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Your Free Checklist: What you need to pack for a stress-free wedding day

I’d like to give you a free checklist to make your wedding, and the days surrounding it less stressful.

 

 

In the excitement and rush leading up to your wedding day, it’s easy to forget or push back packing for your wedding, which leads to added stress and frustration.  With guests arriving, parties to attend, rehearsals to go to, and last-minute check-ins with all involved, packing can be the last thing on your mind. I know it was for me.

 

So, what do I mean by packing for your wedding? Three things, really.

 

Wedding Day Essentials

 

You are going to need a bag full of items for your wedding day. Even if you are getting ready at home, you are still going to need to bring essential items for the day. Think of it as your emergency kit. You will be away from home all day and the last thing you want is to have someone run home because you forgot something. And guess what, no one is going to want to run home and leave your wedding to do so and miss all the fun. What goes into this bag? Anything you can think of that you might need in an “emergency” AND any essentials you need for your wedding ceremony and reception such as:

 

·      Vows

·      Marriage License

·      Rings

·      Tips or final payments to vendors

·      Lipstick to reapply

·      Water

·      Safety pins

 

In addition to these items, you are also going to need to make sure someone knows how to bustle your dress because since your train is behind you, you will not be able to do it yourself. Make sure that whoever is doing the bustling practices it a few times so they are comfortable with doing it.

 

An Overnight Bag

 

If you are staying overnight (or over the weekend) at a hotel, you are going to need to pack a bag for that day or two. It’s hard to imagine the day after your wedding, when all the festivities are over. You need to remember that it’s a ‘normal day’ and you need to make sure you have your ‘normal day’ essentials. Examples of what you need for this bag are:

 

·      Pajamas or lingerie

·      Phone and charger

·      Keys

·      A get-home plan for you and your bridal party (remember, if you were driven to your hotel, you need a way to get home)

·      ‘normal day’ clothes and shoes

·      toiletries

 

Suitcase For Your Honeymoon

 

If you are leaving the day after your wedding, you need to make sure this is done and packed at least a week before your wedding. The week leading up to your wedding is going to be so crazy busy, the last thing you want to do is pack. Even if you have a day in-between, make sure this is done. Things you want to remember to pack are:

 

·      Plane tickets

·      Passports

·      House keys/car

·      Camera

·      Travel guides

·      Money / credit cards

·      ID

 

Please don’t make the same mistakes I did. Here’s my packing story…

 

It started the day before at the rehearsal. I forgot to bring our marriage license, which the priest insisted we bring. Not my best moment, that’s for sure. So, later that night I gave my husband the license to bring the next day, because, knowing me, I would have forgotten it again the day of the wedding too (that set the precedent now … he is in charge of everything important!). I also packed my overnight bag after our rehearsal dinner, making it a late night. My emergency kit was random items shoved into a bag on our wedding day while the limo was waiting to take my bridal party and I to the church.

 

I didn’t pack for my honeymoon until the day after our wedding (we had a day in-between) because in all the wedding planning fuss, I literally forgot we were going on vacation. My mind couldn’t process anything past that day. In the rush of honeymoon packing, I forgot my sunglasses (which are prescription, so I couldn’t just buy any old pair). I had to call my mom who had to go to our house, and I had to walk her to them over the phone. She then had to overnight them to me at the hotel because we were only at the hotel a few days before embarking on a cruise in the middle of the ocean. What chaos!

 

So, take my advice: Plan ahead and pack early. To make your life a little easier, I’ve created a handy-dandy checklist for you to keep on you to make sure that you have everything you need.

 

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Just engaged? 3 important things you should and should not do

An engagement is an exciting time, to say the least. Take it from me, it’s very, very easy to feel a little (or a lot) like your mind has turned to mush after your significant other pops the question, especially if it was a surprise and comes out of nowhere.
 

My engagement came as such a surprise, I think I blanked out for a while. Seriously, I don’t remember anything. Everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion. I don’t remember hearing any sounds, I can’t even tell you what my husband said to me. I just remember seeing my husband kneel, the ring shimmering in its box, and crying with joy, then feeling an overwhelming sense of “Oh, my God, we have a wedding to plan!”
 

There’s such a flood of so many emotions, and perhaps you might feel a little overwhelmed. Who do you call? What is your next step? When do you start planning? How do you make sense of everything that just happened?
 

From my experience, there are three things you should and three things you should not do once you get engaged.
 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

What you should NOT do…

 

Number 1 – Social media

 

I know this might sound crazy to some of you, but as I mentioned in earlier post, sharing wedding-related details on social media is a bad idea. I know we live in an age of immediate gratification and satisfaction, and I’m sure getting a ton of congratulations on social media is very heartwarming; but trust me, this is one instance in which you want to make sure you’re the gatekeeper and control the news. I know you’ve probably waited a long time to change your status to “engaged,” but why is it so important to do it right away?
 

Number 2 – Do not plan anything yet

 

When your mind is running in a million-and-one different directions and your adrenaline is pumping, that is not the time to even think about planning one bit of your wedding. If you are like me, that almost seems like an impossible feat. “What do you mean don’t plan?”
 

It’s very easy to blurt out what you think you want your wedding to be like; but honestly, take a few weeks once you’ve gotten over the shock and excitement, once you’ve kind of floated back down to reality, to really start to plan. Wedding expos are a great way to get acclimated to the wedding world you’ve now entered. In fact, here are ways you can prepare for your first bridal show.
 

Number 3 – Do not make statements you can’t follow-up on

 

What do I mean by this? It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the moment. You are going to be inundated with congratulatory well wishes from everyone and their uncle. People are going to start asking you questions right away like “When’s the date?” or “Where is it going to be?” or “How big is it going to be?” Just tell them the truth. One way to quell the onslaught of questions or to put those who are pushing to be on your guest list at bay is simply by saying, “We really haven’t had much time to think about it yet,” or “We’re thinking of a small wedding – just family and close friends.” Don’t tell your co-workers they’ll all be invited if you don’t know for sure. Don’t make grand gestures without spending time with your fiancé to really hash out the details.
 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

What you should do (in no particular order)

 

Number 1 – Call your parents, siblings, and anyone in on the engagement first

 

Think about it: Your significant other most likely asked your dad and/or mom for permission to marry you, so they are waiting on baited breath to find out how everything went and if there was a “yes.” Sometimes the family might have even been in on the surprise as well, coordinating efforts to get you to the right place at the right time, maybe telling little white lies in the process. They are going to want to know right away, so make sure your immediate family knows.
 

But here’s the thing: Make sure you tell them not to spread the word, that you will be calling others later. Make sure they know you want to be the one telling others. Why is this important? Well, wouldn’t you like to hear from the engaged couple personally instead of hearing the news through the grapevine?
 

Number 2 – Enjoy the moment

 

YOU JUST GOT ENGAGED!!! Seriously, once you get the important phone calls out of the way, enjoy the moment. Stop everything, actually look and examine your ring in all its beauty, spend time with your fiancé, get the scoop on how it all went down. Literally, just let it all sink in, take a deep breath, and enjoy. Things will get busy quickly, so this may be the only time for a long while that you may have just to enjoy your new status. Being a fiancé lasts but for a little while, so practice using that term. It’s really a lot of fun and, if you are like me, makes you a little giddy, too!
 

Number 3 – Do something special to celebrate…alone

 

This is a big step, a life-changing occasion, a moment that you will remember forever. Depending on the situation, if your family witnessed the engagement, there may be something already planned to celebrate. If that’s the case, make sure you also set aside alone time with your fiancé to celebrate.
 

If nothing has been planned, go out to dinner, have some nice wine, go out for ice cream, whatever. But do something special to celebrate, just the two of you, alone. I can’t stress alone enough. There will be time to celebrate with family and friends, but right now, this is your moment. Enjoy it!
 

How did you celebrate your engagement? Do you have pictures of your proposal?

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Social Media and Your Wedding: What You Need to Know

It’s hard to remember a time before social media was such a big part of daily life. It’s almost second nature now to go directly to your favorite social media outlet and share news, especially exciting news, like your wedding.

 

When you got engaged, the first thing that probably came to mind was to immediately change your status. Got a gorgeous ring? Then you need to show it off? Got your invites? Went for a tasting? Booked a venue? Got your dress? Got your tuxedo? Then people need to know, right? Wrong!

 

Getting engaged is an exciting and life-changing moment – there’s no doubt about that – and being able to share your wedding planning journey and eventual wedding day with others is a normal and natural response. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that social media is bad; but when it comes to your wedding day, there are some things to consider when it comes to social media, regardless how “social” you are in your normal everyday doings.

 

When it comes to your engagement…

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

It’s completely normal to want to share your good news with everyone, but think about the people connected to you on social media. How many of them are really good friends and how many are just really good acquaintances? How many do you see or speak to on a regular basis? Does everyone need to know that instant? Do you REALLY want all those people to know, or do you just like the feeling you get when you get acknowledgments and likes? I don’t mean to sound harsh here, but think about what your urgency is to want to post on social media right away.

 

If you do want to post the good news, make sure you set the privacy setting so only those you really want to know can see. If you only want certain people to know, you might just want to pick up the phone and call them. I, for one, would much rather find out through a phone call that my friend got engaged than to see it online first, then get a call. There’s something very distant and informal about sending such great news via the Internet instead of face-to-face (or via phone call or Skype or Facetime).

 

When it comes to wedding planning…

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Posting every detail about your wedding planning, while you mean it to be innocent, can have adverse effects. Some people may automatically assume since you are sharing all your planning details with them on Facebook they will be invited to your wedding. Then, what happens if they aren’t? Just try to put yourself in their shoes. While most may not care, some may. Think about the folks that you are ‘friends’ with and how many of them will actually be invited. Again, not to sound harsh here, but unless your friends or family are in the wedding or helping you plan it, most people don’t really care about every little detail. It may come across as annoying or gloating to folks, even though you don’t mean it to be.

 

When it comes to your wedding…

 

Posting pictures of your wedding day kind of goes along the same lines as proclaiming your engagement. For your online “friends” who thought they might be invited, but who weren’t – because, let’s face it, every wedding guest list has to be cut at some point – you may be causing a lot of hurt and resentment.

 

Also, if you are like me and value privacy, sharing wedding day photos to your friends online means you are really sharing them with the world. If someone you know shares one of your photos, do you know who they are sharing it with? Anyone can save that photo and do whatever they want with it. Do you really want complete strangers seeing photos of your private, personal day? If that may be a concern for you, don’t post. It’s best just to email people some photos, or invite them to view your album online from the photographer.

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Also, this is MAJOR, beware of copyrights. If you plan on sharing photos on social media, make sure you own the copyrights or have written permission from the photographer to do so. Most Photographers will put a watermark on photos and will say that if you want to use photos on social media to please keep the watermark on for that reason. If they say you can use the photos and they don’t have a watermark, make sure you give kudos to the photographer anyway. When you think about it, you are giving them free publicity, so pay it forward and make sure you tag them in the photo or post.

 

Lastly, you know your guests are going to take photos. However, if you do not want photos of your day shared online, you need to make it specifically clear to them either in the invitation or at the wedding (such as in your program or signage at the event). Otherwise, it will happen. If you don’t mind that guests share your photos, you can make it known to your guests that it’s ok by creating a hashtag and posting that hashtag in the same way.

 

What are your thoughts? Are you, or have you, shared photos or details of your wedding on social media? What was the feedback you received?

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Featured Couple: Sara & Mike

Their Love Story…

 

Michael and Sara grew up in the same town (Pompton Plains, NJ). They started going out in 2005 when they were in high school, and, as Sara said, they “have been loving life together since.”

 
 
 
 

The Proposal…

 

Photo Credit: From bride’s personal archive

“Mike always takes me on a little birthday trip,” Sara said. “In December 2015, we went to the Catskills for the weekend as a ‘birthday gift.’ ” At their hotel in Phoenicia, Mike “scoped out a nice spot around a fire pit, in Adirondack chairs with the mountains around on the grounds of our hotel. He gave me a birthday card and photobook of all of our vacations together with each page featuring photos from a different trip – until the last two pages,” Sara said. “One page of lots of photos of us together and a quote: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’ Then the next page was just goofy photos of him and said, ‘Will you take that step with me?’ Then he got down on one knee in the mud, and I said, ‘Of course!’” They celebrated afterward with reservations at a farm-to-table restaurant in the area.

 
 

Wedding Theme…

 

“I don’t really think I had one,” said Sara, “but everything seemed to be influenced by our love of Hudson Valley and fall.”

 
 

Why the Hudson Valley…?

 

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

“Mike and I have always loved the many cute towns in the Hudson Valley,” Sara said. “I work for a non-profit trade association, so I always browse farmer’s markets. One day during lunch, I was browsing the Union Square Farmers Market and saw a new stand, Bad Seed Cider. I saw that they have a tasting room and thought it would be a fun adventure for a weekend. We went in October 2015 and had an awesome tour (and yummy flights of cider)! On the tour, they mentioned that they can host weddings, and Mike and I both knew then this was the place for us.” What really hooked Sara and Mike was that they were looking for a venue that was different and unique. “We loved the feel of the cidery and surrounding area,” said Sara. “It didn’t feel like a typical wedding venue but was actually a functioning cidery, making an amazing cider. We loved that the venue had two levels so non-dancers could still feel included and look on while hanging at the bar.”

 

 

Most Memorable Moment…

 

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

“So many. Both of us think the first look (in the apple orchard) was our favorite moment,” said Sara. “I also loved making the flower bouquets and boutonnieres with my mom, sister, brother, best friend and Michael. Seeing my grandparents wave to the crowd from the second level of the venue – so cute!”

 
 
 
 
 
 

Hudson Valley Professionals…

 

Venue: Bad Seed Hard Cider (Highland)

Caterer: Hudson Valley Sausage Company (Highland)

Photographer: Christine Ashburn (Cold Spring)

Wedding Painter: Janet Howard-Fatta (Warwick)

Rentals: Durants Party Rentals (Wappingers Falls)

Ceremony Music: Appassionata Players (Poughkeepsie)

Ice Cream Truck: Chilly Willy’s Ice Cream

 

Photo credit to all: Christine Ashburn Photography

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5 secrets to being an awesome wedding guest

Being a guest at a wedding is not as easy as you think. Being an awesome wedding guest is even harder.

 

You may think that as a guest, all you need to do is just show up with a nice gift, sit quietly, eat your meal and dance. But so much more goes into being a great wedding guest. The couple put in a lot of time and effort in making sure their wedding makes everyone happy. It’s easy, as a guest, to forget that; it wasn’t until I got married that I really understood exactly what goes into making an amazing day. Based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced over the years at weddings I’ve attended, I believe If you really want to impress the newlyweds, there are 5 secrets you should know:

 

Secret 1: Be respectful of photographer and videographer space

 

We all love to take photos and videos at weddings for our own keepsakes, and some of you may be excellent photographers, but the couple didn’t hire you to take their photos or videos of their wedding. They hired – and made a big investment in hiring – professionals to do that for them. Does that mean you can’t take photos and videos at weddings? Of course not. What it means, though, is making sure you do not get in the way of the professionals who are there to do their job. So, no standing in the aisles, no cramming to get up front for a view of the cake cutting, no standing in the way of the first dance, etc. It’s all about just being mindful of your space and who’s around you. This also means not getting in the way of other guests who want the same photos. Remember, the couple will more than likely share photos with you once they get them back, so take photos with the understanding that you might not get the picture perfect shot; the professional will.

 

Secret 2: Share your photos with the couple

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

As mentioned, taking photos at a wedding is encouraged, as long as you don’t interfere with the pros. That being said, couples won’t get their professional photos for some time after their wedding day. So, even if you don’t get the perfect shot, share them with the couple. Trust me, they are going to be really eager to see what the day looked like from a different perspective. Even though we knew our professional photographer was doing an awesome job, we wanted as many photos as we could get from that day because – guess what? – our photographer couldn’t capture every moment because, well, he was photographing us. Couples want to see what was going on while they were being photographed. Don’t worry if they came out too dark or were blurry or you only took a few. Don’t think your photos aren’t ‘good enough,’ because they are. Any moment captured that the couple might have missed is awesome and very much appreciated.

 

Secret 3: Do not post photos, stories, or videos of a wedding you attend on social media without the couple’s permission

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

I just explained why sharing your photos is a good thing, but they need to be shared privately. It’s easy, in this day in age, to assume everyone is on social media and everyone is comfortable with it. That is not always the case. Even if the couple is on Facebook and other social media, a wedding is a very personal and private, invitation-only event. A couple may not want videos of a teary speech or a silly dance, or them reciting their vows being shared or be tagged in any photos (even if you can limit the privacy settings). In some cases, couples who are comfortable with you sharing photos will generate a hashtag for you to use when posting on social media. That allows the couple to literally search that hashtag along every platform and be able to find every photo guests posted. However, if you don’t see a hashtag listed on the invitation or at the wedding itself, do not share the photos online without getting their permission. Instead, send them your photos personally, either hard copy or via email. You can’t assume it’s OK to share on social media just because everyone does it.

 

Secret 4: Send the hosts a thank you

 

I know that sounds kind of weird, right, because the couple should be sending you a

Photo Credit: WCHV

thank you for coming and for your gift. But, when you think about all the time, money and effort they spent to make sure everyone had a good time, it’s nice to reciprocate and tell them how much you enjoyed being there. I’m kind of old-school and still think a personal, hand-written note is nice, but an e-mail would be just as good. Along with a thank you, send congratulations along with some memories of the day.  For couples who are especially sentimental, like we were, how awesome do you think it would be for a couple to receive a message full of memories and/or photos of that day? You can say something like “I don’t know if you know this, but during cocktail hour we were talking to (fill in the blank) and we were discussing how (fill in the blank).” Couples could miss these little stories because they are busy doing their own thing, but they’re items to cherish! I know I couldn’t get enough of our guests’ stories.

 

Secret 5: Save mementos

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

Couples, whether they had a professional create them or they did they themselves, spent a lot of time and money deciding what kinds of invitations, programs, menus, favors, and other various props to have at their ceremony and reception. So, grab an extra program or two, save an extra menu, or any other trinket given to you at the wedding. A couple might have saved extras already, but being able to provide those to the couple, just in case, is heartwarming. Let them know you saved a couple of extra for them in case they wanted to keep them.

 

What have you done as a wedding guest that you thought the couple might like? Couples, what would you want your guests to do? We’d love to hear your ideas.

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Engagement Photos: What Hudson Valley couples want you to know

Thank you for joining us in this last of our three-part series

 

The period of engagement is a really special time in a couple’s life, and it’s usually the shortest time in a couple’s life as well. We’ve already explained why the experts say engagement photos are important and explained how to prepare for your session and what to expect during your session.
 

Today, we wanted to give you two stories, from real Hudson Valley couples like you, explaining why they had engagement photos taken and what their experience was like. If you are still on the fence about engagement photos, these awesome stories might encourage you.

 

Kimberly & Andrew

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Let’s first start off with Kimberly and Andrew. While originally from the Hudson Valley, Kimberly being from Union Vale and Andrew from LaGrangeville, the couple is currently living in Virginia, where Andrew is stationed with the United States Navy. Andrew has been in the Navy for seven years and is currently waiting to hear on a deployment date; because of that uncertainty, they don’t have a wedding date yet but are thinking sometime in 2018 in the Hudson Valley.
 

Kimberly and Andrew had their engagement photos taken with Hannah Servidio, from Hannah Nicole Photography, and are the sweet couple featured in the behind-the-scenes video in Part 2. I asked them why they decided to have engagement photos taken, and Kimberly said they knew it was something everyone does; and since they have a bit of a wait before their wedding day, it was something special they wanted to do sooner rather than later.

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography


 

They got engaged on December 23, 2016, and just a few weeks after, they had their photos taken – not only to capture the moment, but also because they wanted to get them done before Andrew was deployed.”It’s possible Andrew may be deployed before we can have our dream wedding, so it was really important to me to have professional pictures taken before then,” she said. “I wanted memories I can look at in my home and for him to take when he’s abroad. I’ve tried to print photos from my phone before but it’s always a major disappointment; they never print well! That’s why I really wanted a professional shoot.”
 

Their photos were taken in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), part of Brooklyn. So, remember the experts said couples like to take photos in spots that have meaning to them? In this case, DUMBO was the second choice. They originally wanted snowy pictures in the Hudson Valley, but the only snow on the ground at the time was the crusty brown snow found along the edge of roads – not very pretty. So, since Kimberly went to NYU and DUMBO was a location that offered different views of Manhattan, that’s where they went.

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Andrew, admittedly, wasn’t quite sure what to expect at first, but found the whole ‘being photographed’ process very simple, self-explanatory, and he said they were coached very well. “Hannah was great at coaching us through different poses that we hadn’t thought of before and was great at communicating the small things that can make or break a photo: where we were supposed to look, placement of hands, how to do the close embrace, and more,” he said. “She was so professional and put us at ease. I also feel like we now have training for when we take our own photos from here on out.”

 

Their Tips

 

Some tips they have for couples is to make sure that your photographer is a people person, because that characteristic is really what is going to put the couple at ease. Again, this goes back to what the experts say about being able to mesh well with your vendors. Another tip, especially if you are doing a winter shoot: Be prepared for a lot of wind and dress warm!
 

They also realize some couples decide not to get engagement photos done because they are too nervous or because it costs too much money. They say it’s nice to be coached on how to be photographed and what poses look good. It’s also nice to have the moment of engagement captured, so you can look back on that feeling and always have a glimpse of how you felt at that time.
 

Nora & Dan

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Our next couple is Nora and Dan from Cold Spring. Their story is a little different than that of Kimberly and Andrew. Nora and Dan are getting married in September 2017 and had photos taken with Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography. Unlike Kimberly and Andrew, they were skeptical, at first, about getting photos done and went back and forth for a while. They really wanted to have them done, but weren’t sure if they could afford it, originally thinking they would have family members take their photos. Ultimately, they decided to have them done professionally because being engaged is a real special moment in time, and they wanted to make sure they captured the magic of being engaged. Plus, with Erica, they realized it was more affordable than they thought.

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

“I think that cost was the number one deterrent at first, but after researching photographers and finding one who offered it within her package, we jumped on the opportunity,” Nora said. “When you’re engaged, you are spending so much time thinking about the wedding day itself, but these photos capture a moment in time that still celebrates your relationship in a really fun and meaningful way. Plus, they are so useful for practical reasons including save-the-dates, invitations and wedding websites.”
 

They, like most, were nervous and awkward at first, because like they said, “How often do people get photos taken?” However, once they began to loosen up, interact with each other and with their photographer, cracking jokes with each other, they began to loosen up and feel more comfortable.
 

They see the photos as being really practical because you can use them for so many purposes: to celebrate the fact that they are engaged; for a wedding website, save-the-dates, or to print out and hang up.

 

Their Tips

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Nora and Dan have some great tips when it comes to choosing a photographer. They suggest getting recommendations from people you know about photographers they’ve used and what their experiences were like. They say don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations and, just like what our experts said, don’t be afraid to reach out to lots of photographers (and vendors) to see what you get for your money.
 

They also say having the same photographer do both your engagement and wedding photos will help because you because you will have already met the photographer, gotten to know them and how they operate, which will put you at ease the day of your wedding.
 

In terms of what to wear, they suggest wearing colors that work well with your surroundings. They got engagement photos taken in the fall, so Nora wore red to pop with the green in the trees and the very slightly changing colors in the foliage. “We were doing our photos outside so I knew there was going to be a lot of greenery, and I wanted to pick something that I knew would play off those colors in a nice way,” she said. “Second, wear something you are comfortable in and feel good in! We all have colors and even specific pieces in our closets that make us feel confident. You don’t necessarily have to buy a new outfit for the photos because you likely own something that is perfect.”
 
Did hearing from these couples help you make decide on engagement photos? Did their tips help you? What tips do you have for couples?

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6 easy ways to prevent feeling overwhelmed at a wedding expo

Thank you for joining us in this last of a three-part series

 

What do stickers have to do with not feeling overwhelmed at a wedding expo? You’ll have to read on to find out. But first, let’s take a look back.

 

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll remember I shared with you I felt very overwhelmed at the first Wedding Expo I attended. It was nobody’s fault but my own because I didn’t do research or come with a plan. I was very unprepared.

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I also mentioned Wedding Expos in the Hudson Valley come fast and furious. Starting at the beginning of January, and for the next few months after, there seems to be one or more every weekend. That’s a good thing, but having so many to choose from can be overwhelming in its own right. How do you choose which ones to go? When should you start going to shows?

 

There really is no simple answer, and there is no right or wrong answer. It’s really up to you. Margaret Brower, Director of Sales at The Grandview explains, “Some (couples) feel really comfortable getting things out of the way and check off a list, some feel like they want to enjoy engagement and then look for vendor.” Paul Porco, manager at Villa Borghese Caterers, says he’s even seen couples go that aren’t even engaged yet!

 

So, regardless of when you go or how many shows you go to, there are six things you can do to make sure you have an awesome experience that leaves you wanting to go back for more:

 

COME PREPARED WITH A PLAN

 

“It is really important to come with a plan,” Brower says. “What do you want to get from the show? Are you going to … start your wedding planning with something that is exciting? … Or maybe you’re going for information and making that particular show just a source of gathering different vendors booklets and cards. … Sometimes you go to a show and it’s like, ‘OK, we have three months until the wedding; we have to find a florist.’ ” Knowing your plan and what you expect to get out of the show is going to elevate a lot of stress. Wanda Mendillo, Banquet and Sales Manager for Anthony’s Pier 9, says, “Your first show is probably going to be gathering the experience of the show itself and taking information, as well as packages and pamphlets. Then when you go home, you’ll be able to sort through a little bit of the information.” You need to set your plan and expectation and know why you are going first. What do you want to gain from it?

 

Photo Credit: The Villa Borghese

I had the opportunity to speak to two lovely couples a few weeks back at the Villa Borghese show, each were there for a different reason. Kim and Andrew from Mahopac are getting married in the summer of 2018, and this was their first show. While Kim had been to other shows in her role as bridesmaid, this was her first as a bride-to-be. They didn’t really have any details planned and were just going to see what’s out there and to get a feel for locations; if you haven’t had a chance to read my posting on using a wedding expo to look at venues, you can check it out here.

 

Mary and Chris from Hyde Park, on the other hand, were at the show for a very specific reason: They have been engaged for a year-and-a-half and are really at the end of their wedding planning process as they are getting married in June of this year. They were there specifically to look for a transportation company and tuxedos. Chris’s advice for couples is to try to get as much done early on and stick with your budget. He says it can get overwhelming at times, but you need to go with an open mind, and just get information the first time going. He says it’s important for grooms to go, too, as it helps to ease the stress of just one person going.

 

DON’T RUSH

 

Porco says one of the best ways not to get overwhelmed is by not rushing. “Try not to rush into things,” he says. “View your options as far as your different vendors, different DJs, photographers, you know, go with a company that has been established for a while.” We’ll discuss this more in a future post. Remember, your wedding is not tomorrow (hopefully), so you do have some time to make an educated decision of who you want to hire. Also, take your time at the show, relax, grab a bite to eat, have a drink. Enjoy the show for what it is and take your time with each vendor so you can really express what your vision is to them. Don’t just make it a “How much do you charge?” conversation. More on that to come, too.

 

BRING STICKERS

 

Photo Credit: HCHV

I told you stickers played a major role! When you go to a show, you are given a bag at registration to hold all your loot during the day. It quickly gets filled with cards and brochures from all the professionals you speak to. Then you go home and are left with a bag of paper, and you need to remember who you spoke to, who you want to follow-up with; it can get pretty complicated if you don’t have a system. Brower says, “I always tell my couples to bring stickers, walk into the show, and if you like a vendor after talking to them, put a sticker on the back of their card…because once you put it (the card) in your bag, it gets jumbled with everyone else…so just simply putting a sticker on the back of their business card or on their pamphlet denotes this is someone we want to revisit, so you can automatically sort the people you are interested in and the people that you aren’t.”

 

She also suggests you bring another type of sticker, this time with your contact information on it “If any of the booths have raffles, it’s a time saver. You can just put your label on any of the raffle items and keep moving throughout the show.”

 

CREATE AN EMAIL

 

Have you ever overlooked an important email because your inbox is full of junk and spam, and it got lost in the shuffle? Brower says, “The first piece of advice I give wedding couples when they come into the office is to make a wedding email address.” You are going to need to give it at registration, and it allows you to keep all wedding-related emails together in one place throughout your planning process. Plus, both of you will have the address and password, so you each can check it throughout the day, keeping in the loop.

 

 

KEEP AN OPEN MIND

 

Photo Credit: The Villa Borghese

Wedding expos can have anywhere from a few professionals to upwards of 100 or more, so you need to keep an open mind. Know that the Hudson Valley is full of wedding professionals, and they don’t all necessarily attend shows. Also, if you’ve done your research already and absolutely fell in love with an expert’s services and then see them at a show to discover one of two things: Either your date is booked or you are not meshing well with them, you’ll need to keep looking; or if you are on a super-tight budget, see when vendors have a slow period. Booking in their off season may save you money in the long run.

 

 

HAVE FUN

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

This could quite possibly be the most important thing to remember. Porco says overall, the goal of wedding shows is to provide you with resources to make your wedding go off without a hitch. But who says you can’t have fun in the process? Many shows will have food, drinks, contests, seminars, games, DJs playing great music and a wedding fashion show with models showcasing dresses and tuxedos. At the Villa Borghese, the staff gets in on the fun as they are the models for the show!

 

Brower urges couples to keep it light when they go to show because it is very easy to have an anxiety-ridden experience. “Keep it light when you go to them,” she says. “This is part of the engagement and planning process, so make sure that it’s fun, because if you leave and you feel stressed, you missed it. It should be something wonderful to help you. These shows should be a tool for you and not to make you feel stressed out.” Mendillo agrees, as she tells every couple she knows who’s going to a show, “I want them to have fun.”

 

At the end of the day, all the vendors and all the host venues are there to help you. Porco sums it up nicely by saying, “Our fortune is that you came to our bridal show, we made your life that much easier, and that much special for that particular day. That’s the most important thing.”

 

What tips do you have for couples going to wedding expos? What piece of advice would you share?

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3 steps you need to follow for choosing beautiful Wedding Flowers

This is the last of a two-part series

 

I love flowers! Let me just get that out right away. In fact, one of my favorite times of the year in the Hudson Valley is when the flowers start to peep through the frozen ground. It can still be chilly; but as long as I see the flowers start to bloom, it immediately wipes the winter doldrums away. To me, flowers are nature’s perfect package, and they just put a smile on my face. Between their colors, shapes and smells, there’s nothing more beautiful.

 

Photo Credit: Meadowscent

That being said, I couldn’t wait to book my floral appointment for my wedding. Knowing it was the one day where I could surround myself with such beauty made me incredibly happy. Now, here’s the thing: I know what I like, but the names of flowers – outside of the popular roses, calla lilies and carnations – leave me clueless.

 

I didn’t know what flowers I needed to achieve the look I wanted, so I was thrilled to have an expert florist walk me through the process, show me examples of flowers, and tell me the pros and cons of each, including what would be in season (and therefore be cheaper). However, your floral consultation goes far beyond just showing up and talking to the florist. It takes some time to make sure you get the perfect look. We spoke to some of the most experienced florists in the Hudson Valley, and broke the process down into three easy steps.

 

Step 1 – Know your colors

 

Photo Credit: Lucille’s Floral of Fishkill

One of the most important pieces of information you can bring to the consultation is your color scheme. I remember even bringing swatches of fabric of both my gown and my bridesmaids’ gowns with me. Steve Morgan, owner and designer of Morgan’s Florist in Poughkeepsie says the bride’s flowers need to complement her, he says that you also need to know what colors the bridal party will be wearing to ensure all flowers will be cohesive. Theresa Colucci, owner of Meadowscent in New Paltz says because the bulk of her appointment revolves around color, if you don’t have that information at your first visit, then you will need to book a second appointment. She says while it’s very normal for couples to want to start planning right away because they are excited, it’s best to wait until you know what everyone is wearing.

 

Step 2 – Do research and come in with ideas

 

Photo Credit: Lucille’s Floral of Fishkill

Lucille Conforti, owner of Lucille’s Floral of Fishkill, says looking at flowers on websites such as Pinterest, and sharing your board with her, is a great tool to help her get to know the aesthetic and feel you are going for. Morgan wants to see your Pinterest board, too, to work with the ideas you have. He suggests going a step further and doing research on what flowers are in season. Colucci asks, in a pre-appointment questionnaire that she sends out, all photos and Pinterest boards be e-mailed to her so she can prepare and get to know the aesthetic of the couple so the end result is a streamlined floral appointment.

 

Step 3 – Set and share your budget

 

The third, most important piece of information you can bring is your budget, and be honest with it. We’ve mentioned how important a budget is in previous posts, and you might be wondering why we put budget last when it comes to choosing the right flowers. That’s because until you know your colors and do research on what type of flowers you like and see what’s in season, you can’t figure out how much it’s going to cost. If what you like ends up being too expensive for you, you may need an alternate plan. But, don’t worry.

 

Photo Credit: Morgan’s Florist

Like Morgan stated, doing research on what flowers are in season will help save you money. If you want to purchase flowers that are in their “off” season, they can be much pricier than if you buy them in season. All florists are willing to work within your budget, but they need to know what that budget is. If you like a particular flower and it’s not in your budget, Morgan will show you how he can use similar ones to create the same look but aren’t as expensive. By getting your photos and ideas, Colucci will know if your style matches your budget and if not can discuss alternatives to keep you within your desired price point. Conforti will let you bring in your own containers and put arrangements in there, which often times helps couples keep their cost down. A good question to ask florists you interview is to see if you can do the same.

 

What tips do you have in choosing the perfect flowers for your wedding day?

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5 tips you need to know for awesome engagement photos

Join us for part 2 of a 3-part series

 

By now we’ve hope you read our article on why engagement photos are so important and have decided to book your engagement session. If you are still on the fence, take a few moments to read why Hudson Valley photographers say they are a must-do.

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

If you’ve already booked your engagement session, congratulations! Now, you’re probably thinking, what’s next? If you are like me, you might have no idea what to expect. Sure, you’ve seen people get photos done before, but how many times have you actually been the subject of those photos? For me, whenever I thought of getting professional pictures taken, my mind conjured up a funny scenario a la Austin Powers with Beyoncé, fans blowing my hair and a photographer yelling “Yeah, baby” and “I’m spent.” Why I thought that, I have no idea, but it still makes me laugh to this day to know that’s what I thought they’d be like.

 

Let me tell you, engagement photos are NOT like that, though I’m sure if you asked, your photographer might be able to make it happen…just kidding, but who knows.

 

If you’ve booked your session and are wondering what it will be like, let’s take a moment to step back and think about the first time you did anything: the first time you rode a bike, your first kiss, the first time you left home, or your first job. For some, the thought of doing anything for the first time is extremely scary and nerve-wracking. That’s normal. Why? Because you don’t know what to expect. It’s all new.

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios


 

If someone told you what to expect prior to doing anything for the first time, it would probably make you feel better and give you more confidence because the anticipation of what would happen is already known, and you will know how to prepare for what is to come.

 

So, with that, we have expert advice on what to expect, to eliminate the “unknowns” and help you feel more confident, excited and ready to rock your engagement photo session.

 

What can I expect the atmosphere to be like, and how will it differ than my wedding day?

 

In a word…RELAXED. Unlike your wedding day, which is formal in nature, emotional and slightly rushed, engagement sessions are way more relaxed and calm. Hannah Servidio, Owner of Hannah Nicole photography in Poughkeepsie, says it’s a very jovial atmosphere. She likes to joke and have fun with her couples, mainly to put them at ease.

 

The video below, created by AW’STRUCK Studios for Hannah Nicole Photography, really gives you a good sense of how calm and easy an engagement session is.

 

 

Notice how Servidio shows the couple, Kimberly and Andrew (who you’ll hear more from later in this series) how to pose. Any photographer you choose will do the same. Rupert Rogers and Kellie Walsh of 4 Eyes Photography in Nyack and Manhattan says, “We’ll direct couples on what to do, so they’re having fun and relax. We like to shoot the engagement shoots with one photographer and an assistant, so that bags and equipment can be watched while the photographer works with the couple.”

 

How long does an engagement photo session last?

 

Engagement photo sessions typically don’t last too long, but the length varies per photographer. Of the photographers we spoke to, you’re looking at anywhere from one to three hours. You and your photographer can pick the day and the time, and most photographers tend to shoot in the late afternoon (depending on the season) because the sunlight exposure at that time is awesome.

 

Where do you get photos taken, and how do you choose your locale?

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Mark Greenstone, owner of Majestic Studios in Hopewell Junction, really likes to give his couples ownership and buy in as to where to have photos taken and encourages his couples to think about both the engagement photos and wedding photos as a whole. He explains couples need to think about whether they want to choose a site similar or different than where you plan to get wedding photos taken. For example, do you want the Hudson River in the background of both? He also encourages his couples to think about how the photos are going to be used. As mentioned in Part 1, think about if you want to use the photos as part of your wedding day (guest book, website, save the dates) or if you just want them to display around your home.

 

Erica Leman, owner and lead photographer at Sweet Alice Photography in Poughkeepsie, actually has a Pinterest board of Hudson Valley locations to choose from, if the couple is really stumped. “It’s really helpful to my couples,” she says. “About half (of couples) already have great ideas on locations outside of my help (usually, places that are meaningful to them and their story), and others like to peruse the board and choose from there.”

 

Once you get to a location, the possibilities are endless. Rogers and Welsh say once they get to a location, that spot usually ends up leading to more spots during the session. “We like to pick one area and then walk around, selecting lots of different spots for shots as we go.”

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

When do you get engagement photos done?

 

As we mentioned earlier, thinking about how you want to use the photos can determine when you get them done. If you want them for elements of your wedding, such as for save the dates or a wedding website, you should get them done months in advance. If that’s not something you plan on doing, then timing doesn’t really matter. Rogers and Walsh say, “It can really be anytime – a year in advance or a few weeks before the day. Sometimes it’s nice to be in a different season to your actual wedding, so you have a whole fresh ‘look.’ ”

 

What do you wear?

 

This is the age-old question. You can be staring at a closet full of clothes and still have nothing to wear, right? However, what you wear determines a lot. Greenstone says what you wear gives the photographer a better sense of who you are as a couple. He’s had couples come in everything from jeans and sneakers to dress-wear. But most importantly, he says to make sure you wear something that you are comfortable in.

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

“We always tell people to wear their favorite clothes – what they are comfortable in,” say Rogers and Welsh. “You’ll be moving around and posing in lots of positions, so you’ll want to be comfortable.” But they caution couples to stay away from white clothes, heavily patterned clothes, and anything that’s very tight.
 

Leman encourages couples to look at what each person is wearing and coordinate that way. “Couples should wear clothes that they feel comfortable and confident in, and err on the side of caution regarding patterns.” She says. “If one person is wearing a pattern (such as a plaid or floral), the other person should wear a solid. Corresponding colors are good, but totally matching can be a little cheesy. I just let couples know to bring their awesome self, and to wear clothes that they are comfortable and confident in. I recommend that women get hair and makeup done, but it is totally not absolutely necessary – just a nice added touch, if wanted.”

 

Servidio recommends couples bring two outfits: one that’s comfortable and casual, and one that’s a bit dressier, giving you a variety in the look and feel of the photos.

 

How are you preparing for your engagement session? What are you wearing? When and where are you getting them done? Have a question about engagement photos? Send them to Felicia@weddingconnectionshv.com.

 

Stay tuned for the last in our series of engagement photos when we interview two amazing couples about their engagement sessions and why they chose to get them done.

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What is the most important thing couples overlook at wedding expos?

Join us in this second part of a three-part series

 

Did you see it? You know, the one thing most couples overlook at wedding expos? It was right there in front of you the whole time. Do you know what I’m talking about? The venue!

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

You’re probably thinking “Of course I saw the venue. I drove there and saw it when I walked in, duh!” But that’s not quite what I mean.

 

Did you really see it? Most couples attend shows because they are looking for a particular service or product for their wedding day, and I go into some detail on that on an earlier post. However, the one thing many couples don’t really spend the time to look at is the venue itself and how the space can be utilized for your wedding day. This is especially important for couples to do if they haven’t booked their venue yet.

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I admit it: I had my blinders up, too. It’s very easy to be at a show and lose track of where you are. There are a lot of people, a lot of activities going on, lots of stuff to carry – and between talking to all the wedding professionals and grabbing a bite to eat, you sometimes forget you are at a wedding venue.

 

“If you’re looking for a venue, a wedding show is a wonderful way to see how the venue itself operates,” says Margaret Brower, Director of Sales at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie. “To be at the show, it’s easy to focus on the vendors themselves, if you open your eyes a little wider you can notice other things about a venue – how the tables are arranged, what the linens look like, how the staff is dressed, how they are moving about the space. Is it with calm and ease, and is the staff smiling, and is the registration organized?”

 

The key to remember is, the wedding expo is a big event, just like a wedding is a big event. By big, I don’t mean momentous; I mean big in terms of people. So, you want to make sure you pay close attention to how things are running, especially in these areas:

 

ROOM LAYOUT

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

While the rooms at a venue during a bridal show are pretty packed, do try to take a look at the overall style and layout of the rooms. For example, each room could be used for a different reception, or, if you are having a large wedding, each room could be used for a different part of your reception – one for cocktail hour and then another for the reception. Paul Porco, a manager at Villa Borghese Caterers in Wappingers Falls, says they have several different affordable rooms to choose from. “We can do multiple events and have options to do singular events,” he says. Wanda Mendillo, Banquet and Sales Manager for Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor, concurs. “When you are taking a look at the overall venue that’s hosting the wedding show, you can definitely take a look at the specific area or the layout of the building. … We can do two receptions at the same time, but they’re completely private.” So, just being aware of your surroundings is key.

 

FOOD, DRINKS, AND TABLE SETTINGS

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

All expos hosted at a wedding venue will, more often than not, have food and drinks served – sometimes in a separate room, sometimes with passed hors d’oeuvres. Food and drinks are great because, let’s face it, who doesn’t like free, delicious food? But while you’re taking a break and eating, remember that the food they have could also be the same food that will be served at your wedding, depending on the package. Take note of what you are eating, and if you like the food, so that if you decide to book that venue, you can make sure you have that served at your wedding. Also, remember they are cooking for a large group of people, just like they will be doing on your wedding day. Like I mentioned before, if food is served in a different room, pay close attention because that could be the room where cocktail hour will be.

 

CLEANLINESS

 

Photo Credit: Grandview Events

This is going to sound silly, but check out the bathrooms while you are at a wedding expo. How are they holding up with a steady stream of people going in and out all day? Are they clean? Dirty? Look at the floor and the overall tidiness of the facility while there is a large group of people there. Does it look very well kept or trashed? It’s another good indicator of how things will operate on your wedding day.

 

STAFF

 

As Brower stated earlier, pay attention to the staff – not just those at registration, but floor staff and those serving appetizers. Is the staff happy to be there? Are they smiling? Helpful? Courteous? Polite? Are they able to answer your questions? You want to make sure they are giving you the quality you are looking for because they may be the same hard-working folks who will be serving you and your guests on your wedding day.

 

Photo Credit: Grandview Events

However, when all is said and done, a wedding expo is vastly different than a wedding, so you want to make sure that if you liked the venue at the show, you should definitely follow up with a private tour. No one will be around so you can see, more clearly, see where the dance floor is, how walls or curtains can me moved to facilitate your needs. Mendillo sums it up nicely by saying, “Taking a look at the size of the rooms, the layout, the outside gardens for photos is also extremely important as well as the staffing, being friendly, considerate, and helpful. But follow up with a visit, one-on-one with a sales coordinator or event planner, because you can see layout of the room set wedding style to see full effect.”

 

So, was this something you missed? Did you book your venue based on what you saw at a wedding expo?

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What you need to look for in a quality bridal gown

Purchasing a wedding dress is unlike any dress purchase you will ever make. Besides the symbolic importance of the dress, it will, most likely, be the most expensive piece of clothing you will ever wear in your entire life. Because of that, you need to make sure you take the necessary steps to ensure that the gown you are buying is of top-notch quality.

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Unless you find a great sale or buy a sample dress off the rack, bridal gowns typically start, on average, around the $800-$1,000 mark and go up from there. Depending on the details, custom work and embellishments, gowns can cost as much as $10,000 or more! Believe it or not, I have actually seen wedding gowns as much as $40,000 made with poundage of crystals and gold thread.

 

However, on average, you can find absolutely amazing quality gowns under $3000. Designers know many brides are on a budget, and they want to make quality available for all brides, no matter your budget. Now, while you might think $1,000 is still quite high, think of this: When you go to a bridal salon, you are trying on a sample to see if you like the gown’s shape, silhouette, feel, etc. Once you choose the dress of your dreams, your bridal consultant takes your measurements. Why? Because your dress is made custom for you, exactly to your size and shape.

 

Bridal gowns are not mass-produced and unlike ready-to-wear clothes, you can’t go to a rack, find your size and check out. Because they are custom-made, you need to give the designers plenty of time to craft your gown and get it to your shop in time for your fittings. So, the money you are spending on that dress not only equals the quality of the materials and embellishments, but also the man hours it takes to make your gown. If you are spending that much money, you want the best. We asked local gown expert, and owner of Lady Gray Bridal in Beacon, Tina Pomarico, what you should be looking for in a quality gown. In this video, you’ll learn what to look for to make sure you are buying an exceptional gown

 

 

We also asked the design experts at New York International Bridal Week this past fall, who already shared with you what bridal gown trends you’ll see in 2017, what you should be looking for in a quality gown and they all agree on two things: fabric and fit.

 

Fabric

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

 

Martin Thornburg, head designer for David Tutera and Mon Cheri and head merchandiser for Mon Cheri Bridal, says, “Number one is to look for fabric. You want something constructed out of good fabric. It doesn’t have to be silk. There are very beautiful fabrics that are high-quality polyester or woven fabrics.” This is why trying on dresses is very important?

 

As mentioned in the video, take a look at the inside lining fabrics, as well as the types of embellishments, beading or appliques on the gown. That all builds value. And if the value is there, then you know that the amount you spend on a dress is well worth it.

 

Kang Chun “KC” Lin, creative director for Enzoani Bridal Division, says, “There is a lot of dedication and time spent during the production process to choose the best fabrics, create the lace patterns, and put all the pieces together by hand. There is much more than meets the eye with a quality gown.” In couture gowns, for example, the price goes up because, in almost all cases, beading is all done by hand.

 

Fit

 

The only way you will be able to tell if a gown fits you well, or is made properly, is by trying them on and not basing your choice on looks alone. Wen Wu, CEO of House of Wu, suggests doing a bit of research first on the different brands of gowns, because each brand brings with it different levels of quality. He says, “You need to go to the store and feel and touch the dress and to see the inside construction. It’s very, very crucial. You know, you can’t buy a dress on the look, from a picture on the Internet because construction is where it makes the dress fit you or not. A picture can be very deceiving.”

 

Charlotte Pratt, Marketing & PR Associate for Casablanca Bridal, says, “You can just tell, as you try on a gown, there is a huge difference in the support and infrastructure of some gowns as compared to others.” She says specific Items that help with support are boning (stays), corsets, and hook and eye closures.

 

You are going to be wearing your gown all day, for hours and hours, dancing in it, sitting in it, eating in it, etc. You need to make sure that you are not only comfortable, but that it fits you correctly and doesn’t pull, tug or shift during the day. “For us, the inner construction is very important,” Lin says, “because even though the gowns feel lightweight and comfortable and are very flattering on your figure, there is a lot of work going on inside to give it the right support and shape.”

 

As you can see, a bridal gown needs to not only be beautiful on the outside but the inside as well. So we’d like to know, what did you learn about gowns as you were trying them on? What kind of gown are you looking for or did you end up with? Have you tried on gowns and noticed a difference in the quality or construction from brand to brand?

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Featured Couple: Amanda & David

Their Love Story…

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

David and Amanda met when they were each 14 years old. Amanda fell in love with David and thought he was the most gorgeous boy in the world. “We dated for about a week (typical 14-year-old relationship),” Amanda says,  “and then broke up but remained friends.” They always stayed in touch, but it wasn’t until a family tragedy in December 2011 that they reconnected. “We started dating officially in May of 2012.”

 

The Proposal…

“On May 1, 2014, on our two-year dating anniversary, David took me to Lake Minnewaska in New Paltz, and we climbed to the highest point that overlooks the whole lake. He told me there that he wanted to find the most beautiful place to ask the most beautiful girl to marry him.”

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Wedding Theme…

 

“I always wanted a rustic fall wedding,” Amanda says. “I wanted to get married outside and Locust Grove just fit the mold perfectly.”

 

Most Memorable Moment…

 

“I think my husband’s face was the most memorable moment for me, and luckily, I have picture proof of it to remind me of the true love and admiration he has for me,” says Amanda.  “It’s crazy to think that looking at one person can just show you so many things: love, comfort, strength, compassion.  But his face during our first look, walking down the aisle, first dance and to the next day, when he turned to me and called me his wife, I think are the most memorable moments from my wedding.”

 

Hudon Valley Professionals…

 

Wedding Photographer: Hannah Nicole Photography (Poughkeepsie)

Venue: Locust Grove (Poughkeepsie)
Caterer: The Artist’s Palate (Poughkeepsie)
Hair: Hair by Carolina (Kingston)
Dress: Town Shop Bridal (Poughkeepsie)
DJ: Zolz Entertainment (Hyde Park)

Photo Credit to all: Hannah Nicole Photography

 

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Hudson Valley Wedding Photographers Share 6 Reasons Why You Need Engagement Photos

Join us for part 1 of a 3-part series where professional Hudson Valley wedding photographers share their expertise on engagement photos.

 

From the moment you get engaged to the moment you say “I do,” wedding planning becomes the single most important aspect of your lives for however long you are engaged. That means that day in and day out, you are looking at a long list of to-do’s and trying to check as many off as you can before the big day.

 

A long list of to-do’s also means in between planning, you are trying to manage work, life and your bank account and may find yourself asking the question, “Is this something we really need?” time and time again.

 

Perhaps you are going back and forth about engagement photos. Are you struggling to find the value in them, or can’t figure out how you are going to make time to get them done? Don’t worry, you are not alone.

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

In fact, I was one of those brides that thought we didn’t need them. My husband and I got engaged at Walt Disney World, and if you have visited the parks within the last several years, you know they have photographers staged throughout the parks taking your photo at different scenic locations. Our photographer captured every step of the proposal, so I thought we already had our engagement photos taken care of. Wrong!

 

When we met with our photographer, he explained while those photos were awesome because they literally captured the exact moment we got engaged, traditional engagement photos were truly different. He educated us as to why we should reconsider, and I want to share the same knowledge with you.

 

So, we asked experienced Hudson Valley photographers to share their thoughts as to why engagement photos are really a necessity and should not be dismissed so easily:

 

Reason #1 – It’s an Investment

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

It’s very easy to get caught up in the mindset your wedding is a transaction. I get it: You are paying a person or company to provide you with a service or product. It’s Economics 101. However, your wedding is not a transaction. Every service you render for your big day is investing in lifelong memories and experiences.

 

Erica Leman, owner and lead photographer at Sweet Alice Photography in Poughkeepsie, says, “At the end of the wedding planning process, when the day is over, the biggest items that a couple has from their day, beside their precious memories, is their marriage license and their photography.”

 

Reason #2 – You get used to being photographed before your wedding day

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

How many of you get your photos professionally taken regularly? Probably not many. Hannah Servidio, owner of Hannah Nicole Photography in Poughkeepsie, says couples aren’t in front of the camera every single day, so your engagement session gives you time to get to know what you’re comfortable with, giving you and your photographer a sense of how you work with the camera.

 

Mark Greenstone, owner of Majestic Studios in Hopewell Junction, says an engagement session is usually the first time a couple has professional photos taken. It’s a good chance for the couple to see how the photographer works, how they are being posed, and gives couples the chance to feel more comfortable on their wedding day because they will know what to expect having worked with the photographer already.

 

In other words, engagement sessions are a great way to get comfortable with having your photo taken. “Most people need a little time to get used to the process, and we always try and make it a fun, relaxed way to ‘practice’ being photographed and prepare you for the hectic schedule of the actual wedding day.” Says Rupert Rogers and Kellie Walsh of 4 Eyes Photography in Nyack and Manhattan.

 

Reason #3 – It gives you and your photographer a chance to connect

 

We know how important it is to connect with your wedding professional before hiring them. Your photographer is one of the professionals you will be working with the most throughout your whole planning experience. Working with your photographer prior to your wedding day assists in the day-of wedding photography because, as Leman states, it “feels like less of a transactional act and more like a partnership.” Who doesn’t want a partner on their wedding day?  It’s “extremely important to get to know your photographer because you are going to be spending the most time with them during your day,” says Servidio.

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Greenstone agrees and adds engagement sessions give you the opportunity to see if you like the photographer and gives the photographer insight into what you are like, what personalities you have and what your comfort level is. He’s right, having a connection is key with not only your photographers but all your vendors. You are going to be working closely with them all throughout the planning process and being able to get along and like each other makes things much easier.

 

Reason #4 – Photographs have multiple purposes

 

“It’s great to have professional photos of the two of you in regular clothes, that you can use for announcements, save the dates or for a book or frames at the wedding,” says Rogers and Walsh. You really want to take a look at what you are going to be using the photos for. My husband and I, for example, just wanted really nice photos we could display around the house. We both hate getting our picture taken and would prefer to be behind the lens, so having really nice professional photos was important to us. We decided to go photo-free for our save the dates and our website focused that more on the event and not us since everyone knew us already.

 

Reason #5 – Give you an opportunity to make sure you like the work

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Think of the engagement session as your photography test drive. Greenstone encourages couples to really size up the photographer to make sure they like their engagement photos, as well as the photographer’s communication style. He encourages this because you want to eliminate surprises on your wedding day.

 

If you are not happy with the photographer once you see the finished engagement session photos, you need to reconsider your choice of photographer before signing a wedding contract. Aesthetic is not going to change for your wedding day, and you need to choose a photographer that matches your style.

 

Reason #6 – Captures magical moment in time

 

Being engaged is usually the shortest part of any relationship. I look back at our engagement photos and am instantly transported back to a time that really was such a special time in our lives. Engagement photos, as well as wedding photos, are so much more than a person snapping photos. It’s about capturing a moment in time, says Servidio.

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Leman says, “Being engaged is so unique and different and beautiful. This period in a couple’s journey together has a certain element of whimsy. The wait is what makes the wedding even more exciting. It is a special part of a couple’s journey. And this period of waiting deserves to be captured.”

 

We want to hear from you. Are you on the fence about getting engagement photos done? What are your concerns about them?

 

Join us for part 2 when our experts prepare you for your engagement photo day. Learn what actually goes on behind the scenes to help put you at ease and help rock your session. 

 

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