Will & Jessica
I'm a fairly laid back photographer. I make it my mission to find couples who are looking for someone who is not going to stress them out on their wedding day and couples who are planning fairly relaxed celebrations of their love.
And while I have been successful at this, for the most part, I think when all is said and done there's a good chance that Will and Jess might be the most relaxed couple I've ever worked with.
Why? Well, turns out it's easy not to be stressed on the day of your wedding reception when you've already been married for a month.
Having tied the knot in a private ceremony in Hawaii a few weeks earlier, Will and Jess' May reception at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center was more of a party and thank you celebration for friends and family than it was a traditional wedding reception and this made the night one of the happiest and most carefree I've ever seen.
In other words, it was my kind of party.
My coverage of Will and Jess' special night took place on one of the warmest Friday evenings of the year and the temperature, coupled with the crazy greenhouse effect of the Botanical Center made for quite an interesting atmosphere for guests coming to the party right from work but warm weather or not, it was pretty clear early on this crowd was here to dance.
As for the bride and groom? Well, with their wedding day behind them, there was no pressure for formal photos and no butterflies (With the exception of Will not looking forward to the official first dance.) In fact, the whole affair was so chill I almost didn't know what to do with myself during their cocktail hour. Normally a time where I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off, it was a tad strange to be able to sit back and take in the atmosphere as guests began to arrive and drink to the future of the new couple.
Thankfully, Will and Jess indulged my one creative request: A few formal photos in front of the Botanical Center. It truly is a special place for a wedding and one of the most iconic locations at one of Rhode Island's most amazing public parks.
Will and Jess' vision for their wedding reception was simple.
Having gotten officially married in Hawaii a few weeks earlier, this reception was a chance for them to celebrate with friends and family that couldn't make the trip and given that both are heavily involved in the country line dance scene, and many of their friends are, I knew it would be an active night on the dance floor.
What I didn't know was how relaxed the bride and groom would be with the "traditional" reception events. There were no parent dances, no toasts, no cake cutting, no bouquet toss or garter toss. It was just a first dance, dinner and a LOT of dancing.
But, boy, what a beautiful first dance it was. Set to "From the Ground Up" by Dan + Shay, Will and Jess took to the floor and, for a minute, it was easy to get lost in the song as they got lost in each other. This was easily my favorite part of the night.
Will and Jess may not have pulled out all the bells and whistles of a traditional wedding reception but this way was so much better and so much more them.
I could tell they were both having a blast, especially when the groom went outside for a celebratory cigar with all of his male friends.
After a GREAT dinner that featured one of the coolest menus I've ever seen (including cheeseburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, mozzarella sticks and more), the lights went down and the party started up.
Although slow at first, once the music started picking up, the dance floor got packed and it looked like your average country music night at Mardi Gras as Will and Jess invited all of their friends to dance with them in numbers they've clearly encountered many times before.
I loved watching Will and Jess circle the dance floor on and off again all night.
The mood in the room was one of laughter and love but as fun as the dancing was, what made the night truly stand out were the venue itself (The Botanical Center is a hidden gem that makes for a truly unique reception hall full of beautiful plants and plenty of room to dance and/or hang out with friends) as well as the fantastic uplighting provided by Will and Jess' DJ Mike Brouillette of Mikey B Entertainment.
Seriously. That's not a plug. I never met Mike before this night and his uplighting transformed the Botanical Center into a stunning and vibrant nightclub type environment perfect for a night of partying.
One of my other favorite aspects of Will and Jess' wedding reception was watching the guests interact with each other and the music and mood lighting enhanced that aspect a ton.
I've been around this group of friends a lot as my wife is close with many of them and I previously shot one of their weddings (Hello John and Heather!) and it's a good time.
On this night, that was no exception. I don't think I saw a single person that wasn't having a great night and, to me, that's exactly what a wedding reception is supposed to be.
By the time the dance floor started to empty, it was very clear to me that Will and Jess had accomplished their goal on this evening and had the perfect wedding and wedding reception for who they are as a couple.
Their wedding was small, intimate and private in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Their reception, meanwhile, was much more open and a celebration of their friendship with the people closest to them. Completely devoid of stress, this event was a chance for the new bride and groom to celebrate their marriage with some great food, great music and great laughter.
To me, that sounds like a perfect combination. To Will and Jess, it's the start of a new chapter in life and what a way to kick it off.
A beautiful marriage for two beautiful people who have found a new life and purpose together?
Sounds like the start of happily ever after to me.
The Vendor List
Photographer: Paul J. Spetrini (Paul J. Spetrini Photography); Hair/Makeup: Styled by Victoria and Amanda of Bombshell Hair Salon in Cranston, RI ; Ceremony/Reception Venue: Roger Williams Park Botanical Center; Jess' Dress: Allure Bridals; Will's Suit: Macy's;
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