It’s hard to believe that it’s been a couple of years since we’ve photographed a wedding at the Wolf Oak Acres estate. The last time we were there it was a cold, snowy October! We were happy to return for Sarah and Michael’s early June wedding because the property has such pretty places to wander and explore, and not just because it was one of those hot early June days giving us the first tastes of summer, and Wolf Oak Acres happens to be the only air-conditioned barn around – haha! We’re sure that guests were pleasantly surprised to walk into air conditioning after the ceremony.
We arrived early to check out what has changed about the venue and scope out some potential photo locations. It is crucial to Team SHP to do our research! We make time to check out locations beforehand, especially before the first time we ever plan to work there. It’s fun research for us! We take a road trip, get a beverage (maybe some bubble tea, perhaps a cream slush), do our friend thang and take in the venue itself as we chat about plans and possibilities. We always plan to arrive early the day of as well to have time to recap and perhaps connect with other professionals about the plans for the big day. Sarah and Michael’s day had a laid-back start that allowed for this idyllic workflow of ours (things don’t always go as planned, but you know that)!
After touching base with Russ, the venue owner, and picking out a location for the first look, we met Sarah and Michael in their getting ready rooms right on site. The rooms were so close together that it was pretty suspenseful! Michael and his guys got prepared just a door away from Sarah and her ladies, so communication was vital for a successful first look. Whenever the girls wanted to pop out for a photo or two, the guys were warned and vise versa. The guys made quick work of getting in their suits, cracking jokes and sipping on some quality whiskey. They had their groomsmens gifts on hand – personalized utility knives – so a photo was a must! Meanwhile, Sarah’s ladies helped her with the finishing touches to her look and getting into her gown (check out the lovely layers of lace that make up the bottom!). Once the coast was clear, Jenn assisted Michael in finding the perfect placement for the first look!
Russ graciously offered to shuttle Sarah to her groom who was waiting to share their private first look moments in a wooded area on the grounds. We thought that was pretty cool of him! After a romantic first look, photographer Sarah took advantage of the beautiful nook and continued with some portraits of Sarah and Michael individually and together. They even had time to get most of the family photos and all of the wedding party photos completed! Yessss!
Sarah and Michael’s ceremony was set so that they could wed right on the edge of the Wolf Oak Acres pond. The blue sky reflected off the pond, giving it a lovely aquamarine hue. Sarah’s choice of pink lilies and pink gerbera daisies popped in a pleasant way against the pond water as they hung from the huppah. A huppah that was lovingly put together by family members. During the Jewish ceremony, select attendees were asked to come to the front to read The 7 Blessings, as they read, the resident bullfrogs started a chorus of their own. It was magical and cute and one of our favorite memories from the day. With one stomp of his foot, Michael broke the glass, and they were officially husband and wife! Time to party!!
Cocktail hour commenced on the second floor of the barn. Guests enjoyed fruit, veggies, and so much cheese! Photographer Sarah and Wesley gathered some family to finish up a few portraits that were still left to complete on the couple’s must have list. Once they finished, Sarah and Michael were able to enjoy a majority of cocktail hour with their guests. After a successful and delicious cocktail hour everyone was invited downstairs to the reception and dance floor area. The lead singer of Silver Arrow Band crushed it as the Master of Ceremonies. We thought it was great to see a live band in this space. Sarah and Michael seriously nailed it with their entertainment choice!
The reception area was uplit in pink, and every table was adorned with pink gerbera daisies atop slices of wood. At every seat was a custom blend of coffee, “The Perfect Blend,” made especially for Sarah and Michael by the Utica Coffee Roasting Company. Bella’s Event Planning draped the entrance to the reception space in white chiffon as well as behind Sarah and Michael’s sweetheart table, which made it an ethereal focal point. Once all the guests were seated at their assigned tables, Sarah and Michael were introduced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. and basked in the moment for a while by immediately sharing their first dance!
After parent dances and toasts, Sarah’s father and a few family members started the meal with a blessing in both English and Hebrew. In fact, every tradition they took part in that day was provided in both English and Hebrew, which was a nice, inclusive touch! Delicious plated meals by Michael’s Food and Spirits came next. Photographer Sarah, Wesley and Jenn ventured outside to get some detail shots at this time. Right at the beginning of dinner is a great time to wander with the bouquet and the rings to find the perfect light! And then we come back and eat too (this is also about the time for the hunger. to. get. real.)!
To start the party off post-dinner, Silver Arrow Band busted out Hava Nagila to initiate the Hora dance. We knew it was coming, and we had waited all day! It was definitely another one of our favorite moments of day. Family members rushed to the dance floor and quickly formed concentric circles. Before we knew it, Sarah and Michael were in chairs and lifted up into the air! What a fun tradition to document! Sarah’s expression was priceless. Michael’s daughter, Dahlia, even got to join in on the fun when a family member brought out a chair for her to be lifted up in too! While guests boogied on the dance floor, the caterers paraded individual, rustic, high-crusted pies to the dessert table in a variety of flavors (since there were plenty, we snagged a chocolate one for later, and dang was it gooooood!).
To conclude the day, Sarah and Wesley set up an epic night shot for Sarah and Michael outside at the covered bridge, while Jenn crushed it on the dance floor snapping all of the guests getting down. We always set up our “epic night shot” before asking the couple to come outside because it allows us to just whisk them away for a few minutes to ensure they get to go back inside and enjoy the rest of the night with their guests. We like to think that this time also gave Sarah and Michael a moment to breathe and to take in all the magic surrounding them on their best day ever! All because two people fell in love.
Now that we’ve given you the skinny in written word, here’s the beautiful photographic evidence!
Congratulations and best wishes, Mr. & Mrs. Bilotta!
Featured Wedding Professionals || Dress Designer – Essence of Australia | Dress Vendor – Andrea’s Bridal, Portland, Maine | Groomsmen Attire – Men’s Warehouse | Hairstylist – Nhan Le’s Hair Salon | DJ/Live Band – Silver Arrow Band | Caterer – Michael’s | Florist – Sandy’s Flowers & Gifts | Venue – Wolf Oak Acres | Event Coordinator – Bella’s Event Planning