A dramatic autumn masquerade wedding for a couple who battled Cancer and came out the other side in joyful union and exuberant celebration…
I’ll admit, when I saw that Kayla was in the ICU at Hershey Medical Center only 10 days before her wedding I was concerned. I’ll also admit that I stalked her social media, even taking solace in a clip of her face-timing her dog on Instagram, lol, she seemed in such good spirits, all the while sending her so many good vibes and prayers!
When her vital signs stabilized and she moved back to her “normal wing” and she and Mike conference called me from her hospital room to discuss final wedding details, I was thrilled! I was even more happy to see her with that huge smile on her face on the morning of her wedding day, just as she had believed would happen all along!
For this photo I wanted the dramatic style of Kayla and Mike’s wedding to shine– I wanted to capture the details of her dress and the bride hanger, the background of colorful downtown Carlisle and her sweet little curl cascading down as she fluffed the tulle of her wedding gown…
Kayla & Mike shared, “We chose Rhinehart Photography because of our wedding motto, YOMO, You Only Marry Once, haha! Seriously, these are forever memories of our one and only wedding day and we wanted the best, someone that we could completely trust! Photos were incredibly important to us.”
Kayla explained, “After my mom saw you photographing a friends’ wedding first hand, and after viewing your amazing and unique photography style for ourselves and seeing nothing but wonderful reviews on EVERY site we explored, we didn’t even need to see any other photographer. You were ‘the one’!!! We are sure without a doubt that you captured the importance, love, happiness and playfulness of our day and night.” 😀
Mike explained, “On the day of our wedding you made us feel so comfortable! You were very prepared and professional while also being able to go with the flow. There were so many times that you photographed us, when we didn’t even notice you were there, but yet have incredible, intimate photos of those moments that you *already* shared as a ‘sneak peek’!”
Kayla shared about her wedding style, “I’ve always dreamt of an elegant formal wedding. I knew I wanted deep deep red roses with the black dresses, the dramatic flair is what my style is all about.” I photographed the windows using very specific lighting that would really play up that color and contrast…
Kayla loved her sparkling shoes! I kept with the chic, sleek, subtle background…
I brought the drama and the black and white color scheme out again with this bold ring shot…
Kayla held her vows, looking over them at the Comfort Suites of Carlisle prior to the ceremony. I had her tilt the page a little to catch the window light and allow the pretty scripted “vows” lettering to peek through from the other side….
Kayla received devastating news in 2013, she had lymphoma in her abdomen. While Kayla and Mike were “just friends” at the time, he was there for her through every hospitalization, and he continues to be incredibly supportive.
For me this shadowy Kayla preparing in a dark room with light in the background and a window captures this part of their history so well.
Kayla shared, “Our biggest challenge has been my illnesses. It would put a strain on any relationship, yet Mike never fails to be here for me and through it all. He really is my hero. He supports me by never making me do anything alone unless I want to. When Mike is at my side I feel safe, I feel invincible, I hear love makes you feel that way.”
I used a really shallow depth of field to make this abstract image of Kayla in the mirror, her eyes are amazingly blue and so filled with joy and hope…
Kayla shared, “This dress and I were meant to be! I had first shopped at a big chain store where I felt pressured into buying TWO *ok* wedding dresses, one for the ceremony and one for the reception– I know! I didn’t like the experience and my heart felt heavy. I wanted a different experience for my girls and went to Lilla’s Bridal boutique in York, PA for the bridesmaids’ dresses.”
She continued, “I told myself I would NOT look at bridal dresses. So I didn’t! Walking out of the boutique, I saw *my* dress. Just with my eyes I KNEW it was THE dress. Took a risky move and asked how much. Realized I could afford it, although being THIRD wedding dress, I took a snapshot with my phone and walked away…”
Here Kayla stands with *her* dress and we see double– I love to play with reflections and other creative photographic elements, but I thought this was especially fitting since with her story…
Kayla continued, “We grabbed lunch near the store, but I couldn’t stop thinking of it. I couldn’t eat, it sounds crazy but I loved the dress so much… so I started ‘Mom…don’t be mad but…. did you see this dress?’ I showed her the photo on my phone. She said nothing, took out her phone, spun it around and showed me a photo of the same dress– she saw it and thought the same thing!!! I said we are going back!!!”
Kayla concluded, “When I tried it on there were no dry eyes in the shop! I managed to sell my first two dresses (thank goodness!) and I never found a dress for myself that I LOVE as much as the dress I wore on my wedding day!”
Kayla said, “That dress story only gives you a small peek into how awesome my mom is! She is my best friend. I always speak highly of Mike being here for me when I am sick or down. The times where distance was involved or when Mike is at work and I have been hospitalized at Hershey Medical Center, my mom is there for me– always.”
Kayla went on, “My mother is literally super mom! I will never ever find a way to say enough thank you’s to her!!!”
Mike shared, “I fell for my wife based on our similarities, they helped us bond and grow closer over time until our “like” grew into love.”
He continued, “I love that Kayla lets me be myself and we can kick back and just be silly together. She always encourages me and never makes me feel bad about past decisions I have made. I can just be myself around her. I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it, she makes me a better person inside and out. I want her to be in my life forever.”
Here she admires her engagement ring, soon to be joined by a wedding band…
She shared, “When you led me outside to the Cumberland County Courthouse, I just knew there would be “Lisa Magic” in store! I am really excited to see those photos!”
Kayla was just as thrilled to be marrying Mike! She was absolutely glowing all day long!
At this point random cars were honking at her and I think you can see why…
Kayla, all I can say is wowza– you look stunning!!!
Kayla shared, “5th Avenue Salon was so great to work with– I had a party of nine for myself and my girls. There were several stylists focused on hair and two make-up artists. Everyone looked AMAZING. I couldn’t have felt more beautiful on my special day!!”
She went on, “Lisa, you made me feel very comfortable by encouraging me and everyone in my bridal party that we looked great, you helped me pose the way you wanted me to and I always felt so comfortable and able to be myself!”
Kayla reminisced, “I have always dreamed of having an elegant, formal wedding. I used to envision my own wedding day as a little girl playing with my dolls, Barbie’ and Ken of course, even back then my “bridesmaids” wore black evening gowns!”
Kayla shared, “My niece, McKenna and Nephew, Noah are always a blast! Mckenna is 11 years old and Noah just turned 9!”
I noticed them swinging around this lamp post and wanted to capture their movement and energy, so I used a slow shutter technique…
Kayla continued, “They are the little loves of my life!”
They seem to like her a little too… 😉
I love the symmetry here:
If you can’t tell by now, I kind of have a thing for reflections…
Kayla shared, “I fell for Mike almost instantly, I love how I could see his kindness in his eyes, and he wears his heart on his sleeve. Mike has a happy-go-lucky personality, he is very laid back and this levels us out in our relationship.”
As if on cue– here are those eyes…
Mike shared, “My groomsmen were a great group of guys! From childhood friends to guys I played sports with to college buddies. I was so proud to have these men by my side.”
Mike shared, “To thank my groomsmen, I bought various cards from different sections of the store (from Birthday cards to Anniversary cards, etc).”
He continued, “I proceeded to cross out Birthday (from Happy Birthday for example) and write in Happy ‘my wedding day,’ haaaa! Everyone knows me well and found themselves laughing along with me as they opened the cards.”
Mike explained, “The hangout upstairs in the LeTort Tavern was ideal! Our poker game was a great way to relieve stress before the nuptials. I am no card shark, but we definitely had a blast.”
Mike laughed, “The masks– they were the wrong masks! Kayla put so much effort into choosing matching masks for the groomsmen. We were unaware and just went with our gut. Kayla was surprised to say the least when you posted our little sneak peek. But now agrees that our choices went perfectly with the theme and very masculine, haha.”
Kayla shared, “Growing up as an ‘Air Force brat,’ the second we viewed LeTort View on the Carlisle United States Army War College Base, I instantly felt a calming sense of “home.” As someone who moved A LOT (12 times between birth and 20 years old) home is not an easy concept for me to grasp, and that feeling was exactly what I needed. Mike understood right away how much that meant to me, and we booked immediately.”
She continued, “To me, the ceremony was undoubtedly the most meaningful part of the whole day.”
Kayla explained, “We’ve been a military family my whole life and even NOW my dad still gets deployed. We always manage to stay close and be there for each other through the distance.”
Kayla’s dad said, “Walking my youngest daughter down the aisle made me feel both happy and sad, happy that she found her forever, but sad that the reality of her childhood being over was actually there. Her mother and I have loved and accepted Mike for a very long amount of time now so handing her to him was the easy part.”
Kayla shared, “My favorite part of the day was seeing him, my husband, at the end of the aisle waiting for me, and looking at me the way I’ve only ever dreamed of being looked at. All I could do was focus on him and my love, I couldn’t wait to get down the aisle and get to him!”
Mike shared, “All I could think was oh my gosh she is so beautiful, look at her, she is about to be my wife! Mine forever! The feeling was unreal– I was blown away!”
He continued, “Kayla was absolutely stunning and nothing could have prepared me for the feelings that I experienced standing in the gazebo as I saw her approach on her father’s arm.”
One of the reasons I love working with a second shooter is to get unique angles, like this….
There were many happy tears shed…
Kayla shared, “We were both very excited to marry in the gazebo, being outdoors is a big part of our relationship, we love to go camping, hiking, and “beaching”!! Nature is so calming and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect atmosphere to share our vows!”
Kayla shared, “I thought Royer’s Flowers out of York, PA did an incredible job on the florals. They also prepared all of the fresh rose petals.”
I like using interesting perspectives and used a wide depth of field to allow both the aisle and gazebo to be in focus. I really like capturing the feeling of the entire atmosphere of a wedding and move around like a ninja on the day of ;).
A different perspective– I love their expressions here:
The ring exchange…
Kayla shared, “From the moment my dad walked me down the aisle to the moment the rose petals were thrown for our entrance into marriage, everything about our ceremony was so meaningful!”
The new Mr & Mrs!!!!
Mike said, “With my wife by my side I feel so proud, beaming, and confident!”
It shows! How happy are they?
They both said, “We really enjoyed our time alone together. Another reason we are grateful for you is that you were there and it didn’t even feel like you were! We were able to absorb our new titles, my new last name and our love.”
Mike shared the sweetest thing, “Kayla was used to having a ring on her finger, I was excited to finally have a ring to symbolize our love that everyone can see and know that I am hers!”
He continued, “When I pulled her close to me, I told her three words “I’m so lucky.”
Kayla said, “You are my world. I’m the luckiest!”
The grounds of the Letort View Community Center is nestled among the historic Carlisle Barracks, part of the prestigious United States Army War College, the 500 acre venue is really a town of its own with their own golf course, taverns, grocery store, fire station, chapel, homes, health clinic, and even bowling alley to mention a few!
As we explored the grounds I was a little concerned as the sun had set and daylight was fading fast. I used my math/techie skills to really make these photo look as bright as possible, opening up my aperture all the way to f2.0 and slowing my shutter down to 1/200th of a second and maxing out my ISO to really give the light some time and sensitivity to expose a clear, bright photo.
Mike shared, “Kayla she is sick often, I almost lost her once, when she woke she recalled my name, I knew then that I wanted to hear my name from her voice forever.”
Kayla expanded, “Mike and I have had our ups and downs, but I knew for a very long time that he was my person. He is so patient and kind. He is always here for me and has never waived from the promise of ‘in sickness and in health’ even well before our wedding day!”
She continued, “I can be a firecracker, and when I am he takes my faults with a grain of salt and gives me time. Mike is extremely strong, muscles and heart. He has carried me through so much in life and has never given up on me, even when times got rough. I know I can, through all, call him my very best friend.”
Kayla went on, “When I walked toward him on the wedding day and could finally see him, my heart was fluttering and I couldn’t believe that he was about to be my husband -finally-! He was so handsome, not that he isn’t always, but today he was especially so. I am looking forward to living as long as life will let me live, with him at my side.”
Mike shared about their masquerade theme, “October is my favorite month, we even considered a Halloween theme for the wedding. With Kayla always dreaming of elegance for her wedding, that is how we decided it would be a masquerade, a perfect compromise.”
It was quite dark by the time we started bridal party photos, so while we did capture a few outside with me really stretching my manual settings and mathematical equations to really allow us to get every last smidgen of daylight, we captured a large group photos with the masks, under the chandelier that Kayla loved so much.
Kayla shared about obtaining the 100+ masquerade mask favors, “Last year, the day after Halloween, we went to EVERY Spirit Halloween store throughout Central Pennsylvania (Yes, I’m talking Harrisburg to Lancaster) to get all the desired masks in our color scheme– red, black, white, and silver!”
She laughed, “I remember borrowing a cart from Giant, taking it in to Spirit, while I was sitting on the floor sorting through a HUGE pile of masks, haha!”
Kayla’s mask was a birdcage veil and Mike’s was a more traditional masquerade mask. I wanted to capture all of the ambiance of the room– the elegant draperies, the beautiful centerpieces in tall, shimmering vases, the subtle faces of guests watching the first dance, and most importantly the happy couple… I really like the layering and composition of this photograph. Notice how I waited for them to dance directly below the chandelier and tilted my camera a bit to get enough of the vase to create a frame of thirds?
Mike, “My Mom and I danced to ‘What a Wonderful World.’ I enjoyed dancing with my mother to this song. Her and my father raised me to see the world differently and I will never stop appreciating that. My mother invested and sacrificed so much for me to be the well-mannered, educated man that I am today, and I felt this surge of gratefulness while dancing along to this song with my beautiful mom.”
Kayla had an interesting variation on the traditional father-daughter dance.
She began, “I chose was by Taylor Swift and it’s called “Never Grow Up” it talks about various stages of growing up and mentions both father and mother within the lyrics. While my dad danced with me for the first half, he offered to switch with my mom for the second half of the song, which was really sweet.”
She continued, “My dad knows all my mom goes through for me, and offered the switch. It meant the world to me to dance with the two most important influences on my life. It was amazing.”
Mike shared about the anniversary dance’s surprising winners, “Believe it or not I was actually kind of surprised that my parents were the longest running couple at our wedding! It filled me with pride to know that this is exactly what I want for my bride and myself and we are so privileged to have their marriage as an example to follow!”
I love this photograph for so many reasons… first, it is the moment Michael’s parents “won” the anniversary dance, second Mike’s parents perfectly frame Kayla and Mike and his mother’s wedding band sparkles a bit in the light. Mike is so happy and points to his parents and Kayla begins to clap as she realizes who the winners are!
Kayla and Mike didn’t shy away from any wedding traditions and fully embraced the bouquet and garter toss!
Kayla laughed, “Andrea is my co-worker and her boyfriend Derrick was graciously blessed with the garter! That was one of my highlights from the wedding, I thought it was so cute (and entertaining!)” Haaa– his expression!!!
Kayla and Mike shared, “We had NO doubts about the dance floor situation. We have a fun crew always willing to have a great time! (Ourselves included).”
The wobble… love his expression:
I loved it when the guests started bringing their masquerade masks onto the dance floor! His joy was contagious!
The lighting on the dance floor was so cool! I double checked with Kayla to make sure she liked the vibrant, colorful, celebratory look of using the dance floor lights as my primary light source and she loved it!
One of my favorite captures was of Mike during song “shake dat” by Eminem, haaaaa!
I love vibrant color and the lighting provided by Andrew Bunty of Provolve Entertainment gave me so much to work with! All these dance floor shenanigans were so much fun!
I love this one… the red, wow, he’s totally rocking your color scheme, Kayla!!!
Mike shared, “The colorful lights on the dance floor just captured the happiness and craziness of Kayla and myself perfectly! Beams of happiness all over the dance floor just made a great atmosphere for our friends and wedding guests!”
Kayla and Mike had shared that from the moment they toured LeTorte View Community Center, they fell in love with the ambiance of the ballroom with its beautiful chandeliers, so I definitely made sure to play them up in the photographs.
Kayla shared, “Everyone had a great time with the photo booth! The props were cute and Hanna of Complete Wedding and Events out of Lancaster was very professional! If you’re getting married and are considering a photo booth, do it!!!”
I noticed these items laying on the head table and thought that they really did a good job capturing the masquerade theme, colors and the fun-loving guests…
Mike shared, “We complement each other.”
Kayla agreed, “Yeah, Yin and Yang for sure.”
Kayla stated, “I am looking forward to living as long as life will let me live, with you by my side. I can’t wait to conquer the good and bad with you, my partner in crime.”
Kayla and Mike, your love story is beautiful! The way you have stayed by each other’s side in sickness and health and whole-heartedly love, accept and cherish each other, living in the moment, every day. They joy and hope that you bring. I am truly the lucky one to have seen this first hand and to have been able to capture it for the two of your and your family and friends.
I hope that you two are happy with your decision to put “all your chips” on Rhinehart Photography for your wedding photos (hehe, poker pun, Mike, just for you, buddy). I hope that these photos were just as unique and creative as you had hoped for and that I was able to capture the importance, love, happiness and playfulness of your wedding day and night! I’m so excited to hear your thoughts!
If you would like to see more of Kayla and Mike– check out their fall engagement session in York at Flinchbaugh’s Apple Orchard or Mike’s surprise Soccer Engagement session at the corresponding links. 🙂