Palace at Somerset Park Winter Wedding: Charolotte & Matt

A *real indoor snowstorm* was only one of the highlights of Charlotte and Matt’s incredible winter wedding at The Palace at Somerset Park…
Charlotte shared, “From the moment I saw your unique photography style, I immediately fell in love with your work.  The colors.. the contrast.. the way they portray so much emotion– I’ve never seen photos like yours before!”
Charlotte almost didn’t hire me, explaining, “I initially contracted with another company simply based on pricing. Throughout the engagement, I kept wondering if I had made a mistake. While their work was very affordable, I wasn’t going to be assigned a photographer until shortly before the wedding. What if I don’t like their work or our personalities don’t click? In contrast by hiring you, I’d know that you’d be the one personally shooting our day, and I already know that I love your photos. I initially contacted you inquiring about a wedding after session, but quickly realized I’d rather have you capture our day. Our wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I didn’t want to risk having photos I didn’t like or weren’t flattering. I would rather feel extremely confident that I would love our photos. And you did not disappoint! We loved working with you and Jim. I love that you went out of your way to really get to know Matt and I so that you could create exceptional photos that are personal and made to fit us. You’re so sweet and pleasant to be around that it felt like you were part of the bridal party, hanging out with us. We really enjoyed your company. Matt and I really trusted you to “do your thang” because: 1. We’ve never done this before, while you have shot a ton of weddings (and multiple weddings at our venue) and 2. (can’t stress this enough) we love your work and trust your process in being able to get these magnificent shots.”
Matt shared, “Yes, basically we wanted to know exactly who was going to be there on our wedding day taking photos of us. Someone who we could meet before the wedding and be comfortable working with. We loved your photos especially the personal touches on each photo. We loved how our engagement photos came out with you and how easy it was to work with you. This made us very relaxed and comfortable on our wedding day because we knew we wouldn’t have to worry about how the photos would be because we knew they would be great. We cannot wait to see them!”
Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your story, guys!  Your experience is so unique and may help others who are making the same considerations… Charlotte is so much fun and an absolute joy to be around!  I love the contrast and emotion in this photo…
Charlotte shared, “I really wanted to have a winter-themed wedding, we love winter, and it’s actually when Matt proposed, too.  We chose cool colors for our winter wedding, purples and blues with gold accents to match the gold Chiavari chairs at the Palace. Our invitations were printed on shimmer cardstock with blues, purples, and soft white dots to symbolize snow.”
Usually, the first thing I do when I arrive is photograph the details.  I loved playing with the metallics and cool winter colors and incorporated Charlotte’s vows, invitations, streamers, and rings into her ring shot:
Charlotte smiled, “I loved my wedding dress! Especially the lace. My mom told me it reminds her of the embroidery style in the Philippines.”
I chose to use this dramatic lighting to show off the lace of Charlotte’s wedding gown– exquisite!
She continued, “I really wanted something that had off-shoulder sleeves. The dress that I got doesn’t normally have off-shoulder sleeves, but the bridal salon suggested adding sleeves to provide that look. I thought it went together so well!”
Charlotte explained, “My sister, Charlyn, is one of my best friends. I used to be her annoying little sister who she shared a room with and would cling onto her and her friends. As we grew older, we definitely started appreciating the fact that we have each other. I’m so glad that I was able to have her as my maid of honor. She helped calm me down whenever I was feeling overwhelmed about wedding planning and was at my side, ready to help throughout the wedding day.  I am grateful for her!”
Charlotte shared, “My mom, sister, and I are so close; we try to have weekly dinners whenever we can.’
She laughed, “It means so much to me that my mom loves Matt, too. Before we got engaged, she said that she wanted to adopt Matt so he could officially be her son!”
Charlotte smiled, “Right from the beginning, I knew we had something special. Being around him made me feel so safe and happy. I’ve never felt that way before but knew I wanted to feel that way forever. One thing that I like about Matt is that on the outside, he seems so stern and reserved, but he’s actually a goofball and a complete sweetheart. He makes jokes so often and makes funny side comments. It’s even funnier when he says them in a serious tone.”
I felt like this shot of Jim’s really captured the serious side of Matt well…
Jim is such an incredible photographer and I feel so lucky to have him on my team– check out his use of angles and light here, the gold pattern on the chair pulls in so well with the rest of their look and adds so much visual interest.
Charlotte explained, “We toured The Palace and I knew right away that this is where we were going to get married. Everything about it is so beautiful. We love the fireplace in the ballroom and were so excited that it would be the backdrop to our ceremony, as well as our sweetheart table. We really appreciated that The Palace had a generous-sized bridal suite, making it possible for all of the bridal prep to be onsite, while the guys had a room with a big-screen tv to hang out and chill before the wedding. We’ve only heard good things about The Palace. The staff, the food, and the Viennese hour!! All of it was amazing, and I couldn’t have imagined our wedding anywhere else.”
Charlotte smiled, “I wanted to find the perfect card to give Matt, and didn’t find it until the week before the wedding. I was just browsing on Amazon and saw a card with a cat on it. It was perfect! Matt loves cats, and the front of it said: “I kinda sorta like you.” Ten years ago, when I first told Matt that I liked him, I messaged him those exact words!”
Matt smiled, “I loved the front of the card it was perfect.”
Charlotte shared, “When I looked through the glass doors to see Matt waiting on the terrace, I remember thinking that he looked so handsome. It hit me that our wedding day was finally here, and I couldn’t wait to start celebrating our day together.”
I love to tell stories with my photography.  I wanted to incorporate Charlotte inside the Palace wearing her veil and fur in the dark surrounded by lux windows and draperies and show Matt waiting in the vibrant sunlight with the intense blue sky, pine tree and terrace detailing of The Palace.
Matt smiled, “When we did the first look outside, I remember waiting there with the sun right on me, looking towards the ground waiting to see Charlotte’s shadow as she walked towards me and touched my shoulder.”
Awww her smile– you can see the door she was peering out in the distance…
Charlotte recalled, “I looked at the forecast prior to our winter wedding and bought a faux fur shawl to help me keep warm during the day. Turns out, I didn’t need it at all. I didn’t feel cold the entire day. Maybe it was the excitement and adrenaline from our wedding day keeping me warm.  It was also so sunny on our wedding day!”
Charlotte shared, “Matt is so caring, loving, and is willing to do anything for me, even if it’s out of his comfort zone, if he knows it’ll make me happy, the sky is the limit.  No matter what kind of mood I’m in, he can always make me laugh.”
Matt shared, “It was amazing exploring the outside The Palace with Charlotte even though it was just a few minutes. We hadn’t seen each other since the morning beforehand, we had a lot of catching up to do.”
He got a little sentimental, “It feels like Charlotte and I have been a part of each other’s lives forever, and I can not imagine my life without her.”
Charlotte explained, “Matt’s ambition is admirable. When I first met him, I had the impression that he was a lazy high school kid. Which he was. Lol. But when he has something that he’s passionate about, he puts everything he has into it. He has this unexplainable drive to reach his goals, no matter how much effort is needed.”
Matt said, “I love Charlotte’s cheerful, positive attitude. She’s very ambitious and passionate about anything she cares about.”
I love playing with light to convey different emotions.  I like the intimate feel provided by the dark room and the way that the sunlight was just kissing the edge of Charlotte’s cheek and reflecting in her eyes.  You can tell that she feels so loved by him.”
Matt added, “Charlotte and I are best friends. We can get along and do anything together.”
Partners :).   Here you can see the happy couple among the evergreens with a little snow on the ground, the soft blue tones in the sky and one of the columns, too, in the foreground.  I like how the wind picked up Charlotte’s veil just at the right time as she walked.
While the majority of the wedding day is spent capturing candid moments– the preparations, the vows, the first dance, exploring the grounds together, etc… I make sure to capture a few traditional portraits as well…
And here is a totally not traditional portrait.  Charlotte and Matt talked and laughed as I shot through Martini glasses in the foreground.  They added some visual interest and I also played with my camera’s white balance, too bringing out the cooler tones that would really play up that wintery feel…
I love many aspects of working at the Palace and am proud to be a preferred vendor there.  One of those elements is the different lighting packages they offer.
I especially like to shoot in the east wing with their custom lighting set up, but even here, in the lobby, they usually have something going on.  I thought this purple played well in their color scheme.
One thing that I’m kind of known for is my editorial style bridal party shots.  I know how much Charlotte and Matt like the fireplace and like how it ties in that winter feel, especially with her “winter tree” decor flanking either side.  Looking good, everyone!
Matt shared, “All the wedding guests arrived and I stood by the fireplace waiting for Charlotte to come down the stairs. The string trio started playing Gabriel’s Oboe, the song she has been telling me she wanted to walk to that song on her wedding day even before we were engaged. I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. There was so much anticipation and it felt so much more real and emotional to me compared to the first look.”
Here he wipes away his tears…
He continued.  “I was overwhelmed with emotion realizing that this was actually happening. I was actually going to be marrying my best friend in front of our friends and family.”
Matt explained, “Charlotte and I loved the view of the fireplace and the chandelier in the ballroom. We just thought how nice it was going to be in front of the fireplace as we got married.”
Here you can see the gold uplighting adding real warmth to the room.  Combine that with the light from the chandeliers, fireplace, and candles and there was such a glow.  I even caught the reflection of the main chandelier in the mirror above the fireplace!
I believe the ceremony lighting was provided by The Palace and the videographers.  I liked the crisp winter white and used that rather than using my own flash for this shot.
One of Matt’s best men was the wedding officiant.  He was able to make the ceremony personal and left them both grinning ear to ear…
I move around a lot on a wedding day.  It’s not uncommon for me to log 5 miles on my apple watch.  I’m constantly on the go.  Here I moved from being at the center aisle to get a bird’s eye view of the ceremony.
For me, it’s worth hustling to capture different perspectives of the day.  My goal as a wedding photographer is to transport people back to their wedding day and to capture as many elements as are possible.  I wanted to really show off the chandeliers and allow you to see the crackling fire in the fireplace in this shot…
I captured that last aerial shot and this intimate one as well, I told you I move around like a ninja on the wedding day!
I love the intimacy of this image Matt holds Charlotte’s hand to place on her wedding band.  You can see the subtle details of her dress sparkling…
Kiss the bride…
Here I used my white balance and flash to really play up the sunset.  I was going for drama and color and contrast and emotion, all those elements that drew Charlotte to my work, and really wanted to show off the embroidery of her dress as well:
Charlotte explained, “I really loved our centerpieces. I knew I wanted to have trees, and the candles hanging off it looked so beautiful. Definitely captured both winter and warmth.”
She continued, “The wedding cake was covered in white fondant and each tier had about an inch of sugar crystals along the bottom to appear like snow or ice.”
Such a challenging thing to catch, the couple making their entrance into the reception as the room is so large and people are really far apart…  I used a funky tilted angle and complimented that with a tilt-shift lens effect so that I could have both the couple and guests in focus and clearly visible in one frame– I love everyone’s expressions and how they pop in black and white:
*** Real snow on the dance floor, this was a first for me, for sure!!!***
Charlotte shared, “One of my favorite things about winter is how beautiful snow is, so I wanted to have snow during our first dance. I thought it would really make a statement and make our first dance look extra special.”
Mission accomplished on that one, Charlotte!
The wedding guests loved it!
Haaa Jim snagged this pic of me– snow in my hair and on my camera– such a cool (hehe) experience!!!
Father-daughter dance… I really wanted to play up the sparkle in the background, it felt elegant and wintery…
Charlotte laughed, “The best men’s speech was hilarious! I love how it started off as a roast for Matt, while also including the Scout Law since they all met in boy scouts, and gradually became more endearing. It started off with them saying there were two of them giving the speech because it takes two people to come up with nice things to say about Matt.”
Matt added, “Their speech also talked about how happy Charlotte has made me. How we have known each other and supported each other for so long, and how it’s like we are family.  We both really appreciated that.”
Charlotte smiles at the speech and unknowingly flashes her blink among the sparkling champagne flutes etc.
Charlotte noted, “The Palace used lavender-colored uplighting with warm colors on the chandeliers that really complimented out the overall look and feel.”
Here both are visible as the wedding guests dance the night away:
Charlotte added, “I’m also glad that my cousin Alyssa had fun! She was tearing up the dance floor, and people had a blast watching her dance.”
Charlotte smiled, “Lucas is the son of one of my bridesmaids, Julia, and also my godson. I met him five hours after he was born, and visited him every day for the first year of his life. I love him so much and am so happy he enjoyed himself at the wedding!”
So I captured a photo of this dude dancing, but really like this one because it focuses on the reactions from the guests… love his moves!
Matt shared, “One of my best men began yelling at me to “spin”. This reminded me of our high school days and his crazy personality. I knew he was going to be there the rest of the night telling me to spin on the floor until I actually tried it, so I did.”
Charlotte added, “What?!?!  I did not know Matt spun on the dance floor!!! ”
Yes he did and here is some proof… used a motion blur technique to make everyone as dizzy as Matt haha:
Jim was up on the balcony with Charlotte while I was down on the ground with the single ladies ;).
Charlotte explained, “The bouquet toss was so funny to watch from the balcony. I knew my sister really wanted to catch it and knew the majority of my friends wouldn’t want to.”
I was in a very crazy yoga-like position to get this shot.  I wanted to show the chandelier and get a good view of the bouquet and everyone’s expressions.  It really was a close one– a photo finish ;).
Charlotte smiled, “I thought for sure my sister was going to get it, but then comes my friend Reika out of nowhere who was so quick that she ended up with it. It’s okay though, I’ve known Reika’s boyfriend (Jeff) since he was 3 years old, and they’ve been dating for 10 years. Maybe they really will be the next ones to get married!”
It was a fight to the death, haha!
Charlotte shared, “I surprised Matt by hiring a live painter. I knew he would love it because he loves to have art decorating our walls.   Katherine Gressel is extremely talented, and the painting was so beautiful. I can’t wait to get the final painting!”
Charlotte explained, “Matt is Vegan and that is really important to him.  I really wanted to do something special for Matt and wanted to surprise him with a Vegan cake.  So I told him I would get him a vegan cupcake planning an all-out cake, but he was so disappointed!  He also really wanted to experience a cake tasting like I had at The Palace, ha!”
She went on, “So I told him that we would have a vegan cake tasting and cake at the wedding, but the design would be a surprise. I had it designed with a Super Mario theme. Matt loves everything and anything Nintendo; that way it’d be personalized and special.”
Matt added, “I loved the Vegan Mario Cake. I wasn’t expecting the cake to be a multi-tier Mario cake, it was a really great surprise.”
On a photographic level I need to say that Jim nailed this, Charlotte and Matt are perfectly exposed, you can see the chandelier and fireplace and uplighting as well as the Mario cake in perfect focus in the corner of the frame, and snapped at the exact moment that matt took a bite and charlotte stuck, out her tongue empathetically… that is tough to do, and he got it!
The flambe, it only lasts for a few seconds and is tough to capture and predict (as you have to guess how bright the flame will be and adjust camera settings accordingly or else your photo could be totally black totally white, etc).    It was also important to me that I got the moment of the kiss and be close enough to nail the shot but not get burned and to be at an angle and use lighting would be flattering to the couple.  I really did my best guess to imagine how bright and where exactly the flame would be and am super pleased with the results… you can even see the bananas browning in the foreground…
These two were troopers in the cold and it was cold– the ground was frozen, I know because I sat on it to get this shot haha!
Partway through trying to capture this image I started questioning my sanity, haha!
My hands were so cold that pushing the multitude of buttons needed to pull off this shot was really feeling impossible.  And while I was on the frozen ground pushing the buttons with pointer finger and thumb and trying my best to hold my heavy camera with the other three fingers on my right hand I was trying to hold my cell phone at just the right angle with my left hand to reflect only the top of the building in a symmetrical way.
Jim came over and was like, do you need my help?  I was like– um yeah…
I hope you guys like it!
final-reflection-2Charlotte and Matt, thank you so much for trusting me enough to hire me after you already had a different wedding photographer!  I think you guys will probably have the biggest non-buyers remorse story every and thank you for sharing it with me and spending your wedding day with me by your side.  I had a blast!
If you’d like to see more of Charlotte and Matt, check out their boardwalk engagement session here.


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