Posts tagged St. Francis gardens
Not Your Average Wedding Tips | Schwab Estate Gardens Wedding at St. Francis, Loretto, PA


This post is more than just a look at a beautiful wedding at the Schwabb Estate Gardens at St. Francis in Loretto, PA. Chances are, if you're here, you are planning a wedding. And chances are, you've scoured Pinterest and googled your heart out over wedding details and how to set up your timeline. Maybe you already know when your ceremony is going to start, how many hours you want your reception to last, and perhaps you were even kind enough to carve out a few hours for your photographs. That's awesome! And if not, you can absolutely check out this handy infographic for some advice on where to start and ensure you have enough time to fit everything into the day.

This post, however, is all about the little details. The stuff that gets overlooked by even the most careful planner. The things that only are obvious after attending dozens of weddings and being on the back end of things. All you OCD Type A people rejoice! (And all you laid back, go with the flow people, I have a great word for you - delegation!)


At a typical wedding in a church, the bridal party is often sequestered away in a fellowship hall or other staging area were bags, hangers, makeup, and a myriad of other things get flung, stashed, and stowed before the ceremony. It's super helpful if your bridal party can have 10 minutes directly after the ceremony, while the photographer is getting pictures of the family, to clean up and pack up so everyone is ready to go after pictures!


Similarly, after the ceremony, it helps to have one person do a final sweep of the venue. This person should not be involved in any pictures at the next location, so no transportation is waiting on them. This person picks up things like flower petals, the unity candle, marriage certificate, aisle runner, and any stray programs in the seats.


As a photographer, I swear by this tip to keep group pictures moving efficiently and keep guests happy and looking their freshest if alcohol start to flow immediately after the ceremony (party bus, anyone?!). When getting family pictures, have the photographer prioritize the officiant, elderly, and very young first. This shows respect to their time, ability, and attention span, respectively, allowing them to leave first. Once those pictures are completed, do the largest family groupings first, then dismiss those family members. The last two pictures should be the bridal party (they are downstairs cleaning up at first, remember?), and then finally the bride and groom.

Similarly, if you are doing photos of the bridal party in another location, do the large group shots first, then all the groomsmen (they will be relieved when you send them back to the party bus early!), then all the girls, then finish with just the bride and groom. I can't tell you how nice it is for not only the photographer but also the bride and groom to not have a huge audience when they are trying to have a "moment" together.


The best way to keep everyone around you happy all day is to feed them. After the ceremony, most people are definitely hungry, so having snacks and water in the party bus or cars for your bridal party is a great idea! Most times, if you are having a cocktail hour with hors d oeuvres, you and your bridal party will be with your photographer getting pictures during this time. Delegate someone to make you a plate of goodies and set it at your table.


Speaking of feeding the photographer - when you are collecting your RSVP's and turning in numbers to your caterers, make sure to add in your photographer, DJ, videographer, and any other person providing you services for the whole day. It is an especially nice touch to reserve a table for all of these folks, too.


Wait, MORE?! Weddings are a lot of work!! And to ensure you don't have to do any of it as the bride or groom, make sure your bridal party knows that they should pitch in at the end of the day to help clean up. Better yet, discuss with your wedding coordinator or the venue staff about clean up options and just what is expected of you so no one is surprised at the end of a long day!

As a wedding photographer, and more recently as a second shooter, I have been able to step in and fill these gaps for lots of weddings, and to be honest it's one of my favorite ways to show my heart for the people I'm blessed to call clients and friends. I enjoy being able to pin boutineers, bus a table, secure a veil, bustle a dress, and the tons of other little details that help weddings go off without a hitch. If my job is to show you perfect, flawless images of your day, I want to make sure the memories behind them back up that same feeling of effortless joy!

The images featured here were from a wedding I got to shoot with Carolyn Renee Photography. A longtime friend, Carolyn has taught me so much about posing and customer experience, so I was beyond excited to help not only her, but this super fun bridal party, create a smooth, perfect wedding day! Enjoy!

Matt + Stef | A Fireman's Wedding at Contres-Greer Social Hall, Northern Cambria PA
Bride looking over shoulder with serious expression showing her keyhole lace dress and braided wedding hairstyle.

There's something really special about being a wedding photographer. Spending 10+ hours with someone on their wedding day is a really great way to learn a lot about someone. Matt and Stef were really great to work with - definitely very relaxed, thoughtful, and people that genuinely cared about everyone around them, especially their family.  I loved finding out the things that were special to them and capturing how they wanted to include it in their big day. Stef wanted to honor her grandpa that passed in 2015 by wrapping her beautiful bouquet in his shirt sleeve, her "something blue." She finished it off with lace from her great, great grandma's veil. Talk about stunning! I also learned that Matt has been a volunteer fire fighter at the Summerhill Boro Fire Company for over 10 years! What an amazing servant heart! It was such a joy to capture the camaraderie and friendship between he and his fire-fighting buddies! And how do you photograph a fireman's wedding? In front of a fire truck, of course! The reception venue at Contres-Greer Social Hall was the perfect choice to house all of those close friends and family - and there were quite a few!

A few days before their wedding, I called them to just catch up since their engagement shoot and to see how they were feeling in general about the day. When I asked them what they were most excited about, Matt said "the first look", and Stef agreed. It is so sweet to see couples that genuinely love each other deeply. I really wanted to be intentional about getting that authentic, genuine emotion in their photos.


I spent a lot of time in the week leading up to their wedding researching and planning just how to bring out the best in these two that I knew a little about, but not a ton. I've always been drawn to photos that show emotion, movement, activity. One of the easiest things to photograph is laughter - but it sure isn't easy creating it (especially if you're kinda lame sometimes, haha!!) If you're curious about the things I said or instructed to get some of the big smiles and the sweet looks, you can download my shoot notes here!

I hope you enjoy the highlights of Matt and Stef's amazing day! (and everyone knows it takes a village to pull off a wedding! Lots of thanks to Brent Labarko of DJ Jack Labarko, Inc. for amazing lighting and music during the reception, and Joelle Hadix of Wedding Elegance by Joelle for giving me some gorgeous florals to photograph!)

Sentimental wedding details like a sweatshirt from the bride's grandfather used as her something blue along with a lace veil from her great great grandmother.
Wedding bouquet by Wedding Elegance by Joelle featuring pink roses, succulents, purple cala lilly's, and purple tulips.
Close up shot macro photo of engagement and wedding rings nestled in a pink rose.
A groom wearing a charcoal suit form Vera Wang's Black collection sees his bride for the first time during their first look.
Bride wearing Tiffany's pearls and her groom sharing an intimate moment under a lace veil
Bride and groom smiling at eachother in front of a vintage 1980's fire truck at the local Summerhill Volunteer Fire Company.
Bride standing in monastery garden in front of blooming arbor, looking over shoulder at her lace wedding gown train
Headshot of smiling groom wearing Vera Wag Black collection suit and cala lilly boutineer
Bride sitting on a stone wall in a garden with groom standing beside her, smiling at eachother
Blue and grey bridal party walking in a garden laughing arm in arm
candid wedding photo of bridesmaids wearing blue one-shoulder dresses with pink bouquets
Candid photo of five groomsmen and a groom standing in a garden laughing
bride and groom kissing in front of a willow tree with pink and purple wedding bouquet covering faces
Wedding cookie table with fudge, truffles, and butter mints
Wedding reception table with fairy lights under a white table cloth and blue uplighting by Dj Jack Labarko
Bride and Maid of Honor sharing a hug after the maid of honor speech at the reception
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Jill Gearhart Photography Wedding-19.jpg
Mother Son Dance at the reception at Contres Greer Social Hall in Northern Camrbia