Joe + Rita Wedding | Fern Hill
Surrounded by nature at Fern Hill and their families, Joe and Rita became husband and wife. This intimate, May ceremony featured heartfelt words, family heirlooms, and an amazing amount of support and love for Rita and Joe.
I began talking to Joe and Rita back in 2019. I had known Rita from high school. She played soccer with some of my best friends and was the same grade as Catherine. I knew she was very athletic, and I often felt inspired by her running adventures on her Instagram. As for Joe, I only knew his younger sister Tracy from Penn State's Film program, Although I had never actually met Joe in person, I FREAKING LOVED his sister and hoped that Joe was just as wonderful. It didn't take many text/email exchanges to realize that he was, indeed. I knew I would adore these two as a couple! If their joy and enthusiasm didn't win me over already, the quick wit that came out during their their first questionnaire definitely did.
I remember reading about Joe and Rita from their "About Us" questionnaire. In 2019, we had them answer the question, "What do you love most about each other?" Below are Joe and Rita's responses.
What I love about her: He knows me better than I know myself, and his cute button nose (reminds me of Santa’s!)
What I love most about her: She’s easy going. I’m always happy with Rita. And her butt (reminds me of Santa’s!)
A second standout answer that made me love these two even more was how they answered the prompt, "What is one word to describe you as a couple?" To which they replied,
Wit and charm aside though, the best thing about this couple is their bond and friendship. They share such deep admiration and love for one another. They care and support each other so beautifully. Joe and Rita work together not only in hard times but in joyful times too. I'm trying not to rant about them but I could truly go on and on about their huge hearts, the way they perfectly balance each other, their love of their families, and so much more. I can only hope the we portrayed even a little bit of this love in their highlight video and photos below.
Mira, Rita's Maid of Honor, was unable to make the wedding, but she made sure to be there for Rita in every other way possible. This included sending Rita a wedding day care package, sharing with Rita "something(s) borrowed", facetiming Rita before her first look, sharing a toast, and doing so much more in support of her best friend.
Since neither Joe nor Rita had wedding parties, both of their families helped them get ready for their big day. I love this moment between Joe and his mom, Marcie. Watching their families experience every moment of this day alongside them was my favorite aspect of Joe and Rita's wedding day.
The fabric wrapped around Rita's bouquet is fabric made from the dress that Joe's Grandmother bought to wear to their original 2020 wedding (before Covid came around). Joe and Rita explained the heartbreaking news that she passed away before their rescheduled wedding, but that they wanted her to be with them. They talked about how excited she was for their wedding day, and I can't imagine the heartache they felt and still feel amidst her passing However, I have no doubt that all of their past loved ones were with them on this date. Whether it was in the nature of Fern Hill, around the bouquet, at their memory table,, through the love they felt surrounded by their families, or in the butterfly that kept circling Rita during her portraits, Something special filled the air on this day.
Rita's father wore a tie that had a special message from Rita, it read, "Dad, thanks for walking. by my side today and always. I'll always be your little girl . Love you, Rita." We loved capturing "team Gates" come together after this heartfelt first look.
Next up, Joe and Rita's first look at Fern Hill!
Time to head to the ceremony!
We loved the greenery of Fern Hill draped in accents of white florals.
A few days after their wedding Joe and Rita texted me asking about this moment, and I can see why! What a great response to any father.
While going through these pictures Catherine and I couldn't help but get emotional. It's so beautiful to see how joyful the Gates and Knittel families were while watching these two become one. What an amazing support system Joe and Rita have behind them.