The Wedding of Shawn & Matt

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This past weekend, Elisabeth, Anne Richards, John Jaffe and I attended the weekend-long wedding of our dear friends, Shawn Brenneman and Matt Labarge.

I’m pretty pissed off with use of the word “event” these days. We have weather events. Television events. All kinds of “world premiere events”. Crap. All of it.
This wedding, however… this was an “event“. A two-day event at least.
Shawn and Matt essentially rented out all of Bluestone State Park in West Virginia. That’s 26 cabins in the chilly, wooded hills of rugged West Virginia. I’ve been hating summer since it started back in May, so I was itching for some frosty mountain air and at least the start of fall colors. I was not disappointed. 🙂
It’s kind of hard to put into words the scene here… but imagine being surrounded by about 180-200 of the most fun-loving, creative, musical, and happy people you can imagine all pretty much taking over an entire state park for 48 hours. Shawn’s scene for years has been one of Contra dance and top-notch traditional music. Matt is an incredible pianist already with a few albums to his name. Their circle of friends includes some of the most amazing guitarists, fiddlers, mandolin and banjo players… you name it. Individually, they are all a force to contend with. Put these folks together, though, and you can see the passion. They LOVE to play together and everyone within earshot is in for a treat.
For some backstory on the photos you’re going to see here (in chronological order), you’d best just refer to their wedding website – the master agenda that we all followed for the weekend. You’ll learn a lot about the festivities – but also about the unique people that are Shawn and Matt.I’ll quote a few key phrases from one of the pre-wedding emails:

Finally, in keeping with the spirit of fun and frivolity, should you be in possession of an unusual article of clothing or an unusual noisemaker that you’re dying for an opportunity to wear/perform in public, this is your big chance! It’s encouraged the whole weekend, but particularly during the Wedding Processional. Shawn will be terribly disappointed if there are no viking hats, kilts, liederhosen, Mardi Gras masks, duck calls, pirate hats and swords, or clown pants!

Photos and words won’t do it justice. Anyone who was there this weekend knows how special this event was. I, for one, came home relaxed and happy and wondering how we could talk them into doing this again next weekend. And the weekend after that… 🙂
As you’ll see in these photos, I was pretty captivated with the musicians and there are individual images in here I plan to collect (with others) in a specific themed gallery. A number of the photos show a trio that I first became aware of this weekend: Crowfoot. All of the photo editing I’ve been doing the last few evenings has been while listening to their two albums that I immediately purchased from iTunes. Much to my pleasure, they appear to be playing right up the road in Charlottesville at the end of October. Adam, Jaige and Nicholas: see you there! 🙂

P.S. Keep an eye out for the photo of the special brew. This is a handcrafted beer by the “mad beer genius”, Jonathan Thielen (who ran The Alehouse in Cabin 26 this weekend), specially made as a gift for Shawn and Matt. It is designed to ferment in the bottle for the coming year and cannot be opened until October 4, 2009. The label is designed by the amazing, Ben Crenshaw, whom I was thrilled to finally meet this past weekend (Ben’s the dude in the awesome pirate hat in the photos). Our bottle is sitting here on my desk for the next year. Hey – Jonathan said a “cool, dark place”. 🙂

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3 Responses to “The Wedding of Shawn & Matt”

  1. James Labarge says:

    Fantastic! I could not agree more with your sentiments regarding Shawn and Matt’s wedding nor could I enjoy more your photos of it. Excellent job for a most excellent event!

  2. margie keller says:


  3. Thanks for sharing. You certainly captured more than images. Taken together, you captured the spirit of what appeared to be a truly memorable event. Halfway through the pictures I started wishing I had been there…and I don’t know anyone there. On a photographic note, I loved your use of short depth of field. I’m really working on that in my images and yours provided a lot of inspiration.