Blog— Weddings — Connecticut — 2022 —
Holiday Hill Day Camp and Recreation Center Wedding Photos
Matt & Stacie
One of the nicest things about being a wedding photographer in 2022 is, perhaps more so than any other year since I started shooting weddings in 2010, brides and grooms are really going all in on making their wedding exactly what they want, regardless of what's cool, traditional or trendy.
I think that's what stuck out to me the most as I stood under a tent at the Holiday Hill Day Camp and Recreation Center back in August on the afternoon Matt and Stacie said "I do." These two had a beautiful wedding day that was so unlike any other I've shot this year or before and it's simply because they stuck by the mantra of "What do WE want to do?" and did it.
Matt and Stacie's wedding day had tons of elements of their favorite fantasy series (Lord of the Rings), it had the absolute most creative bouquet toss I've ever seen and it had a jam-packed dance floor that really never let up.
At the end of a wedding day, what more could you possibly ask for?
I knew weeks before shooting Stacie and Matt's wedding that it would be a unique day, particularly as the bride told me ahead of time she really didn't want any of the traditional shots you expect to see on a wedding day. So rather than taking my standard "Dress hanging up" photo or focusing on the details all over the place, I decided to shift my attention to the moments and memories Stacie was making in the lead-up to her wedding ceremony.
This meant making sure to grab shots of her maid of honor helping her with her dress, sure, but it was also the lovely first look with her father. Neither felt like a big production, though, and I loved that Stacie made sure to keep a low key vibe as she got ready to walk down the aisle.
That approach was pretty much the theme of the day. Matt and Stacie had a TON of beautiful moments sprinkled throughout their wedding but nothing ever felt over-produced or over-thought. Instead, a lovely couple spent their wedding day authentically in the moment.
This was especially true during their ceremony as the two got married in pretty much an open field with a nice arbor set up. At first glance, it seemed a bit low key. But when you saw the look of love these two had for each other, and the way they smiled as they began their ceremony, it was clear they could have gotten married anywhere. As long as they were with each other, they were exactly where they wanted to be.
I loved Matt and Stacie's ceremony, in particular because the simple but beautiful arbor really helped frame a lot of great candids between the bride and groom.
There were so many sweet moments between these two but those little glances really were my favorite.
My biggest worry on Matt and Stacie's wedding day was finding a backdrop in the shade to counter the absolutely blinding sunshine of their wedding ceremony and, thankfully, we didn't have to go far as Holiday Hill Day Camp and Recreation Center was a giant piece of open land with a nice corner full of trees that proved perfect for family formals, wedding party formals and especially bride and groom photos.
No portrait session at this venue is complete, however, without stopping by the truly awesome swing set so I made sure Matt and Stacie had a chance to do so. I knew the second I took the photo that I led this blog off with — of Matt swinging Stacie in the air — that that would be one of my favorite images of the year and I was right.
If I had to pick my favorite moment from Matt and Stacie's unique, non-traditional wedding day ... it might be the most traditional part of the day as the newlyweds set their first dance to one of my all-time favorite love songs: "I Knew I Loved You" by Savage Garden.
The song was the perfect choice for their first dance as Matt and Stacie truly got lost in one another's for the entire track and commanded everyone's attention on the dance floor.
For me? My favorite part of it was easily the adorable hug at the end. Talk about a moment of true bliss.
With their first dance in the books, Matt and Stacie largely had the biggest, most formal moments of the night in the books and could sit down and relax while their closest friends delivered a pair of super sweet toasts in their honor.
Following their toasts, I got to have a little moment for my inner geek as I finally had a chance to play around with Matt and Stacie's rings ... which meant I got to use some of the Lord of the Rings-inspired jewelry and replica dagger for detail shots.
Moments later, Matt and Stacie let their personalities shine bright as well as they invited all of their guests outside the tent for a gender-neutral bouquet toss. What made this bouquet toss the most creative one I've ever seen? Simple. The groom used his background as an explosives expert to create a literal rocket for the bouquet.
What a cool moment.
As the sun set at Holiday Hill Day Camp, I knew we were getting ready for the back half of Matt and Stacie's wedding day but, honestly, I had no idea what to expect.
Up to that point, Matt and Stacie hadn't been the biggest fans of being the center of attention and I had no clue if they'd dance once the party started.
I should have known we were in for a good time but how much joy they had on their faces during the cake cutting, though.
To my relief, Matt and Stacie jumped right on the dance floor from the moment the first song played but, even then, I had no idea what to expect from this crowd as the first song was the traditional anniversary dance.
Surely that's no indication of how much fun wedding guests will be, right?
Almost the second the dance floor really opened up — With the Cupid Shuffle no less — it was packed and full of fun people having an absolute blast.
A lively dance crowd AND a tent wedding reception? Well, let's just say I was in my element on this beautiful summer night.
What I really loved about Matt and Stacie's reception was the two of them were never far away from the middle of the action.
Matt and Stacie wasted no moments on this night and made sure to leave it all on the dance floor before all was said and done.
As my time with the bride and groom came to an end, I couldn't help but smile thinking of how great a wedding Matt and Stacie's big day turned out to be.
I love how these two were able to cherry pick the customs and traditions they liked and didn't like and were so creative in crafting a wedding day that felt so uniquely them while also making it fun and accessible for all their friends and family members.
It's rare to see a balance like that but Matt and Stacie crushed it and I can only imagine the ways in which they'll spend the rest of their lives together trying to keep their energy and love up for the other milestone moments they share together.
So thank you Matt and Stacie for including me on your journey down the aisle and I wish you the best as you start this new and exciting chapter of your lives.
-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: Elegant Edge Hair Salon; Groom's Suit: Valentino Tailors; Florist: Haworth's Flowers & Gifts; Centerpieces: Hein Farm; Ceremony & Reception: Mansfield Holiday Hill Barn and Tent Venue; Caterer & Cake: Renee's Bistro & Catering Service; Bar: The Mobile Pub; Day of Coordinator: Pretty Peony Planning.