Friday, September 9, 2011

Ashley & Matt - Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Bermuda Wedding

One evening in May of 2008, Ashley dragged herself off the sofa to go to the gym. At that very same moment, Matt grew fed up with waiting in traffic and stepped out of his taxi to walk the rest of the way to his West Village dinner. Somewhere along 14th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, these two fortuitously passed each other. Ashley thought to herself "Hey, I think that guy went to Princeton." Matt said to himself "Hey, I think that girl went to Princeton." Matt stopped to say hello but accidentally, Ashley kept walking. But it was still love at first sight. And thank goodness this all happened in the days of Facebook so after a few messages were exchanged, a trip to their college reunion, and a first date at a comedy club, these two knew that it was much more than a hunch.

The bride's dress was designed by Monique Lhuillier, who just happens to be featured and photographed herself in the Fall 2011 Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine Fashion Issue! When I arrived at the suite at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Ashley already had her dress on so that we could head straight out for photos so I was just able to capture some last minute details.

Ashley's look on her wedding day was simple, yet elegant. She and her mum had picked out this gorgeous broach to add to her waistband since they are big believers that every wedding dress needs a least a little sparkle. I adore the detail - just so special and timeless.

The delicate bouquet of roses was created by Petals, along with all the maids flowers, groomsmen's boutonnieres and the reception centre pieces.

Ashley and Matt's decision to have a destination wedding was decided when they knew friends and family were dotted all along the east coast so if their guests had to fly to their wedding anyway, they might as well fly to somewhere beautiful. But Bermuda wasn't just selected because of its beauty. There is a long tradition of nuptials in Ashley's family all linked with the island. In 1936, the bride's great aunt honeymooned at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess. Then her grandparents came to Bermuda for their honeymoon ten years later. Her parents followed suit in 1977, since by then, her mum had been coming to the island for family holidays her entire life. So the convenience of it only being a 90 minute flight from the east coast, combined with its beauty and history, it was a no brainer to pick Bermuda when planning their own big day.

The couple chose the Fairmont Hamilton Princess as their reception venue because it had everything they were looking for. They liked its proximity to the church, the fact that it has lots of different spaces for the different parts of the day, from getting ready, photo spots, an outdoor cocktail area as well as a grand ballroom with fabulous views to seat everyone for dinner. Since Ashley's parents are not really beach people, but rather wanted easy access to town and the shops and transportation, it was an obvious choice.

Ashley loves bright pops of colour and every time she saw a wedding image with parasols, she loved the striking look. She loves all hues and so selecting the wedding scheme was a daunting task. She admits that her home looks like a kaleidoscope and that she doesn't really even like pink too much but still wanted something that worked with the setting. In the cab on the way to the airport after a visit, she noticed the water in some shallow areas was a vivid Tiffany blue. She loved the colour and ran with it so it became the primary colour for the day, but then she also chose pink as the secondary colour since it is so Bermuda.

These fun sunglasses were an idea the bride copied from a friend who married in Palm Beach. More of the bright colours she adores and she still wears her pair when wandering around NYC.

Ashley's went to the Inverurie Spa in the hotel for her hair, and her makeup was done by Aphrodite from M.A.C.

 Now this wedding was a little different from most weddings I shoot. After the getting ready and pre-ceremony shots with the girls, instead of heading to the ceremony site like I usually do, I went home (only two mins away from the hotel). The reason for this is that I have become so addicted to shooting with natural light that I no longer wish to use flash at all, and the church where Ashley and Matt were married is very dark - darker than even my lovely low light lenses can handle. So rather than risking the images being a little soft, with hand shake or too grainy, the couple opted to bring in Alex Masters, who is a lighting expert. He is amazing at the technical side of creating gorgeous moody lighting, no matter where he is, so he is the ideal person to shoot in a church like that. When Ashley first contacted me, I said I wasn't able to shoot her wedding as it was my anniversary weekend, and also I didn't shoot in that church. But she kept writing to check in to see if I would change my mind. She told me that she had literally gone through every image on my site and found "it one breathtaking view after another". I was so flattered, how could I not figure out a way to make it work so this was when some creative thinking came into play and I suggested using either Alex or myself throughout the day. I was so surprised they were open to the idea of two photographers stopping and starting rather than my usual routine, where someone (like Alex!) takes over after I have completed four hours, but Ashley said that she loved my portfolio so much that she figured she would rather with with me for a small part of the day than with someone else for the entire wedding. I was so happy that Alex was also open to the idea, though of course the two of us living so close to the ceremony and reception locations helped in our decisions. And in the end, having the two of us working as a team had a much better outcome than either of us working separately on our own.

The bride and groom decided to include a traditional flair to their day and had a horse and buggy bring them from the church to my house where we decided to do some couple shots. It was a nice little moment with just the two of them in the buggy to escape from the madness of the busy day. They even circled my lane once as the entrance was a little steep first try. My kids were just heading out with Ben on the bicycle buggy and were so excited to have caught a glimpse of a real life bride and groom since they only ever see them on my computer!

The original plan was to go straight back to the hotel for photos, but I had written to Ashley on a whim asking if she was open to doing the couple shots at my home instead. Since she had been game to have Alex and I be interchangeable depending on the light situations, why not ask about this crazy idea too? Here at my garden, I could set up some fun vignettes in a way we couldn't do at the hotel, plus the couple were completely on their own here rather than have an audience as they may have had with their guests arriving at the same time at the Fairmont. I am so glad she was open to the idea, for although the timing was a little earlier than I would have liked so the sun was a bit harsh, it really felt like a day after session rather than a real wedding day and we captured so much magic between them in such a relaxed fashion. I could have burst I was so excited and they were so open to all my ideas and also so madly in love that they just canoodled the whole time making my job so incredibly easy.

This was the first official shoot for the new daybed and it was just a dream in the garden. I loved the image it created and how perfectly it suited these two and their wedding day style.

Her something old was her great grandmother's art deco sapphire diamond and sapphire ring from 1910 which she wore on her right hand. Her antique earrings from the 1800s were borrowed from her mother, but they had belonged to her grandmother originally, while her delicate necklace was a gift from Matt. One of her wedding bands had sapphires for her something blue and the dress and Christian Louboutin shoes were new.

Ashley has a ridiculously sweet tooth so she wanted everyone to enjoy the heart shaped chocolates to nibble on. When she saw the foil came in her fave Tiffany blue colour, she knew she had to get them.

The next little set up we used was one of my Victorian sofas which was just darling with these two on it. I simply adore the classic Bermudian architecture in the back ground to give their wedding some local flavour.

Matt's ring was white gold while Ashley had three bands - one that was a twisted helix with micro-pave diamonds, one that was alternating diamonds and sapphires (her something blue!), and one that was plain rose gold with milligrain detail along the edges. Her incredible engagement ring is an oval diamond in a micro-pave halo setting.

This was also the first shoot I did with another of my recent finds. The old toy car is just so perfect for little boy shoots in the garden, but not bad for grown up gorgeous grooms either! And the old suitcase just completes the look so I am utterly thrilled with my first wedding session done at the house.

The couple hopped back into their carriage for the short journey to the hotel where we continued to do the group shots just as the light was getting glowy and gorgeous!

The groomsmen's ties were custom made by Vineyard Vines. Of course the couple chose a Tiffany blue with yellow starfish and pink Bermuda islands. They even included their names and their little crest on the ties so they are really special memories of the amazing day.

The Tony Bari Trio played during cocktails out on the terrace overlooking Hamilton Harbour.

Ok - I was completely obsessed with this ice sculpture which was also a fountain to pour their signature cocktails - the Oceantinis. Of course the drink was Tiffany blue. I just thought it was the most romantic idea to have an iced drink arrive in your glass in such a beautiful way - good thing I wasn't a guest, or I would certainly have been under the table (the ice sculpture table!) just for wanting to watch the pouring and repouring of this drink over and over! Just such a divine detail.

And of course pink was the other wedding colour (remember the parasols and flowers?) so they indeed needed pink champagne to complete the libation palette.

Ashley had the darling idea of using a Bermuda map as a fun spin on the traditional guestbook. They already have it framed and hanging in their home.

Ashley thought of every detail - she pictured the magnificent ballroom with large windows over looking a harbour full of boats so thought the name card table would be a sweet echo of the view outside.

Ashley designed all the menues, table numbers and name cards herself. She used the same design motifs that had appeared in their invitations and save the date cards. The swirl at the top of the menu is her favourite (mine too) and can you believe that she glued the Tiffany blue coloured paper on the back of every item herself - did you see how many name cards there were - insane!!

These sweet little boxes, fashioned after Tiffany boxes, were filled with the delicious chocolate hearts, of course!

The spectacular cake was modeled after a Tiffany box and the hotel perfected the colour and design just as Ashley had imagined.

 Ashely and Matt - I know you two didn't want the wedding to be all about the two of you. You didn't have a head table, a grand entrance, a grand exit or anything like that. But what you did was spend as much time as you could with everyone you loved and although I know you didn't get any time to yourselves until a few days into your honeymoon, it shows how you just had the best time. Every detail of your day, from the personal touches in all the stationary that you did all by yourselves - the trips to the craft store, the designing and cutting and gluing and tying of hundreds upon hundreds of ribbons - all that shows how well suited you two are that you did it all together, that you had fun, and you wanted it to be special to you. The wedding went off without a hitch and I was so honoured to have been a part of your magical day, and there to capture your love. I wish you both the best and can't wait to meet your family as it grows and you repeat your own childhood by coming here all the time for family holidays. Kisses to you both xxxx

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