Latasha and Justin
May 20th, 2016
Weddings are unique events in that so many little details have to come together just right to really nail what can sometimes be 1-2 years worth of planning. There are so many variables to consider in every possible wedding that no two are ever the same but, by far, the single biggest part of a wedding -- the part that defines it and gives it its character -- is the venue choice.
A good venue can make or break a wedding and, in some cases, even a bad wedding can be saved by an awesome location.
Luckily for Latasha and Justin, their awesome May 2016 wedding in Rehoboth, Massachusetts was not only served well by their venue choice -- Country Gardens -- it was enhanced by it.
Country Gardens is and was unlike any place I've ever seen. With an incredibly helpful staff and a unique natural character all its own, it was the perfect site to stage an upbeat, family friendly and laidback spring wedding for Latasha and Justin's big day.
It makes sense now why this was the part Latasha was most looking forward to for her wedding ... you know, besides the whole marrying the love of her love thing ... and I believe the photos captured this day perfectly.
Like most brides, Latasha's day began with a bridal prep hair and makeup session. I love these sessions as it's a great chance to get a feel for how the bride is feeling on the day of her wedding -- Latasha was slightly nervous but only because she's not big on being the center of attention -- but it's also a wonderful chance to get to meet the bridal party and Latasha's bridesmaids were a true blast.
After a couple of hours of watching the Price is Right and waiting on each girl to get her hair done perfectly, we headed over to Country Gardens to put the finishing touches on the bride to be and start the day's festivities.
I really loved the laid-back feel of Latasha's bridal prep at Country Gardens. Not only was the bridal suite at the venue far and away the best one I've seen -- which makes sense given that it was in an ENTIRE house/bed and breakfast area -- but the sights and sounds of a sunny day in the midst of the forest, grass and tree-filled location made for such a serenie enviornment that it was hard to feel stressed.
It helped, of course, that we knew Latasha and Justin were going to do a first-look before their ceremony. As I've said a thousand times, first looks are a great option for couples and really help remove the pressure of the big day.
For Latasha and Justin, that first look was even a little more special (and possibly the best one I've shot) as Country Gardens has a secluded area designed JUST for first looks.
It was a special moment, without question, and the perfect place to begin our bride and groom formal photos.
I loved the way the shots and Latasha and Justin came out and I'd say 80 percent of it is thanks to the venue they chose.
A good wedding location really makes your formal photos stand out and Latasha and Justin couldn't have picked a more perfect place than Country Gardens on this wonderful afternoon.
After wrapping up an abbreviated formal photo session -- we would finish the rest after the ceremony -- the three of us made our way down to the ceremony location for one of the quickest and most low-key ceremonies I've seen at a wedding.
All in all, Latasha and Justin's ceremony lasted just 11 minutes, which was perfect for the type of couple they are. some folks like the big pomp and circumstance but, for others, the moment is one meant for romance and a peaceful committment to each other. Latasha and Justin's ceremony was really sweet and a nice reminder that not everything has to be an hour long.
And, best of all, the short ceremony paved the way for a great formal photo session and an even better reception ...
I've only seen a handful of wedidng venues as organized as Country Gardens but, by far, my favorite feature was the white fence right behind the cremony area. It made getting formal photos a breeze.
But where the staff at Country Gardens really excelled was somehow wrangling together all of the attendees of Justin and Latasha's wedding for one giant photo. Sure, I could have fallen off a roof trying to get this photo but, you know what? It would've been worth it.
A lot of couples say they don't like to be the center of attention but Latasha and Justin truly meant it.
After photographing their absolutely stunning wedding details, I made my way onto the dance floor to await the new husband and wife but little did I know how jam-packed the next few minutes were going to be.
Latasha and Justin crammed their wedding intros, first dance, father/daughter dance, mother/son dance, cake cutting and toasts into a span of just eight minutes. Talk about efficient!
But lest you think the moments were rushed or not special, rest assured that's not the case. This couple sped through them, sure, but each one was just as nice and sweet as it would have been stretched out over a half hour.
In fact, the first dance and cake cutting photos were some of my favorite of the entire day.
What I loved the most about Latasha and Justin's big day was just how much planning went into making sure the guests in attendance had a good time. Not only were the newlyweds careful to hire a great DJ who could get the party jumping but they also had a number of outside games available for folks to play when they didn't feel like dancing.
It was a special little touch to make sure everyone felt included and had a good time and something I highly recommend to any couples planning a wedding.
As fun as cornhole, Jenga or even horseshoe were for guests though, no wedding is complete without an awesome party and, boy, did Latasha and Justin deliver on that end.
This tent was rocking all night long and, once the dancing started, it didn't let up until the final song.
I absolutely adored Latasha and Justin's wedding reception. Not only was everyone in attendance super fun and easygoing, but they all either knew one another or made fast friends because there was not a person on that dance floor who wasn't partying right alongside everyone else. It made for a very welcoming environment and, as the night progressed into some of the more well-known reception songs, made for a crowded group of rowdy revelers all there to have a great time.
But at the end of the night, this evening was all about Latasha and Justin and, believe me, both had a blast.
Latasha spent most of the evening walking around and spending time with various wedding guests and Justin did much the same on the other side of the room but whenever the two got together, you could see how truly special this night was for them both and how much love they had for the person they'd pledged themselves to forever. It reallt was sweet to see.
All in all, Latasha and Justin had a great May wedding and I was lucky enough to be invited to photograph it all.
There wasn't a dull moment from the start of the afternoon until the end of the night and by the time the final photo was taken, I felt right at home with all their friends and family members in celebrating this milestone moment in their lives.
Latasha and Justin may not have been my typical couple in terms of taking photos -- I'm sure both would have rather been anywhere else during the formal photo session -- but they soldiered through it and I think the results speak for themselves.
Sure, they might not have liked being the center of attention but that makes perfect sense as they are both caring and wonderful people who focus on others more than themselves.
If there's one lesson that I can take away from their wedding it's this: Every couple is different but every wedding is special for its own reasons.
Latasha and Justin had one of my favorite weddings in a long time primarily because it wasn't stressful and it wasn't overly stuffed with needless excess. They're a simple couple but one that loves each other very much.
And, at the end of the day, that's both touching and refreshing.