Briana and Pedro’s wedding at the Grand Rapids Art Museum was one of a kind. They had a super cool venue with breathtaking modern architecture, an enormous wedding party with twenty-eight bridesmaids and groomsmen, a striking black-and-white dress code for the wedding party and all the guests, the largest cake I’ve ever photographed, the wildest first dance I’ve ever shot, and an epic sparkler exit on the front steps of the GRAM at the end of the night.
The day began with Briana getting ready in the Frey Boardroom, a very unique space with floor to ceiling windows covered in large metal louvers.
Once the bride was dressed, we walked down the hallway to the Miller Veranda, a covered, open air space overlooking a courtyard on one side and a downtown street on the other. The roof above us meant that the natural light was coming in from a beautiful side angle for these portraits.
From our vantage point on the Miller Veranda we were able to see Briana’s family arriving on the sidewalk below.
The stark grey concrete and straight lines of the veranda were begging to be used as the setting for a flash composite, so we created this image of the stunning bridal party.
The image above is comprised of 14 separate frames, one for each woman, all blended together seamlessly into a single photo. Below you can see the photo that was used for the bride, with my second photographer holding the flash to give her a perfect spotlight and make her pop off the background.The groom’s preparation took place at the J.W. Mariott, in a room with a bird’s eye view of the Grand River.
The ceremony was held in the Pocket Park of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, in front of the beautiful water wall backdrop.There was a dance performance following the ceremony.This was definitely the largest wedding party I’ve photographed!The guests enjoyed cocktail hour on the dining terrace near the front steps of the GRAM. Meanwhile inside, the Wege Pavilion was beautifully decorated for dinner with a towering cake taking center stage. I wanted to do something different with this photo to show off both the space and the decor, so I did another flash composite, lighting the cake and each centerpiece individually in separate photographs, and then combining all the shots for this final result:Below are a few behind-the-scenes shots. In the first photo, you can see what it would have looked like if I just shot with the available light and no flash. Boring. The second photo shows how it looked when I brought the exposure down to get a moodier look that still emphasizes the architecture of the room without everything being totally over-lit. From this point I can add flash to select elements in the scene to highlight them. The third photo is the shot I used for the cake, and you can see the two flashes I used (one on the left and the other just barely visible on the right edge of the frame). By using flash I can not only make the cake stand out as the “hero” of the shot, but also show it’s texture and details. After repeating the process for the centerpieces in the background, I blended the photos together into the final shot.Of course, I also took some close up shots of the cake as well to show the finer details.After the guests were seated, the bride and groom made their grand entrance down the sleek staircase overlooking the Wege Pavilion, Briana having changed into her evening gown for the reception.After dinner, we headed outside for a few more bride and groom portraits in Rosa Parks Circle, right in front of the Art Museum.By this time, the natural light was fading very quickly. The photos below show that the available light was very dim and blue. Even if I cranked up my exposure to brighten the image, it still looked flat and boring. I knew I was going to have to add light to the scene, but one flash wasn’t going to be enough.Here you can see what it looked like with one flash on Briana and Pedro. Much better, but it’s incomplete because the background is just a black void. The solution was to use a second flash to light up the background.Below you can see the result of adding a second flash, far off in the background coming through some of the trees. I added an orange gel to the flash to simulate the warm rays of sunset light.Finally, before going back inside, I saw that all the chairs had been cleared out of the Pocket Park following the ceremony and what remained was a perfect location for a night time portrait of the bride and groom. Back inside, the rest of the reception was held in the Cook Auditorium, which features a recessed “starlight” ceiling overlooking the dance floor. The first dance was wild and went straight into the garter and bouquet. Briana and Pedro were obviously having a blast and their guests were loving every minute of it as well.The dance floor was packed the rest of the night!
When the evening came to a close, Pedro and Briana’s family and friends gave them a great sparkler send-off on the front steps of the museum.
Thanks to all the vendors who made this amazing wedding possible!
Florist and Event Design: Events by iCandy
Cake: Hansen Bakery
Catering: Kangaroo Kitchen
Cocktail hour band: Isaac Norris Music
DJ: DJ Tony Banks
Officiant: Pastor Fredrick Klein
Videography: Coastline Studios