Camp Kiwanee Wedding Photos
Elizabeth & Spencer
Camp Kiwanee, Hanson, Massachusetts
October 23rd, 2021
There are a lot of skills necessary to becoming a good wedding photographer. You need to know how to tell a story. You need people skills. You need to adapt to each and every situation you may encounter. Above all, though, you need to learn how to trust your instincts.
And that's why I knew within minutes of talking to Elizabeth and Spencer for the first time back in 2019 that I didn't just want to be their wedding photographer, I NEEDED to be their wedding photographer.
Elizabeth and Spencer, who were married back in October at Camp Kiwanee in Hanson, Massachusetts, are the very definition of "my kind of couple." They're fun. They sweet. They have a beautiful love story. More than anything else, though, they're a little bit awkward. In the best way.
Elizabeth and Spencer are unapologetically quirky and I adore them so much because of it because, well, so am I. And their fall, rustic wedding was easily one of the most beautiful I photographed this year. Both for the rich, vibrant colors AND the oddball, silly and awkward moments that made the day so strange and fun.
In a sense, it was everything I could have hoped for from these two and so, so much more.
My coverage of Elizabeth and Spencer's wedding day began with an abridged bridal prep session as I arrived to find Elizabeth pretty much finished with hair and makeup and ready to go.
I can't really blame her as she'd been waiting for this day for over a year since her original October 2020 wedding was pushed back due to the pandemic but, despite this, Elizabeth was still all smiles and cracking fun jokes while her bridesmaids and family members counted down the minutes for her ceremony to begin.
I, meanwhile, was just glad I had time to grab detail shots before Spencer arrived because Camp Kiwanee is beautiful and it's hard to think of a more appropriate place to have a fall, rustic, New England themed wedding than this location.
I especially loved the vibe Elizabeth and her girls had during the last portion of bridal prep. Even though that last half hour or so before things kick into high gear can be stressful, Elizabeth and her girls were clearly having a great time and had no problem matching the bride's silliness when it came to making awkward takes on traditional bride and bridesmaids photos.
That attitude set the tone as Elizabeth herself never seemed stressed, even as we worked to get her dressed and ready to go, first for a first look with her father and then to the ceremony itself.
There was only one part of Elizabeth and Spencer's wedding day where I wasn't sure how things would go and that was the ceremony itself. Elizabeth and Spencer had a small and private elopement back in 2020 and, in my experience, couples "re-doing" their wedding ceremony in that situation have mostly gone through the motions you'd expect to see but without the emotion their first ceremony originally brought.
That wasn't the case here. Even though they'd been married for a year before they made it official official in front of all their friends and family, there was still a lot of excitement in the air as Elizabeth walked down the aisle and Spencer did his best to not shed a tear. And that was the tone of the ceremony, too.
For a part of the day that lasted just eight minutes, Elizabeth and Spencer packed a LOT of unspoken words into their wedding ceremony.
Even though it may have been the most challenging location I've shot a ceremony in this year — Camp Kiwanee's ceremony site is essentially on a backlit, wooden deck with little room to move — I loved how these photos came out for Elizabeth and Spencer, primarily because you can see everything that's written on their face without them saying a word.
My absolute favorite moment of Elizabeth and Spencer's wedding ceremony was the little hug they exchanged after their "first" kiss. It was such a short and sweet moment but one that was genuine and heartfelt.
Following their ceremony, it was time for Elizabeth and Spencer's formal portraits and, after a bit of cat wrangling to get everyone together, the session went pretty quickly as we worked against the setting sun and everyone's desire to get to cocktail hour for apps and drinks.
Thankfully, the bride and groom themselves were a delight to work with and while their list of family and wedding party photos was a tad detailed, I am so glad it was as the timing worked out perfectly for us to be on bride and groom portraits as the sun looked its absolute best.
I may have only had about 20 minutes with this bride and groom but we PACKED those minutes with a ton of poses and looks that I think genuinely presented Elizabeth and Spencer's relationship and personalities. Perhaps more impressively, this batch of photos really makes it look like we explored the grounds at Camp Kiwanee and didn't just stick to one small portion of the property but when you're shooting photos at such a beautiful location, why would you even want to go anywhere else?
As much fun as Elizabeth and Spencer's bride and groom portraits were, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking most forward to their reception. I knew from seeing these two at Elizabeth's maid of honor Kelly's wedding back in September that this was likely going to be a really fun night and I was right.
But, first, I just have to share some of my favorite photos from the little details Elizabeth and Spencer had in their reception as I could tell a LOT of time and thought went into these little items and it showed.
It didn't take long for Elizabeth and Spencer to set the tone for the night. Right from the first dance — set to "Made For You" by Jake Owen — I could tell we were in for an evening that perfectly walked the line between beautiful, romantic and absolute fun.
That was especially true in the signature moments of the evening. Whether it was the toasts by Spencer's dad/best man or Elizabeth's maid of honor, both of which were heartfelt at times and absolutely hilarious at others, or the cake cutting or parent dances, this was clearly going to be a night where everyone expressed how much they cared about the newlyweds ... but also never took things too seriously.
Right before Elizabeth and Spencer's dance floor opened up, I took a look at my watch and saw that it was a little bit before 8 p.m. Their reception was schedule to last until 11 p.m. so, naturally, I was a little worried about whether or not this night would come to an early end because — let's be honest here — three hours is a LOT of time for dancing.
Apparently, Elizabeth and Spencer's friends and family were eager for the challenge, though, because the minute the dance floor started, it never stopped until the final song.
What I loved the most about Elizabeth and Spencer's reception was the bride and groom themselves were almost ALWAYS at the center of the crowd and rocking out on the dance floor.
I'm not saying I adored that simply because Elizabeth makes the weirdest faces sometimes (Yes, she knows this) or because Spencer isn't far behind in that regard, but it certainly helps.
This reception yielded some of my favorite candids of the year and you don't have to look too far to see what I mean and why.
By the time the last song played and a group circled around Elizabeth and Spencer, I could tell the newlyweds felt a lot like I did ... absolutely spent energy wise and giddy with how much fun this night was.
I knew heading into 2021 that Elizabeth and Spencer were one of the couples I was most excited to work with this year and they proved why I was justified in feeling that way from the start of their wedding day until the end and beyond.
Elizabeth and Spencer are the exact type of couple I strive to work with — fun people who brighten up the room around them and are a joy to hang around. Their wedding day may have been long overdue but it was so, so worth the wait and I'm only glad it somehow not only lived up to my ridiculous expectations for it but exceeded it.
So, thank you Elizabeth and Spencer for an amazing wedding experience I won't soon forget and I wish you the best as you enter the second, but also kind of first, year together as husband and wife. Never change guys. Never change. :)
-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 and Makeup: Charlotte Phinney from Charlotte & Company; Bride's Dress: Party Dress Express; Groom's Suit: Men's Wearhouse; Ceremony & Reception: Camp Kiwanee, Hanson, Massachusetts; DJ: Nick Deluca; Catering: Plymouth Bay Catering.