Early May brought with it our first garden ceremony since photographing weddings full time in the Riviera Maya. Natalie couldn’t have picked a better colour than pink to really contrast the greenery, and the floral arrangements provided by Hotel Riu Yucatan were overflowing with pink roses to match the petals strewn about aisle. The guests were buzzing with excitement, with Chad’s smile standing out from the rest of the crowd, even miles away. And considering we weren’t scheduled for any of the getting ready portion of the day, we were likely just as giddy as the guests to see the bride completely ready for her exchange of vows. And did she ever WOW the crowd as she stepped foot on the grass path. Carrying a bouquet packed full of pink roses, matching pink lipstick, cute beaded headband and a mermaid style wedding dress with feathered accents at the bust, Natalie looked ready to be photographed for a spread in a wedding magazine. Her father proudly led the way, stopping first to hug his beloved daughter at the head of the ceremony, and more importantly, embrace his soon-to-be son-in-law. As the ceremony proceeded forward, it was hard not to notice the knowing glances Natalie and Chad would give each other, the tension in their hands as they held tight, ready to take on a lifetime of excitement together, knowing they were in it for the long run. So as these two grinned from ear-to-ear, stating their vows and exchanging their wedding rings, their guests were right there smiling with them, and ready to cascade them in bubbles as they turned to the crowd.
Having decided to forgo having a wedding party meant the time after the ceremony was scheduled for newlywed creatives and nothing else. Needless to say, having ample time to tour the grounds and photograph Natalie and Chad in their element without the need to race against the clock, had us absolutely thrilled. Plenty of laughter was shared, faces were made, and jokes were told to keep these two in such high spirits. Chad was the visual definition of a dapper young gent with that bow tie, and we made sure it played a starring role in several shots. I love these moments between the ceremony and reception, when not only do we connect with the couple as photographers, but as friends, when relationship personalities really shine through and we get a sense of not only who Natalie and Chad are, but how far they have come in their lives together. This unstoppable duo has known each other through many years, having been close friends throughout high school. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that these two were high school sweethearts that passed the test of graduation and continued on to married life. As it turns out, their friendship still parted ways, as so many high school friendships have a tendency to do, and only at random would their paths cross briefly. But fast forward a decade and Natalie still managed to catch this attractive fellow out of the corner of her eye at a local pub, exchanged phone numbers, caught up on the years past, and it was all uphill from there. There were no regrets for decisions that were made in the past, but rather, looking towards their future together, knowing they had truly found their perfect partners in crime with each other. The photos from this session really manage to speak for themselves, highlighting all the quirkiness of the couple. And this resulted in an exceptionally laid back approach to photographing the two of them in their element.
The reception itself started off with Natalie and Chad waltzing in for their grand entrance only to go immediately into their first dance, to Otis Redding’s This Arms of Mine. Holding each other tight, and whispering sweet nothings into each others’ ears, a wave of celebratory relief washed over the guests. The families were more than happy to welcome one another’s children into their respective families, which should come as no surprise given Natalie’s Russian background. Having Ukrainian ancestry myself, there’s a slew of similarities between Russians, Ukrainians, and Poles (albeit, there’s a slew of differences too, but that’s besides the point!) and one of the most notable similarities is the emphasis on family. More specifically, there’s an emphasis on strengthening family bonds, and welcoming others into your family when given the nod of approval. And since we were seated with their various sets of parents, we had an opportunity to experience their jovial excitement first hand, complete with plenty of toasts to new beginnings with new family and new friendships. As the night moved forward, great stories were shared, delicious food was enjoyed, and drinks were free flowing in abundance. When the time came for each of the newlyweds to dance with their parents, it was nearly impossible not to linger on Natalie and her father, with pure happiness and bliss spreading over their faces the entire time. That is a picture definition of one very proud dad. It didn’t take long for the music to switch to more upbeat dance tracks that had everyone on the dance floor. The kids attending the wedding were more than happy to show off some of their killer dance moves, hamming it up for the camera as children are known to do. And everyone seemed to be enjoying the theatrics that came with it. A final observation worth sharing is that there can not be a love stronger, sillier and zanier than the love shared between the newlyweds Natalie and Chad, and we are so pleased to be sharing these photos from a truly magical wedding.