Connected \\ January 4, 2019

Tying Knots

Whether it is through art, a creative experience, a story or with one another — making connections is what we do here at PEM. To create these lasting bonds, we spend a lot of time tying knots between the museum, the local and the global. And sometimes when we are tying our knots, we actually get to tie THE knot!


Photography by Bob Packert. © Peabody Essex Museum.

Love is a familiar theme at the museum, where PEM lore includes a staff member meeting their significant other as they both reached for a magnifying glass in Golden, and a “missed connection” in our Putnam gallery posted online. Of course, we have seen our fair share of weddings, including an entire exhibition dedicated to the matrimonial experience. As you can guess from our spot in The Knot’s “Best of Weddings Hall of Fame” (humble brag), we do not take our weddings lightly!

Photography by Mel Taing. © Peabody Essex Museum.

The PEM team was presented with an awesome opportunity from Lightshed Photography in Salem to take a walk on the wedded side and create a 3D walkthrough of the museum atrium, dolled-up as if we were hosting a wedding reception. The final product will not only highlight our picturesque celebration space, but will also show — in great detail — how stunningly unique a PEM wedding can be.


Behind-the-scenes, staging a PEM wedding with the incredibly talented Karla Cassidy Designs! Photography by Mel Taing. © Peabody Essex Museum.

And in anticipation of our expansion opening this year (which will offer more spaces for that special day), we thought, why not take this project a step further and shoot a whole new wedding ad campaign?

With our graphic designers, photographers (led by the talented Bob Packert), creative directors, event staff, facilities crew and an incredible line-up of local vendors, we worked to capture the marital magic. And while staging an entire fake wedding requires time, effort and coordination, there was something we could not necessarily plan for — chemistry. Or so we thought…

We started our planning process just as I imagine real weddings are orchestrated, by thinking of everything that could go horribly wrong. Brainstorming began with sharing advertising photoshoot horror stories from our past — like struggling to snag a shot of a couple cuddling their dog on the couch, only to discover that both models hated dogs. So when we discovered a model, who we not only had a connection with but happened to be married to another model with the same agency, we knew it was the only way to go... fate, some would say.

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Photography by Bob Packert. © Peabody Essex Museum.
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Photography by Bob Packert. © Peabody Essex Museum.
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Photography by Bob Packert. © Peabody Essex Museum.
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Photography by Bob Packert. © Peabody Essex Museum.
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First: Photography by Bob Packert. Second: Photography by Mel Taing. © Peabody Essex Museum.

PEM’s special day came, and just like the real thing, we could not control the weather. Luckily, the atrium and East India Marine Hall are flawless under whatever skies, and rain is a good omen on your wedding day. “As I always tell my couples,” says Natalia Laskaris, PEM’s Director of Event Rentals and Catering Services, “a wet knot is harder to untie.” Superstitions aside, this was a picture-perfect day.

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First: Marie and Owen during their wedding ceremony. Photo courtesy of the couple. Second: Dress fitting for the PEM photoshoot, kiddos in tow! Photo courtesy of Candice Wu Couture.

We did not know that our faux wedding would turn into an authentic moment for our models, Marie and Owen Shea. For these two, whose real wedding was a blissful city hall affair, this post-nuptial photoshoot was an opportunity to feel the full fantasy. We even toasted the couple as they shared the story of how they met and played their song (‘Sedona’ by Houndmouth) during the “first dance.”

We never got to do this,” said Marie as Owen snapped some iPhone shots. “It was absolutely a dream job,” she continued. “I emailed our agency afterward and was like, please only book us on wedding shoots forever!

Photography by Mel Taing. © Peabody Essex Museum.

As part of our communications team, it is always fulfilling to share these sorts of stories, even when they are through our creative advertising. And while writer H. G. Wells once claimed, “Advertising is legalized lying,” I would like to think it is not that black and white — because behind these images, sometimes there is real love.


Photography by Bob Packert. © Peabody Essex Museum.

There are a million little things that make our jobs amazing,” notes Natalia, “but ultimately it is so incredibly special to be part of that heartfelt joy.”


Photography by Bob Packert. © Peabody Essex Museum.

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Leave it to our top-notch security team to get the last word and the final shot of the night! If you have a hashtag for your special day, don’t forget to include ours and share the moment with us using #peabodyessex and #PEMwedding!

Look out for our collaboration with Lightshed Photography and the many amazing vendors from around the North Shore with the full, 3-D wedding-walkthrough experience coming soon to! Considering the museum for your wedding or event? For more detailed information on PEM events and rentals, visit or reach out to the fabulous Natalia Laskaris at

Dress graciously provided by Candice Wu Couture. Makeup and hair by Bre Welch/Leather & Lace Artistry. Models from Maggie Inc. And thank you to all of the vendors that donated their time, skills, services, and fantastic finesse: Karla Cassidy Designs, Retonica, Gourmet Caterers, Party Rentals Ltd., Your Love in Lights, Kakawa Chocolates and Jenny's Cakes.

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