Acacio and Gianna - An Old School Portuguese Wedding in Ludlow Massachusetts

Ludlow Massachusetts  Wedding

Portuguese weddings are about family, food, and dancing

When you grow up in a Portuguese family in a small town like Ludlow, you spend many weekends at the Ludlow Portuguese Club attending huge Portuguese weddings. Before I became a wedding photographer, these big weddings were the only ones I had been to. Honestly, I thought it was normal to have bridal parties of 30 people, a guest list of over 300 people, a cocktail hour, first course, second course, dessert, and then late night food to soak up the alcohol and refill your belly after you’ve burnt a thousand calories on the dance floor.

And, yes there is lots of DANCING! Everyone gets out on the dance floor, even if you don’t know how to dance, someone’s Tio Joe or Tia Maria will bring you out there and show you how it’s done.

Massachusetts Family Wedding
Portuguese Wedding
Multicultural Massachusetts Wedding

It’s rare to find weddings like this now, but I’ve been lucky to have photographed a few. Casey and Gianna’s Massachusetts wedding had all of the elements of a traditional Portuguese wedding and it was so much fun.

They were married at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Ludlow, right down the road from the Gremio Lusitano Portuguese club. The church was built by the community of Portuguese immigrants in Ludlow many years ago and, along with the Portuguese club, has been a home base for people to connect with local resources and the community after emigrating to America. They had a full catholic mass led by Father Vitor, an iconic figure in the Portuguese community here.

Our Lady of Fatima Parish Wedding Photos
Catholic Wedding in Massachusetts
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Romantic and moody wedding photos
Multicultural Wedding

Exploring Ludlow Mills for wedding photos

After the ceremony, we took portraits around the church and down by the Ludlow Mills, which used to employ most of the Portuguese immigrants in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. I love taking wedding photos around mills. They have a nice industrial vibe to them and are a nice nod to the working culture we grew up around here in Ludlow. The church added a nice European vibe as well.

Ludlow Mills Wedding Photos
Ludlow Massachusetts Wedding Photographer

An enthusiastic, upbeat couple

Casey lived down the street from my grandmother when he was little so I’ve known him for a long time, but I hadn’t met Gianna until a few years ago at another wedding I was photographing. One thing I noticed was how well she could dance! Casey found a girl who can Portuguese dance and understands what it’s like to have a big family. Family functions revolve around food, drink and dancing. Gianna is not Portuguese but comes from a very close and big Italian family with a TON of personality.

Casey’s father, Joe, surprised the couple by hiring the Rancho Folclórico to come and perform during dinner. I loved that this was a surprise for the couple. Joe said that Casey loved to dance to Portuguese music with his grandmother when he was little. Joe wanted to honor her and that connection by sharing that love with all of the guests at the wedding. It was a beautiful and playful moment.

After the performance, the Rancho marched out of the reception hall, but I could still hear them playing their accordions and singing out in the hallway by the bathroom.

The night was topped off with cake and even more dancing.

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Candid image of a groom at a wedding
New England wedding

The picture perfect engagement story

Casey came home from work and proposed in front of Gianna’s whole family. It was her brother’s birthday party and her oldest brother was also there visiting from out of town. Casey decided, “This is the moment — everyone is here to witness it!”

At the party, the family gathered together to take their usual group photos. (Gianna’s mom loves group photos. Casey said, “We literally take pictures at every birthday party, I knew that about them.”) Right as the photo was being taken, Casey looked at Gianna and said, “Gianna can you take a look at this?” Casey then kneeled down and asked her. One of her sisters didn’t know he was proposing, and asked “Is he ok?”, as he got down on one knee.

 

“That was the perfect way to do it because I’m so in love with my family and it was just so nice and meaningful to have my entire family there, even the ones that are living far away.” -Gianna

Casey and Gianna are such an enjoyable couple to be around. Casey is goofy and silly, and Gianna just loves every bit of it. She is a nurse and Casey works for TSA security. They have an incredible energy to them that is fun and lighthearted.

Thank you so much Casey and Gianna for sharing such a special day with me. I loved every minute of your wedding! I wish you both a lifetime of love, health and happiness!

To see more from their wedding, click here.

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See more from this Portuguese wedding

Vendors:

Church: Our Lady of Fatima Parish

Reception: Gremio Lusitano Portuguese Club

Cake: Chmuras Bakery

Dress: In white

Rings: Rebeka Brooks

Suits: Joseph a Bank

Ceremony music: David Costa

Bridesmaids dresses: David’s Bridal

Flowers: Stacy Ratceyrackliffe

Make-up and Hair: Alta Moda

DJ: Tony Simmons

Invites: Minted

Second photographer: Oliver Scott Photography

Jess and Emil's early fall Wedding at Salem Cross Inn

September is one of the most spectacular months here in New England. It comes with cool, crisp weather, muted, earthy color schemes, and the start of the season’s vibrant foliage. 

Jess and Emil wanted to have their wedding at Salem Cross Inn to capture that fall vibe and to accommodate their family from all over New England. The venue is centrally located in Massachusetts and offers a ton of northeast charm. It sets the perfect scene for an autumn wedding.

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They really had a diamond day for their celebration. September is usually a month full of predictable, temperate weather, which allows for the prettiest outdoor events.

Jess and Emil decided to have an “unplugged” ceremony. I was so happy about their decision and it really made a huge difference. Cell phones at weddings can be really hard to photograph around, especially during key moments of the ceremony. Guests were present and able to enjoy the day without holding their phones. It also means that they are SUPER excited to see these photos since they don’t have any on their phones!

They had a beautiful ceremony outside of the venue overlooking the hills of central Massachusetts.

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Emil rides a motorcycle as do most of his friends, and the couple was really excited to include his bike in some of the photos. I thought it made the perfect prop for snuggles.

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The night ended with cake, dancing, toasts, and lots of tomfoolery between friends! They really were such a light-hearted and loving group of people to work with!

Congrats Jess and Emil, I wish you a lifetime of love, good health, and happiness!

Click here to see the full gallery preview.

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Jess + Emil’s Preview

Eloise - In home Newborn Session

Victoria and Abe were gifted an in-home newborn session at their baby shower over the summer. I was so excited to meet little Eloise when she arrived.

We spent the morning in their nursery and bedroom. Their home was such a beautiful space to work in and it really had perfect light. Eloise was happy in her mom and dad’s arms through the whole session.

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It was such a pleasure to meet Eloise and to capture the earliest days of this happy family’s story. Thank you Abe and Victoria, for sharing your home and for letting me capture such a special time!

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massachusetts newborn photography
massachusetts newborn photography
massachusetts newborn photography
massachusetts newborn photography
massachusetts newborn photography
massachusetts newborn photography
massachusetts newborn photography
massachusetts newborn photography
massachusetts newborn photography
massachusetts newborn photography

In home newborn sessions

Capture the start of your story in the comfort of your home.

Penelope Jane - Western Massachusetts Newborn Lifestyle Session

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Little Penelope Jane was born on August 30, 2019 to her loving parents Thom and Cassandra. Last week they had me over to their home to photograph their new family of four.

It’s funny how easy it is to forget how tiny new babies are. When Cassie came down the stairs holding Penelope I couldn’t believe how little she was!

I also couldn’t believe how well tempered she was. In between feedings Penelope was so relaxed and content with just laying on her back and daydreaming. Thom and Cassie are both deep thinkers and I couldn’t help but see those qualities unfolding in Penelope as I photographed her. She has some really intense deep thought expressions for an infant. It’s pretty cute.

Thom and Cassie hired me to photograph their wedding last year so it was great to catch up with them and be able to capture this next phase of their lives together. They’re a solid team and little Penelope and Orion are so lucky to have them as parents! Congrats to all of you!

Scroll down to see more from their session.

Newborn Lifestyle Sessions

Relax in your home with your little baby and let me document the snuggles.

Eli and Mike's Nantucket Sound wedding at The Pelham House Resort

The Pelham House Resort Weddings Cape Cod

Elissa and Michael met when they were undergraduate students at UMASS Amherst in a journalism class. Elissa said that she saw a cute guy wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt and knew right away that she needed to talk to him. Last year he proposed to her while they were on a short vacation in Maine and of course she said yes!

When they reached out to me to discuss wedding photography packages, I immediately got to know Elissa and her mom Alina, who had a major part in planning this amazing day. It was clear to me that Elissa and Michael are both so loved by their parents and family and while they were not yet married, the families were already so connected.

I was so happy when they told me they wanted to work with me. They had a really beautiful ceremony planned and a very fun reception to follow.

The Pelham House Resort Weddings Cape Cod
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They booked the Pelham House Resort in Dennisport, Massachusetts for the whole weekend to celebrate their wedding. The venue over looks two private beaches on Nantucket sound. The beach is a lovely place to sit and watch the boats go by. If you’re lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of a seal popping its head out of the water.

Elissa and Michael decided to book this venue because it could accommodate so many family and friends for the whole weekend and keep them all at the reception site. When there is a wedding at the Pelham, they close the resort to the public so the venue is really focused on catering to the unique needs of the wedding.

On friday they had a rehearsal dinner at Swan River Seafood Restaurant, followed by an after party at the Pelham in the resort bar. The staff was so committed to catering the the wedding’s every need, even on the days before and after the actual wedding.

The Pelham House Resort Weddings Cape Cod

Elissa got ready with her bridal party and family at her parent’s home in Dennis. They sipped samosas and snacked on breakfast while having their hair and make up done.

Michael got ready at the Pelham House with his best friends. The morning was slow and relaxed. Staff finished decorating the tent while guests spent time by the pool and poked around the beach before getting ready for the ceremony.

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They had a beautiful ceremony at the Holy Trinity Church in West Harwich, Massachusetts surrounded by all of their closest family and friends. The priest gave a nice sermon. There were readings, live music, and candles were lit as a sign of Eli and Mike joining their families together.

After the ceremony, the guests gathered outside of the church to cheer on the newlyweds as they took the first steps of their new adventure together.

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As soon as we arrived back to the Pelham House, guests were treated to cocktail hour. There were lobster rolls and lamb chops and mozzarella skewers and a lot of other delicious platters moving around the party.

I spent some time on the beach with the couple and their friends before catching the last bit of cocktail hour. Eli and Mike’s bridal party had a TON of personality and they were super fun to photograph.

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Eli and Michael had their first dance, there were many very funny and endearing toasts from friends and family. There was an incredible cake decorated with a cascade of hardened sugar that looked like sea glass, parent dances, and one of the most contentious bouquet tosses I’ve ever photographed.

Just as the reception wound down I noticed the staff of the Pelham buzzing around the beach setting up bonfires for the guests. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow that night but I’m sure the party kept going into the wee hours of the morning.

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Thank you Eli, Mike, and to your parents Alina, Ed, Mike, and Linda, for all of your hospitality and for all of your help with planning this event. We had SO much fun photographing this wedding and were so energized by being right on the beautiful ocean surround by such a fun crowd. You all made us feel like family.

Also special thank you to Connie from the Pelham House Resort for putting on such a solid event!

To view more photos from this event click here!

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Vendors:

Venue - The Pelham House Resort Dennisport, Massachusetts

Event Planner - The Perfect Plan

Flowers - Robin’s Flower Shop Boston, Massachusetts

Cake - The Casual Gourmet

Suits - Milton’s The Store for Men

Dress - Kleinfeld Bridal

DJ - DJ Cookie Policy

Make-up - Nic B Make-up / Courtney Martins Makeup

Limos / Trolleys - Cape Destinations

Videographer: The Hale Channel

Fatime and Thyldan's Congolese Engagement Party in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Most of the engagements (and weddings) I encounter are pretty straight forward. One person asks another to be with him/her for the rest of their lives and usually there is a “yes” and then there is a wedding and then they are married.

In some cultures, there’s a little more to it than that. Fatime and Thyldan are both from the Congo but met here in the United States and they asked if I would document their engagement party at Fatime’s home in Pittsfield a few days before their wedding. With both of their families living so far away, neither side had ever been able to meet, and the couple decided they would celebrate early with a traditional marriage rite.

I would say this event was kind of like the first day of a weekend-long wedding. Having come from a big Portuguese family, when Fatime kept sweetly asking if I was going to be okay covering such an unusual ceremony, I kept assuring her, “Don’t worry, I’m Portuguese. Our weddings are crazy long too”.

The marriage rite took place in her backyard in a small neighborhood near Pontoosuc lake in Pittsfield. When I arrived, Thyldan and Fatime were away but her house was full of family that had traveled from various corners of the world. There were two big tents set up in the backyard and a canopy for the couple at the front.

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Fatime and Thyldan wanted to have this event so their parents could meet and approve of the engagement and marraige. It was an opportunity for immediate family to offer advice, send well wishes, and confirm intentions. There were two MC’s and a DJ and every once in a while, the DJ would play a laugh track or use an air horn sound effect in reaction to something the MC said. It kept the crowd engaged and made it feel like a live taping of a variety show.

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I photographed Fatime at a hotel in downtown Pittsfield where she was getting ready with her friends. She told me ahead of time that she would be there with her sisters and asked if I could grab some photos of her getting ready with them. Well, when I opened the door to her hotel room and found nearly a dozen women in there I couldn’t help but yell in surprise “these are your sisters?!” She laughed and explained that she calls her cousins sisters, so no, these were not really her sisters.

Regardless, I was still impressed. I have a lot of cousins and I’ve never thought to try and fit them all in a single hotel room but I bet it would look something like this.

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While Fatime got ready, the MC’s worked the crowd by having various women come out hiding under fabric to trick Thyldan and the crowd into thinking that it might be Fatime.

“Is it her? Is it her?" they’d say.

They’d pull the fabric away and sadly no it was not “the beautiful eagle” (the bride).

This went on for about an hour, with the MC’s taking turns building anticipation and tricking the crowd into thinking the bride had arrived.

When she finally did arrive, she came out into the backyard under a sheet of fabric. She was led by her sisters who entered with a choreographed dance. This reveal was more dramatic and vetted than the previous reveals so guests had a feeling that it was “the beautiful eagle” they were waiting for all this time.

They removed the fabric and there was such a celebration.

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It was then Fatime’s turn to go and find her soon to be husband. She wandered around the tents looking for the man she would marry.

A few men came forward and she would politely tell them that they were not the one she was looking for.

When she finally found Thyldan, and the crowd erupted.

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The couple had to get permission from both of their parents and confirm their intentions to marry and be faithful partners. This was symbolized with the gift of a drink. First Fatime went and expressed her love and devotion to Thyldan and asked for her father’s approval and then Thyldan did the same with his father.

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Fatime’s father, uncle and mother got together and came up with a list of things the husband-to-be must bring their family. This can be everything from goats and chickens to expensive suits, pots, and machetes. The families then went behind the canopy to negotiate with one another in private, away from the couple.

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After negotiations came to an end, the MC’s had the couple offer one another drinks as a symbol of a kiss.

Fatime and Thyldan had never kissed before they were married. This was something I accidentally learned when I took their engagement photos and kept asking them to kiss! I wasn’t sure why they kept pausing just before kissing and they told me that their first kiss would be on their wedding day. They are the only couple I’ve ever worked with who had never kissed before. How special is that?

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After the ceremony they held a reception at the Berkshire Hills Country Club just down the road in Pittsfield. Fatime told me that dancing would start before food even hit the table, and she was absolutely right about that. The dancing was so much fun, EVERYONE was on the dance floor.

The next day the couple drove off to NYC to get ready for their official wedding day. I was exhausted so I imagine that they were too.

I love events that throw unexpected surprises and unforeseen challenges at me, so this one was my jam. Aside from a few portraits of Fatime before the ceremony, I was in full documentary mode for the whole afternoon.

A popular phrase I would hear when I worked for the newspaper was “If you saw it, you missed it.” Never has this phrase applied more to a hired event for me. I don’t think I put my camera down once during this ceremony, there was that much going on. I delivered Fatime and Thyldan a gallery FULL of candids.

I feel a different energy when I shoot like this, and when I get into a groove, I am reminded of why I chose this job in the first place.

Sure, it puts food on the table for my family, but it is also my passion. My camera is a ticket to new experiences and Thyldan and Fatime’s marriage rite really reminded me of how special that is. As long as this is my job, I’ll never stop growing and learning.

Jenny and Jeremy's Colorful Engagement Session in Northampton, Massachusetts

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Weddings can be a big investment and I am meeting so many couples lately who are becoming very conscious about where their dollars are going. Jenny and Jeremy have chosen to have their 2020 wedding at Artists for Humanities Epicenter in Boston, a non-profit arts space that provides under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design.

Jenny and Jeremy’s rental fee for the venue is 100% helping fund the employment of over 250 under-resourced Boston teens annually in art and design. Thanks to their rental, AFH can provide a safe space for teens to engage in experiential art and enterprise learning during out-of-school time. How cool is that?!

I love how thoughtful they were when choosing their wedding venue. The space looks so interesting and its look is always changing with new art from the kids. I am SO excited to photograph their event next year.

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Northampton Massachusetts Photographer
northampton massachusetts photographer

Jenny and Jeremy were wanting to get out of the city for their session, and while they had never been to Northampton, they were excited to explore all of the fun things it has to offer. We spent an hour poking around the city and getting to know each other. They admitted right away that they hadn’t had real photos taken ever as a couple and of course they warned me in advance.

(As a side note, I get warned a lot like this and it’s never been an issue, so take note future couples, you’ll all be fine and look like super models, k?)

Top photographer western massachusetts
Top photographer western massachusetts
Top Photographer Northampton Masachusetts

I wanted their session to be just as colorful and fun as their venue so we decided to use many of the bright murals around town. Some have been there for years and some were painted just very recently.

This mural by Brooklyn based Ramiro Davaro-Comas is one of the newer ones and one of my favorites. I love the ninja turtles peaking around the corner.

FUN FACT

Did you know the ninja turtles were conceptualized in Northampton?

I also love how the artist captured the story of the heist in such a fun and unique style. I was so excited when Jenny and Jeremy agreed to be part of the scene for a moment. Nearby shoppers and pedestrians got a kick out of seeing this shot come together as well.

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I’ve been blessed with some really adventurous couples this summer, Jenny and Jeremy included. Thanks you two for such a fun afternoon. I can’t wait to capture your wedding next year!

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Traci and Evan's Rainy Day Elopement in Northampton, MA

Rain on a wedding day can be stressful, and it is always one of the biggest worries when planning an outdoor celebration in New England. I try to tell myself to plan for the worst weather just because of how unpredictable things are here in the northeast.

The last few times I’ve been faced with rain at an outdoor wedding, I’ve lucked out with some very adventurous couples, like Traci and Evan, who love the thrill of unexpected photo plans.

Traci and Evan eloped moments before a heavy rain storm rolled in. They planned a very short and sweet ceremony on a Wednesday afternoon in the gardens at Child’s Park in Northampton. We JUST made it through the ceremony and a few family photos before the sheets of rain started.

With the forecast the way it was, I had been thinking of alternate locations for the two of them should this happen. Hotel Northampton was on my list, and it turned out that Traci and Evan’s parents were all staying at the Hotel so the staff was so happy to have us use their atrium during the storm.

We waited out the worst of the storm inside, watching the rain stream down the windows.

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I love this atrium for photos. The light is diffused and falls evenly throughout the room. I love the plants and all of the fun little chairs for people to sit on. It’s a private little space off to the side and every time I work in here I discover a new way to use it.

The rain let up and Evan suggested trying some photos at Forbes Library. He goes there regularly to read and explore the shelves. It’s one of his favorite places to go in Northampton.

The staff at the library was so happy to have us and strangers kept stopping the couple to tell them how beautiful they looked, how exciting it was that they had just been married and how neat it was that they came to the library for photos.

I secretly wanted to gather all of these nice strangers, who thought they were coming to the library for a quick return, form the most epic receiving line ever and snap an exit shot of the couple. Traci and Evan DID have to get to dinner eventually so we had to scrap that idea but maybe I’ll have a willing couple in the future? (hint hint hint hint hint)

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Traci teaches African American History at UMASS Amherst and Evan will be starting a new job at Harvard in the fall so the library felt extra special for this academic couple.

The session ended and I felt like our time together came and went so fast. I really enjoyed exploring with the two of them, and while the rain put a tiny moment of question in the plans, it led us on such an amazing journey.

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Congratulations Traci and Evan and thank you for choosing me to capture such a special event. I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness!

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Weddings!

If it rains, we still have fun. I promise.

Keith and Eric's Backyard Wedding in Easthampton, Massachusetts

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Keith and Eric are both from western Massachusetts but were living in New York City when they met through an online dating app.

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Keith, who is originally from Amherst, was actually sitting at the RMV in Easthampton, scrolling through his dating app when he noticed Eric, who was living in New York City. After a bit of reading, he learned that Eric was actually from Easthampton! They connected and had an amazing first date together. Keith knew that he’d found “the one” almost right away, and he did what any normal person in this situation would do.

He ran away!

Keith freaked out and disappeared for a bit to come to terms with his single life ending. Luckily, he was able to calm himself down and embark on this new adventure with his amazing new partner.

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Keith and Eric got engaged last year in Mexico City and have been living together in New York. They love to go on long walks, visit museums, and see musical performances in the city. Today they left on their honeymoon, back to Mexico, which now holds a special place in their hearts.

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As their wedding date neared, I kept an eye on the weather, and while rain was not in the forecast, a very intense heat wave was. Keith and Eric met me in downtown Easthampton before the ceremony where we took some portraits around the mill buildings and in front of some of the murals. It was so hot and humid to be wearing suits but it didn’t stop them from enjoying the quite time together.

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Since last year, they have been planning this intimate wedding in Eric’s parents backyard. I met with them in May while they were here on a visit to work on the outdoor space. It was clear that they did a ton of work to turn the backyard into the perfect location for their celebration.

The ceremony was officiated by Amherst based Justice of the Peace Robin Diamond. Keith and Eric said their vows under the chuppah and finished their ceremony with a kiss and a heavy stomp on two glasses as their family and friends yelled “Mazeltov”! The reception was catered by western massachusetts based Wheelhouse Catering, using all locally sourced ingredients.

I had so much fun working with them and I really couldn’t have asked for a more down to earth and sweet couple. Congratulations Keith and Eric. It was a pleasure to work with you and capture the love you have for one another. I wish you a lifetime of love, health, and happiness!

Vendors:

Food: Wheelhouse Catering

Flowers: Atkins Farms

Suits: Theory

Shirts: Paul Smith Designs

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Embracing the Chaos - Family Session with the Jackson Four

Each summer the Jackson family travels from Hong Kong to visit their family in New England, which is where I get to see them at our annual family session. This was the 4th year that I’ve worked with them, and I’ve come to expect that each session will be a wildly different adventure than the last.

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When we first met, they had two children and Joy was pregnant with her third baby, Oliver. At last year’s session, Oliver had turned 2 years old and Joy was pregnant with another baby boy!

At this session, Evander had just turned one and we celebrated with a fun cake smash at their Airbnb in Northampton. Evander was not a fan of being messy but we photographed it anyway because he was still cute when he was sad and covered in frosting. Don’t believe me? Click here to see the pictures and decide for yourself.

See? Told ya. Pretty cute.

Then WE ALL got cleaned up and headed out to Child’s Park in Northampton for some family photos. Evander was much happier in this field of flowers than he was in the cake moment.

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One thing that I admire so much about this family is how willing they are to embrace the madness that comes with having 4 kids - a madness that people like me in the 2-kid club will likely never have to experience at such an intensity. There is running and climbing, waiting, rushing, boo-boos, boogies, wrestling matches, outfit changes, and of course there are many tears and emotions to be dealt with as well.

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Chris and Joy’s ability to just roll with all of it certainly defines their family and I think it really shows in their photos. This is real life with 4 kids. They will want to remember all of it, even the hard stuff, because there is an odd charm in the not so good moments too.

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I love the tradition of photographing this wild bunch and I can’t wait to see them again next year! Safe travels Jackson 4!

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Family Sessions

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