Rhode Island Weddings
Jen & Jon
Private Residence, Coventry, Rhode Island
July 9th, 2020
To say that 2020 has been a difficult year for brides and grooms across New England would be a massive understatement. Five months after a global pandemic began wrecking havoc on every aspect of life as we know it, there's still no knowing when things will return to normal. And even when they do, one of the last things that will bounce back are large-scale wedding days.
And that's why I value the weddings I DO have this year so much more than I ever have before, especially when they feature couples like Jen and Jon, who found out less than five weeks before their planned April nuptials that they would have to postpone their event entirely.
Jen and Jon are an amazing couple and, rather than let that news get them down, they decided instead to elope in a family member's garage on the day they had originally planned and to hold their bigger celebration — or, as big as social distancing restrictions would allow — in the summer.
In a way, I'm glad they did as their July wedding reception and party was not just a perfect fit for them as a couple but a welcomed distraction from a world of chaos. And, for a few hours at least, this bride and groom helped their friends and family forget about the negatives in their lives and feel like things were a bit back to normal.
I can think of no better way to start off your life as newlyweds than giving the ones you care about such a special gift and I know this is one day Jen and Jon will never forget.
And it was most definitely worth the wait.
My coverage of Jen and Jon's wedding celebration started with split duty coverage of both groom and bride prep at the Hampton Inn Hotel in Coventry, Rhode Island.
Normally, I'm always a little stressed out when I have to split coverage and photograph two people at the same time but given the fact that Jen and Jon chose NOT to have an additional ceremony, we had plenty of time to just relax during the prep portion of their big day and enjoy the moment as they got to have a party months in the making.
It showed. Jen and Jon were both super carefree as they readied for their celebration and I, for one, was glad to see how much they were truly enjoying themselves. The groom, in particular, seemed at ease throughout his prep as he spent time with his groomsmen cracking jokes as they got ready to start the afternoon.
I really enjoyed working with both Jen and Jon but, by far, my favorite moment of their prep sessions was watching each open letters and gifts the other gave them. Normally, this is a pretty emotional moment for a couple but, on this day, both Jen and Jon were all smiles and eager to get the show on the road instead of overly-emotional.
That was the theme for all of bridal prep, really, as I arrived to see Jen was pretty much all made up and ready to go, giving me just enough time for dress detail shots before we headed out for her first look with Jon.
Speaking of first looks, I was initially surprised Jen and Jon chose to have one as they'd already gotten married but when the bride told me the groom hadn't seen her in her wedding dress when they eloped back in April, it made total sense to me.
Every couple deserves to have that grand reveal ... even if it is a few months after they said "I do." Jen and Jon's was more laidback then I'm used to but it was still great to see the groom's large smile when he saw his bride all dressed and ready to go.
Following their first look, Jen, Jon and I made our way to the Washington Secondary Bike Path in Coventry. I'll admit: When Jen first told me she knew "exactly" where she wanted to take her formal photos and let me know it was a wide open field, I wasn't optimistic about how things would turn out.
Then we arrived at the destination and I knew right away this would be a great afternoon.
This area surrounding the bike path, and the path itself, was gorgeous and the picture-perfect sunny day only added to the lovely location we had all to ourselves.
Jen and Jon are an excellent couple to work with. Not only are they super amenable to posing ideas but they're constantly making each other laugh and a lot of fun to be around.
This helped keep the tone of their bride and groom formals fairly relaxed and the lush greens of the bike path proved to be the perfect backdrop for some of my favorite photos of the year ... though, admittedly, it was one of the first shoots I had all year.
Nevertheless, I don't know who enjoyed themselves more: me or them.
As Jen, Jon and I headed to the bride's family's house for their outdoor reception, I honestly had no idea what to expect as this would be the first reception I shot in a COVID world. Thankfully, the bride and groom made sure to have plenty of hand sanitizer on display and did their best to otherwise help their guests forget about the world around them for a few hours.
In particular, I love that Jen and Jon insisted on reusing the original decorative items they purchased for their April wedding date, including signage and a guestbook with the original date on it. While they may never forget having to postpone their original plans a few months, that resilient effort not to let this stupid virus defeat them was a nice sight to see.
If I had any doubts how much fun Jen and Jon's reception would be, those doubts were removed the moment they were introduced for the first time as husband and wife.
The newlyweds chose "Amazed" by Lonestar for their first dance and, even though they clearly weren't huge fans of dancing or being the center of attention, they did a beautiful job setting the night's tone right away with the classic 90s love song.
One of my favorite parts of Jen and Jon's big day were the three toasts from those closest to them. Each highlighted how great a couple the bride and groom are and talked about how important their April nuptials were to showing what really mattered in life.
I thought that was a touching reminder of how important it is not to lose sight of what's really important on a wedding day and, this year especially, you can never stress that enough.
Following their toasts and dinner, Jen and Jon embarked on one of the most laidback wedding receptions I've ever seen. Even with a smaller guest list that they might have been expecting, this bride and groom managed to have a great night of fun and I could tell just by walking around that their guests really needed it.
And, if there was any doubt how relaxed this evening would be, those went out the window the moment Jen smashed part of the wedding cake in Jon's face.
One of the best parts, for me at least, in documenting Jen and Jon's wedding reception was the way in which they managed to keep the main traditions of a wedding day but cast aside the "stuffiness" you sometimes get with a wedding.
Whether it was with their parent dances, the traditional garter and bouquet toss or just in the outfit changes they immediately did the first chance they got, it was easy to see this couple's main priority on this summer evening was having a great time and they did just that.
As I prepared to head out of Jen and Jon's wedding reception, I simply HAD TO make sure I grabbed some photos from their dance floor before I left. I'm glad I did as this party jumped off from the moment the DJ opened the dance floor and I could just tell just by looking around that those in attendance had been waiting months to cut loose in this way.
And when Jen herself popped back up on the dance floor in a t-shirt and yoga pants, I knew the night was about to kick into a whole new gear.
Seriously. It's amazing how a simple wardrobe change can lift your mood and get the party started.
As I left Jen and Jon's wedding reception, I couldn't help but smile and wonder if I'd be lucky enough to see as fun a party all year long. Honestly, I still don't know.
This year has been one full of uncertainty and it has definitely not gone the way I, or any of my couples for that matter, originally planned. But one thing that no virus can ever fully remove is hope and wedding days like Jen and Jon's help keep mine alive.
I don't know how many amazing brides and grooms I'll get to see walk down the aisle this year and I don't know whether next year will be any better. But getting to work with amazing couples like Jen and Jon keep me focused on what's really important: Being there to document the moments I'm lucky enough to be present for.
That much, I know, is quarantine proof.
So congratulations Jen and Jon on a wonderful wedding day. I know it might not be what you originally envisioned but I know for damn sure it was the best day imaginable for anyone lucky enough to be in attendance. Best of luck as you being your life together as husband and wife!
-Paul J. Spetrini
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