West Chester Wedding Photographers: Horacio & Nicolle at Thornbury Farm

She learned her wedding vows in Spanish so that his grandma could understand them, they planned their DIY wedding during a global pandemic (over and over again) — this couple is 100% authentic and gave such an incredibly heartfelt and personal wedding celebration and I can’t wait for you to see and hear all about it… AND I think they broke the record for most photos I’ve ever captured during a wedding day, find out why here:

Why Rhinehart Photography?

Nicolle shared, “Working with Lisa on our wedding day was perfect! I felt so supported from the moment she arrived. Lisa is affirming, genuine, friendly, upbeat, flexible, and gentle when communicating logistics.  She was such a vital part of our wedding day. She fit us like a glove, it was as if she was always meant to be there – a friend by my side all day long!”

Horacio agreed, “Working with Lisa on our wedding day was easy and stress-free.  She was very clear in communicating her vision but also incredibly accommodating with ours.  When we look at our wedding photos, I want to be able to re-immerse myself into the experiences, joy, love, and support that I felt on our wedding day and be transported back in time to those moments.

Horacio explained, “There are a lot of photographers out there, but when I saw Lisa’s work, I was blown away! Each photograph has its own expression, emotion, experience, and was so beautifully and incredibly visualized. I’m looking forward to seeing our wedding through her eyes.”   

Nicolle is the Sweetest

Horacio shared, “I fell for Nicolle’s sweet nature, her authenticity and genuine love she shows towards me, friends, family, cats, and succulents, yes they too should be mentioned! I love how we can completely be our real, unfiltered selves around each other. She demonstrates such a pure, romantic love towards me, and I am so blessed to be able to spend the rest of my life with such a special, beautiful person.

I have lots of beautiful portraits of Nicolle, but I liked this shot, showing her friendly wave:

Twins, Literally!

This is Nicolle’s twin sister– they may look very different, all light eyes, light hair, petite dark eyes dark hair, but check out their facial expressions, identical for sure!!

DIY Wooden Bouquets!

Nicolle explained, “Our wedding was very DIY, which is straight-up my family’s style. Our flowers for the bouquets and centerpieces were Sola Wood flowers that we purchased raw and my sisters, mom and I dyed and put together!”

The flower girl was really impressed by it for sure!

The impact of Covid-19

Nicolle shared, “Planning a wedding during the pandemic was a lesson in experiencing grief. I grieved the loss of the wedding I had dreamed of and had planned for, the loss of loved ones unable to travel to be present, the loss of certainty and control, and so much more. I would cry more times than I care to admit, and struggled a lot with moving forward. I had to let myself grieve the loss of all of the things I could not control and the things I had anticipated that simply could not be.”

Nicolle was somber, “Not getting married inside of Calvary Church was honestly one of the hardest parts for me to let go of when the pandemic hit.  I have lovingly served there as a youth pastor for eight years, and had dreams of getting married at the altar, with my friends, family, and church family (especially the beautiful youth I work with) in the pews, cheering us on.  I would not wish wedding planning during a pandemic on anyone, and lament with so many brides who are struggling as well. ”

She continued, “However, due to the heavy restrictions on indoor gatherings, we knew my dream had to be let go of. Being able to still get ready in my church really meant so much to me, and felt like the best way we could have still captured my heart for Calvary as part of our day. Prayer, a beautiful support system of family and friends, and an amazing fiancé who gave me space to feel and express my emotions was my recipe of resilience in wedding planning, and I am so thankful for the people God blessed me with to help care for me when I needed it most.”

Sustainable Gown Worn in her Classroom!

Nicolle smiled, “Getting photos in the room I’ve taught in for years, getting ready in the room where I’ve sat for meetings, being prayed over in the sanctuary that was meant to be our ceremony spot – all held so much significance to me.”

She explained, “My gown is from Cherie Sustainable Bridal, a second-hand bridal shop, where 100% of their proceeds benefit the charity Success in Style. The attendant was so affirming and helpful, and snuck a dress I originally said “no” to into my fitting room – which ended up being my wedding dress! I loved my experience there, and loved my dress! It was beautiful, affordable, and benefited a charity, which made it all the more perfect!”

Praying in the Sanctuary

I take time to get to know each of my couples and I knew how much the church meant to Nicolle and I also knew she’d love to have her friends pray for her before she walked down the aisle.

I use special radio-triggered lighting that allows me to really push the limits of my camera, in this case illuminating the girls (who were otherwise lost in shadow) while keeping the stained glass vibrant and really bringing in a sense of space, pulling in and showcasing the location as well as the emotion of the moment…

And They Are Off!

I love how each woman chose a design that fit her and the different shades of pink, lovely!

Horacio’s Pounding Heart

Horacio shared, “As I was getting ready with my groomsmen, I started feeling a bit nervous.  I could feel my heart pounding harder as the ceremony approached, my hands feeling a bit sweaty, and a nervousness that was beginning to move all throughout me, as it fully dawned upon me what I was about to do. There was no doubt in my mind that Nicolle is the woman for me, but the nerves were real!”

My second shooter for this wedding, Priscilla really knocked this one out of the park!  Such a handsome groom:

Why Thornbury Farms?

Horacio explained, “There are numerous reasons why we decided to have our wedding venue at Thornbury Farms, but here are just a few. First off, it ended up being the most Covid-friendly place we could have possibly imagined. With numerous acres available, people could easily social distance while enjoying the beautiful scenery, flowers, and rustic nature of the location. We had as our backdrop, historical land from the Battle of the Brandywine, and a trendy looking burnt red barn to one side.”

He added, “My brother was an awesome best man.  He even got a few of his classmates from film school to create our wedding video!”

Here they are striking a pose in front of the barn, it’s as if his brother is getting “props” for being so awesome :).

Paper Airplanes!

“We had so much support from our loved ones during the wedding!  My older sister did all the calligraphy on the chalkboard signs, my mom and twin created the favors, my brother-in-law folded all the paper airplanes…literally, my list could go on and on!”

Keep an eye out for these babies at the end of the ceremony:

Their “Goodbye Song” Played for Her Entrance

Nicolle smiled, “Horacio is a pianist and loves music, yet in the stress of wedding planning during a pandemic, we never talked about the music for the ceremony. So I decided to turn it into a surprise. Every song was chosen with care, and held a significant part in our relationship.”

Horacio shared, “Playing “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, tugged at my heartstrings and weakened my resolve to hold back my tears. This had been the “goodbye” song we had always danced to the day before we’d leave to fly back home away from each other, when we were in a long-distance relationship. By the time I finally saw her coming down the aisle, she looked beyond beautiful, my angel. I could not help but begin to overflow with emotion and could not stop my tears. I know I could never live without her in my life.”

Nicolle added, “Walking down the aisle, I focused on Horacio openly weeping with joy. It was so beautiful that we were able to be fully ourselves in that moment.”

Each Photo Tells a Story

Nicolle added, “It felt right to have it be the song played when we were saying “hello” to this new chapter in life, where we would never have to consistently say goodbye again.”

In this one, Nicolle subtly frames Horacio in the foreground as he watches her, looking so pleased… I love all the expression in this simple in-the-moment photo:

Daddy’s little girl

Nicolle smiled, “Another favorite part of our day was my dad – texting me the morning of the wedding, walking me down the aisle, giving the best speech I could have dreamed of, and dancing with me to a song I picked out when I was sixteen. His love and vulnerability were blessings to our day.”

The Most Wedding Photos I’ve Probably Captured Ever!

I photograph a lot of weddings, at this point in my career certainly hundreds, and I have to say that I believe I captured more photos on Horacio and Nicolle’s wedding day than I think I ever have to date!

It’s not that they hired me for a long time, it’s that there was just such a great variety of moments and emotions throughout the day, that I was constantly snapping away!  I believe that is because both of them were emotionally present in the moment.

Look how present Horacio is as he prays with Nicolle here:

Look how Nicolle is leaning on Horacio’s shoulder just as she was leaning on her father’s earlier– I think that is so significant!

It wasn’t just the couple that was emotionally present, it was so many of their family members and friends, too!

Here Nicolle’s mother wipes away a tear!

Unity Boquet (candle alternative)

Nicolle shared, “We initially planned to do a unity candle, but fire and haybales in an open field don’t mix, haha, so I had this idea of using white rose and pink roses and roses that were a mix of both to symbolize it!”

I Climbed a Tree for This Shot!

I literally went out on a limb to capture this photograph.  On the ground level, I could imagine what the vantage point would look like with the tree embracing the couple and all of their family and friends.  To me, it felt like a visual representation of God’s presence surrounding them on their wedding day and was a symbol that I believed would really resonate with them and look super cool.

While I’m running around like a ninja, climbing-trees and sneaking around catching mamas crying and whatnot, haha, I have my second photographer positioned in a simple straightforward angle so that all the key moments are captured by them.  Together, we don’t miss a beat!

She spoke in Spanish so his Relatives could Understand!

Nicolle shared, “I spoke Spanish during my vows. I wanted to for several reasons – Horacio’s father’s side of the family is from Nicaragua, and I know how important the Hispanic culture is to their family. Also, Horacio’s grandmother only speaks Spanish, and I knew she would be watching the live-stream, and I wanted something said in the ceremony that she would fully understand.”

She continued, “It felt like a way to show love and recognition to their family, and I wanted to do it well. Horacio’s father helped me to translate what I wanted to say, and recorded his voice so I could practice in the car as much as possible. Horacio is working from home these days, so I had to be careful he wouldn’t overhear me and ruin the surprise!  I was so happy to see Horacio’s reaction when I spoke Spanish! I was so thankful it was so well-received!”

Historic Pandemic Kiss

The minister shared about couples kissing historically during previous pandemics separated by a handkerchief, the couple laughed at how silly that notion was…

Then he pulled out one and they obliged, laughing all the while:

The blessing of the rings… again all that emotion!!!

Music from Youth Group Member

As her church youth group leader, Nicolle had an entire group of students and former students attend the ceremony.  Several of them performed on instruments while others used their vocal talents…

This clearly touched Nicolle’s heart!

Man and Wife…

Nicolle explained, “Reading our written vows to each other felt more powerful than I was expecting. I read each word carefully and with intent, knowing that these were the words I was committing to at the start of our marriage together.”

Horacio added, “It was the most incredible feeling being able to look into my bride’s eyes and make those vows to each other and know that she’d be truly and wholly be mine from that day forward.”

Kiss the Bride!

Yes, I climbed the tree again, haha!

I told you to watch for the airplanes!

A moment alone… look at his face though, so beautiful!!

More airplanes!!

The Wedding Party…

Strike a pose, you gorgeous models!

Mostly Moments, but Traditional Portraits, too!

A common question I’m asked is if I get traditional portraits, too, and yes, I do!  The focus of my work is the creative out of the box moments, but I make sure to get you a good mix of things from details to scenery to moments and even the classics like this:

Why She Fell for Horacio

Nicolle shared, “What first attracted me to Horacio was his confidence, the moment I met him, I felt drawn to him – as silly as that sounds.  But what made me fall for him was the vulnerability and heart that he revealed more and more to me as we got to know each other.”

She went on, “He had a lot of walls up when we first met, but as those walls slowly came down (through patience and perseverance), I fell more and more in love with this man who was dedicated, kind, and committed to growing personally and as a couple.”

Making it work!

Nicolle explained, “I think what makes us work so well is our commitment to “always make it work.” That became a theme in our long-distance relationship (we were long distance for almost 3 years), when things would get really bad, Horacio would say, “we will figure it out, we always make it work.” We are also very committed to always be growing individually and as a couple.”

As Nicolle and Horacio checked out their new wedding bands I got low enough to show the boughs of that tree again, against the blue sky!

Praying for Her Partner

Nicolle laughed, “I remember praying consistently before meeting Horacio, asking God to bless me with someone who would challenge me. My friends laugh at me now and tell me to be careful about what I pray for – because God gave me all that and more in Horacio! We very much challenge each other, but have grown in how we do so, sharing our hearts and our intentions in the process.  It’s really a beautiful thing!”

And speaking of beautiful things, how about that stunning red of the barn in the background?

Horacio agreed, “Both of us have a willingness and desire to work through whatever difficulties cross our path and to work as a team to get through them together. We are willing to adapt and do things for each other, even when we don’t always want to, to better make each other feel heard, understood, loved, and respected.”

The Little Things Nicolle Loves…

Nicolle smiled, “I love how Horacio’s face lights up when he is laughing, how committed he is to make me smile, how much he tries to meet me in my emotions. I love how at 11pm every night he gets a second wind and talks my ear off. I love how he cares for me, and is vulnerable with me. I think we bring out the best in each other.  I cannot wait to have this man by my side the rest of my life!!”

Going with the Flow & Supporting The Couple 100%

At this point in the day, we had planned to take portraits of the couple exploring the grounds of Thornbury, but I could sense something was off, like that the day had been so intense that right now, what they needed most was some time out of the spotlight.  I communicated my suspicions with Nicolle, who agreed that it was the case.  I captured them as they headed out of sight, knowing that we would have a ton of great photos and knowing that their priorities are my priorities, no matter what, I am there to support them 100%.

Nicolle mentioned, “Lisa was so supportive throughout the entire day!   At one point, I needed a break, and she was so happy to accommodate and be flexible.  That is not to say that she was unorganized, quite the opposite.  There was no doubt that she cared deeply and would do whatever was best for us.  She felt more like a friend than a photographer.

Gigantic Cookie Cake??  Yes Please!!

Nicole smiled, “Love Again Local is our favorite Vegan restaurant in West Chester! It was easy to convince Horacio to have a vegan chocolate chip cookie cake be our wedding cake from Love Again Local! They were so accommodating in the alterations when we needed to have all individually packaged cookies for our guests (as well as one cookie cake to cut) and even made personalized stickers for our day! Their desserts did not disappoint!! We took a few of the remaining cookies (there really wasn’t many) on our honeymoon, and enjoyed them so much!”

Tasty Fun Wedding Food!

Nicolle smiled, “One thing every guest at our wedding raved about was the food from Taco Mar! Danny, the restaurant owner, was absolutely incredible.”

She explained, “Once COVID hit, Danny worked hard to create an alternative, where each person had their own container of food, along with other individually packaged sides. Despite the alternative, the food quality was not compromised, and everyone felt safe and enjoyed it so much!”

She went on, “It was so evident how much he cared about his food, and helping us have the best food experience possible! Danny went above and beyond to provide the best experience, and we would recommend his food to everyone! It was perfect for all the vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, and meat lovers in attendance!”

Wedding favors… seeds!

Reception Traditions

Their entrance!  I love the look on Nicolle’s face:

Father of the Bride Toast

Wow, what a toast, so heartfelt and personal!    I framed Nicolle’s dad with the joined figures of the bride and groom to tell more of the story:

So many beautiful moments during the speeches:

And a ton of sweetness, too:

Do I really sit like this when I’m shooting?  Lol!!!

Nicolle shared, “Lisa definitely went the extra mile. Looking at some photos and videos that friends and family took, Horacio and I joke that Lisa could always be found in the background, camera at the ready. She was always on the move and thinking so outside the box! I remember at one point she asked me to sit down on the ground in my wedding dress to get a shot – and I was like – I would literally only do this for you, Lisa!! She had our FULL trust and we are so excited to see more of our wedding photos!!”

Why I was on the floor…

So after seeing that Pricilla nabbed that shot of me sitting “criss-cross applesauce” haha I was like what on earth was I doing?  Then I saw this:

I wanted to capture the yellow lights (one of Horacio’s favorite parts of Thornbury Farms) against the blue sky and the super cool angles of the ceiling while Horacio’s father told an incredible story.

I use a wide variety of lenses throughout the day and currently tote them in my trusty backpack.  I love how this one took those same yellow lights and created these dreamy orbs of light!

It’s all about the moments…

A candid moment between the couple as Horacio’s brother watches… there is such symmetry and beauty in this shot– the emotion, the light, the mini bottles of wine, something about it feels very symbolic and fitting…

Horacio dipping his mama during the mother-son dance:

They Met Line-Dancing in Texas

To hear more about this you will have to check out their engagement blog, I’ll link to it at the end of the story, too!

I love this photo!!!  So fun!!!  It’s like her feet have a mind of their own 🙂

The Whole World Disappeared

Horacio shared, “They show it often in musicals, when two main characters are dancing or singing and suddenly everything else behind them goes black. The people, the background, and everything else just vanishes as you are so fully focused and absorbed in the moment with a special someone. This is how I felt with Nicolle.”

Open The Dance Floor!

Nicole shared, “DJ Patrick Schaller was thoughtful, fun and easy-going, making the music piece a breeze when wedding planning! When the pandemic hit, Patrick was affirming, helpful, and made suggestions based on his experiences with other events happening during the pandemic. All of our guests loved the music he provided! I cannot recommend him more highly!”

Horacio’s parents warming up that dance floor:

The Entire Scene

I’ve been told by several venues that most photographers tend to shoot everything from a few feet away from the bride and groom all day long.  I like to sometimes get a lot closer, sometimes a lot farther, to capture everything about the day, not only close-ups of the people.

Here you can see the entire setting, along with the cool DJ lights, incredible evening sky, and dance floor…

Their Favorite Wedding Day Moments

Horacio shared, “My favorite was Nicolle walking down the aisle, getting to say our vows to each other and kiss her, our first dance together– there were so many other beautiful moments.”

Nicolle agreed, “Saying our vows to each other was definitely one of my highlights, and the vulnerability and love at that moment. It was like no one else was there but him.”

Ironically, Horacio had said the exact same sentiment earlier about feeling like the whole world disappeared…

Cookie Cutting Kiss (say that 5 times fast!)

So again, this is a time when having a second photographer really came in handy.  I started out with the traditional angle and at the last second realized that getting behind the bride and groom to show the warm glow of the string lights, and rim light them in the foreground so they are the main focus, yet subtly include the individually wrapped covid friendly cookies on the table with the bottle of hand sanitizer along with loved ones taking snapshots and shouting well wishes would really be the perfect closing moment for these two!

Nicolle & Horacio, thank you so much for choosing to have me capture both your wedding and engagement session!  It was such a pleasure to get to know the two of you and be by your side on such an important day!  For those of you wanting to see more, check out Nicolle and Horacio’s engagement, here.

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