3 Unique Ways To Say ‘This is Us’ At Your Wedding

One thing for sure about weddings is that they are very systematic. There’s an ebb and flow to them, there are certain steps that need to be followed and certain elements that are found in pretty much every wedding.

It can be hard sometimes, for couples to feel like they can express their individuality, to say “this is us”, or if they do, they then feel like they might be doing something “wrong”.

There’s an image that I love, and maybe you’ve seen it…it’s the saying is “Because we’ve always done it that way” with a big red “X” over it, as if to say change is good.

Weddings are a blank slate. Just because weddings have always been done a certain way, that doesn’t mean you can’t change it up. Yes, there are certain things you need to do like book your vendors, apply for your marriage license (which is time specific), send out invites, but outside of the “moving parts”, everything else is really up to you to create.

There are three elements to a wedding that are perfect for showcasing your unique personality and there are Hudson Valley professionals who can help you design your unique vision.






Forever Brooch Bouquets

Photo Credit: Forever Brooch Bouquets

When you think of a wedding, flowers are usually one of the first things you picture because the bride carries a bouquet with her. It’s usually always part of the look. However, what if you are allergic? What if you want something that lasts a little longer? What if you just don’t like flowers? Well, there’s an alternative!

How about brooch bouquets? What is a brooch bouquet, you ask? It’s a completely handmade bouquet usually made with fabric flowers and brooches, or all brooches and no flowers. Michelle Levy-Phelan (who you may remember from this article), creator and owner of Forever Brooch Bouquets in Suffern, NY says “These brooch bouquets are a great alternative to flowers because they last forever. They do not wilt, nor do they fall apart. No need to hang them upside down and dry them, because they will stay vibrant for years to come! You can eventually use the same bouquet that you walked down the aisle with as the centerpiece for your future dinner parties that you hold in your home. They will always sparkle.”

Levy-Phelan says brooch bouquets also become a keepsake. “The thought process behind them is that the great-grandchildren of the bride or groom can walk down the aisle at their own wedding with the bouquet in hand. They become a family heirloom.”

In addition, brooch bouquets are great ways to honor family, friends and loved ones too. “You can include anything in them,” says Levy-Phelan. “For example, brooches/jewelry from loved ones and friends, fabric and clothing from loved ones who have passed could be made into flowers or into the handle of the bouquet itself, picture frames with photos in them, as well as cremation jewelry to hold a loved one’s ashes while the bride walks down the aisle.” You can also use the bouquet as a way to honor those who mean the most to you by asking for a brooch or a piece of jewelry from every member of your family and friends and combine their brooches into a bouquet really making your bouquet extra special.



Hudson Valley engagement ring De's Jewelers Poughkeepsie

Photo Credit: De’s Jewelers

Your wedding rings, including your engagement ring, are another great place to showcase your personality. They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but it’s not the case for everyone. Diamonds are traditional, but if you want something different, it doesn’t mean you are doing anything ‘wrong’.

Dennis Fouhy, Vice President of De’s Jewelers in Poughkeepsie says gemstones are a very popular alternative to the traditional diamond. “There are a number of beautiful gemstones that can be used in place of a center diamond either for a price point or a custom look. Other popular choices are sapphires (a Princess Diana choice), deep green emeralds, the sky’s the limit,” says Fouhy.

Opened in 1964, De’s Jewelers, A family owned and operated, second generation jewelry store, has been around long enough to see almost everything when it comes to wedding jewelry, so they can help you make your ring as personal as you want. Fouhy recalls “A young lady wanted her diamond engagement ring to be ‘pretty in pink.’ Her one-of-a-kind design incorporated a magnificent Morganite set in rose gold.”

For the guys, the same rules apply. What if you don’t want a traditional gold (white or yellow) wedding ring? Fouhy says “There are a variety of contemporary metal wedding band choices. If your guy works with his hands or feels uncomfortable wearing a shiny gold ring, popular choices are the indestructible titanium, tungsten or cobalt chrome in simple or more elaborate designs.”

Now here’s a question…what if you have a metal allergy? Some people do, and if you are one, you don’t have to forgo a ring. There are great alternatives for you as well. “Platinum and palladium are great alternative metals for those with metal allergies,” says Fouhy.






donuts Glazed Over Beacon NY

Photo Credit: Peter Oberc

Wedding cakes have been a staple in weddings since the pre-18th century and stems from many different cultural traditions dating back to Ancient Roman times. However, while you may have a sweet tooth, traditional cake may not ‘cut it’ (haha..sorry, had to add that pun!)

If cake isn’t your thing, have no fear! Couples these days are doing all sorts of things in place of traditional cake. Everything from pizza, to pie, to ice cream and anything else you can think of can be used instead. Even donuts!

Lisa and Ron Tompkins, owners of Glazed Over Donuts in Beacon is a boutique gourmet donut shop giving customers warm, totally customizable donuts with a variety of toppings to suit their every taste. “I think donuts are a great alternative because you can give a variety of flavors,” says Lisa. She says guests can enjoy “Something as simple as a spiced cinnamon-sugar to something as elaborate as maple glazed with walnuts and a maple syrup & cinnamon drizzle or lemon glaze with coconut and a raspberry drizzle.  And people can eat them right then and there or save them for a sweet treat after the event.”

Lisa says couples have done a variety of different set-ups with donuts. She says, “We had one couple do a donut tower, but most have had them in nice little boxes with cute personalized labels to send home with their guests as favors.  Several have had them as their dessert table as well.  They had them placed on platters of varying shapes, sizes and heights.”

So, I hope this has given some ideas of ways you can incorporate your own style into your day. What are some unique elements you are adding into your wedding?


Featured Photo Credit: Forever Brooch Bouquets

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father daughter dance Hannah Nicole Photography

Stressed Out Over Parent Dances? Here’s What You Need To Know

Choosing to do a parent dance can be a challenge.  Why? Well, unlike your first dance focused on the happy, in-love couple, your parent dance(s) focuses on a relationship that can be complex, dynamic, good or bad.


We’ve all seen videos or photos of brides dancing with their dads, and groom’s dancing with their moms. We’ve even heard stories of brides dreaming their whole lives of dancing with their dad. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it’s fantastic and great!


However, if your family dynamic is one where you know that’s not going to happen, parent dances can cause a lot of stress for the couple.


If you are in that situation, know two things:


1)    There are no rules to weddings. There is no “wrong” or “right” way to do a parent dance, so you can do whatever makes you feel comfortable, even if it means not doing one at all


2)    There is always an alternative, and that’s where hiring a professional WEDDING DJ will make all the difference and make your parent dance a pleasant, not stressful, situation.




We spoke with some of the top Hudson Valley wedding DJ’s, who’ve seen it all, to give you some pointers for when you’re stressing over your parent dances.


Who will you dance with?


“With parent dances a lot depends on the relationship,” says David Fischer, DJ and president of M. C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill. He says that there are many ways to work around parent relationships and gives some suggestions:

1)    Some brides want two father dances, one with their biological father and the other with their step-dad.

2)    Sometimes, the bride’s father or mother might have passed away, so the couple might choose an aunt or an uncle or a person who has been like a “mother” or “father” to dance with.


Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz has these suggestions based on what he’s done with couples at weddings he’s DJ’d:


1)    Both the bride and groom and their parents dance to one song (that’s what my husband and I did).

2)    A biological father might start a dance and the step-father will step in during the second half of the song

3)    Brides dancing with mothers only


You and your wedding DJ need to have a conversation about your parent dynamic and discuss an option that’s right for you. DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls says knowing the family dynamic helps a DJ figure out what songs to play in situations that might be determined “awkward” for the couple. He says knowing that is essential to taking your wedding up a notch.




Finding the song


Once you figure out who you are going to dance with, if you are even going to do a parent dance, you need to choose a song. The one thing to remember with songs is that when you are listening to lyrics, keep an open mind. Don’t always assume a song is a love song for a couple. Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls says “some people have that perception that it’s a love song for a couple, not for my dad, not for my mom.” He says if you really interpret it the right way, it means love for anyone.


For example, our parent dance was to “Through the Years” by Kenny Rogers. Here are some of the lyrics:

“I can’t remember when you weren’t there,

When I didn’t care for anyone but you

I swear we’ve been through everything there is…”

“Through the years

You’ve never let me down

You turned my life around…”

“I swear you’ve taught me everything I know

Can’t imagine needing someone so

But through the years it seems to me

I need you more and more…”

‘Through the years

Through all the good and bad

I knew how much we had

I’ve always been so glad

To be with you


Through the years

It’s better every day

You’ve kissed my tears away

As long as it’s okay

I’ll stay with you

Through the years…”

It could be taken as a “traditional” love song or a love song to your parents.


Now, if you unfortunately have a parent who has passed, Swatek says there are other ways to honor that parent if you don’t want to do a dance. You can always play their favorite song during the night, and at that point, it’ll be up to the DJ to suggest how to incorporate it. An experienced DJ will know what to do if the song is fast or slow. He says if it’s a faster song, you can play it during the night and have everyone get up and dance to it for a fun moment. If it’s on the slower side, the song can be played during dinner or during a slower point in the night, maybe a slow dance during the reception. Either way, speaking with your DJ will help you make what could be a stressful situation into one that will create memorable lasting moment.

We want to know…Are you doing a parent dance? Who are you dancing with? What song are you choosing?


Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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Why You Will Never See All Your Wedding Photos

Today’s contributing author is Hannah Servidio from Hannah Nicole Photography


On your wedding day, your photographer will be capturing every magical moment, even moments you may not have even realized happened. You know they are probably taking hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands) of photos, so why then are you seeing much fewer photos when your proofs come back?


Hudson Valley wedding photography Culinary Institute of America Hannah Nicole Photography

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

We spoke a few weeks ago about how many photos are usually taken and how many you get to choose for your album, but there are many reasons why you don’t see all the photos your photographer takes.




Before we get into that, Servidio wants you to know one thing. “Before you think that we are holding precious memories hostage please be aware we are not,” she says.


Second, you need to know that photographers will rarely if ever, give you back unedited photos. Servidio says “Sometimes a photo looks absolutely awful before we edit it and who wants to see that.”


In fact, she has a great analogy. “Let’s say you go to a really nice restaurant and order the chicken,” she says. It comes, it’s beautiful and it tastes great but then you ask the chef if he can just give you the raw chicken. Doesn’t make sense right? That’s exactly how photographers feel when you ask the see “the other” photos from your wedding/session, and truthfully you’re not missing much.”



While Servidio understands FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a real concern for some couples, she says this is what you are actually missing out in the photos you don’t get back, otherwise known as “throwaway photos”. “Blinking, unflattering poses, photo repeats and my personal favorite, sneezing. Not only that but truthfully, some photographers do mess up. It’s totally normal and it happens. Whether we miss focus, the lighting is bad, or it’s just really not an interesting photo, there’s plenty of reasons we never give you a photo.”


Hudson Valley wedding photography Culinary Institute of America Hannah Nicole Photography

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

So if you’re wondering why you’re only getting back a few hundred of the many hundred photos you know were taken and freaking out over that, don’t.


Why? Servidio says, at the end of the day, you need to know your photographer is giving you photos that not only meet their expert approval, but will also meet your approval, and are of the highest and best standards. She says “We sit down at our computers and meticulously go through your photos. Every photo is looked at closely and edited to the styling you are accustomed to.” At the end of the day, she says “The job of a photographer is to give you all of the images that tell a cohesive story. Trust your photographer.”




That being said, she says “If you distinctly remember taking a particular photo it doesn’t hurt to ask about it.” There’s probably a good reason why your photographer didn’t include it in your proofs, but if it’s one you really want to see, it never hurts to ask. What you have to remember is that it might not have come out well, so be prepared and know that not all photos taken are going to be absolutely perfect!


Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) 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. This is not a sponsored post. Join us next week as our Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit continues with more great advice from Hudson Valley wedding photographers as they answer the most commonly asked photography questions. 

Hannah Nicole Photography

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Hudson Valley Balloon Festival Barton Orchards Poughquag Engagement Photos by Jeremiah Shaffer

Featured Engagement: Stephanie & Jay

Their love story…


“There are usually two things to remember at the workplace,” says Stephanie, “One, don’t put anything in the refrigerator and two, never, ever, date your boss.Unfortunately, nobody ever mentioned the protocol for falling in love with him.”

Well, Stephanie and Jay might have followed rule number one, but rule number two was a different story. “I didn’t believe in office romance but Jay quickly became my mentor, my rock, and most importantly my best friend. Of course, we proceeded with caution seeing we were in the corporate world and all, but it’s hard to resist your boss’s charm! Not to mention, office romances are frowned upon in most places.”

We all know what happens when people find out. “People at work love a bit of gossip,” says Stephanie, “Because there’s not much going on in a workplace other than work and any interesting news is definitely worth talking about. We even had to go as far as signing a ‘love contract’!”

Stephanie says, “Forming a relationship with a coworker is the ultimate mix of business with pleasure. At times, the recipe results in a toxic mess between two Type A personalities (like ourselves). But other times, things work out. You briefly become the power couple of the company and your desk-mate might just turn out to be your soulmate. I can’t wait to sign an official love contract with him this coming October.”

The proposal…


Hudson Valley Balloon Festival Barton Orchards Poughquag Engagement Photos by Jeremiah Shaffer

Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

The Holidays are such a magical time, as we’ve seen time and time again. “Jay proposed to me on November 26th of 2016,” says Stephanie. “It was one of those cold wintery nights where all you want to do is snuggle in, so we decided to decorate our apartment and put up our Christmas tree. Jay specifically wanted to save a certain ornament for last that had a picture of us in it. He was acting very strange, might I add, so I had a feeling something was up! By the time I turned around after placing that ornament near the top of our tree, he was down on one knee. So many emotions ran through me at that moment the tears started flowing. Not to mention, I was wearing baggy sweatpants with no makeup on so he heard about that later! Our proposal was intimate and perfect because it was just us. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

What are they most excited about?…


Stephanie says, “I am most excited about marrying my best friend and beginning this exciting new chapter in our lives, but if I have to pick a certain moment that I am looking forward to, it would be our “First Look”. Similar to our proposal, it will be a moment that is going to just be intimate. Our venue has an unbelievable space that was designed just for this. Gilbertsville Farmhouse will also have a ‘glamping site’ set up for us and our bridal party. Rather than one day of celebrations, we will have the entire weekend with our favorite people ‘glamorously camping’.

Advice for engaged couples?…


“The biggest piece of advice I have for engaged couples is to enjoy the moment and this period in your lives,” says Stephanie. “Jay and I personally took the route of a long engagement, because we did not want the stressors of planning a wedding to get in the way of the excitement. For example, the joys of creating more Pinterest boards than any bride truly needs. At the end of the day, it is about a marriage and building a life together. We have had the luxury of time in searching for the right venue, caterer, vendors, dress, and all of the other details that can normally cause minor headaches make us happy. Stay in the present.”

Photo Credit to All: Jeremiah Shaffer



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wedding invitation

How To Manage Your Wedding Invitations Like A Pro (Part 2)

Managing your wedding invitations like a pro can be somewhat tricky if you are not sure where to start, how to start, and how much to budget. There is so much to know that we needed to break this up into two posts.


Yesterday, we discussed when you should order and send out your invites and how much should you budget for them. We also went over the fact that postage is a separate cost outside of the actual invitation itself, so we went over how much you should budget for postage and what elements of your invitation can cause postage to increase.


Today is Part 2 of our guide to wedding invitations. We’re going to talk about the type of wording you should have on your invitations, what enclosures go in your invitation, how you should address them, why you should be ordering your invitations locally rather than through online shops, and the perceived difference your guests might have about your wedding if they receive an electronic invite rather than a traditional paper one.


RELATED: How To Manage Your Wedding Invitations Like A Pro (part 1)


Now, if you read down to the bottom of yesterday’s post, you would have seen that we’re going to be offering you a very special gift. Stephanie McHoul and Amy Eddy, co-owners of Graphic Nature LLC. in Fishkill, graciously provided us with an awesome invitation cheat sheet. Their infographic, “An Unofficial Guide to Wedding Stationery: The What, How, When and Other Tips,” is a great resource for you to easily see what trends are, common invitations terms are, what proper invite etiquette is and an ordering/mailing timeline that we spoke about in yesterday’s post.


Click the photos for a larger, printable view, then keep scrolling for Part 2.


What’s usually included in a wedding invitation (wording and enclosures)?


Frankie D’Elia, owner and creative director at Fitting Image Graphics, Inc. in Carmel, says, “Whether you are going for a more traditional or modern style, your wording should reflect your motif.  It should include the names of who is getting married, who’s hosting, and when, where and what time the ceremony will take place.”


In terms of enclosures, D’Elia says, “You will also want to include enclosure cards for your hotel accommodations (with your group name), reception, and RSVP.  Although not necessary, some couples want to give their guests notice of transportation times to and from the reception and a card highlighting things to do in the area, after party information, or breakfast details.”


We mentioned in Part 1 that RSVP cards need to be weighed separately because you will need postage for them as well. D’Elia says, “Providing your guests with a self-addressed and stamped envelope for the RSVP card is customary.”


How do you address your invitations?


wedding invitation

Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

There are so many ways you can address your invitations. Every couple is different, every style is different, and every wedding has a different vibe. My advice is to go with what is comfortable to you so it doesn’t sound like you’re trying too hard. I opted for handwritten, not super formal, not super casual addresses (Mr. & Mrs. for couples, dropped the title for friends, not in a ‘couple’). Kristal Walden, owner of Kristal Walden Graphic Design in Beacon says it all really depends on the type of wedding you want. Is it casual and laid back, or is it formal?


McHoul says, “If you want an ultra-formal wedding, do ultra-formal invites and addresses, otherwise no one is really going to notice.” However, Eddy says the names on the address label is really what’s most important. “The envelope does indicate who is coming to the wedding, if they can bring a guest or not, and if kids are invited.” McHoul says that when you order invitations, the couple provides the addresses. ”We give them (the couple) an Excel spreadsheet template to follow and we ask them to follow that and then we always ask them to please spell out everything they want to be spelled out.” For example, if you put “St.” but want the word “Street” spelled out, you need to submit it spelled out not just the abbreviation.


D’Elia agrees that the way you address your invites it totally up to you. “Some couples hire calligraphers while most of our clients ask us to print their guests’ addresses directly onto the envelope saving time, effort and money,” he said. “The formality of addressing the outer envelope is typically more traditional with the appropriate corresponding title of your guest followed by his/her full name. Using colloquial names or nicknames are uncommon, but of course, it’s your wedding so you can be as creative and individualistic as you want.” He does note that with growing families and blended families, the wording can get a bit tricky, so he suggests always reaching out to your stationer for help with whatever questions you have.




Why is it best to order local rather than from an online shop?


You know I’m all about supporting Hudson Valley businesses, and that being said, nothing beats speaking to someone face-to-face rather than someone from a different part of the country through email. It makes all the difference.


The first benefit is that you all can work together face-to-face and have a real-time conversation. McHoul says, “We always want to see their Pinterest board because they normally have one, and they will often times bring a swatch from their bridesmaid’s dresses, and we literally just talk.” You can’t really do that over the phone.


Second, Walden says doing your own invites is a lot of work, especially if something goes wrong (I can vouch for that). Having someone local take over that part of planning for you is priceless. You don’t have to worry about running out of ink, formatting issues, misspelled words or needing to order more of your invite only to find out that the store or online shop discontinued that design.


wedding invtiation

Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

Third, D’Elia, says a local stationer, through your conversations and getting to know you, can really customize something personalized and true to your vision. He also says you could actually end up spending more money ordering online. “If you notice a price online that’s too good to be true, it probably is,” he said. “There are also usually hidden costs that you won’t recognize until after your order is ready to be processed. Also, the quality of paper and ink used are usually not optimal for representing a high-quality wedding invitation.”


He even says sometimes the online companies will put their logo on the back of the invite and has even had several of his couples come to him after having done the online route first and being disappointed with the product they received. They come in angry and frustrated that they are now spending money twice and doing double work.


Lastly, D’Elia says, “There is an added value of working with a small company which is they can give you time and attention to detail and that can create pretty much anything you can think of.  We want our clients to actually see our invitation samples and interact with it.  It makes a difference knowing exactly what the end result will look like.”


What are the perceived differences guests have between paper and electronic invitations?


Many couples may want to save money and the environment by sending electronic wedding invitations. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all; but if that’s the decision you want to make, there are things you need to know.


D’Elia says, “Besides the fact that your invitation will lack the traditional feel, you run the risk that not all your guests will respond to you.  Not everyone has email, access to the Internet, or reads all their email.  Your evite might even end up in spam mail.” He says that while you might start off thinking it’s going to be very efficient, you may actually spend more time tracking RSVPs.


Another risk D’Elia says to watch out for in online wedding invitations is the perceived value guest have about your wedding. “You want your guests to think your wedding is the wedding of the year, not an afterthought. If you want to have your wedding details online, we suggest creating a wedding website instead. A wedding invitation is meant to not only inform, but also to get your guests excited and pumped for your wedding, and there’s no better way than receiving an exquisite invitation in the mail.”



We want to know how your wedding invitation process is going. Share with us your struggles or, if you’ve already sent out your invites, any tips you may have for those currently in the process.


Featured Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

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wedding invitations

How To Manage Your Wedding Invitations Like A Pro (Part 1)

I made a mistake — a costly, stressful, bitter mistake. I wish I managed my wedding invitations like a pro, but I didn’t. I, like many of you, imagined I would save time and money by printing my own wedding invitations, and so that’s what I did.


I got to the store and couldn’t find any boxed DIY invitation kits that really matched our wedding, so I settled for something that was close enough. They had four boxes left, but I got two because that was more than enough for what we needed.


I spent hours searching for examples of wording to put on the invitation, finally mixing a sentence from here and a sentence from there to come up with something we liked. I then got on the computer and typed it all out, spent about an hour figuring out what font to use, formatted it, printed samples to make sure it printed correctly and then held my breath as I hit “PRINT” to print the final invites.


Halfway through printing, I ran out of ink, so I had to run to the store to get more cartridges, then came home and resumed printing. I finally had my stack of beautifully printed invitations and was ready to stuff and assemble them.


We stuffed almost all of them before realizing the name of the church was spelled incorrectly! WHAT???  I was panicked!!! About two weeks had passed since I had originally purchased the invitations, so I immediately ran back to the store in hopes that the last two packages of invitations were there (which they were), and I had to start all over again. Only this time, I also bought another package of ink cartridges just in case I ran out.


The intention was good, but the reality was something different. I didn’t save time or money, and it certainly made the whole process more stressful than it needed to be. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the final product but didn’t necessarily love it, and I wish I had just hired someone to do them for us, in a style we liked that perfectly set the tone for our wedding and showcased our personality.




To help you avoid what I went through, local wedding invitation experts are sharing their advice so you can handle your wedding invites like a pro, without the added stress that I put myself through. Here are seven steps that will help you manage this part of your planning. There’s a lot to cover so today is part 1, and tomorrow will be part 2


When do you order your invitations and send them out?


wedding invitations

Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

When sending out your wedding invitations, you need to work backward. First, you need to establish an RSVP date. Frankie D’Elia, owner and creative director at Fitting Image Graphics, Inc. in Carmel, says, “Establishing a set RSVP four to eight weeks before the wedding is suggested so that you’ll have an idea of how many of your guests will be attending.” We set our RSVP date a month before our wedding and sent the invites a month before that date.


Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says, “They (couples) want to mail them (invitations) out anywhere between two to three months prior to the wedding.” Of course it all depends on when your wedding is and what’s going on. If you are getting married on a busy weekend in the Hudson Valley, say during college homecomings or graduations, you might want to give a little more time because it will allow your guests to book hotel rooms in time before they sell out from others who are in the area for other events. Stark says, “I don’t recommend sending them (invitations) out more than four months before (the wedding) because the RSVP just gets thrown on the counter, and nobody sends it back.”


Ordering too far in advance is not good for another reason. “I’ve had some couples order a year out, which makes me a little nervous,” says Stark, “because times could change, locations could change. If you spend $500 on invitations, and three months later you’re almost ready to send them out and the venue calls and says you have to change the time, you’re stuck. So I usually will say around the six- to eight-month mark.”


How much should you budget for invites?


The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is that the cost of your invitations DOES NOT include the cost of postage. That’s a separate cost altogether, as no one knows what that exact price will be when designing the invitation. We’ll talk about that next.


Another thing to remember is that you are not sending an invitation to every person, but rather to every household. Amy Eddy and Stephanie McHoul, owners of Graphic Nature, LLC, in Fishkill, say they see this mistake happen all the time when they ask couples how many invitations they’ll need. McHoul says, “’How many’ is not based on the guest list; it’s based on household address.” So, if you are inviting 300 people you’ll probably need about 150 (plus a few extra for keepsakes and photos) invites. It’s a common mistake because couples are always asked by everyone how many people they are inviting, so by the slip of the tongue, the number of guests comes out when asked how many invites they need.


wedding invitations

Photo Credit: Graphic Nature, LLC

That being said, there are many variables that determine the cost of the invitation. Paper, stamping, embellishments like foil or embossing, bellybands, pockets or shape of the invitation, laser cut paper, any inserts, etc. — it all adds up.


Kristal Walden, owner of Kristal Walden Graphic Design in Beacon, says there tends to be a misconception couples have when it comes to wedding invitations. “They definitely think that custom invites are going to be completely too expensive, when realistically, they’re not.” Walden says if the couple wants something very elaborate, they are going to pay more per invite, but she says, “Generally, couples usually spend $400-$500,” and if you ordered invitations online, it’s usually the same price, around $1-$1.25 per invitation (for a good base, knowing that you will add on to that).


D’Elia also says some couples want all their stationery to match. “There are a number of different wedding stationery necessities you will need,” she says, “from the engagement party, bridesmaids invites, save-the-dates, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, wedding program, menu, and extras, such as gift tags, thank-you cards, etc.” If that’s something you are considering, speak to your stationer to see if they can put together a package for you.




How much is postage?


NEVER mail out an invitation without weighing it first. Just take a finished sample, in the envelope, to the post office. Have them weigh the completed invitation, in the envelope, with RSVP card in it first, then take out the RSVP card and have them weigh that separately, too. You are going to need postage for both the invite and RSVP card. D’Elia says, “You don’t want to end up in a situation where you assume a standard postage stamp will suffice, and then your entire bundle of invites ends up back at your house all marked up with postal marks and stamps. The investment to ensure that your invitation has adequate postage will be worth it in the long run.”


Just as invitation costs fluctuate with embellishments, so does postage. If your invitation has a pocket, that adds weight. Bellybands, 3-D embellishments, etc. all add weight. If your invitation is square, that also costs more to send.


You also want to consider hand stamping your invitations. Hand stamping means that instead of your invitations going through a machine, a person goes through and manually does that. It’s great for delicate mailings like wedding invitations, but that also means more money. If your final envelope is lumpy or poofy in any way, if the envelope has a hard time sealing or has a wax seal, you want to consider hand stamping. Eddy says she always recommends hand stamping. “When an envelope goes through the machine,” she says, “it gets an ugly red barcode, and they get ripped sometimes before they even leave the post office.” Hand stamping ensures that your invitation arrives as unmarked and pristine as possible to your guests.”


Join us tomorrow, when we’ll not only discuss the next four steps to mastering your wedding invites like a pro, but also give you a very special gift from Stephanie and Amy over at Graphic Nature LLC. To help with all your wedding invitation needs.

Featured Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

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Hiring a Wedding Photographer? 6 Red Flags You Need To Be Aware Of

Today’s author is Kathryn Cooper of Kathryn Cooper Weddings


When planning your wedding, many couples spend quite a bit of time researching venues, tasting foods, and listening to bands. But given that the photos from your day (and video, for a percentage of couples) are the only real keepsake from your wedding, it’s vital that you research and find the right photographer for you two.

I’ve worked for years as a professional photographer, and have shot well over 100 weddings all around the country and the world. I absolutely love what I do, and when I’m not working for myself, I’m working with and for other photographers in New York and beyond. In my time working with dozens of other normal and, shall we say, quirky photographers, I’ve seen the good, the bad, the lovely, and the downright rude! I’ve seen photographers throw temper tantrums, yell at couples, and get drunk. There is a vast range of styles, personalities, prices, delivery options, and more to be on the lookout for when hiring a photographer for any event, and when it comes to your wedding, it’s more important than anything that you get it right.


Now then, here are some red flags you should be on the lookout for when hiring your photographer for the day:



Photographers can sometimes be pushy, rude, or just plain bored and uncreative. See how open the photographer is to your ideas, and how friendly he or she seems to be on the phone. Meet in person or even on Skype if possible, and make sure your personalities match. Remember: This person will be with you all day long during one of the most important—and often most stressful—days of your lives, so it’s important to go with your gut.

Is the person responsive to what you want and is he/she lending promising ideas? Would the person get along well with guests? I’ve worked with photographers who have actually yelled at crowds or gotten angry at people, and quite frankly, that’s unprofessional. We’re there to provide amazing shots and experiences for you, not instigate your guests! I’ve also seen shooters bring their significant others to weddings, start fighting, and really make everyone uncomfortable.

Similarly, you want to make sure your photographer captures YOU. A bored photographer will shoot each wedding in the same way. You’ll get good images, but they’ll sometimes seem average. A good photographer will manage to capture you: Your smiles, your reactions, and your interactions with the people you love around you. Take a look at a full wedding gallery or recent wedding on each photography site (almost all have these) and make sure you see the kinds of images you desire. I always make sure I’m listening carefully to my clients so I can guarantee they’re having a wonderful time! It’s extremely gratifying to have grooms come up to me and say, “I was stressed out and thought the photos were going to be an awful experience, but you made it all so fun!”





Hudson Valley wedding photographer Kathryn Cooper Weddings

Photo Credit: Kathryn Cooper Weddings

Even if you know nothing about photography equipment, it’s important to know a few factors. And don’t get me wrong—you definitely don’t want to question every lens and piece of equipment your photographer has. But one point that is quite important is that your photographer have TWO sets of equipment. Like all gear, things can break, stall, or just suddenly stop working at the most inopportune times. Imagine you’re about to walk down the aisle and your photographer runs up to you saying his camera is broken and he can’t capture anything. What would you do? Make sure the person you choose to work with has a backup camera or a second shooter because it’s too easy for equipment to just go on the fritz.



Make sure you know the final price before signing any contract. Many photographers add a tax on top of the packages offered or try to upsell you with prints, second shooters, or albums. If you’re interested in an engagement session and album or have a large wedding that’s great, but if you’re not, make sure you choose a photographer who isn’t pushy and can provide a package that matches what you desire. Is your photographer going to make you pay for every photo you want on top of paying for time? Know what you’re getting into before you commit.

Shooting Style:


Though many people know a bit about what they’re looking for, the majority of people don’t know just how different photography styles can be. Look thoroughly at each person’s portfolio, and make sure you know how your photographer describes him or herself. I’m a creative photojournalist, for example, but there are many types out there. Examples of photography styles include photojournalist/documentary, fine art, film, film/digital hybrid, artistic, traditional, and more. Just make sure you know if you want your day documented with lots of reaction shots, posed with a lot of lights, or something else entirely.

Red flags to watch out for can be seen in many portfolios, and they’re styles that are, well, never really in style. Too many tilted or skewed photos can look amateurish, and colorized photos—for example, a rose that’s red while the rest of the photo is black and white—look very amateurish. Do the photos have a lot of weird shadows (indicative of a poorly used flash)? You want your photos to look classy decades down the road, so make sure you’re not hiring an amateur, a student, or that random hobbyist your Aunt Betsy used to work with back in the ‘60s.



Editing Style:


Hudson Valley wedding photographer Kathryn Cooper Weddings

Photo Credit: Kathryn Cooper Weddings

In terms of editing styles, there are so many different ones: Dark and moody, film-like, natural, light, and more. I edit minimally and with a very natural editing style, but some photographers Photoshop your face to look like a porcelain doll, so to me, that’s a red flag. If you’re looking for a high-fashion model-like wedding experience, then maybe that’s up your alley, but hey, that’s just me.

Almost every photographer has a unique editing style. There are even many people who edit using colorization similar to Instagram filters, so if you’re into that, great—but make sure you truly love the photographer’s final style! If you’re having a ceremony in a castle and are hiring a fine art photographer to take fancy portraits, that person will probably also edit you and your face to look quite different. Verify that you desire that, and that you’re not hiring someone who is going to make you look and feel like someone you’re not!

Image Delivery:


It’s hard to trust reviews since many review sites can be doctored these days. I also know plenty of great photographers who have almost no reviews or testimonials—there’s very little correlation! What is important, however, is that customers are happy. One thing customers often get unhappy about, however, is late delivery. I know photographers who still haven’t delivered images 9 months or a year down the road, and I’ve heard in forums of clients having photographers disappear on them. This is of course quite rare, but make sure you have a contract that states when the images will be delivered, and approximately how many images you’ll receive.

There’s really no excuse to wait for images for 6 or 8 months. 1-3 months is average because all of the organizing and editing from a 10-hour wedding day takes quite a long time. Still, no one wants to wait a year to see wedding photos! You might speak with a former customer first, look at the contract, or ask how long it will take to get your final images.

In general, having your wedding photos taken should be fun, not stressful. I don’t love having photos taken myself, so when I have clients who feel the same, I empathize and make them as comfortable as possible. I try to be upfront and myself with all my clients throughout the process. If you feel your photographer is moody, bossy, uninterested, irresponsible, or bored, your photos will likely reflect that. Choose a photographer who will capture incredible photos for you two to treasure for the rest of your lives!

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) 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. This is not a sponsored post. Join us next week as our Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit continues with more great advice from Hudson Valley wedding photographers as they answer the most commonly asked photography questions. 

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How to find your bridesmaids

Everything You Need To Know To Have A Drama-Free Bridal Party

A few weeks ago, we got some great advice from bridal party experts about how to choose your bridal party. We learned how to narrow down your bridal party and choose those who really mean the most to you. We learned about how many people you should choose and the worry that many brides have about sides being equal in number. We also learned that the bride’s side doesn’t always have to be all women, and the groom’s side doesn’t have to be all men.


When I was getting married, I actually had two maids of honor. A little non-traditional, but remember, you can make weddings anything you want them to be. There are no “rules,” really, and you can do whatever you like to make your wedding as personal as you want.


My husband and I are both only children and so our closest friends are really like the siblings we never had. So of course, the people we chose to be Maid of Honor and Best Man were our oldest and dearest friends. Our Best Man and my husband have been best friends since 1st grade, so that was a no-brainer. I knew my Maids of Honor since I was in 6th grade.


So, why did I choose two? Simple. Because I could. But really, it was because I met them both on the same day and the three of us did everything together. I felt like I had to choose a favorite by picking one, and it was something I couldn’t do.



Today, we’re reaching back out to our bridal party experts, Angela Napoletano and Beth Palmisano, friends and co-owners of Dear Bridesmaid based in Virginia, and Jen Glatz, a professional bridesmaid, based in New York City, and the founder of the website Bridesmaid for Hire and author of “Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire).”


We’re going to discuss what happens after you choose your bridal party and what you need to know if you are chosen to be in a bridal party as a Bridesmaid or Maid of Honor to keep it all stress-free and drama-free.


Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz

Photo Credit, Jen Glantz



Regardless of your “role,” the Bridesmaids, Maid of Honor, Best Man and Groomsmen all have to do this one thing above everything else. That is, be a good friend! Glatz says, “Simply put – be a good friend. Really, that’s it. Everything else are requests the bride (or groom) asks you to do and those requests should be fair and not over the top.”


“After that, responsibilities will vary based on family traditions, budget, location etc.,” says Palmisano. “The best thing to do when you accept this role is to ask questions and really understand the bride’s expectations. Pro-tip: if your life and schedule don’t fit their description, talk it over with the bride (or groom) right away.”


So what can you expect…?


If you’re a bridesmaid, Palmisano says, “Sometimes responsibilities are exactly what you think when you hear bridesmaid – hosting and/or attending parties, sitting through band auditions, dress shopping and – if you’re lucky – tasting cake.” Other times, says Palmisano, your responsibilities may include “being there for a vent session, airport pickups, setting and maintaining budgets and so much more.”


If you’re the Maid of Honor (MOH), your duties may be similar plus more and are more public. “MOHs publicly hold the flowers, puff the train and sweetly toast the couple,” says Palmisano. “Behind the scenes, MOH acts as the ring leader and delegator. If the MOH can only take on the public duties it’s important for her to find someone else on ‘Team Bride’ to handle logistics – especially if the bridal party volunteers to hold a trip or party.”


That brings up a good point…whose duty is it to throw the shower, bachelorette party or any other trip or party that happens during the engagement? “Technically hosting is not a required duty of any bridesmaid, including the MOH,” says Palmisano. “That being said, any member of the bridal party can host or help host parties if she’d like, but shouldn’t feel obligated.”


For example, my aunt threw my shower and my maids of honor threw my bachelorette party. However, my maids of honor communicated with me all the time and asked me if I wanted a surprise bachelorette party if I wanted a big one, a small one, and what I wanted to do.




What happens if you invite a person to be in your bridal party and they can’t afford to be in it?


Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz

Photo Credit: Susan Shek

Budgets are tight for everyone, the bridal party included. By the time the members of your party pay for their dress, hair and makeup, manicures, pedicures, travel, gifts, or parties, costs can add up pretty fast! If you find yourself in a bridal party and are on a tight budget, Glatz says, “Speak with the bride. Let her know that you don’t have the cash and that you’d like to still be a bridesmaid but on a budget.” Palmisano agrees. She says, “If you know it’s too much for your personal budget, transparency from the beginning is the way to go. The bride will understand and in the end, you’ll both be less stressed.”


If you are a bride and someone in your party says they can’t afford it, the number one thing you must do is NOT judge. Facts are facts and if they can’t afford to be in your bridal party, accept their decision to decline the invite to be in your party, or try to work on some budget friendly aspects. For example, try to choose a dress that’s affordable for everyone, try to limit travel, maybe chip in for their hair or makeup (they are your besties after all).


What about bridal party drama?


Now, here’s the most important thing you need to know about bridal parties…DRAMA IS NOT ALLOWED! I mean it!


Brides, you have every right to dismiss a person in your bridal party if they bring the drama. Glatz says, “If someone is bringing more stress into your life, don’t hang on to them. Just because you asked them to be a bridesmaid does not mean you can’t later say never mind because they are making your wedding adventure miserable.”


So If you are asked to be in a bridal party, know that the privilege can be taken away at any moment if you bring on the drama. It’s NOT your wedding and you need to respect the bride and groom’s vision, within reason of course.


But here’s the good news. Just as the bride has the right to dismiss a dramatic member of the bridal party, you have the right to excuse yourself from the bridal party as well. If you are dealing with a downright evil “Bridezilla” or “Groomzilla,” or if either one isn’t respecting your budget or your concerns, you have the right to leave as well. Now, the few weeks leading up to the wedding may be extra stressful, so you can expect nerves to be on edge and people to be a bit snippy, but if this behavior is happening right from the beginning, it’s just going to get worse and you don’t want to be a part of that.


We want to know…who is in your bridal party? What concerns have come up for you, if any?


Featured Photo Credit: Man in the Moon Studios Photography

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How Much Time Should You Allow In Your Day For Your Wedding Photos?

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) 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. This is not a sponsored post.


Today’s contributing author is Rose Schaller of Rose Schaller Photo



If you don’t have a planner for your wedding, your wedding photographer is your next best resource for helping you plan a wedding day timeline. Why? Because they are the only other wedding vendor that will be with you all day. They know how long photos take and based on the timing and location of your ceremony and reception, can help you work backwards to figure out how much time you need to build in for photos, when you should start to get ready, how long you need for family and styled photos and how many places you can go for photos based on the time you have.


For example, I had a three-hour break between my ceremony and reception. I had 5 places on my list for photos, and our photographer was educated enough to tell us that even though three hours may seem like a lot of time, it actually goes by much faster than you think. Those three hours included time for posed shots with family and our bridal party, included travel, and included time to pose everyone, which, depending on how large your bridal party is, could eat up some time. He also wanted us to make sure we were at our venue in time to enjoy cocktail hour.




Hudson Valley wedding photography Rose Schaller Photography

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

His insight was invaluable as he helped us narrow down our choices of locations to those closest to our venue instead of locations further away. The end result was that we weren’t rushed, we had plenty of time to take photos and a few fun ones, and made it back in time for cocktail hour.


Today, we’re speaking to Rose Schaller of Rose Schaller Photography to help you plan how much time you should include into your wedding day timeline for posed and styled photos. Each couple and each wedding will have a different timeline, so this is merely a starting point to give you an idea of what to expect. It’s very important that you speak to your photography to set up the perfect timeline for you.


Despite the fact that each wedding is different, they are similar in that they all have the same “parts” or “stages”. Schaller says “Images are captured all throughout your wedding day so time should be allowed during each part to take photos. Not all photos will be staged and posed but still, having time in your timeline for them will allow the photographer to capture those little moments that you may forget.”




So, what are these stages? Well, outside of the obvious ceremony and reception, there are three areas that are usually designated for posed and candid shots. These are:


Getting ready:


Hudson Valley wedding photography Rose Schaller Photography

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

“I would add 30 mins to your getting ready time schedule to allow your photographer time to take photos of you getting ready, as well as your bridal party getting ready and celebrating, and maybe even seeing you for the first time with your veil on and ready to walk down the aisle,” says Schaller. “Having that extra time in your getting ready section of your day allows the ability for these moments to take place.”


First look:


“The next block of time that I ask for is the First look,” Schaller says. “Again, a half hour is more than enough time and we will probably not use all that time but the longer you have, the more time the two of you will have alone prior to the wedding.”


Formal portraits (which can happen before or after the ceremony):


Hudson Valley wedding photography Rose Schaller Photography

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

Formal portraits can be broken down into four categories: Couples photos, wedding party, family, and maybe some friends. Schaller says “I usually recommend to set aside an hour to an hour and a half. If you see each other beforehand for a first look, you (couple, wedding party, family) will want to all be back in your suite 30 mins prior to your service. That is when guests start to arrive.” What if you don’t want a First Look? “If you decide not to see each other ahead of time,” says Schaller, “then the cocktail hour would be when these (formal) photos would be happening.”


But here’s the most important piece of advice. ALWAYS PLAN EXTRA TIME! Schaller says, “If you plan an extra 15 –20 mins throughout your day you will have plenty of time to relax and

enjoy your family and guests and that is where the true moments are captured.” She says it’s impossible to plan every second of your day because, if you do, she says “You won’t have a second to stop and enjoy your day. It will go by fast enough without every minute being planned. Free time at your wedding is a wonderful thing!”

Join us next week as our Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit continues with more great advice from Hudson Valley wedding photographers as they answer the most commonly asked photography questions.

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Hudson Valley wedding at The Grandview Poughkeepsie photo by J. Ferrara Photography

Featured Couple: Julia & Steven

Their Love Story…


“We met at a bar in Brooklyn,” says Julia. “We were both out with friends, and both asked our friends to facilitate us meeting each other. A few weeks later, Steven moved to San Francisco, and a few months after that, I followed. We lived in the Bay area for three years, but knew we wanted to end up back in the same Brooklyn neighborhood we met in, Fort Greene. We now live a few blocks from that bar, over 10 years later!”

The Proposal…


Hudson Valley wedding at The Grandview Poughkeepsie photo by J. Ferrara Photography

Photo Credit: J. Ferrara Photography

It was quite the romantic setting, a picnic in the park. Prospect Park in Brooklyn to be exact. Julia says they were “…Laying down looking up at the trees and the sky holding hands. It was a beautiful spring day, very private, casual and a total surprise.” Steven even used Julia’s great grandmother’s ring!

Why the Hudson Valley…?


“Steven has a big family, most of whom live in the Hudson Valley,” says Julia. “So it made sense to do it somewhere near a lot of people, but also accessible from NYC where most of our friends are. The fact that the area is absolutely gorgeous doesn’t hurt, either.”

Wedding Theme…


“We didn’t have a theme,” says Julia. “We both love parties and bringing people together, and didn’t worry about that stuff (themes). We put pieces together that we liked – music, decorations, clothes, etc. – and just figured that out organically.”

Most Memorable Moment…


Hudson Valley wedding at The Grandview Poughkeepsie photo by J. Ferrara Photography

Photo Credit: J. Ferrara Photography

Julia says, “We were incredibly lucky to get the most amazing fireworks show right on the Hudson outside the venue! We were all dancing and having fun, when we were ushered outside. All of a sudden fireworks started going off, and everyone got to go outside and watch them right from our wedding space! It was truly magical, a moment to remember for sure.”

Hudson Valley Wedding Vendors


Venue: The Grandview (Poughkeepsie)

Photographer: J. Ferrara Photography (Cornwall)

Centerpieces: Keep Furniture (Steven’s woodworking business) Julia says “That was the most beautiful personal touch to us. Each one is a unique, steam-bent hardwood sculpture with flowers – handmade by the groom!”

Photo credit to all: J. Ferrara Photography



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Hudson Valley wedding photographer Jeremiah Shaffer

7 Things You Need To Do If Severe Weather Threatens Your Wedding Day

No matter how much time or money you spend planning your wedding, there is always that one unpredictable factor no one can see coming. That, of course, is the weather. What do you do when Mother Nature has plans to crash your wedding? Well, unfortunately, nothing. No matter how hard you try, you can’t control what she has in store. However, what you CAN control is how prepared you are for such an event.


Up here in the Hudson Valley, we’re nestled away within the mountains and rarely see the devastation and destruction hurricanes like Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey have wreaked. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve seen our fair share of weather disasters; flooding, tornadoes, and let’s not forget the dreaded four-letter word…SNOW! Remember that time a blizzard dumped 2 feet of snow on us…IN ONE DAY!

Now, rain or snow is something no one ever really wants on their wedding day, but, at least it’s manageable and can make for some really cool photo ops. But when Mother Nature is fuming mad and just wants to destroy everything in her path, you can take a proactive approach to making sure that you are prepared just in case the worse weather event was to happen on your wedding day.

Plan ahead


Photo Credit: WCHV

You know your area’s weather patterns and one of the ways you can try to avoid severe weather disasters is to plan your wedding in a season that is not typically known for severe weather.  For example, it’s safe to say that winter can be brutal in the Hudson Valley. Some people love the winter and have always dreamed of having a “winter wonderland” themed wedding. Others want to save money on their wedding by having a wedding in the winter, which is typically the “off” season. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those scenarios, you just need to be aware that any wedding planned between late October and late April in the Hudson Valley can bring with it unexpected white stuff. A few inches here or there isn’t really much to be too concerned about, but when you have blizzards and a State of Emergency issued, then you have problems. If you’re ok with possibly having snow to contend with at your wedding, go for it! If not, you may want to plan for a different season. Of course, as we all know the weather has it’s quirks at other times of the year as well, but they summer, fall and spring seem to be a bit “safer” and more “predictable”.


Have a conversation with your vendors


Today, the weather never really comes as a surprise. You know a few days ahead of time what the weather is going to be, so if you have a wedding planned during a time when severe weather is predicted, you NEED to contact your vendors IMMEDIATELY, and not by email or text. You need to CALL THEM right away, express your concerns and discuss a contingency plan. It’s always better to have a plan “B” in your pocket and not need it, then to need it and not have one. Chances are, if you and live in the same area as your vendors, they’re going to be affected too. What do they plan on doing if severe weather strikes? Do they have different days available if you need to reschedule? Do they have a sister venue they can move your wedding to that may not be affected by weather? Do they have suggestions, from their experience, as to what you should do about the impending severe weather such as keeping it scheduled as planned or rescheduling it? Even with a simple rainy day, you want to make sure your venue and all your vendors are prepared for a plan “B” if your ceremony was going to be outside and you need to move it inside.



Check your contracts


Now is a good time to review your vendor contracts. Honestly, you need to have this discussion right at booking, but if it’s been a while since you’ve looked at your vendor contracts, pull them out. Many contracts should have a clause (and if not, make sure you can have one put in) that explains what to do if there is an emergency, whether related or not. What if you or your partner ends up sick in the hospital? What if a freak storm sweeps through the area and a tree falls on your photographer’s or DJ’s car or house and they can’t get to your wedding? What if the venue gets flooded? What if, there’s a blizzard and there’s two feet of snow on the ground and the whole city and surrounding area is under a State of Emergency? You need to know how everyone will be prepared, how your DEPOSIT will be handled, and how to navigate a reschedule if need be. You also want to review what happens if your guests can’t make it. Are you still going to have to pay for no-shows or will you get something in exchange for the price of their plate, like an upgrade in appetizers or dessert or an extra comp hotel room?

Reach out to guests


Hudson Valley wedding photographer Jeremiah Shaffer

Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

You need to keep your guests in the loop. Remember, some may be coming from hundreds of miles away and you want to give them enough notice to change their travel plans if need be. This is where having a wedding website comes in handy. You can post updates there, but in addition to that, make sure you CALL each and every guest to keep them aware of the situation and to fill them in on any changes that may be coming. Be prepared that if severe weather is predicted, and if all “systems are go”, some guests may still not be able to come. Also, keep in mind that if you do need to make the choice to reschedule your wedding, some guests may not be able to make it to your new date either, depending on when you reschedule.


Reach out to travel providers


Chances are, you and your spouse will probably be taking a honeymoon right after your wedding. So, while you may not be experiencing bad weather where you are getting married, severe weather may be happening where you plan on honeymooning. Well, we all know that severe weather never lasts just one day. There’s often times a residual mess that a hurricane or blizzard leave in its wake. which, can be just as messy (and devastating) as the weather itself. If you are flying, driving, staying at a hotel or cruising anywhere, you want to make sure you contact your travel providers ASAP to see what their protocol is, if, for any reason you need to cancel or delay your honeymoon.

Another tip is when you book your honeymoon, make sure you take out travel insurance for just this reason. When my husband and I honeymooned, we took out insurance on our cruise. Well, wouldn’t you know, Hurricane Sandy was just starting off as a Tropical Depression and we were chasing it the whole way home. Thankfully, everything was fine and it wasn’t until we got home that it turned into what it was, but imagine if we did cruise a week later and were in the full midst of it, with no insurance?



Hire a planner


If you are really concerned about severe weather ruining your wedding, you might want to consider hiring a planner. A planner is trained and certified to be the eyes and ears for you. They can take care of the vendor contracts, and help you find a new date or venue (if need be). You can then decide, based on the information they give you, and the information you received from your vendors, whether to keep your date or reschedule. You will still need to do some work, such as reaching out to your guests, but they will do the heavy lifting for you and create or recreate your day to exactly the way you wanted it if severe weather strikes.

Make the best of it


Last, but not least, “Turn lemons into lemonade”. Say, for example, your wedding is on a Saturday and there is a snow storm predicted for that day, but the day before is predicted to be sunny and clear. If the snow isn’t going to accumulate to much, but enough to make it bad for travel, you might want to consider asking guests who can or want to, to come a day early, on Friday, and make a weekend out of it. Not only will they be in town for your wedding and won’t have to worry about traveling in bad weather the day of, but you can hang out in your hotel, have brunch the next day, turn what could be a terrible situation into one that is unexpectedly more fun and memorable than what you originally planned. This will work especially well if your ceremony and reception are going to be at the same place and if that venue also offers lodging, such as a hotel.

We want to hear from you. If you are already married, did you face any weather challenges, and if so, what were they and how did you handle them?


Featured Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

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Destination Weddings: What You Need to Know About Hiring Your Photographer

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) 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. This is not a sponsored post.

Today’s author is Hannah Servidio from Hannah Nicole Photography


Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer Hannah Nicole Photography

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

People have a destination wedding for so many different reasons. Whether it be you love the beach, you want an intimate moment or you love the idea of (kind of) stress-free planning, for whatever reason you choose the question remains who will your vendors be? More specifically, your photographer.


No matter where you go in the world, there will always be a photographer, and with enough Google-searching, chances are you’ll find one. You may not love them but they come with the resort, or they fit your budget so you take them anyway. I mean, it’s just your wedding, right?

NO! Get that idea out of your mind. Resort photographers are not always the best option for you. While their work may be good, they may not fit your style, and you are under no obligation to use them.

There are so many variables and pros and cons that go into bringing a Hudson Valley photographer. Bringing a photographer from home can be beneficial for so many reasons. From personal and professional experience, here are some key things to think about:



A chance to build a rapport


Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer Hannah Nicole Photography

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Most photographers get to know the couple before the big day as it helps to already have a rapport with that person. You’ll feel more comfortable, and in turn, not only will the photographer make you look like a professional model in front of that lens, but you’ll also feel more natural and comfortable with them once you establish that relationship.


A rapport extends beyond the wedding as well. When hiring local, you now have a photographer that you’ve built a relationship with that you can use for future photo sessions such as family photos or anniversary photos. You have someone whose work you love and have officially built a long-lasting relationship with.



One word with such strong meaning. If you want a certain style, hiring local means you can be sure your photographer has the same style you like, because you have many photographers to choose from. For example, I prefer a light and airy look rather than a moodier feel. All my clients know that, and it’s what they’ll expect. Rather than going into it settling for a style you’re not a huge fan of just because it’s easier to choose the resort photographer, you can be sure that your photographer will match your style.

Easier communication


One of the best things about hiring local is you have easier access to info as needed. Want to meet up with your photographer and have a cup of coffee and go over ideas? You can because they are right around the corner!

Also, a somewhat uncomfortable but necessary thing to talk about is what happens IF there is a legal issue. With a local photographer, you can deal with it on U.S. soil. That being said, I hope that never happens to you; but if so, it’s good to know that person is local to you.

Lastly, a local photographer speaks the same language as you. While I am not saying the photographer at your destination may not speak English, there is a chance they may not speak it clearly, which could lead to miscommunication.  Your wedding day is a day you want to make sure everything goes smoothly.


Creative inspiration


Photographers LOVE to shoot in new locations. Seriously! It is like Christmas for us. Shooting somewhere new sparks something inside of our creative heart. While some couples may say, “I want a photographer who knows the area where we are getting married,” to that I say, I understand, but maybe the person who knows the area is bored of shooting in that area in which case gives you generic and passionless photos. As a destination photographer, I always arrive a few days earlier, and I location scout to find the most beautiful locations to shoot.
So now the “bad” news.


Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer Hannah Nicole Photography

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

While I only have one, it’s not necessarily a con. I feel like it is more of a reality. Every photographer is different, and I CANNOT speak for all of us but rather myself and a few other destination vendors I know.




The cost


It is understood that you, the couple, will cover airfare, hotel and transportation costs. (Again, just speaking for myself and a few other destination vendors I know.)

This is an additional cost to the photographic services you invest in, but sometimes your photographer may be willing to work within your budget just to shoot in a new area, creative crack for us photographers!

Sometimes the photographer will also ask you to cover meals (I am not one because I eat like a college student). So, be aware it can be an additional cost. If you are having your wedding at an all-inclusive resort, this can be the cheapest and most cost-effective option since that covers transportation and food.

If all of the pros outweigh the con for you, I suggest you start searching for the photographers in your area to start chatting with. It never hurts to ask if they are willing to travel. This is your wedding. It’s not some random day of the week. These are photos you will look back on for eternity and smile at, so your photographer and photography should be seen as an investment.


Join us next week as our Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit continues with more great advice from Hudson Valley wedding photographers as they answer the most commonly asked photography questions.

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