People who only know us through our editorial and commercial work often ask us how and why on earth we shoot weddings. The answer is simple: besides the obvious need to pay bills, weddings offer us unprecedented access into fascinating lives of some pretty amazing people. Week after week we’re called to the beautiful locations filled with thoughtful details… but it’s the people and their remarkable stories that make our work so wonderful. Last weekend was no exception as I photographed Jordanna & Jason’s wedding on one of the soggiest days of the year at the beautiful Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor, ME.
We met Jordanna and Jason last summer in Bar Harbor, and were psyched to hear their story of friendship that began at Harvard, followed by 12 years as a couple and finally returning to Jason’s home state of Maine to tie the knot. Little did we know that Jason and Jordanna are incredibly talented and accomplished… working on Broadway in various capacities, with Jason most recently working as The Phantom of that little Broadway hit called The Phantom of The Opera. Yeah, that one.
As I drove in the pouring rain up to Mount Desert Island, I worried that these two amazing, deserving people would be frustrated because of the bad weather. Though I’m happy to work in any conditions… dust, rain, sleet, riots, fires, whatever… I never know how a couple is going to react to the adversity of weather, especially at a place like the Asticou Inn, which is famous for it’s back lawn overlooking Northeast Harbor.
Within minutes of stepping out of the car, I realized that my worries were completely unfounded and that I had landed smack in the middle of a cast of incredible characters, and a wedding that I’ll never forget.
For starters, on the front porch of The Asticou Inn, I met a mountain of a man, who was wearing a tuxedo and brandishing a large kitchen knife while wearing only one shoe. I watched as he palpated and examined his shoe, occassionally grumbling something under his breath about how “it had to be done” and “there were no other options.” His thoughtful contemplation and words reminded me of a surgeon bearing the bad news to one of his patients. The situation was dire and he would have to “go in” immediately to save the rest of the shoe.
The knife wielding shoe butcher turned out to be Lou, the father of the bride, and I watched incredulously as he shaved off the heel of one of his dress shoes with an ease of hand that reminded me of a Tokyo sushi chef filleting a tuna. His movements were confident, exacting and without hesitation. After his first pass, he strapped the mutilated shoe back on and with a satisfied “Ah Huh” proclaimed that “it wasn’t bad” but that “the other shoe was next.” It seems that Lou’s old Army dress shoes had seen one too many tours of duty and the heels had finally disintegrated to a point of no return. Lou did what had to be done.
After thoroughly enjoying Lou’s inspiring cutlery demonstration out on the front porch, I ventured inside the Asticou to check in with Jordanna & Jason as the rain continued to fall. They had explicitly written to me earlier that day that “unless there is horrible weather we would like to have photos out on the rocks near the ocean”. Obviously “horrible weather” is a relative term, and as an old Outward Bound Captain and Himalayan mountain guide… it’s always best for the bride and groom to define those standards rather than me… otherwise we’re liable to wind up in a hurricane or a blizzard in no time.
To my pleasant surprise, they were both thrilled to go outside, and happy to dodge rain drops in order to get a few photos. By sheer will, they had convinced their friends and family to venture out as well, and through a lot of laughter and rain showers… we got the images that we hoped for!
Singin’ In The Rain.
Jordanna’s beautiful smile while hiding under an umbrella.
Their wedding bands.
Because of the rain, the ceremony was held in a cozy room overlooking the water. As a team of actors, Jordanna & Jason had decided that their intimate ceremony should not NOT be a performance, but a quiet, meaningful ceremony. They were committed to having no distractions from their photographer… and therefore required that I not use flash and not move (even a little) during the entire ceremony even if it impacted the final images. I always love a challenge, and the bank of windows behind the ceremony silhouetted everyone dramatically… making details difficult, but not impossible. I switched to a 1.2 aperture lens, that captured more mid-tones than could normally be picked up in a situation like that. So far, so good… we had successfully managed the rain, and the harsh lighting… all that was left was the reception!
When I grow up, I want to be like Jordanna’s grandmother: beautiful, smart, motivating and eloquent. Here, she whips up the crowd during her speech.
Oh, if I only had audio running that day. So many talented friends. It was a joy to listen to.
Breaking the glass.
Their cake was a mountain with the two of them embracing on the summit.
I was warned by the guests repeatedly during the cocktail hour that I would be “in for a show” during the dancing. The first dance hinted at what was to come. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two people so effortlessly and joyfully dance so beautifully. I could tell that they had done this before.
Jordanna being dipped (again).
And then the crowd got involved… everyone was AMAZING. They should have charged admission for their performance (my guess is that most of them do usually). One moment everyone was swing dancing, then dramatic reenactments of musicals, then some latin dancing, then hip hop… just incredible.
Oh yeah… I forgot about the Russian dancing. Check.
Time for the Hora… tall guys and short ceilings… bad mix. Nice reminder Jordanna.
Jason knows no fear.
Yup, and just drop a split in the middle of the dance floor whenever you’re ready.
Then Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” comes on, and the music theater / interpretive dance gloves come off.
Not sure if this is part of the Madonna song or an impromptu decision to fly… regardless, it was incredible and hilarious.
When I emailed Jason and Jordanna to ask what their ideal image would be at the end of the night, they said “something that captures us ‘being us’ probably amidst a series of sweaty lifts, dips or spins while dancing together”. Got it!
So, the next time one of my editors or commercial clients ask why the heck I’m going off to shoot another wedding, I’m going to send them this blog link. Because it’s fun. Because weddings are filled with wonderful, meaningful, hilarious and original moments, that could never be duplicated. It’s an honor to be there to document a dad sawing off their shoe soles, a grandmother’s dispensing wisdom and enthusiasm… and most all, to capture the joy of two people who love each other so completely, like Jordanna and Jason.
Thank you for having me at your wedding! Thanks for bringing your amazing friends to Maine, for “going for it” despite the rain and for sharing your spinning, whirling, dipping sweaty selves with all of us. What a joy!
Want to see the complete wedding photos? Just go to: www.brianwedge.com
Ceremony/Reception: The Asticou Inn
Band: The Coronados
Flowers: Still working on that… email if you need it.