We started the day filming Marissa and Justin getting ready at their designated locations. One thing that I told Marissa at her initial appointment was how we were so glad that we did our formal photographs before our ceremony. It gave us a chance to enjoy our cocktail hour, stay relaxed, kept the day moving smoothly, and didn't make our guests have to wait around for us to start the reception. Marissa and Justin decided to do it that way too. They even hired our photographer, Cheryl Bolton-Reuter, who we are always happy to work with!
After we all had taken every possible shot we could think of with this very fun and very willing group, we were off to the ceremony at Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church in Poughkeepsie. It was the first time that we have filmed a ceremony there and hope that it will not be the last. It is a gorgeous, light filled church and their ceremony was so warm it fit right in. Family played a major part in their entire wedding day and each family member had a role to play. Having lost her parents, Marissa found ways to represent and honor them as well as celebrate the love and appreciation that she has for her siblings. Her dress had a pink sash that represented her mom who died of breast cancer. Her brother and sister walked her down the isle in place of her father. Her other sister was her matron of honor and her other brothers were groomsmen. If you have done the math, she has a lot of family (you should have seen the crowd in the extended family picture). Even the officiants took notice, letting Justin know that he had a lot of work ahead of him if he is going to keep up with this family. The crowd broke out in laughter, Marissa gave her family a few looks over her shoulder with a few laughs and Justin smiled and laughed as well. Throughout the ceremony, each immediate family member from both families came up to the alter to do their part. What a wonderful way to celebrate your love for each other and for your family.
Another idea that Marissa took from our pre-wedding conversation is her shoes. I told her that I wore dressed up ballet slippers on my wedding day because I knew that I would dance all night and wanted to be comfortable. Marissa chose to wear two pairs on her wedding day; one in white lace for her ceremony (as seen in the preview clip above) and one in pink (pictured below) for dancing all night at her reception. When I was filming her getting ready and asked her where I could find all of her accessories to shoot them for her video, she was so excited to tell me that she had shared my thoughts on shoes and chose to wear slippers as well.
After the ceremony, we were off the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel for their reception. I was so excited when Cheryl suggested the streets in Poughkeepsie for a few more pictures and was ecstatic when Marissa and Justin said yes. I have suggested it to other couples in the past, but no one chose to go for it. I think that some couples think the urban look is not for them, but Marissa and Justin were up for anything interesting, cool and fun and did they ever have fun with this! I love that even with the threat of rush hour traffic, we had plenty of time for them to jump in, pose for a few shots and then make a run up and down the street in front of the Poughkeepsie Grand. You can't always get a couple to run, but since Marissa had on the perfect shoes, she was happy to do it. I hope that other couples will see these video stills and the scenes from their trailer clip above and decide to try it too. It was so much fun to shoot (I am sure that I can speak for all involved).
I love this footage and had so much fun with these video stills I pulled. The first image below is one of my favorites and, to me, is kind of reminiscent of the famous shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt of the sailor and the nurse in Times Square on V-J Day. I decided to play with it a bit and I like the results. The one in the blue tone kind of reminds me of my grandmother's pictures from the 50's and 60's and the other in red tone reminds me of old pictures from the 70's. I wish that we had more time to walk around the immediate area to do a few more poses (and that we didn't have to contend with rush hour traffic). I would have loved to play some more and I know that Marissa and Justin (and Cheryl) would have been more than willing to do more too.
While waiting outside the doors of the reception hall to make their grand entrance, I grabbed a shot of Marissa and Justin; still smiling from ear to ear, excited and ready to party. All the people in the know were anxiously awaiting the surprise that Marissa and Justin had in store for their guests as part of their grand entrance. Though it was super cool, it may not be available anymore because it can be tricky to get it to work, but thankfully, it went off without a hitch for Marissa and Justin. If you watched the clip before reading this post, you already know what I am referring to. When announced, they made their way to the bridal arch dancing excitedly in the darkness and when they made it out the other side, they were welcomed by sparks shooting out of their centerpieces. When told by the staff of the Grand that there is a possibility that the pyrotechnics could malfunction and not go off, we all just held our breath, crossed our fingers, prayed and whatever else we could think of for Marissa and Justin that it work for them. I like to think that Marissa had someone special watching over them this day and that is why they worked for her. In the clip, you can see everyone was so excited, if not for the effect, for the way that it made Marissa and Justin jump around and celebrate. I only wish that we had another two or four cameras with us to have even more footage of this part. We were also happy that we caught Justin's mom in all her excitement as well as Cheryl's reaction when she caught sight of Marissa's reaction. What a wonderful and contagious chain of emotion. The energy in that moment really set the tone for the rest of the reception. When we finally had a chance to take a small break from the action, Cheryl showed me one of the photos she caught in that moment of great excitement. It was phenomenal and I hope that she will post the one she showed me so that I can add a link and share it with you!
In the interest of time, I will write about only one of these moments in detail. It is the one which had the entire house in tears - including both of us and Cheryl and her assistant, Dawn; all of us looking through the lenses with teary eyes trying to keep steady. When you become engaged and plan your wedding, you start to think about all of the traditional events at a reception and which ones you will include in your wedding. One of the most emotional and heartfelt events that a bride can have at her wedding is the dance with her father. Being a bride that lost her father and missed out on this myself, I can completely understand Marissa situation. Marissa found a solution to this dilemma and turned this into a moment to remember.
Marissa gave a speech about how at recent weddings she attended, she started to become upset knowing that she would miss out on her father-daughter dance. She then explained that it was true that she could not share that dance with her dad, but there are three important people who stepped into the role of her dad and tried to fill that void for her. She talked about her brother, Satiro, who took the role of disciplinarian and protector; her brother, Phil, in the role of the friend and confidant; her brother Nick who was the middle ground to those two extremes. She gave sweet examples from her childhood and let them individually know how it has meant so much to her that they were there for her. Of course, I am paraphrasing this very special and emotional moment. I, and most likely the entire room, was surprised and glad that Marissa managed to hold it together. It wasn't until the very last sentence of her speech that she got all choked up. This is where she announced that she wanted her brothers to come to the dance floor to share the special dance with her to the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" and that she could not have picked a more appropriate song because that is what her family is to her. You can see only part of the emotion from this event in the pictures below. At the end of the dance, the crowd stood up and applauded. As if we weren't already bawling enough, that took us all over the edge.
On a lighter note, I am proud to announce that through the most tearful eyes we have had to date (and we have had them before), the footage of this special dance is steady, crisp and will have me crying again all over my keyboard when it's time to edit. Sounds sappy, I know, but this is the reason that we shoot weddings. The raw and beautiful emotion of an event like this should be captured in a special way that preserves it forever. These are moments that this family would not get back if not for the fact that we were there to be their eyes and ears for the day. I can just picture Marissa and Justin's many children watching this wedding video as they grow up (wink, wink and smile).
These are the last details that I will share about this wedding (though I'm sure that there will be much more to come). The groom's ring is made out of titanium. This is the first time that I have encountered that to my knowledge. How cool is that? Note to future brides reading this blog; Justin said that the titanium ring is hard to take off and if something were to happen where it would need to be removed, they would probable need to saw it (and possibly his finger) off. Gruesome, but effective if you want to be sure that ring stays in its place.
The picture in the middle is from the last dance, proving that the couple did have smiles on all night long.
The last photograph is one that Marissa had requested specifically. The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel has recently undergone a major renovation. In addition to the updates made in the ballroom, they have added a beautiful water feature in the front lobby and many interesting and artistic light fixtures throughout. Marissa saw this fixture and loved it. It was a tricky shot to get, especially with all the people walking by, but it was worth the effort.
Congratulations to Marissa and Justin on a very fun, emotional and memorable wedding day!
We were so happy to be there with you to share in this very special day in your lives!
Ceremony Location: Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church, Poughkeepsie, NY
Reception Location: The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, Poughkeepsie, NY
Photographer: Cheryl Bolton-Reuter, Bolton-Reuter Photography
Entertainment: Pete Carney, PC Entertainment