Mike & Kate kiss during a formal photo following their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.

Mike & Kate

One of the benefits of wedding photography is getting to know months, and sometimes years, in advance what you'll be doing on a particular day. But even though I'm often booked for an event long before the couple will walk down the aisle, every now and again I get surprised with a last-minute wedding that takes my breath away.

Mike and Kate were one of those types of couples who reached out to me right before their wedding day and though I didn't know I'd be shooting it until two weeks before it took place, I went into their wedding excited about the possibilities.
After all, it's not every day you get to photograph your first boat wedding AND your first solo wedding in Newport, Rhode Island at the same time. And it's definitely not everyday you're at a wedding reception crashed by six-foot tall bird mascots doing the YMCA. 

But that was Mike and Kate's wedding in a nutshell.

It was a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one and it's one wedding I'll be thinking about for years to come.

Kate looks out the window prior to her May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
A look at the bride's flowers prior to Mike and Kate's May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Kate adjusts her jewelry prior to her May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
A look at Kate's wedding dress prior to her May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Kate and her daughter smile for a photo prior to her May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.

Mike and Kate's wedding day began with a laid back prep session that was so low-key and unassuming that the bride and groom drove to their venue together. 

Kate was a super stress-free bride, choosing to relax in the bridal suite at Regatta Place for about an hour before the boat that would take them on the water for their ceremony arrived. 

Mike, meanwhile, spent his prep time hanging with the boys and trying to get his bow tie and striped socks just right before sailing away.

Mike adjusts his shirt buttons prior to his May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike has his tie adjusted prior to his May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike poses for a photo prior to his May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Kate smiles for a photo prior to her May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike smiles for a photo prior to his May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
A look at the Schooner Aurora boat prior to Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding ceremony in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.

I've got to admit: Mike and Kate had me sold on shooting their wedding the minute they mentioned the ceremony was taking place on a boat. I'm a guy who loves new challenges and the idea of photographing a wedding on a moving ship in the middle of the ocean seemed both like fun and a logistical nightmare. 

Thankfully, this bride and groom did it in a perfect way, choosing a great time to head out on the water, a scenic backdrop and a lovely ceremony with 40 or so of their closest friends and family members that I don't think could have gone better. 

Sure, we were tight on space but the intimacy of capturing this moment with so many happy people was something special that really tugged at my heart strings. 

Kate and her son walk down the aisle prior to her May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
A member of the crew gives the thumbs up to sail the Schooner Aurora boat prior to Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding ceremony in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
A look at the Schooner Aurora boat prior to Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding ceremony in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike signals to Kate during his May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Kate walks down the aisle during her May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.

I especially loved watching Mike signal his bride to be like a third base coach as "Marry You" by Bruno Mars played in the background. Given that Mike is a baseball manager for the Newport Gulls, I thought it was only fitting.

Mike and Kate smile during their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Kate looks at Mike during her May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate listen to their officiant during their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike looks at Kate during his May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Kate smiles during her May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate kiss during their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike raises his arms in celebration during his May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.

Mike and Kate's wedding ceremony was unlike any I've ever shot. 
I loved the tight quarters to move around and the vast details on the boat/in the mast. It made for some really fun photos and the relaxed vibe had all of their guests in great spirits.

Mike & Kate pose for a formal photo following their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate pose for a formal photo following their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate pose for a formal photo following their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate pose for a formal photo following their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.

The funny part to me about Mike and Kate's wedding was that, as nice as the boat was, I was actually really looking most forward to seeing how their reception would be set up at Regatta Place.

Regatta Place is in the heart of Goat Island, one of the most extravagant and beautiful places I've ever had the luxury of photographing. I knew this was going to be beautifully-detailed and I was right.

A look at the table settings prior to Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
A look at the rings and flowers prior to Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
A look at the cake prior to Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.

As beautiful as everything looked on this amazing early summer evening, though, the real stars of this reception were Mike and Kate. 

This bride and groom held nothing back and you could see just by the look on their face how much fun they were having and how much they looked forward to this date. 

Mike and Kate are introduced during their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate dance during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate dance during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate dance during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate dance during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate dance during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate dance during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.

They were so many fun moments during Mike and Kate's reception. 

I loved the way they looked at each other throughout the first dance, and the way their children spoke so lovingly about them during the toasts of the evening. I really enjoyed the few minutes we spent shooting sunset photos outside of Regatta Place and the way they kept laughing during the cake cutting. 

Mike's daughter gives a toast during Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate listen to a toast during their May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Kate's son gives a toast during Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding ceremony aboard the Schooner Aurora boat in the waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate pose for a formal photo during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate pose for a formal photo during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike & Kate pose for a formal photo during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.

But if I had to choose one of the moments I liked the most, it would be the way they changed up the traditional mother/son and father daughter dances. As Mike and Kate are a bit older, they chose to use the moment to have a blended dance with all of their children. It was such a sweet and powerful moment that represented what this date was all about. 

Mike and Kate cut their cake during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate cut their cake during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate dance with their children during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate dance with their children during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate dance with their children during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate dance with their children during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate dance with their children during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.

Following that beautiful moment between parents and their children, it was time to party.

And party they did ... right up until a pair of mascots from Mike's baseball team showed up and stole the show.

Guests dance during Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Guests dance during Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate dance during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
A mascot from the Newport Gulls arrives during Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike laughs during his May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
A mascot from the Newport Gulls dances during Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.

Crashing a wedding is always a risky move but I have a feeling these two birds knew Mike would not only appreciate that they showed up for his big night but love the fact that they did.

After all, this is a guy who got married only hours earlier wearing his championship ring from the organization he coaches. The Newport Gulls hold a special place in his heart and honoring that on his special day is only fitting really.

Plus, those birds had some sweet moves.

Mike dancesduring his May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Guests dance during Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Guests dance during Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.

The mascots may not have been there too long but they sure kicked the dancing portion of the night off in a big way. I'm not sure I saw a moment where guests weren't partying and, for a Thursday night wedding reception, that's pretty impressive.

Mike dances with Kate during his May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Guests dance during Mike & Kate’s May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike dances with a guest during his May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike dances with a guest during his May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate party with guests during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate smile for a photo during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mike and Kate dance with guests during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.

As Mike and Kate's wedding reception came to an end, I couldn't help thinking how crazy it was that this couple, who I had never met in person prior to three days before their wedding, trusted me to document one of the best days of their life. I'm glad they did because it was a wild day full of amazing moments and memories that I know they'll cherish for a lifetime. 

And as much as I love knowing well in advance what weddings and shoots I have planned, sometimes it's nice to be surprised once in a while with one you weren't expecting. 

So thanks Mike and Kate for including me in your awesome wedding day. I know I had just as much fun, if not more, than you did and that sure is saying something. 

-PJS

Mike and Kate pose for a photo with guests during their May 2018 wedding reception at Regatta Place in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Vendor List

Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini PhotographyCeremony: Schooner Aurora; Reception: Regatta Place, Newport, RI; Bride's Hair: Krissie Fleishman, Middletown, RI; Bride's Eyelashes: Self Expressions, Lakeland, Florida; Bride's Dress: Nordstrom; Flowers: Francesca's Events & Florals, North Providence, RI; Groom & Groomsmen Bow Ties & Pants: Vineyard Vines; Cake & Cupcakes: Pink Box Desserts, North Dartmouth, Massachusetts; Officiant: Rick Lombardi, Middletown, RI.

Check out more of my most recent wedding blogs:

A teaser image for Kendra & Joe's wedding blog

Kendra & Joe

Location: Crystal Lake Golf Club,
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Date: May 26th, 2018

A teaser image for Ali & Gary's wedding blog.

Ali & Gary

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Date: May 5th, 2018

A teaser image for Nate and Kaytii's wedding blog

Location: Meadowbrook Inn,

Charlestown, Rhode Island.

Date: May 1st, 2018

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Paul J. Spetrini is a Rhode Island wedding photographer.

© 2020 Paul J. Spetrini Photography. All rights reserved.

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