Stephanie & Henry
The Historic St. Joseph Church (Ceremony), Cumberland, Rhode Island; Lake Pearl Luciano's (Reception), Wrentham, Massachusetts
October 15th, 2016
Without a doubt, my favorite question to ask whenever I meet a new bride and groom is "How did you meet?"
It's an open-ended question that usually leads to a laugh, a fun love story and maybe an embarrassing tale or two but, sometimes, the response to that simple question can lead you down a path you didn't expect.
For Stephanie and Henry, two of the most high-energy, free spirited and perfectly-matched people I have ever met, the answer was one I would have never guessed. Despite their youthful appearance and soon-to-be-newlywed glow, this future bride and groom weren't like your typical couples. No, these two had been together for 20 full years before making it official and walking down the aisle was just the latest in a long line of memories they've made together.
But that doesn't mean it was any less special. No, in fact, the opposite is true. After two decades together, Stephanie and Henry put together a wedding day that was perfect in almost every way.
And, yes, it was worth the wait.
Stephanie and Henry were married on a beautiful October day in New England.
I knew right from the moment I walked into bridal prep that this was going to be day to remember as Stephanie's family welcomed me into her mother's home like I was a lifelong friend despite having just met me for the first time that morning.
Within minutes of my arrival, the girls and I were cracking jokes and laughing like we'd known each other for years and that's just a credit to how warm and welcoming this family is.
Needless to say, we had an absolute blast. Literally and figuratively.
Stephanie could not have been a more beautiful bride and I think everyone in her mother's house knew it.
The emotions running through Stephanie's bridesmaids, mother and grandmother as she put on her dress were hard to hide. It was clear this day meant a lot not only to the bride-to-be but to those whose lives she's touched along the way and that was a theme throughout the whole day as almost everyone in attendance at the ceremony and reception held back tears of joy at seeing Stephanie finally have her big day.
It's easy to forget how important a wedding can be for a couple, what with endless talk about seating charts, menus and playlists, but that moment when the reality of what's about to happen sets in? That's when things get awfully serious, awfully fast and Stephanie seemed to savor every moment leading into her walking down the aisle to marry the love of her life.
She waited a long time for this day and it was going to go exactly as she envisioned.
Stephanie and Henry's wedding ceremony took place at The Historic St. Joseph Church in Cumberland and it was a really unique church full of character and the perfect site for such an intimate gathering of those closest to them.
I especially loved how relaxed Henry was in the moments leading up to the ceremony as he joked around with his best man and the officiant in the back while waiitng for Stephanie to arrive.
And once she did arrive, the ceremony was short, sweet and full of little moments between the two that they'll cherish forever.
After the ceremony, Stephanie and Henry got ready for formal photos and, I'll be honest, I'm incredibly thankful they scheduled their day the way they did as we had all the time in the world for these shots.
Not only did we start with some photos at the church, including a wonderful bubble send-off, but we were able to head to a local state park for family and wedding party photos, take a half-hour drive to the reception venue, shoot more family photos there and STILL had almost an hour for bride and groom shots. That, my friend, is what wedding photographers call living the dream.
Stephanie and Henry's formal photos were some of my favorites that I've taken of a couple this year. We had so many locations to choose from and so much time that I literally ran out of ideas by the time it was all said and finished.
To their credit, the bride and groom never got sick of posing for me and I think they had just as much fun as I did during the session.
It pales in comparison, however, to how much fun their reception would prove to be.
Stephanie and Henry chose a beautiful venue for their wedding reception and thanks to their hiring of an amazing DJ with fantastic uplighting, it was one of the most beautiful wedding receptions I've ever seen.
Everyone in attendance had a blast and the dance floor was packed all night long. Even more important, the bride and groom were clearly having the night of their lives. The smile on their faces was pricless and a clear indication that this was the night they waited for all their lives.
The night was not without its bloopers, however, and in what may go down as the funniest thing I've seen at a wedding this year, good ol' Henry had a moment his family members will rag on him for for years as he confidently strolled up to his new bride during the garter removal and, feeling perhaps a wee bit too confident, ran around the chair and busted his butt in front of everyone in attendance.
The look of uncontrolled laughter on his face and the gut-busting reaction Stephanie had were just the perfect way to sum up why I loved this couple. That would have been a moment that mortified some folks. Stephanie and Henry couldn't have enjoyed it more if they tried.
With the formalities out of the way, Stephanie and Henry hit the dance floor ready to party and, boy, did they ever. From the moment the dance floor opened until 20 minutes after it closed, this bride and groom made sure to soak up every second of their reception.
And the crazy Mardi Gras hour to close the night off was just the icing on the cake.
By the time Stephanie and Henry called it a night, it was clear that this new bride and groom had celebrated a milestone they'd never forget.
This bride and groom may have been together for 20 years before their wedding but that doesn't mean the honeymoon phase of their relationship had passed before they made things official. Far from it.
In fact, that time spent together only enhanced the emotions of the event itself.
Henry and Stephanie looked like they had just found each other for the first time on the biggest day of their lives and all their friends and family members knew it.
If all of my couples looked at each other after 20 years the way Stephanie and Henry do, I'd truly be a lucky photographer.
In the meantime, though, I can take a great sense of pride in knowing I was there to witness this special day for two incredible people.
It's a day they won't soon forget and neither will I.