The Couple and Their Love Story
As an artist and a photographer, each wedding I capture is a unique journey. I dive into the lives of the couple, their families, their passions, and their dreams. The wedding of Kayla and Colin at Cedar Knoll was no different. It was a treasure trove of unique details and special moments, each one alluding to, if not overtly, telling a part of their story.
Kayla and Colin are not your average couple. Both are classically trained musicians with a shared love for gaming, a passion that forms a cornerstone of their relationship. Their love story is a blend of friendship, love, and shared interests. Their personalities, a quirky mashup of elegance and down-to-earth nerdiness, make them stand out in my memory. To me, it’s the compelling juxtaposition of their personalities that make their story so captivating.
Our first meeting was during their two-part engagement session. The first part, held at Brookside Gardens in Bethesda, was classic and elegant. It was the perfect setting for this side of who the couple is, reflecting refined tastes and love for the classics.
The second part of the engagement session was a laid-back showcase of their playful side. The session was a nod to their affinity for games — each other. The energy during this session was infectious, and the location was unique in the landscape of photoshoots of this variety, making it one of the more memorable sessions I’ve had the pleasure to shooting.
The Wedding Venue & Decor
When it came to planning their wedding, Kayla and Colin had three main priorities: each other, their families, and good food. They chose Cedar Knoll for its beautiful lawn and intimate dining room with a panoramic view of the surrounding natural beauty. The venue was the right size for their close-knit gathering, providing just enough space for the people who mattered the most to them.
Their shared love for games and science fiction was reflected in the DIY details of their wedding. The centerpieces featured characters like Darth Vader, Storm Troopers, Dragons —an homage to the classic role playing game — and more than one adorable carved wooden Korok from the now infamous Nintendo game, Breath of the Wild (one of my favorite games of all time).
The Wedding Ceremony
Luckily the ceremony was held in a convenient patch of shade that provided a welcome respite on a somewhat balmy day. Kayla looked stunning in a classic dress with a silky drape, while Colin wore the hell out of a dressed-down navy suit and burgundy shirt. They exchanged vows under an archway laced with exquisite floral arrangements that created a picturesque setting for their union.
Arcadia Pictures captured the video of the ceremony, doing a fantastic job of keeping a low profile while capturing the essence of the ceremony. Their professionalism and expertise were evident in the quality of their work.
Post-Ceremony Formal Portraits
Immediately after the ceremony we took formal portraits with the family members in front of the archway. The happiness (relief?) for these two were palpable as family members from across the the spectrum posed with the newlyweds and preserving memories that would last a lifetime.
With some time left before dinner, we moved on to capture portraits with the bridal parties. Each member of the bridal party brought their unique energy to the session, culminating in one large photo of the whole party together. The camaraderie among the group was obvious and it carried the session along.
Before entering the restaurant for dinner, I took a few private shots of Kayla and Colin. This gave them a break from the ceremony’s energy and allowed them to enjoy a few quiet moments alone together. Sort of, but I don’t count.
The reception was exactly what Kayla and Colin had envisioned. That intimate space inside the restaurant was filled with laughter and conversation as guests from different parts of their lives got to know each other. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and reflected brilliantly on Kayla and Colin’s personalities.
The space constraints of the restaurant made it tricky for me to stay sly like I usually do, but it also provided opportunity for some very intimate shots that under other circumstances I would probably avoid in the interest of not disturbing the moments being shared among guests. These shots provided a glimpse into the genuine connections and interactions among the guests, adding a layer of authenticity to the wedding day story unfolding
My time at the wedding reception concluded with Kayla and Colin cutting their giant, blue, frosted, chocolate and vanilla layer cake. It was a joy to see their happy faces while they were cutting the cake, a moment of genuine happiness that I was privileged to capture. Yes, I ate a piece, and yes it was delicious.
The real hero of the day was Jessica Rivera. She was the in-house planner for Cedar Knoll at the time and expertly coordinated the event — not to mention basically revolutionizing how the business does events. Her attention to detail and professionalism played a significant role in making the day a success. She has since moved onto her own project with Branch Event Planning, but still works with Cedar Knoll every chance she gets.
As I left the venue with Felipe, who had been assisting me that day, I couldn’t help but reflect on the day’s events. Kayla and Colin’s wedding was a beautiful sequence of events that from a distance looks kind of like a lot of similar events, but up close was anything but. It was a privilege to be part of their special day, and I wish them all the best in their future together.