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The Mansion at Natirar is one of those places that seem to beautiful and spacious to belong in the crowded outskirts of New York City, in the most-dense state of the Union of New Jersey. But it’s there, with gorgeous grounds and winding roads and all sorts of areas that you would just love to lazily walk around in … that is, if it hadn’t been close to 100 degrees like it was for Eric and Stephanie’s wedding.
Luckily the heat and blazing sun couldn’t keep them down, and it was tears of joy, not sweat, that mostly rolled down their faces. It was one of those first looks that felt like the entire emotional quota of your normal wedding day had been packed into the first five minutes of seeing each other … and it only grew from there, the intimacy punctuated with exultant celebration. It was amazing to see Eric and Stephanie dance with nearly all of their guests, a whirlwind of inclusion and deep connections with everyone there.
There are a few phrases that, when you hear it, you tend to steel yourself into placating mode: "Come see my one-act play," "Read this poem I wrote," and, of course, "I wrote you a song." It simply makes sense that most of us can't do these things at world-class levels: They're really hard work, they take a lot of time to get right, and we have other things to do.
So I knew I was in for something special when Johnny started the day practicing the song he'd written for Eileen and … it was good. Really good. It-should-be-on-the-radio-good.
Of course, given the amount of musicality in this wedding, it all makes sense. This was a day that featured performances from: Johnny and Eileen together, Johnny's mother and father together, and Johnny and his mom together, and then backup vocals from the entire wedding party bedecked in Santa hats.
Yes, this was a winter wedding … and then some. It was cold. So when you see the pictures below of people wearing dresses outside? There were a few ingredients to that: 1) With the wedding party we practiced each group pose inside before having them run out and shoot as quickly as possible and 2) Eileen is a bad-ass who wanted her photos more badly than she wanted feeling in her fingers and toes.
All of this against the fantastic backdrop of Perona Farms. We love any place close to NYC that lets us indulge in a bit of the pastoral, so we were also quite happy to brave the cold in this beautiful location.
I think our impressions of Kirsten and Chis are best summed up in the photo in front of the church door we chose to run below. You see, we also have photos from that moment that show off their style and elegance, Kirsten's gorgeous Pronovias dress and Chris cutting a dapper figure in his suit … but as soon as Chris gave that thumbs-up, I knew it would be their favorite and ours from that moment. Because Kirsten and Chris relentlessly focused on the things that really matter in the end … having fun together, celebrating their love with each other and with their friends and family.
And oh, how they celebrated.
Fun fact: I often edit weddings backward -- from the end of the day to the beginning -- mostly because there structural advantages to this, but also because it's fun to watch people become more and more sober. As you can see, Kirsten and Chris even pulled us into the celebration (though not the inebriation) toward the end.
Even through hosting such an amazing party, they have a laser focus on the joy they bring each other, so it's no wonder that their favorite memories of the day are the little moments between them. Chris fondly remembered the car ride to the ceremony, one of their few times truly alone during the day. Kirsten remembered how she felt when she walked down the aisle and saw the Chris was crying. "It made my heart melt!"
"Without question, the ceremony was the best part of the day," Chris agreed. "Our family, our friends … the people who all really wanted to be there were there. It's an amazing moment in a person's life. It's hard to put into words."
Luckily, there are pictures.