I was sitting at the dinner table of a reception I was photographing recently with a group of wedding guests, and one of the guys at the table asked me what some of the most memorable things I’ve seen at my weddings are. I paused for a moment to think – I’m clocking in at having photographed over 140 weddings now, so it isn’t easy to answer a question like this quickly. As I paused, he went on to give me an example: at a wedding he had recently been at, they’d had a pierogi bar because the bride’s family was Polish. Following his lead, I tried to come up with some examples of “memorable things” I’d seen at weddings that had to do with treats or favors or creative ways to tie in something the bride and groom enjoy together, and I came up entirely empty. Instead, I told him I most strongly remember the emotions and connections I see throughout my wedding days, and the ones when people let themselves feel those things and just be with their people. It wasn’t the most “fun” answer, but it was the truth.
I thought about this as I put together this sneak peek from Sam and Matt’s wedding, and the next thing I knew I was alone in my apartment, tearing up and nodding my head at my computer screen. I remembered the way I started my day with soaked shoes because I swung by the venue prior to the getting ready process, and the puddles that had accumulated from the rain quickly had them sopping wet. I arrived at the hotel to some quiet nerves, and dance moves with champagne being poured, and some “will we or won’t we’s” in terms of having their planned outdoor ceremony and whether or not the weather would clear up that afternoon. I remember Sam getting choked up as she told me how Matt had sent a blanket and sleep mask to her room the night before to help her get a good night of sleep, and then when her parents’ teared up upon seeing her as well as the personalized cards she gave them, and then how the skies started to brighten as Sam was getting into her dress.
I remember how Sam and Matt had this way of finding each other throughout the day – in a group of friends or a crowd of wedding guests or in the middle of a full dance floor, they had this magical way in which they slid apart to talk to others and then seamlessly came back together again, based more so in intuition rather than the act of seeking. And there’s this subtle part of “knowing” in relationships that looks different on every couple, and I saw it in the way they’d be between moments of mingling with their loved ones during cocktail hour – his hand would find the small of her back, and her fingers would find his palm – and there’s no way to say this that isn’t incredibly cheesy, but in a way, I felt as though I was witnessing a sort of non-verbal language that belonged solely to them.
I will always remember their reception, because it was a full dance floor of Sam’s girls belting out Beyonce, and family and friends meshing together and singing and eating donuts and cheersing to two of their favorite people. I was talking to Sam and Matt as I was getting ready to wrap up that night, and “Love Shack” came on and Sam dramatically paused and said, “I’m sorry, but I need to go dance with my Dad to this song”, and I looked to my left and her Dad was already coming toward us to take her out to the dance floor.
The last photos I took of Sam and Matt that night were of them eating hot dogs – and when I imagine what I’ll recall about their wedding five or ten years from now, it’s not the fact that they had a hot dog stand at their wedding, but rather them taking giant bites of those Chicago dogs alongside each other, grinning and nodding at one another with their mouths full about how tasty they were, right in the middle of their wedding reception.
Venue: Blumen Gardens
Dress: Volle’s Bridal & Boutique
Videography: Avant-Garde Videography
Florals: Artistic Gardens, Patty Meller
Makeup: Kali Rose Beauty
Hair: Bob Castre
Catering + Bar: Angeli’s
Centerpieces: Essentials Events, Victoria
String Trio: Fretless Music
DJ: Elevated Event Design, Armond Cozzi