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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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Hudson Valley wedding photographer Majestic Studios

The Number One Truth That Can Ruin Your Proposal

You’ve found “the one.” You have the ring. Now you just have to plan the proposal. It’s, without a doubt, the most monumental question someone has to ask, and someone has to answer, in their entire life. So much hinges on those four words: “Will you marry me?” With such an important question to ask, here’s the one truth no one talks about: Proposing in public could make or break the entire thing.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong – witnessing a public proposal is awesome. Whether it’s on the streets of New York City, at a Major League Baseball game, at Walt Disney World – I saw four in one day there once – it’s so cool!

 

But here’s the thing: While neat to see, there is a person on the other end of that question.  A public proposal could turn one of the most romantic moments in your life to one of complete embarrassment and dread for the person you’re asking. Here’s why…

 

If your partner hates attention, a public proposal could send fear and embarrassment through their entire body. Even your wedding could cause a lot of stress because of knowing that all eyes are going to be on you.

 

However, there is one thing you can do to make sure you create a magical moment for the both of you:

 

RELATED: ENGAGEMENT RINGS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEYOND THE 4 “C” S

 

Pay attention to hints

 

Yankee Stadium proposal

Photo Credit: WCHV

For most couples, they get to a point when they both know they are ready to get married. The proposal may not have happened yet, but you know it’s coming. Maybe you’ve even spoke about getting married or started to look at rings. If you know it’s coming, you could just come out and say that you don’t want a public proposal, that you want something quiet instead. Kind of takes a bit of the surprise element out of it, but it certainly ensures you get your way.

 

You could also drop or fish for hints. Let’s say you and your partner are at a Major League Baseball game and see across the big screen a marriage proposal. If you say “Oh, that’s so cool!” and are really excited about it; but your partner reacts or says something opposite of that – chances are, a public proposal may not be the best thing.

 

If one of your friends got engaged in private and you are explaining how it all went down to your partner, and they say something or act in a positive way about that, chances are, that type of proposal would be awesome for that person.

 

Maybe they hate attention but have always dreamed about getting engaged in front of Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World. Feel that person out by dropping subtle hints or have a friend do the investigating for you. Remember too, that some “public” places aren’t always as public as you think. There may be so many people around that they are so busy doing their own thing, that they aren’t paying attention to you at all.

 

RELATED: JUST ENGAGED? 3 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT DO

 

But … what if you are proposed to in public and are frozen in panic?

 

To be clear, the panic isn’t because the love of your life is asking for your hand in marriage, you’re panicking because you have onlookers and hate attention. Here’s the bad news…I can’t tell you what to do.

 

What I can tell you to do is try to ignore what is going on around you. This is your moment, your loved one has put their heart on their sleeve and left themselves vulnerable, on their knee, asking you to spend the rest of your life with them. Focus on that moment, as it will only happen once.

 

In fact, as someone who got engaged in public, I can say that it was really neat to have the folks who saw, complete strangers, congratulate us, give us words of wisdom, wish us luck. It was really such a heartwarming experience to witness.

 

What is your ideal proposal? Would you prefer a private or public proposal?

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Featured Engagement: Adam & Eve

Their Love Story…

 

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

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

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

The Proposal…

 

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

What Are They Most Excited About?…

 

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

Advice For Engaged Couples…

 

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

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

 

Gallery Photo Credit: Jessica Grund Photography

 

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13 of the most common mistakes engaged couples make revealed

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Photo Caption: Hannah Nicole Photography

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

RELATED: JUST ENGAGED? 3 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT DO

 

Mistake #3 – Talking to everyone about everything!

 

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

Mistake #4 – Making plans before you officially begin planning

 

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

RELATED: 3 ESSENTIAL DETAILS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE ATTENDING YOUR FIRST WEDDING EXPO

 

Mistake #5 – Not giving yourself enough time to plan

 

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

Mistake #6 – Choosing your bridal party too quickly

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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

RELATED: 30 TRUTHS ABOUT YOUR WEDDING PART 1

 

Mistake #7 – Booking your vendors in the wrong order

 

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

Mistake #8 – Not booking vendors soon enough

 

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

Mistake #9 – Planning too much too fast

 

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

RELATED: THE BEST FREEBIES AND DISCOUNTS FOR YOUR WEDDING DAY

 

Mistake #10 – Overthinking the details

 

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

Mistake #11 – Shopping for your wedding dress too early

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

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

RELATED: LEARN HOW TO SAVE HUNDREDS ON YOUR WEDDING DRESS

 

Mistake #12 – Not taking time for yourself

 

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

Mistake #13 – Not being true to yourself

 

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

Featured Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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Featured Couple: Kristen & AJ

Their Love Story…

 

“We found love in a hopeless place … and, yes, that was the song that we walked into as we were introduced,” says Kristen. “That has been our ‘theme song’ since we started dating.  We used to work together at a bank … dating someone you were working with was frowned upon!  So needless to say we kept it a secret for a long time … to the point when people ask us how long we have been together we really don’t have a solid answer.” Hiding their relationship was no easy feat because even out in public, Kristen was afraid someone from work would see them.

 

“AJ eventually switched locations and we were no longer at the same branch … so one night when we were out, we texted our boss and came clean! Felt so much better!” Soon after they came clean to their boss, AJ surprised Kristen with Broadway tickets to see Mary Poppins, which was Kristen’s favorite movie as a kid. “That’s when he made it official that we were dating, so if we need a date that we started dating we use January 28, 2012!  We were honestly friends first … and the rest is history! We wouldn’t change a thing!”

 

The Proposal…

 

Photo from bride’s personal collection

“His proposal was perfect!” says Kristen. “It was our official 3-year dating anniversary.  AJ got up in the morning before me and had breakfast on the table with flowers by the time I got up. We ate breakfast, got ready and both headed to work.  It was a normal day.” The day progressed as usual — a trip home during lunch to grab her food and walk their dog, Tex. Toward the end of the day, AJ started texting Kristen wanting to know when she was coming home. She texted him and when she got home and was in for quite a surprise.

 

“I opened the screen door to the house to a Post-It above the lock, with the following: ‘Hey, baby! Welcome home … may want to have your camera out … card first … Tex is fine (upstairs) … Happy Anniversary!!!’ ” When Kristen opened the door, she found flowers on the table, presents next to the flowers, rose petals and candles everywhere, and ‘We Found Love’ playing in the background.”

 

“There were more instructions in the card in regards to the presents.  I decided to skip the presents and go find him. … Our bedroom door was closed with rose petals leading to it, the word ‘Love’ spelled out on the door, and I finally picked up on what was happening!” says Kristen. “I opened our bedroom door to more candles and petals, and there he was.  He started to talk to me. … I started to cry but held it together!  He got down on one knee, opened the box, I lost my breath, and he said those four words every girl wants to hear.  And bam, we were engaged.”

 

Wedding Theme…

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

“Our theme was all about us!” says Kristen. “I love the bling, but it was a simple, elegant bling.  Everything that we had that night in the Grandview had a meaning behind it!” For example, each table centerpiece had three vases on them which has significant meaning. “The most important part of that is that there were three on every table, three for love!  It was always something my grandparents and parents always said to each other and to us, and it was something we wanted to incorporate into our special day.”

 

Why the Hudson Valley?

 

Kristen says “Hudson Valley is home … and we simply fell in love with the Grandview. Couples panic about their venue; I panicked because we only looked at one! They had and offered everything we wanted — perfect venue, Shadows next door for the after party, hotel rooms for all of our 246 guests with transportation … it was honestly perfect for us!”

 

Most Memorable Moment…

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

“Honestly, if you asked us separately, at different times, we would both say the same thing: the first time we saw each other!” says Kristen. “He (AJ) was up at the altar, and I was walking down the aisle with my parents. …  I swore I wouldn’t cry, and I didn’t, I was just smiling from ear to ear.  My smile couldn’t get any bigger when I looked at him, and then I saw his lip quiver.  I looked away from him for a second to kind of regroup and the next person I made eye contact with was my Aunt Pat, who by the way was hysterically crying! I remember laughing in my head!  Everyone tells me that they were all looking at AJ when I walked down the isle and that makes me happy because his reaction was by far the best ever.  I’m proud of him for not crying but he will always tell me ‘You cut me deep, babe!'”

 

Hudson Valley Vendors…

 

Venue – The Grandview (Poughkeepsie)

Photographer – Majestic Studios (Hopewell Junction)

Florist – Annex Florist (Pawling)

DJ – Jimmy Dee Music Productions (Briarcliff Manor)
 

Photo credit to all: Majestic Studios (click photo for larger view)

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engagement rings: what you need to know beyond the 4 “C”s

OK, guys, listen up, this blog post is just for you. We’re going to teach you everything you need to know when it comes to purchasing an engagement ring. From when to buy it, to how to buy it to what to do with after you buy it, we have you covered. We know this is a big moment for you and we have your back.

 

You may be nervous or excited, or maybe a little bit of both, but you’re not alone. Michael J. Halpy, owner of Hannoush Jewelers in Wappingers Falls, says, “There’s some guys that come in with their buddies for moral support, there’s some guys that come in and they take that deep breath when they walk through the doors, and there’s some that are just really confident and know exactly what they want.” So know, straight away, no matter what you are feeling when you go shopping, it’s totally normal!

 

But before we get into the details, you need to remember one thing: Buying a ring is “the beginning of the beginning,” says James Matero, co-owner of Jaymark Jewelers in Cold Spring. Because of that, “it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind,” he says. “Buying an engagement ring is an emotional purchase. Yes, you want to get her something she loves, but you’re also going to get something that really is a symbol, it’s a promise, you’re getting her an emotional item, not just a physical item. So getting something she loves is important but making sure it means what you want is also important.”

 
RELATED: 3 Essential Details You Need to Know Before Attending Your First Wedding Expo
 

General rules to keep in mind outside of the 4 “C” s

 

Photo Credit: Jaymark Jewelers

By now, you should be very familiar with the four “C”s, but in case you don’t know, they are carat weight, color grade, clarity grade, and cut grade. However, choosing a diamond goes far beyond that.

 

Matero says, “Aside from the 4 ‘C’s the most important thing to remember is you aren’t buying a diamond based on paperwork, you’re buying a diamond based on how beautiful it is.” What does he mean? Well, diamonds may have great characteristics on paperwork that comes with each ring highlighting the 4 “C”s, but you may not like the way they look. “Sometimes the most highly graded diamonds may not look as pretty to you as something else,” he says. “So it’s always important that you look at the diamond and see them in person because what’s good on paper isn’t always the best.”

 

Another thing to remember is that no one “C” is better than the other, you want to go for an overall pleasing aesthetic to the entire ring.

 

How far in advance should you purchase the engagement ring?

 

Jocelyn Z. Klastow, Vice President of Zimmer Brother Jewelers in Poughkeepsie, recommends 4-6 weeks is good, but 6-8 weeks is better. You want to make sure you give yourself enough time to choose a great ring, size it, and have it ready for “popping the question” especially if you plan to propose on vacation. One tip she has is that if you are planning to propose on vacation, DO NOT under any circumstance put the ring in your suitcase. Keep it in your carry-on.

 
RELATED: 5 Tips You Need To Know For Awesome Engagement Photos
 

So, how do you figure out what she likes?

 

This can be tricky or not, depending on how open you are about getting engaged and if you want to keep it a surprise or have her be part of the process.

 

Get her involved

 

Photo Credit: Zimmer Brother’s Jewelers

“One of the trends I’ve seen over the last 7 years or so is having the women involved,” says Halpy. “It used to be traditional, the guy used to come in and pick out a ring and it went on her finger and that was that. But now, there’s so many different designs, there’s so many different styles, different types of metals, different shaped stones. Brides have their unique desire for their engagement ring. They might have a specific design in mind and at the end of the day, it’s a big investment for anybody. Whether you’re spending $500 or $20,000, it’s a lot of money for an engagement ring and you want to make sure that your bride is going to be happy with what you get.”

 

 

“I also think that it’s a great way to really start and cement that communication, on the relationship end, to find out what someone is really liking.

 

If you want to keep it secret

 

Matero says if your significant other has a Pinterest account, try to get onto that and see if there are any boards for engagement rings or wedding-type information. That’s a good source. Other options can include getting siblings or family involved, or asking friends.  A few years ago, my best friend’s boyfriend reached out to me and asked if I could help get some info on what kind of rings she likes because he was going to propose. I took my friend out that night for a girl’s shopping night and tried very hard to come up with a story that would get her to divulge what kind of ring she liked. It was tricky, but it worked. I felt an enormous amount of pressure to get it right, so now I know exactly what you guys go through.

 

Photo Credit: Zimmer Brothers Jewelers

Klastow says if you are keeping it a secret and doing it on your own without a “super sleuth” plan, here’s what you need to know. “We always say pay attention to the clues beforehand because she’ll be giving them, you just have to know to keep your ears open for them,” she says. “Most men that come in, I will say, have an idea of what she likes. Whether it’s been through a stealthy Pinterest hunt or whether she’s actually emailed him a picture, whether a friend’s ring was maybe something that she liked.”

 

However, if you don’t have any of that, “the number one thing it boils down to is what’s her style,” Klastow says. Then, “we start with what color metal does she like, and most brides are opting for white, so that would be white gold or platinum, but we are getting more requests for yellow gold and rose gold as well.” Then, she says the next question is halo or no halo “because halo style rings have become the most requested style over the past five years.”

 

The discovery process continues by figuring out what type of person she is. Klastow says if she is more sporty, you may want to go with a lower setting or maybe a half bezel, which is a metal edging around the diamond, that seals it in place instead of prongs. Basically, you want something that is in line with her lifestyle and will not get in the way of her normal day-to day activities. If she’s more girly and frilly, you may want something with a more dramatic high setting which gives the ring a very bold and romantic look.

 

Ring size

 

Photo Credit: Hannoush Jewelers

You might be thinking this is all well and good but how in the world do I find out what size she is? This is where your secret agent skills come in. Halpy says, “Finger size is an important thing and it’s a difficult something to find out without asking her directly or bringing her somewhere to find out.” He recommends paying close attention to the jewelry she wears on a daily basis. “Most girls have a ring, some type of ring, so just keep an eye out for what finger she wears it on…and then try to sneak that ring in (to the store).” It’s important to pay attention to the hand she wears it on because finger sizes vary by hand. This will give you the size or a close approximate size, so if it needs to be resized, it’s a small fix that won’t ruin the integrity of the ring.

 

Last but not least, you need insurance

 

You chose the ring, but there’s one more thing you need to do: insure it! “There’s a couple different things you can do for insurance,” says Halpy. “There’s some people who have renter’s insurance, so you can call whoever your renters agent is and get a quote from them. If you own a home, you can call your homeowner’s insurance and get a quote to get it added on there.” You can also go through the jeweler themselves to see what agencies they recommend, agencies that only insure jewelry. As with everything, it’s important to do your due diligence to make sure it is properly insured.

 

Photo Credit: Jaymark Jewelers

Klastow says most people like to insure the ring against theft of loss, but, she says this is very important: “You want to make sure that when you insure it, you’re not insuring it for a percentage of the replacement value but for the entire replacement value.” When you do this, you also want to make sure that your ring gets reappraised every seven years to make sure you are getting the correct value if anything should happen to it.

 

So, guys, what do you think? Are you feeling more prepared now to get the ball rolling? Matero has some final words before you venture out to the jewelry store. “It’s a big purchase,” he says, “so it’s smart to do you due diligence.” You don’t need to be an expert, he says, but “trust your professional, think about what she likes, and take a deep breath. Enjoy the shopping experience.”

 

We’d love to hear your proposal story? Did you both pick out a ring or was it a surprise? What super sleuth method was used to figure out what kind of ring to buy?

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jaymark Jewelers

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Featured Engagement: Gabby & Mike

Their Love Story…

 

Hudson Valley Engagement

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Gabby: “We met at Hollow Brook Golf Club, where both of us worked. Mike is the assistant golf pro, and I am the Food and Beverage Manager. Our love story started off as co-workers that grew into friends and then into a relationship. We were friends for 5 years before the time became right for us to turn our friendship into a relationship. Mike was always a person that in my eyes had the gift to light up a room full of people with his humor. He was the friend that started off by just making me smile and slowly turn into the person I wanted to share everything with. After, a long work week we would have pizza on Sundays together. These pizza meals together became the best part of my week”

 

Mike: “My love story with Gabby starts with coffee. Might sound weird until I explain. I never drank coffee, like ever. But at the place we work, she is often found in an area where the coffee is. So naturally I started drinking coffee. But since I didn’t like coffee it was more like 3/4 milk and 1/4 coffee. But it was the only way for me to keep seeing her without seeming too eager to spend time together. So I now am an avid coffee drinker. With less milk and more coffee…and still a lot of Gabby.”

 

The Proposal…

Photo Credit: Gabby and Mike

 

Gabby: “It was on July 17, 2016, on my birthday. I was running a wedding at work, and Mike was helping me out by bartending for the event. As the wedding was about to finish, Mike came up to me and said he was going to leave early because his knee was bothering him. I thought nothing of it and said, ‘OK, see you at home.’ Well, when I got home I open our apartment door to orange rose petals and candles leading to him where he was on one knee and popped the question. For me the whole thing is a little of a blur…..I was so excited and surprised I started to cry.”

 

Mike: “From the moment I got the ring I knew exactly when it was that I was going to propose. What better day than the date of our 1-year anniversary and her birthday? Since I had recent issues with my knee, I absolutely knew I could use that to send her thoughts into another direction. So my plan was solid. I told only the closest friends at work my plan so they could keep her distracted and on track. Gabby asked me to help her out and cover someone for bartending at a wedding she was running. Toward the end of the wedding, I told her my knee was acting up and wanted to get home and ice it.

 

“I raced home and set up my GoPro, put down some rose petals and lit some small candles leading a trail for her to find me in the living room. I played our favorite song when she walked in. I was so nervous I almost couldn’t get the words out. But I knew that this was going to be the most special day of my life, so I reached into my heart and asked the woman of my dreams to spend the rest of her life with me.”

 

What They Are Most Excited About…

 

Hudson Valley Engagement

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Gabby: “I am excited to spend our forever together. For me, getting married is our beginning. I can’t wait to plan all the adventures our future as for us.”

 

Mike: ” I think the thing I’m most looking forward to is everything. When you finally meet the person who makes you smile when you’re sad, the person who picks you up when you fall, when you find that one person who makes you feel complete, you get excited about everything. Nobody knows what the future holds, and that’s a good thing. But having a person like Gabby by my side, nothing can ever be that heavy.”

 

Advice For Engaged Couples…

 

Gabby: “The process can get stressful with all the details and family and friends’ opinions. But remember the big picture is the two of you celebrating your love.”

 

Mike: “The months, weeks, days leading up to your wedding can be some of the most stressful times a couple is going to go through. It seems like everyone comes out of the woods with an opinion. While all these opinions come from a good place with the heart in mind. You must remember to do what makes both of you happy. This is your day. Do everything the way you want to do it. They are not getting married— YOU ARE! Enjoy the process and smile the entire time. Come the morning of your wedding day, leave nothing behind and keep an eye on your future.”

 

Check back later in the year when we circle back with Gabby and Mike on their wedding day

 

Photo credit to all: Sweet Alice Photography

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

What you should NOT do…

 

Number 1 – Social media

 

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

Number 2 – Do not plan anything yet

 

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

What you should do (in no particular order)

 

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

 

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

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

Number 2 – Enjoy the moment

 

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

Number 3 – Do something special to celebrate…alone

 

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

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

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

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Social Media and Your Wedding: What You Need to Know

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

 

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

 

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

 

When it comes to your engagement…

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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

 

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

 

When it comes to wedding planning…

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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

 

When it comes to your wedding…

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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

 

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

 

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

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Engagement Photos: What Hudson Valley couples want you to know

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

 

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

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

 

Kimberly & Andrew

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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

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

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography


 

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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

 

Their Tips

 

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

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

Nora & Dan

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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

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

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

 

Their Tips

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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

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

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

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6 easy ways to prevent feeling overwhelmed at a wedding expo

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

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

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

 

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

 

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

 

COME PREPARED WITH A PLAN

 

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

 

Photo Credit: The Villa Borghese

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

 

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

 

DON’T RUSH

 

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

 

BRING STICKERS

 

Photo Credit: HCHV

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

 

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

 

CREATE AN EMAIL

 

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

 

 

KEEP AN OPEN MIND

 

Photo Credit: The Villa Borghese

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

 

 

HAVE FUN

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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5 tips you need to know for awesome engagement photos

Join us for part 2 of a 3-part series

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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

 

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

 

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

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios


 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

How long does an engagement photo session last?

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

When do you get engagement photos done?

 

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

 

What do you wear?

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

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

 

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

 

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

 

ROOM LAYOUT

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

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

 

FOOD, DRINKS, AND TABLE SETTINGS

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

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

 

CLEANLINESS

 

Photo Credit: Grandview Events

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

 

STAFF

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Grandview Events

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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

 

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

 

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

 

Reason #1 – It’s an Investment

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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

 

Reason #4 – Photographs have multiple purposes

 

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

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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

 

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

 

Reason #6 – Captures magical moment in time

 

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

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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

 

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

 

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

 

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