Skytop Lodge Wedding Photographers: Marissa & Thomas

An incredible fairytale wedding for two US Army Captains (and Star Wars fans) who had finally found their match 😉

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Marissa & Thomas shared that photography was literally the number one priority when they started planning their wedding.  Before they even looked at venues they called me to find out my availability!!!  Marissa had been following my blog for several years and was set on having me photograph her wedding, seeing her brother Joe’s wedding photos confirmed that choice.

Marissa and Thomas loved how unique, personal and creative my photos were and my attention to detail.  I knew that they were Star Wars fans, so I thought about a few ways to incorporate light sabers in their portraits.  I also knew how important the scenery of Skytop Lodge was to them and really wanted to show off the vibrant, fairytale feeling of that beautiful setting…

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Here are a couple of small details that had supreme importance, Marissa & Thomas’ wedding bands with her lovely diamond engagement ring.  I used a macro lens that could capture all of the detailed cuts in Marissa’s diamond and placed the rings on a dark, reflective background to really make them pop. 🙂

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Thomas shared that Marissa’s radiant personality had him from the very start.  She is brilliant, ambitious and funny and also incredibly supportive, devoted and unconditionally loving.

I snapped this photo as Marissa put on her earrings– it is such a simple moment, but you get a feel for her natural beauty and  exuberant personality.

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Skytop Lodge is a historic retreat hotel built in the 1920’s.  It’s breathtaking architecture is classic, elegant, and just the look that Marissa and Thomas wanted for their wedding.

Here you can see Rissy back-lit by the grand windows and doorway.   What a stunning bride!!!

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Marissa shared that she owes everything she is and has to her parents.  They taught her to be happy, enjoy life and strive to better the world every day, and to always think of others.  They have always made her feel loved and supported.

When Marissa was a little girl, she wanted to be Belle for Halloween, her father dressed up as the beast, I kept thinking throughout the day about what a moment this must have been for him as well.

Here he saw her for the first time in her wedding gown.   His face says it all…

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He said, “Mom and I have seen and cherished your beauty– inside and out– since the moment you were born.  Watching that radiance grow even brighter because of the love that you and Thomas share is the greatest happiness that any parent could ever know.”

Marissa carried a lovely bouquet.  It incorporated photographs of her grandparents.  They were in a nursing home and unable to attend the wedding.  Thomas and Marissa re-dressed in their wedding outfits the next day and visited them!

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Beautiful bridesmaids…

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Seeing Skytop Lodge last July was Marissa’s first “bridal moment”– it brought tears to her eyes and took her breath away.  The lodge was the perfect balance between classic elegant and relaxed fun they they were looking for and she knew she had found “the place.”

Here she and her bridesmaids take a moment to let it all sink in and celebrate!

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Marissa’s mom has been her best friend throughout her entire life.  Marissa said, “I have no idea how she was able to strike the balance between “friend” and “mother” but somehow she made it work.  She is the most selfless, intuitive, patient woman I know.”

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Marissa wore a cathedral length veil and here her mother is helping her to put it on.  I love the joy and movement in this photo– it is such a sweet moment…

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Time to meet Thomas…  Marissa shared that falling for him was easy.  She said that he is incredibly generous, hilarious and  intelligent.  He pushes her to better herself and lifts her up when she needs it.

She went on to say, “He is my partner in every sense of the word…  I can’t wait to continue exploring the world and face all the new challenges that I know life hand us.  No matter what challenge it is, I know that Thomas will be with me and we will be a team.”

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Thomas and his groomsmen walk together on the front lawn of Skytop Lodge before the ceremony begins in the Formal Garden.

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If the five story stone structure boasting 125 guestrooms didn’t give you a fairytale feeling, certainly this mode of transportation will!  Marissa and her father arrived to the ceremony site in a horse draw carriage.

While I waited for the ceremony to begin from the garden level, Kris watched the carriage arrive from the roof deck.  I love how you are able to see the forest, mountain and sky!!!

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As it approached more closely he was able to capture this moment as the horse and carriage pulled up to the ceremony…

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While I have several beautiful photos of Marissa being escorted up the aisle by her father, I think this is my favorite photo from that moment.  It is the look on Thomas’ face as he watches Marissa approach.

He said, “When I first saw her on our wedding day I think my brain backfired a bit due to how unbelievably beautiful she looked. She looked absolutely stunning!  That was enough to make me lock my knees and almost take a tumble down the stairs!”

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While guests gathered in Skytop’s Evergreen Garden, the ceremony took place on the south porch, overlooking the garden.

Their bridal party stood on the steps flaked by two large evergreen trees.  Here Marissa slides the ring on Thomas’ finger:

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The kiss…

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Marissa shared, “I wasn’t nervous at all on our wedding day. I’ve never been surer about anything in my life. I was excited all morning, but when I saw Thomas, I thought my chest was going to burst with how happy and thrilled I was!”

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A toast to the happy couple…

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Spending quality time alone together was important to Marissa and Thomas.  They walked on the lawn and in the gardens and took some time to let it all sink in… husband and wife 😉

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I like to provide an eclectic mix of photos for my couples and their families.  Many focus on emotion, but others may focus on the details or the setting.

In the image above I put all of the focus on the couple and allowed the garden and the building to blur into the foreground and background.  It adds color and depth and frames the couple.

In the image below I used the architecture to really frame the photo and allowed much more of the architectural detail to show.  Again I used the columns to frame them as they kissed.

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I also really enjoy providing a unique perspective– here Marissa and Thomas practice their first dance as I stood a level above them on the porch.

It allowed me to capture the natural beauty of the flagstone and the mossy-clover growing between as well as all of the vibrant color from the garden and window boxes…

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This has to be one of my favorite moments from the day.  Thomas looked down at Marissa’s hand wearing the engagement ring and wedding band.  He got a little choked up, which was really sweet.

He said, “Marissa is the consummate partner in all things that I do, which is probably my favorite thing about her.  That’s a constant humbling reminder of her unconditional love for me and her devotion to our relationship”.

His face says it all…

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You can see how proud he is to have Marissa by his side…

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Marissa is incredibly proud, too.  Here Thomas pins his last name on Marissa.  It was something really sweet that Marissa wanted to do.  I think it says a lot about the level of trust and devotion that they have and also gives a little bit of background about their involvement in the military…

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Marissa shared, “We started our relationship when we were 9,000 miles away, which was crazy, but really helped us get to know one another because all we could do was talk. We face many challenges together as a team, from deployments to the stresses of daily life. These sort of challenges have helped us gain a lot of perspective about what is most important in our relationship. We’ve gone from a long-distance relationship to spending almost every hour together, back to long-distance, and together again…and it will always work. We are unconditionally loyal to each other and value one another.”

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Mmmmm wedding cake….

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I know I haven’t mentioned Star Wars since the beginning of this blog entry, so I think it’s about time to share some more…

Thomas has always been an avid Star Wars fan to say the least. Thanks to her older brothers, Marissa enjoyed the movies growing up, but wasn’t a die-hard fan until Thomas.

A saber arch is a military tradition that Marissa and Thomas took in a playful, Star Wars direction with a LIGHT saber arch!!!  Thomas looks like a kid in a candy store, hahahaha….

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Ian was Thomas’ co-best man and a friend that he has been close with since high school.  The summer of 2012 was a big one for them.  Ian headed out to the Peace Corps in Benin, a country on the west coast of Africa and Thomas deployed to Afghanistan.

Ian joked that despite Thomas being in a war-zone he still managed to send Ian care packages containing Oreos and magazines.  I think it spoke a lot to Thomas’ character and his care and dedication to his friends.

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Thomas dance with his mother was an emotional one.  He said, “My mom has been a huge source of inspiration for me. She has been there for me through some of my toughest times  and has always been someone I can count on for love, support, and advice. She also instilled a number of core values in me: the importance of hard work, dedication, duty, and the value of setting high uncompromising standards for yourself.  She helped to forge me into the man I am today.”  This is what love looks like…

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When I asked Marissa and Thomas what their favorite moments were in the wedding day, almost knocking over the cake made top three, hahahaha!

Marissa and Thomas used her father’s West Point saber that her parents used to cut their wedding cake 36 years ago.

To the left of the frame you can see two staff members from the Skytop Lodge steadying the table and preparing to steady the cake, the couples’ expressions are also priceless…

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You are probably wondering what the other “top 3” moments of their wedding were– well number one was the ceremony itself– finally holding hands and standing together in front of our family and friends at the beginning of the ceremony and number two was dancing….

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The dancing portion of the evening was lead by Magic Mike and was pretty incredible.  They shared, “Making sure our guests had fun was paramount in our wedding. Knowing who we were inviting, we knew that music was key because people would love to dance! We wanted a DJ that would keep people on the dance floor and make our guests feel involved in the party.”

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At the end of the night, all of their guests circled Marissa and Thomas…

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They lived happily ever after…

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….and the force was with them, always 😉

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Marissa and Thomas, It was such a pleasure to see you two and your wonderful family again!!!  You are such an awesome couple and perfectly matched.  I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness!!!

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