Scituate Harbor Community Center Wedding Photos
Mary & Chelsea
Scituate Harbor Community Center, Scituate, Massachusetts
October 27th, 2023
When it comes to wedding photography, I am a creature of habit. My gear is packed the same way every time I go to and leave a wedding. I have an entire system for storing memory cards so as to not lose any photos. I try, as hard as I can, to make things as easy for me to succeed in any environment, not matter how tough the scenario, any time a bride or groom trusts me to document their special day.
Every once in a while, though, a couple comes around that has special circumstances that change everything I typically do and challenges me to think outside the box and that's exactly what it felt like photographing Mary and Chelsea's wedding back in October.
Mary and Chelsea, who said “I do” at the Scituate Harbor Community Center, were one of my favorite and most laid back couples this year but I knew heading into their wedding that it would be my most difficult shoot of the year because Mary has light sensitivity issues, meaning I couldn't use any flash whatsoever. As a photographer who relies on lighting to enhance almost every photo he takes, this wasn't going to be easy.
But when you have the chance to work with a couple as amazing as Mary and Chelsea, you take it. And while their wedding was, indeed, a creative challenge, it was also one of the most rewarding experiences I had this year, and maybe ever, because a love story this sweet and a day this beautiful shines brighter than any flash ever could.
From the moment I walked into the Scituate Harbor Community Center to begin my coverage of Mary and Chelsea's wedding day, I could tell this would be a wedding unlike any other. For one thing, Mary was running a bit behind schedule. But, and this was more telling, no one seemed to mind.
I love weddings like this, where the overall vibe is that is more relaxed and no one seems to be that concerned with sticking to any particular timeline. Those kinds of weddings can be the most rewarding because there is so much less stress than usual and, as a photographer, I appreciate anything that takes away the stress of making sure everything goes just right.
When Mary did arrive, she was in great spirits and had no issues jumping right into her dress and getting ready for her first look with Chelsea down the street at a beautiful lighthouse. In fact, I think Mary's late arrival actually worked out in her favor as she didn't have nearly as much time to get too nervous or bogged down in the stress of the moments before seeing Chelsea for the first time.
Mary and Chelsea didn't have a lot of requests for their wedding day but the one thing they wanted more than any other was to avoid the typical 'big build' of a first look. While they wanted to see each other before the ceremony, and wanted to take care of family and wedding party photos prior to saying “I do,” Mary and Chelsea didn't want was a big production to take away from the authenticity of the moment they first saw each other.
So that's how we reached the decision to have them on opposite ends of a long boardwalk on the beach.
Putting Chelsea in position first, and having her look out toward the water, I positioned Mary on the opposite end of the boardwalk, told them both to turn around and the result was two excited brides soaking in every second of seeing each other in their wedding attire for the first time and feeling those amazing feelings you can only feel on your wedding day.
Mary and Chelsea's family and wedding party photos were simultaneously some of the easiest and most difficult ones I've photographed this year. Without being able to overpower the sun with some off-camera lighting, I relied on a reflector to give us as much natural light as possible.
Thankfully, neither they nor their friends and family minded the insanely blinding light I had an assistant throwing in their face and we were able to breeze through these photos fairly quickly and get them to their ceremony right on time.
And, in keeping with the theme of the day, Mary and Chelsea's ceremony was super casual and laid back as well.
The pair set up a small arch in the main ballroom of their venue and had a short, five-minute ceremony that was easy, unassuming and full of love.
With their wedding ceremony in the books, Mary and Chelsea wanted to spend the majority of the rest of their wedding hanging out with friends and family members. Because of the harsh lighting of their formal photos earlier in the day, though, I asked them prior to the ceremony if they would be willing to go back out with my closer to sunset for some bride and bride formals.
I'm so glad they said yes.
Even without the ability to use any flash or off camera lighting, the conditions for Mary and Chelsea's post-ceremony formal photos was astounding. Seriously. These may have been the best lit photos I took all year and that's all thanks to an amazing sunset and a cool background.
Talk about an unexpected blessing.
I think the wildest part of working with Mary and Chelsea for these photos was the longer we stayed out, the more beautiful it got.
This might have been the best sunset I had in 2023 and it couldn't have happened on a better day. And even though we technically didn't move from the one spot we chose, by the time I finished Mary and Chelsea's formal photo session, it felt like I had literally dozens of new favorite photos of the day. Maybe even the year.
Following our sunset formals, Mary and Chelsea made their way back to their venue for their reception. In all of our talks prior to the wedding, Mary and Chelsea made it clear to me that their reception would be a little different than most in that all they wanted to do was spend time with their loved ones.
In fact, if I remember correctly, I may have had to talk them into the one and only formality of their evening: a first dance.
I'm glad I did and I'm glad they said yes because it was the perfect way to start this super casual and chill night celebrating their love.
Mary and Chelsea's first dance was the one formal portion of their reception and, in the true selfless fashion that defines them so well, even that they didn't want to do alone.
The pair invited their guests to the dance floor and, within seconds, this private little moment for the newlyweds took on an even sweeter and more special tone.
Mary and Chelsea's wedding reception felt more like a backyard cookout than a traditional wedding reception and I know that's exactly the vibe they were hoping for. Whenever I'm at a reception like this, all I hope to see from my couple is clear signs that they're enjoying themselves and I know these two were having a great time.
Thankfully, before my time came to an end, we even managed to see a dance floor start up, something I really wasn't sure would happen.
And what a fun dance floor it was.
My favorite part of the dance floor portion of Mary and Chelsea's reception was seeing the two newlyweds dancing together and having fun/being silly. It was a reminder of just how special this night was for Mary and Chelsea and all the proof I needed to know there was nowhere in the world they would rather be.
As my time with Mary and Chelsea came to an end, the two surprised me with a super generous tip and a case of Red Bull as they remembered from our first conversation how much I love the energy drink.
That just goes to show how selfless Mary and Chelsea are and why I adored them so much ahead of their wedding day. And the wedding day wasn't any different.
While it was definitely a challenge to adapt my style of photography to work around a challenge I hadn't encountered before in being unable to use most of my lighting, I would have done anything to make Mary and Chelsea's wedding day as special as it could be because they deserved it.
So thank you Mary and Chelsea for a wedding I won't soon forget and I wish you both all the happiness and joy possible as you begin this new and exciting chapter of your lives together as Mrs and Mrs.
-Paul J. Spetrini
Check out more of my most recent wedding blogs:
The Vendor List:
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini, Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Mary's Dress: Lonnsegown Ball Gown; Chelsea's Suit: Diamond Formal Wear; Ceremony & Reception Venue: Scituate Harbor Community Center, Scituate, Massachusetts; Caterer: Johnny Macaroni's; Dessert: Sugar Hill Bakery.