Congrats, Sam and Shelby!- Chadds Ford Wedding Photographer

I first met Sam and Shelby when they were a groomsman and bridesmaid in Glen and Liz’s wedding party. In fact, Shelby had just picked up her engagement ring. The ring design was a collaborative process, and she was just getting used to the feeling of the ring on her finger at the salon where all the ladies were getting ready. There was absolutely none of the jealousy or “It’s MY day!” pettiness that Hollywood filmmakers creating atrocities like “Bride Wars” would have you believe. In fact, that seldom exists amongst my clients, and definitely not in this group of friends. This is my third wedding with this crew. (Love y’all; thanks for the referrals! -OX, Angie’s bills)

In fact, Shelby did all of the flowers for Glen and Liz, and I could just see the wheels turning in her head as the process of being a bridesmaid inspired her. I knew her wedding to Sam would really be something special, and I was so excited when they picked me last summer.

I don’t want to make it sound like this was all Shelby, though, because even though she is the one who rocks a well-appointed craft corner and wields a glue gun like nobody’s business, the wedding was absolutely a reflection of the two of them. They have been together for five years already, and they already share so much. In this era of name portmanteaux for super couples (I blame Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez for “Bennifer,” which started it all), they are “Samby.” This wedding was, well, the Samby-est.

 

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What does that mean? Well, their invitation is a good place to start.

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Retro gaming systems were everywhere, from the centerpieces to the music to the Mario Kart video-gaming station in an adjacent room at the reception. (We’ll get to that.) Shelby wore Legend of Zelda-inspired earrings.

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Although both Shelby and Sam both had awesome attendants helping them get ready, and everyone was excited to watch them get married, I will *always* maintain that it’s your flower girls who are most excited to be a part of wedding traditions. When it came to joyfully wearing dresses I chose for them, primping at a day spa, watching me unwrap wedding presents at my shower, hitting the dance floor, etc., my bridesmaids were game; they were supportive. But my flower girls? MY FIVE-YEAR-OLD FLOWER GIRLS WERE ALL IN. Like them, Penny and Evie were here for it, all the way.

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Shelby gave Sam gaming-inspired cufflinks as well.

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The reason I started this entry talking about Shelby getting her engagement ring the morning of Glen and Liz’s wedding and how happy they were for her was because this group of friends is, in its own way, a forged and chosen family. They get ordained on the internet for each other, show up newly postpartum, and make their six-week-old baby a part of the day. It’s loving. It’s unconditional.

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There was a moment, which happens at almost every wedding, actually, where no one knows how to put on a boutonniere. This is something that I know how to do. Along with bustling a wedding gown, ballet-wrapping a bouquet and using dental wax to artfully balance wedding rings on each other, it’s just something that wedding vendors tend to pick up. I gave a quick demo, but there’s always the tricky part, where technically, it’s better for me to take pictures of everyone getting ready as opposed to putting everyone’s flowers on for them. I’ve totally done it and faked the photos after, but in general, it’s better for someone else to do it.

“You know who knows how to do this?” Sam volunteered. “Shelby.”

“Yeah, Shelby did it at my wedding,” replied the best man.

WE NEEDED THE BRIDE.

(The bride was waiting for the “first look,” the big moment when the groom sees her in her dress, and everyone wanted them to have that, so… No.)

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Julie to the rescue!

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It is my fervent hope that someone keeps this photo of Leo getting his boutonniere pinned on and gives it to him on his wedding day.

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Shelby made sure Sam was wearing a special Peter Gabriel pin they had chosen next to his flower (“A FLOWAH?”). Then they started practicing their first dance for a minute and I got overwhelmed by The Adorableness.

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Leo is not technically a ring-bearer. He is a dice-bearer. His job was to bring multi-sided role-playing dice to the ceremony to see who would say their vows first, and he was taking that responsibility very seriously, so seriously that the box gets to be in every photo.

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We shot lots of family photos, swapping step-parents and grandparents and siblings around in seventeen (yup, I counted) different configurations while I was PRAY-ING the rain would hold off. (It held off, just enough.)

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The thing about wedding and engagement posing? The instructions can seem odd and unnatural. There’s, like, no other time in our lives when we hold hands and gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes in attractive locations wearing formalwear in a garden on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily, I am full of helpful instructions like, “Wrap your arms around him with your wrists up by his neck. Then, when I count to three, Sam, give her a big bear hug, while Shelby, you kick your feet up and try to kick your own butt. Ready? Three, two, one… KICK YOUR BUTT.” I kid you not; that’s how you get this shot.

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As I encouraged Sam to take off his jacket and sling it over his shoulder, I could tell he was WAY outside his comfort zone. “I know; I’m sorry this is making you feel like a total douche,” I said. He cracked up, and there you have it- Sam’s real smile.

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The best man had his own methods.

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Listen, a little light-hearted vulgarity (by me) or forcibly re-arranging of facial features (by Glen)? WHATEVER IT TAKES, I SAY.

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The truth is, they are never happier than they are when they are together, so we got through the rest of the photo session super-fast, and soon enough the guests were arriving.

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I spirited the wedding rings away for some artful shots on autumn gourds, and then it was time to hand them back for the ceremony.

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Sam and Shelby walked in together at the start of the ceremony. I love this. I’ve only ever seen this once before, and it was 14 years ago. There was no “giving away,” no presentation, just two people who love each other very much beginning and ending their wedding ceremony the same way: united.

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Everywhere you looked- at the couple themselves, in the audience, at the wedding party- there were either huge smiles, happy tears, or laughter. So great.

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They exited as they entered- together- and then it was “hug everyone you love” time in the receiving line.

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Sam’s grandmother was still crying happy tears as she hugged the bride. “I loved your vows,” she said. “And I know you’ll do what you said you will.” It was so nice.

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A big circle of wedding party and guests gathered together during cocktail hour to play Pokemon GO.

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So, look, in my personal life, I am a huge nerd. I started this Columbus Day weekend where I shot three events (Samby’s wedding being #2) in a row, by going to ComicCon in New York with my husband on Thursday in full Fallout gear. I color-corrected these photos while watching the latest Dr Who premiere On Demand. I can out-Potter even the most devoted nine-year-old Quidditch fan, but I’m not familiar enough with Pokemon GO lingo to type this next bit with confidence. Humor me, but I THINK they formed a raid group to catch a legendary Pokemon.

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VICTORY! So fun.

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As cocktail hour wound down, I got a change to really admire and photograph the reception details, like the centerpieces Shelby made herself, combining autumn colors and gaming systems with trendy wood slice chargers.

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Sweet Baby L was along for the ride as the wedding party got announced to cheers and applause for the newlyweds, who walked into “Guile’s Theme” from the video game Street Fighter 2. (What can I say? Guile’s Theme goes with everything.)

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Their first dance was even better than the preview in the garden hinted at.

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Twirling, a big dip… they nailed it.

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There were four toasts, from Sam’s dad’s story of how they met (spoiler: Sam “emerges victorious”) to Shelby’s mom’s poem, and then kind words from the best man and maid of honor.

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Aw, the chair decorations!

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Guests alternated between playing Mario Kart in the next room and hitting the dance floor.

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They opted for a donut tower instead of a traditional wedding cake.

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Rave-style dancing with light poi happened.

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So did bride vs. groom Mario Kart races…

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And all-sibling Mario Kart races….

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And then it was over…

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With the bride and groom blissed out in each other’s arms as the final song of the ended and everyone surrounded them on the dance floor.

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There’s no way you ever forget that feeling, but I hope having the pictures brings in all back for you whenever you need to remember. Congrats, Samby! Keep on loving each other and music and friends and family, and remember to play together and laugh together a little every day.

Venue: The Gables at Chadds Ford
Donuts: Beilers Doughnuts
Flowers: Media Florist
DJ: Silver Sound
Videography: Enchant Cinema
Hair and Makeup: Roxanna Rotandi

Filled Under : Wedding

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