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Elopement With Chinese and Western Traditions | Lebanon, NH | Susan + Charles

I think I need to start this blog post off by saying that his was the happiest freaking elopement I've documented so far. Susan + Charles were the most genuinely happy, excited, and smiley people I've ever met. Their zest for life + life was truly contagious. You could tell the couple was madly in love with one another, but also in love with life and making their time living it a hell of a good time.

From the moment I (and my husband, who was my second photographer for the day) arrived at Susan + Charles' new home in Lebanon, NH, they welcomed us with open arms and wanted to make sure we felt comfortable and at-home. It was their first priority, which was so sweet! We were invited to sit down on the couch with them for a bit, enjoy a cold seltzer, and just chat with them for a while. That was definitely a new experience for me as a wedding photographer, but one that really set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

Susan + Charles had decided to elope at home, influenced slightly as healthcare workers during a global pandemic, and mostly motivated by the fact that they wanted to keep the day simple, and wanted the focus to remain on the love they were vowing to each other that day. Susan's parents were in attendance, and Charles' family members were supposed to come as well, however they lived in Canada and, unfortunately, the borders were still not open to the United States at the time of their wedding, so they were unable to make it. Despite this, Susan + Charles' smiles never left their faces, and they made the most of their very intimate elopement, and honestly, it was such a stunning day.

Susan + Charles had two ceremonies: a Western marriage ceremony, and a Chinese tea ceremony. First up was the Western marriage ceremony, which was originally going to take place in their back yard, but, since their new home was a new build, the grass hadn't come in yet! Instead, they decided to walk down the road and get married in a lush little grassy patch in the middle of their neighborhood's small roundabout, with the mountains as their convenient backdrop. There, they read the vows they wrote for each other (which were so dang sweet + touching), laughed a lot, and exchanged wedding rings. As soon as they kissed to seal the deal, they danced in celebration, and basically continued dancing for the rest of the evening.

They walked back towards their home together, with the applause, hoots, and hollars from their neighbors greeting them along every turn of the road they walked donw. It felt like a mini-parade and was such a sweet part of the day. The neighbors across the street from Susan + Charles' home were especially excited, so we made sure to get them all together for a group picture to commemorate the moment.

Once Charles carried Susan over the threshold of their home, an outfit change occurred, thus commencing the Chinese Tea Ceremony. This was the first time I had ever had the honor of being present for a Chinese Tea Ceremony, and I found the whole tradition very touching. It basically started with Charles offering Susan's dad's some tea, and Susan's dad accepting it and taking a sip. Then Charles did the same with Susan's mother, followed by Susan herself repeating the process with her own parents. The whole ceremony represented the welcoming of Charles into Susan's family, and was the first time that Charles was welcomed to officially consider Susan's parents Mom and Dad essentially. It was a big deal, and you could tell that Charles was a bit nervous for the ceremony, hoping that all would go well, and of course, it did. It ended with Charles and Susan's mother sharing a sweet moment of laughter at the end, which erased any lingering nerves.

From there, Susan + Charles performed their first dance, a routine they choreographed together just the day before! They danced SO well together and could tell they were having the best day ever! It was such a treat to watch, and at the end of their first dance, Susan's father even gave the couple a double thumbs up, aka the most adorable gesture I've fricken witnessed in my life haha!

After they danced, Susan + Charles cut their wedding cake, poured champagne, and we all raised our glasses to the newlyweds and said, "Cheers!" Post toast, we began to tuck into the feast Susan + Charles had provided, consisting of both of their favorite foods: sushi and pizza. To say I was in heaven is an understatement. With only 7 of us there (the couple, Susan's parents, my husband, me, and the officiant), we all sat down together at Susan + Charles' dining room table and ate, chatting about life, love, and the adventures the couple had planned for their honeymoon to Costa Rica soon after their wedding day.

After dinner, Susan changed into her final wedding day outfit, and brought us upstairs to her and Charles' bedroom to document the final tradition of the day. We found her bed decorated with dates and peanuts, which were symbols of good luck and fortune with fertility. We then went back downstairs and Charles sent us home with SO much leftover pizza and sushi, and, of course, some cold seltzers for the drive back home.

The whole way home, my husband and I kept saying to each other how fricken sweet their at-home elopement was! Susan + Charles were two of the most genuinely kind and welcoming humans we have ever met, and we felt so damn honored that they chose and trusted us to document their special day. We felt especially privileged knowing that the photos and mini-keepsake video we took for them would be shared with Charles' family in Canada who weren't able to physically be there, but would help them feel a part of the day still.

We loved how special their day felt, and how they stay true to themselves and did everything they wanted to do on their big day, and got rid of anything that didn't align with them and their personalities. This is still one of my favorite weddings to date - it wasn't on a mountain top or doing anything fancy or wild, but the day truly felt like the perfect encapsulation of their relationship, and that's what matters most at the end of the day.

Interested in me documenting special moments in your life as well? Get in touch today!

Thanks so much for reading, and speak soon!



The Francis Frames



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