Wedding: Chantel & Paul

posted on: January 19, 2007

Chantel & Paul blew me away with how much of this wedding they did on their own! How they managed to do it all without being completely stressed out, mystifies me. I think I'll only be able to scratch the surface, but I tried to capture images of as much as I could. They were married at the beautiful and quaint Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church in Spring Arbor, MI.

The flower girls were simply adorable, even when they weren't at their happiest.

Chantel & Paul decided to see each other before the ceremony in order to get all of the posed images out of the way. They had a LOT of guests attending (300+?) and didn't want to make people wait after the ceremony too long before eating. I love that grooms get a chance to express themselves when they see the bride privately... maybe they feel more comfortable without everyone watching them. (Or maybe I'm just totally biased and would love it if everyone did this!!)

After we did the typical family portraits indoors, we headed outside for some more interesting shots with the bridal party and just the bride & groom. As we were walking, I heard this *chink*chink*chink*chink* and couldn't figure out what it was until I noticed that one of the groomsmen had spurs on. Later on he ditched the spurs and donned a cowboy hat instead. Niiiiiiiice.

Just in case there were any doubt that we were on the Spring Arbor campus, here's the landmark of proof!

I think the best moments happen when people think I'm done taking a picture! HA- these girls were so fun! Aren't their eyes gorgeous too?!

So, there are a lot of DIY brides out there who make their own invitations, arrange their own flowers, and maybe even make their own cake, but have you ever heard of someone growing and entire plot of sunflowers in the HOPE that they will bloom for their wedding day!? Well, that's what Chantel & Paul did. They planted their own seeds and grew their own little sunflower field. I'm still in awe.

The ceremony was beautiful, and very moving...

(some people are against taking pictures during prayer... if this is the case for you, please let me know in advance... otherwise, I see it as an opportunity for emotional moments like the one above)

One of the things that was really important to Chantel & Paul was a group picture of all 300 something guests. So, right after the ceremony, I BOLTED up to the sound booth in the balcony to get set for the huge group shot. We worked it out with the minister in advance that after the bridal party made their exit, he would ask the guests to remain in the sanctuary and move toward the center aisle for an entire group shot to be captured from the back of the church. I had the bridal party walk back in and stand in front of everyone so they were the most visible. This church had a nearly perfect set-up for this shot, especially with the wide open row in the middle! I took a few lighting test shots while everyone was getting into place, and then fired two rounds of continuous mode shots (just in case of blinks). I'm really impressed with the results- especially considering this entire room was illuminated with just one little on-camera flash with a lightsphere attached!!!

(click here to see what it looked like without the flash)

Note to all men: at some point you will need to hold a woman's purse. This may also be a cautionary reason why you might want to take an interest in the purses your girlfriend or wife may be purchasing... "Honey, should I go for the quilted pink paisley or the black leather?" Obviously this man chose to NOT offer his opinion... he he he... doesn't he sport it well though? I have to give him props for pimping it like it's his own man-bag!

Back to the DIY stuff... so, on top of GROWING their own sunflowers, they also SMOKED their own brisket!! I think they said they were smoking it the entire day before the wedding! With enough to feed 300+ people?! Wow. I'm not sure if the strawberry topping was homemade, but I loved that they had it to serve on top of the cake slices!! Too bad I didn't get to try any! It sure did look good though!!

I think the best man gave more of a Roast than a Toast! He told some great stories and had everyone rolling with laughter!

The first dance... with a little audience...

I think Paul will make a great daddy... just look at him with those girls! I think I know who he learned it from too...

When you know a lot of kids will be attending, you have to find things to keep them occupied. Dancing is one thing (if you don't mind playing a lot of songs that kids can participate in), coloring books are another (which Chantel & Paul had), or you can just pick a place like the Marshall Activity Center that has its own arcade!! How fun is that? However, it still couldn't keep one kid from getting caught red-handed in the cherry tomatoes!!! The look of guilt here just cracks me up!

There's always one guy who loves to steal the show on the dancefloor... and this was that guy!!

Name that tune!

I think it's someone's bedtime...

If you actually read all of this, CONGRATULATIONS (you must really like me)! Please take a moment to leave a comment about which image is YOUR favorite (and if you say why, that's fun to read too!) Chantel & Paul will receive a free gift enlargement (8x12) of the top pick!! (and if they don't like it, they can give it to someone who will!) The winner will be chosen next Friday- which means you have one week to vote and to get everyone you know to vote for your favorite! I can't wait to see how this turns out!!!

29 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. jamie8:27 AM

    wow, totally tough choice on pics... I'd have to go with either the very first one, kissing in front of the church, or the bride and bridesmaid (a sister?) being goofy. I like the abandon of the kiss, and the close silliness of the second shot. Can I vote .5 for each? ;-)

  2. Oh, my goodness! The first Flowergirl shot in the pews is rocking my world! That was amazing! You are such an inspiration Anne. I wish we could hang out!!!! : ' (

  3. megan9:40 AM

    I absolutely love the last shot of the sleepy little girl under the tables and chairs. So much mood and emotion that is SO indicative of the reception after it's a few hours in. ;)

  4. Anonymous10:07 AM

    They are ALL amazing! Just beautiful! I love the shot after the wedding, with everyone in it...what a cool idea and it turned out great!


  5. Oh my goodness!!! You guys aren't making this easy!! So far everyone has chosen something different!

    I love reading all of the comments though, you have such keen eyes and insight! It's fabulous!!

    (Jamie... time to make a decision... what if it comes down to your vote being the only other one for an image?? How am I going to divide it between 4 choices?)

    Need more votes! :D

  6. As a photographer myself I have to say I'm absolutely loving the idea of photographing the entire church, all attendees, and the wedding party at once. What a great one for your portfolio!

    I need one of those lightspheres... And a fun couple like yours!

  7. Tanna1:46 PM

    I have to say that these are some of the best wedding pictures I've ever seen. I love the shot of the flowers girls in the pew. But I may be a little bias since I'm their mother. I also loved the shot of Paul and Chantal kissing in front of the church.

  8. Anonymous2:39 PM

    I'm partial to red so I vote for the girls in the pew. :)

    What lightsphere did you use? Chrome?

  9. Jess - I totally agree! It was one of the only must have shots for my own wedding!

    Tanna - it's OK to be biased... and if other people vote for your girls, I'm guessing Chantel & Paul just might send that gift print your way!!!

    Camille - I used the Lightsphere II with no dome. Since I was shooting at a downward angle, I adjusted the direction of the direct bounce to hit the ceiling right around the front of the group, hoping to bounce a lot of the light toward the back of the group.

  10. Anonymous3:31 PM

    I absolutelly love your pics! You're obiously very good at what you do. Just found your blog while browsing through, and so far your page was the one I liked best:)

  11. Anonymous5:02 PM

    My vote is for the entire group shot. Fabulous! You gotta love that Lightsphere...they are so awesome!!!

  12. Hmmm... should I accept anonymous votes?!?!?

  13. Sarah M. Whitehead10:49 PM

    I vote for kissing in front of the church. A beautiful shot that I'm sure the couple would cherish... especially if it's free.

  14. Chantel, Paul & Family - you're officially famous... Gary Fong (inventor/photographer extraordinaire) put your picture on his lightsphere product page!
    Check it out!

  15. Anonymous6:34 PM

    Yes, I read all the way through. I was so thrilled with your detail description of how you caught some shots. I love all your pics and keep up with them on flickr.I've marked so many of your pics as faves. I was so excited to see that you had this blog I love your color saturation. Do you have any tips? I can't wait to get to read your entire blog. Cathy Gray

  16. Hi Cathy!!! Good to see you found my blog!! For color saturation, it sounds silly... but I actually make sure my camera is set to add zero saturation so that it can all be done in post. I never actually add saturation to my images.. but I do often add an "S" curve or contrast, which naturally adds more saturation and definition to the images!

  17. Oh Anne, You rock!! I love all of them -- but the one that really speaks to me both graphically and just in terms of sweetness is #3, the one of the flowergirls in the pews of the church.


  18. Anonymous12:02 PM

    Thank you so much Anne! I love all that you have done to capture our special day so beautifully! All of the candids really captured the spirit of the whole day. I love all of the pictures, but of the those posted on your blog, I really think that the flower girls in the pew turned out great....and I'm certain it would make a beautiful gift!

    Thanks again -


  19. Chantel - that's so sweet of you!!!!

    Here are the votes so far... there are still 5 days left to change the vote!

    Girls in Pews - 5
    Large Group Shot in Church - 2
    Kissing in front of Church - 1.5
    Sleepy Girl - 1
    Goofy Girls - .5

  20. Okay, I will come out of anonymous hiding to vote for this! (I seem to be stalking photographers I want to be like when I grow up through their blogs :) I vote for #1. You took a classic wedding "pose" and took the "pose" out of it with a fun, beautiful, and romantic twist, yet it remains classic. Not knowing the couple, my guess is that this is the truest, most beautiful version of who they are as a couple.

  21. jamie8:23 AM

    Okay, if i must vote wholly for one, it's the first pic of the kiss of abandon....

    i'm more and more bummed I can't have you for my wedding date :-(
    and we gotta find someone soon.. gah!

    miss you lots!!!

  22. Anonymous2:14 PM

    Anne - love them all, as usual - very inspiring...

    If I were the new couple, I'd like the first one, the kiss in front of the church.

    Thanks as always for sharing not just images, but your great comments about the day.

  23. Anonymous3:14 PM

    You do a great job!! All the pictures are fantastic! My favorite would have to be the flower girls in the pew though. So cute!

  24. millie10:41 AM

    Hey Anne!

    Love the spurs shot... So great. I wish people would wear those around here, that would make for a great shot! Thanks for the link too!

  25. Wow, tough choices. I have to say that my faves are the first one, the group shot, and the little girl lying on the floor - a truly fabulous catch.

    And I cannot believe they had the faith to grow their own flowers AND smoke 300 hungry tummies' worth of brisket. WOW!

  26. Kerri9:57 AM

    I found your link through Gary Fong's site. Your photos are beautiful. The group shot turned out amazing and what a great idea if the venue has the room for it!

  27. .. and the winner is.....

    There was definitely a small push there at the end to bump up the kiss in front of the church, but in the end, the little girls won everyone over with their total cuteness. ;-)

    Congratulations!! Chantel & Paul will be receiving a free 8x12 print of the winner to keep or share!!

  28. I know the voting has long since ended. I would just like to comment about one of your photographs. The shot of Paul with the girls at the reception...amazing! You captured him in an unguarded moment, showing a natural softness with children. That is a strength that more men need to be willing to show.

    You work is absolutely beautiful!

  29. CRAZY! I was just looking through your stuff and found this post...this is where I grew up! In fact that's where I got married! Weird! There's a lot of familiar faces I recognize!
    Great job Anne!

    ~Shelly Valentine


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