Rhodes on the Pawtuxet Wedding Photos
Courtney & Giovanni
Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, Cranston, Rhode Island (Ceremony & Reception)
December 9th, 2022
You never want to say you're looking more forward to any one particular couple's wedding than another's but, if I'm being honest, for the last several months of the 2022 wedding season, I was counting down the days until Courtney and Giovanni were set to say "I do" at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston, Rhode Island back in December.
Without a doubt, the 2022 wedding season was the hardest I've ever had and not only were Courtney and Giovanni my final wedding of the year, they were my 50th wedding of the year and that goal really meant a lot to be to accomplish.
More so than any individual reasons, I was looking forward to Courtney and Giovanni's wedding because, having worked with them during an engagement session back in the spring, I knew how amazing these two people were and had no doubt their wedding would be the absolute perfect way to close out the most rewarding wedding season of my career. And not even months of anticipation could prepare me for how great their wedding day truly was. It was everything I, and they, could have asked for and so much more.
I knew moments into starting my coverage of Courtney and Gio's day that this was going to be a special one, simply because for a mid-December wedding, you simply couldn't have asked for a better day for a wedding.
Not only was it bright and sunny, and fairly warm for this time of year, but the bride and groom were each in great spirits and eager to go as the final hour before their ceremony ticked away.
One of the great things about Courtney and Gio getting married at the Rhodes on the Pawtuxet was the venue has a TON of room and I was able to bounce back and forth between the bride and groom effortlessly to capture the last moments of each of their preparations. Courtney, in particular, had a lot of emotions on this wedding day and getting to see the love and excitement on her face was the perfect way to set a great tone for this particular afternoon.
Courtney and Gio held their wedding ceremony inside of Rhodes and it was the perfect place to do so as it was beautifully decorated for the Christmas season and the colors went perfectly with the green and red bouquet Courtney picked out.
And if I thought the bride was having emotions putting her dress on, man, I couldn't even have guessed how much the moment would hit her as she walked down the aisle toward her soulmate. Talk about a beautiful expression of love.
Courtney and Giovanni's ceremony was beautifully touching and had a lot of elements of the things they care the most about in life, whether it was their love for one another or their common religious upbringing.
I always love feeling like I'm getting to know a couple better through the words of their officiant as they prepare to exchange rings and, in that regard, it was quite beautiful to hear all the ways this bride and groom were clearly meant for one another and the ways they make each other better every day.
By the time these two sealed their new marriage with a kiss, there weren't a lot of people who weren't touched in their heart hearing this beautiful story and seeing this amazing love story bloom.
With their ceremony in the books, Courtney, Giovanni and their friends and family members made their way outside for what was, easily, the most nerve-racking part of my day as their photographer. Anytime you're shooting a wedding in December, you worry about the weather and how the family and friends of the couple will cooperate with being outdoors for an hour.
Luckily for us, this was a gorgeous day and despite being maybe a little bit chillier than you'd like, it was perfect for December and we flew through photos in front of the Rhodes on the Pawtuxet's iconic entrance.
Admittedly, as important as family and wedding party photos are, my main priority was getting those finished as fast as possible so I could have as much time with Courtney and Gio as possible. I already knew from our engagement session at Goddard Back earlier in 2022 that these two were adorable together and hoped we'd have enough time before the sun set to capture their relationship in a nice way on their special day.
Thankfully, I couldn't have asked for more from these two once we booted everyone else inside to cocktail hour and shifted our focus to just them and their love for one another.
Rhodes on the Pawtuxet is a beautiful venue but a lot of the beauty is in the foliage that was simply wiped away by the day of Courtney and Gio's wedding. No problem though. I'm always ready to improvise and while we may not have been able to fully explore the grounds the way I have at previous spring or summer weddings on site, we didn't need to on this day.
No, the main stars of this shoot were Courtney and Gio themselves so all we had to do was put them near the gazebo and let them be themselves.
As much fun as photographing Courtney and Gio's bride and groom portraits were, I won't lie ... I was excited to get inside. Not only to warm up a bit but also to see the finished ballroom at Rhodes and the way the decorations looked with the warm amber colored lighting.
Spoiler alert: It looked amazing.
By the time we got ready for Courtney and Gio's wedding reception to start, I couldn't help think it had been a pretty fun day so far. But, as anyone who follows my work knows, receptions are my bread and butter and my hope was that these two would have an amazing party for me to cap my night and my entire wedding season off on the right foot.
Within moments of the newlyweds entering, I could tell that's exactly what was in store. Courtney and Gio set the tone for their reception perfectly with a beautiful and touching first dance set to "Yellow" by Coldplay. While I'm not a huge Coldplay fan, I couldn't help but think the song was PERFECT for this moment, especially since Rhodes on the Pawtuxet is one of my all-time favorite places for a first dance.
Seriously folks. This place is timeless and that dance floor, when there are just two people on it and a room full of happy people looking on, simply can't be topped.
Following their first dance, Courtney and Gio had a fairly relaxed period before dinner, with two toasts and a blessing to open the night up.
After dinner, I knew the night was set to take a turn ... and not just because everyone in attendance seemed ready to party.
In what I can only say was a perfectly fitting surprise for the bride and groom, one of Courtney's family members arranged to have a special guest make an unexpected visit to this wedding as Santa and Mrs. Claus made a rare appearance to wish the newlyweds well and share a holiday dance with them.
To say the bride and groom loved this surprise is an understatement.
It's hard to top a surprise dance with Santa Claus but Courtney and Gio managed to do it with the rest of their reception formalities. Starting with a cake cutting and a fun newlywed game, Courtney and Gio brought their father and mother, respectively, to the dance floor for the traditional father-daughter and mother-son dances.
All four of these moments were special and full of beautiful little touches that I know Courtney and Gio won't soon forget.
But as touching as the formalities of Courtney and Giovanni's reception was, I could tell just by talking to this bride and groom that what they were really looking forward to was cutting loose on the dance floor and boy did Courtney and Gio do that the INSTANT their dance floor opened up.
For an hour and a half, the newlyweds were determined to make every second of their reception count and their guests were all too happy to oblige. I couldn't have asked for a better party to close 2022 with.
As my time with Courtney and Giovanni came to an end, and subsequently my 2022 wedding season did, I couldn't help but reflect on the amazing moments and memories I was lucky enough to capture not only on this day itself but on the entire season.
It'll be a long time before I ever take on as many weddings as I did in 2022 but I can't say I have any regrets as the couples I got to work with, the venues I got to shoot in and the weddings I got to witness were all special and amazing in their own ways.
And when it comes to putting a perfect bow on this season, well, it doesn't get any better than the two people I got to wrap the year up with. So thank you Courtney and Giovanni for closing out my 2022 season in the best way imaginable and I wish you all the best on this new and exciting time in your lives together as husband and wife.
Now, let's see what 2023 has in store. Let's just put it this way, it's got BIG shoes to fill. :)
-Paul J. Spetrini
Check out more of my most recent wedding blogs:
Ebenezer Baptist Church &
Skyline at Waterplace
November 18th, 2022
North Beach Clubhouse,
Narragansett, Rhode Island
November 12th, 2022
Valley Country Club,
Warwick, Rhode Island
November 11th, 2022
The Vendor List:
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Bride's Hair: Lauren Machon and Courtney Cavalier of Novo Salon; Bride's Make-up: Megan Baker; Bride's Dress: Alexandra's Boutique; Groom's Suit: Men's Wearhouse; Florist: Petals Florist, Warwick, Rhode Island; Ceremony & Reception Venue: Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, Cranston, Rhode Island; DJ: Music Express, Cranston, Rhode Island; Cake: Buono's Italian Bakery, Providence, Rhode Island.