Good day! You are cordially invited to Castle Hill Inn in Newport, RI for the wedding pictures of Sara and Jason!
This beautiful wedding stationery suite was designed and made by letterpress experts Gus & Ruby Letterpress. That handsome little devil on the save the dates is Uncle June and yes, he will be making several more appearances on the blog:
Custom ring dish. If you're wondering what "For The Whole Time" means you can check out Sara and Jason's engagement pictures for an explanation:
I'm such a tease...just a hint of the wonder that was Sara's dress from L'Elite. I'm seeing a trend for cap sleeves, short sleeves and straps this year i.e. fewer strapless dresses. I have to say I like it! Brides seem so much more comfortable and relaxed when they're not constantly pulling up/adjusting their gowns...
The inimitable Joanne of Joya Beauty was working her magic for Sara and the girls with make up
Sara took a short break to write out a letter to Jason. When Sara and Jason first contacted me about photographing their Castle Hill Inn wedding they mentioned they were guaranteed criers. I think Sara had only written the word "Dear..." when she started to cry. I was relieved because if the promise of tears had been false I was planning on leaving and spending the day at the beach. Kidding.
Sara's regular hairstylist Michael Leonida was responsible for all sorts of lovely hair styles including Sara's fabulous curls
Jason surprised Sara with the delivery of a large flat box.
Sara reached in to pull out piece after piece of sheet music of songs that were particularly meaningful to them as a couple. A beautiful gift in itself. But Jason is all about the grand gesture. Underneath the sheet music was a note card, and in the note card a picture of the piano that Jason had purchased and had delivered to their home to be there when they got back from their honeymoon. Jason had seen how much Sara loved playing the piano at her grandparent's house and wanted her to have her own.
Whilst Sara composed herself, Audrey started her day over with Jason and the guys as they went for hot shaves. These pictures are all Audrey's :)
Freshly shaven, Jason took some quiet time to write his own letter to Sara. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "But I thought he already sent over his letter with the gift of the piano?" Relax, my lovely blog readers, this will all become clearer later.
There's always time to toast with your friends:
Time for the guest of honor to get ready. Yes, Uncle June would not only be attending the wedding of his parents as a guest but he also agreed to accompany the ring bearer down the aisle in his custom wedding bow tie
With everyone, including Uncle June (also known as Junebug or Juner) ready, it was time to ride the trolleys to Castle Hill Inn:
Arrivals were carefully scheduled so Sara and Jason didn't accidentally bump into one another until it was time for the first look. Speaking of careful scheduling it was an absolute delight to work alongside Lian and her team from Mikado Weddings. I can count the number of wedding planners I would feel confident recommending on less than two hands (and that's after 8 years of photographing weddings) and I'm happy to say that I would 110% recommend Lian. She worked tirelessly in a very calm and organized manner.
Sara got into her wedding dress and I was so happy to capture her "I'm a bride!" expression on looking in the mirror!
I'm a HUGE fan of scheduling a little extra time here and there in your wedding timeline. Somethings will ALWAYS go wrong - in this case a couple of things were accidentally left in the house and Lian made a mad dash back to get them. If we didn't have extra time then it would have been kind of frantic and stressed! Luckily the timeline was padded just enough to give me 5 minutes with Sara once she was dressed.
Ladies - on your wedding day you'll likely be looking and - more importantly - feeling fabulous in your wedding dress with hair and make up done. It's always good to schedule 15 minutes for pictures of you looking amazing!
See? Who wouldn't want a picture of themselves like this?!?
Sara and Jason had spent SO much time and effort planning this amazing celebration with their friends and family - many of whom travelled from all over the world - that they really wanted to maximize their time with their guests at cocktail hour and the reception so they wisely chose to do a first look.
They planned on making traditional vows to each other at the ceremony but also wanted some alone time to make personal vows in the form of letters they'd carefully composed to the other one.
Jason's reaction seeing Sara walk out of the bridal suite, followed by Sara laughing and crying along with lots of hugging and kissing. If you're on the fence about doing a first look - remember you can't do this at the altar just before you get married!
Time for the vows and letters to one another. Although still pictures capture the emotion at any specific moment there's something pretty awesome about moving pictures with audio! I was so happy that Sara and Jason chose one of my very very very favorite wedding film teams - Long Haul Films - as always it was an absolute pleasure to work alongside the LHF crew - in this case Tom, Mia and Chris. I'm also loving how Sara can go from full on tears to joyous laughter in a split second!
Uncle June joined us for a family portrait. He was jealous that Sara and Jason had been doing all the kissing so he snuck in a few licks and kisses of his own:
Sara and Jason's wedding party joined us for some pictures - pretty awesome group of people if I say so myself!
Castle Hill Inn is such a spectacular location to get married - there's even a lighthouse on site! The CHI team kindly provide a "BrideRide" i.e. Tom driving a large golf cart to get you over there in style! Amanda, Jeremy and the whole CHI staff were phenomenal to work with!
We headed back to the garden for some relaxed family pictures. Long time blog readers will know about my love of all grandparents, Sara and Jason are also incredibly close to their grandparents so I love the next two pictures:
And with all of the "formal" pictures done (with hair and make up all perfect - another advantage of doing a first look if you're getting married in the summer and there's a chance you'll get all hot at your outdoor ceremony!), we made our way over to the lawn where Sara and Jason would get married. I think the flowers in the archway deserve their own picture. Another Les Fleurs masterpiece!
Ceremony programs doubled as hand fans to keep guests cool. Sara has family from Syria so some of the programs were thoughtfully printed in Arabic:
More thoughtful touches - arriving guests could enjoy a refreshing beverage while enjoying the ocean views:
I had a talented photographed friend Steph join me and asked her to stay back with Sara and her father while Audrey and I set up for the ceremony and photographed the processionals. I love this image of hers.
One of Sara's nephews was ring bearer and Uncle June handler. There was a little walking in the wrong direction but finally Uncle June saw Jason at the altar and headed in the right direction
Sometimes a couple will tell me that they don't want to see each other before the ceremony because they want "that moment" to happen. I'm totally cool with this (it just means we're usually rushing to cram in pictures afterwards while guests enjoy cocktail hour) but here's what I think. "That moment" doesn't happen because it's the first time you've seen each other in your wedding clothes. It happens when you look at each other down the aisle, surrounded by your family and friends knowing the seriousness of the vows you're about to take. See Jason's reaction below for further proof of my theory :)
As the ceremony got underway - beautifully conducted by Sara & Jason's very close friend Kathleen - Uncle June had had enough:
Sara and Jason incorporated ring warming into their ceremony. Their wedding rings were passed from guest to guest who warmed the rings in their hands while thinking good thoughts for the couple.
Castle Hill Inn - is there a more beautiful wedding venue in Newport, RI? I don't think so. In fact I'll be back there in September 2015 for the wedding of Jen & Chris (who made sure to check on my availability before confirming their venue! - love when that happens!)
The ceremony was a perfect mix of anecdotes from Kathleen, readings and a rollercoaster of emotion:
And when Sara got emotional, Jason was right there:
Right now this picture is in the running for "favorite recessional picture" ever!
Although Sara and Jason wanted to maximize their time with friends and family at cocktail hour they took just a few minutes together with a glass of champagne at Grace Kelly beach. Big thanks to Audrey and Steph for taking the pictures at cocktail hour! Is there anything better than hors d'oeuvres and champagne on the lawn overlooking the ocean?
Guests entered the tent to find calligraphed cards on a bed of moss and the most beautiful flowers by Les Fleurs:
The new Mr & Mrs. Stephany!
Sara's grandfather Tamim donned a beret as a nod to Sara & Jason's love of all things French and the location of the proposal and it wasn't long before he was overcome with emotion. Fabulous toasts from Maid of Honor Jackie & Best Man/Jason's brother Josh followed, "The bigger the boat!!!"
Guests enjoyed the most fabulous dinner by candlelight as the sun set over the ocean.
As so many of Sara & Jason's guests had flown from overseas they decided to forgo a traditional guest book in favor of a map of the world for guests to sign and leave messages on:
Speaking of sunset, Sara and Jason stole outside for just a few minutes to take advantage of the amazing light
As I was taking this silhouette picture I had this niggling feeling that something was missing. Thanks to Audrey for sprinting back to the tent to grab two glasses of champagne :)
Sara and Jason made their way back in for their first dance (the last shot in this series was taken by Steph) Parent dances followed. Sara danced with father Ahmed, and Jason danced with his mother Michelle.
Sara got choked up dancing with her dad who'd made the trip all the way from Syria:
Luckily Jason was there to distract her and cheer her up with his mad moves as the dancefloor was officially declared open:
And open it did! Sweet Tooth & the Sugarbabies (just named #1 wedding band by Improper Bostonian!) were PHENOMENAL!
After energetic dancing it can be nice to take a few minutes to cool off outside (not to mention you get bonus nighttime pictures!)
Dancing continued late into the night...this was a group that certainly knew how to dance! Ah, Sarah and Jason. What to say? Could you maybe get married all over again? I didn't want it to end! I normally take a moment to wish each couple well as they start their married life together but somehow I feel (hope!) that we'll see each other again ;) I can't begin to explain how happy I am for you both (and Uncle June), your wedding was just perfect - so personal, so thoughtful, so emotional! Just like the two of you. Congratulations!!!!