Rachel and James’ intimate June wedding was exciting all around! For me, it meant finally starting off the 2020 wedding seasons after so much (and still continuing) uncertainty and postponements thanks to COVID and for Rachel and James, it meant still getting married on their original wedding date with their closest friends and family.
Rachel and James now live in Pennsylvania but planned to come home to Michigan for their wedding. After circling through different options when a large wedding and their venue was no longer an option, Rachel’s parents offered to host the wedding in their backyard and they decreased the wedding size to their closest 38 friends and family. Every time I spoke with Rachel, though definitely a little frazzled with everything going on, she was so calm and was just rolling with the punches – it was amazing! With the help of her mom and sister, they re-planned their love-filled casual Michigan backyard wedding in the midst of coronavirus all in about 4 weeks.
And for the sweetest love story, here goes: The two met on senior skip day in high school while riding in the trunk of the car on the way to Cedar Point with other seniors! How amazing is that? While sitting in the back seat of the car, they hit it off and now 8 years later, they’re married. They were designing the ring together but while in Philly for a weekend, James surprised Rachel with the ring already finished and proposed in Love Park in front of the infamous red love statue!
On their June wedding day, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect – sunny and hot but not too hot. I met Rachel and her bridesmaids while they were getting ready at her parent’s house. Rachel was so calm and excited and her girls were ready to celebrate and cheer them on!
Fun fact: While photographing Rachel after her make-up, hair and all the details were in place, she was looking out the front window and at that moment, James pulled up in his car, to which Rachel jumped over to the wall to get out of site! It was the funniest thing and without any instructions, James got out of his car holding his jacket in front of his face to ensure he didn’t see anything! From there, James was told to stay in the house while the girls continued to take photos.
James and Rachel wrote each other letters and when I arrived, Rachel told me she’d love to read it again and again because it was so amazing. If you’re thinking about writing notes or exchanging gifts on the wedding day, do it! Those are the pieces that go down in the books and make for the sweetest and emotional moments on camera and in your wedding videos.
The ceremony was held under a tent in the backyard and Rachel and James were married by their pastor, John, who traveled in from Pennsylvania for the big day. Nothing beats Jame’s face when he saw Rachel walking up to him.
Right after the ceremony, we took family photos before taking some time for wedding party photos. Then Rachel, James and I went down the street to the Governor Warner Mansion for their photos. Meanwhile, after a quick switch in layout under the tent, guests enjoyed dinner and the summer evening.
And when we arrived back at the house, it was cake time! I loved their red and white cake with the LOVE statue on top in honor of where they got engaged. It was so perfect! After dinner and cake, rather than a traditional reception, they finished the night with a casual evening of bonfires, mingling and enjoying their time and conversation with their loved ones. After changing and getting a little more comfortable, we finished the night with a sparkler exit for Rachel and James’ departure!
It may not have been the day Rachel and James originally planned, but they made the most of their love-filled casual Michigan backyard wedding in the midst of coronavirus and were so excited to just be married and enjoy the company of their closest friends and family. The big party and dancing can wait!
Congratulations to Rachel and James!
Photography: Emily Kyle Photography
Dress: David’s Bridal
Suit: Men’s Wearhouse
Florist: Farmington Center Florist
Groom’s Ring: Tungsten World
Bride’s Ring: International Diamond Importers
Bride’s Accessories: Etsy
Hair & Make-up: Christine Fitzpatrick