This past Thursday, May 9th, myself and Eric Talerico traveled down to Charleston, SC to photograph one hell of a wedding story at the Lowndes Grove Plantation. Along the oak-lined banks of the Ashley River, Anthony Reto and Tommy Berner shared their vows and were married with plenty of family and friends in attendance. Sandi sat this one out and stayed home with our 4-year-old son Luke since we had just recently traveled to Vegas for WPPI, so I brought our associate photographer Eric Talerico to 2nd shoot with me. Eric helped me shoot their engagement photos in Philly just a few months prior so it worked out perfectly, especially since he had already built up a level of trust with them.
If you’re wondering if this is the first same-sex blog post on the Twisted Oaks website you would be correct. To be completely honest, it’s also one of the blog posts that I’m most proud of. This was a wedding that would come with a slightly higher level of pressure. A level of pressure that Eric and I would ultimately put on ourselves for no other reason than the lack of experience that we had with photographing same-sex weddings. Sure, I’ve been told that as a professional there shouldn’t be a difference between how I photograph a heterosexual wedding and same-sex wedding. The truth of the matter is that no matter what kind of wedding it is, the unknown is always tapping you on the shoulder asking if you’re ready. Asking if you’re prepared for the job ahead. As a photographer who is used to posing a bride and groom, or capturing the natural behavior between and man and a woman, a same-sex wedding like this can easily throw you off and lead to an unnecessary level of anxiety and added pressure. The funny thing is that as a storytelling photographer, the lack of experience means one thing, and basically one thing only. There’s absolutely no need for any of it. Once the day gets started, you simply begin to photograph two people who are madly in love with each other on their wedding day. That’s it, end of story. The most important part of the job happened long before the first click of the shutter on the actual wedding day which is earning my clients’ trust. Without trust, Tommy and Anthony wouldn’t be able to naturally be themselves in front of mine and Eric’s cameras.
The first time that I spoke to Anthony and Tommy regarding their wedding, they asked if I had any experience with photographing a same-sex wedding with two grooms. I did, but only one, and because of that fact I wanted to make sure that if the two of them were interested in having me photograph their wedding that I would be a good fit. After talking with them for probably close to an hour about their relationship and their wedding plans, I knew that their wedding would definitely be a special one. I wouldn’t be able to tell you why, but I knew that I would be able to capture their wedding day exactly the way they wanted. The way that I knew I wanted, in an artistic and storytelling way that I knew I would be able to tell as long as I let go of my fears and anxiety. After the call had ended, I was worried that they would want to have someone with more experience with same-sex weddings be their photographer. Luckily, I was wrong… and the rest is history.
This was both mine and Eric’s first time in Charleston and we arrived the day before to explore the downtown area a little to scout out shooting locations. Downtown is where we would be spending a good chunk of time taking portraits the next day. It was honestly like walking through a photographer’s playground with cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, preserved history and alleyways that give the feeling of being taken back into a previous century. Charleston had so much to offer that we basically scrapped any ideas of planning the day out. It really didn’t matter where we went, we knew it wouldn’t be too difficult to photograph them.
The next day, their wedding day, couldn’t have gone any better. I woke up feeling a ton of pressure to make sure that I basically brought my A-Game, but once Eric and I arrived at the AirBnB that Tommy and Anthony were getting ready all of the pressure faded away. The rest of the day couldn’t have gone smoother, and as you’ll see in the photos below this wedding turned out to be one of our best. Walking the streets of downtown Charleston was just as we had expected and the photos we captured do a pretty good job of showing you why. After about an hour of basically letting the two of them enjoy each other’s company and soak in all the feels from their wedding day, we drove over to the Lowndes Grove Plantation where their ceremony and reception would be. If you’re a fan of our work, it won’t take you long to see why this venue fit our style of photography perfectly. Overall, this wedding turned out to be one of those weddings that you put so much pressure on yourself to make sure you came through in the end only to have it be one of your favorites. Personally, I couldn’t be happier that Anthony and Tommy got to share their wedding day at such a beautiful location in front of family and friends as I know they had always dreamed of, but also that myself and Eric were the ones who were there to make sure that each and every special moment will live on forever. Congrats again to the both of you and thank you one more time for not only having us share in your special day but for trusting us with such an important job. It really does mean the world to us and I know that I speak for both myself and Eric.
VENUE: Lowndes Grove Plantation
TUX: Boyd’s – Canali
PLANNER: Zachary Andrew Events
VIDEOGRAPHER: Blu Couture Wedding Films
FLORIST: Palmetto Bloom
DJ & ENTERTAINMENT: Dj Wade – Wedding DJ Charleston SC – OtherBrother Entertainment
Gigi and Geoff’s engagement shoot at the Paxson Hill Farm in New Hope, PA. Sandi and I had a great time hanging out with these two hanging out in the Paxson farmhouse and then exploring the property a little. Definitely one of the coolest places we’ve shot at which made for an awesome way to knock the rust off from not shooting a wedding or engagement in a while. The property looked much bigger in person than it did on the AirBnB site and had a lot more cool little areas to shoot than I would have ever imagined had I seen it in person. There were log bridges, greenhouses, little gnome like houses, and a lot more than what we got to see in the two hours that Sandi and I were there. We love when we get to spend time like this with our clients and we had a lot of fun getting to shoot inside and out like we did with them. Really looking forward to their wedding now!
The Old Mill at Rose Valley wedding venue is a beautifully secluded property that sits back in the woods of Rose Valley, alongside Ridley Creek and a 12-acre wildlife and bird sanctuary. We hadn’t shot a wedding there until a couple of years ago and now that we’ve done a few, it’s quickly become one of our favorite PA venues. Amy and Mike, a couple that we immediately hit it off with got married there on October 14th of last year, and it was easily one of our favorite weddings of the year. There’s nothing better than having awesome clients having their wedding and reception at one of our favorite places to shoot and this wedding was an excellent example of why. Not only was it a fun day, from beginning to end, but we were able to capture some awesome photos for them.
Sandi had met Amy and Mike at our old studio in Somerdale, NJ and she came home to tell me how much she really hoped that they would decide to go with us. She explained them as a very adventurous couple who loved to travel together and were extremely laid back. We heard from them a few days later, they signed the contract and we started planning their engagement shoot. I got to meet the two of them at the engagement shoot and it only took a few minutes to see what Sandi loved about them so much: they reminded her of us when we were dating and engaged. They were a lot of fun to be around and we spent over an hour at Bartram Gardens capturing the two of them being in love and goofy together.
Amy and Mike’s wedding went exactly how we had expected and we really wanted to deliver some of our best work as we captured their day. They had given us the green light to be as creative as possible with a good mix of documentary and editorial shooting styles. Mike has a pretty goofy personality and you’ll see in the photos that after demonstrating his Sumo wrestling moves, he split his pants right down the old crack. Luckily, there was a sewing kit and a groomsman who did a pretty impressive stitching job that turned a big deal into absolutely nothing more than a funny story to tell later on. After their emotional ceremony, we decided to go explore a little more of the property than we had before. This wouldn’t have been possible if Amy had decided she wanted to keep her wedding gown clean and spotless. There was a good amount of hiking, climbing, and even though her dress didn’t get too dirty, it sure wasn’t spotless once we got back (my favorite kind of bride). Once back to the Old Mill we joined in on celebrating with two of them til late in the evening and we couldn’t have been more thankful to everyone for making us feel like family.
We wish these two nothing but the best and hopefully, we’ll see again soon as they reach other milestones in their life.
BRIDE PREP: The Inn at Swarthmore – Queen Suite
GROOM PREP: The Inn at Swarthmore – King Suite
CEREMONY: The Old Mill at Rose Valley
RECEPTION: The Old Mill at Rose Valley
BRIDE’S GOWN: Watters
BRIDE’S SHOES: Badgley Mischka
GROOM’S TUX: Indochino
GROOM’S SHOES: Aston Grey
FLORIST: Wisot Designs
VIDEOGRAPHER: Well Spun Weddings
HMU: Make Me Sparkle
CAKE: The Master’s Baker
DJ: M3 Crew
Melanie and Joe’s Campground wedding was easily one of the most unique weddings that we photographed this year, but completely our style. The two of them decided to keep their wedding low key, nothing over the top, and at a place that had a lot of meaning to them, Camp Dark Waters. For a campground wedding, we had the perfect weather to take full advantage of everything that a photographer would hope for.
We had canoes, which we took out down the river to a tree that had been knocked down across the water. A perfect spot for them to paddle over to the shore and climb out. In their bare feet, they walked out onto the fallen tree for some really cool portraits of the two of them simply enjoying the most of their wedding day. Exactly the way that they had wanted it to go. No one telling them what to do or how to do it. As a result, we were able to capture some great shots of them all throughout the day.
The ceremony was held down at the camp’s outdoor chapel which was right up against the river creating a beautiful backdrop for them to exchange their vows. Melanie looked stunning in her boho style dress and looked even better with her new hubby as we walked around the camp capturing some fun and candid moments between the two of them. This was actually our first campground wedding, and to be honest, it really was everything that we had expected it to be. Now we just hope that we can book a few of these each year. Low key yet still a blast once the party started. No stress throughout the day, just a bride and groom with their friends and family enjoying the day without a hoopla of the bigger city weddings that we spent a good amount of the 2018 wedding season photographing.
We wish these two nothing but the best and congratulate them for having the best cake smash that Sandi and I have seen since our own wedding 14 years ago! Well done you two, and we’re looking forward to capturing a lot more of your important life moments as they come along. Congrats!
If you haven’t seen the new website, I’ve given the Jaycassario.com site a facelift and have a lot planned for it in 2019. The next month has a lot of really good content in the works, so if you haven’t already, subscribe to the newsletter. I’ll be starting to send that out very soon.
After we just recently announced partnering up with Stinsman Photography for maternity and newborn shoots, here we are posting a lifestyle family shoot with twins that are only a few months old. Well, as you can see, we’ll still be doing lifestyle shoots like this one which are in fact very different than studio newborn photos. This also isn’t your typical lifestyle family photo shoot. This is easily one of the most special photoshoots that we’ve done in a long time and I really hope that you continue reading to find out why. The photoshoot was for our friends, Marc and Jamie Iuliucci, and knowing what they went through to get to the point at which we were at their home taking these is enough to make these special. Being able to show them the photos, well, it was a good reminder of what makes this job of ours so important.
Almost 20 years ago, possibly more now, Marc and I became good friends. We had both experienced some rough times in our lives growing up and had always been there for each other. Marc, now the father of three beautiful young girls, was not only a groomsman in my wedding but one of those friends who are honestly more like a brother than a friend. Just as brothers do, we would go extended periods of time where we wouldn’t see or talk to each other for extended periods of time, sometimes years, but whenever we did it was as if no time had passed and things just picked up where they had left off.
A couple of months ago, I received a call from Marc telling me that he and Jamie had just had twin baby girls. He already had one girl so the first thing that came to mind was how badly out-numbered he was now, especially with both family dogs being girls as well. As the phone call continued, his voice began to change and he started to describe the very scary and emotional experience that both he and Jamie had gone through during the delivery and the two months that followed. It was a tough story to sit there and listen to him tell me, but as he continued on, I was extremely happy to hear him explain how everything worked out after almost two months and both girls are healthy and doing excellent. I offered to come and take some photos of the twins. I could immediately tell he was hesitant and didn’t really seem interested. A few weeks went by and I received a text letting me know that he spoke to Jamie and that they were interested. Since I explained that the shoot was for the twins, he definitely wasn’t expecting Sandi and me to walk in and ask him to go upstairs to get changed out of the sweat pants he was wearing. I could tell he wasn’t overly thrilled with the idea of being in the photos, but now that he’s seen the pics I have no doubts that he’s happy I talked him into it. Rather than just sharing these photos on social media or in a blog post, I wanted to share their story. A story best told by the mother of these three beautiful young girls, so I asked Jamie to write the rest.
“Our first daughter Lia was our princess but we wanted to give her a forever friend and decided to try again. We got pregnant quickly and received the surprise of our lives at the first ultrasound. Two heartbeats flickered on the screen, it was twins! With no twins in the family, we were both shocked and excited, while also feeling incredibly lucky. However, the pregnancy was difficult, to say the least, and much different from the first.
Nine weeks early, after a flurry of complications, I went into spontaneous labor.
Myla was born first and taken to the NICU and I was rushed to an emergency C-section. Everyone was rushing so much that we knew something was wrong. Adeline was next and born completely lifeless. We don’t know how, but she came back to us after only a short time. So many ups and downs, tears that seemed to never stop, and tons of tests. 49 extraordinarily long days later, Myla and Adeline came home with us to be with their big sister and two dog sisters. We declined NICU newborn photos when they were offered because it was a time we did not want to commemorate.
When Jay offered to take photos while hanging out with Marc at this season’s Fantasy Football draft, we decided to take him up on it. On the day that Jay and Sandy took these photos, all three girls were having a day. You know the one, all three were sleepy and grumpy. Seeing the results of their art brought me to tears because the beauty of my girls being together and our family being whole means more to me than anything. These photos are beautiful reminders of this magical time that I am in awe of. A time I’ll cherish forever, just as I will these incredible photos.”
~ Jamie Iuliucci