Who: Meghann & Brad
What: A colorful garden gathering for 80 or so on the serene shores Lake Opechee
Where: Outdoor garden ceremony at the bride's family's home on Lake Opechee in Laconia and indoor reception across the water at the Lake Opechee Inn in Lakeport
When: Saturday, July 18, 2009*
How: Flowers at the ceremony site from the bride's father's private garden and the bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres from Lakes Region Floral Studio in Laconia; hair at The Color Amber Salon in Laconia; officiating by Quinn McDonald, aunt of the bride; bride's dress from David's Bridal; matron of honor's dress from Special Moments in Laconia; and cocktail party niblings by Edible Arrangements.
Why: When Meghann groggily got off the plane in Nairobi, Kenya to begin her Peace Corps service, she wasn't entirely aware of what to expect from the assignment that awaited her. What she did knew was that she was more than 7,000 miles from her home in inland New Hampshire, about to embark on mission that she'd heard most describe as life-changing. How right they were.
Brad picked her up at the airport. Literally.
A native Chicagoan, he'd been serving since 2002 in the rural portion of this African country as a small enterprise development volunteer for the Peace Corps, helping natives begin their businesses and grow them through loan programs. Just months before Meghann arrived, he'd been chosen as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader for the western part of the country, charged with coordinating communication, collaboration and training for the dozens of volunteers working in the region at any given time for what is perhaps the US government's most well-known and celebrated volunteer program. Also in his job description: airport duty.
Both admit to feeling a connection from the moment Meghann deplaned. And it wasn't just jet lag. Three months later while both living and working in the western Kenya town of Homa Bay, they started dating, and while their sacrifices for service have often since separated them geographically, their hearts never strayed. And so on a sunny Saturday in July, the two were married in the backyard of Meghann's childhood home overlooking the lake in Laconia, New Hampshire. And just as she'd dreamed about since she was a little girl, her dad's well-kept wildflowers surrounded her on her wedding day. As lovers of nature and the outdoors, Meghann and Brad couldn't been more thrilled with the day's selected setting, seeing it as "sacred space."
A celebration of their shared values of service, selflessness and compassion for everyone they meet and also of their friends and family who had flown in from around the country (and some beyond), the wedding day also served as a going-away gathering, as following their honeymoon in St. Lucia, the couple was leaving their lives in New Hampshire where Brad had just finished business school to drive cross-country to begin their new life together in San Francisco, where he'd recently took a job with the Aquaya Institute, which brings safe water innovations to those in need the low-income countries. Meghann no surprise will be working as a social worker in their new city. That juxtaposition of at once joy and sadness made the day especially poignant, and there was never a moment not melodious with notes of laughter and cheer.
Knowing how important her father's gardens were to her, I sought to establish a sense of this place with some shots around the property.
And you can't beat the view of the backyard ceremony site and Lake Opechee from the sunroom.
As Meghann and Brad's love story shows, they truly put others first, so it should come as no surprise that in the final hours before she was to be married, Meghann made time to do her sister's makeup and her mother's too!
With a final look in the mirror as her mother secures her veil, Meghann beat the heat (and was it ever!) with a cool glass of water. Brides-to-be, note the straw. Always good to have on hand to prevent any last minute lipstick loss.
A most radiant bride.
Meghann opted to have both parents walk her down the aisle. I am seeing more and more brides do this, and I love it, especially in this situation where I know the value Meghann's parent's marriage has had in shaping her own perception of a strong partnership.
Instead of waiting until the reception to ring in their marriage with tender toasts, the best man - a fellow Peace Corp volunteer- spoke from the deck directly following the ceremony. I loved the look of this!
Both the bouquets and the boutonnieres also featured flowers from the gardens surrounding the service. How meaningful to hold such a hallmark of home in your hand on this most important day.
A kiss while lingering on the lawn after the guests had been gathered up in the trolley to be taken around the lake from Laconia to Lakeport for the reception.
I loved the lines this fence brought into framing within these next few images, and even more so, the symbolism of the white picket fence and what that means about marriage, home and family. You can see the playfulness between these two partners.
A little sunset love, lakeside.
I've been having fun photographing the dance floor with my fisheye lens lately. To me, it really helps to capture the craziness in context.
The last dance.
Well, not quite. The DJ cued up a final fun dance and Meghann and Brad enjoyed the end of their day with family in hand.
Congratulations, Meghann and Brad on such a thoughtful wedding day. And best wishes in your new city. How cool is it to see the Golden Gate Bridge out of your apartment window! I'll be coming for a visit soon. And don't forget to view their slideshow here.
*You may be wondering why this post is so delayed. Partly, it because I've been out straight and my blog has taken a backseat. But more so is that I always hope my couples have access to their images before I publicly blog the day's story. As I mentioned above, immediately following Meghann and Brad's St. Lucia honeymoon, they returned to New Hampshire, retrieved their car and immediately set out on a cross-country road tripping adventure that took them through the Badlands, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone on route to their new home in San Francisco. (Yes, I am insanely jealous!) So while their image gallery and slideshow have been online since just two weeks after their wedding, I had to wait a bit longer than I am used to for them to review them and be in touch.
Luckily, they loved them, as I suspected they should. Here is what they wrote to me: "These pictures are amazing! Brad and I made it safely out to San Francisco... needless to say, it took some time to get connected online and we both found loads of e-mails. Yours was one of the ones we were THRILLED to open. Thank you for the "welcome home" gift of these fabulous images- we are so pleased! We were also so impressed with the slideshow. Good work on that, Sam. Very well done. It gave us chills to relive those hours; what a beautiful day we had!"
They met their first month of college, and haven't stopped falling in love since. And when you witness them looking at each other with this incredibly intense intimacy, you get the sense that they never will.
On Saturday, Erica and Danny were wed at Church Landing in Meredith, New Hampshire beneath a sun that despite its smoldering, was no match for the warmth that they and their friends and family brought to marking their marriage.
This is just one of the many images from this day that beautifully and authentically captures their connection so make sure to check back here on the Samantha Warren Weddings blog next week to see more.
And, make sure to preregister here at Pictage so you can be notified when Erica and Danny's image gallery is released next week (event key is the groom's last name).
Back in my newspaper days, me and every other poorly-paid female Maine journo who scoured the racks at Reny's while truly coveting couture envied Kristen Andresen. She had - without a doubt - the best journalism job in the state. As the Bangor Daily News' ShopGirl, Kristen made central Maine seem like Manhattan, with her ideas and inspiration on where (and how) to find the latest styles for a steal. And she got paid for it to boot.
So I (and her legion of loyal readers) was stunned when ShopGirl turned on the heels of her fashionable flats (likely purchased at TJ Maxx for 60 percent off, thank you very much) and took a job at the University of Maine (her alma mater and mine too) in the public relations department, leaving only these words as parting wisdom: "If it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it. Always shop around. And even though things may be tight right now, don’t stop shopping — even if you’re only window shopping. You deserve a treat."
But instead of fading away like a bad black blouse in the wash, ShopGirl grew up and graduated to opening up a shop of her own that thousands now know as the www.MaineMaven.com. The blog (seems disrespectful to call it that as it is so much more) is like a good girlfriend, whispering secrets in your digital ear (aka Google Reader) about the sweetest spots, styles and steals in a state that has never seemed so hip and happening than through her eyes. If you don't follow the Maven on her blog or on Twitter, you really must.
The Maven's sister just happens to be getting married this weekend, and in celebration, the Maven has turned her attention all this week to weddings. And imagine my shock when in yesterday's entry entitled "Picture Perfect", the Maven listed me as one of her four favorite Maine wedding photographers.
I have arrived.
Here is what the Maven said about me: "Samantha DePoy Warren of Samantha Warren Weddings is an up-and-coming photographer with a photojournalistic style all her own. Lovely."
A mere 21 words, but a high compliment, especially when my name was included among the likes of Michele Stapleton, Felice Boucher and Mark McCall, three Maine wedding photography institutions. Thank you, Miss Maven, I didn't think I could adore you more, but again, you've exceeded my expectations. You really do know everything.
With all the challenges Mandi and Rob have conquered together over the past four years, they deserved this day. And what a day it was!
Fabulous venue? Check (the Retreat at French's Point)!
Blue skies? Check (and 80 degree sunkissed skies with breezes off the bay to boot)!
A wedding party that was as supportive as they were spirited? Check (seriously, wait until you see the dance floor action)!
I had placed Mandi and Rob and had turned my attention around to prepare family members for the formals that were about to follow and when I turned back, I caught Mandi and Rob waiting in this embrace. It became one of my favorite images of the day. I'll share others with you here next week, so check back.
In the meantime, make sure to preregister here at Pictage so you can be notified when Mandi and Rob's image gallery is released next week (event key is the groom's last name).
Who: Amy & Mark
What: A sunkissed woodsy wedding for 80 or so deep in the mountains of New Hampshire
Where: Ceremony and tented celebration at a private residence in Thornton, New Hampshire.
When: Saturday, July 11, 2009
How: Rehearsal dinner, guest lodging and bridal preparations at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, New Hampshire; Sottero and Midgley gown from Modern Bride Shop in Bedford, New Hampshire; music from North Conway DJ Andre Van Coesant; linens and other reception related rentals from Harte Rentals; and yummy, three-weeks-later-and-I'm-still-talking-about-it catering featuring local and organic food from personal chef Sarah Hipple (Welcome Home Chef).
Why: "You know that's my younger brother, right?"
That was the reaction Amy received when she revealed to the host of the pool party she was attending -a close friend and fellow graduate student in the civil and environmental engineering department at UMass Lowell - that she'd hit it off with his brother, Mark.
She didn't. And really, she didn't care.
Mark, rugged and real, was someone she could just as comfortably talk shop with (he's an environmental engineer) as she could hurl herself out of a plane with (they both love to skydive). And thus, the awesome adventure that has been their life together for the past six years began. Their hearts and their pulses haven't stopped pounding since, as together, they've skied and been silly; luged (not a real word according to spellcheck as perhaps there really isn't a past tense of luge because so few people live to tell about it) and laughed; hiked and hugged.
As a friend so aptly put it, Amy finally found someone to keep up with her! And on a Saturday in July, their closest family and friends caught up with them too, for an outdoor celebration that was as much about the place that brought them together as the people, with the hazy White Mountains and the bleached birches as much a part of the couple's wedding wardrobe as Amy's gown and Mark's pressed linen suit.
I was thrilled about this wedding from the moment Amy, who was referred to me by a guest at Lani and Steve's wedding last August (thanks Vivien!), emailed me and included a snapshot of the site, a breathtaking private residence owned by a family friend. And when Amy came to town in May for business and Kyle and I took her out to dinner on the deck at Flatbread, my excitement only grew as I learned about all the ways Amy and Mark were making their wedding day reflective of the things they loved every other day of their lives. Perhaps nothing describes this couple and how grounded and grateful they are than what Amy told me a week or so before the wedding: "If it rains, we hope there will be a rainbow to capture."
With friends and family coming from all over the Northeast to rural New Hampshire, Amy worked her Blackberry all morning to assure everyone was where they needed to be.
Knowing how sporty Amy was and that she'd rather carry an hatchet than a handbag, I couldn't wait to see what she'd selected as a dress. Strapless and simple with just the slightest touch of sparkle, it was a perfect pick (and would go quite well with hiking boots).
I found Amy's bridal flip-flops sitting on the coffeetable next to her notes outlining the order the wedding party would walk onto the knoll for the ceremony.
Mark's cousin Kathryn was the maid of honor and is a bride-to-be herself. Here she helps Amy get into her dress, and I love the juxtaposition of the intricate white wedding dress with all of Amy's free flowing colorful sundresses hanging behind her in the closet.
Amy's mom walked her down the forested path, around the tall trees and into the ceremony, which was held on a birch-framed bluff overlooking the majestic White Mountains.
While it can sometimes make shooting a challenge, I love the feeling of intimacy created when guests stand for the ceremony (though it's always nice to provide a few chairs up front for those who need them, as Amy and Mark did).
Mark's brother Steve and his girlfriend Erin performed a song for the couple that was the highlight of the ceremony. I love Amy's awe in this image and Mark's expression too.
And then this little look she gives back at Mark, who looks about ready to burst with joy and contentedness.
Mark's brother (the one who had the pool party) goes through the receiving line.
He was soon followed by Amy's mother, who just had to check out her son-in-law's new bling.
I adore the energy and warmth of this informal formal of Amy and her dear friend Sarah, who catered the wedding and herself was married in the same spot several years ago (it's her parent's place).
Though she grew up in suburban New Jersey, it's clear Amy is most at home in nature in New Hampshire, where Mark was born and raised by a family that is as warm as they are fun. In my imagery of the couple, I sought to position them within this place they are so passionate about.
I shared this when I posted their preview earlier in the month but it moves me too much to not include again here.
Seems I've been bitten by the bench bug as of late. Some of my favorite shots from the season have been based on benches, as I've found that getting off their feet allows couples to more naturally settle into each other, resulting in incredibly intimate images.
Ferns were included in many of the day's details, from decorating the programs to bringing a nice burst of color to Mark's lapel.
It's no surprise that a couple who so appreciates the outdoors is so committed to conserving and celebrating it. Because of this, Amy and Mark planned an eco-friendly wedding, using many reusable products and local grown vegetarian food and spirits that would give their guests a true taste of New Hampshire. Amy was worried her guests would grumble over the absence of the typical wedding food like chicken and beef, but she had no reason to be. Both the DJ and I agreed we'd never tasted better wedding food, including lettuce picked that very morning, and artisan cheeses from around the region. Even the mint in the mojito's was grown in a garden on site. Yum.
In keeping with the natural theme, even the cake was made to look like a birch tree, with Amy and Mark's initials carved in. Love this!
Guests were gifted with bookmarks made of handmade paper and the slenderest of seed pockets that when planted, would result in blooming wildflowers.
And some dancing with the best man.
And, with the groom to finish the night.
Amy and Mark, the day couldn't have better suited you and you couldn't have better suited that beautiful day! Glad to hear Italy was such a delight, and to see you soon on the slopes.
And be sure to watch their slideshow here. As promised, Jack the donkey makes an appearance, though he was quite bashful by the time my camera got to him with all the attention he'd received throughout the wedding day.