Emily and Tommy's Cozy, Plaid-filled Fall Wedding at Gale Woods Farm
Emily and Tommy have the most romantic meant-to-be-but-almost-didn’t-happen love story. They met on Bumble and, after Emily had spent a few too many fraught minutes composing the perfect intro message to Tommy, a friend stole her phone and fired off a simple “hey”.
Tommy was slow to respond and finally set up a date, but then, overcome with an intuition that the date would either be epically good or epically bad, Emily nervously delayed going to meet him.
Fortunately, Emily arrived at their first date just as Tommy was getting up to leave and the two had the epically good first date that would be the beginning of their love story.
From the beginning they were deeply connected to each other, bonding over a love of the Twin Cities art, food and live music scene. These two have music running through every part of their lives. (Do you remember their winter engagement photos in front of the Palace Theatre?) And they wanted to plan a wedding that felt like them: personal, unpretentious, cozy, and filled with music.
When we planned their wedding photography, Emily and Tommy really wanted to create a relaxed day, full of little pockets of time to document the two of them and their favorite people. So, instead of planning a timeline full of big moments, we set up a day full of small ones, with plenty of time to capture their wedding day unfolding and Emily and Tommy within it.
The Setting at Gale Woods Farm and Getting Ready
Emily and Tommy chose Gale Woods Farm as their venue. A real working farm, Gale Woods is home to a host of friendly sheep and infuses an eco-conscious perspective and commitment to responsible land stewardship into each celebration. It was a perfect nod to Emily and Tommy’s values and love of food. When they first visited the farm they took a walk down to the gorgeous outdoor ceremony space, and just as they exited the trees, an eagle took flight right over the water and it was a bit of a sign that this was the right spot for them. (Spoiler: watch out for the eagle later.)
Emily’s coworker lived close to Gale Woods and generously hosted a getting-ready space for Emily and her bridesfolk. It was a lovely, calm relaxed morning of hair, makeup and preparations before we all left together to meet Tommy at Gale Woods.
The First Look and Setup
Initially, Emily and Tommy were hesitant about the idea of a first look. They thought it might feel too built up or artificial. But since they were really excited about sneaking away throughout the day for portraits and were planning to see each other before their ceremony anyway, I suggested that we document that first moment, just in a way that would feel true to them. We talked through how they wanted to feel the first time they saw each other on their wedding day, what would be authentic and meaningful without being romanticized or “over the top.” They shared wanting to have a calm moment, just being together without the feeling of a big reveal. These portraits of the two of them, enjoying each other in this little bit of prairie, sharing the first moments of their wedding day, make me so happy.
Also, per Emily and Tommy’s wish, we kept these first portraits short so they could join their friends and family to set up the venue and eat some lunch before the ceremony.
Wedding Party Portraits
Emily and Tommy were so excited to embrace fall in their wedding details. With a practical approach to the chilly weather, they outfitted their bridesfolk and attendants with plaid shawls to compliment Emily’s amazing plaid shawl/coat and coordinate with the groomsmen’s checked shirts. The result is a mash-up of jewel-toned colors, patterns and textures that feels casual and cozy but also beautifully intentional.
I love these candid photos of their people hanging out with the sheep during a moment of downtime!
Emily and Tommy ended up with a little bit of extra time pre-ceremony and to hide them from their arriving guests, we took a bit of a walk to a meadow full of really bright sun to capture a few more photos of the two of them.
Photos in really bright midday sun can be tough because the light can create all kinds of shadows. I love using the sun as a backlight or working with the dramatic shadows to create a more artistic portrait.
Emily and Tommy’s ceremony was so “them.” They incorporated personal details like sweet, folksy music by a local duo, and their unity ceremony invited their community and family to build a cairn with them. If you’re not familiar with cairns, they’re the balanced stacks of stones you’ll often see used to mark hiking trails. Emily and Tommy invited their most important friends and family members each to place a stone onto their cairn to represent the layers and circles of people joining together to support them as a married couple.
And, just as the couple kissed for the first time as married people, an eagle flew overhead. (see its tiny silhouette over their heads.) Maybe another good sign for the day. ;)
Forgoing a receiving line, after their ceremony, Emily and Tommy walked right to this huge old oak tree to take a breath together as newly married partners before they joined their loved ones inside for a cocktail hour.
After a joyful cocktail hour that blended into a relaxed dinner, I grabbed Emily and Tommy to capture some final portraits in the soft, pink light as the autumn sun set. These are some of my favorite portraits of the day, Emily and Tommy are so happy and the colors and light in the foliage are soft and intense all at once.
Reception and Dancing
We sent Emily and Tommy back inside for happy-tear-filled toasts and a dessert table inspired by the very best Minnesota-mom-bake-sale you could imagine (read: so many bars!)
Instead of starting the dancing with a solo first dance, Emily opened the dance floor by serenading Tommy with Cloud Cult’s “Meet Me Where You’re Going” and then, invited their whole wedding to join them on the floor for a collective first dance of the evening.
Emily and Tommy, thank you for inviting me into such a beautiful day of mindful moments together, of laughing with your community, and relaxed celebration. Your day felt so true to who you are and the life you built together and it was such an honor to be there. From the bottom of my heart, congratulations!!