Independence Harbor Wedding Photos
Chelsea & Brandon
Independence Harbor, Assonet, Massachusetts
September 25th, 2021
Wedding days are all about moments and sometimes, the best moments are the ones you think will be the worst. Back in September, I was lucky enough to photograph Chelsea and Brandon's wedding at Independence Harbor in Assonet, Massachusetts and we had one of those moments when I realized that the passing rain shower we were trying to wait out to have an outdoor wedding ceremony wouldn't be going anywhere.
Staring out the glass door at a straight-up DRENCHED ceremony site, I knew I had to tell Chelsea and Brandon we were moving to Plan B and an indoor ceremony and I was convinced they would both be as disappointed as I was. Only, they weren't. Because they didn't care.
As I walked into the bridal suite where the soon-to-be newlyweds were stationed, they were both full of smiles and having a blast. They'd long ago accepted their dream of an outdoor ceremony was changing and, honestly, they didn't mind one bit. Because they knew what mattered. In a few minutes, they would be husband and wife. The rest was just window dressing.
It was a beautiful moment, enhanced minutes later when they had one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies I've ever seen and that, my friends, is why I loved this bride and groom and their wedding day so very, very much.
I'm not going to lie. As I drove to Chelsea and Brandon's house for the groom's groom prep session, I was in great spirits. Chelsea and Brandon were already one of my favorite couples I've worked with in recent years because of their awesome 2020 engagement session and I knew we were in for a fantastic day.
Walking into Brandon's groom prep only confirmed this as he was ready to go the minute I got there and in great spirits. And that was BEFORE I knew I'd get to take some awesome shots of him on his motorcycle.
Even though I was only with Brandon and his groomsmen for about 20 minutes, I left knowing we had exactly what I wanted from his groom prep photos and I was eager to see if Chelsea and her bridesmaids would share a similar, relaxed vibe. They sure did.
Over the course of the hour or so I was with Chelsea and her girls, there was a very easygoing approach the hair and makeup process they were finishing up and the bride-to-be was exactly as chill as I expected her to be. I'm thankful, too, because the last little bit of bridal prep took a little longer than we expected but Chelsea was very go-with-the flow and never let it affect her mood.
I especially loved the photos of Chelsea getting her dress zipped up by her maid of honor and having her mother help put her necklace on before we headed out to her first look with Brandon.
Speaking of Chelsea and Brandon's first look, I'll be honest ... it was the scariest part of the day for me.
When we arrived at Borderland State Park for formal portraits, the radar said we could expect rain any minute and I had this worry the skies would open up right as Brandon and Chelsea turned to see one another. Thankfully, it didn't, though there was plenty of waterworks coming from the couple themselves as Chelsea and Brandon's first look was surprisingly more emotional than I expected it to be.
With their first look in the books, I knew I had a very small window of time before Mother Nature came and washed everything away and I attempted to get bride and groom portraits of Chelsea and Brandon before the rain started.
We made it two minutes.
Luckily, in what can only be described as a wedding day miracle, there was a random tent set up near where we were so Chelsea, Brandon and I (as well as their closest family members and full wedding party) took cover while the first of several storms passed through the area.
Ten minutes later, we were back in action with some more bride and groom formal photos and, once I was confident we had a bit of time before the next storm, we knocked out wedding party and family photos too.
The one bad thing about a mixed weather day like Chelsea and Brandon had was the uncertainty about whether or not we were in the clear rain wise. With family and wedding party formals finished, we made the difficult choice not to explore Borderlands Park for the bride and groom portraits we really wanted and wrapped up the formal photo portion of Chelsea and Brandon's day a bit sooner than I would have liked.
We found out just minutes into driving to their ceremony and reception venue that that was the right call as it started to POUR.
So, yes, sometimes the safe choice is the best choice.
When Brandon, Chelsea and I arrived to Independence Harbor, we had about ten minutes to spare before their ceremony was slated to start. But we still had a heavy downpour to contend with.
Though we gave it our best effort, once it became clear that the rain wouldn't slow down before sunset, Chelsea and Brandon made the call to move their ceremony indoors.
There are definitely worse places to get married indoors. At the very least, their room was beautiful, especially the little details they chose to decorate with that all had a very fall vibe.
Even though Independence Harbor has a very odd way of doing indoor ceremonies — they hold them under yellow overhead lights near their fireplace — it oddly worked for Brandon and Chelsea's ceremony, which was a mix of really lovely, emotional moments (like both the bride and groom crying during their vows) and hilarious moments ... like the surprise confetti cannons two of the members of the procession shot off, much to the delight of the unsuspecting crowd.
I absolutely loved Chelsea and Brandon's wedding ceremony for so many reasons but the most important one was how much you could tell it meant to the bride and groom. There were a lot of laughs but, also, a lot of tears shed as both Brandon and Chelsea opened up their heart and told the other what they were truly meant to each other.
At times, there was barely a dry eye in the house — photographer included — and when Chelsea and Brandon sealed their vows with a kiss, it was a genuinely beautiful moment that I couldn't help but smile during.
The nice thing about having taken care of Chelsea and Brandon's formal portraits before their ceremony is it allowed the bride and groom to spend the entirety of their cocktail hour mingling with guests and really soaking in the moment. That made the start of their reception feel like a big moment and they wasted no time setting the tone with some great introductions leading into a beautiful first dance.
Chelsea and Brandon chose "Better Together" by Luke Combs as their first dance song and I loved this moment for them. It wasn't flashy. It wasn't elaborate. It was just a bride and groom sharing their first real moment together as husband and wife in each other's arms, swaying to the music.
Following their first dance, Brandon and Chelsea had a very relaxed wedding reception, starting with two toasts from their best man and maid of honor, respectively, a great dinner and a super fun cake cutting.
One of my favorite parts of the evening, however, were the parent dances between Brandon and his mother and Chelsea and her dad. I especially loved the father-daughter dance as Chelsea tried really hard not to get emotional but lost it toward the end, resulting in one of my favorite father-daughter dance photos in a very, very long time.
With the formalities of the evening out of the way, it was time to party and, boy, did Brandon, Chelsea and their guests do just that.
I have a love-hate relationship with the dance floor at Independence Harbor as it is super small with a tiny ceiling for someone who is my height and trying to bounce flash but on this night, everything worked out perfectly as I was able to capture the spirit and energy of Brandon and Chelsea's celebration and the little moments I know they won't soon forget.
I mean, you know you've got a great party going when the groom takes his shirt off and starts dancing to "It's Raining Men" and that's just ONE of the highlights of the evening.
Brandon and Chelsea's wedding reception was full of amazing moments and memories that I know they'll cherish for a lifetime but I won't lie. As I drove home that night, I still felt like something was missing.
As perfect as their wedding day was, and as amazing a time as we had, it still bothered me that we were unable to really explore Borderlands State Park for their bride and groom portraits because of the rain.
And, look, I'm not one to take an L if I don't have to. So, I did what any good wedding photographer would do and convinced my bride and groom to put on their wedding attire one more time and go out for one more session a few weeks after their wedding.
Boy, am I glad I did because it was an absolutely amazing time on, quite possibly, the best day of the entire fall.
Brandon and Chelsea and I spent a gorgeous October afternoon back at Borderlands State Park and I have to say, it was such a fun day. Not only did we get to trek all around the site but we were able to take our time with no worries about the clock and the result was what I'd originally hoped we'd have for their wedding day: Awesome bride and groom portraits that really showcase who they are and their beautiful relationship together.
Oh and no trip to Borderland State Park would have been complete without wrapping up our time together at the bridge we took their engagement photos at nearly one year earlier. I love call backs and these photos were the absolute best way we could have wrapped up their wedding coverage.
By the time Brandon, Chelsea and I said our goodbyes in the parking lot of Borderland State Park, I knew I had their full story captured the way I always hoped we would and that says a lot because I had VERY high expectations for this couple.
Every year, I have a handful of brides and grooms who feel like lifelong friends by the time our work together has concluded and these two most certainly fit that bill and then some.
I adored working with Brandon and Chelsea and am so glad I found such an understanding, patient and amazing couple whose love for each other radiates in every photo you take.
So, thank you Brandon and Chelsea for an unforgettable experience together and I wish you luck as you start this next chapter of your life together as husband and wife.
-Paul J. Spetrini
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The Vendor List:
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Bride's Hair: Timeless Beauty LLC; Bride's Make-up: Amanda Ruiz; Groom's Suit: Tux Towne; Florist: Between the Roses; Ceremony & Reception: Independence Harbor, Assonet, Massachusetts; DJ: DJ Jeff Folwer; Cake: Montillo's Bakery.