The Rotunda at Easton's Beach Wedding
Alysa & Michael
August 16th, 2019
It's a pretty well known secret among photographers that the first few minutes of any wedding shoot will tell you almost exactly what you're in for that day. Because of this, I knew within moments of arriving to Alysa and Michael's big day in Newport, Rhode Island back in August that this was going to be a stress free, laid back and casual wedding.
What I didn't know was much fun I was going to have while shooting it.
Alysa and Michael were married at the Rotunda Ballroom at Easton's Beach and while the weather may have been a bit gloomy, the bride and groom were anything but as this pair were among the most fun I've worked with all year and totally, adorably loving every moment of a day they'll never forget.
And if that's not the best way to get married, I don't know what is.
My coverage of Alysa and Michael's wedding day began with not one, but two, of the most laid back bride/groom prep sessions I've ever seen.
I started with Alysa and could tell she was incredibly excited to get this day rolling as, when I arrived, she was almost completely finished with hair and makeup and eager to jump in her dress and head to her first look with her soon-to-be husband.
And because Alysa and Michael's wedding party consisted of just four people -- the bride, the groom and their respective maid of honor/best woman -- there wasn't a ton of hustle and bustle going on in either room. It was a nice reprieve for me to see given that most prep sessions are incredibly crowded and chaotic.
I particularly loved how relaxed Alysa was as the minutes ticked down for her departure. She re-read her vows, did a shot with her girls and was just about ready to go.
And I think that says a lot about her and Michael's relationship as, when I headed one building over for groom prep, he was the exact same way.
Michael tossed on a tie, a jacket and before I knew it, we were in my car and heading to their first look at the Cliff Walk in Newport, one of my favorite spots in the City by the Sea.
Speaking of their first look, it might be my favorite moment of their entire wedding day.
In true determined fashion, Alysa wasted no time walking calmly over to her soon-to-be husband and immediately tapping him on the shoulder and his reaction when he finally saw her was absolutely adorable.
Following their first look, Alysa, Michael and I left the Cliff Walk and made a short stroll over to their reception venue: The Rotunda Ballroom at Easton's Beach. Before getting there, though, I just had to stop the pair for some bride and groom portraits across the street. There's just something about that location and the tall grass that is uniquely Newport and uniquely fun and it made for my favorite portraits of the pair from the entire day.
One of the nice things about Easton's Beach is, well, pretty self-explanatory; It's on the beach.
That means ceremonies at the location take place with the beautiful beach backdrop and, for Michael and Alysa's wedding, this proved extra gorgeous and the perfect location despite occasional weather and an occasional bit of fog that rolled through the area.
Alysa and Michael's ceremony was incredible sweet and touching but what I loved the most were the little bits of humor injected in.
Whether it was their officiant making the crowd laugh, the pair sprinkling in jokes in their vows or a bit of a mishap when the wind grabbed hold of some of their sand in their sand ceremony, the actual ceremony portion of this wedding day was a delight to see. Especially because you could tell just by looking at the bride and groom how much they were soaking in every bit of this life-changing moment.
Following Michael and Alysa's ceremony, we made our way down to the beach for their family and wedding party formals, which proved challenging as the fog got pretty extreme right as we gathered everyone together.
Thankfully, Alysa and Michael's friends and family were great sports and we managed to capture some really nice formal portraits of everyone.
For me, though, it was the bride and groom portraits that really stood out as the weather cleared just enough to make us forget how gloomy the overcast skies were.
And when it wasn't clear? It made for some cool photos nonetheless. I especially loved the shots of the pair walking on the beach together. Talk about weathering a storm as husband and wife!
With bride and groom portraits out of the way, it was just about time to head to Michael and Alysa's wedding reception and, to me, this was always going to be the most interesting aspect of the day as I was genuinely curious how the pair would decorate the otherwise beautiful Rotunda Ballroom.
In a theme fitting the day, and Michael's suit/Alysa's flowers, they were with blue uplighting and sunflowers and I thought the combination turned out awesome.
Michael and Alysa's wedding reception was every bit as laid back and casual as they are as a couple.
Sure, they had a beautiful first dance but it was more understated and fun than overly staged and complicated ... even if the pair did take dance lessons for this exact moment.
And outside of their first dance, Alysa and Michael largely steered clear of the typical wedding reception events.
They even combined the traditional father-daughter and mother-son dances into one complete dance together and it made for a super sweet moment between Michael and his mom and Alysa and her dad.
With parent dances and dinner out of the way, the only "big" thing remaining for Alysa and Michael was the traditional cake cutting and even in that, the pair went a little different.
Rather than a giant cake, Michael and Alysa went with a smaller two-level dessert for themselves and offset their table with a TON of donuts from Allie's Donuts, a Rhode Island staple.
The cake cutting also provided one of my favorite moments of the day as Alysa really let Michael have it and smashed their cake in his face. I thought for sure the groom would return the favor but he went easy on her and it was really sweet to see. Pun intended.
With the formalities of the evening out of the way, it was time for Michael and Alysa's friends and family members to hit the dance floor.
What I loved about this portion of their night was that Alysa and Michael's guests all seemed to have a great time, whether it was on the dance floor itself, outside playing with the cornhole boards the pair made or just casually chatting with each other on the deck enjoying a beautiful night in Newport.
Regardless of what those in attendance were up to, the vibe in the room was a really fun one and I could tell Michael and Alysa were appreciative of it as they had plenty of time to spend time with those closest to them.
As I got ready to leave Michael and Alysa's wedding reception, I was happy to see both had huge smiles on their faces as the night came to a close.
It's hard sometimes to plan the perfect wedding and when you picture a beach wedding, you don't imagine clouds and fog rolling through. But, as all good couples do, Michael and Alysa turned gloomy skies into an unforgettable afternoon full of life, love and laughter and there really is no more positive sign for a couple heading into married life than that underrated ability.
So congratulations Alysa and Michael on a beautiful wedding day. May your time together be as fun as the day you said "I do" and your relationship as adorable as you were when you said it.
-Paul J. Spetrini
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The Vendor List:
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Bride's Hair: Kaydee from Salon Sapphire by Sabrina Marie; Bride's Make-up: Beauty By Kai Kumalae; Bride's Dress: Alexandra's Bridal Boutique; Groom's Suit: Nick Graham; Florist: Le Isle Rose; Ceremony & Reception Location: The Rotunda Ballroom at Easton's Beach, Newport, Rhode Island; Cake: San's Gluten Artisan Bakery, Johnston, Rhode Island; Donut Wall: Allies Donuts, North Kingstown, Rhode Island; Bartending Service: At Your Service; Catering: Twins Catering.