Katie & Clark chose the Barns at Hamilton Station, a renovated dairy farm now a vineyard, and one of our favorite places to shoot, as the venue for their wedding. It’s a familiar location for us, and a place we could usually slide in at the last second and get started. Nevertheless, we like some breathing room when we get to a venue. We arrived a tad later than anticipated due to unexpected traffic. Still, we were early by about 30 minutes from our scheduled start. We took this time to survey the venue for anything that might’ve have changed since our last visit. As expected, everything was as we remembered.
Upon entering the farmhouse, we greeted Katie and her bridesmaids. After a brief refresh about the day’s plan, Felipe stayed with the ladies to capture their preparation moments and I took charge of the smaller details — the shoes, jewelry, and the invitation were arranged on the back deck for some detail shots. Once I was finished with that, we flipped it around so Felipe could head out and meet the guys who were arriving.
Around 3:45, Katie, with the assistance of her mom and bridesmaids, slipped into her wedding dress. Downstairs, her father Jay waited, eager to see his daughter in her bridal attire. The moment he was invited up for a first glimpse of Katie was heartwarming, and a priority for Katie.
By 4:00pm, Clark was positioned on the farmhouse’s front porch, awaiting his first look at Katie. She gracefully walked out the front door, turned him around, and the resulting images were both beautiful and understated.
Portraits with the Bridal Parties
Post the first look, Clark and his groomsmen headed down to the lake for some portraits with Felipe. This location, though a bit out of the way, held sentimental value for Clark and his brother Shane. Their fond memories of fishing together made this spot a priority, despite the venue offering other, arguably more picturesque locations at this time of day.
Meanwhile, I stayed near the barn with Katie and her bridesmaids. The classic barn exterior provided a great backdrop. We captured some delightful shots with the barn’s rugged textures and the store shed. We also managed to get some unplanned individual shots of Katie with each bridesmaid, courtesy to the groomsmen running a tad late from their lakeside photo session.
For the full wedding party, we opted for two distinct arrangements. One was a modification of an earlier photo with the bridesmaid’s in the garden, and the other was a more traditional standing arrangement on the west lawn. Time was of the essence, so we called it after these two arrangements. We still wanted to spend at least a few minutes on portraits with just Katie & Clark before the ceremony.
With the wedding party off the hook, Katie, Clark and I backtracked through the Barns capturing some images with just the two of them. We did our best to stay on the outside to avoid the guests who were starting to arriving in greater numbers, though we did make a point to stop at the Gruto’s Ice Cream truck which they were excited to have as part of their wedding day. We didn’t have a lot of time at this point, but that was okay, because we’d carved out some time later for a few more shots.
The ceremony was set to take place on the lawn behind the tasting room. As the clock neared 5:30, Felipe and I prepped for the ceremony. With our respective focal lengths in place, we were were waiting in position for the action to get started. The centerpiece of the ceremony was a wooden cross, crafted by Katie’s father and covered in a floral arrangement from Vows & Vines, it added depth to the processional photos.
The sun was warm, but thankfully the day was much cooler compared to recent weeks. The ceremony, officiated by Katie’s family pastor, was concise yet meaningful. As the ceremony concluded, the realization of how swiftly time had passed dawned upon us.
Immediately after the ceremony, we transitioned to family portraits. We chose a shaded patch of grass, ensuring a balanced light for the photos. Starting with Katie & Clark alongside their ring bearers and flower girls, we then moved on to larger group photos with extended family members from both sides.
To counter the direct sunlight in the background, I used a strobe to pull up the shadows. For the sake of time, it’s preferable to find areas that don’t need any modification to the light, but we liked this view and it was well worth the improvements to the photo quality. Some sporadic cloud cover did pose some challenges, slightly slowing down our pace. But, hey, that’s just how these things go.
Sunset Portraits with Katie & Clark
As dinner commenced in the wine cellar, a plan was set in motion. Katie & Clark would head out for a brief sunset portrait session. Clark was famished though, the importance of capturing the setting sun was high, and the opportunity was fleeting. Thanks to Julie from Vows & Vines, Clark had a quick bite to eat and then we headed back out before it was too late.
The vineyard and Hamilton Station Road provided the perfect backdrop. The iconic old tractor of The Barns, silhouetted against the setting sun, made for a memorable shot.
The reception was a whirlwind of activity, laughter, and memorable moments. As guests settled in, La Prensa Restaurant served up some mouthwatering mini-tacos that were a hit among the attendees. The atmosphere was lively, and the room was filled with chatter and the clinking of glasses.
Toasts played a significant role in setting the tone for the evening. Katie’s maid of honor, Morgan, took the stage and delivered a touching toast that resonated with everyone. It was heartfelt, genuine. Following her, one of Clark’s best friends shared some words. He masterfully perfectly balanced that groomsman humor with the sentimentality of close friendship.
As the evening progressed, and the activity moved upstairs, the dance floor became the center of attraction. The proper “party” started with first dances between Katie & Clark, followed by each of them dancing with their parents.
NDavis Music showcased their expertise, reading the room perfectly and playing tunes that kept the guests engaged and dancing. Their dance floor lights transformed the room in a way that created a lively and energetic atmosphere that was hard to resist.
One of the standout features of the evening was the Gruto’s Ice Cream Truck, now finally serving up the good stuff. This wasn’t just any ordinary ice cream truck. Katie and her sisters had worked for Gruto’s. The truck saw a steady stream of guests, all eager to sample the frozen delights. We made sure to capture Katie & Clark as they visited the truck. And yes, Clark was extremely eager to get the ice cream in hadn’t and I might have had to re-stage such a photo.
Right at the end of the evening, a surprise awaited Clark’s brother, Shane, who was celebrating his 25th birthday that very day. In a heartwarming gesture, the reception came together to present him with a birthday cake. The room echoed with a chorus of “Happy Birthday”. I’m not sure how thrilled he was to be the center of attention, but he took it like a champ and blew out the candles.
The end of the night was an earned moment of punctuated celebration. Guests lined up along the curved stone path leading up to the tasting room, holding sparklers that illuminated the night. As Katie & Clark made their exit, the sparklers created a shimmering tunnel of light, marking a fitting and romantic end to an unforgettable day.