Destination Wedding, Estes National Park: Joe and Lauren

I rang in the New Year with Joe and Lauren in Colorado outside Estes National Park. It was an incredible experience working with these two. After a few minutes with everyone, you feel like you’re part of the family. The couple was married by Lauren’s brother Patrick, on a frozen lake, surrounded by their immediate family, in 8 degree weather, while it was snowing. Lauren even surprised Joe’s mom with a heart sewn into her dress made of Joe’s grandmother’s necklace. They followed up with a small reception at a local restaurant and a day later we went out for a few sunny and warm portraits! Here are some comments from Lauren about how it all came together.

– What lead you to have a wedding the way you did? Family, friends location etc?

Honestly, whenever I pictured my wedding, I could not see myself in front of a hundred people. Joey doesn’t really love big crowds either, especially when he needs to be affectionate. Joey’s best friend at work, another sergeant, mentioned his brother lives in Colorado and there is a beautiful area up in the mountains – exactly what we were looking for. We looked up the area the next week and pretty much decided that’s where we are going!

A big struggle we had was only inviting immediate family. Ultimately, we decided the smaller the better and next summer we will have a big summer party with both of our families. Also, it would keep our wedding day stress levels at a minimum. Luckily, we both have amazing and supportive friends and family who made this difficult decision easier.

– What were you most excited about before the wedding?

I think what I was most excited for was spending quality time with the family. We did a small, intimate wedding of 15 people, and it was just nice to spend time with everyone. I felt like the biggest complaint I heard from my friends who had already been married is you spend so much time going around greeting guests, you don’t get to enjoy the night as much. Luckily for us, our family was willing to fly out to Colorado, and spend a couple days there, and it meant the world to us.

Did anything surprise you, was anything unexpected?

The government shut down certainly surprised us! As we were planning to get married in a national park, that obviously put a halt in our plans -12 days before we were getting married. While we were in Estes Park, CO we looked at a couple of potential places to get married and the kind staff at Rocky Mountain National Park actually recommended Lily Lake. The day before our wedding, we went up with Joe’s parents and the wind would barely let us out of the car. The snow on the ground was pelting our faces and all I could think is man, we flew all the way out here to get married outside, and this weather is not going to work. The morning of the wedding, the hotel we were staying in told us we could have our private ceremony inside their hotel conference room. An hour before the wedding, Angie asked us where we were having there ceremony, outside or inside, and we still hadn’t decided. At this point I couldn’t make another decision – I just ask Angie “what should I do?” and Angie just said “you came out here to get married outside – get married outside. It’s snowing and your family made it out here, let’s just do it.”  It was exactly what I needed to hear. Joe drove up with his dad to Lily Lake and saw that while the snow was falling there was absolutely no wind. We made the call, we jumped in the limo, drove ten minutes to Lily Lake, and got married on a frozen lake in eight degree weather while snowing. It was breathtaking!

Which images did you love the most?

I absolutely loved all of my wedding pictures. I think the ones that stand out the most are the pictures of the whole family at our private dinner – I actually forgot that my brother and my 5 year old niece had a New Year’s ever horn blowing competition at dinner that was so hilarious, I was crying laughing. The other pictures that stand out to me are the ones where I actually forgot pictures were being taken and I felt in the moment with Joe. There is one of us holding hands walking off the frozen lake back to the limo that I didn’t realize that Angie was up higher and taking pictures of us – and I think that candid moment between the two of us of pure happiness and just in the moment with each other is incredible.

Any advice for couples going through this process or about to go through the process?

My biggest advice has to be don’t expect perfection for the big day. There will be some hiccups and the best thing you can do is be aware that things might not go as planned and just roll with the punches.

Mass Audubon’s Habitat and Wildlife Sanctuary Wedding: Belmont MA, Vedika and Prem

What lead you to have a wedding the way you did? Family, friends, location etc.?

We wanted this day, and every day, to be about living things, about being alive and present to the world around us and to those we love. We chose to keep our wedding intimate and spend the day in a natural outdoor space as a celebration of family and all that we are grateful for. This is such a special time in our life and we wanted to share it with our loved ones without any distractions or extraneous obligations that could take away from the experience we wanted to have together.

We wrote the ceremony together, incorporating different traditions that brought us joy. We made it so that every part of the day would be a celebration! Prem’s father led us in a meditation, setting a tone of loving gratitude and peacefulness. We asked each family member to share a passage, song, poem, or other form of expression that rang true to them as part of a ring warming ritual. We read memories of our journey together as part of our “I do’s,” and recited vows that we wrote together from letters we had exchanged over the years. We asked our moms to recite the “saat phere,” or “seven steps to marriage” ritual in Hindi and English as we took rounds around two beautiful trees in the garden where we meditated together and shared good wishes. Vedika’s brother officiated the ceremony, and we knew endless hugs and dancing would inevitably follow the pronouncement. We ordered lunch from one of our favorite restaurants and our table was pieced together with family heirlooms under a lilac trellis. The day was like a dream, and it has been a dream ever since!

What were you most excited about before the wedding?

We were of course most excited to get married to each other! We love to dance, spend time in the outdoors, eat good food, and enjoy with family, so we’re not sure there was anything about our wedding that we weren’t excited about! We put our hearts into the ceremony and fell in love with the environment at Habitat, but we were probably most excited to have our families together on this joyous day. We had been anticipating Prem’s parents meeting Vedika’s grandmother for quite some time, and when the moment finally came it was absolutely beautiful.

Did anything happened that you weren’t expecting?

After we left Habitat and got home, we were both surprised at how fast the day seemed to have flown by. We are so grateful that we have these beautiful images to look back on. Watching Vedika’s parents dance to Hindi music and Prem’s parents dance to classic rock were moments filled with laughter and let-go that we hadn’t anticipated. We also couldn’t have expected to get married on such a beautiful day, and are so grateful for that wonderful addition!

Which images did you love the most?

We always come back to images of laughter, hugs, and dancing. Angie captured the emotions of these candid moments in a really genuine way that resonates with us and with those we share our photographs with.

Any advice for couples going through this process or about to go through the process?

Don’t forget that this day is yours and is a celebration of the love that you share! One of life’s greatest mysteries is how, in such a vast world, two people come to meet one another and join together in love. If you’re reading this, then this has happened for you, and your wedding day should be built on whatever represents the beauty of your union. Whether it’s inviting 500 people or eight, doing meditation or breaking glass, wearing white or purple, make decisions that bring you joy, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Let your wedding be a continuous exploration and a constant adventure, just as your love is. This day should be as precious to you as the day you first fell in love!

Intimate Cape Cod Wedding: Dana and Danny

What lead you to have a wedding the way you did? Family, friends location etc?

We had always wanted a destination wedding and couldn’t decide on an international or domestic location.  We were also planning for an extended family vacation to the east coast, since the east coast family had been coming out west for the last couple of years and it was our turn to go east.  After discussions within the family we decided to combine the two into one event.  Dana was looking into locations such as Vermont and the Hamptons when her mother suggested Cape Cod.  As neither of us had ever been there we both thought it would be a great location.  Dana then spent countless hours looking for the perfect home that could host our entire extended family and few friends we were going to invite to the wedding.  After at least one false start with a home we loved but had questionable ownership she finally found the home that would become our venue.

What were you most excited about before the wedding?

Not only was our event a wedding, but a fun vacation for ourselves and our guests.  We planned activities and events throughout the week to keep everyone entertained leading up to the wedding and in the days after.  The whole experience was exciting from start to finish.  Not only did our guests rave about it being the best wedding they’d ever been to, but also the best vacation they’d had.

Did anything happen that you weren’t expecting?

Dana was bracing herself for the inevitable twist and turn that seems to accompany every wedding, but it never came.  We had an excellent wedding planner and everything was executed flawlessly.  It all culminated in a magical evening, and friends and family celebrating into the night.

Which images did you love the most?

That’s a hard question to answer, since all of our pictures were magnificent.  Angie captured completely the essence of our entire evening, from the emotional and intimate moments to the fun of the reception and all the candids an craziness in between.   If we had to pick, the intimate one-on-ones on the private beach are definitely some of our favorites.  Angie was the perfect photographer for our wedding, since her style matched our desire to capture images that told the story of our wedding from start to finish.

Any advise for couples going through this process or about to go through the process?

First, hire Jyl Deering, our wedding planner who steamrolled all issues and decisions on the path to a smooth and flawless wedding.  Second, hire Angie and take a sigh of relief knowing you’re in good hands and will have beautiful pictures to commemorate your wedding.  Third, sit back and enjoy your day, and don’t let the little details ruin your experience.  Only you two know how everything was supposed to be planned, and your guests will only be looking to you to know if everything is ok.  If you’re having fun, they’ll be having fun. This is a special and intimate moment that ou two will share, so enjoy it to the fullest.