For New Yorkers used to city weddings, the Larchmont Shore Club is a breath of fresh sea air. Sitting on the shore of the Long Island Sound, the main clubhouse was built in 1906 as the private residence of Aimee Crocker, the youngest daughter of the founder of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The private club offers, photographically speaking, a little bit of everything with nautical-themed interiors and sweeping views of the waterfront. In today’s blog, I give you some tips for getting the most out of your Larchmont Shore Club wedding…come rain or shine.
Larchmont Shore Club Wedding – Rachel & Ben
Let me begin by introducing you to Rachel and Ben. You have already gotten a taste of their fun personalities at their rehearsal dinner and ketubah signing in New Rochelle. But how did these two crazy kids meet? Here is Rachel to tell their love story: ‘We met through a dating app in February 2016. Ben remembers sending the first message to Rachel on Valentine’s Day. Rachel remembers being at the Westminster Dog Show with friends when she saw his profile and she liked that he had a miniature schnauzer in one of his pictures. They chatted for a bit and then met up for a first date in their neighborhood (UES). It turned out they lived about three blocks from each other, but probably would’ve never met if not for modern dating technology. The rest is history.’
But you can’t have a wedding without a proposal. Again, Rachel says it best: ‘In April 2017, we were in San Diego visiting the bride’s sister and her husband after Rachel’s nephew had just been born. Ben had wanted to propose at a time and place when Rachel could celebrate with her sister too, and he also knew that Rachel loved San Diego/California after having lived there for several years herself. Hiking and the beach are two of our favorite activities to do together, so we went out for a very early morning hike at Torrey Pines in La Jolla – a mountain range overlooking the ocean – and at a secluded and serene spot, Ben proposed.’ You can just picture it, no?
Larchmont Shore Club Wedding – Getting Ready
So you want all the details of Rachel and Ben’s big day? To begin with, the groom came to the venue semi-ready, and finished getting dressed in the main bar. The ladies, on the other hand, had a huge bridal suite all to themselves. Rachel had also reserved the boardroom, which was used as the lunchroom. This was a smart move, as it prevented any wardrobe malfunctions involving food and saved space within the bridal suite where eight ladies plus various female family members were all getting ready.
By the way, Rachel and Ben win the award for best bride and groom of the year. Want to know why? Her only requirement for her bridesmaids’ attire was that each girl wear a black dress that makes her look fabulous. No rules about cut or length. Wear what you want, so long as it is black. This guarantees each bridesmaid looks fantastic – and most importantly – can wear the dress again. The men got to choose their own black suits as well. Bravo, Rachel and Ben!
One sweet note to add about Rachel and Ben getting ready: the couple wrote letters to each other before they walked down the aisle. I find this tradition to be so endearing, not to mention photogenic. I truly wish more couples did this at their wedding.
For ‘first looks,’ I set the father-daughter first look at the bottom of the main staircase. Who’s that peeping? Oh yeah, that would be Rachel’s mom and sister who popped up at the perfect moment for photos. For the bride and groom first look, I used the main sidewalk. Rachel and Ben had emphasized to me that they wanted as many photos of the water as possible. The sidewalk didn’t have any shade, but the views of Long Island Sound more than made up for a few bright spots. For the couple’s bride and groom portraits, I made use of the following options, which I should note are all within a few steps of one another: views of the water, views back to the Larchmont Shore Club main house, the main set of stairs outside the venue, the large patch of grass separating the patio from the back lawn, the Adirondack chairs, the concrete dock at the end of the property, and finally the beach. Aside from a lack of shade, in my opinion the Larchmont Shore Club property has enough variety to photograph a couple a million different ways.
Larchmont Shore Club Wedding – Ceremony
The ceremony was scheduled for sunset, and thanks to the fact that there were only 110 guests, I had enough space to move around the back of the seating area without causing too much of an interruption. The light was simply gorgeous, and guests had a stunning view of the waterfront. The bride and groom were accompanied down the aisle, respectively, by both sets of parents. Co-officiating at the ceremony was the sister of the bride, Karen, and brother of the groom, Guy. This wedding ceremony was truly a family affair.
A few notes about the ceremony details: the chuppah canvas was painted by the groom’s mother, and the entire structure was put together by the groom and his father. The Kiddush cup for the Seven Blessings was a family heirloom from Rachel’s grandparents’ wedding.
Larchmont Shore Club Wedding – Cocktail Hour & Reception
The cocktail hour was set on the patio, and again the weather was fantastic. Guests enjoyed taking photos along the waterfront, and the warm temperatures brought out the mischievousness of the littlest guests.
For the reception, I’ll just say this – Israelis know how to dance! The reception began with the introduction of just the bride and groom, followed by the couple’s first dance, and then the hora. I do love a good hora. The dance is always great for photos. By the way, this was a full hora, in which the bride and groom and both sets of parents were hoisted up in the chairs. No one fell out, and a great time was enjoyed by all.
There were lots of speeches, by the bridal party as well as by both sets of parents. As you know from Rachel and Ben‘s rehearsal dinner, the couple split up the speeches so that some of the bridal party spoke at the rehearsal dinner. Again, smart move, bride and groom. If you have a lot of people who want to speak, best to break up the schedule between the wedding and the rehearsal dinner.
It was such a nice touch at the end of the evening when the bride and groom said thank you to all of their guests. I wish more couples did this, as it is such a gracious way to end the evening. During their thank yous, Rachel said a few words in Hebrew that I know it must have been so appreciated by Ben’s family.
The parent dances were followed by a fantastic cake cutting, and I should note the cake topper is a family heirloom from Rachel‘s parents. What I love about the topper is that someone took the time to draw in a beard on the groom. Personalize everything!
Near the end of the evening, the couple stole away for a few final photos outside. While I’m not normally a fan of taking the bride and groom out of the party, they welcomed the fresh air and it was a beautiful moon that night. I have to give a special thanks here to the venue manager, Rita, who pointed out the huge harvest moon to me.
Larchmont Shore Club Wedding – A Few Tips
Planning a wedding of your own at the Larchmont Shore Club? Here, from a photographer’s viewpoint, are a few tips you should keep in mind:
Make full use of every inch of the club. Rachel is originally from Maryland, and she was looking for a waterfront venue to incorporate her family history. The Larchmont Shore Club fit the bill perfectly. If a nautical theme is your cup of tea, then make sure you use every inch of this unique venue in your photos. From the miniature ship decorations in the library to the fantastic inlaid compass in the main lobby floor, the Larchmont Shore Club has a lot to offer. These decorations are perfect backgrounds for photographing invitations, wedding rings, and accessories. And the sweeping views of Long Island Sound aren’t a bad backdrop for an already gorgeous wedding dress, no?
Shade is at a minimum, so plan your portraits wisely. With only three trees on the back lawn, shade at the Larchmont Shore Club is at a minimum. Rachel and Ben’s ceremony was scheduled for sunset, so this meant their first look started at 2:30 p.m. Sunlight on the back lawn is harsh right up until sunset. The bright sunlight caused further complications with the family portraits, which I had originally planned to set in front of some beautiful flowers on the cocktail patio. This area proved to be too bright, and I had to move the family photos back behind the same wall of grass where we did all of the bridal party photos. The grass served to shield the subjects from the sun to a limited degree. While it was still incredibly bright outside, by angling my subjects so that they were backlit, it was enough to prevent having washed out highlights in the photos. This also prevents squinting in your subjects. Unfortunately, there aren’t many other options for portrait locations other than using the grass embankments at the rear of the venue. You could go inside, but that defeats the purpose of having such stunning views at your disposal.
Looking for portrait location alternatives? Try Larchmont Manor Park. I personally found everything we needed in terms of portrait locations at the Larchmont Shore Club. With a bridal party of 16, it was going to be too much trouble to load everyone up and get them over to the park next door. But if you are looking for another spot for bride and groom photos, then take a look at Larchmont Manor Park – two blocks over from the Larchmont Shore Club.
Don’t forget the beach. The Larchmont Shore Club has it’s own stretch of beach, complete with a lovely rocky shoreline and dock. While most brides won’t want to get wet and sandy until after they have said ‘I do,’ you can take photos on the rocks near the entrance to the beach without too much trouble. I am not a fan of dragging the bride and groom out of the party for photos, but Rachel and Ben generously agreed to a few sunset shots after the ceremony. It was just too beautiful a location to ignore, and the perfect spot to take photos of their wedding rings.
Tray ceiling trickery. The main ballroom in the Larchmont Shore Club is a joy to light. The ceiling is low and white, and I was able to shoot without using additional lights that would either be a trip hazard or end up blinding guests. The only tricky part of lighting the Larchmont Shore Club is the fact that there is a support beam separating the dining room from the dance floor area. It’s not a big deal to shoot around it, but I found the light from my flash got caught on the beam a few times and didn’t bounce. Not a big deal, but something to watch out for if you are shooting here.
The ballroom will be changing. My note about the tray ceiling may be a moot point. Rita, the manager at the Larchmont Shore Club, informed me that the club is planning to completely remodel the ballroom with a focus on raising the ceiling. There is no exact date on renovation completion, but look for changes in the coming year.
Be aware of train times. As with all weddings not reachable by the NYC subway system, make sure that your New York guests are aware of the last train back to the city. In the case of Larchmont, the final train on Saturday runs at 11:30 p.m. Wisely, Rachel and Ben’s wedding ended at 11:00 p.m. and it was easy enough to catch a cab to the train station from the venue.
Coming up: Can you feel it? It’s holiday card season! Where to find Christmas in New York City when it’s 80 degrees out.
Shoes: Kate Spade
Hair stylist: Brittany DiGiacomo
Makeup artist: Essie Cohen
Groom’s attire: Hugo Boss
Engagement Ring: Debbie Menditch/DFM Collection custom (Potomac, MD)
Wedding bands: Marley Simon/Radcliffe Jewelers (Baltimore, MD)
Special jewelry/accessories: Wander+Lust Jewelry (Etsy), Artelis Boutique (Etsy) and family heirlooms
Ceremony & venue venue and caterer: Larchmont Shore Club
Cake/dessert: DiMare Pastry Shop
DJ/band: Constantine Ptohos, 74 Events
Invitation designer: Minted
If you would like to see more images from my wedding photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website – www.KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com