Hannah and Matt's Elegant, Rustic Wedding at The Mill
Hannah and Matt wanted their wedding to be a big, happy party. Elegant but not uptight, beautiful but easy-going. When they told me they’d invited over 500 people to celebrate their wedding with them, I knew the day was going to be fun and full of love and energy from their community!
The deepest compliment I can receive is when I meet a couple referred to me by another wedding I photographed. I met Hannah and Matt though Eric and Jen,, whose joyful fall wedding I photographed last year. Hannah and Matt not only loved Jen and Eric’s wedding portraits but they wanted to incorporate the same sense of family and community into their wedding photos. With such a large wedding, they know they wouldn’t be able to see into every corner and they wanted to document all the experiences of their family and friends that they wouldn’t get to see first-hand.
Hannah and Matt are high school sweethearts they share a deep love of the outdoors, of exploring Minnesota’s lakes. They love hanging out together, sharing a beer at a brewery with friends. They imagined themselves on their wedding day surrounded by this giant circle of happy people and really being able to be in the moment, enjoying everyone around them.
They chose to book unlimited time with me on the day and I was honored but how much trust they put in me to tell their story. I loved thinking with them through how they wanted to feel on the day and how they wanted to remember their wedding.
Getting Ready at The Mill
Hannah and Matt’s reception was at a new venue in Waseca, Minnesota called The Mill. Converted from a historic mill, the venue has a rustic, industrial vibe that lent itself to Hannah and Matt’s vision. They created lots of beautiful, thoughtful decorations and had a generous team of friends and family helping to set up the space when we arrived that afternoon.
We went inside to hang out a little with Hannah and her attendants while she was getting dressed. I loved capturing Hannah debuting her dress to the exited cheers of her Mom and bridesmaids.
When we headed over to where Matt was getting ready, he was fully prepped to go. It was so sweet. He was dressed and buzzing with excitement. We had barely walked in the door when he said “Okay, I’m ready for the first look!” and it broke my heart a little to tell him that he was early and he’d still have to wait an hour to see Hannah for the first time. It was nice to see him laughing and joking with his parents and friends to while away the time until he got to walk down to see Hannah.
For the first look, we scouted around The Mill for a spot to incorporate some of the natural elements that were so important to Hannah and Matt. This big tree, just starting to turn into it’s autumn colors, was the perfect setting for the first look. Once Hannah and Matt had shared a few happy moments together, we moved over to what I think was a former railroad building -the front doors were made of beautiful textured wood and helped add even more warm, natural elements to these photos.
The day was quite chilly so I made sure to flow smoothly and quickly through these photos and get Hannah and Matt back inside to warm up before photos with their wedding party.
Wedding Party Photos
Hannah chose a subtle, neutral palette for the day with bridesmaids in champagne, personal attendants in soft green and groomsmen in grey and cream. I loved how the lush greenery and simple white flowers in the bouquets and boutonnieres reintroduced that natural element in the rustic, industrial setting. Hannah kept saying ‘Everyone looks so beautiful!” and was clearly so delighted to have all her favorite people around her and to see her vision for the day come to life.
The Catholic ceremony was at a historic church a few blocks away. Hannah’s family brought their beautifully restored Model A Ford and they were super excited to have this special piece of history at the wedding.
We chose to take family photos on the steps of the church. Even though the wedding was large Hannah and Matt chose to keep family photos intimate, with just their parents, siblings and grandparents in the photos. It created such a nice balance in the context of this big community celebration for the small family groups to have a moment together.
After family portraits, Tyler stayed with the wedding party as they prepared for the ceremony, and I went to capture the guests arriving.
This wedding was a formal Catholic ceremony, and per the request of the priest, we wanted to keep the photography even more unobtrusive than usual to let the service take center stage. After we photographed the procession entering the church from just below the altar, my second photographer, Tyler, and I stayed in the back of the church and up in the choir balcony to allow the ceremony to unfold without a visible photography presence (plus I loved the unique perspective the balcony offered!).
I’m often asked by couples considering a more religious ceremony if I’ve photographed a couple from that particular tradition. And while I have worked with couples across the religious and secular spectrum, I find that it’s very easy for Tyler and I to adapt regardless of the particular church’s need. We’ll always chat with the officiant before the ceremony so we can be respectful to the specific traditions and capture beautiful photos of the ceremony.
The Reception and Bar Hopping with the Wedding Party!
After a brief receiving line, Hannah and Matt motored away in the Model A and, closely followed by their wedding party, headed to a local bar to have a beer and enjoy their most favorite people now that they’d said “I do.”
Their other guests headed to a cocktail hour at The Mill which was decorated in more of the same rustic, elegant elements that Hannah and Matt used throughout the wedding. Escort cards written on leaves, table signs incorporating twine numbers and aged wood, all brought those warm natural elements into the industrial space.
Everyone was having so much fun and when Hannah, Matt and company arrived they were instantly swept up into a joyous party.
From the beginning, Hannah and Matt were committed to prioritizing their time with their community of guests. So during the usual sunset portrait timing, they were hanging out with their family at the bar and didn’t want to leave their people to do portraits. Instead of sunset, we snuck out in the early evening, just after the toasts, to capture them joyful and relaxed now that they were married. It’s always a lovely challenge to work in really low light and, with combination of ambient light from street lamps and gentle use of my flash, we create these warm, intimate portraits of Hannah and Matt.
Dancing the Night Away
The Mill has a huge stage and Hannah and Matt invited a live band, The Shaw Brothers, to come play the wedding. I’m not sure if everyone already knew the band or everyone was just really excited to dance, but as soon as the band started to play EVERYONE was on the dance floor and they were still there when Tyler and I departed, dancing the night away.
Hannah and Matt, I was so honored to help you tell the story of your wedding day and to capture the big, lively joyous party you envisioned. Thank you for the trust that you put in me to document all the happy corners of your community. Congratulations Hannah and Matt!