Allow me to tell you about a little thing called Fall weddings in the Catskills. It’s basically heaven. You take one of the most beautiful, mountain areas in New York State and get married while the trees are bursting in color and win at life. That’s it. The formula is simple. If you want to complicate things ever so slightly but reap huge rewards, you can purchase your own property and convert your barn into a wedding reception, get married on your own majestic lawn with mountains surrounding you and REALLY win at life. That’s exactly what Meagan and Emilio did for their Catskills barn wedding. Yeah, this wasn’t a Catskills wedding venue until they turned it into one and I was truly blown away.
As a Catskill wedding photographer, I’ve been so fortunate to capture wedding stories on all sorts of properties. Some are rustic Catskill wedding venues and some are backyard weddings. They all have their own allure but it’s hard to beat a backyard wedding that looks like a mountain venue location. The huge benefit that Meagan and Emilio got out of all their hard work in crafting their own Catskills barn wedding was the ability to allow their day to flow naturally and without a super strict timeline.
Witnessing this first hand really allowed for so many real, organic moments to occur without the worry things were falling behind or having to cater their every move to a clock. It was basically a perfect situation for me as a wedding photographer who focuses on unstaged and honest moments. My creativity felt free and the story I was telling just wrote itself. This Catskills wedding was a pure joy to document and I feel very lucky to have been a part of it. Here is Meagan and Emilio’s Autumn wedding in Upstate New York.
Nature! It’s really good on it’s own. It’s also really good with a couple of married people traipsing around in fancy clothes. Just like Kayla & Curtis here. Their Stonewall Estate wedding up in Delhi, New York in the Catskills was a perfect example of never having too many trees or mountains or barns or views. But, before all of this hiking and climbing and standing in ferns situation, these two did something I really enjoyed witnessing and photographing.
Instead of reading their vows infront of all their guests, they decided to read them to each other right after their first look. It was intimate and a perfect way to have that moment privately without having everyone you invited watch you. This is exactly why I say you have to do things that are right for you as a couple, not just because it’s what other people do. It’s your wedding and there are no rules. Be your own people.
Aside from that, you have to applaud these two for getting their shoes dirty. Literally. I’m fortunate to work with a lot of couples who love nature and love to hike so they made sure to set aside plenty of time to explore the huge property for their Stonewall Estate wedding. It gave us a lot of relaxed time before they did the whole marriage thing to get a ton of variety of backdrops and simply spend one-on-one time with each other. Another thing that’s pretty important when it comes to marriage. Here’s their Catskills wedding story in picture form.
A party so crazy, everyone lost their shirts. That will make sense at the end of this post but let’s start at the beginning. Lion Rock Farm in Sharon, Connecticut is one beautiful place to do marriage as Charlotte and Patrick can attest. It’s always a good sign when you can just point in any direction blindly, walk that way and inevitably find something beautiful or interesting. That describes the property at Lion Rock Farm perfectly. Corn fields, silos, fields of wheat and just general nature-filled awesomeness makes being Connecticut wedding photographers not too challenging of a task here, which is pretty sweet if you ask me.
There was an interesting twist on this mid-summer day. Guests filed in, took their seats and while we all waited for the ceremony to begin, the clouds above decided to drop some rain minutes before it was about to start. Everyone scrambled for cover and guests retreated to a barn on the property until the weather cleared. A lesson in patience. Charlotte & Patrick decided to absorb a 15 minute delay in order to say I do exactly where they originally planned, which I’d say worked out for the best. And the shirt thing? That’s kind of tradition among their friends when Madonna hits the speakers at a wedding. So yeah, shirts come off and people lose their minds. It was fun.
New York backyard weddings. Sign me up every single time. As much as I love all of the incredible wedding venues in Upstate New York, there’s something special about turning your own home and property into something that has all of the features a great venue would have. A beautiful ceremony location. Gorgeous tented reception. Epic locations for couple photos. As Upstate NY wedding photographers, these are all of the characteristics of stunning wedding locations I’ve been fortunate enough to be accustomed to. Well, Ali and her family packaged all of that in their own backyard.
I think the best part about throwing a backyard wedding is that it inevitably takes any possible stuffiness out of the equation. As a couple it’s easier to just let the day unfold how it may. As a guest, you know that the wedding is all about the important stuff and just having a good time. Guards come down. People are more relaxed. The overall vibe is what every couple strives for no matter where they get married. Job well done, Ali & Matt.
Oh hey there, Basilica Hudson. You’re looking good. I’m incredibly grateful for the number of amazing and unique Hudson Valley wedding venues I’ve had the opportunity to photograph marriage in and the Basilica Hudson is right up there in the awesome department. A beautiful, raw industrial space, it can handle anything you throw at it and look really good in the process. Rachael & Jeronimo came in strong with the ferns and greenery which lit up the space in the perfect way for a summer wedding.
All of that aside, the true show with any wedding isn’t decor or flowers but the real moments and emotion happening throughout the day. This is what gets me excited. With family flying in from Colombia on Jero’s side, you have that little extra element of excitement with it being a destination for half of the family. Meaningful element after meaningful element in the way Rachael and Jeronimo wanted to do it was the theme of the day. Speeches outside during cocktail hour? Sure. Guests standing up and speaking during the ceremony with pieces of advice? Let’s do it. One of my favorite trends in the wedding world I’ve noticed over the past few years are couples taking control of their day and truly doing it how they want to. Not for the sake of tradition and making it their own. These two owned it.
One of the best parts of documenting weddings is the vast number of people I get to meet every year, but it’s bittersweet sometimes. You come into people’s lives so heavily invested in their story, pour every ounce of yourself into the 8-10 hours you have with them and 99% of these people you’ll never see again. Thankfully, Lauren & Trevor are in that 1% category. They were guests at a wedding I captured very early on in my career and once I wrapped up coverage on that wedding, I spent some time around a bonfire talking. We stayed in touch over the years and I always hoped that I’d be able to re-enter their lives once they decided to take that next step in life. When I got that email from Lauren years later, I let out an audible “about time” to myself. She told me they were looking at Pennsylvania wedding venues near where they lived but knew one thing for sure, they wanted me there and they wanted a wedding that meant something to them. I was honored, of course.
Their wedding was a true down-to-Earth, only-the-things-that-matter wedding with no frills. I say that in the most admirable way possible. I know it’s probably hard for some couples to disregard traditions that have been a part of weddings for decades but I truly respect the ones that are able to do that. They settled on a wedding at a state park near their home. Brought in food (TACOS!) from a nearby vegan restaurant and let the day be what it would be. I felt so much freedom from a story-telling perspective because I knew I had their full trust. This was a special one for me.