Heather & John
Crystal Lake Golf Club in Burrillville, Rhode Island
July 30th, 2016
It often goes unsaid but one of the coolest parts about being a wedding photographer is getting to learn a lot about couples who come from different backgrounds and different walks of life than you do.
Me? I like rock music and taking photographs but when I'm not on assignment, I'm usually at home watching Netflix. I'm not that exciting.
And that's why I loved getting to know Heather and John prior to their late July wedding at the Crystal Lake Golf Club.
As the two are good friends of my wife, I knew Heather and John were into country music, physical activity and the line dancing scene. So, naturally, I expected that it would be a heavy influence on their wedding day.
What I didn't know was just how cool these two people would be and how fun it would prove to watch their fellow line dance friends tear up the dance floor. John and Heather may have had a day time wedding ceremony and reception but there was nothing laid back about this affair. No, folks. This one was a party from start to finish, time of day be damned.
And I really couldn't have asked for more, from the day or the couple. Talk about a wedding to remember ...
John and Heather's wedding day began with an obscenely early start time of 7 a.m. for bridal prep.
Despite this, however, the girls were in good spirit right from the moment they walked into the Crystal Lake Golf Club and with good reason: today was going to be a great day.
Heather's bridal party largely consisted of her daughters and several young friends and the energy in the room was mostly fun and sometimes all business as the time for the ceremony ticked away.
Heather herself was the picture of comfort. If she was dealing with any nerves at all, she didn't show it as, apart from rewriting her vows so she could have a clean copy, this bride-to-be was cool, calm and collected for the entire prep session and beyond.
The same could be said for John, who arrived at Crystal Lake with about an hour to go before the ceremony.
Aside from some last minute details to check in on, John arrived ready to go and once Heather and her bridesmaids finished their prep, everyone at Crystal Lake made their way over to the ceremony site, a beautiful tucked away locale with a gorgeous body of water as the ultimate backdrop.
Heather and John's ceremony was quick but incredibly meaningful as the two wrote their own vows and truly touched all in attendance with some deeply personal and inspiring words.
Best of all, you could see the emotion on both the bride and groom's face and it was clear from the moment they lined up across from one another that we were witnessing a moment they would cherish for the rest of their lives.
Perhaps my favorite part of Heather and John's wedding ceremony, however, was what happened immediately afterward.
Following a gigantic group photo of everyone in attendance and a few quick formal photos of the wedding party, Heather, John, their wedding party and I made our way to a nifty boat to head from one side of Crystal Lake's compound to the other.
I absolutely adored these moments as it was so nice to see John, Heather and their closest friends celebrate on their own and away from the attention and craziness that was sure to follow during their reception.
It was a nice, private moment that I'm sure the bride and groom truly cherished.
After getting off the boat and taking some family and friend formal photos in the beating sun -- yes, it felt like it was 3,000 degrees -- we made our way into the Crystal Lake reception room for a very memorable reception.
I loved everything about Heather and John's reception, from their beautiful first dance to their sole toast from their best man and maid of honor, all of the typical signature events of a reception were emotional to watch and even better to photograph.
And, best of all, all of the key reception events flew by, leaving time for a delicious meal and plenty of time for dancing, which I'm sure was by design with this bride and groom.
Now, I'm not one to line dance. I've been to Mardi Gras a few times and watched my wife dance in the country line dance room enough to know it requires a level of coordination and self confidence I simply don't possess but, man, was it cool to watch live in this setting.
Heather and John had an ecclectic group of friends and family members in attendance but what was clear the moment the music switched over to party tunes was this was a crowd which would be on the dance floor until the final song and they lived up to that reputation.
For the majority of Heather and John's afternoon reception, the dance floor was packed with regulars from their line dance group and, in a rare sight for a New England wedding anyway, there were plenty of cowboy boots to be seen.
Perhaps the nicest aspect of Heather and John's wedding is that, while it was an afternoon affair, it never felt like an afternoon affair. Most times, when you have an early wedding, you end up with a toned down party as guests typically aren't accustomed to drinking and letting loose in the middle of the day. But this wedding never felt that way and most everyone in attendance had the same amount of fun here as they would have had if the event was at night time.
But, because this WAS a day wedding, we were fortunate enough to have the option to delay taking bride and groom formal photos until AFTER the wedding reception. When possible, I love this as it makes for much more relaxed photos and provides a great cap to a couple's entire wedding experience. John and Heather were no different in this regard and, I think, the photos we took following their reception were some of the best we got all day.
By the end of the afternoon, John and Heather had made plenty of memories at Crystal Lake that I'm sure they'll hold onto forever.
A beautiful ceremony followed by a rowdy reception and topped off with one of the most fun and stress-free formal photos I've seen?
Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
If nothing else, this new bride and groom, with sons and daughters of their own from previous relationships, proved its never too late to start over and find the one you were always meant to be with. Life is never perfect but, for John and Heather, perfect is being together and finding the right song to put your boots on to and hit the dance floor.
And we can all appreciate that tune.