Mike & Rachel
October 21st, 2017
One of the things I love the most about being a wedding photographer in the age of social media is that, every now and again, my occupation allows me to reconnect with people I haven't seen or spent time with in years. And, when that happens, it's like hitting fast forward on the time you've spent apart as a wedding is a major life event that can tell you a lot about how a person has grown or changed.
Such was the case at Mike and Rachel's October wedding at Castle Manor Inn in Gloucester.
I met and worked with Mike at one of my first jobs when we were both teenagers and by the time I left that company, he was getting ready to go off to college to study meteorology and I was getting ready to begin working as a sports reporter at a small newspaper.
It's been well over a decade since then but I knew moments into Mike and Rachel's wedding that while the groom-to-be was certainly a different person than when we worked together, he's someone that has made some amazing choices over the years as Rachel is the perfect match for him, they have an undeniable chemistry that was a joy to watch and his friends and family were overjoyed for the two.
Mike and Rachel's wedding day was one of my favorite events of 2017 and one of the most beautiful and touching weddings I've ever shot. It was so much fun that I couldn't help but stay until the last song of the night as I, and the couple themselves, didn't want to see this night end.
Thankfully, we'll have the photos to look back on forever as it was a day (and night) worth documenting every moment of.
Mike and Rachel's wedding day began with bride and groom prep literally a floor apart.
I love whenever this happens as it allows me to split my time between both members of the couple and show how the both got ready for one of the biggest days of their lives and, as a storyteller, this is often a great way to start documenting the day.
I especially loved the parallels with Mike and Rachel both using long mirrors to look themselves over before heading out to their first look.
And speaking of the first look, what a moment that was as the three of us traveled to a nearby park and I got to see both the bride and groom get emotional upon seeing each other for the first time in their wedding outfits.
Mike and Rachel's choice to do a first look paid off in a big way as it allowed us to shoot their family and wedding party formal photos before their ceremony, giving us extra time to be silly as the bride and groom requested quite a few shots with their fun party members.
I especially enjoyed the shots the three of us took from inside a gazebo that Rachel hated the looks of. While the outside of said gazebo left a lot to be desired, the inside provided some amazing shade that led to some really sweet portraits of the bride and groom.
Following these shots, we made our way back to Castle Manor Inn with time to spare for Mike and Rachel to relax and get ready to say "I do" in front of all their friends and family members.
Mike and Rachel's ceremony took place outside on a warm October afternoon and was just the right mix of sweet and sentimental and funny.
The two wrote their own vows and, I'll be honest, I had to hold a tear back when Rachel told Mike that she was looking for a man to build her a house but he built them a home. It was the perfect summation of their relationship and even someone like myself, who wasn't around when they were building the bonds that would lead them down the aisle, could tell how much those words meant for each of them.
Following the ceremony, Mike and Rachel spent the majority of their cocktail hour enjoying time with their guests, which allowed me plenty of opportunities to photograph some of the details of their day and, man, am I glad I did as these two did a great job with all the little touches that make a wedding day special.
Of course, we also found a few minutes during the cocktail hour to take some additional family photos for the two and, since we were doing that already, I couldn't resist asking for a few more portraits of the bride and groom together, this time in front of the nice greenery of the Castle Manor Inn.
Following the photos, Mike and Rachel made their way into their reception hall and started their night off with a first dance that looked AMAZING under the light strands of this really cool and unique room.
Mike and Rachel's first dance was set to "Crazy Love" by Van Morrison, a throwback to the old school 70s and I loved it.
The song was not only perfect lyric-wise but really worked with the vibe of the entire day.
As I watched the two of them sway together on the dance floor, I couldn't help but smile as how perfect everything seemed to be and I think their guests agreed as I couldn't see a person sitting in that room who didn't have a huge smile on their face.
And that was pretty much the theme of the night as Mike and Rachel had three really sweet toasts and breezed through the signature events of the evening before opening what would prove to be a wild dance floor.
If I had to pick my favorite part of Mike and Rachel's reception, it would have to be their parent dances.
As Rachel's father passed away prior to her wedding day, she had two sweet dances with her grandfather and step-father and both were really touching.
And I especially loved watching Mike and his mother dance as I've known the two for quite some time and knew that moment meant a lot to both of them.
Just judging by their parent dances alone, I had a feeling Mike and Rachel's reception would be a lively party and, boy, was I right.
I've shot a lot of weddings this year but I don't know if I've had a bride or groom who spent as much time on the dance floor as these two did and it appeared like every time I looked around, one of them was rocking out to the great music provided by their DJ.
I had a blast photographing Mike and Rachel's reception and by the end of the night, I could tell it was a party I'd remember for quite some time as this bride and groom left it all out on the dance floor and never stopped enjoying the moment.
It usually takes me a few months away from a couple's wedding to get some perspective on how special the night was but i kenw as I drove away from Mike and Rachel's wedding that we captured something special at that venue that fall evening.
Mike and Rachel are an amazing couple who compliment each other so well and I could tell by all of the people around them that this night meant a lot. I'm just glad I was there and able to witness it all as it made me smile just as much as all of their guests.
So congratulations Mike and Rachel! May your life together be full of laughter, love and lots and lots of dancing.
One thing is for sure: You're off to a great start already.
The Vendor List
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Hair: Rosalie of Adesso Hair & Day Salon; Bride's Dress: Chantilly Place; Groom's Suit: The Black Tux at Nordstrom; Ceremony/Reception Location: Castle Manor Inn; Officiant: Lisa Green of St. John’s Episcopal Church; DJ: Edward Whitehouse of A Good Time DJ.
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