ledges hotel wedding photographers: Matt & Mike

Rock climbing in tuxedos, waterfalls and gourmet fare– this chic LGBTQ wedding united two nature enthusiasts, perfectly integrating their sophisticated tastes, love of adventure and each other…
Mike began following my work a few years ago when I photographed his friends’ wedding.  Matt and Mike contacted me following their Versailles engagement, already familiar with my photography and friendly demeanor.
They said that they simply loved my work– from the vibrant color, to my use of light and dramatic compositions.  They also liked the way I custom tailor and personalize my wedding photography coverage to fit each unique couple.
In the photo above you can see them rock climbing (in their tuxedos!)  which was so “them,” and posed in front of the lovely waterfall, their favorite feature of The Ledges Hotel in Hawley, Pennsylvania.
Their wedding was sophisticated and modern with gourmet fair and designer garb, yet it was also natural with organic elements of waterfalls, rock, wood and geodes.
Mike and Matt’s wedding bands are perfectly suited for them and illustrate their theme well!  One has a metal base with inlaid wood and the other is the reverse.  They are chic while also having that earthy element.
I photographed them on the wooden planks of their guests’ seating– I thought the contrast and diagonal lines were a perfect compliment to the bands…
Their wedding suite was gorgeous and spanned two floors of the Ledges Hotel.  This allowed them to get ready for the day without seeing each other, as they wanted to have a “first look”.  I stood outside as they put on their finishing touches.  I really love this next image.  It is a signal photograph, but tells so much of their unique story.
It captures their morning preparations and shows their cheerful personas, it shows the stonework of the Ledges and even brings in the natural element of succulent plants in a window.  Most importantly for me, it conveys a sense of symmetry and balance in their relationship….
ledges-hotel-wedding-photographers-poconos-hawley-pa-best-creative-unique-artistic-fun-romantic-41I moved inside their suite as it began to rain.  The chance of rain was rather high on their wedding day.  Not only did they not let the forecast dampen their spirits, they actually embraced it.  More on that later ;).
Matt and Mike’s Tuxes were from The Black Tux, it is similar to Rent the Runway, but for Tuxes.  Here I captured Matt’s reflection as he perfected his bow tie.
Matt shared that Mike was an exemplary wedding planner.  I have to agree, every detail was so perfectly and uniquely them.
Their boutonnieres were designed by Kristy Claire and incorporated  wheat, dried lavender, thistle, feathers and twine.ledges-hotel-wedding-photographers-poconos-hawley-pa-best-creative-unique-artistic-fun-romantic-61
When Mike and Matt began looking for a wedding venue they had two words in mind, castles and waterfalls.  They share a love of fantasy and also the outdoors and felt both would suit them.  🙂
Mike shared, “As it turns out, booking a real castle is silly-expensive. Finding a venue with a waterfall was a bit easier, but Ledges brought us a bit closer towards our castle-y desires with its old stonework and industrial/historic/rustic feel.”
Here I photographed Mike as he descended the spiral staircase in his suite upon hearing the news that the rain had slowed to a drizzle.  I like the interesting vantage pint and the contrast in this photo:
They shared, “Being the adventurous sort, and rock climbers, we couldn’t resist getting closer to the falls. Even though the many decks wrap beautifully around the falls, we wanted to get in the thick of things. Dress shoes, as it turns out, are not well suited for scaling boulders, but it was a blast to jump the fence and get out and explore the falls.”
They warned me of this prior to the wedding day, to see if I’d be game for a little climb.  I love to hike myself and was definitely game.  🙂  As they both got in position for their first look, the rain stopped– not a single drop!!!
Their first look was incredible.  In nature, surrounded by water and vibrant foliage with colors even more saturated by the previous rain.
Mike shared, “When I first saw Matt out on the stones on our wedding day my first thought was how happy he looked and that made me really happy in this wonderfully mushy feedback loop. Then I thought, damn, I have a very sexy soon-to-be-husband and he looks mighty fine in that tux.” They embraced.
I wanted to capture that surreal fantasy feel that they like so much and found myself drawn to their reflections in the water.  This looks surreal to me, almost like when Alice peers through the looking glass.
The clarity of their reflection is incredible and the contrast of them against the dark water really makes them pop, it is all about them in that moment.  You can see their actual (upside down) selves less clearly with all of the surroundings making for a more busy photograph…
Matt shared, “I thought that Mike looked amazing in his tux and that I hadn’t seen him happier… well, maybe except that one time in France when he proposed. I thought that this was our first adventure officially together… with many more to come. I’m looking forward to all the ridiculous things we will do together for fun (like climbing over wet rocks in dress shoes).”  🙂
Here you can see Matt offering Mike a hand.  For me it captures his thoughtful, encouraging, adventurous, gentlemanly personality all at once.  He is incredibly genuine and kind, and I think this photograph captures that.
Matt saw a clean rock face and hopped up, beginning to climb.  Mike joined in.
This next photograph really gives you a sense of so much of what these two and their wedding day was about… rock climbing in tuxedos and smiling ear to ear.
I love how Matt’s free spirit and enthusiasm especially shines in this image.
The couple had brought along paper boats to the first look.  They were folded from sheet music of one of their favorite songs, “I will always find you, it is written in the stars… we are paper boats floating on a stream, and it would seem, we’ll never be apart… I will always find you.”
It was a beautiful, symbolic gesture.  I like the ripples in the water and again those surreal reflections…
There is something about the fall leaves beneath the water resting on a bed of rock and the words and music “always” that I really like.  Well folded, Matt!
The Pocono Mountains are breathtaking with their forests, waterfalls, plateaus and gorgeous.  This Pocono wedding takes you into the thick of all of it!
Here I found a way to bring the clearing blue sky into the same frame of Mike and Matt.  It has such a dreamlike, fantasy feel and also gives a nod to their ability to take leaps of faith together and traverse gloomy, threatening situations undeterred.
While I love creative, emotional, symbolic images I also enjoy capturing more traditional portraits.
Such dapper gentlemen!
As  we climbed back over the fence (actually I think Kris lifted me over, haha!) we saw two familiar faces.  Mike’s mother and his best-person, Caroline, were smiling and waving at the happy couple having observed much of the first look from their rooms.  🙂
I photographed their happy expressions through the window.  You can see a bit of the ruins and Edison lights of the ruins in the frame as well– maybe a bit of foreshadowing of things to come…
ledges-hotel-wedding-photographers-poconos-hawley-pa-best-creative-unique-artistic-fun-romantic-171Geodes seemed to perfectly unite the earthy rock vibe with the fantasy element and were incorporated into Matt and Mike’s wedding invitations.
Here I pulled an actual geode from their wedding decor and photographed it next to an invitation.  Stone seemed to be the perfect background.
It was time for the wedding ceremony.  The ceremony was lead by celebrant, Lois Heckman, an enthusiastic wedding officiant who I have had the pleasure of working with before.
The ceremony was completely customized for this couple, absolutely unique and fitting.  You may recognize Lois from her popular blog and local newspaper column, Pocono Wedding Talk.  It often features photographs from my weddings :).
The ceremony took place on the top deck of the Ledges Hotel, overlooking the beautiful Paupack High Falls.
These lines from the ceremony so perfectly capture who Matt is as a person and Mike’s view of him…
“Michael loves Matt’s overwhelming positive energy and his excitement and enthusiasm for life, which lifts him up! He loves that Matt shares his interests and how they have in-depth conversations about all their passions, including the nerdy stuff, as well as sharing a love for hiking, climbing and outdoor adventure. He loves that unique and wonderful combination that is Matt, and how he is always willing to help, being proactive and supportive and that he is a genuinely caring person.”
The words made Matt tear up.  Mike said that the most special moment of the cermeony for him was, “seeing Matt pull out a tissue during the ceremony and dab at his eyes very delicately. It’s just so Matt! He tries to be all proper, but inside he’s this sweet ball of emotions just bubbling over.”
Matt shared that he loves Michael’s energy and the way he thinks and finds his focused-creativity inspiring.  They understand each other and communicate well, talking about anything and everything.  He loves the life he sees in Michael’s eyes.
I like this image because you can see the emotion welling up in Mike’s eyes and Caroline and Adam (the couple whose wedding I initially photographed) standing in support behind him…
The ring exchange… I like how intimate this moment feels with the macro perspective– the light was so beautiful…
The kiss…
Here Matt hugs a true guest of honor, his mother.  He was concerned that her stage four lung cancer diagnosis would prevent her from being able to attend the wedding, and moved the wedding up by a year exactly for that reason.
Matt shared, “It was beyond wonderful that she was able to be there. It just wouldn’t have been the same to “Walk down the aisle” without her. Thankfully she has been in great health so far and things seem to be going really well with her treatment.”
Together forever…
“We work well together both because we share a lot of similarities and because we are very open with each other and talk about everything (especially when something bothers one of us). We talk through things before they have a chance to become problematic… We succeed by taking on the world together.”
Here they stand on the deck where they exchanged their wedding vows, nearly silhouetted against the gray sky:
Here Caroline holds her bouquet of dried lavender, thistles and wheat.  It was fantastic to see her again!
Guests passed the breathtaking view of the falls as they moved from the ceremony space to the reception…
The reception was held in the “ruins“of the Ledges Hotel.  The exposed stone and Edison lights, the wood farm tables and burlap and fern accents fit the occasion well.
Matt and Mike walked the line of organic/natural and chic/sophisticated perfectly… while the setting may read slightly more earthy, their attire and cuisine added an element of formality and sophistication.
A playful nod to their geode theme was brought into their cake which was creatively constructed using fondant and rock candy!  Each piece of candy was meticulously placed using a pair of tweezers…
Here you can see the steps leading down from the ceremony space to the reception.  I captured attendees chatting through the window opening in the ruin.  I like the composition of it:
Touching speeches were given… Matt’s best man slipped in a special reference just for Mike…
The reception that followed felt very much like a joyful cocktail party held for close friends.  In the image below you can see both Matt and Mike’s mothers as well as several other guests enjoying the night.
The sky glowed blue, a similar shade actually to the geodes…
Dinner was lovely, half the guests swore they didn’t like Brussels sprouts until that meal ;).
As soon as the meal had ended and people returned to chatting, the rain began.
Slowly at first, (giving enough time to move people and items under the cover of the porch canopy) but eventually there was a total downpour.
I set up the shot in drizzle, and completed it in downpour.  I was soaked, my camera needed to be sent in for repair as water had seeped into it’s delicate buttons, but I recorded these memories, which were absolutely priceless… when they look back at this moment I hope that they think about their ability to live out their dreams fearlessly…
Matt and Mikes photos worked so well, and I think it was partially because they kept things simple.  They knew who they were and stayed true to their priorities throughout the day– everything was at one location, the bridal party and guest list was intimate, and most of all they took in every moment and savored their wedding day. I had time to get creative and think about who they were and capture them fully :).
They wrote to me saying, “It was an absolute blast working with you on our big day. You guys didn’t shy away from any challenge, and we put you through a number of them! From hopping fences and navigating water-slick rocks to capturing night photos in pouring rain, you were DEDICATED. You were also a lot of fun to work with; you have a pleasant demeanor, great sense of humor, and yet you are on task. We also appreciated your ability to both incorporate our ideas but also suggest lots of ideas for us.”
Matt and Mike, it was truly a pleasure to work with you two on your wedding day.  I wish you both all the very best and am very happy for both of you!

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