This is an interactive blog post. Before you read any further, make sure to hit play on the track below and crank your speakers:
Now that that's playing, I can't think of a better way of ringing in the New Year than by revisiting one of our favorite weddings from this past year. This particular wedding was the perfect way to finish out 2021, and if it had such a great impact then, it can probably start 2022 off the same way, right? So, without further ado, this is Chase Barron:
I met Chase a few years back while he was fronting an amazing band called Chase and the Barons (Yep, that's his band you're listening to, and yes, he dropped an 'r' from his last name for the band name). Hey, if your name just naturally works as a band name, you go with it. Mine does not. That's why I didn't name my business Steve and the Groveses...
Anyway, the first time I met the band, they showed up in their typical gig attire: paisley shirts, ties, and Chuck Taylors in a max-vibrance rainbow.
Since Chase's band days, his focus has changed a bit. He now runs a successful YouTube channel focused on healthy living and, as I found out recently, makes some killer Christmas cookies. That could be the influence of his amazing new wife, Olivia, though. (Ah! The blog title makes sense now. See what I did there?)
Chase and Liv got married in a private ceremony at the Grand Concourse in Station Square. It was a very small, intimate ceremony with just their immediate families and us, and truly, everyone there was so wonderful, we felt like part of the family, anyway.
After the ceremony, an amazing meal, and the most colorful cake I've ever seen, Melanie went to the reception venue, Spirit, to capture some detail photos before the guests arrived. I accompanied everyone else in a limo. That's when I learned the backstory of these two amazing humans. Turns out, they met in an apartment complex where they shared a balcony. It was on that balcony that their story began, and it was on that balcony where we stopped to get these amazing photos:
I love these moments. It's what makes this so much fun. Getting to know people and finding a way to capture images that have special meaning to them is so rewarding!
And the surprises don't end there. After we arrived at Spirit and the reception got underway, Chase and Liv took the floor for their first dance. But this was no ordinary first dance. These two had a fully choreographed dance, and let me tell you, they NAILED it.
The party/karaoke fest kept everyone on their feet all night, but we did have an opportunity to get one last portrait of the two of them (both now clad in their Chucks) on our way out.
What an amazing day! So much fun, and like always, we're immensely honored to have been a part of it. I'd like to propose a toast(er) to the newlyweds:
May your futures be as bright and colorful as your personalities, your old band's dress code, your Chuck Taylors, and that cake!
By: Steve Groves
Almost two years ago, I got a call from a good friend of mine from Duquesne. Jake wanted to know if I shot wedding and engagement photos, and if so, would I be able to work with him and his fiancé, Jordan? Of course, I said yes! We headed to the North Shore Trail and shot some awesome engagement photos.
After a slight pandemic-incited delay, Jordan and Jake had their official wedding ceremony and reception this past October. They had everything set up to occur at Armstrong Farms in Sarver, PA. The groomsmen and bridesmaids each had their own space to get ready, then they did a first look at a quiet space near a picturesque pond, and the ceremony and reception both were in yet another space on the grounds.
After the ceremony, we got to do a very "Vanity Fair" style shoot with the bridal party and then Melanie and I took the couple away to do some farmland portraits, which turned out so great!
I always love when there is some sort of meaningful story that the couple shares with us. It gives so much context to what we're trying to do for each couple, and it helps us cater the photos specifically to them. In this case, Jordan asked if I could try to recreate a photo that was very special to her. It was a photo from her mom's wedding of her mom and grandfather. Obviously, I was not passing up on that opportunity! Jordan sent me a photo of that image in a frame, and I did my best to match the color, style, and vintage.
If you know these two, you know that they are both musicians—Jake is a guitarist and Jordan is a singer and both hail from the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University. So it's no surprise that these two ended their night with dancing turned up all the way to eleven. And everyone joined in!
As always, we are so honored that Jordan and Jake chose us to photograph their wedding. It means so much to us that couples trust us to capture the moments that make their wedding day so special. So, to Jake and Jordan—thank you so much, congratulations, and best wishes for your future together!
By: Steve Groves
As some of you may know, Melanie and I are parents to two amazing kids who keep us on our toes. Evan and Maddy (@abandonedevan & @abandonedmaddy on Instagram) have fantastic grandparents who step in at a moment's notice to watch them, and this particular day was no exception.
Jess and her bridesmaids were getting hair and makeup done at Salon MD in Harmony, PA. So, I dropped Melanie off at the salon to get photos of all of that as it was being finalized, while I made my way to drop off the kids with my parents and head the rest of the way to the White Barn, where the rest of the day's events would occur. (Yes, it can be a real exercise in planning sometimes!)
So I show up at the barn and the weather did NOT look like it was going to cooperate. Flat gray skies, fine mist, and occasional light rain had not left a lot of hope for the outdoor ceremony Jess and Connor had planned.
The venue is astonishingly beautiful—rolling hills, a pond, a gazebo—you name it, they have it. But, even if the weather was going to be prohibitive, the White Barn had equally beautiful interior spaces. It was here that Jess completed arguably one of the most important tasks of the day—a first look with her puppy, Beau. Oh yeah, she did a first look with the bridesmaids, too... :)
After all the pre-ceremony activities were done, it still didn't look like the weather was getting any better. But Jess was determined not to resort to the backup plan to move the ceremony indoors. Perhaps it was that determination, or perhaps it was her grandparents who were watching from Heaven having a little say in the matter, but the second she stepped out to walk down the aisle, the clouds started to break and the gloom of the morning began to make way for the kind of day every couple wants for their wedding.
I'm not going to lie and say that it didn't get a little windy, but that wind kept blowing away all the dreariness of the morning, leaving behind one of the most spectacular sunsets you could ask for.
It was then that we saw the opportunity to do one of our favorite things at a reception—we stole the couple away from their guests to give them a brief moment to be together—just them... Well, we're there too, but you get the point...This is where we get to spend time getting photos of the couple being themselves, enjoying each other without the pressures inherent in wedding receptions. This is also where Melanie and I got some of the most epic images we've captured at a wedding to date.
Jess had asked us to capture a couple of specific photos that would mean a great deal if we could pull them off. First, she wanted a shot of her immediate family watching Connor's dance with his mom—no problem. Second, she wanted a group photo of everyone in attendance at the wedding (nearly 200 people!) Hooooboy! I'm sure I have a wide enough lens to do that, but how do you organize 200 people?
The answer? The DJ. An experienced pro, Joseph Costa got on mic after dinner, called everyone to the dance floor for a group shot that we would take from the barn's loft. Brilliant! And not only did that help us get the shot that Jess wanted, but it got everyone on the dance floor as he kicked off an amazing night of dancing and partying.
At the end of the night, Jess and Connor once again proved that they know how to party in style. In fact, they showed that they even know how to LEAVE a party in style. They had organized a sparkler send-off, and despite the hours of dancing just prior, the couple looked just as put together as they did when they had arrived at the barn earlier that afternoon.
Congratulations and best wishes to Jess and Connor!
By: Steve Groves
It may have taken longer than they initially planned, but Amelia and Robert were determined not to let anything get in the way of their wedding. Buckle up, folks—this one is a bit longer of a post, but everything here culminates in one of the most awesome and unique weddings Melanie and I have had the opportunity to photograph to date. I didn't title this a 'saga' for nothing!
Rewind to 2018. I'm working at my day job at Duquesne University. One of the graduate students shows up at my office to ask if I'd be willing to photograph her so she could have some new headshots for her business' website. Amelia, a wonderful oboe player here in Pittsburgh, had recently launched vanhowe-oboe.com to market her freelance work as a performer, teacher, and reed maker. Of course, I agreed.
It was just a quick 10–15 minute session—nothing super fancy. Just a few headshots, right? Right. But then, a few months later, she shows up again to say she'd gotten engaged and wanted some engagement photos with her fiancé. Enter Robert, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University studying cognitive neuroscience. (I know, right? As a musician, myself, I can safely say that sometimes it can take a cognitive neuroscientist to understand all the crazy stuff that goes on in our heads!)
Fast forward to 2019. A Pittsburgh transplant from San Antonio, Robert struck me immediately as a perfect match for Amelia. Both of them have such unique personalities—fun, quirky, and genuinely a pleasure to call friends. I show up to do the photoshoot, this time in front of the building that houses the Carnegie Museum, Library, and Music Hall in Oakland. We knock out another great shoot, complete with a giant dinosaur.
So, then they called you to photograph the wedding, right, Steve? Yep. But, as fate would have it, we can't fast forward to that just yet. They did book me for their wedding, but then a little thing called COVID-19 reared its ugly head. You'll have to ask Amelia and Robert to tell you how many times they had to reschedule; I'm not at liberty to discuss. :)
While we can't skip to the wedding just yet, we CAN jump ahead a little to 2020, because while the wedding is on hold, I get a text from Robert. He needs some new headshots of his own, but he has another idea that he wants to see if I can make happen. Something a little more...colorful, shall we say. All I can say about this shoot is that I am eternally grateful to Robert for being so patient with me as I tried so many different things with multiple flashes, gels, and camera positions to get this amazingly colorful portrait:
Now that you're a little more familiar with both of these amazing people, we can finally fast forward to the wedding. Amelia has graduated and has become the music librarian for the orchestras and wind ensembles at Duquesne. Pandemic restrictions have been lifted to some extent, people are getting vaccinated, and the wedding is back on. And what a wedding it was! Melanie and I met the wedding party at the Hyatt House in Shadyside as they all got ready. Then we headed over to Slate Studio, a really great space in the heart of Pittsburgh's Strip District. The couple did a first look there and we got some bridal party portraits done before heading to the ceremony location—the elegant grand staircase at the Carnegie Museum.
Everyone then made their way back to Slate (including the guests this time) where the night played out with heartfelt speeches, a wonderful dinner provided by La Palapa, and music by the wonderful Bachelor Boys Band.
It has been such an honor to work with Amelia and Robert over the last few years, both separately and together, and I genuinely enjoy getting to work with Amelia on a day-to-day basis at Duquesne.
Congratulations to Amelia and Robert!
By: Steve Groves
It's funny how things work out.
Since I've been running this photography business, I've had the great fortune to meet some really awesome people, and several of them have become repeat clients. That is certainly true in the case of Danielle and Brian, who I met through a mutual friend (thanks, Sarah!) who tends the bar at the Original Mitchell's in Downtown Pittsburgh. But in their case, there's a little bit of a unique and special twist. But more on that later.
When I first met these two, Danielle was pregnant with their soon-to-arrive son, Walter. She was looking for a quick maternity photoshoot, so we hit up their alma mater's campus—the University of Pittsburgh.
Everything went well, and I sent over the final images—you know, a typical photoshoot. But then they called me for another session. I don't remember for sure, but I think they may have been my first repeat client. At any rate, we did a second session. And then they called for a third session. And then they called me to photograph the wedding reception they never had the opportunity to have after they got married.
Before the reception began, we got some really nice portraits at a church just down the street from their home.
Then we got down to business. (And by "business," I'm definitely referring to an amazing party at the Mattress Factory on Pittsburgh's North Side. These guys really know how to do it right.
It was truly an awesome evening, and I'm so honored that Danielle and Brian continue to ask me to be their photographer. That consistency is what has made that unique and special twist I mentioned earlier possible. You see, in every one of their photoshoots, Walter was there. I didn't know it at the time, but that very first maternity shoot set the stage for me to watch that adorable little guy grow up through a camera lens. Who knew that one day a few years down the road I'd get to watch him participate in a party celebrating his parents' marriage?
It's funny how things work out, and, like so many other things, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Congratulations, Danielle and Brian!