Preparations & Portraits with the Bridesmaids
The day kicked off at The Atreeum at Soaring Timbers, a venue managed by The Columbus Club of Annapolis. This new event space is a quickly growing go-to for couples seeking flexible space with a blend of modern and rustic-chic. I arrived to find Nina and her bridesmaids in the upstairs bridal suite. The makeup artists from Makeup by Ana B. were still applying the finishing touches.
While the makeup artists were busy doing their thing, I took the opportunity to capture some of the wedding’s smaller details. The Atreeum’s grand staircase served as a nice backdrop for the flowers provided by The Little Garden Spot, a florist known for their creative arrangements. The venue’s vaulted ceiling was the perfect spot to hang Nina’s dress for a dramatic shot.
Back in the bridal suite, I caught a photo of Nina and her mom standing beside the hanging dress. A kind of passing of torches. As the makeup session concluded, I gathered all the bridesmaids for a group photo. They leaned in toward Nina, their faces full of anticipation for the day ahead.
Nina then stepped into her dress. Her dad walked in and saw her for the first time, a moment that’s a staple in many weddings that helps to capture the emotional weight of the day as it often lands on parents of the bride and groom.
With everyone ready to go, the focus shifted to capturing formal portraits. I led Nina and her bridesmaids down into the reception hall, where the venue’s grand staircase again served as an elegant backdrop. We took a series of photos, including some with the full wedding party and others featuring just Nina. This was also the perfect time to capture some cherished family portraits with Nina, her mom, and her dad.
Before heading to the church, we took advantage of the remaining fall colors for some outdoor photos. The Atreeum, while stunning on the inside, doesn’t offer much in terms of scenic outdoor spots. However, we found a small patch of shade and foliage, complete with a cute bench, that served our needs. Given the late November chill, Nina donned a complementary faux fur shawl that looked fantastic with her dress.
Preparations & Portraits with the Groomsmen
Meanwhile, Felipe was at Sacred Heart Church, a hilltop congregation in Bowie. This church is almost 300 years old, one of the oldest in the country, and has an incredible history of its own. Keith and his groomsmen were getting ready in the Church sacristy, a room traditionally used for storing church garments, books and other sacred items. Fittingly, Felipe captured a more reverent vibe among the men than is typically found among a groom’s wedding party.
Soon enough, they moved outside for some formal photos. At the particular time of day, the church grounds provided less than ideal lighting conditions, but they served the purpose well enough. Formal photos before the ceremony are a standard practice, allowing for a variety of shots to be taken before the day gets hectic, and in this case since Nina was not on site yet, there was an ease to the process. No one needed to stay hidden while they were shooting.
Upon arriving at the church, I took a couple of quick shots of the bridesmaids still in the bus. Then, Felipe and I coordinated our coverage plan for the ceremony. Sacred Heart Church is a traditional Catholic setting, and out of respect for the Mass and in the interest of keeping our noise to a minimum inside the creaky church, we decided to position ourselves in the left and right flanking aisles. This allowed us to capture the ceremony without disturbing its sanctity or becoming a distraction for the guests.
Felipe, having a physically smaller frame and so producing less visual gravity than I would, took the center aisle for the processional. As Nina and her dad reached the front of the church, I was in just the right position to capture a handshake between her father and Keith. This handshake is a customary part of many weddings, symbolizing the joining of two families. It’s a somewhat tricky shot to plan for, and a moment that often happens in the blink of an eye, so it’s something special when we manage to get it from a good angle.
Throughout the ceremony, Felipe and I used a mix of long and wide lenses to capture various angles and moments. We even included shots from the balcony to add a different perspective. During the priest’s homily, he held up the wedding ring, discussing its symbolism as a circle without end, and I caught a great shot at just the right moment.
The ring exchange was next. I got some great shots of Nina and Keith as they slipped rings onto each other’s fingers. Nina gave Keith a knowing smile that seemed to sum up so much of what was happening that day.
As the newlyweds made their way back down the aisle, I caught a telling photo of Keith shooting finger-guns to someone in the congregation, and seconds later Felipe captured a compelling photo of a kiss in the aisle, which which just so happened to catch the flash off my camera. Let’s be real, sometimes the best shots of accidents.
The Rest of the Portraits
After the ceremony, we took only a handful of portraits at the front of the church. These included large group photos with the full wedding party, and especially one with both families together. The church’s compact size and its large, white, curved ceiling allowed me to bounce light effectively, which thankfully eliminated the need for an additional lighting setup.
Once outside, the full wedding party gathered for a few more shots. These had a bit more personality than the traditional style photos we’d just taken inside. We concluded the outdoor group portraits with an ultra-wide shot, where everyone crowded around me as if inspecting a crime scene, breaking the formality and adding a touch of spontaneity to the album.
Nina, Keith, and I stayed back for about 20 minutes to capture some couple’s portraits. The soft light of the oncoming sunset provided the perfect atmosphere for these intimate shots.
Felipe and I drove back to The Atreeum together and found guests already mingling and enjoying themselves. The floral decorations and table displays, crafted by The Little Garden Spot, had transformed the space while we were away. The reception officially began with the DJ from District Remix making introductions. Yet again the grand staircase of The Atreeum served as the stage and added a touch of grandeur to the moment.
Following the introductions, Nina and Keith had their first dance. I managed to capture this nicely through some strategically placed glassware on a guest table. The first dance is a wedding staple, though seen as somewhat routine sometimes, it symbolizes the couple’s first steps together in a new life and can provide more reliable photo opportunities than the dance floor uncertainty that can come later in the evening.
Speeches followed. Nina’s dad, then her maid of honor, and finally Keith’s best man took turns at the microphone. Each speech offered a different flavor—touching remarks from the father, a heartfelt toast from the maid of honor, and a witty monologue from the best man.
Dinner was served, and then the dance floor opened. Traditional dances took place, including dances between Nina and her dad and Keith and his mom. Despite some mobility challenges, dancing with her son was a priority for Keith’s mom and it was an especially noteworthy moment.
As the night progressed, guests enjoyed a DIY photo booth set up nearby and midway through the reception, Nina’s brother took the stage to sing a karaoke version of a song. The name escapes me, but it was a fun moment that everyone enjoyed. Karaoke is not a standard wedding tradition but was a unique touch that added personality to the event. Nina made it a point to dance with all of the groomsmen, many of whom were Keith’s brothers. She and her bridesmaids also participated in what looked like a glass-breaking dance, a tradition often seen in Jewish weddings, although the glass wasn’t actually broken and I’m not really certain that’s what it was. I should have asked, but who wants to interrupt that kind of energy?
As the evening neared its end, Nina and Keith cut their cake to little fanfare. The cake, supplied by Graul’s Market in Annapolis, was more than just a photo opportunity; it was a moment mainly for the two of them.
Our time at the event came to a close. Kudos to the event planner, Karma O’Neill, for orchestrating such a well-run event. We spent a few minutes with guests outside, who were enjoying cigars and sharing stories about how they know Nina and Keith. It was clear to everyone, and especially to us, that these two are perfect for each other. As we departed another chapter in Nina and Keith’s life was beginning. Here’s to many more chapters yet unwritten.