I travel all over New England to photograph weddings, and this fall I found myself in the northeast corner of Connecticut for Nikki and Ralph’s beautiful and emotionally charged celebration at her parents’ vineyard, Taylor Brooke Winery in Woodstock, CT. It was very much a family affair, with Nikki’s parents providing the venue and wines, and Nikki’s mom doing much of the planning and decor, including providing all of the florals for the day. I was surprised she wasn’t looking more frazzled when I first arrived at the vineyard that morning to take a quick peek at locations for photos!
Nikki and the girls got ready at The Mansion at Bald Hill, and Nikki’s good friend did her hair and makeup. Like all of the weddings I photograph, it was beautiful; but much more important at this celebration were the personal touches – even the invitations were hand painted by a friend of Ralph and Nikki’s; a gorgeous scene with Nikki and Ralph kayaking down the river (I used the invite as a backdrop to their ring photo – the second photo above).
It was one of those crazy fall days that didn’t know whether to be sunny or stormy; we held the first look up in the old vines at the top of the vineyard, hoping for a touch of shade from the blistering heat of the afternoon sun, but it was insanely hot. Then, just as the ceremony was due to start, a huge storm blew though, completely soaking the area, and causing us and the DJ to run around madly, unplugging electrics and sheltering our gear from the heavy rain. Then, twenty minutes later, the rain stopped, the oppressive heat lifted, and we were left with the most gorgeous, soft light for the ceremony.
This was one of my favorite ceremonies I’ve ever witnessed. Linda, a close friend of the bride’s family, was born to officiate. Her gentle humor and wise words were poetic. Nikki’s brother Corey played guitar and sang to Nikki and Ralph. And then there was the water ceremony, where guests were invited up to pour water over the couple’s hands while offering a blessing. The water was then poured over the roots of the huge tree, under which the ceremony took place.
After the ceremony, Nikki and Ralph took a quiet wander through the old vines, and guests enjoyed wine from the tap room. The tented reception included a couple of brief toasts and a sweet first dance, then the party started and everyone let loose – these guys love to dance! Thank you Nikki, Ralph, and your families and friends, for making us feel so welcome. And special thanks to my second shooter Earl Christie for several of the photos above.
Ceremony & Reception Taylor Brooke Winery ~ Coordinator Elegant Aura ~ Caterer The Mansion at Bald Hill ~ DJ Beat Train ~ Florist Linda Auger (Bride's mother) ~ Cake Patish ~ Hair Stylist Friend ~ Makeup Artist Friend ~ Transportation Signature Limousine ~ Rentals ABC Rent-a-Tent ~ Officiant Linda Colangelo (friend)