Role reversal: Local lensmaster ties the knot


While most wedding industry insiders do eventually flip the tables and become bride or groom, one local wedding photographer used her connections to cut right to the chase: Meredith Montague, of the eponymous photography studio, utilized eight weeks of her off-season to plan and execute a wedding of her own on March 7.

"It was nice that we were engaged during my off-season, so I could focus on it– then it was over and now we're married!" Montague explains. "It just suits our personalitites– I would go crazy being engaged longer than that."

Montague had a bit of an advantage over other area brides: by knowing the ins-and-outs of the biz, she was able to stick to her self-imposed eight week deadline and create the wedding of her dreams. Choosing the Clifton Inn as her wedding locale– which gives the bride the advantage of housing most of their party in the inn itself– Montague allowed the Clifton to coordinate many of the details, such as the catering. "Clifton was our big splurge, but we tried to keep it as reasonable as possible," she says.

Like any bride in this economy, Montague looked for ways to scrimp on what can add up to be a bloated, costly affair. Besides saving money, her methods also allowed for a more personal feel. Her fiance, Todd Barnett, made the invitations, while the couple opted for cupcakes rather than a single wedding cake, and the bridesmaids and an aunt spent the morning of the ceremony arranging wholesale flowers for the bouquets and arrangements.

"That was a good memory," Montague remembers. "I heard them laughing and talking all morning."

Montague takes a "documentary"-styled approach to weddings, aiming to blend into the scenery and photograph natural, affectionate moments between the couple– an artistic style she looked for in her own wedding photos.

"I love doing weddings because I'm interested in people and relationships," Montague says. "It's rewarding to be a part of someone's special day, part of their history– it's fast-paced and exciting."

So who was the lucky local photographer Montague used for her own nuptials? Jen Fariello, Montague's mentor, was one of seven photographers present at the affair and the one Montague asked to do the classic portrait shots, a stressful time for a woman used to being behind the lens.

"During the portraits, there were four different photographers circling around us!" Montague says. "I was so distracted by the day itself and nervous that I wasn't focusing that well– but Jen is great at what she does."

After taking the plunge into matrimony herself, Montague says she has a greater appreciation for the brides she photographs. Acknowledging the stress involved in planning (but after eight weeks, she claims she was never a "bridezilla"), Montague has some new advice for her clients: "Sit down and make a list of the four things that really matter about the day– focus on those and everything else will fall in place around it. And don't be self-conscious around the camera– pictures are beautiful when people let their affection come out."

Now deep into the summer wedding season, Montague and her husband hope to steal away during Thanksgiving for a honeymoon in Paris– but until then, she can relive her own day with each wedding she shoots.

"It's nice to feel that connection now," she says, "to understand what it means to be a bride."