Mendenhall Inn Winter Wedding | Michelle and Pat
Oh man. Where to begin with this lovely little family.
I met Michelle and Pat a little over a year before I photographed their wedding. Well, I should say I met Michelle and Pat and baby Patty on that day in December of 2020 … let me explain.
Michelle inquired with me in the middle of a cold, snowy December week. She and her fiancé wanted to book an engagement session, but since they were planning on having a winter wedding she realllllly wanted to include snow in the photos!! Of course I was SO down and we booked a session for that weekend, crossing our fingers that the show didn’t melt in the meantime.
It didn’t. And we had such a fun engagement session around the Art Museum. But before it was over, Michelle and Pat surprised me by taking out an ultrasound picture. “Would you mind taking a few photos of this too?” Um, YES!!!!! What a fun surprise!!! I did some pregnancy announcement photos with them before ending the session. And a few months later, they booked me for their big, post-covid wedding!!!
A little more detail on that — they decided to have a small covid ceremony in February of 2021 to officially get married, so that by February of the following year they would be able to have a big party of a wedding and not worry nearly as much about the pandemic!
The big party wedding? Yeah, that’s the one I photographed. And it was AWESOME.
We began the day at Michelle’s parent’s house, a beautiful suburban house on a culdesac in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. There was plenty of space for Michelle’s 10 bridesmaids to hang out & get ready for the day. The kitchen was filled with all sorts of snacks & refreshments (thank you, Mrs. Daly, for the coffee!!); the living room was a makeshift hair & makeup studio; the dining room held all the flowers for the day; and the upstairs bedroom was the designated “getting ready” spot for Michelle and her son!
Soon after I finished photographing the details (which included a little suit for baby Patty — how cute?!), it was time for Michelle to dress Patty and herself. I found myself catching a bit of baby fever as I photographed Michelle doting over Patty, dressing him in his cute little outfit and combing his little tuft of baby hair!! As soon as he was dressed, Michelle donned her breathtakingly beautiful, long sleeve wedding dress … WOW. Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe the way Michelle looked that day!! After snapping a few more photos, I said my “see you soon’s” and headed out the door for the ceremony.
St. Joseph’s Church in Aston, PA, is beautiful. The stained glass windows dotting the circular frame of the building gives it a spacious and elegant look. The lobby’s floor to ceiling windows are a photographer’s dream come true. I knew I was going to have a grand old time photographing this ceremony.
Since baby Patty wasn’t old enough to walk down the aisle as ring bearer, Michelle & Pat had another idea for him and his cousin born a few days apart. Why not have them be ~wagoned~ down the aisle?! Sure enough, Patty and his cousin completely stole the show. The two adorable babies rode down the aisle in fashion just in time for Pat to hold Patty as Michelle’s father walked her down the aisle to her boys. What a sweet way to kick off the ceremony!!!
Michelle’s parents cared for baby Patty during the ceremony. As great as they are being grandparents, Patty couldn’t help but let out a few cries during the quiet mass. Michelle and Pat kept looking back to make sure he was okay throughout the mass which was adorable. Patty is very blessed to have parents who love him (and each other) so much!!!
About two thirds of the way through the mass, it was time for the renewal of vows. Michelle and Pat said their “I do’s”, only this time they did so in front of their family, friends and son!! They sealed the deal with a kiss and headed back to the altar for communion.
Before the married couple recessed down the aisle, Pat led Michelle over to the statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus, to pray (as is customary for Catholic weddings). After that beautiful moment, the couple joined hands and smiled as they were re-announced Mr. & Mrs.! The first stop? Picking up Patty from his grandparents so he could recess down the aisle with them!!! It was a perfect moment.
Immediately following the ceremony, I got my lights set up for family pictures. During this time while family members were being wrangled away from other conversations for photos, I noticed Michelle comforting little Patty in the corner away from the crowd. They were right near a beautiful stained glass window. I picked up my camera and quickly, but quietly, made my way over to sneak some photos of this precious moment. They’re still some of my favorite from the whole day.
WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS
With family photos complete, it was time to head to the venue: Mendenhall Inn. I pulled up right before the party bus (I told you this wedding was a big party!) and scoped out some photo locations as the wedding party got settled inside. With locations picked out and camera batteries replenished, I gathered up the courage to tell the wedding party that I needed them to go outside for a few minutes. (The real feel had to have been in the 20s that day.) Despite the frigid temps, this wedding party CRUSHED their photos and I got them back inside as soon as I possibly could!!
Then it was time for one of my favorite parts of the day as a photographer: bride and groom portraits 🙂 After a brief recess inside to get warm and freshen up, I explained the game plan to the happy couple. There were 3-4 spots in close proximity to each other that would give us great variety in images and allow us to get back inside to the warmth ASAP Rocky. Once they were briefed, we walked out into the frigid air and got started!!
So if you don’t know already, Michelle and Pat are models. Unofficially. But as their photographer, I can confirm that they are most definitely models. Maybe it was all the love in the air, but they were effortlessly elegant and joyful in front of the camera. I am super happy with the portraits we were able to get, especially with the weather being as cold as it was. (Though I must say, the sunshine for wedding party pictures and bride & groom portraits was *chef’s kiss*!!)
Cocktail hour time!!! No more going outside until the end of the night 🙌🏼 I snapped a few photos of people chatting and got some nice detail shots of the reception room. (Michelle’s aunt did the flowers and they were BEAUTIFUL!!) Soon enough, the room was filled and the party was about to begin.
RECEPTION ENTRANCES AND FIRST DANCES
The bridesmaids and groomsmen each entered the reception as a group instead of one by one (there were 10 bridesmaids, to be fair). They danced their way down a grand staircase right onto the dance floor, where they lined the far side to welcome the married couple. That detail is actually really important. Because when Mr. & Mrs. Vanderslice entered the reception to a loud round of applause and began their first dance, their wedding party and parents formed a beautiful backdrop for their photos!!!
The parent dances came next. Michelle & her father had a super high energy dance with lots of twirls and lots of laughter. Pat & his mother followed up with a slower-paced dance full of smiles and emotion!
TOASTS AND CAKE CUTTING
Once everyone was seated and the salads were served, Michelle’s father opened up the toasts with an endearing anecdote about parenting Michelle. She was one of 5 girls and the first to get married, so her father was locked and loaded with plenty of stories to tell at his first of many toasts as father of the bride. Michelle’s sisters followed suit, giving a joint speech as the four maids of honor (which I hadn’t witnessed before, but I was a big fan). Pat’s two older brothers gave individual speeches to close the toasts, and the two of them seemed to love the fact that Pat loved walking around just in underwear and cowboy boots as a child 🤣
It was nearing the end of my time at the wedding, and the only photo left on my shot list was simple: “Michelle & Pat tearing up the dance floor.” After a soft cake cutting (meaning it wasn’t announced so the guests didn’t crowd around), the DJ opened up the dance floor.
And boy, did this wedding love to DANCE.
I had SO much fun weaving in & out of the dance floor, getting so many fun dancing photos from within and from above (remember that grand staircase the wedding party entered the reception through?). And then suddenly, Michelle and Pat found each other on the dance floor and a space miraculously opened up in front of them. I pulled my camera up to my eye and snapped some solid shots of them tearing up the dance floor together, beers in hand, before asking them to smile for a quality shot together and backing away for the crowd to fill the space in with dancing. I got the shot!!! What a way to end the night!!
Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Vanderslice. I had so much fun with you & your families and I wish you all the best in the years to come!!!!!
Venue: Inn at Mendenhall in Chadds Ford, PA
Dress: Claire’s Fashion in Wilmington, DE
Men’s Wear: Joseph A. Bank
Hair & Makeup: Honey + Glow Studio in Newtown Square, PA
Florals: The Bouquet Shop in Bryn Mawr, PA
DJ: Tim Dougherty
Videographer: New Pace Wedding Films in Ardmore, PA