I can definitively say I'm more than a little jealous of everyone who had the privilege of attending Liana and Matthew's crazy colorful, eclectic storybook wedding in upstate New York! With Liana's experience and background as a chef and event planner, and Matthew's as an artist and designer, these two made quite the wedding planning duo; not to mention all the outside creativity help they had from friends and colleagues like the Mixed Greens Event Design team. Needless to say, Liana and Matthew's wedding was nothing short of magical experience for everyone involved and Denver based wedding photographers Heidi and Daniel Chowen of Chowen Photography couldn't have captured it more beautifully!
The Couple: Liana and Matthew
Junebug: What were your most important goals in planning your wedding?
Liana and Matthew: To have a really amazing, fun, unique party with great people, amazing food and incredible music. Letting loose and going crazy. We wanted a dancing spectacle.
Junebug: What three adjectives describe your wedding best?
Liana and Matthew: Colorful, Storybook, Referential
Junebug: How would you describe your personal wedding style?
Liana and Matthew: Eclectic. We drew inspiration from our different upbringings and our shared adventures. We are not the most verbal people, we think our actions always speak louder for us. Our style is classic, punk, craft, sartorial, street, country and cowboy.
Matthew is an artist and designer and has been working in NYC for the past twelve years. Liana is a chef and event planner also working in NYC. At our wedding, a lot of themes, motifs, story arcs and color stories were in play. We certainly were not interested in having a traditional wedding, at all. Our focus was on our guests and creating experiences for them to enjoy and find pleasure in interaction. We were interested in finding ways to make our guests feel comfortable enough to let loose and go crazy…we wanted our guests to be surprised and find wonder throughout the night. We drew inspiration from story books, children's art, arts and crafts, Native American ceremonies, rodeos, farming, awards ceremonies, competition, racing, Mexican arts and culture, mythology, painting, theater and sculpture…basically we wanted to mix as many elements as possible into a cohesive and understandable event. And WE WANTED PEOPLE TO DANCE AND DANCE AND DANCE!
Our guests were encouraged to wear whatever made them most comfortable. People showed up in sheets, kimonos, cowboy hats and even Thai wedding dresses. It made for an even more eclectic and interesting evening. It was raining and muddy, but the barn was warm and cozy, and by the end of the night people were covered in mud and falling asleep at the dinner tables, because they were exhausted from dancing so much!
Junebug: Where did you hold your wedding and reception, and why?
Liana and Matthew: We had both at Suzanne Fine Regional Cuisine. We wanted to have a big red barn wedding with amazing food and Suzanne's fit the bill. Liana also use to work there back in high school and the owners, Bob and Suzanne Stack, were a huge influence when she decided to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Liana's parents also own a winery, Shalestone Vineyards, just down the road from Suzanne's. All of the elements for a great party were there...the space, the colors, the season, the country feel, the wine, beer and the food. It was the perfect choice.
Junebug: What were you looking for in a photographer?
Liana and Matthew: Someone who understood our style and how we worked. We wanted them to be able to engage in the party, not just for us, but for themselves as well. Above all, we wanted them to have fun and be as creative as they could be. Much of the decor was designed to facilitate their interaction and let them make creative choices.
Junebug: What specifically drew you to Chowen Photography and their imagery?
Liana and Matthew: We knew about the Chowen's for a long time prior to hiring them. Our mutual friend Alana Guglielmo-Hearn of Mixed Greens Event Design, recommended them to us...so it really was an easy choice.
Junebug: What did you enjoy most about working with the Chowen's?
Liana and Matthew: They're smart, creative, and independent. We liked how they came up with their own game-plans for shooting. Their ability to be wildly creative and take chances is great. We certainly did not want boring or traditional photos. They were in total agreement and captured the ENTIRE wedding story and feeling just as we hoped. We will be working with them in the future for all of our creative endeavors...not just weddings and events. They are GOOD. Having worked with hundreds of photographers, we think of them as among the best in the country.
The Photographers: Chowen Photography
Junebug: How did you approach this particular wedding and what did you most want to capture during shooting?
Heidi and Daniel: We first met the Matthew and Liana for their engagement session in NYC one month before, so we knew their wedding was going to be amazing. They both work in the wedding and event industry and most of their guests who attended their wedding weekend were also successful artists and wedding professionals from NYC. We knew we were going to be documenting a lot of love, art and people having a ton of fun. It was our first time to be in upstate NY, so we didn't quite know what to expect. It was absolutely beautiful. The bride's family owns a vineyard overlooking Lake Seneca and that is where the rehearsal dinner took place. The stars were out the night before the wedding and everyone enjoyed a beautiful dinner with, of course, amazing wine and food. The wedding itself was about a mile from the vineyard in a huge rustic barn where Mixed Greens Event Design and Congruent Creative Workshop worked their magic. The plans on the day of the wedding had to quickly change as there were so many elements of the day that were meant to be outside the barn overlooking the lake and in the field of grass (the ceremony was originally suppose to be under a large red tree overlooking a small pond along with potato sack races and a cocktail party outside), but rain poured all day and night long...something that was not expected at all, but it all came together perfectly in spite of the rain. The white umbrellas were something that made the wedding images and wedding so fun too. They not only served a purpose, but left a memorable impression in the images. Their wedding had so many design elements it was just incredible to see. Truly a photographer's delight. There were a lot of different locations that had been set up just for us to take photos of the bride and groom in, so we were able to capture a lot of variety that felt artistic and unique, yet tied in with their elegant dinner and romantic, starry dance floor. What we most wanted to capture was the love and connection between this dynamic couple and the bond they had with all of their friends and family. That is always the most important, and at the same time being creative for this already artistic couple.
Junebug: Were there any special photographic requests from the couple that made this wedding especially exciting creatively or personally?
Heidi and Daniel: One of the wonderful things about Liana and Matthew is that they completely let us do what we do from our artistic point of view. They trusted us as artists to make our vision compliment theirs. They wanted it to be fun, elegant, unique and artistic. We do our best work when we are given the freedom to just go with what happens each moment. They had already created so many aspects for us, and we got to make our own art come alive capturing theirs. It truly was wonderful to work with other artists.
Junebug: What was the most fun part of this wedding for you to photograph?
Heidi and Daniel: The most fun part for us was not just capturing a moment during the wedding weekend, but knowing that we really connected with the bride and groom as artists. If we had to choose a moment though, the most fun part of the wedding for us was the one thing the groom didn't know about. The bride surprised him with a mariachi band all the way from Santa Fe, New Mexico! Just as the vows were completed, the barn doors opened and they started playing. The groom was completely shocked. The story behind all this was that the couple were engaged in Santa Fe while this same mariachi band was playing, so the bride thought it would be special to have them there as a surprise. It was the best surprise to document as well. He truly had no idea and it was just another thing that made their wedding even more memorable.
Junebug: How did the locations available to you affect the type of images you shot and how you shot them?
Heidi and Daniel: Each element to this wedding was creative and we had to switch gears to document each one separately, but also had to keep in mind that we had to make it all come together to tell the story. The first look shoot took place in the vineyard, as we wanted to get some sweet images to tell that part of their story of their love. Then the images of the barn and the late-night images outside were more colorful and creative feeling than those earlier portraits for us. We felt like the dinner decor really tied everything together with vibrant fall colors, arranged elegantly with ambient light from all the candles, twinkle lights and strung lights above. We definitely wanted to make sure that we captured the elegance of the candlelight and the all the little details as well. Honestly it was just really fun for us as artists to work with such a creative couple. Not a location, but another element that added to the day was the Liana's wedding dress. It
not only looked stunning on her, but it had so much movement and
added that extra something to make the wedding. One image taken of the
wedding dress in particular just won an award from the most recent WPJA
contest. What an honor!
Junebug: Were there any special locations you were able to choose that made for really great images?
Heidi and Daniel: There was one place in particular that we loved, just outside the barn there was chuppah of sorts made with branches, felt flowers and lighting that was meant for guests to have mini-dance parties under, but the rain kept many guests from venturing out there. Later in the night, the bride and groom wanted to make sure it got used, so we documented them just dancing under it in the rain. That was a spontaneous moment that got us all drenched, but left us feeling happy we were able to photograph them in that joyous moment.
Junebug: What kind of equipment did you use while shooting this wedding?
Heidi and Daniel: Along with our Hunter boots to survive the wet, muddy ground :), we primarily used a couple Nikon D3s , SB900's, Quantum flashes, and a range of prime lenses including a 35mm, 50mm , 85, 105mm and a 24mm
Thank you Liana and Matthew for sharing your fabulous wedding with us, and thank you Heidi and Daniel Chowen for all the stunning images!
To learn about all of the wedding professionals who contributed to this wedding day please visit Liana and Matthew's page in our Real Wedding Library.