Scott & Toni
If there's one part of the wedding photography process that I find the most rewarding, it's sitting with a couple to figure out what their vision for their wedding day is and helping them put that vision together in the best way possible.
Sometimes it's simple: I show up, see the world around me and photograph whatever catches my eye. Other times, I find brides and grooms who have a specific list of ideas they want to create on their big day and I do my best to capture each one ... while also making them unique to the couple in question.
For Toni and Scott's August wedding at Crystal Lake Golf Club, the day was a little of column A and a little of column B.
Perhaps more so than most brides, Toni had a TON of Pinterest-inspired ideas she wanted us to work through on her big day and it was a lot of fun helping to create them as they were both silly and a good representation of the couple themselves.
But the moments that stood out to me the most? Those were things you couldn't plan. Those were things like a nervous groom feeling anxious as his ceremony inched closer and closer, a happy bride smiling during her first dance or rowdy wedding guests tearing up the dance floor.
And that's the best part about the nature of wedding photography. Because even if you plan every minute, life has a way of still surprising you and creating moments you never thought of ... and moments you'll never forget.
My coverage of Toni and Scott's wedding day began with a super relaxed and casual bridal prep session in Smithfield.
While many of my brides are fairly stress free on their wedding day -- perhaps I'm a calming influence? -- Toni took it up a notch and spent most of time getting ready by exchanging fun (and totally not PG) stories with her bridesmaids that I couldn't help but chuckle at.
It was really fun watching Toni interact with those closest to her and see the way she remained calm even as we got closer and closer to leaving for Crystal Lake. My favorite moment, though, came as her mother got emotional seeing her prepare to walk down the aisle.
It was a nice reminder that even though we were all having fun, today was a special day they'd remember for the rest of their lives.
Once we arrived to Crystal Lake, Toni's photo ideas took full hold of the day and, boy, am I glad they did.
While I love when brides gives me inspiration for photos they like, what I like even more is taking an idea and tweaking it to make it my own, like we did with the "drunk" groomsmen photo below.
Anytime you're creating silly photos, there's a risk of being too cheesy but I felt like Toni's shots all came across as fun because of how genuine she and her closest friends really are.
But I'll be honest. What I was really looking forward to was the moment where things got super serious and that happened the instant we headed over to their ceremony as I finally had some time to spend with the groom, who was clearly feeling the butterflies of the moment.
It's not often I get a groom as nervous before a ceremony as Scott was and I could tell from his face that he was going to lose it when he saw how beautiful his bride looked. Not that I can blame him, of course. Toni looked absolutely stunning and rocked the biggest smile I've seen on her as she and her father walked down the aisle.
If he didn't lose control of his emotions, I'd have thought he was crazy. Talk about a fantastic way to begin a beautiful ceremony.
I loved all the personal touches Toni and Scott put into their ceremony especially as Scott's brother, who served as their officiant, recounted the first time Toni met his family and the beautiful poignant vows the bride and groom wrote for each other.
By the time their ceremony was over, any and all anxiety on the groom's face vanished and I could tell we were in for a beautiful night of fun moments with one of the silliest wedding parties I've ever seen.
I really enjoyed shooting Scott and Toni's formal photos. Not only did the weather finally turn beautiful, after rotating between oppressive August heat and cloudy summer day all afternoon, but because the hardest part of the day was over both the bride and groom were carefree and in a fantastic mood. It was the perfect lead in for my favorite part of the night: their reception.
Toni and Scott's wedding reception was, in a word, awesome.
Not only did we have a couple of beautiful dances between the bride and groom themselves and with their parents but we also had a rowdy dance floor that started quiet but got really fun, really fast.
What I loved the most, though, was that I was able to pull the bride and groom back outside long enough for some nice sunset shots on one of my favorite parts of any venue: The Crystal Lake Golf Club dock. It was sooooo worth heading back out into the heat.
As much fun as all the signature events of Toni and Scott's reception were, though, I think the true tone of the entire event was best described once the dance floor opened. It was then that I saw Toni and Scott in their true element and, surrounded by their friends, I don't think they had more fun than they did once the party really started rocking.
Between the always-packed photo booth and the rocking dance floor, there was a lot to see (and shoot) during this reception.
I especially loved watching how much fun the bride and groom were having. Whether they were going table to table to thank their guests for arriving or getting down on the dance floor themselves, there wasn't a moment where Toni or Scott seemed anything but 100 percent genuinely pumped to be where they were.
To me, that's exactly what a wedding reception should be.
By the end of the night, I could tell Toni and Scott's wedding, and in particular their reception, was everything they both could have wanted and much, much more.
I've seen a lot of couples this year and witnessed a LOT of awesome parties but Toni and Scott's reception was something special to watch.
Maybe it was the fantastic DJ who knew when and how to crank up the dance floor. Maybe it was the incredible venue with the terrific uplighting. Or maybe it was the nature of the crowd itself.
Whatever the reason, Toni and Scott's reception was the perfect event for a bride and groom as creative as these two.
I had a blast photographing Toni and Scott's wedding day and I know they enjoyed living the moment as much as I enjoyed documenting it.
And anytime I need proof of that, I'll turn back to these photos and see the never-ending smiles on both of their faces.
Just as I'm sure they will.
Talk about picture perfect.
The Vendor List
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini Paul J. Spetrini Photography; Hair: Malissa Dolan-Brown of Dellaria Salon; Make-up: Valerie Raposo of The Beauty Lounge at Magnolia; Toni's Dress: Couture Bridal Co.; Toni's Shoes: Badgley Mischka; Scott's Suit: Franklin Rogers; Ceremony/Reception Location: Crystal Lake Golf Club; Officiant: Anthony Civito; DJ: Fernando Rodriguez of Deluxe Entertainment; Photobooth/Uplighting: Deluxe Entertainment; Cake: Brittni Rea of A Piece of Cake.
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