Could anything be more perfect than a wedding ceremony at the edge of Hildene’s famous gardens? This impeccably preserved “summer home” in the steeply rolling hills just outside of Manchester is a popular wedding venue for every prime date of the season, and for good cause. The layout of the standard ceremony site, overlooking the pristine Battenkill Valley of unblemished greenery and contained by a rounded stone wall, is beautifully framed by trees of staggering beauty. The approach to the site meanders from the stately house through the precisely laid-out, low hedge garden, allowing us to use multiple angles and create entrance images for much longer than the average indoor ceremony approach. This long approach certainly lends itself to wearing flats as you walk down the aisle, as it’s not practical to wear stiletto heels in the countryside (as Em personally learned at our own wedding), so we highly recommend having your dress tailored to fit your ballet slippers or other comfortable footwear. (Might we recommend a cute pair of Tieks?)
The ceremony itself, provided it isn’t too short, has no end of photographic opportunities, including the creation of this 38 image multi-level panoramic image, captured and stitched by Em. In this panorama we can easily see the wedding couple at the head of their ceremony, surrounded by their loving friends and family; we can also see the breathtaking gardens and trees leading up the hill to the stunning rear facade of this Georgian revival home. Creating panoramas during the wedding day is something of a hobby of Em’s, as it can add to the feel of the final image collection greatly, but it does require a few extra moments when she can step away and not worry about the action suddenly coming to a head. Part of how we work well as a photographic team is that neither of us is considered a “second”, which means we each treat the wedding day as if we were the only photographer on site. This gives our clients unique perspectives and allows each of us to occasionally step away to create something different and interesting while the other takes on the bulk of the standard work for a few minutes.
Following the ceremony, the gardens of Hildene play an important role as your guests can take their time strolling along the hedges as they make their way back to the main building for cocktail hour on the back patio. We can start your portraits at the front of the house, using the famous front facade as a backdrop to your glowing faces, returning to the gardens for more portraits as the sun descends, casting a golden glow over the entire open space, with warm sunshine filtering through the tall tree branches and across gently blooming flowers. The glowing gardens remind one of the colors of a stained glass window, and this is in fact what they were initially designed to represent. Different sections of color make up different parts of the “window”, with the pathways making other pieces to set the color apart. Amazingly these gardens survive to this day with their beauty and unique qualities lovingly tended, a testament to the caretakers and gardeners who maintain this beautiful facility.
Hildene was originally built in 1905 as a summer retreat by Robert Lincoln, the only Lincoln son to survive to adulthood. It remained the Lincoln Family Home for generations before winding up as a historical trust to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
Location: Hildene, Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests, 1005 Hildene Rd, Manchester, VT 05254.1/1250; f/6.3; ISO 400; 35.0 mm.