Who: Lani and Steve
What: A "less is more" (in the words of the bride) simple and sophisticated seaside celebration for 100.
Where: Ceremony and celebration at the York Harbor Inn.
When: Friday, August 8, 2008 (yes, 08.08.08)
How: Pre-wedding pampering (hair, makeup and good discussions) at the Freedom Salon and Day Spa right on Route 1 in York, flowers from Polly Stanwood and Kathrine Hutchins who make up Autumn Ridge Designs (they don't have a website but email me if you'd like their number), breathcatching Pronvia's bridal gown from Portsmouth's popular Madeleine's Daughter, couture cupcakes from Cakes by Maryann, DJing by Clark Sillery and videography by the delightful Meg Simone.
Why: Lani and Steve... where to even begin? First the back story. Lani and Steve came to me thanks to a referral from one of my alltime favorite couples, Ashley and Greg, whose wedding I photographed just shy of one year ago in Falmouth. (BTW- Ashley and Greg, thank you, thank you, thank you. Drinks at the Front Room on me for sure and soon for making this excellent connection.) I (Kyle actually came too!) met them in March at Lani's parents' delightful home on the water in York, and was smitten from the start! Sporty, smart, substantive and stunning, they were exactly the kind of couple I wish to work with. They were the first couple to book me for 2009, and I remember at the meeting being so impressed with how much planning Lani had already tackled for a wedding 18 months away. With all the details arranged, all they'd have to do is wait!
Literally two weeks later, Lani contacted me because they'd just found out that Steve's dad had been diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of cancer. Might I have any dates still available in August of 2008, so they could move the wedding up one year in hopes he'd be able to attend? I sent her a list of available dates, and it just so happened that 08.08.08 was one of them. While the date may be known as lucky, I think there was something even greater than luck working to help make Lani and Steve's wedding possible. How else would you explain that their original venue (the lovely York Harbor Inn), and all of their already-booked vendors were all available for the same popular day, just a few months away?
Their luck continued on the wedding day and what a day it was! All week, the doppler was predicting the worst and when I was actually woken up Friday morning by rain driving into the windows, my heart sank. Weather watcher Kyle told me we'd gotten five inches of rain in as many hours, and the news was breaking to report that roads were closed due to flooding throughout the two counties I would be traveling through to get to Lani's side. Just an hour or so before the ceremony, the sky cleared and turned a beautiful blue and that held until about 20 minutes after we walked into the reception. It truly was if, well, you can make up your own mind, but the day reaffirmed my belief that in the end, good things do happen to good people. And Lani and Steve are the best of people, and everything about their wedding day supported that. And of course, with Steve being a Canadian and their wedding day concurring with the opening day of the Olympics, there were countless jokes about the joining together of two world powers with rings and bets were made on whether Lani and Steve's children would be insanely talented at hockey (Steve played for Colgate University), at basketball (Lani is one of the University of Vermont's leading scorers of all time), really short (Lani and Steve are both over six-feet tall) or super nerdy (both are brilliant), with a hybrid of all but the short one winning out!
While Steve's dad was unfortunately not ultimately able to attend the wedding in body as he needed to stay in Toronto for treatment, he was certainly there in spirit, and via a moving video toast too. As a result, both myself and videographer Meg Simone knew the magnitude our documentation of the day would have on Lani and Steve and their families, though I don't think we realized how much the day's experiences would impact us. Lani and Steve have already emailed to thank me for my help, but it is they who are owed thanks.
Lani getting her hair done. Though there was some discussion as to whether she should just stop and go with this look, it was eventually agreed to allow the stylist to continue.
I love Lani's face here, as she tackles the dilemma of the day: how high her poof should be?
Lani and her mother made her veil the day before the wedding.
Lani's mother is as radiant as her daughter. I marvel at their friendship.
This was what greeted me when I walked into the bride's room and immediately started laughing. How funny- all those bridesmaids dresses crammed into this tiny dark closet, still in their plastic bags while the bride's dress is so lovingly hung.
Tucked betwen the layers of her wedding dress was Lani's something old - a piece of lace from her mother's wedding gown, that came with a moving note wishing Lani all the happiness it had brought her. (I love how Lani's mom's hand sneaks into the frame as she helps get the dress just so.)
I love when all the day's events take place in the same location. That was the case here, and what I especially like about the York Harbor Inn is that from the inn's rooms, you can look across the street to the ceremony site and watch the guests arrive (and the clouds clear), as Lani delightfully does here.
To me, this was one of the day's most memorable moments. As I mentioned, it was a wet day, and even though the skies were clear in the final hours before the wedding, some quick sunshowers left Lani unconvinced the weather would actually hold. About five minutes before we headed over to the ceremony site, Lani and I were outside getting some quick portraits when she looked across the parking lot and just began grinning as she saw the guests making their way to the park. It was at that moment, she said, that she believed for the first time all week that the ceremony would actually occur outside as she'd always dreamed!
And then she heard the bagpiper start up and her excitement grew.
Lani and her dad (who is an amazing photographer himself) heading down the aisle. The two are exceptionally close and it is fun to watch them together.
The light atop the cliff where the ceremony was held is always a bit tricky and with that post-storm super bright sunshine, that challenge was heightened as Lani was bathed in brilliant rays, and Steve was completely backlit. But not even the sun could outshine Steve's expression, when he saw Lani for the first time.
Look how much sun is on the girls- they were glowing!
The recessional leads to this little private grove, where Lani and Steve shared this intimate moment.
The ceremony let out within a few minutes of high tide, so I was worried there wouldn't be enough sand for us to stage the shots Lani wanted of the wedding party walking down the beach together. Luckily, there was a sliver just wide enough to fit everyone (see the sea creeping up on the right, and the rocks on the left). It's funny how each person is looking off into a totally different direction. That wasn't intentional, but in a way, it conveys each individuals' personality.
And another view- walking away. Notice the only swimmer on the beach is wearing a bathing suit the exact same shade as the bridesmaids' dresses.
The bride and groom... As different as Lani and Steve are from each other, their shared values make them a most connective couple.
Lani planned some pretty fun reception details, like these sandboxes that contained sand dollars with the names and table numbers for each guest.
And these boxes of local saltwater taffy, that also let guests know a donation had been made on their behalf to the Canadian hospital where Steve's dad is having his treatment.
And, oh, the cupcakes. I was drooling as I photographed them because they smelled so sweet. I had one on the way home, and they certainly didn't disappoint (though I wish I had thought to take more than one). Those edible pearls were too good to be true- like a more upscale version of Peeps.
Lani also surprised Steve with this custom groom's cake featuring a bride dragging a hockey playing groom out of Canada. He loved it!
This pretty much sums it up.
The first dance.
While Lani is outgoing, Steve is a bit more stoic and serious. So I (and Lani!) was especially surprised when he was so wild on the dancefloor.
Lani and Steve, wow! I am still left in awe as to how you pulled off such a fantastic celebration with such grace and style. Add party planning to your growing list of accomplishments. You two are unstoppable!