Felipe and I arrived at The Great Room at Savage Mill on the sleepy banks of the Little Patuxent River almost an hour early. It had been quite a while since we had photographed a wedding at this venue and we wanted plenty of time to acclimate ourselves with the plan we had designed weeks in advance. Talk about an absolutely stunning place for some good old fashioned Maryland wedding photography.
Our first order of business was to check out the venue space to see how things might have changed and say hello to the venue coordinator Angie Wise. It was as beautiful as ever and Angie was as hard working and on top of things as ever.
The Great Room at Savage Mill is a venue inside a big and discontiguous building, with lots of winding hallways and huge perimeters, so part of our goal before things got started was to choose some specific locations for portraits because once things got underway, we’d be on a time crunch and it would just be too easy to lose out on great spots while fussing with lesser options.
Once these decisions were made, the wedding party was beginning to arrive and it was time to get started..
Lindsay and Matt forwent photos of prep so that we would have more time for portraits before the ceremony. The first order of business was to shoot a first-look between the two of them. Because of the winding nature of the venue, we opted for simplicity and positioned Matt just outside the front entrance to the Mill, having Lindsay drive up in a car piloted by her father. It was immediately obvious what an ouststanding job Amoura Hair Studio had done. Lindsay walked directly out of the car and up to Matt to turn him around and share that moment together.
The simplicity of the first look also provided a very sweet opportunity to picture Lindsay’s family looking on in the background.
With the first look done, we made our way to the Great Room where family was gathered and ready for portraits.
We chose the deck outside the tented ceremony area for family portraits. While this spot wasn’t our first choice, given the circumstances and the number of people involved, it provided the right balance of aesthetics and convenience.
One thing worth noting here is that we almost universally advise against trying to capture family portraits before the ceremony, especially when there are a lot of people involved. There are just so many things that can go wrong, leading to missed photographs or timelines going badly askew. However, in Lindsay & Matt’s case, this was a priority for other reasons and these two went through near herculean efforts to make sure things didn’t go awry. They were playing with fire, but it paid off!
The family portraits were an efficient process of building one arrangement on another, starting with Lindsay’s side, to a pinnacle which included the whole family from both Lindsay and Matt’s side, and then gradually deconstructing down to the smallest arrangements on Matt’s side.
The static location we chose for the family portraits out on the deck paid off as we expected that it would, and the tall historic windows set into the worn brick of the mill captured the venue’s vibe nicely while also providing the shade we needed as the sun decided to show itself at the last minute.
Portraits with the Bridal Parties
When family portraits were done, we wasted no time heading out into the rest of the venue with the wedding party. In spite of temperatures a little warmer than anyone expected, Lindsay and the Bridesmaid’s makeup stayed damn near perfect thanks to Faccia Bella Makeup’s excellent work. The beautiful floral arrangements from Rainbow Florist & Delectables also made a pointed appearance throughout.
Felipe and I captured portraits with the parties concurrently. We used a small brick courtyard in the middle of the venue, as well as the brick patio in front of the venue, swapping the parties back and forth.
Using the old historic steel beam bridge outside the venue was a priority for Matt & Lindsay, so that’s where we headed. Once we got there, with time running thin, we chose a scenic spot with the bridge in the background for a cool shot of each party, and then lead the whole party out onto the bridge for a photo of everyone together..
With the wedding party officially done, we grabbed them for one final quick shot on the stairs with the giant sign reading “Savage Mill” above them..
Before heading back into the venue, Felipe and I spent the remaining few minutes capturing some images with Lindsay & Matt alone on the bridge. Felipe captured a particularly nice wide angel shot with the bridge beams criss crossing above them.
By now it was time to make our way back to the Great Room, but we stopped for a couple more quick shots of Matt & Lindsay at some scenic spots near the patio again.
Back at the Great Room, guests were ready and waiting for Matt & Lindsay to arrive for their Ketubah singing ceremony. The ceremony was officiated in a shared effort between Matt’s pastor and Lindsay’s Rabbi. We captured this moment in a purely candid fashion.
With the signing done, there was a brief moment to breathe before the ceremony was slated to begin. Lindsay’s mother and sister helped her to affix her veil in a nearby bathroom, which made for some very touching and personal photos.
The ceremony took place under the venue’s white tent, which provided a refuge from the sun which was now beaming.
The area posed some challenges from a photographic standpoint. Since the seating extended all the way to the deck railing on one end, and the brick wall on the other, Felipe and I would have to station ourselves through much of the ceremony without moving a great deal. Felipe captured images from the front, and I captured images from the back. Additionally, the lighting conditions varied tremendously from one spot to the next. Fortunately with some careful editing we were able to smooth out the variations and preserve a good representation of skin tones across the ceremony images.
The ceremony was fairly brief, with the dual officiants each participating and honoring the faith traditions of the families.
The event featured a candle ceremony the parents lit Lindsay and Matt’s candles, and then Lindsay & Matt lit their own unity candle. Given the space constraints, this was a tricky moment to capture, but Felipe’s nimble frame was able to get some great shots that captured their facial expressions in the moment.
The ceremony concluded with their first kiss, and Matt stepping on the glass as part of the jewish wedding tradition..
Having taken all the portraits in advance, the ceremony was able to move straight into a cocktail hour which gave Lindsay & Matt a moment of respite together, and Felipe and I plenty of time to cover details that would soon deteriorate with the reception festivities.
The exclusive caterer for The Great Room, Putting on the Ritz, laid out a great spread of Mediterranean fare which guests clearly enjoyed.
When the reception properly began, Lindsay & Matt were introduced and went straight into a beautifully choreographed first-dance.
As at the two finished their first dance, a lively bout of dancing preceded dinner. A majority of the room got up to participate. This was an unusual approach suggested by the DJ Maxim. Since a lot of these people had spent a lot of time standing around, some dancing before dinner would really help set the tone for the evening. It very much did, and it demonstrated his astute understanding of how energy can flow through an event like this one, and now I kind of wish all DJ’s took this approach.
During this initial burst of dance floor energy, guests lifted Lindsay & Matt on chairs for the Hora as Hava Nagila bounced around the room.
When the first round of dancing wound down, the officiants blessed dinner with a traditional cutting of the challah, and then Putting on the Ritz brought out plated meals of Chicken, Beef and Ravioli with asparagus and potatoes. It was delicious.
As guests ate, Felipe and I went from table to table making brief interruptions to capture quick portraits with the people at each table.
As dinner came to a close, Lindsay’s sister and maid of honor, Jes — an incredibly talented photographer and branding professional herself — shared a touching toast. Then Matt’s best man took the mic and offered some genuine and heartfelt words intermixed with some gentle ribbing.
Matt shared a very sentimental dance with his mother, then Lindsay’s father took the microphone and shared some words with the guests and his new son-in-law, before taking Lindsay for a tear-jerking father daughter dance.
At this point, Lindsay & Matt cut their beautiful two tiered wedding cake provided by Santoni’s Bakery, decorated naked-style with white frosting. There is a great pairing of photos which demonstrate how good the cake is — a photo of Matt just about to take a bite, and then a photo just after taking a bite with a facial expression that says “wow, that’s good cake”..
At this point, the ice cream bar opened along with the dance floor. An array of sweet toppings for ice cream, and a complement of cupcakes caught guests attention..
The dance floor was lively all night long. One of DJ Maxim’s cohorts, a saxophone player, brought a lot of energy to the space, and the lights and fog machine created an irresistible party atmosphere that remained engaging for hours..
In the End
Lindsay and Matt’s wedding at The Great Room at Savage Mill was a beautiful celebration of love and union. The meticulous planning and coordination between Lindsay, Matt and Angie Wise, the venue coordinator, was remarkably effective in ensured that everything ran smoothly.
In the end, Lindsay and Matt’s wedding was a statement about their love, and the coming together of two families. The blending of different faith traditions, different paths, and different people, the heartfelt speeches and toasts, and the emotional dances all added to the texture of the event. The beautiful setting, the delicious food, and the lively entertainment all combined to create a memorable day for everyone involved, Felipe and I included. And we we snatched up a couple of those cupcakes on our way out.
Thanks for taking the journey with us. Cheers to Lindsay & Matt!