Sandy Island Camp Wedding Photographer :: Laura + Mike

Hello! Happy Friday! I've lost my voice so I'm glad I can type my words today.

First of all you need to STEP BACK FROM THE COMPUTER...

I went a little nuts on the image count on this blog post - I was shooting for the whole weekend - and just couldn't edit down any further. So stop right now...go get a snack or a drink and let the images load...if you're in a rush then I'm sorry :) this probably isn't the blog for you...

If you missed the first part of this fabulous wedding weekend then check out this post:
Sandy Island Camp NH Wedding Pictures

When you decide to have your wedding on an island in the middle of Lake Winnipesaukee you commit to bringing and doing a lot of STUFF. Laura, Mike and their families spent SO much time and effort on this epic wedding weekend. Laura's aunt sewed flags and cushions, Laura's Mom helped make up 180 beds and that was just the start. Both families worked tirelessly arriving on Sandy Island on Tuesday to sweep the cabins, hang a gazillion twinkly lights, put together welcome bags, deliver welcome bags and much more.  In Laura's words, "Our wedding was truly a labor of love and it was unbelievable to see how it all came together in a way that was better than we even dreamed it could be." A big shout out to Leslie and The Wedding Belle team who executed everything flawlessly - we took the boat over with them on Friday and watched as they worked with Kate Lemoy and the amazing Sandy Island crew (most of who were volunteers!) to hang lanterns, pin up pictures, put signs on everything, run the rehearsal and more!

While guests enjoyed all of the activities available to them at Sandy Island, wedding preparations were well underway. Laura and the girls got ready at the craft center:
I took some time to photograph some of the beautiful wedding details
Laura gave all of her bridesmaids a custom monogram hanger and the most beautiful monogram necklaces
In the unlikely event that Laura forgot who she was marrying she just had to take a peek at her custom Toms or inside her wedding dress from the ALWAYS amazing Flair on Newbury St, Boston, MA. 
The dream team of hair and make up were working their magic. I adore working with Joanne of Joya Beauty and Lena of Hair That Moves as there's always a wonderful calm atmosphere and everyone is ready on time. You might think that maybe isn't that big a deal but I would estimate hair and make up runs late at maybe 60% of weddings - never the case with Joanne and Lena! 
There was also some major steaming action happening to make Laura's veil perfect
Seriously Laura?
Meanwhile the ever awesome Audrey was hanging out with Mike and the guys and these pictures are hers. Did you know there's a Southern tradition of burying bourbon to keep away the rain? The story goes that one month before the wedding, the almost newlyweds should bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down at their ceremony site and the rain will stay away. It's also tradition to dig it up the morning of the wedding and maybe enjoy a nip or two.
The girls and guys all enjoyed a toast (separately!) 
With a last big hug from her Mom it was time for Laura to get dressed. Laura's sister in law Jen helped her with a bracelet that's been in Mike's family for years and that she wore on her own wedding day to Mike's brother Mark. 
Laura and Mike are both really close to their families who couldn't have been more welcoming to me and Audrey over the weekend. Here are Laura's parents seeing her as a bride for the first time:
We took a short walk to a quiet path for Laura & Mike's first look
Laura and Mike wrote very personal vows to one another and chose to say them privately during the first look (with traditional wedding vows during their ceremony) -  it got a little emotional:

After we'd all wiped our eyes we had time to explore Sandy Island for couples pictures. Sometimes couples will ask me "How much time do you want for pictures?" and the honest answer is that they're your pictures so it really depends on how much time you want! If we have 5 minutes you'll get a couple of beautiful pictures but we won't have time for much more than the standard "look at the camera and smile" and maybe one or two relaxed shots. If we have 30-60 minutes with just the two of you then you'll get many more and we can incorporate different locations too. 

It's also great to have the time to take some pictures of each of you alone, I could have photographed Laura all day...
...and Mike was also looking pretty sharp in his three-piece suit
We headed out to meet the wedding party:
Loved Laura's bridesmaids - they were so sweet, supportive and funny
The groomsmen were also a great bunch of guys, here are their custom socks
I could quite happily photograph every wedding going forward on Sandy Island :) 
We then met up with Laura and Mike's families for some relaxed yet mantel-worthy formals 
Dads and bouquets:
It was almost time to head over to the chapel but we snuck in a couple more pictures:
As I downloaded the pictures I saw the one on the left and immediately went online to order P90X - thanks a lot Laura ;) I believe Flair is holding a space on their wall for this image! Lakes Region Floral Studios were responsible for the BEAUTIFUL bouquets, centerpieces and all other flowers
And with that, it was time to get to the ceremony! Helpful signs pointed guests in the right direction
I had a feeling that Laura's father Paul might get a little emotional so I had Audrey stay back with the girls until the last minute. This is her picture and I love it
Grace took her role as official flower girl very seriously. Paul composed himself and then walked his daughter down the aisle...

...where a smiling Mike was waiting:
Mike was happy to wait a few more seconds while Laura stopped to give her Mom a big hug
If you've "liked" Leah Haydock Photography on facebook (what? you haven't yet? quick!!!) then you'll have seen some of the pictures I post where well-meaning but misguided guests ruin the official wedding pictures by stepping into the aisle, blasting the couple with flash and other accidents. It doesn't bother me personally but I want all of my couples to be aware of the pros and cons of an unplugged ceremony and make the decision that's right for them. Laura & Mike decided to go unplugged and I LOVED how their minister Harold made the announcement, encouraged everyone to take their one shot and then just put the phone/camera away and be present for Laura and Mike.
Laura told me that the music at the ceremony was provided by their talented friend from Sandy Island, Bill Flanagan, who played the hammered dulcimer and spent much of the year arranging and practicing their song requests so that they would be perfect on the wedding day. 

The ceremony then continued with the most beautiful blessing from both sets of parents:
Other photographers might have felt the urge to photoshop in a giant T-Rex or a bunch of zombies into this picture. That's cool. If you're looking for T-Rex/Zombie wedding pictures I'm probably not the photographer for you ;) 
Laura and Mike really wanted to get a picture of everyone who was at their wedding. I love doing this - just remember that it'll take 10-15 minutes to gather and arrange everyone together!
Guests enjoyed cocktail hour with Laura's favorite blueberry vodka lemonade and Mike's own bottled and labeled homebrew "For Richer or Pourer"
The blueberry lemonade and homebrew were chilling in a canoe and guests were invited to take a mason jar and tag and label their drink. Pinterest and the major wedding blogs will have you believe that a wedding isn't really a wedding without mason jars so I really loved that the mason jars at this wedding were actually relevant - when you're on an island with limited drink glasses mason jars and drink tags are most practical! 
Guests made their way to the dining hall...
...which had been transformed from a standard hall into a romantic and atmospheric wedding venue
Guests located their tables which showcased happy memories from Laura & Mike's relationship
It was time for the grand entrance of the new Mr & Mrs DiStefano and Audrey caught this moment before they were introduced
As you can imagine I see a lot of toasts. Maybe 80-100 toasts just this year! The toasts at this wedding were pretty historic. Laura's Dad Paul managed to make everyone laugh and then sob as he talked about Laura as a little girl, Laura's MOHs had lovely sweet toasts and then Mike's brothers and BM brought the house down as they performed (with gusto and pizazz and some serious movz) a rendition of "Call Me Maybe" which was all about how Laura had missed Mike as he'd lived in various locations. It was one of those moments that you are SO glad that there's video. Speaking of which it was an absolute pleasure to work with Jeremy of Folster Video for the first time! Mike's sister Lydia then closed the toasts beautifully with the traditional Sandy Island blessing
It was one of those big full moon nights so I snuck Laura and Mike outside for 2 minutes in between courses
After dinner guests headed back to the lodge where they were invited to sign Laura & Mike's guest cards with the following questions:
- Ten years from now Mike & Laura will....
- My favorite memory of Mike & Laura is....
- My marriage advice for Mike & Laura...
- My favorite part of the weekend...

Mike & Laura danced their first dance as husband and wife:

Dave from Good Times Unlimited opened the dancefloor and even incorporated some traditional Sandy Island line dancing

The parent dances got a little emotional. I loved how Mike's brothers Mark and Matt joined in towards the end of his dance with mom Mary

An ice cream bar AND a cookie table? Heck yeah! I thought it was wonderful how the cookie table incorporated favorite recipes and homemade cookies of friends and family

The guys passed on the cookies and ice cream and headed out for real-man cigars
Yup - good times on the dance floor:

Mike and Laura took a moment to breathe and look over the festivities from the balcony.  I can imagine them vacationing on Sandy Island in 10, 20, 50 years time, climbing the stairs and looking out over the line dancing and saying "Do you remember when....?"

One last picture of Laura & Mike looking out onto Lake Winnipesaukee and then I have to go eat some honey in the hope I'll be able to talk tomorrow.

Oh Laura & Mike - what to say here? Laura said almost everything I thought when she sent me the nicest note ever:

"Leah!!! You will get an actual thank you note at some point in the future, but I couldn't wait any long (six days seemed long enough!) to send you my deepest thanks... It has been a complete joy to work with you - from our initial meeting up in Burlington where I tried to force a deposit on you right away so that we wouldn't lose our chance of having you, to our first Sandy Island engagement shoot, to the super fun Flair shoot, to our Boston engagement pics, to our rehearsal dinner, and then our wedding day. You immediately felt like a wonderful old friend, and you have made Mike and I feel comfortable (and attractive!) the entire time.

I have never felt as beautiful as I have in the few pictures that we have seen so far. Honestly, if those ten photos are the only pictures that we get of our wedding I will be beyond happy. You have such an incredible way of capturing pure, raw emotions.  It was also such a pleasure getting to know Audrey this past weekend - she is AWESOME and the two of you make such a great team. I can't wait to see the images that she captured as well.

Our vendors were also all unbelievable - I know that you love them all as much as we do, but we feel so grateful that we had such an incredible team helping us make our day perfect, and setting the tone and the mood for the day. Having you, Audrey, Leslie, Mackenzie, Emma, Joanne, Lena, Jen, Dave, and Jeremy there made the day go by flawlessly. Then add in Susan's incredible flowers and the phenomenal food by Christine, and we were absolutely blown away. Thank you thank you thank you for helping us create the most perfect wedding we could have dreamed of, being alongside us on the best day of our lives, and capturing those memories so beautifully for us to cherish forever. We are so thankful for all that you have done."

It seems a little lame for me to say "Ditto!" but believe me when I say that I was looking forward to this wedding for almost as long as the bride and groom! And my thanks are bigger!

Laura & Mike - thank YOU. You couldn't have been any easier and more fun to work with. Both of your families were so incredibly sweet and welcoming, it was an honor to be a tiny part of this weekend. I hope you like this handful of favorites (the only downside to having two photographers for a whole weekend is that you have a LOT of pictures!!!). You are SUCH a great couple and I predict many many many years of happiness together for you both including years more of Sandy Island vacations!  I'll probably be dead when you celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary but if not promise me you'll let me come out to Sandy Island and photograph you jumping off the dock in your long johns and bathing hats with your kids and grandchildren!!!

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