Niki booked me sight unseen after a referral from a few of her friends (Thank Lizz & Sarah!) A few weeks before the wedding we got together for a drink and some wedding chatting. She brought her MOH Everly and I couldn’t have imagined a more fun duo if I tried.
We chatted the evening away and parted ways excited for her wedding, and also sushi (but Chinese food for me!)
I arrived that the Lake Opechee Inn and found Niki in the final stages of getting ready. She totally reminds me of a mix of Lauren Graham & Marissa Tomei – when I told her that at our meet-up she said – A lot of times people tell me I look like that drunken singer who used to beat her husband… you know..um,.. oh yeah, Liza Minnelli! I laughed so hard I almost fell off the stool. I much more prefer to think of her as Lorelei Gilmore 😉
Niki & Everly! So much fun!
We went into another room to get dressed and she paused and said – I need pliers to get into my dress, this should be fun!
I’m not sure if fun is the word she meant. Turns out, the pull on her zipper was so tiny and the zipper so poorly installed, they’d been getting her into it by using some pliers to hold the pull and zip her up.
Worked like a charm – all the other times – this time, not so much. After various attempts from everyone, the zipper went up! We’d made it past the rough spot and were an inch away from the top! Then, it busted open, from the top down. And then, while trying to get it to go back down and try again, the pull came off the zipper. After a millisecond of silence where we in the back all silently gasped, we all la la la’d and said it’s awesome! No worries! I’ll just get something from my bag I say. My sewing kit. And then I sewed her right in to that dress and reinforced it with safety pins from behind. (I was more than relieved when I heard it stayed so well all night, her bridesmaid had to request scissors from the front desk to cut the stitching out at the end of the night!)
One of the bridesmaids decided that would be the perfect time to take my photo. Thanks. 😉
Problem solved! [Yet another benefit of planning for a first look/photos before hand- This process took a little bit, but we had scads of extra time because Niki had planned a good buffer of time for first look and photos. We had all the time in the world to handle the unexpected and still rock out and look gorgeous before the ceremony!]
A few finishing touches from her mother and some loving from her daddy..
..and it was time for the first look.
Pure adoration, and yet, both of them with their hands in their pockets! I called them out on it and they laughed and quickly embraced each other.
And then it was time for some of that looking gorgeous we still had time for 🙂 Niki told me she had two teenagers and I didn’t believe her, she didn’t look NEARLY old enough – and yet, here are these two beautiful children calling her mom!
Jamie was really hoping to get a shot in front of the lake. Even if we had to traipse through sloshy goose poop to to do it. Good call Jamie – I love this shot! You two are so bada$$. 😉
Honestly this location was a dream – there was such a mix of grunge and grace all in the same place. One side of the walkway was picturesque lake views, the other side was urban fantasticalness like these shots.
you two are STUNNING!
Then it was marrying time!
They incorporated so many personal, well thought out details into their reception. Including the blessing of the rings by all their guests. Placed in a small bag together, the rings are passed through the rows and everyone is asked to silently pass on their love, support and well wishes to these tangible symbols of marriage. The ceremony continues, and after making the rounds, the newly blessed rings are exchanged. Even though you keep the ceremony going, it really adds a moment for you to stop and look around your wedding – I thought it was a great touch.
They also partook in the wine box ceremony, which I LOVE. Here’s an excerpt I found on weddingbee from an officiant, explaining the ceremony to the guests.
I have asked you as a couple, to find a strong wooden box that will hold one bottle of wine, and two wine glasses. In addition, I have asked each of you to write a letter to one another, expressing your thoughts about the good qualities that you have found in your future partner, as well as, your reasons for falling in love with each other. I requested that under no condition were you to read each other’s letter, and that you were to seal them in individual envelopes and put them in the box with the wine and glasses.
Should you ever find your marriage enduring serious difficulties, I am asking that before you make any irrational decisions, that you both, as a couple, open the box, drink some wine together, and then venture off into separates rooms to read the letters that you wrote to one another when you were united as a couple. By reading these love letters, you will reflect upon the reasons that you fell in love with each other in the first place. The hope here is, that there will never be a reason for you to open this box, unless of course, it is for your 10th year anniversary!”
I now ask that each of you take a nail, one at a time, and hammer the box shut.
Niki & Jamie asked each of their attendants to hammer a nail in, bolstering the box with their love and friendship as they do their relationship.
After the exchange of rings, Jamie made his own vows to Niki’s children. There was not a dry eye in the house.
Then the kids were excused from front and center because it was time for the kiss!
We escaped outside for a few more fun, newly wed shots while the guests settled into the reception.
Details! Table designation envelopes, with drink tickets inside. Tears of joy tissue packets. Guestbook Frame. Niki left no detailed stone unturned!
And this. This I love. Shortly before her wedding, on the MKPeeps facebook wall, I linked to Offbeat Brides “Unplugged Wedding”. The concept is simple. Allow your photographer to take the photos and ask your guests to be present in the moment with you. This is especially true at the ceremony. It’s an amazing thing to take a moment and not see the world through and LCD screen and what better place to take that moment then in a declaration of love. Niki loved the idea and implemented it right away, it worked like a charm!
They make each other laugh with their whole hearts. It’s what love should look like.
Jamie’s mum passed away some time ago – they honored her with a candle and photo in the reception and it was a lovely tribute. Sometime later, I turned around to find Niki in tears. Turns out, Jamie’s sister had gifted Niki with one of their mother’s rings as a ‘welcome to the family’ present. I still get choked up thinking about it.
Oh Pam. Pam was the jackie of all trades. She’s picture above helping Niki with her hair, she’s a bridesmaid extraordinaire, and she made all.these.cupcakes. (all these amazingly tasty cupcakes mind you!)
I’m a daddy’s girl. I didn’t quite catch the intensity of this shutter click until I was home and it came up on my computer screen. Then I burst into tears. <3
Folks, let’s talk a minute about ‘up lighting’ – if your DJ offers it, and you have the means, DO.IT. It adds such an amazing layer of dimension to inside & tented receptions.
I’m also a fan of fun colored dance floor action!
I was so sad to see my time with Niki & Jamie and their amazing crew come to an end. Thank you both for permitting me to be part of your grand scheme!
Niki was sweet enough to gush about me on weddingwire. Her review left me blushing!
Simply AMAZING!! When planning my wedding, booking my photographer was one of the most important pieces to me. I wanted to look at photos of people I didn’t know and feel the emotion of the moment, Melissa’s photos did that for me. When contacting her she was always prompt and helpful. She really makes booking her easy! Then the day of every brides worst nightmare… my zipper on my dress breaks. No worries with Melissa, she just breaks out her sewing kit, (complete with band-aids and shout wipes) and just sewed me right in all the while keeping me cool so I wouldn’t freak out! She did such a good job one of my bridesmaids had to get scissors from the front desk at our venue to cut me out! Not only this but she paid attention to every detail, she corralled our rowdy bunch and made our photos fun and fast. You are really getting way more than you pay for with Melissa! If you are smart you will book her now!
Much love m’dears! <3