and it was clear the party was about to kick into another gear.
I was slated to leave Dan and Clarissa's wedding reception moments after their parent dances ended but I just couldn't go without seeing how the party fared and once things broke out into a half conga line, half limbo line, I knew that was the right call.
I may not have spent a ton of time at this reception but I made the most of every minute ... much like those in attendance.
As I packed up my stuff and called it a night with Dan and Clarissa, I couldn't help but smile seeing how much this bride and groom had let their hair down and really embraced the fun part of getting married.
While Dan and Clare's wedding day was one FULL of emotion, it was still so touching to see they didn't lose sight of the bigger picture of this event: having fun.
I've shot a lot of weddings this year but I have a strong feeling this one is going to hold a special place in my heart when 2021 is said and done and with good reason. It was a perfect day full of perfect moments. You don't get a lot of those and, when you do, you have to cherish them.
So, thank you Dan and Clarissa for allowing me to document this day for you and I wish you the best on your journey together as husband and wife.
-Paul J. Spetrini
Check out more of my most recent wedding blogs:
The Vendor List:
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Bride's Hair: Balayaged & Bridal; Bride's Makeup: Wicked Beauty Studio; Bride's Dress: Thistle Rose; Groom's Suit: Jos. A. Bank ; Ceremony & Reception: Camp Hoffman, South Kingstown, Rhode Island; DJ: Luis Mota of Xtreme Soundz; Video: Star Productions Media.