Nate & Aurora
Private Residence, Norwich, Connecticut
August 15th, 2020
If there's one recurring theme I've seen more than ever this year for all the brides and grooms I'm lucky enough to work with, it's that 2020 as a year is ... well, it is what you make of it.
It's easy to get lost in negativity in the midst of a global pandemic but why I love weddings this year, perhaps more than ever, is the couples who DO say "I do" are taking a stand that they're willing to make concessions to have the wedding they've always dreamed of, as long as they have each other. And that's what I loved the most about Nate and Aurora, a couple I didn't even meet until seven weeks before their big day.
Nate and Aurora have always dreamed of having a small, intimate, back yard wedding and rather than look at 2020 as a wasted year when life stays on pause, the pair took the initiative to get hitched at a time when socially-distanced, small gatherings are all the rage.
And all you had to do to see how much their friends and family needed this day was watch the endless parade of nonstop smiles from the moment they got dressed until the final song of the night.
If that's not the sign of a picture perfect wedding, pandemic or no pandemic, I don't know what is.
Nate and Aurora were married at their home in Norwich, Connecticut and if there's one thing I noticed the first time I set foot on the property, less than two months prior to their nuptials, it's that it's a beautiful location with a ton of incredible spots for photos on site and nearby.
As I pulled up to the property, I could see right away we were in for a great day as it was a warm but comfortable afternoon and everyone was right on target getting ready.
I loved how everything with Nate and Aurora's big day was in one location but none more so than their respective bridal and groom preps as I was able to bounce back and forth between the soon-to-be newlyweds on opposite sides of the house and document their final preparations without really missing a beat.
Though they wouldn't admit it at the time, Nate and Aurora both had a nervous energy to them as the minutes to their ceremony ticked closer and I can't really blame them. No one can tell you how you're going to feel on your wedding day and both the bride and groom wanted everything to be perfect.
The minute they saw each other, those nerves vanished and they knew it was.
Nate in particular was adorable to watch as the ceremony inched closer. Once he was dressed and ready to go, he made a point to walk around the location looking for something, anything, to keep his mind busy. But that all stopped when it was time for Aurora to walk down the aisle and I knew just by looking at his face that he was doing his best to hold back tears.
To his credit, he did a great job ... for a while. But once the emotions hit, he was a goner and I'm so glad he let himself live in the moment as Nate and Aurora's ceremony was one of the best and most beautiful I've photographed in years.
Seriously, talk about some amazing opportunities for candid photos. I was in photojournalist heaven.
Nate and Aurora's ceremony was roughly 20 minutes and, in that time, you could just tell how much the moment meant to both the bride and groom.
Afterward, they were both beaming with excitement and that paid off great for me as we breezed through their family formal photos and then headed down the street from their home to the surprisingly stunning Mohegan Park for some of my favorite bride and groom portraits of the entire year.
I'm so glad Nate and Aurora lived near this beautiful location and, honestly, I'd be surprised if it's not a spot I pitch to future couples for an engagement session as it was truly a great park for their formal photos.
I could have worked with this bride and groom all day but after we got more than enough shots, I knew it was time to head back to their house for what promised to be a great reception.
One of the things I loved the most about Nate and Aurora's wedding day was how personal everything felt.
Whether it was their low key, handmade decorations or the nonchalant way they handled the traditional moments of a wedding reception, Nate and Aurora set a super laid back tone for their night under a tent in their backyard.
It was the perfect vibe in a 2020 wedding season where you sometimes forget what normal life is like and how much fun it can be to gather a small group of friends and family together for a night of good times and plenty of laughter.
Nate and Aurora started their reception with a short toast from Aurora's father and I knew right away this would be a sweet and touching reception when he surprised his daughter with a signed photograph from their favorite actor during his speech.
Throughout the rest of the evening, as their guests enjoyed dinner, Aurora and Nate had other toasts from their maid of honor and best man sprinkled into the timeline. It was a nice way to have the big moments of the evening but not overwhelm those in attendance with event after event after event.
Unfortunately for Nate, however, this meant that the anticipation for he and Aurora's first dance built up throughout the evening.
As someone who doesn't love being the center of attention, Nate looked a bit worried as he and his bride took the dance floor but much like the ceremony, those nervous feelings gave way to some touching moments for the couple everyone showed up to honor.
I truly think Nate and Aurora's first dance was the ice breaking their reception needed as, just moments later, the bride danced with her dad and the groom danced with his mother and they both seemed much more relaxed and ready to jump start this party.
And after cutting the cake, they did just that.
Nate and Aurora's reception was a wonderfully intriguing example of partying in a socially-distanced world. Because the couple limited their guest list to just the closest friends and family, even lower than what the state of Connecticut allowed at the time, they were able to have a fun event and still stay safe.
But it took a little bit of time for their guests to warm up to dancing.
Well, a little bit of time and some alcohol.
Once the night really into gear, though, Nate and Aurora had an amazing reception and it made for a ton of great candid photos.
If I had to pick a favorite moment from the dancing portion of Nate and Aurora's reception, it would likely be when the groom and his sister danced together. That little sweet moment really capped the night perfectly and, for the rest of the evening, I was treated to a lot of small moments like this and a couple of slow songs which made for great photos of all the couples in attendance.
I was particularly thrilled to see the bride and groom back on the dance floor and, as the night came to an end, I can think of no better send-off for the pair into their lives together as husband and wife.
As I packed up my things and headed home from Nate and Aurora's beautiful wedding day, I couldn't help but realize I felt one overwhelming thing on my hour-long commute: gratitude.
While 2020 has been a bit of a hectic year and, honestly, it's hard to predict what's going to happen day to day, I know that if this year hadn't been nearly as crazy as it was, there's a chance I would have never met this bride and groom nor had the opportunity to document their wedding day.
It's weddings like Nate and Aurora's that keep me so spiritually satisfied even in the craziest of times and I'm honestly so lucky I still get to do this thing that I love so much for couples who are so incredible.
So thank you Nate and Aurora for including me in your special day and I hope, throughout the rest of your years together, you never stop looking at each other the way you did the day you said "I do."