Old Town Hall (Bedford) Wedding Photos
Matt & Shay
Old Town Hall, Bedford, Massachusetts
October 9th, 2021
I love love stories. I know. It's cliche. But it's true.
To me, a good love story has to have a couple of key things to connect with me as a wedding photographer. First, the two people at the center of it have to be better together than they ever were apart. Second, they have to have some shared interests and display a genuine excitement to be around one another. Third, they have to be true to who they are on the day they're walking down the aisle.
I think this script is one of the main reasons I tend to gravitate to offbeat or quirky, nontraditional couples. I love a love story but I love it even more when it's clearly unique and incredibly personal and there have been few love stories I've been fortunate enough to capture that fit all those qualifications better than Matt and Shay's.
I knew moments into meeting Matt and Shay for the first time that I needed to be their wedding photographer and it wasn't just because Shay was planning on wearing a black dress down the aisle or both the bride and groom had colorful hair and tattoos.
No, it was because I could tell within seconds how well these two complemented each other and that their 'Till Death Do Us Part' macabre-influenced wedding not only fit their personalities so well but it told a truly beautiful, emotional and deeply inspiring love story. And, like I said ... I love love stories.
I'll be honest. I didn't know exactly what to expect from Matt and Shay's wedding day when I walked into the bride's parent's house for bridal prep. Within moments, however, I was already smiling as I could see the excitement and anticipation on Shay's face as she finished her hair and makeup.
Her excitement probably looked a lot like mine once I FINALLY had a chance to check out the black wedding dress she told me she planned to wear. I am a sucker from a nontraditional wedding dress and, try as I might, in my 11 years of photographing weddings, this was the first black wedding dress I've seen.
It did not disappoint and neither did the somewhat creepy ring stand Matt and Shay constructed for their rings. Given that the wedding was in October and the day had a slew of skulls and skeletons as part of the theme, everything worked so well together and had the detailed-oriented part of my photographer brain quite giddy.
Details aside, though, what I loved about Matt and Shay's day was that as nontraditional as their wedding planning may have skewed, the bride and groom at the center of it were so adorably into one another that every big moment felt like a BIG MOMENT.
I loved watching the excitement build as Matt and Shay finished getting ready and the way you could see their anticipation grow and the nerves come in as the minutes to their ceremony got closer and closer.
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, there is no better or more personal moment for two people than a wedding day and, for Matt and Shay, this was on full display when we did their "first look." I put that in quote marks because Matt and Shay didn't actually SEE each other for this first look but they did exchange notes and hold hands and it was genuinely, authentically, one of the most emotional moments I have EVER seen on a wedding day.
Even I had to choke back tears watching these two share this private moment together and, because I absolutely love turning up the dial to a full 10 when it comes to emotion on a wedding day, I just had to guide them into each other's arms — while making sure they kept their eyes closed — for a pre-wedding ceremony hug I know they won't soon forget.
To say this was a highlight of their wedding day is an understatement. It was a highlight of my entire YEAR.
I knew given how emotional Matt and Shay's "first look" was that their ceremony would likely follow suit. And boy did it. There are few moments on a wedding day that I love more than watching a groom's face go from normal to complete mess when he sees his bride for the first time and Matt didn't disappoint. Neither did Shay.
I couldn't begin to count the times these two fought back tears as they saw each other at the start of their ceremony and you could just tell this was a moment and a feeling they'll reflect on for the rest of their lives.
Matt and Shay's wedding ceremony was much the same vibe but it did have plenty of lighthearted moments and humor as both the bride and groom shared their vows and exchanged rings.
What I loved about this ceremony was less about what this couple said as it was about what they didn't say. It was those silent, quiet moments of a smile here or glance there that conveyed just how deep these two love one another and by the time they sealed it with a kiss, I don't think there was a dry eye in attendance.
Almost immediately after Matt and Shay's first kiss as husband and wife, it was time for me to get to work. I say that because while you may think a bride in a black wedding dress who embraces tattoos and skulls might not have a lot of fears, Shay told me at our first meeting together that the idea of formal photos are "terrifying."
I didn't know what to expect from Matt and Shay as this was the first time I'd work with them and family portraits can be a tough thing to get through but these two did fantastic and once I finally had them to myself for bride and groom portraits, you could see that all the stress and anxiety Shay might have had about portraits melted away.
I take that as the highest compliment a bride can offer and I think that's one of the biggest reasons I was able to capture what I think are some of my best bride and groom portraits of the year by far. These photos FEEL like Matt and Shay and feel authentic to their love story. And, perhaps best of love, they walk the perfect balance between traditional wedding portraits and gothic, macabre-inspired spooky photos.
If I feels like I shared a LOT of bride and groom portraits from Matt and Shay, it's because I did. And I could have shared more. That's how much I loved working with these two.
Alas, being that this pair got married in October, there was only so much time in the day to photograph outside. Luckily, just as the light was beginning to fade, we got to head inside to their reception, which was everything I could have asked for and more.
First, the decor. Talk about detail-driven and beautiful. I especially loved the little touch Matt and Shay had of Polaroids on a string that showed the various points of their relationship. I simply HAD to take photos of their rings on one of them. It would have been a photography crime not to.
Matt and Shay's wedding reception started a bit different than most I shoot as they held heir first dance off in favor of a pair of toasts from the mother of the bride and mother of the groom. It the first sign that this would be a night that didn't fully follow the script you might expect and I loved that so much.
The second sign that Matt and Shay's wedding would be a bit different was the choice of music during dinner. Unlike most background music that plays at weddings, Matt and Shay chose hard rock and heavy metal, with bands like CKY and Paramore playing, and I couldn't have felt more at home if I tried.
After dinner, the newlyweds opened the back half of their reception in a slightly more traditional way, with a cake cutting and a first dance set to "First Day of My Life" by Bright Eyes.
On a day FULL of emotional moments, Matt and Shay's first dance might be my favorite as it really felt like the end of a great movie. As the two of them held each other close and bounced back and forth between smiles and laughter and happy tears, you could see how in the moment each one of them were and how they were hard-wiring every second of this experience into their brains to relive forever.
Matt and Shay's parent dances with their mother and father weren't as outwardly emotional but you could see how much these dances meant to both of them. For a couple that is so far from "typical," it was nice to see that, in these moments, they were still happy kids excited to share a moment with their parents.
The one drawback to playing hard rock and heavy metal at a wedding is that, unfortunately, it's not the type of music that lends itself to wedding reception dancing.
Thankfully, in yet another swerve I did not see coming, once the dance floor at Matt and Shay's reception opened up, the soundtrack for the night went old school and was full of classic tracks the Matt and Shay's friends and family members loved.
The result? A pretty full dance floor and lots of happy moments and memories for the bride and groom on and off of it.
As my time with Matt and Shay came to an end, I couldn't help but smile all the way to my car. Matt and Shay's wedding was so unlike any other I've ever shot and, yet, it's exactly the type of wedding that reminds me why I got into this business in the first place.
I like offbeat, unique couples and I love trying to find a way to document their love story in a way that feels true to life and true to them and Matt and Shay made it easy.
To say this was one of my favorite weddings of the year is an understatement. It's a wedding that I adored as it was happening and one I can't wait to look back on with fond memories for years. Kind of like the bride and groom, actually.
So, thank you, Matt and Shay for allowing me on your journey down the aisle together. It was an honor and a privilege to share this day with you and I wish you the best in your lives together as husband and wife.
-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 and Make-up: Lisa at Special Event Beauty; Bride's Dress: Nordstrom Rack; Florist: Bedford Florist; Groom's Suit: Generation Tux; Ceremony & Reception: Old Town Hall, Bedford, Massachusetts; DJ: DJ Paul Vincent from DM Productions; Caterer: Calla Catering and Events; Cake: It's All Good in the Kitchen.