Rachel and William’s wedding day was split between two beautiful locations along the Lake Michigan shoreline. We began with the ceremony at St. Basil Catholic Church in South Haven, and then traveled to St. Joseph for the reception at Shadowland on Silver Beach.
This spot on the side of St. Basil was a great location for the first look!Rachel and William chose to walk down the aisle together.I’m always happy when a church has a balcony that I can shoot from. I love being able to capture the ceremony from different angles and get a clear view of the action.
After the ceremony we did some portraits on the steps of the altar.
Before leaving St. Basil, I was determined to get a beautiful, dramatic portrait of the bride and groom that showed off the beauty of the space, including the stained glass windows and pendant lights. The obvious angle to shoot was from the front of the church, facing back toward the altar, but space was very limited because of the large stone baptismal font in the center of the aisle. The photo below shows what we were working with.
Using my ultrawide 14mm lens allowed me to place William and Rachel in this tight space and still get a full length portrait while shooting horizontal to keep the awesome architecture in the frame. By lowering the exposure of the ambient light and spotlighting the couple with flash, I was able to create a moody, romantic feel for the image.
Before leaving for Shadowland, we did a quick photo outside the church with Lake Michigan and the South Haven pier as our backdrop.
The Shadowland Ballroom was decorated with a nautical theme for the reception.Bit of Swiss did a great job with this dessert table!Crème Brûlée with customized spoons and a lego topper!
When Rachel and William arrived at Shadowland, we did some more portraits around the property.One of the unique features of Shadowland is the Silver Beach Carousel which is normally open to the public but available to rent for private photos on a wedding day.The beautiful wood floor of the Shadowland Ballroom was the ideal stage for William and Rachel’s choreographed first dance. The darker square in the middle is a section of boards from the original floor, laid in 1927!
Outside the ballroom is the Sunset Patio where guests can have a drink and enjoy the golden hour light.I attempted to get a photo of all the kids together… attempted.
The warm rays of sunlight in the park across the street were too perfect to ignore, so I grabbed the bride and groom for a few quick portraits.Back inside, William danced with his mother.The sequinned tablecloth on the sweetheart table was perfect for some ring shots.We made our way to the beach for some sunset photos, and then it was back to the ballroom for the bouquet toss.
At the end of the night, I noticed that the candles in the windows, combined with the blue uplighting, created a striking background that would be perfect for night portraits of the bride and groom. Of course, a cool background is useless without good light on the subjects. Here’s what it looked like when I exposed for the background without adding any light (William and Rachel are in this shot):
One of my LED lights was all I needed to illuminate them in perfect balance with the glowing candle light. I often use LED lights instead of flash when working in dark environments. It lets me quickly see what the light is doing, allows my camera to focus easily, and balances easily with the dim ambient light, whereas flash can sometimes be too powerful.
As a photographer, executing on a specific vision is awesome, but it’s also important to keep my eyes open to the other possibilities. The shot above was what I originally envisioned, but instead of stopping there I changed up the pose and took some more photos from a different angle, and I like these just as much if not more.
Thanks to all the great vendors who made this wedding come together!
Hair and Makeup: Beaux Cheveux
Dress: Essense of Australia
Bridal Shop: https://www.theweddingstudiosgw.com/
Bakery: Bit of Swiss
Florist: Crystal Springs
Band: Bluewater Kings Band
Officiant: Father Jim Morris, and Deacon Robert Marben
Reception Chairs: AAYS Rentals