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How To Get Great Wedding Photos In All Kinds Of Weather

by Doug Madden, Duetimage Photography
 

 

“Don’t be angry with the rain. It simply doesn’t know how to fall upwards.” — Vladimir Nabokov
 

It’s not going to rain on your wedding day!
 

How do we know that?
 

Because that’s what the Knot and Wedding Wire and Style Me Pretty and every other blog in the universe tells us. Just look at all those real wedding photos. Not a drop of rain anywhere. All those real weddings are outdoors, under sunny blue skies, with the Santa Monica Mountains in the distance.
 

Wait a minute — Santa Monica Mountains?
 

If you’re a SoCal bride, the odds are in your favor that you’ll have sunny blue skies. But if you’re a Hudson Valley bride, there’s a very big chance that your wedding day could have less than desirable weather conditions.
 

Here are some of our tips for getting the most out of your wedding photography in rain, snow, and — yes — full sun.
 

Taking Shelter

 

Rain is a major game changer because everything you might’ve planned for the outdoors has now got to happen indoors. Your imagery will then depend a lot on your photographer’s ability to handle artificial light.
 

Quite often in the wedding photography business, you will hear photographers say things like “I prefer to shoot in natural light” or “I only work with natural light because flash looks too artificial.” In some cases, this comes out of an aesthetic value that is genuine because honestly, nothing beats “Mr. Sunshine”. But in most cases, I think this statement can be translated to mean: “I don’t know how to shoot with a flash”.
 

Light has a mind of its own. It bounces off walls, ceilings, and floors. It reflects off bright clothing or gets gobbled up by dark fabrics. With the sun as your sole light source, you always know where it is and where the shadows are. But when a flash tries to take over the job, especially indoors, there are a lot of unknowns. Your photographer’s experience will help him or her envision what that flash will do once it is fired. There’s a lot of brainpower that goes into the mathematical calculations required for a good exposure. For photographers who like working with artificial light, this is a challenge they eagerly await. For natural light photographers, however, this is a task to be avoided.
 

If you’re concerned about rain, it’s a good idea to have an honest conversation with your photographer. Ask how they feel about shooting indoors if rain forces you inside. Also, look at their portfolios. How many indoor images do they show? The number will tell you a lot. If every shot you see is taken outdoors on a sunny day, your real concern is not just rain: it is really about how well your photographer will handle all aspects of indoor photography (like your reception coverage).
 

RELATED: 7 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO IF SEVERE WEATHER THREATENS YOUR WEDDING DAY

 

snow wedding photo

Photo Credit: Duetimage Photography

Snow is Your Frenemy

 

Snow, like rain, can force you indoors when it’s really bad. But when it’s a gentle snowfall or after it has already accumulated, it can be magical.
 

First, let’s talk about the magical. Snow changes landscapes and compositions. It brightens things up with a certain glow and brings purity to your imagery.
 

Put a lot of thought into your outerwear if you’re planning a winter wedding. Furry wraps, fluffy scarves, headwear will all have a role to play in your look. Do you want to be Elsa the Ice Princess, or Lara from Doctor Zhivago? Footwear is a practical decision as well as a fashion decision. Bring along some nice winter boots for any outdoors photos then switch over to your glass slippers for the indoor portion of your event.
 

Pinterest has a motherload of ideas for props and things to do in the snow, but here, off the top of my head, are a few ideas for posed imagery:

     

    1) Make a miniature snow bride and a snowgroom as self-portraits

    2) Trace your name and wedding date in a field of snow

    3) Toss some powdery snow into the air and let it come down like confetti.

 

As for the ugly side of snow, the things you need to be concerned about are mostly financial. If a blizzard strikes on your day, you and your guests won’t likely make it to your venue. Make sure that your photographer’s retainer refundability is spelled out. In the event of snow cancellations, our studio will honor your booking for another day. Other vendors and venues have their own policies regarding snow cancellations. Wedding insurance is a VERY good idea for winter weddings, and we can’t stress that enough.
 

Sunshine: Too Much of a Good Thing

 

Photo Credit: Duetimage Photography

We all have an assumption that all’s well when the sun is shining on your wedding day. But as we all know, there can often be too much of a good thing.
 

For photographers shooting in strong sunlight, especially at midday, there is the problem of strong shadows. In such situations, photographers will try to compensate with reflectors or flashes, or seek shade in which to take pictures. But an even better way to deal with the issue is to schedule portraiture for hours when the sun is not directly overhead.
 

RELATED: 4 AWESOME BENEFITS OF DOING A FIRST LOOK

 

If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony, be careful to check which direction your audience will be seated in relation to the officiant. If your officiant will be standing with the sun directly at his or her back, your photographer (just like your guests) will be staring directly into the sun. This can create flares in your imagery which can be pesky; sometimes they look great, sometimes they can blow out an image. If you have control over your outdoor ceremony staging area, take steps to minimize a bright sun from upstaging your nuptials.
 

Finally, hot sun can cause discomfort, makeup fails, and health issues. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, make sure you and your guests have plenty of sunscreen. Brides should consider makeup with UV protection and which stands up well to perspiration. Make sure water is readily available for everyone, and for those senior citizens on your guest list, try to make sure there are umbrellas or some other forms of shade available.
 

Embrace Mother Nature .. and Your Photographer

 

It would be wonderful if we had total control over the weather. But as we are mere mortals, that’s just a fantasy. The final and best piece of advice we can offer is to trust your photographer’s creative instincts to use undesirable weather to your advantage. If you’re comfortable with getting wet, cold, or sunburnt for great images, go for it.
 

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.
 

Featured Photo Credit: Duetimage Photography

 

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4 awesome benefits of doing a first look

I have to admit, I’m a bit superstitious. When I was getting married, the idea of doing a first look was a very new trend, and one my husband and I quickly dismissed. We were always told that seeing each other before your ceremony was extremely bad luck.

 

In the years that followed, and as the trend got bigger and bigger, we realized that, superstition aside, doing a first look would have been kind of cool to do. To have a private moment, just the two of us, would have been really very special.

 

As our photo summit continues, we asked Alicia King of Alicia King Photography to share some of the benefits that come with doing a first look, besides a private, romantic moment.

 

 

Doing a first look saves time

 

“Have more time to focus on pictures of the two of you,” says King. Scheduling time for photos of just the two of you saves you more time later in the day. If your reception is directly after your ceremony, you can go straight to your reception without having to be pulled away for photos. “You get to enjoy cocktail hour, as does family and wedding party if it’s all done beforehand,” says King.

 

Enjoying cocktail hour, not just for the food, is a great benefit of doing a first look. King says. “You have more time to spend with your loved ones who have traveled from near and far to see you.” Often times couples have to take time out of their dinner to greet guests, whereas doing a first look eliminates that step giving you have more time to enjoy your reception and more time to talk to those you love.

 

RELATED: HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD YOU ALLOW IN YOUR DAY FOR WEDDING PHOTOS?

 

Photo Credit: Alicia King Photography

Doing a first look reduces stress, nerves, and anxiety

 

Additionally, King says “You get to see each other up close instead of from down an aisle for the first time that day.” It really gives you a chance to look at each other and tell each other how wonderful they look. You put a lot of time and effort into choosing your perfect gown and doing a first look gives your spouse the chance to admire your gorgeousness!

 

Doing a first look does not diminish the emotion of the ceremony

 

Some might think that doing a first look might take away from the “magic” of seeing each other for the first time at the altar. “It doesn’t take away from the ceremony at all,” says King. “I’ve had multiple couples do a first look and then get extremely emotional during the ceremony itself.”

 

Seeing each other beforehand is one thing, but when you are in front of all your loved ones, with the music playing and your bridal party all in formation, it gives you a different energy and emotion altogether.

 

RELATED: 4 EXTRA BENEFITS OF HIRING A PROFESSIONAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

 

Doing a first look helps you get better photos

 

From a photographer’s viewpoint, doing a first look has many benefits. King says, at the basic level, your hair and makeup is freshest. While hair and makeup will last you all day, nothing beats seeing it when it’s freshly done.

 

Another benefit is timing. “If your ceremony is later in the day, you would be chasing sunlight during cocktail hour (if you do photos after your ceremony), especially for late fall and winter weddings,” says King.

 

Lastly, doing a first look gives your photographer more time to focus on other photos. “Your photographer has more time to focus on reception detail shots, & guests at cocktail hour if possible,” says King. The time that would have been spent photographing you, will now be spent taking photos of other parts of the day that might have been missed.

 

Did you do a first look? We want to know?

 

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.
 

Featured Photo Credit: Alicia King Photography

 

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Summer Wedding ideas

4 Things Your Guests Really Want At Your Wedding

Engagement season is fast approaching and the new year may have you in the depths of wedding planning sooner than you think. But, before you dive deep into planning every little detail, you might be interested to know that what you think your guests want – or would find important – may differ vastly from what they actually want. They don’t care as much about the details as you would think.
 

When you plan your wedding, it’s important, first and foremost, to not see it as a competition. Your wedding day is not a day to “out-do” your friends or family members. It’s a day to celebrate your love for each other and your new beginning. It’s about tradition, rituals and is a sacred moment in your life.
 

One of my pet peeves is when couples get so caught up in the details and stress out over the minutia, that they forget the entire purpose and meaning of the day. However, it’s very easy to get caught up in that frenzy because we’re bombarded every day with photos, Pinterest Boards, videos, and language that suggests that if we don’t do something a “certain” way, or if we don’t have a certain “thing” then we’re doing it wrong and our wedding will be ruined FOREVER!! As a blogger, I’m very aware of this.
 

Am I right? Just reading that stresses me out. As a blogger, I’m very aware of this.
 

RELATED: 5 SECRETS TO BEING AN AWESOME WEDDING GUEST

 

So, I want to give you permission to take a deep breath, take a step back, and look at the bigger picture. If you really want to know what your guests want at your wedding, the easiest thing to do is look back at the times you were a guest a wedding. What do you remember most? What did you enjoy the most? What did you not like? Chances are, whatever your answers are to those questions, are exactly what your guests want.
 

But it really breaks down into these four categories (in no particular order):
 

Your wedding guests want to feel included and appreciated

 

No matter how large or small your wedding is, your guests want to feel appreciated for being there on your special day. However you want to do this is up to you, but most couples will go around to every table to talk to their guests during the meal, or may even do a receiving line. Some may thank their guests in a speech or toast or may give them special favors or goodie bags for guest staying in the designated accommodations.
 

My suggestion, if you really want to do something special for your guests, is to write them a little message or note on the back of, or attached to, their escort card as to why them being at your wedding means so much to you…and not because they gave you a gift.
 

Your wedding guests want to have a good meal

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Let’s face it, who doesn’t love food? For me, personally, nothing says love more than a home-cooked meal. However, since you aren’t going to be cooking your wedding food (PLEASE, don’t DIY this part of your day. Leave that to the experts), when choosing your food, think about what people love, or what people may not have all the time that they can indulge in a bit.
 

My advice would be to choose a selection of food that is interesting and unique mixed with a nice array of comfort food. The more choices you have the better. I always love variety. Now, this doesn’t mean break the bank. Look at the offerings your venue provides and go from there.
 

If food is really important to you, and you have room in your budget, go ahead and choose add-ons. Maybe add on a sushi bar or a s’mores dessert bar or a mac n’ cheese bar. Something that’s fun, interactive and can, for a moment, bring people back to their childhood. I was at a wedding once that had an ice cream sundae bar, and I literally saw grown men run across the dance floor from the other side of the room to get their ice cream and make their sundae. It was hysterical and so much fun!
 

RELATED: THE LITTLE WEDDING IN THE WOODS AND WHAT IT TAUGHT ME

 

Your wedding guests want to have a good time

 

Your guests are at your wedding to celebrate your marriage, but at the end of the day, your guests want to have a good time, too.
 

Let’s think about this for a second. How often, do you, personally, get dressed up, go out, have a nice meal, go dancing, or spend the night away from home? I’m guessing not too often. So, this is a chance for your guests to let loose and celebrate and forget about whatever is going on in their lives for a night.
 

However, having a good time means different things to different people. Some couples just want a quiet reception that’s an intimate dinner for a small group. Some want an all-out party. The thing to remember is that no matter what kind of reception you want, you aren’t going to make everyone happy, and that’s ok.
 

If you have a quiet dinner, there are always going to be guests that wished there was dancing. If you know who those guests are, and if you are up for it, perhaps you can do an after-party at a nearby venue.
 

If you decide to have a big dance party, there are going to be guests that aren’t going to dance no matter waht song is played. Make sure you seat people together in a way where they aren’t left at a table by themselves when everyone else at their table is on the dance floor. If you can, seat the dancers with the dancers and the non-dancers with the non-dancers so that they have someone to talk to. Or, you can ask your DJ to play some songs that you know you won’t dance to, and take that time to go over to your non-dancing guests and talk to them for a few minutes.
 

Your wedding guests do not want to be too inconvenienced

 

While your guests want to have a good time, they also don’t want to be too inconvenienced. Again, being inconvenienced means different things to different people, but to me, one of the biggest inconveniences is having your wedding venue and reception site really far away from each other. It’s understandable that your ceremony and reception will be at different locations, but when your two locations are too far away from each other, then you risk the chance of some guests just going to the ceremony and not the reception (or vice versa).
 

I’d say 30 minutes is a good distance, but 45 minutes to an hour is the absolute max distance your venues should be from each other. The closer the better, especially if you’re planning a wedding in the winter months when the threat of snow could be an absolute problem.
 

Another inconvenience could be requiring your guests to follow a specific dress code. You may want a black-tie affair, but asking your guests to follow that means most will have to go out and by a formal gown or rent a tux, and that might be a problem for some.
 

Here’s a hint…your location will set the tone for your wedding, and, if your guests do a little bit of homework (or if you post photos of your venue on your wedding website), your guests will get clues as to how to dress. If you are having a backyard wedding or a barn wedding, chances are your guests aren’t going to come dressed dripping in sequence and pearls. However, if you are having your wedding at a grand estate on New Year’s Eve, they’ll know they have to step it up a notch.
 
What are some of the things you loved or hated at weddings you’ve attended? What are some special ways you are making your guests feel super special at your wedding?
 

Featured Photo Credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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Featured Couple: Kristen and Rich

Their Love Story…

 

“It was June 2008 and the recent Council Rock High School graduates headed to Ocean City, NJ for one final celebration with their friends before college,” says Kristen. “While soaking up the Summer sun and enjoying some rest and relaxation, I met Rich unexpectedly for the first time on the boardwalk. Rich says he was captivated by my smile, and after introducing himself, he hoped that the infatuation would soon become mutual. He challenged me to a round of mini-golf — if he won, he would get to take me out on a date. He lost that wager, but I still wanted to go on that date all along. The rest of the week consisted of sunbathing, beachside fireworks, and dinners, all together. From then on, we were inseparable.”
 

Photo Credit: J. Ferrara Photography

Their Proposal…

 

Kristen says Rich proposed in Kristen’s childhood home in October of 2016 with a special “purr-fect” surprise.  “I heard a soft “meow” behind a closet door. I opened the door to find a kitten, and around the kitten’s neck was an engraved bracelet that read, “Will you marry my Daddy?” As she read the bracelet out loud, Rich got down on one knee
 

Why the Hudson Valley…?

 

“When choosing a location for our wedding, we knew we wanted the ceremony to be outside and the reception to all occur at one venue,” says Kristen. “We both have family in the Philadelphia area but now currently live in Connecticut where we have established relationships with friends and co-workers. We began looking in the Hudson Valley area as it would be a perfect “in-between” location for all parties. We fell in love with the view at The Garrison and just pictured tying the knot overlooking the beautiful scenery.”
 

Wedding Theme…

 

Because Kristen and Rich met in the summer, that was the inspiration for their special day. “We met nine years ago in Ocean City, NJ during the month of June, and throughout those years we have created some of our greatest memories under the summer sun,” Kristen says. “Our floral bouquets and table arrangements all included bright colors with specific flowers, like Snapdragons, that reminded us of our childhood. Rich’s Grandmother made our wedding day truly memorable by officiating our ceremony. Together, we wrote every word in our wedding vows and ceremony, adding to the uniqueness of the day’s events.”
 

Most Memorable Moment…

 

Photo Credit: J. Ferrara Photography

“One of the most memorable moments during our wedding was our introduction as husband and wife and our first dance,” says Kristen. “We adored every minute of this celebration, hand-in-hand as we sang to a song we’ve loved for years. Our first dance song, “One and Only” by Adele, was further incorporated into our wedding cake by including the lyrics into the icing on the middle tier.” Another memorable moment for the Kristen was when her dad saw her for the first time in her dress.  “My dad is my number one fan and I am his little girl. It meant the world to me to see his reaction and have him by my side as I married the man of my dreams,” says Kristen.
 

Advice For Engaged Couples…

 

“Plan time during your wedding day when it can be just the two of you,” says Kristen. “We were able to sneak away to the Bridal Suite in between our cocktail hour and wedding reception to sample each of the hors-d’oeuvres that were served to our guests. This not only gave us the opportunity to indulge in the food, which many brides and grooms forget to do, but the private time also allowed us to truly appreciate all of the planning that culminated into this momentous occasion. This was by far the most memorable and special time of the night!”
 

Vendors…

 

Venue: The Garrison

Photographer: J. Ferrara Photography

Videography: Taylor Del Villar at J. Ferrara Photography

Florist: Dramatic Innovation Floral and Event Design

Hair and Makeup: JKFlashy

Music and Entertainment: A Perfect Blend Entertainment
 

Photo Credit To All: J. Ferrara Photography

 

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The Forgotten Benefits of Hiring a Second Photogrpaher

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

 

Whether you’re having 300 guests at your wedding or 98 guests, a second photographer can greatly impact your final wedding images. In the past year alone, I can think of several specific instances that my second photographer got a shot that became invaluable to the entire collection. Shots that would have never happened if I were shooting alone. It was actually after one of those instances that I decided I was shooting with a second photographer pretty much exclusively. Even for a smaller wedding where the thought of a second photographer might seem a bit overkill.
 

 

Starting right from the beginning of the day 2 photographers has it’s biggest advantage; I’m with one (generally the bride) and the 2nd is with the other (groom). Now we have photos of everyone getting ready, which might not seem like a big deal until you see your final wedding images in their entirety. Seeing your day, the progression from start to finish really completes the collection of images. And guys, getting ready pictures are a lot more than just getting dressed. Laughing at raunchy jokes together, playing cards, sipping whiskey, maybe playing a quick pickup game of basketball or whiffle ball before they head out to the ceremony. There a lot of things you’re doing before the ceremony that might seem meaningless and trivial at the time, but there’s a lot more meaning when the day is done and you’re looking back at it in its entirety. Shooting by myself, unless the couple is getting ready at the same hotel or in the same house, those memories would never be captured. Moments that would be missing from your day.
 

RELATED: 4 EXTRA BENEFITS OF HIRING A PROFESSIONAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

 

Now, at a wedding with a couple deciding to do a first look; 2 photographers = 2 different views and angles of the same moments of seeing each other for the first time. Getting the reaction of both the bride and the groom are nearly impossible with only one photographer. And from there as we continue on with the formal style portraits, 2 different sets of eyes taking portraits at the same time will give us more options for your final wedding photo delivery. Everyone sees a situation differently, especially 2 photographers. As much as we may have a similar shooting style, our inspirations for a situation may be coming from different places resulting in 2 completely different images from the same moment.
 

Photo Credit: Cody Tatro for Jeremiah Shaffer

A wedding that doesn’t utilize a first look will benefit even greater from 2 photographers. As the wedding begins and the bride starts walking down the aisle, I can photograph her reaction as my second photographer is capturing the groom’s reaction simultaneously. And afterward, since we didn’t do your portraits before the ceremony, we have to do them before the reception begins. During the time we’re getting portraits, my second photographer is photographing all of the reception details before guests start getting comfortable at their seats. Your place cards, centerpieces, table settings, etc… all of the little details that you’ve lost sleep over since you began planning your wedding. That way, when your reception is set to begin, we have all of those details captured so we can now concentrate on your grand entrance into your reception.
 

During your reception is another area of your day where you might not think a second photographer is necessary if you’re planning a smaller wedding. A perfect example I can think of is during the first dance. While my attention might be on the couple dancing, I may miss a moment of parents looking on, smiling at their children as they dance for the first time as a married couple. That’s an incredible moment that certainly can’t be missed, which might be if there was only one photographer on hand.

 

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.
 

Featured Photo Credit: Cody Tatro for Jeremiah Shaffer

 

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The Unusual Side Effect Of Your Proposal And How To Fix It

Did you suffer from “Engagement Hearing Loss” when you were proposed to? Not sure what that is? Well, let me tell you my story and see if you can relate…
 

Almost seven years ago, my husband and I got engaged. We were on vacation in Walt Disney World (our home away from home) and were about to get our picture taken in front of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. We patiently waited in line until it was our turn. We put our bags down, assumed the position, the PhotoPass Photographer took our photo and we were off…or so I thought.
 

As we were leaving, the photographer asked if we could take one more photo, so we put our bags down again and got back into position, only this time, my soon-to-be-fiancé/husband, angled me towards him. I remember saying “What are you doing?” as he started talking, and after about the third word I knew EXACTLY what he was doing!
 

“Oh my gosh…he’s proposing!!!” I thought, and then everything went silent. No sound at all! I could see his mouth moving, so I KNOW he was talking, but I had NO IDEA what was coming out of his mouth. I could see him on one knee, see him opening the ring box, I remember immediately going into an ugly cry and almost instinctively grabbing the ring but then pulling back. I couldn’t hear anything because I was overcome with such shock and surprise. It was the most intense surprise and wave of emotion I’ve ever experienced.
 

RELATED: THE NUMBER ONE TRUTH THAT CAN RUIN YOUR PROPOSAL

 

A few seconds later, I heard some older gentleman in line behind us yell out “Did she say ‘yes’?” and then everything snapped back. “Oh, my gosh!” I thought again, “There are people waiting, let’s grab our stuff and let those poor folks get their pictures.” The rest of the day, I kept asking him over and over what he said, but it was pointless. I wasn’t absorbing anything. I’ve never been so happily surprised in all my life!
 

What I’ve found, in these past seven years, is that many of my friends and acquaintances that have gotten engaged have suffered from the same “phenomenon”. No one can really remember what was said, and no one can really remember hearing anything come out of their fiancé’s mouth. Almost everyone has a similar story.
 

It’s kind of funny when you think about it because guys stress so much over what to say, and we never end up hearing any of it…LOL! I guess, guys, that’s good for you. You don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself.
 

My advice to anyone getting engaged is to have it recorded somehow. Hide a hidden camera on a tripod, hide a friend with a camera in the trees, whatever you have to do, because we’re going to want to see it over and over again just so we can finally hear what you’re saying.
 
So, I’m curious…Have you suffered from “Engagement Hearing Loss?” We’d love to hear your proposal story and if you remember anything that was said.

 

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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