When I'm not knee-deep in the world of photography, my time is spent doing a number of different things as a journalist with the South County Independent newspaper and I can honestly say one of the most rewarding aspects of this part of my life, namely community journalism, is the connections it has afforded me to make.
Take, for example, my latest wedding clients: Meg and William.
Meg and William met while working together at the Warwick Beacon newspaper in Warwick, Rhode Island. He was, and still is, one of RI's top sports reporters. She was, at the time, the news editor of the paper and after making quite a name for herself is now one of the hardest-working press secretaries in the business with Congressman Jim Langevin.
I met William a couple of years ago on the sidelines of a high school sporting event and I knew right away he was a standup guy and an extremely talented writer so when I heard he had proposed to his longtime girlfriend, my first two thoughts were (in this order) "Man, that's great! Congratulations" and "I hope he needs a wedding photographer!"
As I've documented countless times on this website, I love shooting weddings and I especially love shooting weddings for people I know and in the year or so that William, Meg and I planned the photos for their big day, I knew it would be a wedding I would have a lot of fun at and one that would give me ample opportunity to take some great photos.
I was right on both counts.
It's been a little less than a month since William & Meg tied the knot and I'm happy to finally share some of their photos, not only because I thought they came out great but also because they rapidly shot their way up to the top of my favorite couples list. Take a look and you'll see why.
Details: The Wedding of Meg and William Geoghegan
Location: Crystal Lake Golf Club,
100 Bronco Highway, Mapleville, Rhode Island
Date: July 11th, 2014
"First" things first: No peeking!
Whenever I sit down with a bride and groom, one of the first topics that comes up is the scheduling of the day and a big part of that process is determining whether or not a couple will have a private first-look moment or wait until the ceremony to see each other.
Now, there are a number of positives and negatives with both concepts (So much so I may write a separate blog entry about this very topic in the future) but in the end choosing whether or not to do a first-look is something that only the individual couple can decide for themselves.
I won't lie, however. When Meg told me she and William were interested in doing a first look photo, I got a little excited. Not only would it make the formal photo sessions MUCH easier and way less time-consuming, it would make for a beautiful moment in and of itself.
Prior to William and Meg's wedding, I had only shot two first-look photos for my couples and I still felt like I needed more experience with it.
Thankfully, William and Meg were perfect for it.
Giving me complete control of the moment, I took William down a rock-strewn path at Crystal Lake Golf Club (which, by the way, has some gorgeous locations for these shoots) and asked him to stand facing me while Meg made her way down the path to see her groom.
The couple had written sweet notes to each other about their love and their feelings and Meg asked me to take a photo of them reading the notes prior to finally seeing each other. As expected, both teared up while reading the heartfelt notes and it was a truly touching moment.
By the time I repositioned William and Meg for the big reveal, the anticipation was incredible. I could tell both were nervous and looking forward to the moment and the build-up made it that much better and when it was over, I could tell both bride and groom would remember that lead-up for a lifetime and the photos were fantastic because of it.
It's all in the details
One of the nice things about knowing William and Meg prior to their wedding date was that I knew just how creative they were as individuals and knew, without question, there would be plenty of personal touches on display at their wedding.
And they delivered exactly as I expected they would.
From the hand-drawn signs with their initials to the creative graphics board displaying their seating chart, there wasn't a moment of this event that didn't have a personal touch to it and, because of that, the detail shots are much more vibrant and unique than they would be otherwise.
Also, because of their background and the way they met in a newsroom, I found myself with a lot of flexibility in terms of setting up story-telling shots, such as the photo above with rings put on display on the front page of the Providence Journal.
In fact, William and Meg put so much thought and care into the little details of their wedding that they completely forgot about the hand-made Polaroid picture frame they made until minutes before the end of the reception.
And even that made for a great candid moment where Meg couldn't help but laugh at how silly it was to forget something that she probably spent a lot of time thinking about.
Talk about getting caught up in the moment.
In the end, if all of my couples were as creative as William and Meg, well, I'd be blessed indeed.
The fastest ceremony EVER
When William and Meg told me about the plan they had for their big day, one of the things that caught my attention the most was the time we allotted for the actual ceremony itself.
William and Meg wanted the ceremony to be short and sweet so they could get to the part of the day that mattered most: the party.
I just never knew it would be THIS short.
In a paltry 12 total minutes, I watched William walk down the aisle, all the wedding party do the same, Meg have her big moment and an entire ceremony.
In fact, the ceremony went so quickly that no one, not even the bride and groom, were quite ready when it came time for the first kiss.
Luckily, I happened to be in the right place at the right time and managed to grab the exact photo of the first kiss that William and Meg requested. Standing behind them, I know I was likely in EVERY guest's photo of this moment but that was by design. The bride and groom wanted me to take the photo of their big first officially married kiss with their guests behind them and I'm glad they did because with the speed of this ceremony, it might not have been possible otherwise.
Sometimes you're lucky, sometimes you're just good. This was definitely a case of the former but I'll go ahead and pretend it's the latter.
Changing on the fly: Why being flexible matters
As much time as William, Meg and I spent planning out their big day's photos, sometimes you've just got to roll with the punches and at 7 p.m. on this night, we did just that.
And boy am I glad we did.
Standing on the back balcony of the venue photographing William & Meg's band during cocktail hour, I took a brief moment to look at the sunset and, immediately, decided I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't at least TRY to get a nice photo of the bride and groom with a gorgeous sky behind them.
Thankfully, William and Meg were up for the idea. At least at first.
When it actually came time to drag them away from their reception, I could tell they were a little apprehensive about taking even MORE photos together. After all, we had already done two small periods of "formal photos" and each time we took photos of them together. How many more pictures could one couple need, right?
It turns out, at least a few more.
After nicely pulling the newlyweds away from the family and friends they were greeting, I brought William and Meg back down to the dock where the day started with the first-look photos. This time, it was just us, the beautiful water and a phenomenal sunset.
Wanting to reassure them that this would be worth it, I took a couple of quick shots and showed them to Meg. Her eyes lit up immediately and within moments she thanked me profusely, saying "WOW! That is great." and "These are already my favorite photos we've taken all day!"
Seeing the finished result, I have to agree.
Backstreet's back, indeed
By far my favorite part of any "fun" wedding is the reception and, boy, William and Meg sure delivered on that front.
Not only was the reception scored to the tune of a number of classic 90s songs like N'Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" and the Backstreet Boys' "Everybody"-- music, mind you, that I have absolutely no problem admitting that I love--but there were a couple of songs that I have never really liked, namely ZZ-Top's "Sharp-dressed man," that I've never liked but immediately enjoyed in this setting.
Simply put, William and Meg's reception was awesome and, after talking with this couple for well over a year about this night and the party that was sure to steal the show, it was great to see it actually come together and live up to its potential.
By the time the night was over, and all the dancing had stopped, I could tell without a shadow of a doubt that William and Meg had the time of their life and left it all out there on the dance floor.
And, really, is there any better feeling to have as a photographer than that?
I think not.
As I sit back and think about William and Meg's wedding, I think the biggest lesson learned is this: A fun couple really makes everything that much better.
I can honestly say that William and Meg were one of my favorite couples and I think their personalities really come out quite nicely in their wedding photographs.
More importantly, though, I know that shooting their big day was an special to me as it was to them.
I have no doubt that, from now on, whenever William and I run into each other on a high school sports field in the middle of Cranston or Meg and I see each other at a press conference, we'll immediately reflect on this day and how great it all went.
Meg and William's wedding is likely to have a special place in my heart for a long time and I only hope they can say the same.
If the lovely thank-you note I got from them a couple days later is any indication, it sure will.
Note: If you'd like to see the full gallery of my favorite photos from William and Meg's wedding, click here. :)