“That’s where you are getting married” I said with a slack jaw, while staring in awe at the Hall of Philosophy. Katie was giving me a tour of the Chautauqua Institution, a gated lakeside community famous for it’s summer programming and dedication to education. I arrived early on Friday to take a little tour and do some location scouting. Because I was there early, I also volunteered to photograph their wedding rehearsal.
Katie grew up spending her summers at the Chautauqua Institution with her family. She has many fond memories of the area, so she decided to host the wedding around the Chautauqua area. It’s important to use pieces from your life to design your wedding. The wedding will take on an amazing personal feel, something everyone seeks to accomplish. Because Katie and Mischa had planned such a personal wedding, everyone had an amazing time the entire weekend. Chautauqua is a Victorian-style community, so the wedding was designed to echo the local design. Not just another “vintage wedding”, Katie’s design drew heavily on her actual memories of the area.
Katie and Mischa’s personal touch spread beyond the wedding design. You could see it manifested in their love for each other, love for their friends and for family. Their friends gave amazing, personal readings during the ceremony. The Maid of Honor gave the most heartfelt toast and had everyone in tears. The love that surrounded the entire wedding party made capturing their wedding photos easy – all I needed to do was stand back and not get in the way. The effort they put into the wedding and the love that surrounded the day really comes out in the photographs. I hope you enjoy the highlights below as much as Katie, Mischa and I did.
The wedding rehearsal could not have been more fun. People were rushing to hug old friends they had not seen in years. Even the ring bearer got a standing ovation when he successfully made it down the aisle without getting distracted.
The rehearsal dinner was held on the Chautauqua Belle, an old paddle ship that cruised along Lake Chautauqua during sunset. The scenery was just amazing. However, I think the food was better. Hello lobster!
Katie’s dress was one of the best I’ve seen all year (or all time really). It matched her figure and wedding design perfectly. I personally loved the two-tone style and the detailed embroidery.
First look photos are always my favorite, and they are even better with the family dog. Did I mention we love dogs! We used the porch of the Athenaeum Hotel due to a little rain passing through the area.
Even the horse came dressed for the occasion. Metal hearts and lucky horseshoes covered the carriage and tack.
Following the ceremony, the wedding party simply to the reception – held at the Bell Tower in a gorgeous tent. The flowers and little details were amazing. I hear the food and drinks were even better.
After a sunset cocktail hour on the edge of Lake Chautauqua, it was time for toasts, dinner and dancing. The band played late into the night as nearly everyone was on the dance floor. I think even the grandparents got into the energy.
Katie and Mischa’s wedding ended up being one of my most enjoyable this year. The weather was a little worrying, but it held off until my late-night drive home. If you’re still considering your wedding plans, think about how to make the wedding personal. Buck the “industry” trends and do something important to you. In the end, considering a personalized wedding will make for a better, more loving experience.
P.S. – In hindsight, I should have stayed in Chautauqua through Sunday. It would have given me a chance to produce some nice personal work. The scenery is just so beautiful.