We love the joy of photography, and same sex weddings like this one at Dowds’ Country Inn in Lyme, NH bring with them an added element of happiness.
We are living in an exciting and transitional time as attitudes towards gay weddings shift in the right direction with Vermont and the surrounding area leading the charge. The nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage has settled a long standing debate, shifting the focus now towards accepting equality instead of fighting against it. We are proud to work in a pioneering region where love is love and only a small percentage of the population still opposes gay marriage, with an even smaller portion doing so vocally. Thinking in terms of time rather than location, today’s weddings are held in an era like no other. Looking back just a few decades on gay and lesbian relationships does not conjure images of dueling tuxedos nor complimentary wedding gowns. The memories of public ridicule, though very recent, are essentially now in the past. We prefer to look forward and that presents a completely different viewpoint. The acceptance of weddings between any and all types of people, regardless of race, religion, or gender will soon be the norm throughout society. Looking back on the previously widespread discrimination will be viewed in much the same way as how we now view the time when women didn’t have the right to vote. Keeping that perspective in mind makes today’s same sex weddings feel even more special to us and we are thrilled to be a part of them!
We learned years ago that the way we approach a wedding day and how we interact with our clients is already a perfect fit for same sex unions. We do not operate from a shot list, nor we do go through the motions of trying to get our “signature shots” every time we grab our gear. Our goal is to capture the personalities of our couples and the unique relationships that exist between them. We believe that capturing natural reactions between people in love is far more important that being driven to get specific shot based on labeling individuals with preconceived notions and gender stereotypes. Focusing on the love our couples share for one another is what drives our artistic vision.
Vermont is one of the few places in the country where gay marriage is accepted by the vast majority of citizens. People here are so far ahead of the curve, they basically stopped categorizing weddings by gender types awhile ago. We admittedly take this for granted most of the time, but we are reminded of how good we have it in Vermont when we travel to other parts of the country and talk to people living in areas nowhere near as accepting as ours. Luckily, we see attitudes changing rapidly. Each year we help other photographers better their businesses (and hopefully better themselves) by working and speaking at large conferences across the US. These gatherings bring professionals together from all over the country and provide a meeting space to discuss ideas and talk about our industry. We have been attending the largest photographic conference in the United States for a decade and those trips have given us a glimpse into to how the wedding industry and society in general is now fully accepting same sex weddings.
The Dowds’ Country Inn is located in Lyme, New Hampshire, just over the border from Thetford, VT and holds a special place in our hearts. We looked at this venue for our own wedding before deciding on a Mansion in Hartland, VT. Ironically, we photographed a wedding at Dowds’ on the exact date we were contemplating having our own wedding there. To keep the string of coincidences going, the bride from the first wedding we photographed here shares a first name with one of the brides in this image. The more often we work there, the more it feels like home to us. Tami Dowd and her team have always been professional, efficient, and welcoming to everyone involved, including to us as vendors.
Dowds’ is located in an area known as the Upper Valley, which straddles the Connecticut River and spans sections of both New Hampshire and Vermont. Em grew up in this area, living in multiple towns within the region before settling down in Hartland, Vermont and attending Hanover High School in Hanover, New Hampshire. Hanover High is adjacent to Dartmouth College and allows its students the amazing opportunity to take classes at the nearby Ivy League school once they've exhausted the high school's resources in a particular subject. Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center are two of the largest employers in the area and help sustain a community that is consistently rated as one of the top ten small towns in America. If you are in the Hanover area but only have about seventeen minutes to spare, find a parking spot on Main Street so that you can grab a burrito from Boloco and a gelato from Morano. This quick trip has become a ritual for us, so much so that we can specifically suggest the Buffalo Chicken Burrito paired with a vanilla Barq’s Root Beer at Boloco, chased down with a spicy dark chocolate from Morano Gelato. After about a hundred trips, we have this down to a science.
For the first five years that Steve visited the Upper Valley, he could never seem to keep track of which state he was in, keeping Em amused for three years, then annoyed for two. Growing up in South Florida, Steve didn’t cross state lines very frequently. From Jupiter, the nearest state line is due north crossing into Georgia, but technically there are two foreign countries that are closer. Referring to the area as The Upper Valley (instead of Vermont and New Hampshire separately) keeps thing easier and is much more accepted among locals. We consider the entire state of Vermont our home territory during the summer and fall months, but small trips across the border into places like Hanover, Lyme, Lebanon or Enfield do not require a travel fee.
Location: The Dowds' Country Inn, 9 Main St, Lyme, NH 03768.1/500; f/2.8; ISO 200; 135.0 mm.