Do you ever meet people that are friends with a ton of your friends, that like the same music and have the same hang-outs, but somehow you had managed to go years living in the same town without ever being introduced? That's how it felt meeting Emily and Toren. Like we should have been friends for a very long time.
The couple, along with friends and family, pulled off an entirely DIY wedding at Paradise Farms Camp in Downingtown. Of all the venues I've photographed in PA, this is the one I'd be most likely to book for my own wedding. The camp vibe felt kitschy and fun, and I just wouldn't be able to resist doing a Moonrise Kingdom theme to play that up. The couple hosted their guests overnight which meant everyone could really let loose, stay up late and enjoy themselves, and spend the next morning together before everyone hauled off. Perfect for this laid back and loving pair, who you can see thrives on their personal connections with friends and family.
I met Emily and her sister and mom at her parent's home in West Chester. Dan got started back at the camp with Toren and his best man, Mike.
As soon as we pulled up to camp, it was time to hustle. We did a mini-reveal with Emily's dad and then headed over to the bamboo forest for the couple's first look.
The couple tucked away until it was time for the ceremony. I really could have stayed in that cabin and photographed Emily until the light ran out.
But the day had to go on, and who better to officiate the ceremony than Toren and Emily's friend Matt Seeker. He completely killed it, so if you ever need an officiant, look him up! The ceremony was heartfelt, well-written and didn't whizz by like many friend-led ceremonies can.
The couple had their first kiss and quickly stole for the bamboo forest, where they enjoyed their first moments as husband and wife all alone.
I was there. Watching.
After those tender moments, we went on a bourbon hunt. They read that it was good luck to bury a bottle of bourbon a month before the wedding, so after some rooting around in the dirt, Toren unearthed their 'vintage' blend. They took their nips, we took a few quick photographs, and it was party time.
Emily dedicated a song to her parents and I was so caught up in the beauty of their love that I almost missed the most emotional moments of the reception: Emily's grandparents, both of whom have dementia, rose and began to dance together. HOLY. TEARS.
My night ended with some lite pyrotechnics. Lanterns, sparklers, and a fire...just the most perfect goodbye I could think of.