What you need to know about wedding photos taken and images chosen

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly post where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. Each week through December, you’ll learn from the very best so you can make smart and educated decisions when it comes to preserving your special day. Click on any photo to be taken to the photographer’s website. Bios are featured at the end to give credit to the photographer for their time and participation. This is not a sponsored post; no compensation was received or exchanged for the purpose of this blog post or for the promotion of the photographer.

Today’s blog post is written by Jeremiah Shaffer, Photographer

Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

As a professional who has himself experienced a wedding of his own, I know how important it is to capture every special detail of a wedding day. That being said, I spend a lot of time clicking away as events unfold, and then sorting through to select all the photographs that best represent the magic of the day as it actually happened. How many pictures I take is a very loaded question filled with ifs, ands, and buts. There are a lot of factors that go into how many pictures I take during a wedding day and I’d like to break it down the best way I can, in relation to how I shoot.


Now please keep in mind, other photographers may not do things like I do, which is great. Variety is the spice of life. There are certainly a lot of really fantastic photographers in our beautiful Hudson Valley, and I know that they all do their own thing a little differently and have very happy clients. They might take more photos or fewer photos, depending on their shooting style and what they guarantee their clients.


What determines how many images are taken?


For me, there are three big factors that will impact how many images I will ultimately take.


First, I generally always shoot with a second photographer but sometimes at smaller weddings, a second photographer might just be redundant. If I shoot alone, I naturally have about half as many photographs at the end of a wedding.


The second factor in how many images I take is for how long I’m booked at a wedding. You’d be right to think that I take more images when I’m booked for 10 hours compared to an eight-hour booking.


The third factor is the size of your bridal party. Obviously, if you have six bridesmaids and six groomsmen, you’ll receive more photos than someone with two and two.



How many photos are taken and why so many?


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

Generally during a wedding day — from me arriving, to me packing up — I will snap anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 pictures. But please beware, this is a very skewed number. Every time I take a photo of people (which is primarily what I’m doing all day) I take three or four shots of that one photo. Why? Because someone will ALWAYS blink. This is something that I learned very early on in my wedding career. I’d get home and start editing a wedding and in some of the best portraits of the bride and groom or guests at the wedding, one or more of the people I was photographing in a shot was blinking. Or mid-blink. Or about to blink. Or sneezing. And we can’t do them again. EVER. So, a trick I learned was taking three or four snaps each time I took a photo of people. So, with that being said, there are maybe about only about 1,500 to 3,000 actual individual shots. I don’t set limits for myself on how many photographs I take, rather I leave it up to how the day plays out to ensure I capture all the memories that may occur.


Do we get all those photos?


Not quite. Of those, maybe my camera’s focus was off for a shot or maybe the shot was a bit too dark. Maybe Uncle Tommy has a piece of cake hanging out of his mouth in the background of a picture. Those images will never see the light of day (unless it’s one of those “too good” pictures). I don’t give couples a “magic number” of photos that they will receive. What my clients will get is 500+ fantastic images of their wedding day.


If there are more, they get more. I see no advantage to me holding onto awesome pictures and not releasing them. So, if I’m your photographer, and you book me for 10 hours with two photographers and you have a medium-sized bridal party, you could expect to receive 600 to 800 final great images.


How many images do I need to pick for my wedding album?


Again, another loaded question and here’s why: Typically, when a client gets an album from me, I have them choose 30+ images to put in it. That’s about 20 pages worth of photos. However, your album can be as many pages as you want and there are a bunch of sizes available. They can be anywhere from 6” x 6” to 12” x 15”. And you’d be right again to think that I can put more images in a 12” x 15” album than I can a 6” x 6” album. 

Please join us next week when we hear from another great Hudson Valley Photographer answering the most common photo/video questions couples have


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Featured Engagement: Adam & Eve

Their Love Story…


Love finds us when we least expect it. “I just moved back from Florida in January in 2009 and was at a point in my life where I was comfortable with who I was as a person,” says Eveleese (Eve) Campos, from Liberty, NY.  “I didn’t anticipate meeting anyone and was more than happy being single and working on my education.” She had just recently enrolled in classes at Suffolk County Community College and Adam was listed on her schedule as her softball teacher. Eve was excited to see his name since she was friends with his sister, who had introduced them just a few months prior at a BBQ. That introduction made quite an impression.  “I even remember the outfits we were both wearing- me with short shorts, a GAP T-shirt, and brown converse and Adam was wearing a Parks & Rec shirt with jeans and work boots,” says Eve.

After that BBQ, Adam’s sister told Eve that Adam was asking about her, so Eve was really excited to see him on campus. Unfortunately, that never happened. The first day of class, Eve found out Adam had taken a full-time job somewhere else. But fate works in mysterious ways.

Bummed about Adam, and needing to kill some time before her next class, Eve headed towards the computer lab. Eve says, “I went to the computer lab and was surprised because he inboxed me on Facebook and started a conversation.  When I had to go to class we exchanged numbers and it was history ever since.”

The Proposal…


Fast forward to 2014. A lot has happened: New careers, new babies…new bling! Their proposal happened took place in the middle of a snow storm, the day before Thanksgiving and one day after they found out they were pregnant with their second child. Adam left the Police Academy (his new career) early that day because of the snow and told Eve not to shovel or do anything, that he would take care of it when he got home. “When he got home,” Eve says, “He did all the snow removal and came inside.  Still in his academy clothes he kept on calling our two and a half year old daughter into the kitchen. Finally when he got her to stay in there,  he called me in to the kitchen.  They were standing side by side and he pulled a box out of his pocket.  He said, ‘I know you have been waiting for this for a long time.’  He got down on one knee and the rest was a blur… I knew it was a beautiful speech and with tears, I accepted.  We both cried and hugged as a family, and of course, afterwards, my daughter wanted my ring for herself.”

What Are They Most Excited About?…


“The part of the wedding I am most excited about,” says Eve, “Is when we first see each other.  I think it’s going to be a beautiful experience and full of emotion.”

Advice For Engaged Couples…


“My advice to a new bride who is planning her wedding would be to  pace herself and elicit help from your closest friends.” Eve says,  “Try to get as much stuff done in a timely fashion so you aren’t overwhelmed at the end.”

Check back in a few months when we circle back with Adam and Eve to see gorgeous photos from their wedding this November at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor and hear all about their special day 


Gallery Photo Credit: Jessica Grund Photography


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What It’s Really Like To Have Your Dog In Your Wedding

“She came right up to us and leaned on my leg, and right then and there, I knew she was the one!” Everyone who has a pet likely has a story similar to this of when their pet stole their heart. Janel Solanki, who got married last year at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie, shared this love story she and her husband Nick have with their dog Sadie, the adorable 9-year-old German Shepherd/Collie rescue in the image above. “Even though we’ve only had her for two years,” Solanki says, “I feel like she’s been with us forever…She is wholeheartedly a member of our family!”

“We wanted him to be at our wedding because he is always by our side during our daily lives and why would we want our wedding day to be any different?” says Natalie Feist about her dog Brego, who’s been a part of her and her husband Mike’s lives since he was eight weeks old and played an important role in their wedding at Crested Hen Farms last year.

There’s no denying pets bring a special kind of love into our lives, and of course, it’s natural to want them to be part of the biggest day of our lives, but we learned that having your pet in your wedding is not always as easy as it sounds. There are many variables that play into you being able to have your “best friend” by your side. From the venue, to the sights and sounds, to your pet’s personality, there are many things to consider.



We spoke to Janel and Natalie to learn more about the roles Sadie and Brego played on their special day and tips and advice they have for any couple who wants their dog in their wedding.

What role should your dog have in your wedding?


Photo Credit: Arius Photography

There are hundreds of wedding venues in the Hudson Valley, but the majority are not pet-friendly. That doesn’t mean that venue owners don’t love pets, it just means that the venue may not be the safest or most comfortable for a dog to hang out in for hours at a time (except, of course, if it’s a service animal). If having your dog in your wedding is a deal-breaker for choosing the venue, the first thing you need to do is to check with the venue first to see if it’s pet-friendly.

“I loved the idea of having her in our wedding, either carrying our rings or standing up with us while exchanging our vows,” says Solanki, who ended up not having Sadie in her wedding. Many things came into play for them to decide to keep Sadie home that night. What the venue allowed, the 200-plus guest list, and the formal evening affair made them reconsider. However, not all was lost as they made Sadie a prominent fixture in many of their photos which were taken at home prior to the ceremony.

Brego, on the other hand, was living it up at Feist’s wedding, since Crested Hen Farms is a pet-friendly location partly because it has a lot of acreage for a dog to run around on. “Brego walked Mike down the aisle. While we were getting ready he ran around exploring Crested Hen Farms, and occasionally would run back to the bridal suite to check in with us,” says Feist.

What do you do with your dog during the reception?


Photo Credit: Arius Photography

The ceremony is just one part of your wedding. If you want your dog in your wedding, you need to have a plan for the dog during the ceremony, which can last another five to six hours after the ceremony and can make for a very long day for a dog to be away from their familiar surroundings.

“Our dog is accustomed to large crowds and loud music, so he handled it fairly well,” said Feist. However, as the night went on, things changed. Feist says, “We noticed later in the evening, as the party got more raucous, he started to become stressed, so we had a friend take him home.”

For Solanki, who kept Sadie home that day, they asked their neighbors to watch her. “Sadie is so well house-trained that we left her at my parents’ house where we were staying and had a neighbor check in on her throughout the night.”

Do you have a plan for your dog? Do you have a neighbor willing to pet-sit for the night? Do you have a friend willing to leave the party to take your dog home? If any of these questions make you worry about creating an “escape route” for your dog, you might want to reconsider their role in your wedding.

Tips for having your dog in your wedding


Both Solanki and Feist, who had very different experiences with their dogs, have some great, practical advice for any couple thinking of having their dog in their wedding.



Photo Credit: Arius Photography

Every dog is different, so it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to “rules” for having a dog in your wedding. Personality is huge! Solanki says some questions to consider are: “Is he well socialized? Does he get nervous and skittish around crowds of people, kids, loud music?  Is he well trained in basic obedience or does he jump on everyone he sees?…Is he a constant barker? A counter surfer?  Imagine your dog trying to take a bite out of your wedding cake!” If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to be safe than sorry and leave your dog home, and have them in pictures only.



Feist says pet-sitters are a must! Remember, you don’t want to be in charge of your dog that night; you want to have fun. She says, “Ask multiple people if they are willing to take turns as leash-holders, that way one person doesn’t get stuck with the job all night!” She also says to make sure the leash-holders are also familiar with the dog and willing to leave the premises if necessary to take the dog somewhere more comfortable. “We asked people who were familiar with our dog and how he signals his needs. Also, make sure that there is someone available to take your pet to a safe and quiet space if necessary,” says Feist.



Your guests


“While you may love dogs, your guests may not,” says Solanki. That’s a very valid point. Just like with music…just because you love heavy metal, that doesn’t mean your guests will and so you need to play music everyone will like. Just because you love dogs, and many people do, not everyone does. What if you have a young child at your wedding petrified of big dogs, or someone who sneezes at just the thought of a dog. These are things you may not think of, but need to take into consideration.

The “formality” of your wedding


Solanki also says to take a look at the “formality” of your wedding. “A formal indoor evening event won’t be appropriate for a dog, no matter how quiet and well behaved he may be,” she said. “But an outdoor, casual afternoon celebration might!   Ultimately, the venue, type of wedding, and personality of your dog will determine if he should be part of your day.”

So, we want to know if you are having your dog in your wedding. What made you decide to have him/her be part of your day or what made you decide to keep him/her home? What role is your dog going to play in your wedding?

Featured Photo Credit: Red Pepper Shots

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What You Need to Know About the Tone of Your Invites

There’s something about sending out wedding invitations, even more so than save the dates, that makes your wedding feel ‘real.’ This mailing will determine so much going forward. It determines your final guest count, it starts the ball rolling for seating charts, it gives you an idea of what your guests would like to eat, and believe me when I tell you that the first RSVP card you get back will make you squeal like a baby!

From the guest’s perspective, your invite is a treasure trove! Believe it or not, your invite is sending messages to your guests that go far beyond the who, what, where, and when.

Your invitations are actually giving your guests a sneak peek into you, as a couple and your style, and for some guests, that may be the first time they see this side of you. We already spoke about save the dates and what you need to know about them, but today we’re going to discuss wedding invitations in general.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty specifics in future posts, we want you to know that your invite is so much more than just a piece of paper. We asked local invitation experts to share their knowledge with you so that when it’s time for you to choose your invitations, you’re better prepared to make decisions. The unknown causes stress. My motto is: The more informed you are, the less stressed you get.



Your invitation sets the tone for your wedding


Photo Credit: Graphic Nature, LLC

Most invitation experts agree that your invitation sets the tone for your wedding. Amy Eddy and Stephanie McHoul, owners of Graphic Nature, LLC, in Fishkill, sum it up nicely in the motto of their business: “You set the date. We set the tone.” Eddy says,“”it’s the only thing your guests receive ahead of the wedding to indicate what kind of event they are going to.” McHoul says your invite is your guests first look into what your day is going to be like and that ”The invitation is always going to be a timeless reminder” of that day.

”Nowadays everything is custom, and that’s what we do,” says Eddy. “Invitations should set the tone for the wedding, should reflect the couple, the day, it’s the only thing your guests are receiving that they can keep if they like.” And remember, it’s also one of the few mementos you and your family will keep also.

Frankie D’Elia, owner and creative director at Fitting Image Graphics, Inc. in Carmel, says, “Your wedding invitation is a reflection of you both as a couple and your personality. It is also your guest’s first glimpse of the feel and vibe of your wedding.” He suggests that before you select your invitations (and there is a reason why invitations are one of the last things you do in your planning process…more on that in future posts) to talk to each other about what you want your wedding to look like and if you want any special theming. He says Pinterest is a great venue for inspiration but the great thing about custom invites is that you can make them whatever you want. “We suggest that you save these ideas, and share them with us when we have our first meeting,” he said. “We specialize in creating completely unique invitations; we can even combine ideas or themes from you!” So, if you want a classic elegant and formal look, and your partner wants a sporty theme, going custom can help you achieve that, and also gives your guests an opportunity to get to know you better.

Kristal Walden, owner Kristal Walden Graphic Design in Beacon, reiterates a lot of the same points, saying your invite “sets the tone for the actual day, it sets the tone for the wedding, it sets the tone for what your guests are going to experience, what your guests are going to expect.” She tries to capture the couples personality in each and every design, because “You don’t want to pick a design that your guests are going to look at and say ‘this isn’t them!’ It needs to be you.”



Which brings me to my last point. If reading all that makes you even more stressed and worried about if you are going to do something “wrong,” don’t worry! Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says there are no wrong choices and if you don’t want an invite that matches your theme, that’s OK! In the grand scheme, outside of you and your family “Nobody is even really going to remember what your invitations look like. The only ones who keep their invitations are the moms and the bride,” Stark says. “Go with what you like, go with what you can afford…it can be part of your theme, it can be something that sets the tone, but it doesn’t have to.”

Wedding invitation trends


Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics, Inc.

Remember, D’Elia said Pinterest is a great source for invite inspiration. However, scouring through Pinterest can be somewhat daunting if you don’t even know where to begin. So, we wanted to know what some of the latest trends real couples are choosing for their wedding invitations. Eddy and McHoul say the biggest trends they are seeing for the fall are softer neutral gold tones and deeper jewel-toned colors.

D’Elia says a lot of his couples have been requesting foil to make their invitations stand out. “Another trend we see is pocket invitations, which includes the invitation and wedding details (RSVP, accommodation card, hotel information, etc.) in one pocket. This is a very elegant and classy look and organizes all important wedding information into one place,” he says. Lastly, he points out that some couples even want that “WOW” factor…everything from custom shapes, laser-cut paper to look like lace, 3D effects known as quilling, to even invitations that light up…with real lights!! He says, “We even created wedding treasure maps and timelines as invitations.” So, as you can see, there is no right or wrong here. It really boils down to your personal preference and your budget.

In the next few weeks, we are going to dive deeper into the invite specifics, with a very special infographic to help you navigate the world of wedding invitations.

Featured Photo Credit: Design by Kristal Walden, photo by The Ramsdens

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Avoid These 3 Mistakes When Choosing Music For Your Wedding

One of the most agonizing (in a good way) parts of a wedding for me is waiting for all the reception formalities to take place, like the first dance and speeches, so that I can get on the dance floor. Don’t get me wrong, the first dance and speeches are romantic and beautiful, but I get itchy after a while to get up and move!

Knowing that people go to a wedding to have a good time, many couples often struggle with choosing the right music to play to make sure everyone has a good time. The unfortunate truth is that couples stress way too much over this.

There are mistakes many couples make, without even realizing they are making these mistakes, that cause a lot of added stress and anxiety when it comes to choosing wedding music. Sometimes, they feel like they need to give their DJ a list of all the songs they want to be played and then all the DJ does is play them. We learned already that a DJ does so much more than hit PLAY. Sometimes they think only about the reception and forget about the rest of the day.

So, we asked Hudson Valley DJs to share their best advice to help you choose music for your wedding without making the common mistakes that add stress.



Mistake #1 – Not trusting your DJ


There are many reasons why couples feel like they have to choose their entire playlist, but one of the things they need to do is trust their DJ. Some responsibility does fall on the couple in terms of letting the DJ know what songs they love or hate, what their style is, what specific songs they want to be played during special dances, but ultimately the DJ is in charge. Why?

Domenic Trocino, owner of DJ Domenic Entertainment in Poughkeepsie, says the same DJ can play the same music in the same order and the reaction will be different because of the crowd. “They (the couple) need to trust the DJ. That’s the most important thing.” Trocino says. “You are not hiring a DJ so you can tell them what music to play…As wedding DJs we do what we do for a reason and a lot of our execution is done on the fly. It’s always good to prepare the DJ with what’s important to you…but the rest of it, the DJ probably knows a little bit more about what’s going to make the day go right from an entertainment standpoint.”

DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls, says what couples don’t realize is the amount of songs time allows for, after cocktail hour and formal dances are over, is a lot less than they probably think. He says a typical wedding goes through around 80 songs for the entire day including dinner and cocktail hour. “We’ve got maybe about 50 dancing songs, that’s all we have time for…If you dictate each one of them to the DJ – he or she – does not have the chance to take a left turn.” Meaning, reading the crowd and keeping the party going

Donnie Lewis, owner of Your Event Matters and Illuminate Event Lighting in Hopewell Junction, says, “We don’t need couples to give us lists of music and we actually advocate against it, because 9 out of 10 couples aren’t paying attention to the guests in the room, that’s the most important part. The most important part about the music is just that the music is recognizable and that people know it and it expands all generations, and you’re not just playing four hours of rap music or hip hop.” Instead, DJs take your guidance and choose a wide array of music based on the crowd in front of them.



Mistake #2 – Forgetting about your ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner music


“More and more couples are using DJs outside of the reception,” says Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz. “They (DJs) set up at a location at the venue different than the reception space and focus on three songs: processional, recessional and bridal march.” He also says that the Bridal March is not as common of a processional song as it once was, with many couples using acoustic versions of songs or playing string instrumentals during the time guests are being seated. He says you need to ask your DJ if they provide ceremony music and what comes with it, such as wireless mics for you and the officiant so that your guests can hear you.

Lewis says, “There’s a couple other aspects of music that we always tell couples to pay attention to, and it’s dinner and cocktail hour. Those are crucial times.” He says that cocktail hour is the time that subliminally transitions your guests from ceremony mode to party mode, so you want to start off with some classic songs and end with more upbeat party songs. “For us, we always say that dinner should be upbeat and fun. We’ll keep them low key and less danceable songs, but more about what the couple likes. If they’re into country, play some country music. Or if you’re into really obscure songs play them during dinner.”

Mistake #3 – Not paying enough attention to lyrics and not using clean edits


Today, it seems like every song out there has a hidden meaning to it. There are so many songs that I love just because of the beat and the music, but when I actually take a step back and listen to the lyrics, I’m shocked sometimes to learn the song is all about sex or drugs.

I still love the songs and listen to them, but I certainly thought twice about playing them at our wedding. Now, are most people going to pick up on those hidden meanings? Probably not. But what everyone will pick up on are curse words. If curse words don’t bother you, great, but remember your guests.

Swatek says clean edits are a “…personal preference, but I see no reason to have anything but clean edits…I don’t see any reason to have language at a wedding that might offend anyone. If one guest is offended, it’s one guest too many.” He goes on to say that “even with clean edits, there are certain songs that are not appropriate for a wedding.” That’s ties back to what I said about listening to the lyrics and what they are really talking about.

You’ll find many DJs will only play clean edits, because, let’s face it, a wedding is a classy event, even if it’s an informal wedding, not a club. Lewis says, “We only play clean music. We always let them (couples) know to pay attention to the people in the room…” Basically, if you think your parents or grandparents are going to cringe at lyrics, you might want to reconsider.

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What you need to know before including your dog in your wedding

They say a dog is man’s best friend. As a cat owner, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say cats are best friends too. Anyone who’s ever owned an animal – cat, dog, other – knows just how much they become part of your family. It’s hard to imagine them not being part of your lives. So why wouldn’t they be part of your wedding day?

We’ve all seen wedding photos with pets or animals (such as farm animals who reside on the property for barn weddings), but there is a lot more that goes into having your “best friend” in your wedding than you might think. So we asked a few pet-friendly Hudson Valley venues, who have had dogs, fat sleepy cats, a parrot perched on the groom’s shoulder, a mini therapy horse and an occasional pig as guests, share what they’ve learned to help you and your pet have a fun, safe and stress-free day.

What does it mean to be a pet-friendly venue?


Baghdad and Cairo. Photo Credit: Crested Hen Farms

Ken Snodgrass, executive director at Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie, a 200-acre historic estate  once home to Morse Code inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, says, first and foremost, any venue will be able to accommodate service animals, “but for pets that are there for more ‘entertainment,’ you just want to make sure they (the venue) can accommodate them (your pet).”

So, what does it mean to be pet-friendly? Ripley Hathaway, owner of A Private Estate Events in Germantown, a National Register 1856 estate which was the former barn complex of the famed Livingston family, says, “A pet-friendly venue can vary in meaning. We allow couples’ pets to participate in their ceremony and to stay in our Carriage House on the property with the couple…We do not allow guests to bring their pets.”

Richard Rozzi, venue manager at Crested Hen Farms in High Falls, a National Register 36-acre former dairy farm founded in the 1790s, says, “Frank (venue owner) and I are both animal lovers and know how much they mean to people and become part of the family.” On property, they have 85 chickens and two Abyssinian cats named Baghdad and Cairo. “Since they are like family members we made the decision to allow our clients to bring their pets and include them in their ceremony and/or reception.”



Is your pet wedding-friendly?


Photo Credit: Arius Photography

Just because you want your pet(s) to be in your wedding, that doesn’t mean THEY want to be. Rozzi says, “Make sure that it is in their (the couple’s) pet’s best interest to do so. Some pets can be stressed out by crowds and lots of people that they are not accustomed to. As long as their pets are socialized and people friendly then we strongly encourage it.”

You know your pet(s) better than anyone and you’re ultimately the ones that need to decide if you want them in or at your wedding. Snodgrass says observing your pet in different situations can help determine how they will be at your wedding: “How do your pets react in non-traditional environments, do they really like a lot of people or do they freak out in a dog park?”

“Do they do well with strangers approaching them? Do you walk them or do they walk you?” asks Hathaway. “There is a lot of wildlife on our property from squirrels to birds to deer. Would your dog decide to chase them instead of walking down the aisle with you?” She says you also have to consider who’s going to tend to the dog. “Is there a really close friend or family member who would be willing to miss part of your reception to take the dog home…while you party for eight hours or more? If any of these questions make you doubt how well they will behave perhaps you should include them in your engagement photos when it’s just you and them.”

What if you want your pet in your wedding but know they won’t be able to handle it?

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

Hathaway brings up a good point: If your pet is not good in a crowd situation, you can use them in photos – either your engagement photos or wedding photos. Snodgrass says that happens a lot. “They’ll (the couple) bring their pets for photos before the ceremony.” He says that while it’s always a fun idea to include your pets “I think it’s good for people to have realistic expectations about how their pet is going to react to 100 plus people with loud music and loud conversations.” He recommends the ceremony might be better for your pet than the reception, but you would need to make sure you have a plan in place for someone to bring your pet home after the ceremony.


What are the “rules” and fine print?


When pets are involved, there’s more at stake. You need to be respectful of the space you are in and use the same rules that apply anytime you bring your dog out in public. Snodgrass says to always check what venue regulations are as they vary. At Locust Grove, he says, “Just keep them leashed so they don’t run for the Hudson River a half a mile away and tidy up after them.”

Hathaway says at A Private Estate, “All pets must be on a leash at all times… Couples are expected to pick up after their pets. Couples do need to fill out a pet release form stating their pet is up to date on his/her shots and that their animal does not have a history of biting.” She also says “There is a fee for pets staying the Carriage House as we want to make sure any dander or fur is gone before the next guest so the cleaning takes longer and we charge accordingly.”

At Crested Hen Farms, Rozzi says, “The only thing we ask is that the clients pick up after their pets and as long as they (the pets) are well behaved, leashes are not necessary. Of course, we also ask that they prevent them from doing anything destructive to the property i.e. digging holes, chasing our chickens etc.”



Other Tips


Here are some final tips if your pet will be attending your wedding. Snodgrass says to look for shady spots on the property where your pet can hang out and cool off while everyone is getting ready. He also says to be aware of the ceremony locale…is it inside or outside? He says, “We ask people to be considerate with their pets and so we usually think pets are going to be most comfortable outside.” Dogs and hardwood floors don’t always mesh well and can be dangerous. Plus the floor is cold and hard as opposed to softer outdoor spaces.

Are you planning on having your pet in your wedding? What kind of pet do you have and what role do you want it to play? Join us next week when we talk to couples who had pets in their wedding and what their experience was like.


Featured Photo Credit: Arius Photography

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Featured Couple: Lynne & Kyle

Their Love Story…


Lynne and Kyle met through mutual friends that were dating each other at the time. “Kyle and I met at my house, and technically on my backyard trampoline when I was 14 and he was 16,” says Lynne. “We went to different high schools. He went to Tuckahoe and I went to Somers… We were both in relationships at that time, but that was our first meeting – the Summer of 2002. Two years later, our good friend Ricky convinced me to give Kyle a shot and the rest is most certainly history.”

The Proposal…


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

When pets are involved, you know the proposal is going to be a good one. “It was our 10 year anniversary which was October 22nd 2014,” Lynne says, “and we had plans to go out to dinner in Katonah. We were on our way up since at that time we were living together in Valhalla, and my sister asked us to stop at my Mom’s house to let out the dog.” Frustrated by this request because she just wanted to go out to celebrate and not have to make any stops, she obliged since her sister said she couldn’t do it, and Lynne was the last resort…or so she thought. Once they got to her mom’s house, it was raining and Kyle had to convince her to get out of the car and help him with the dog. When she entered the house “The whole entry and first floor of the house was covered with red roses, lit candles, balloons and a hanging decoration that said ‘Marry me’. I barely saw all that until afterward, because as soon as I walked in, he was right down on one knee. He had been throwing me off for months, so it truly was the most surreal and exciting moment.” As for the dog, he was wearing a cute sweater with the ring tied around his neck.

Why the Hudson Valley?…


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

Lynne and Kyle grew up in Westchester and always loved the Hudson Valley. “We’re always outdoors and exploring new hiking trails, kayaking in Cold Spring and doing anything that gets us out and in nature,” Lynne says. “We came across the Chalet on the Hudson and knew it was the best fit for us. It had Breakneck mountains behind it and the Hudson River in front of it. It was perfect!”


Wedding Theme…


“I’d say our theme was somewhat garden-romantic-chic”


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer


Most Memorable Moment…


Lynne says “The most memorable moment was probably before the actual wedding when we did our first look. We were under a beautiful willow tree and it was the most special and romantic moment of my life. Seeing each other for the first time and actually being able to hug and kiss and get excited for all that was to come couldn’t have been any more perfect.”

Hudson Valley Vendors…


Venue: The Chalet On The Hudson (Cold Spring)

Photographer: Jeremiah Shaffer Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer (Poughkeepsie)

Flowers: Flowers by Reni (Fishkill)

Cake: Homestyle Desserts Bakery (Peekskill)

DJ: Much Music DJ (Port Jervis)

Officiant: Harris Bloom Weddings (New York City)

Invitations: Fine Lines of Katonah (Katonah)

Photo Credit To All: Jeremiah Shaffer


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The Little Wedding in the Woods and What it Taught Me

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how Millennials (and I really dislike that term because it has a very negative connotation) are opting for more simple weddings, where the focus is more on them and wanting a more personalized experience for their guests. I thought that was interesting considering that, for so long, the trend was formal and somewhat elaborate.


A few months ago, I attended a wedding that, while the couple was not a Millennial couple, fit that description and it left me with a new appreciation for weddings.


I’ve been to many weddings in my life…the smallest being around 75 people to the largest being over 250 people. They’ve been in hotels, historic estate lawns, tents and extravagant ballrooms. They’ve been DIY weddings and elegantly planned by professionals. They’ve had very short ceremonies and some have had longer religious and ethnic ceremonies. I’ve been in weddings and I’ve been a guest. I’ve traveled and stayed local. But this wedding…this little wedding in the woods left me speechless – speechless in a good way.


The wedding was small, about 25 people, just immediate family and close, close family friends, as in friends who are like family. The ceremony took place in a chapel in the woods of their local church. No bridal party, no bride or groom sides to sit on, just a very romantic humble setting for an even more humble and perfect union.


The wedding was not just a wedding, but a weekend full of festivities starting from dinner the night before, to an impromptu gathering of almost all the guests in the hotel lobby after dinner, to brunch the next morning. Everything about it was…well, perfect!


So, here’s what the little wedding in the woods taught me:




Bigger is not always better:


Photo Credit: WCHV

I’ve spoken about this before and I’m sure you’ve witnessed it too, that sometimes couples think a wedding is a competition. That their wedding has to be better than everyone else’s, that their wedding has to be so over the top that guests will never forget it, that they have to invite everyone they’ve ever known and make it this big spectacle. There have even been studies that suggest that couples who have larger weddings also end up with a higher divorce rate because they see their wedding as the finish line, not the beginning of a lifetime together.


Having a small wedding gives guests the opportunity to talk with one another, learn about each other (if some have never met before), see folks they haven’t seen in a while and catch up.


Small weddings also give you more control. You have the chance to speak to all your guests and gives guests the opportunity to speak to you. There is also less likelihood for something to go awry because there aren’t as many moving parts.


Family comes first:


The best thing about weddings is that it’s the only time you will have EVERYONE who has meant something to you in the same room. The unfortunate thing is that it’s the only time, most likely, that that will ever happen. That’s the one thing I miss about my wedding: seeing so many friends and family members together in one room. We’ve tried to recreate it, with birthday parties or vacations, but nothing brings people together like a wedding does.


If you have a close family, especially if it’s a small one, and really want to make each member feel important consider a small wedding. Each member of the family can contribute in a special way without feeling left out and without you worrying if someone’s feelings will be hurt.


Photo Credit: WCHV

No dancing…No problem:


Believe me when I tell you that I am all about getting my groove on out on the dance floor. It’s fun and you burn calories at the same time…win-win! But weddings don’t always have to have dancing…and that’s OK!


This was the first wedding I ever attended that didn’t have dancing, and you know what? It was still fun! We were still able to do everything you’d do at a wedding with dancing; enjoy cocktail hour, enjoy a nice dinner, the only difference was that the part of the ceremony where you’d normally be dancing, you were talking. Once folks got a few drinks, and ate, the stories and laughter just never ended. This leads right to my next point.




Experience matters most of all:


Many think that to have a great experience, a wedding needs to be over the top, when the reality is, experience is a very personal feeling. You can have the biggest, best wedding with all the bells and whistles and not everyone will like it, same with small weddings. For some guests, small weddings don’t cut it. They want to be wowed, and if not, they aren’t going to have a good time. So, the moral of the story is “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself!” (BONUS POINTS: if you can name the song that came from…hint, it’s an oldie)


If you want to know how to give people an awesome experience at your wedding, make them feel special, like they are a part of it. That’s really what it boils down to. Small or large, if you can make your guests feel important, make them feel like they are part of your big day beyond just sending them an invite, the more they will remember your wedding as one they had the best time at.


Small weddings = Easy-to-manage = stress-free day:


With bigger weddings, there is a lot to stress about because as I mentioned, there are less moving parts.


Worried about having to cut people because you are over budget? If you purposely plan to keep it small, and let people know, people won’t be expecting an invite and you won’t have to worry about inviting people you don’t really want. Plus, you’ll be saving a lot of money because you won’t need a big space or have so many mouths to feed.


Worried about getting to speak to all the guests while still having time to eat? With a small guest list, you become part of party and you can have the time to talk to every one of your guests.


Worried about all the little details or the drama? Well, if you have a small wedding, you don’t need a bridal party, you don’t really need a seating chart, you don’t have to worry about a lot of decorations or florals, and you don’t have to worry too much about a rehearsal.


Worried about spending too much and staying within budget? With a small enough wedding, you don’t have to worry about finding a big enough space, spending a lot on invites, or needing a big cake, a big bar or any other item that takes a chunk out of your total spending.


So, what are your thoughts? Do you want a small wedding or one on the larger side?

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13 of the most common mistakes engaged couples make revealed

There’s no doubting that being engaged is an exciting time in your life. The joys of planning a life together, the excitement of what the future will bring, being able to call you partner your fiance now and, of course, planning your wedding, is all fun and good.

However, that excitement can very easily lead to overwhelm if you aren’t careful.

All married couples, after their wedding is over and they’ve been married for a few months, realize that they’ve all made mistakes while they were engaged, I did too. Here’s the good news, though. Mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t learn anything from them. Now that you know what they are, you’ll be better prepared.

Mistake #1 – Not having important conversations with your spouse-to-be


I put this first for a reason. Before you even discuss getting engaged, you need to at least know how your partner feels about certain things such as kids or money. Did you know that if you are getting married in a Catholic church, you will need to attend Pre-Cana classes? Pre-Cana classes are marriage prep classes where you and your partner discuss the hard topics: Do you want kids? How many? What if one of you gets a job transfer? What do you do? What are your thoughts on finances? Household chores, Etc? It’s a mandatory class. However, if you are not getting married in a Catholic church, there is no need for classes. Some of you may be thinking “woohoo!!” but don’t underestimate this. Even if you aren’t taking Pre-Cana classes, you need to have these important conversations before getting married, and you need to have a plan if you disagree on something, because realizing you want kids and your partner doesn’t, or your partner wants to move and you don’t, after you are married is not a good thing.

Mistake #2 – Announcing your engagement on social media too soon


Photo Caption: Hannah Nicole Photography

In this day of instant news, it’s very easy to make a mad dash to Facebook or Instagram and announce to everyone you are engaged with a shiny picture of your bling. However, before doing that, take some time to really let the moment sink in. Not everyone needs to know right away. Tell your family and close friends first, make sure you two take the time to embrace the moment and enjoy what just happened. Social media can wait. You also want to make sure that when the time comes to post on social media, that you have a clear head and are sending the announcement only to those “friends” you really want knowing, at least for the time being.



Mistake #3 – Talking to everyone about everything!


Here’s the truth! People are excited for you, they really are, but they don’t want to hear about your wedding planning every second of the day. Think about it, you don’t want to hear someone talk about their vacation all the time, or the construction being done on their home, or family drama, or how cute their kids are, or how cute their dog is. After a while, it’s too much. Yes, people are interested, yes, they care, but limit what you say and who you say it to.

Mistake #4 – Making plans before you officially begin planning


My husband and I got engaged in early December, and we agreed that we wouldn’t start “officially” planning anything until the new year. With Christmas coming up and the New Year, it was just too much. We gave ourselves about a month to really take a breath, think about what we both wanted our wedding to be like, think about a date, etc, but it wasn’t until January that we really started anything official. If you start planning before the time you both agree on, you are really doing yourself a disservice because you aren’t fully prepared to make decisions yet. You’ll create double work, and who wants that?



Mistake #5 – Not giving yourself enough time to plan


If you are getting married in the Hudson Valley and expect to get married 6 months to a year out from your engagement, good luck! Can it be done? Sure! But will it be easy? Heck no! If you haven’t noticed already, the Hudson Valley is a pretty popular place for weddings, with many vendors booking at least a year (sometimes more) out. Don’t rush your plans. Take the time to pick a date a minimum of a year out, and if you want a summer or fall wedding, plan accordingly. Planning, while fun, is stressful, too. You don’t want to give yourself added stress by being under an unnecessary time crunch.

Mistake #6 – Choosing your bridal party too quickly


Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Just like your wedding isn’t a time to invite everyone you’ve ever known, neither is choosing your bridal party. I’ve spoken before about this very unromantic truth, that you don’t even need a bridal party, you just need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. Keep that in mind when choosing your party. You don’t want to look at photos 5 or 10 years down the line and have regrets because you asked someone just to even the sides or see someone you were friends with who you are no longer friends with now. Choose people who you have known a long time, have been there for you through thick and thin, or mean the most to you. This could be family or friends or a mix of both. Keep your party small too, because we all know that the more people you have, the more complicated the planning gets.



Mistake #7 – Booking your vendors in the wrong order


The three main vendors you need to check off your list immediately are the venue, photographer/videographer, and your DJ. Everything else can wait…sort of (see mistake #8). You don’t want to book your florist before you know where your ceremony is going to be because that’s a question they are going to ask you. Same with the limo, caterer, planner (sometimes). Once you get those main three vendors booked, then you’re golden and everything else will fall into place.

Mistake #8 – Not booking vendors soon enough


Ok, so I just told you that one mistake couples make is not giving themselves enough time to plan. However, having too much time can sometimes lead to procrastination. DO NOT procrastinate booking your vendors, even if you are a year (or more) out. As soon as you know your date and are set on it, then start researching and booking your vendors before they someone else does. You’ve heard the expression, “the early bird gets the worm”? Well, consider yourself a bird!

Mistake #9 – Planning too much too fast


While it’s important to get your venue, photographer/videographer, and DJ booked right away, remember that planning isn’t a race. There are great planning timelines that you can get from your venue or magazines (even online) that break down every planning step leading backward from your wedding day. You don’t have to book everything now, and if you try, you are setting yourself up for failure. You also add more stress because you are putting unnecessary pressure on yourself and not giving yourself enough time to think or change your mind about something either.



Mistake #10 – Overthinking the details


Details are what makes each wedding unique, especially personalized details, but what people remember most about weddings is the experience they had and the food they ate, not details so much. I can tell you from every wedding I’ve attended what the experience was like and what I ate, but anything after that is a blur. I don’t remember colors, favors, centerpieces, etc. And guess what? No one else will either. Do you want your wedding to be nice? Of course! Who doesn’t? but don’t stress so much over the little details because no one will remember.

Mistake #11 – Shopping for your wedding dress too early


Photo Credit: WCHV

I made this mistake. I went shopping for my dress a year and a half out! I really wanted a dress that had sleeves or had a v-neckline and at the time, but that wasn’t the style then. Everything was strapless that I then had to modify. If I had waited longer, the style dresses I wanted would have been in style because the styles started to shift right after Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, which was the day I went dress shopping. Your dress takes 6-9 months to make from the time you order it. Knowing that, around the 9 to 10-month mark, start shopping. If you go too early, styles change, what you want changes, and once you purchase your dress, there are no refunds.



Mistake #12 – Not taking time for yourself


I mentioned earlier that planning your wedding is not a race. You need to make sure that during your entire planning process, you and your partner are doing NON-WEDDING-RELATED activities. If your wedding planning is consuming every part of your day and night and keeping you up at night, you are doing something wrong and need to take a step back. Date nights, stay-cations, concerts or parties are great ways to just take a mental break from everything and refocus. Just like work…if you are working on a project all the time, you are going to get burned out. You need time to decompress and step back. Those times will become priceless aS your wedding day gets nearer and nearer.

Mistake #13 – Not being true to yourself


A wedding is a great time for people to come out of the woodwork and chime in as to what YOUR wedding should be like. It’s funny how that happens. What you need to remember is that it’s your day. Does that mean you have to go all “Bride-or-Groom-Zilla” on folks? No. But you do need to be aware that this is going to happen. The last thing you want is regret on your wedding day. Don’t let other people’s opinions persuade you into doing something you really don’t want to do. A wedding is a great time to practice compromise. If you want a really small wedding and your partner wants a really big wedding, maybe meet somewhere in the middle.  You need to be true to yourself so you can have the day you always dreamed of.

Featured Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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The Best Freebies and Discounts For Your Wedding Day

Who doesn’t like free stuff? If you are planning a wedding, you know just how expensive it can be, and to get anything for free not only helps your wallet and your budget, but also helps to lower your stress level. Getting something for free (or discounted) means it’s one less thing you have to worry about, and who doesn’t want that? You have enough to deal with.


During each stage of your wedding planning, there are free or discounted things you can get, from fun to functional, and so to make it easy for you, I’ve broken them down into different categories:




If you are a couple who plans to register for gifts, it can be a daunting experience especially if you need everything from a can opener to a couch. There are, though, perks to registering that will make it easier for you and your guests:


  • When you sign up for a wedding registry, each store will give you a list of the most commonly needed gifts a newlywed couple should register for — everything from pots and pans, to bedding, to china — and you can use that checklist to create a perfect wedding registry.

  • After your wedding, most stores will give you a discount on any item you purchase off your registry, that wasn’t purchased as a gift, up to a year after your wedding.

  • Some stores may offer you free gifts just for signing up for a registry and may even give you a gift once a group of items, such as a full setting of china, or a full collection of pots and pans, is purchased.

  • Your guests may also get discounts or free gifts if they purchase over a certain dollar amount.



    Showers, Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, Engagement Parties, Rehearsal Dinner


    Part of the wedding planning fun is the events leading up the wedding such as bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, engagement parties and rehearsal dinners. What makes them fun are the games guests play, and the food, but when the people planning these parties are usually in your bridal party, or your parents, they may not have a lot to spend on anything too fancy. But fancy doesn’t always mean better. Here are some great tips for awesome party games and discounts:


  • If you do a quick Google search, you can find websites with amazing FREE downloadable game ideas or templates, that all you need is a printer to make.

  • If you are having a party at a restaurant, ask if they have special rates for parties, or set menus for parties that may bring the cost down.

  • If the restaurant doesn’t offer any of that and the guests are left ordering off the main menu, ask the restaurant if you can limit the menu by choosing three or four items off that menu, and printing your own menus, this way guests can still get the great food, but you aren’t left covering a bill with 20 guests ordering the lobster or filet mignon.

    Wedding Planning


    It’s impossible to plan a normal day, much less your wedding, without a to-do list or a checklist to make sure you are getting everything you need to get done, done. Here are some tips to help you get through your planning checklist, including checklists themselves:


  • Wedding websites are a great way to inform guests about any wedding information you have to share. I highly recommend making one for your wedding, but make sure that you get one that is free AND password protected.

  • Planning checklists are a must! There are books you can purchase that help you plan every aspect of your day with timelines as to when to get them done, such as sending out invites. However, most bridal magazines will provide these checklists in the back of their publication for FREE. Yes, you still have to pay for the magazine, but a few dollars on a magazine is better than $20 or more on a book or binder. In addition, your wedding venue can provide you with one as well.

  • If you are crafty and are looking to print your own invitations or anything else that is going to need fonts you can’t find in your standard word processing software, you can find free fonts that you can download that meet the aesthetic you are looking for.



    Venue Freebies


    Your wedding venue is so much more than a place to hold your wedding ceremony or reception, they are an invaluable resource for tons of wedding freebies:

    Photo Credit: Majestic Studios


  • When you send out your invitations, your guests need directions on how to get there. While most people just need an address to plug into a GPS, some people may not have a GPS. There’s no need for you to drive the course or figure it out yourself because your venue can provide direction cards for you. You just tell them how many invites you are sending out and they’ll provide you with however many cards you need.

  • Another thing your venue can provide you with is a seating chart template that you can use to plan your venue space. Write everything out in pencil so that you can change things around or make a bunch of photocopies so that you can make changes…and believe me, there will be changes!

  • I’m sure you’ve seen really interesting and very personalized escort card for guests on Pinterest, but what you have to remember is that you either have to buy them or spend time making them. What you may not realize is that your venue can provide them form you. If you don’t really care how fancy they are, you can get them for free and all you would need to do is write or print names and table numbers on them.

  • In addition to escort cards, your venue will also provide you with table numbers, so you don’t need to worry about them at all, unless you want something really personalized

    Day of Freebies


    On your wedding day, you still need one more checklist, and that has everything you need to bring with you on the day of your wedding and your wedding night. There’s more to bring than you think. You can download your free wedding day packing checklist here



    Miscellaneous Fun Free Stuff


    If you are a lover of pop culture and the celebrity scene, you can send extra wedding invitations to your favorite celebrities. Believe it or not, doing this is actually a “thing” and many people love to do this because of the cool keepsakes they get in return. The most popular places to send wedding invitations to are the White House and to specific Disney characters. You can get a special greeting with stamped autographs of the First Family when you send an invite to the White House and from Disney, you can address your invite to your favorite Disney character and get specially signed postcards or trinkets from them. Everyone knows the address for the White House, but if you want to try sending an invite to any character at Disney, the address is Walt Disney World Communications P.O. Box 10040 Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040


    What free stuff or discounts have you received so far during your wedding planning?

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