Brittany and Michael
This wedding was a little different for me...
...not only was I photographing Brittany and Michael's wedding day, but I also had the pleasure and honor of being one of Brittany's bridesmaids! One of the hardest aspects of being a creative, especially for events that are once-in-a-lifetime, is being able to step back and trust other teams to execute your vision, work just as hard as you do, have the same ethos and care for your loved ones... it's hard! Not only that, but I personally like to view photographs as little love notes to the subject, and let me tell you, I love this couple a lot. I truly wanted to capture Brittany as a forever thank you and physical manifestation of our friendship.
Breaking my heart, Brittany and Michael moved across the US from one cloudy city to another, but lovingly decided to have their intimate micro-wedding here in Pittsburgh, with the ceremony at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and a dinner-to-follow at Roost. It was a beautiful juxtaposition of this city where they lived and grew so close together- the gorgeous nature and flora of Phipps, combined with the urban elegance of Downtown Pittsburgh at night with Roost.
Brittany and Michael are honestly one of the more private couples I know, and I want to respect that-- but maybe even more, I want to gush about my friendship with Brittany. The color pink is to Brittany as the color black is to Anne- or maybe a bit more "her rainbow is my rose gold." She is the type of friend who is the most sensible with advice, but always encourages you to follow your dreams. Everything she does is genuine and sweet, but that's not to say she isn't a badass- she 100% is. She'll bring you into her friendships with others and push you out of your comfort zone, but also respect when you're feeling introverted and like you need a night in to bake cookies together and sip wine. She's someone who both saw the importance of making their union official with family and friends surrounding them with love, but in a wonderfully understated way focusing on the things they felt were most important- a beautiful scene, supporting small artists, and having all their friends and family from near and far together.
To do a first look, or not to do a first look?
One piece of advice I have for every couple is to please, please do a first look! There are so many reasons for the sake of light, photography, and of course for general planning- but the number one reason is because the person you're marrying is your best friend. Nothing squashes wedding day nerves like taking a minute to see your partner, let them take in how STUNNING you look (on their own terms and out loud, without 150 people staring), reassure each other about how the day is unfolding, and of course just be able to spend a few quiet moments together! This takes so much pressure off of keeping separated, wondering if everyone has the right accessories, if everything turned out how you expected... it lets you take a deep breath and refocus on what your wedding day is about- you marrying the love of your life, and that you're going on this journey together. It's nice when your fiance smiles as you come down the aisle- but it's better when their jaw DROPS and you can do a little spin!
Like all wedding days, little surprises are bound to happen. Through a series of mishaps and miscommunications, we found ourselves minutes away from the ceremony with out an officiant. But secretly, we had a little backup- Michael's mother! Brittany and Michael had always planned a small wedding, and had considered having his mother be the officiant originally, though through the growth and planning the idea had been switched around, but luckily, she was still ready to go! It was so touching to have someone so close to Michael recall their first meetings, moments of love and laughter, and welcome their new daughter-in-law to the family herself so personally.
In case you're wondering how on earth I was both IN and PHOTOGRAPHING a wedding.... the answer is my amazing friend/SS/partner in crime Maya Puskaric! We had this insane system I cooked up where I would stand nicely for two shots, then subtly sneak away, do a camera transfer, click-click-click, pass back, line up, walk walk walk, swoop in for the camera- it was pretty darn impressive, and I can't say how much I appreciate having someone at my right hand who is so amazingly talented and in sync with me! Genuinely, unless you were there, you wouldn't even know that I hadn't been in line the whole time. But on that note, I won't be pulling double duty photographing and being a bridesmaid for a wedding again for a looooong time, and would never suggest any couple to have your photographer be both! In this case it worked out due to it being a non-traditional wedding and because I truly wanted to capture their day for them- but in 90% of cases it's sad to not have your BFF in your photos, have them be working all night, and struggle to manage roles.
*it also may have worked well for me because I cannot relax ever, except for when I'm working and have everything planned out. but, shhhhhh.
Because Brittany and Michael had chosen to do a first look, we had so much time to be able to capture portraits both before and after the ceremony! We chose to do pre-ceremony photos inside around Phipps, and then use the gorgeous architectural outside following the ceremony- which put us just in line with golden hour! The way Brittany's dress moved was perfect contrast to the strong glass and metal of the greenhouse.
After portraits, we traveled to Roost for a wonderful intimate dinner spread and three amazing cakes from Butterwood Bake Conservatorium. Instead of loud music and party vibes, they planned a relaxed sit-down dinner with soft music and tables spread to reunite long-distance friends from across the US whom have been collected through years of travel. It was such a delight to meet previous roommates, coworkers, and family while reuniting with all of our other friends we haven't been able to gather with in the last year, especially to celebrate their love!