“The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it. You and you alone make me feel that I am alive. Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.” --George Edward Moore
It's been a long time since the first time I read the Great Gatsby. I can't remember details these days but I absolutely remember the way I felt when I read it. Like I was instantly transported to this elegant world of beautiful cars and perfectly manicured New England homes. Where the fresh air just a few miles away from the city seemed to ignite an energy in the people and the vivid colors were just as important as the breeze through the linen drapes. I'm not sure I've thought about this book in over a decade but as we drove out of Manhattan towards this wedding the reality that we were out in Long Island along side the very inspiration for this book settled in. These people live a refined life where country clubs and tennis matches are as much a part of the culture as private colleges and summer homes. I don't want to start this blog off by describing this wedding as overly flashy. In fact it's quite the opposite. Jillian + Spencer met me at another wedding last year that has quickly become perhaps our most famous. When Cait + Jason flew us into Vermont last year I had no idea that in the few months after they said I do we would receive nearly a dozen inquiries from their friends and family to be a part of their weddings as well. This group has been a dream to work with and so as we rolled into this wedding we knew that it was going to be so important that we were every bit as focused on this day as we have been for all of the other New England weddings this year.
As I walked up the stairs into the women's locker room at the country club the morning of the wedding it quickly became pretty obvious that we do this a little differently than the norm. The ladies who work for the club were a little shocked to see two guys strolling through the locker room but we had a job to do and that job starts with making sure Jillian looks fantastic and feels amazing. So as she got all dolled up we spent some time shooting her details and the whole experience but also just hanging out with her and all of her amazing friends. This group of girls is absolutely hilarious and though Jillian didn't technically have a group of bridesmaids all of these girls absolutely felt the part. Spend about 3.5 seconds around Jillian and you'll be blown away by how beautiful this girl really is, but what's magnetic about her is the smile that comes with one of the most charming brides I've ever worked with. She met me at the door with a hug and never let me or Max feel anything less than family from that moment on. A few hours later felt like minutes as we rushed around trying to make sure we had already photographed enough of the venue and details around us to set the tone for the story. I suppose the way I look at a wedding is a bit different than a lot of photographers. I've always loved short stories and poems simply because I'm a little A.D.D. and though I'm not sure I've finished a novel since college I can say that there's something about the time it takes to really build a story that has always attracted me. I've never wanted our wedding albums to be poems. To say that such an important day can be summed up in just a few images seems to me to be missing what makes it so unique that these two people found each other in the first place. Instead I love to see the way the light on this day is different than any other day. To see the way the clouds shift and the little elements of the room around us change in a way that helps to spark a memory years from now. I'm well aware that I've digressed here but bare with me.
As we got Jillian into her dress the beautiful morning and the light breeze had darkened a bit. The gorgeous outdoor ceremony in the garden behind the club that had been planned was suddenly a "plan A" that didn't look like it was going to happen and as time all the sudden caught up to us the reality that a couple's shoot that was supposed to be a complete dream might get a little soggy sunk in. I try as hard as I can these days to not allow our clients to ruin their own day. A little weather can be my favorite kind of challenge and just as Spencer finished putting on his bow tie we saw a tiny window in the weather that looked like it was going to give us exactly what we needed. The first look was a dream. Spencer had no idea that his soon to be wife was standing right behind him as I took photos of him and asked him about how he was feeling and as he turned and realized that he was being spied on the gravity of this day sunk in and the shutter on my camera couldn't fire fast enough. I clearly remember looking up at Max to make sure that his angle was as good as mine because I couldn't believe how perfectly things had fallen into place.
Spencer is a big personality. This guy along with all of his friends bring with them a ton of energy and I couldn't wait to really see how that looked with Jillian. I was blown away by how level this guy is with her around. With is buddies he's the coolest guy in the room - I'd go as far as to say the instigator but in a great kind of way. But with Jillian he's gentle, kind, and so open. The entire couple's session was exactly as we had hoped. A few gorgeous locations and more than anything time well spent for these two together but as we drove back up to the club I was reminded that these two had written vows to each other that they wanted to share privately before the ceremony. Call me old fashioned but I'm perfectly willing to admit that to me most of our couples are already married the moment they see each other at that first look. There's something about that look and the commitment it took to get there that seal the deal and the rest are gorgeous words said out loud for formality's sake but these two went a step further. As they stood at the top of a tall hill with views of Connecticut in the hazy fog behind them they whispered vows that would mean more to them than any formal promise possibly could. Tears rolled down cheeks and again shutters went crazy and just as suddenly as the first look began, the couple's session was over but not before a few photos with the friends that these two had brought along to support them.
With the good of the cloudy day and the few sprinkles that helped cut the heat in half came the bad. The out door ceremony was a memory that we wouldn't get to have and though the indoor location wasn't quite as stunning it certainly gave every person there a chance to really soak up how beautiful these moments were. By the time the cocktail hour ended it was already nearly 9pm and one of the most amazing wedding bands I have ever seen jumped into their first set. From that very first song the dance floor wasn't empty for a second the rest of the night. At 1am Max and I packed up our gear, hugged two of the most kind, loving people we've ever seen get married, and headed back towards Queens to our hotel near the airport.
I can't say enough about how much this wedding meant to me. This couple, and this group of friends have taken us in a way that really does blow me away. So grateful to call Jillian and Spencer friends and so excited to hopefully see them at more weddings very soon.