It's the era of saying "I do" multiple times in a year. Couples have had to downscale weddings or elope a lot in the past year but even after the vows are said, many couples still want to celebrate with loved ones in person with a follow-up ceremony. It can be challenging to unify the theme and style of multiple wedding ceremonies especially as many small weddings happened outdoors, and now the larger weddings are happening indoors several months or years after the initial ceremony. It's quite a different scene to have the first part of your wedding nuptials in the great outdoors and the other part of your celebrations indoors, several months to a year afterwards.
Some couples have 2 or more follow-up celebrations for their wedding. Typically these follow-up celebrations are 6-12 months after the original vows and so your celebrations are taking place in two different seasons. In order to have a cohesive wedding album and feel like all the parts flow together, and that you still get your dream wedding, it's important to attempt to blend in the ways you celebrate as much as you can.
Here's a sample wedding from a couple who 1) eloped with 10 people in a Christmas tree farm in May of 2020, 2) said their vows with 30 guests indoors on a stage in a theater in October 2020, and 3) Had an outdoor wedding with 120 guests in a park in October 2020.
Even with all three of those very different celebrations, the couple was able to cohesively blend their celebrations into one fantastic phase of life though not everything happened all within a 24 hour period like the originally planned. This couple was able to feel like they celebrated their wedding to the fullest by taking advantage of their greatest tool: nostalgia.
If you are having a follow-up wedding celebration and feel disappointed that you couldn't have all your wedding celebrations on one day, and instead have to spread them out, you're going to want to utilize all the nostalgia you can, in order to blend your days of celebration into one sweet memory.
Here's how Bryson and Kelsey did it: Let's start at the beginning so you know how to follow their amazing lead on blending different wedding days into one big celebration. I'll even include all the twists and turns they had to encounter and solve, as most couples these days have to solve similar situations.
Last November, an actor, Bryson, proposed to an actress named Kelsey on a bridge in downtown Lititz, Pennsylvania where they'd had their first kiss. When Bryson called me to ask me to photograph the proposal, one of the first things he said about Kelsey was that she loved animals so much that she might actually die of happiness because there are hundreds of ducks that sit on the river under the bridge where he was going to propose. That was my first peek at how lovely and kind-hearted Kelsey was: the kind of woman who dies of happiness if there are too many cute ducks around. Yes, she is as adorable as she sounds.
From there on out, it seemed like they would be entering a normal wedding-planning experience and saying their vows on May 17 after a 6 month engagement. They were going to get married in a white church in the historic town of Lititz, PA, which had won an award for "cutest town in America" over ten years ago, and is still very cute today.
However, their wedding planning experience and consecutive "wedding trilogy" was anything but typical, and I had the fantastic responsibility of photographing each step along their journey. The following photos were taken 6 months apart, in three different locations. However, the only real difference is the fact that the groom grew a fantastic beard between his first wedding and his second/third wedding.
Only weeks before their wedding was scheduled, the couple was forced into an outdoor #microwedding at the venue that was originally going to be the reception site because only ten people were allowed to gather at one time, and they were required to be outdoors. Because of this, they had the lovely privilege of being the first ever couple to get married at Elizabeth Barns Christmas Tree Farm! The reason they chose this tree farm: nostalgia.
Kelsey had been getting her Christmas trees from the tree farm since she was a child so when she had to last minute change her weddings plans, she chose to get married in a comforting place: a sweet and magical childhood memory.
Their first ceremony, the legally binding ceremony that sealed them as husband and wife was in May, and was by far the most emotional wedding I have been part of. Elizabeth Tree Farms is a precious addition to the wedding industry of Pennsylvania. It's a truly luxurious and nostalgic place to get married. Kelsey had gotten her Christmas trees here her whole life and last Christmas when she was cutting down the tree with Bryson and his family she suddenly realized this was the perfect place ever to get married. How fortunate that this was the first ever year that Elizabeth Barns had started functioning as a wedding venue!
At their first of three weddings, Kelsey did a #firstlook with her dad behind the trees, before they made their way toward the aisle. Bryson stood with his back toward Kelsey, chatting with his dad who would be the one to marry them. Bryson and his dad are quite close.
Kelsey is one of the most radiantly beautiful women inside and out. Here comes the bride! Kelsey wore a classic tulle and a soft white lace gown, and had on a special necklace that her dad gave to her mom on their wedding day!
Bryson's reaction to his bride as she walked down the aisle was the kind of reaction every girl dreams of. He couldn't stand still, and he couldn't take his eyes off of her.
Everyone bowed their heads to pray before Kelsey's dad handed her over. Then Bryson's father started the wedding ceremony. Conducting the wedding ceremony of your child must be the highest honor a parent can have.
The weather could not have been more perfect. There were supposed to be thunderstorms but instead there was a gentle drifting cloud coverage, which makes afternoon lighting soft and gorgeous!
Before we were five minutes into the ceremony, everyone was already crying. That's the groom's mom in the back. She was so serious and teary the whole time and it was so beautiful.
The bride's parents held hands the entire ceremony and the bride's mom seemed to be holding back tears the whole time.
Grandpa prayed over their marriage before the vows and exchange of rings. It's really powerful for me to have worked with this couple through multiple wedding ceremonies because I was able to take similar images at each ceremony. These two images were taken six months apart and that is so special because the second time Bryson and Kelsey made their vows, they understood the levity of the promises they were making more than the first time, simply because they had already been doing married life for several months.
One of the most precious times of a wedding day for me is standing behind the officiant to watch the couple during the message. Usually, they have their backs toward the guests and the guests don't get to see their faces except for the photos I deliver.
I love watching the parents of the bride and groom and imagine what they must be imagining. Maybe they're thinking about all the trouble Kelsey caused as a kid. Maybe they're thinking about the first time she slept over at a friend's house. I always watch the parents of the couple, because this is their day too.
Kelsey's best friend was beaming the entire time. She didn't stop smiling for even a moment.
The way Bryson looks at Kelsey is out of this world. She is his treasure, and she adores him with her whole heart.
They exchanged rings and said their vows.
Mr & Mrs! Man and wife! He can kiss his bride.
They set a whole new bar for "joy" on their wedding day. I have to take breaks editing their wedding because the emotions were so strong, they love each other so much, their families love each other so much, and the happiness brought everyone around them to tears.
They walked to the bottom of the aisle then turned and stood this way, and told everyone they just needed a few minutes with cracking voices and teary eyes. What a perfect celebration!
Bryson and Kelsey set up a livestream of the ceremony as is typical for modern weddings and took a moment to address their viewers and thank them for their support and love.
Kelsey and her mom have a very special bond. Though her mom hadn't yet let the waterworks flow, in this moment when she hugged her daughter, she lost it.
Bryson hugging his dad, and Kelsey in the corner hugging her mom. They hugged their relatives without once letting go of each other's hands.
One of the best parts of Christmas at the Barns at Elizabeth Tree farms was always the horse drawn wagon. After someone cuts their Christmas tree down, they can ride home through the snow towed by two massive horses. What a dream! So of course, it was absolutely necessary for the horses to make an appearance and bring the guests home after the ceremony.
As soon as the guests pulled away and it was just the bride and groom and I, they turned to me and screamed together "we're married!!!
We took the vast majority of their portraits on their spring wedding day because although there were plans for a second, large-scale wedding at the time, it was a good opportunity to capture all the original joy, and who knows what the future holds?
The bride and groom headed back to the trees to have some portraits taken and spend some alone time soaking in that they are now married, and for the rest of their lives they belong to each other.
Bryson was very helpful with Kelsey's massive dress. Kelsey and I tried our hardest to keep it clean and did very well thanks to Bryson's carrying it everywhere over dirt and wood chips. Kelsey's train was very long and fragile and we already knew it needed to be in impeccable shape for their full-sized wedding in October.
Kelsey as a little girl would look forward to this day and be so, so excited that older Kelsey married someone like Bryson in the most magical place in Pennsylvania.
Not only were there gorgeous Christmas trees, but there's a gorgeous textured skyline right when you walk out of the trees!
Kelsey wore a pearl-drop necklace given to her mother by her father on their wedding day.
I think Kelsey might like horses as much as she likes ducks.
This picture always stops my scrolling. The horses, the giggles, the perfect spring weather, this will definitely be a long-time favorite photo of mine.
After their Christmas tree farm elopement, there was a lot of uncertainly about any follow-up wedding ceremonies. As the fall grew closer, they started planning how to have a larger wedding though they were already married. Bryson and Kelsey were very careful to preserve the emotion of their wedding day and wanted to blend their wedding days together.
They chose to have follow-up ceremonies at Sight and Sound Theatre, where Bryson and Kelsey had met, and at the historical park where Bryson had proposed to Kelsey and they had shared their first kiss. Three wedding ceremonies, one couple. Each ceremony reflected the heart of the couple, their devotion to their marriage, and their distinct classy style but in three very different contexts. Again, they made the choices to use nostalgia while planning their follow-up celebrations.
The morning of the wedding(s) came. It was the month of October and the air was fresh and the leaves were colorful. All of the bridesmaids and groomsmen were able to spend the morning together with Kelsey and Bryson respectively- a luxury they had not had at their wedding in May.
In the six months since their last wedding, Bryson grew a legendary beard. He's a classic sort of man with vintage tastes and classic style, and his beard suits him magnificently.
Kelsey and her ladies spent the morning at Kelsey's parents home listening to love songs and enjoying each other's company.
Kelsey and her mom embraced before heading off so Kelsey could have a "first look" with her husband on the bride where Bryson had proposed almost a year ago.
You may have picked up on a second tool for planning emotional follow-up weddings: re-creating. If you rely on nostalgia while planning second (or third) weddings, you will have the opportunity to re-create moments in the same locations. Here are a few images of the bridge as Bryson proposed to Kelsey nearly a year before the wedding.
Naturally, we headed to the bridge where they had gotten engaged for the sake of nostalgia and recreation of precious memories they had in that spot. Bryson and Kelsey exchanged letters on that very bridge before heading off to the first of the two wedding ceremonies that day.
After spending some time in the park, the couple headed to their first ceremony. Bryson and Kelsey were not aware that at their first ceremony that day, their guests - all singers and actors - planned to burst into song at the end. They headed off to what they thought was a simple exchange of promises and some quality time with their closest work friends who were not able to join them at the main ceremony on their wedding day.
An empty theater is a very majestic venue to be married at.
After prayers and the kiss, the cast was ready to burst into song.
An ancient city is a fantastic backdrop for a kiss!
At the first note, Bryson and Kelsey burst into tears.
Time for a few portraits of the bridal party! If you get married on a world-famous stage you of course need photos with the replica weapons.
The fantastic thing about working with actors is that I don't need to watch their posture or placement. They automatically fall into a staggered position, showing their best angles, and with correct and flattering posture. What a treat as a photographer!
The outside of the theatre is just as lovely as the inside!
On to the third of the wedding ceremonies! Back to the park. Lititz Springs Park, the historical park where they had their first kiss and where Bryson proposed to Kelsey. What a lovely wrap-up to their wedding journey, to end their wedding trilogy in the place where it all began.
Another prayer from grandpa and the tears are flowing.
The groom's mom and grandmother stood side by side, holding each other's arms during the whole ceremony.
Bryson & Kelsey finally had the day they dreamed of- surrounded by all their loved ones. For the third time they go over their vows, and share a kiss as man and wife.
The whole group walks across the park to the reception area. The wedding theme is travel, with flags from different countries marking each table, and the wedding favor is honey. Bryson has a bee-keeping hobby and so the gift of honey is a very personal gift to the wedding guests.
I always try to make friends with the flower girl and ring bearer so they won't be shy towards me and I will hopefully be able to get classic images of their personality shining through. I certainly accomplished that at Bryson and Kelsey's wedding.
Before the dances I took Bryson and Kelsey off to the side to recreate a photo we took at their proposal. If they hadn't gotten married here, we would never have this picture. Though it was taken a year apart and it wasn't in the original plan, because we went out of the way to honor the nostalgia and memories they had in other places, photos like this help to close the gap and unity all the different ways they chose to celebrate.
Bryson and Kelsey enjoyed the traditional dances with the father of the bride, the mother of the groom, and a first dance as man and wife.
Congratulations, Bryson and Kelsey. You aren't ordinary people. You aren't ordinary clients. You aren't an ordinary married couple. Who you are and who you serve shines through you and I know you'll be a beacon as you walk through life together.
It's bittersweet to send you your final wedding gallery. I've spent so much of my year with you at your different celebrations, editing your greatest memories, and getting to know you at a level I never get to know most clients. Thank you for the journey, my friends!