Congress Hall Destination Wedding | Cape May, NJ
When Liz Crawford and Grant Gilmore, famous WFMY newscasters, contacted me about photographing their Cape May wedding, I knew it was gonna be epic. Two super cool people madly in love with each other in a gorgeous location. I probably counted down the days to their wedding as much as they did.
Traci: Tell me the one thing you love the most about your Fiancé.
Grant: The one thing that I love about Liz is that her beauty truly starts from within. From the love she shares with her family to her ability to connect with any person she meets, her grace never ceases to amaze me.
Liz: I love how attentive Grant is. It’s very un-guy like of him. I feel like he hears my every word and he always lends a listening ear. It makes him incredibly understanding and supportive. No matter how bad the day, I have Grant who listens and loves. It’s a pretty wonderful feeling.
Liz, a sports anchor, and Grant, a weather anchor, met at their job, first as friends and then later started dating. A surprise trip and scavenger hunt later in New York City found Liz and Grant engaged and looking for a wedding photographer.
Traci: Why am I the right photographer for you guys?
A. I think you have a special eye to capture the candid moments. You’re not into the old-school, cookie-cutter, posed wedding photos. You see beyond the pose and capture the moment.
First, let me tell you how much I love photographing destination weddings. The most. I love it the most. And while traveling to new places is certainly a super fun experience? That is actually NOT the reason I love it. Destination weddings completely change the depth of the photographs. I get to spend an ENTIRE weekend with my bride and groom. From start to finish, I’m there. I pride myself on being pretty close to all of my couples, but there’s something about the weekend gigs that strengthen that bond even more.
Liz grew up in New Jersey so a New Jersey wedding it would be. A ceremony at Notre Dame de la Mer Catholic Church and a Congress Hall reception in Cape May gave me so much art to work with in their photographs – reflections, color, unusual lighting and a slightly decayed beauty. It was almost as breathtaking as Liz and Grant themselves.
Grant and his best friend started the wedding day with an early morning run on the boardwalk. I hopped out of bed early to meet them. Was I meeting them to run? Not a chance. But I did get my heart rate up while laying down on the boardwalk to photograph their early morning exercise. It took several attempts and we looked a bit (or totally) like fools, but they ran towards me and then jumped over me again and again and together we achieved an interesting angle to an action shot. Dangerous? Yes. Perfect shot? Absolutely.
Grant had a super cool straight razor shave and a haircut before the wedding. They even brought in a real barber’s chair. I hovered over the chair and shot straight down on Grant, careful not to knock the barber and his razor while shaving Grant. Another dangerous shot. But, again, totally worth it to capture Grant’s dashing good looks.
Liz got ready for the wedding in Founder’s Hall, an intensely blue room with small windows that let in beautiful shafts of light. I used that light constantly while photographing Liz. I wanted to get away from the blue so it didn’t overpower the photographs. I had to change the way I shot and be quick on my feet so I could control the environment instead of letting the environment control me. I’m not a documentary photographer. I’m a fine art photographer. Controlling the environment is critical to make the environment fit what is in my head. I love how we captured the pure grace and beauty that Liz possesses.
The church was somewhat gray, with the walls painted a muted white. In post-processing, I added an overlay of color to make everyone and everything look golden and warm.
I love to keep thing interesting during the ceremony. I get the safe shots and then I start playing – shooting through things, double exposures, different angles, anything to tell the story in a way people haven’t seen before. Liz and Grant were seated on the alter (which I didn’t have access to…grrrr!) So I crouched down behind the votive candles, found a small space to shoot through, and voila, colorful magic! The candles created a beautiful framing and they also quieted a somewhat chaotic scene. The moment is simply about the bride and groom. The colors around them pull the two of them into focus even more than a “safe shot”.
The cork popping shot? I’ll be honest. I’ve been trying to get one of these forever. It’s not an easy thing to capture. I was on my knees in a moving tram, which was somewhat awkward and a little bit painful, but I finally nailed it.
We took Liz and Grant’s formals during mid-day and amidst some fairly harsh lighting, so I squeezed the entire wedding party under a portico and worked some magic with my camera to give the image complete buttery gloriousness. It’s one of my favorite images from their wedding.
Another favorite photograph? Liz stayed in her wedding dress until the after-party. Before she changed, she sat on a windowsill looking up at her party dress while still in her wedding dress. It’s classic and elegant. Just like the lovely Liz. Love, love, love.
Traci: What is the most important thing to you about your wedding photography?
Grant: Capturing the moments in between the moments that people don’t typically see.
When I leave a destination wedding, I leave with a warm and happy after glow. I think it’s because I get to really photograph the wedding story in its entirety. From start to finish. Think of your wedding photography as a complete story telling instead of a traditional number of hours with a photographer. It’s so much more satisfying for both the couple and myself. I love what Grant says because this is exactly what this wedding gave to me. A chance to capture the in between moments that people don’t typically see. And to tell the entire story.
And I was honored to do so, Liz and Grant. Thank you for including me in your wedding weekend. I truly loved every single minute!