Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

Rich & Makayla

I always find it a little bit difficult to shoot a wedding when I've known either the bride or groom for a long time before they became clients but, often, I've found that familiarity brings a little something extra to the story being told on the day they say "I do."

And in the case of Rich and Makayla, whose October wedding served as a mini college reunion for me with friends I haven't seen in years in attendance, that story was one of my favorite to document this year.

Rich and Makayla are an incredible couple who perfectly compliment one another and in the two years we've discussed what their wedding would be like, I've adored seeing the way they interact with one another, especially during their super fun winter engagement shoot back in March.

But all the talk about what their wedding would look like paled in comparison to the day itself as this bride and groom had one of the most stress-free and fun ceremonies and receptions I've had all year long.

And that's something not even cold and cloudy weather by Mother Nature could put a damper on.

A look at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to Makayla's October 2018 wedding.
Makayla's dress is shown during her bridal prep session at Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to her October 2018 wedding.
Makayla stands near her dress during her bridal prep session at Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to her October 2018 wedding.
A look at Makayla's shoes during her bridal prep session at Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to her October 2018 wedding.

My coverage of Rich and Makayla's wedding day began with one of the shorter bridal prep sessions I've had as the bride-to-be was ready to go from the moment I walked into her hotel room in beautiful Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

Not only did Makayla have her and her bridesmaids' dresses hanging up and ready for photos but she made sure to let me know about her special Harry Potter-themed bridal shoes. That should tell you everything you need to know about how this day would go as comfort was key.

Makayla has her dress zipped by a bridesmaid during her bridal prep session at Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to her October 2018 wedding.
Makayla has help with her necklace during her bridal prep session at Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to her October 2018 wedding.
Makayla receives a hug from a bridesmaid during her bridal prep session at Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to her October 2018 wedding.
Two bridesmaids help Makayla zip her dress during her bridal prep session at Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to her October 2018 wedding.
Makayla gives a thumbs up as her dress is zipped up during her bridal prep session at Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to her October 2018 wedding.
Makayla poses for a photo with her bridal party during her bridal prep session at Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center In Sturbridge, Massachusetts prior to her October 2018 wedding.

Speaking of comfort, Makayla was the picture of it as she finished preparations, laughing and smiling as she put her dress on and got ready to head out to her first look with her soon-to-be husband.

Rich has a flower pinned on prior to his October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich poses for a photo prior to his October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich waits for Makayla to arrive to a first look prior to his October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla arrives to her first look prior to her October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich smiles as he waits to see Makayla during a first look prior to his October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich and Makayla share a first look prior to their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich and Makayla share a first look prior to their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich and Makayla share a kiss prior to their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

I love a great first look and I really think Rich and Makayla's fit them both so well. Having known Rich for most of my adult life, I didn't expect him to get overly emotional and, true to form, there was never a chance for tears. But you can tell how much this moment meant to him by the smile on his face and how much fun he looked like he was having as we captured some quick formal photos with the bride and groom and members of their wedding party before the ceremony.

Makayla smiles for a photo prior to her October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo prior to their October 2018 wedding wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla pose for a photo with their wedding party prior to their October 2018 wedding wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

As for the ceremony itself, it was really the only part of the day that didn't go 100 percent according to plan as the rain kicked in a little too much right before Rich and Makayla were scheduled to go down the aisle.

Thankfully, that didn't ruin how special this ceremony was as the indoor backup plan at their venue provided a small, intimate setting for the two to exchange their vows.

This also led to one of the most memorable and emotional moments of the afternoon as Makayla was walked down the aisle by her uncle Ray, who would pass away less than two weeks after these photos were taken.

While Makayla and her family were understandably devastated by his loss, seeing him walk her down the aisle in their final family function together is a memory they'll cherish forever and I'm honored to have captured it.

Rich smiles as he waits for Makayla to walk down the aisle during his October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla walks down the aisle with her uncle during her October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Two bridesmaids get emotional during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla walks down the aisle with her uncle during her October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich and Makayla listen to their officiant during their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

I really enjoyed Rich and Makayla's ceremony. It was short and sweet but still packed in plenty of personality as their officiant spoke all about their relationship together and how they bring the best out of one another.

I especially loved the candid laughs and smiles the two couldn't help but flash every time they looked at one another.

Makayla smiles during her October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich smiles during his October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich and Makayla laugh during their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich and Makayla light a unity candle during their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich and Makayla have their hands tied during their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich and Makayla kiss following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

Rich and Makayla's ceremony also produced one of my favorite bloopers of the year as the bride accidentally slipped the groom's ring on the wrong finger. Whoops. 

Thankfully, she figured it out shortly after the ceremony and had a long laugh about it but not before we could capture a photo to preserve that memory for them for the rest of their lives.

After giving them a few minutes to relax and catch their breath, I dragged Rich and Makayla outside for a few more family and wedding party photos before we dove deep into their bride and groom portraits.

Makayla reapplies Rich's ring following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla poses for a photo with her bridesmaids following her October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla poses for a photo with her bridesmaids following her October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich and Makayla pose for a photo with their wedding party following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

I really liked Rich and Makayla's wedding party and how willing they were to brave the chilly temperatures for the bride and groom. And I can't help but give a special shout out to the bridesmaids themselves as they proved invaluable in helping guide Makayla and her crazy elaborate dress in and around large mud piles at the barn when we started bride and groom formals.

Oh, and those formals? Well, there's a reason I wanted as much time as Rich and Makayla would give me. This venue was gorgeous! 

Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

One of my favorite things about Rich and Makayla's bride and groom portraits was that this pair knew exactly what they wanted to capture.

In particular, Makayla knew we HAD to find the special swing Zukas has as before we headed inside because it would make for great photos. Not only was she right about the shots but they were my favorite of the day and just the perfect balance between sweet, kooky and romantic.

Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo following their October 2018 wedding ceremony at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla's bridesmaids help her walk in her dress prior to her October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

As much fun as I had with Rich and Makayla on the grounds of Zukas Hilltop Barn, I have to admit I was looking forward to getting inside. Not just because the temperatures kept dropping outside and it was feeling more like winter than fall but because I couldn't wait to see the inside of the tented room where they would have their reception once it was all set up.

Needless to say, it didn't disappoint.

A look at the ballroom prior to Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
A look at the placecards prior to Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
A look at the centerpieces prior to Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
A look at the centerpiece cards A look at the placecards prior to Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
A look at the wedding cake prior to Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
A look at the wedding cake cutter prior to Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

Rich and Makayla put a lot of thought into the decor of their wedding and it showed in a big way. 

Together, the details the bride and groom provided and the way the tent looked all created a beautiful atmosphere that was the perfect setting for Rich and Makayla's adorably sweet first dance to "Boxes" by Goo Goo Dolls, one of the defining songs of their relationship together.

Makayla walks in during her October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

Rich and Makayla's first dance was just the start of a beautiful and touching reception.

The pair were treated to three wonderful speeches by the pair of maids of honor and the best man, a lovely toast that proceeded a delicious dinner course and a cake cutting where they both couldn't stop smiling.

One of the two maids of honor gives a toast during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
One of the two maids of honor gives a toast during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
The best man gives a toast during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
One of the two maids of honor gives a toast during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla and Rich react to the toasts during their October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla cut their wedding cake during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla cut their wedding cake during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla cut their wedding cake during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

What I was most looking forward to on this night, however, was the reception and boy did that ever live up to the hype. Rich and Makayla's friends and family members knew how to party and their dance floor wasn't empty from the first to last song.

Heck, even the bride and groom had a couple of dances together which is pretty good considering how much time each spent away from the other saying hello to guests and catching up with old friends.

Makayla high fives a guest during her October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Guests dance during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Guests dance during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Guests dance during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Guests dance during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Guests dance during Rich & Makayla’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

My favorite moment of this wedding, however, came toward the very end of the night as Makayla and her bridesmaids commandeered the entire dance floor for a trio of songs which were each more fun than the last.

First came an unplanned line dance to Shania Twain's "Man! I feel like a woman!" where Makayla and her girls walked up and down the floor hand in hand. Next, Makayla's bridesmaids took over the mic and serenaded the new bride to a customized performance of the Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey hit "The Middle." Then, to top it all off, the girls all rocked out, at least as much as is possible, to the incredibly catchy and poppy "Baby Shark" by Pingfong

Makayla and her bridesmaids dance during her October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla and her bridesmaids dance during her October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla and her bridesmaids dance during her October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla and her bridesmaids party during her October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla dances to "Baby Shark" during her October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla dances to "Baby Shark" during her October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
A bridesmaid laughs during Rich & Makayla’’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Bridesmaids dance during Rich & Makayla’’s October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Makayla and her bridesmaids dance during her October 2018 wedding wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

By the end of the last song in that trifecta, I was surprised any of them still had the energy to party but party they did and I'm glad because the final few songs of this awesome evening gave Rich and Makayla one last chance to get together on the dance floor and cap their night off the way it began: in each other's arms.

Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.
Rich & Makayla dance during their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

As my time with Rich and Makayla came to an end, I couldn't help but reflect on what a fun and special day it really was. While I've been blessed with a ton of amazing weddings this fall, I don't know if I've seen a couple who lived in the moment of their big day better than Rich and Makayla.

This was a wedding day that was equal parts funny and emotional and at times felt more like a giant reunion, whether it was with Rich and his friends or with Makayla and her family, than a traditional wedding.

But that's kind of the point isn't it? 

Wedding days are meant as a way of honoring the life two people have had before they got together and setting the days ahead off to the best start possible and I can say, confidently, that this day did both of those things perfectly.

So congratulations Rich and Makayla on a wonderful wedding day and here's to the start of what I have no doubt will be a beautiful life together.

-PJS

Rich & Makayla pose for a formal photo prior to their October 2018 wedding reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts.

The Vendor List

Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Bride's Hair & Make-up: Jenna Baptista; Bride's Dress: Alexandra's Bridal Boutique with alterations by Sewing Creations by Rose in East Greenwich, Rhode Island; Groom's Suit: Men's Warehouse;Florist: Blushing Blooms by Ashley; Bridal Prep Hotel: Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center in Sturbridge, Massachusetts; Ceremony & Reception Venue: Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts; Transportation: Reuben’s transportation; Officiant: Marita Veira; DJ: Nate Grist & Larry CunninghamCake: Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, Massachusetts; 

Check out more of my most recent wedding blogs:

A teaser image for Sarah & Anthony's wedding blog.

Sarah & Anthony

St. Augustine Church (Ceremony), 
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Date: October 20th, 2018

A teaser image for Amanda & Josh's wedding reception blog.

Amanda & Josh (Reception)

Loon Pond Lodge,

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Date: October 14th, 2018

A teaser image for Katie & Steve's wedding blog.

Katie & Steve

The Villa at Ridder Country Club

East Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Date: October 13th, 2018

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Paul J. Spetrini is a Rhode Island wedding photographer.

© 2019 Paul J. Spetrini Photography. All rights reserved.

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