the Destination Wedding


On August 10 (2013) I was in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania where I photographed the wedding of Jim and Mary. I spent the day before the wedding scouting the location (inside and out) and I used the wedding rehearsal to make sure I’d be in the best places to get my shots of the ceremony. It was a beautiful wedding and an out of this world location. For this blog post I wanted to share some stories and a few of the images from the wedding.

Destination Weddings

There’s nothing like a destination wedding. Long story short – the bride and groom are choosing someplace super unique for their special day and for me that almost always means shooting someplace I’ve never shot before. When a couple decides on a destination wedding it’s usually because the location is incredible. Moonstone Manor in Elizabethtown, PA was the location for this wedding and it’s so incredible that it’s sold out a year in advance. The manor is a historic stone mansion located in the middle of a park-like setting with the beautiful Conewago Creek in the background. The grounds were perfectly groomed and the manor had an elegantly appointed interior. The overall impression borders on magical.

Some Interior Shots

I was fortunate to have the entire day before the wedding to scout the interior and exterior of Moonstone Manor. I used my time to take plenty of test shots and I tried out different lighting setups. I knew that time would be limited on the wedding day so I concentrated on using two interior rooms where I took plenty of test shots and I made sure my lighting would deliver shots exactly how I wanted. The first room I concentrated on was:

the Room Where the Bride Prepared for the Wedding Ceremony

I had about three shots in mind for the brides preparation room. My biggest problem involved lighting because there was only a single antique ceiling light for the entire room. Since I wasn’t working with an assistant on this wedding I set up a few lights and stepped into the shot for some test frames (I set the camera to 10 second delay shutter release and I placed the camera on a sturdy tripod). Here’s a behind the scenes look at one of the lighting setups and a look at the test frame when I stepped into the shot.

In my notebook I drew up a quick diagram of the light placement and I wrote down my flash power levels along with the manual settings I used on the camera. Taking these notes helped me save valuable time on the wedding day. Here’s a look at the final shot (captured the following day) of the mother of the bride lending a helping hand:

With the time limitations of a wedding day I needed to take shots in as few places as possible but keep the backgrounds looking unique. For my formal shot of the bride I brought in my 3′ octa shaped softbox and I asked the bride to stay put but turn away from the mirror. With the new lighting setup I moved my position to capture this final image:

the Father’s Waiting Room

The next room I wanted to really take advantage of was a beautiful room directly below the bridal room. The room looked amazing and had a great looking stairway from the room above. This was the place where the father of the bride would see his daughter for the first time. I knew that this room was important and it was one of the reasons the bride chose Moonstone Manor to have her wedding. Here’s a look at the room:

I loved the look of this room and I spent plenty of time working out how the final captures would work. For my next blog post I’ll share the final shots along with some behind the scenes looks at where I placed my lights.

Watching the Rehearsal

I’ve always considered it important to attend rehearsals for weddings I’ll be photographing. By being there I meet the families as well as the bridal parties before the wedding day and that helps everyone get to know me. Another huge advantage is knowing where everyone would be entering from and where they’d be during the ceremony. I could make sure I knew what lenses I’d be using and where I’d place myself throughout the ceremony.

Here’s a few shots I took during the rehearsal:

Wedding Day

With all my preparation complete I was more than ready for wedding day. Here’s a few shots I took before and during the ceremony along with a few from the reception:

Last Shots of the Night

I tell my wedding clients that they’re paying me to photograph their entire event, not just a pre-determined number of hours. This approach may not sound like the most profitable way to be a wedding photographer but it’s allowed me to capture end of the night images I’m proud of. For this wedding I set up one final lighting scene and the bride and groom let me capture what turned out to be my favorite shots of the night.

To get the shots I flew a small softbox high above the happy couple (on a boom arm attached to an eight foot heavy duty light stand) and I placed a flash behind them and as low and I could get it to add some rim light. I used a radio trigger and two radio receivers along with a half cut of CTO gel on my main light. The result was this image:

Be sure to check back soon when I’ll share how I took my “bride on the stairs” image.


To learn more about Moonstone Manor be sure to visit their website here.







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