Cynthia & Ao
August 19th, 2017
I look forward to every wedding I'm lucky enough to shoot but, I'll be honest, sometimes I encounter a bride and groom or a wedding day that gives just a little extra boost to my creative side as a photographer.
Most times this happens when I know I'm going to be experiencing something new and that was the case back in August as Cynthia and Ao's beautiful summer wedding at Lake Pearl in Wrentham served as my introduction into Chinese-American wedding culture.
Now, anyone who has followed along with my wedding photography knows I LOVE being exposed to the many different traditions and customs shown at the weddings of couples of different ethnicities than my own but Cynthia and Ao's was something even more special.
Not only was it one of the most beautiful days of the summer, it was at one of my all-time favorite venues as Lake Pearl is a breathtaking place to photograph a wedding.
But that's not all I enjoyed about this wedding day. No, this one was special for a whole host of reasons, including one of my silliest moments as a wedding photographer, one of the best sunsets I've ever seen and a truly stunning first dance I'll remember for a long time.
Yes, folks. I knew Cynthia and Ao's big day would be one for the portfolio but not even the most optimistic side of me knew how amazing it would go. It truly was one of the most beautiful shoots I've had and produced photos I know I'll love just as much as the bride and groom.
I knew from the moment my coverage of Cynthia and Ao's day began that it was going to be a busy one.
With bride AND groom prep going on in the same house, a floor apart, the atmosphere when I arrived to photograph Cynthia was one of controlled chaos as everyone ran around trying to put the finishing touches on decorations and/or make sure nothing was forgotten.
Thankfully, though, the bride herself was the picture of calm. Cynthia sat quietly in the upstairs bathroom getting her hair and makeup applied without a bit of nerves while the action around her was non-stop. I appreciated her demeanor and how laid back she really was as it allowed me time to photograph all of her little details as we prepared to head to Lake Pearl.
Once we arrived to Lake Pearl, I could tell Cynthia was getting a little more nervous but she never seemed in a rush to get things going.
I liked that. It seemed to me that Cynthia was soaking in every moment of one of the biggest days of her life and her friends and family members were right there with her to keep her spirits up, pop some champagne or pose for funny photos.
Ao, meanwhile, was running around the venue like a madman trying to get every final detail right.
It was a stark contrast from most of my wedding days as it's typically the groom and groomsmen who have it easy and the bride who is rushing along but by the time the ceremony started, it was clear just how much work truly went into this day as it was beautiful.
Cythnia and Ao's ceremony was a sweet one to watch. Not only did the couple share the story of how they met but they had a lot of little moments woven in that you could tell were special to them, such as the beautiful sand ceremony they chose to participate in.
And even though it was hot and humid, it was obvious their friends and family wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else on this beautiful August afternoon.
By the time Cynthia and Ao's ceremony was over, my brain was working at 1,000 miles per hour as I wanted to get through their formal photos as quick as possible as we were rapidly losing the light.
Thankfully, the timing worked perfectly as we began bride and groom portraits a little before one of the best sunsets I've ever had at a wedding.
I knew the minute Cynthia, Ao and I traveled down to the dock at Lake Pearl that we were going to need to take advantage of this beautiful sunset but what I didn't know is that that meant I was going to have to take off my socks and shoes, hike up my pants and walk into waist-high water to get the angle I was looking for for the photo below.
Worth it? I think so.
After we finished bride and groom portraits, I had a few minutes to let my pants dry before we headed back to the venue and Cynthia and Ao began their wedding reception.
I'll be honest ... I was REALLY looking forward to this part of the day. Not only do I love shooting receptions at Lake Pearl but Cynthia and Ao were planning on switching into red outfits for this part of the day and had a number of little touches, like a special introduction group dance number and a pair of tea ceremonies to honor their parents, that I was looking forward to seeing.
Those elements, combined with some of the best uplighting I've ever seen, made this reception an awesome event to shoot.
Without a doubt, though, the part of the night I was looking forward to the most was Cynthia and Ao's first dance.
Set to "All of me" by John Legend, which is one of my favorite wedding songs, Cynthia and Ao had an incredibly elaborate choreographed dance that I know they spent a lot of time planning.
I loved shooting this dance. With the beautiful lights and the great moves the bride and groom put on, it was really special to see.
After stealing the show with their beautiful first dance, Cynthia and Ao had their dances with their parents, a bouquet toss and went table to table to thank ALL of their guests for coming to their special day.
It was a nice reminder that a wedding day isn't JUST about a bride and groom and showed how much this couple cared about everyone who traveled from far off places to share in their love story.
After finishing the formalities of the evening and thanking everyone who attended, it was time for Cynthia and Ao to party and, boy, did they ever. I wasn't sure what kind of crowd to expect during this reception but thankfully the one that showed up clearly came to dance and the dance floor was hopping for most of the night, which allowed for some really fun photos as the uplighting switched to "party mode."
By the time Cynthia and Ao called it a night, I don't think either one of them could have asked for much more from their wedding day.
While it started hectic with last-minute preparations, all of that effort and work showed off in the final results as this bride and groom had a beautiful affair worth remembering for a lifetime.
As for me? With this being my first Chinese-American wedding, I learned a lot about a culture I didn't know much about before hand and LOVED seeing some of the little things that made this ceremony and reception different than others I've shot.
I can't wait to do it again, especially if I'm lucky enough to get a day half as perfect as this one was.
So congratulations Cynthia and Ao! May you both have a blessed and beautiful marriage together.
It certainly got off to a great start.
The Vendor List
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Hair/Make-up: Jane C Makeup; Cynthia's Dress: La Sposa; Cynthia's Shoes: Michael Kors; Ao's Suit: Jos A Bank; Ceremony/Reception Location: Lake Pearl; Officiant: Justice James D’Attilio; DJ and uplighting: Justin Mai of Boston Chinese MC & DJ; Cake: Montilio’s.
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