Western MA Wedding Venue Spotlight: The Ranch Golf Club

Why I love it:

I absolutely love the Ranch Golf Club, I love how they take each couple’s vision for their wedding and make it flow throughout the ceremony and reception.  They an awesome outdoor space available for ceremonies too.  The grounds are spectacular in all season, and offer so many different spots that are perfect for pictures!  I love the quaint feel of the barn and how it looks all lit up during the reception.

About the Venue:

Our venue is simply charming! The barn dates back to 1897, and was originally used as a hay barn for the dairy farm that once sat on our gorgeous, lush golf course. When the current owners turned the dairy farm into a golf course, they decided to keep all of the original barns and use them for our restaurant, golf shop and wedding venue. Although they have done a lot of renovations to the restaurant and golf shop, they decided to keep the rustic charm for our wedding venue. It is not your typical barn, filled with dark wood and dark beams, instead it is bright and welcoming! The barn has an incredibly high ceiling, with exposed beams, light-colored wood walls and windows all around to let in a lot of natural light. To add to the charm, we put up twinkle lights and wood garland around each pillar of the barn. We also put a curtain of bright white lights in the center of the dance floor, along with floor-length white sheers to really highlight the best part of the wedding- the dancing! Basically it is just a stunning, charming venue with so much potential! The barn can truly transform into anything our couples’ desire, which is so much fun!

We offer the following amenities:

  • on-site ceremonies in our quaint courtyard that is attached to the barn
  • the use of our bridal suite, which is the original farmhouse that once belonged to the family who owned and operated the farm
  • an event coordinator who helps from the booking process to the very day of the wedding
  • our beautiful barn for our reception space
  • champagne toast, coffee service, floor-length linens, napkins, white garden chairs, appetizers, and an attentive staff included in all packages
  • a beautiful landscape for photos

What advice do you offer to brides and grooms? 

I tell brides and grooms all the time to just enjoy the process, from engagement to planning to the day-of. It is important to be present in every moment because before you know it the day has come and gone.Often times the planning can cause a lot of stress, but focusing on the end goal of a fantastic celebration is key!

If you are planning a wedding at the Ranch and looking for a photographer, email me at brooke@brookeellen.com to chat!

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Three Reasons to Consider a First Look on Your Wedding Day

As you’re researching different wedding day traditions and especially wedding photography ideas, you’ve probably come across couples doing first look photos before their ceremony starts. A decade or so ago, it would have been pretty much unheard of for the couple to see each other before the bride takes her first step down the aisle, but now, it’s actually very common.

There’s a lot of great reasons to consider going with a first look on your wedding day, but I’m going to outline the top three reasons I think it can be a smart idea, from a wedding photographer’s point of view.

STAY ON SCHEDULE AFTER THE CEREMONY

A majority of couples choose to do their posed portraits and family portraits between the ceremony and the reception. This generally works just fine, but it can get a little rushed, especially after you account for the time spent in the receiving line after the ceremony, traveling to the photo location(s), bustling the dress, and touching up hair and makeup. Some couples choose to take their portraits before the ceremony to make sure they have a little bit of a time cushion before the reception starts.

Trust me, the pictures will end up looking even more spectacular when you’re not feeling rushed or stressed about the time. When you’re worrying about whether your guests are getting impatient or whether or not you’ll be able to fit in all of the different family portraits you wanted, you won’t be able to be fully present in the moment and your photos will reflect that.

REMOVE UNNECESSARY PRESSURE

Guests love to watch for the groom’s reaction when the bride makes her grand entrance during the ceremony. It’s totally understandable, but for some grooms, this kind of attention and pressure to react “correctly” is really terrifying. If he’s a little shy or just feels uncomfortable about this aspect of the wedding day, a first look can be a huge help.

When you have the opportunity to come together and celebrate one final private moment before saying your vows, the ceremony will feel more relaxed, and I guarantee, you’ll both remember more of it. Nerves have a way of stealing the moment, and the first look is a simple way you can take more control of your day.

CAPTURE BREATHTAKING PHOTOS

Wedding photographers are pretty amazing (if I may say so myself) but we do our best work when we’re not rushed for time. Some of the most beautiful moments I’ve captured for couples happened during their first look. This is because when you wait until after the ceremony to take photos, you’re going to have a crowd watching, no matter how stealthy you are!

Also, if you wait until the ceremony to try to get that reaction shot, you’re really only going to get one or the other. Even if your photographer has a second shooter, the best you’re going to get is two separate photos; one of the bride’s reaction and one of the groom’s. A first look solves this problem. Whether the bride sneaks up on the groom, or you turn around to face each other at the same time, the photographer can very easily it up so both of your genuine reactions are in the same shot. This photo ends up telling a more complete story, in my opinion.

Ultimately, deciding whether to include a first look in your wedding day plans is entirely up to you. Many couples have to weigh pros and cons, and you will want to have an honest conversation with your fiance to find out how they feel. Talk to your wedding photographer and ask about their experience doing first look photos, and ask to see some of the photos they’ve shot.

It can be easy to get swept up in all the wedding day advice out there and feel pressured to do things one way or the other. Remember that it’s YOUR big day and no matter what you decide, the only thing that matters is that you feel 100% confident and comfortable!

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5 Insider Tips for Breathtaking Engagement Sessions

Did you recently get engaged? Congratulations!! I know it sounds like a cliché, but this is definitely one of the most exciting times in your life. Without a doubt, your head is just spinning with ideas. You’re dreaming about everything from first dance songs to dessert choices. You have so many fun choices to make, but today I’d like to talk about your engagement session.

Having engagement photos taken is such a significant part of your love story. For many of the couples I work with, this is when it really starts to sink in that they’re actually getting married! It is SO sweet to see. I’ve compiled a few of my favorite tips below to make sure your engagement photo session goes smoothly and you end up with photos that you’re going to revisit on your anniversary for decades to come.

Find a Photographer Whose Style You Adore

When it comes to wedding photography, it pays to spend a little bit of time researching your options. I’ve heard of brides being underwhelmed with their engagement photos (and wedding photos) because they ended up using someone their mom found online, or they waited too long and didn’t get their first (or second or third) choice of photographer.

Start the process early. It’s not uncommon for a wedding photographer’s calendar to fill up a year or more in advance. As soon as you lock in your wedding date, you want to start making phone calls, which means you should already have several photographers on your “wish list.”

Whatever style you like, whether it’s posed or unposed, traditional or modern, dark and dramatic or light and airy, you can easily find wedding photographers that match your preference. Search hashtags like #bostonweddingphotographer or #worcesterengagement on Instagram to find local photographers and browse their feeds to get a sense of their signature style.

Be True To Who You Are As A Couple

It can be so tempting to want to replicate something you’ve fallen in love with on Instagram or Pinterest. However, I like to remind couples that the best engagement photos are the ones that reflect who you really are as a couple. Maybe you’re not a couple that feels comfortable doing a deep romantic “stare into each other’s soul” kind of pose. If you are most relaxed and authentic when you’re laughing and being silly together, do that instead!

All your photographer wants to do during the engagement session is capture your genuine love for each other. When you share your true personalities with your photographer, this becomes much easier for everyone.

Go Shopping!

If you have something in your closet already that you want to wear for your engagement photos, congratulations… you are definitely one of the lucky few. Most future brides (and future grooms, too!) really struggle with what to wear for their engagement session. It can actually be a source of stress… and couples don’t need any more stress during the wedding preparation phase!

Consider going shopping for a new outfit that will make you look and feel amazing. This is the second most important look you’ll choose, especially if you plan on using your engagement photos for your save the date cards and wedding announcement. You want to look REALLY good!

When choosing your outfit, it’s best to avoid a black and white outfit, busy patterns, and brand names. Jewel tones are pretty universally flattering. Discuss with your photographer whether you will have the option to do an outfit change. While it isn’t typical, your photographer can often work with you if this is something you really want.

Break the Ice

Get to know your photographer’s work before arriving for your engagement session. Browse their website and social media pages to see some locations they’ve used recently, and some poses and photography styles they’re great at that you really like.

As you go through their work, feel free to leave a message on their Instagram or Pinterest page, for example. If you see something you love, comment on it and let them know it’s something you’d be interested in for your shoot. This will give your photographer time to prepare and plan for the shots you want, and it will allow them to scout for some ideal locations as well.

Bring Your Furry Friend Along

Some of my favorite engagement sessions include the couple’s four-legged companions. If your dog (or cat or hamster or snake) is always by your side, they should be by your side in your engagement photos as well… at least in a select few of them! It is such a great way to incorporate the love you have for your pet, and make sure your photos really reflect what’s important in your life.


Be sure to check out my galleries and my Instagram feed to see some of the beautiful engagement sessions I’ve been fortunate to capture for couples. If you’re looking for a Worcester engagement photographer, I’d love to chat. Let’s grab some coffee and swap ideas!

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Nancy and Thomas | Sudbury Engagement and Elopement

I had such an exciting week with Nancy and Thomas, we photographed their engagement session on Monday and then their elopement on Thursday.  We picked the Wayside Inn in Sudbury for their engagement, and the location was so quaint and New England feeling.  The day of their engagement session was foggy and a little chilly, but I was so glad that we decided to still have the session.  I love the way the fog looks in the back of the images, and her red jacket really sticks out from the background because of it.  It was so nice to spend time getting to know them at the engagement session, they really just have the best time together, whispering in each other’s ears and just giggling with one another.

I met them at the Town Hall in Upton on Thursday morning for their wedding ceremony.  It was such a sweet, intimate wedding surrounded by their family.  I absolutely loved Thomas’ reaction when he saw Nancy walking in to see him, his breath was taken away by her.  I also learned that in Denmark, where Thomas is from, they put their wedding rings on the right hand, so that was an interesting custom to hear about and see in action.  I am so thankful that they spent part of this special week with me!

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