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Patriotic Wedding Inspiration in the Hudson Valley

It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is already here! If you are planning a military or 4th of July wedding and are looking for patriotic-themed ideas and inspiration, you are in the right place. We wanted to give you some ideas on what you can do for décor, attire, or photos.

 

We reached out to Hudson Valley wedding photographers and wedding planners and asked them to share some of their favorite all-American wedding inspiration with you.

 

Patriotic Walls

 

You’ll find American pride on walls in several Hudson Valley locations. This styled shoot (1) was taken in the village of Wappingers Falls…

 

Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this styled shoot (2) was off Main Street in New Paltz.

 

Photo Credit: Duetimage Photography – Hudson Valley Wedding Photography

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Military weddings

 

for military weddings. you really can’t get more patriotic than a wedding at West Point Military Academy.

 

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

JoAnn Provanzano, owner and certified bridal consultant at What Dreams Are Made Of in Kingston, has had the pleasure of planning many military weddings over the years, and shared two of her most recent weddings with us.  Captain Matthew & Mrs Nicole Talley who were married this past May. Their ceremony was at The Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity at the United States Military Academy at West Point with a reception at the West Point Club. “From when she was a little girl,” Provanzano says. “Her dream was to marry a military officer.  The couple’s religion is very important to them, as is the military tradition.” Today, Matt & Nicole now live in the state of Washington.

 

Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Lieutenants Charles & Regina Costanzo were married this past April also at The Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity at the United States Military Academy at West Point with a reception at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. “Gina and Charlie are adorable and their love for each other is so beautiful,” says Provanzano. “They went through many obstacles before walking down the aisle.” Just four weeks before the wedding, Gina was told she would be deployed. Thankfully, she was allowed to remain home and have the wedding of her dreams.
 

Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Patriotic Details

 

Take some time to watch fireworks…

 

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

or add some red flowers…

 

Photo Credit: Rose Shaller Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

or wear some festive attire…

 

Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made of

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

(1)Vendors featured in styled shoot (Wappingers Falls):

Photography – The Ramsdens (Poughkeepsie)

Planning – RSVP by B Wedding Coordination (Poughkeepsie)

Florals – Lucille’s Florals of Fishkill (Fishkill)

Wedding dress – Betsy Wise Bridal (Beacon)

Hair and makeup – La Tua Bella (Rhinebeck)

 

(2)Vendors featured in styled shoot (New Paltz):

Flowers – Flowers by Elissa (Gardiner)

Dress – Style des Reves Custom Dressmaking (Accord)

Hair – Hudson Valley Hair (New Paltz)

Makeup – LaV Beauty (Ulster Park)

Bridal Jewelry – Harriet Forman Barrett (New Paltz)

 

Featured Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

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Wedding Bands: What You Need To Know If You’ve Never Worn Jewelry

When it comes to wedding jewelry, the engagement ring gets top prize. The minute an engagement is announced, everyone wants to see “the ring!” However, once guys choose the engagement ring, they also have another important decision to make about jewelry…their own ring.

 

Believe it or not, men have just as many, if not more, choices when it comes to choosing their wedding band than they do choosing an engagement ring. However, unlike women who are used to frequently wearing jewelry, men don’t usually wear any jewelry. In fact, their wedding band may be the first (and only) piece of jewelry they ever wear.

Because of this, some men may feel uncomfortable wearing a ring, not because they aren’t proud to be married, but because it physically feels uncomfortable having a piece of metal on your finger. It does feel different and takes some getting used to.

 

It’s very normal, for men and women, who now have such an important piece of jewelry on their finger all the time to freak out at times and touch their finger to make sure it’s still there. I still do it sometimes, especially in the winter when it’s cold and you’re wearing and taking off gloves all the time.

 

There are several things to take into consideration when buying a wedding band, and so we asked Hudson Valley jewelers to help guide you through the process:

 

RELATED: ENGAGEMENT RINGS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEYOND THE 4 ‘C’s

 

Should I even wear a wedding band?

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

James Matero, co-owner of Jaymark Jewelers in Cold Spring says “wearing a wedding band is the tradition: ‘With this ring, I thee wed,’ so you want to exchange the rings if you are doing any form of a remotely traditional ceremony.”

 

If you don’t want to wear a band, make sure that you have that conversation with your spouse-to-be. It can be a very emotional subject to bring up, so make sure that both parties leave the conversation feeling happy about the final choice. Maybe you wear your ring out, but leave it off at home. Maybe you both forgo rings and get tattoo rings. Maybe you just don’t wear a ring at all. Whatever the case, make sure it’s discussed.

 

“If you’re going to buy a wedding band,” Matero says, “think about it because guys generally don’t wear a lot of rings. This is potentially the first one they’ve worn. Unless they wore a high school ring or a college ring, this is usually the first one. So, they don’t think about what they want in a ring.”

 

How do I start narrowing down my choices?

 

Jocelyn Z. Klastow, vice president of Zimmer Brothers Jewelers in Poughkeepsie, says a good way to start is with a budget. Trying on a few different rings is also a good start. “I encourage guys to try every different kind on, kind of like a wedding dress,” she says. “You may have this thing in mind, and when you try it on, you don’t like it. A lot of times they (men) end up with something totally different than what they thought they would choose.
 

Do you want something classic or trendy? “We are finding that coppery rose-gold accents, along with heavy textured finishes in gold and Damascus Steel are very popular,” says Mateo.
 

That leads to the next point, which is getting a good feel for the types of metal and design choices available for men’s wedding bands. You can get rings made out of old gun barrels, samurai swords, wood and everything in between. Matero says, “There’s everything from rings that look like a baseball, the stitching, to real tree and mossy oak patterns, there’s alternative metal bands that will hold up to anything, and then there are gold and diamond bands.” He says one of the things you should think about is how and when you are going to wear your ring. “A lot of times you can’t wear it to work: An electrician wearing a metal band on his finger, isn’t exactly safe.”

 

Is this ring right for me?

 

First, and foremost, Klastow says it needs to be comfortable. “This is the first piece of jewelry a lot of men will purchase that they are going to wear all the time.” Like I mentioned earlier, it does take a little getting used to, but you want to make sure that it feels good on your finger. Is it heavy? Thick? is it too thin? Does it chafe your finger? You need to have it on for a little while to get a good feel for it. Put your hand in your pocket like you are taking out your phone or your wallet. Does the ring catch on your pocket or does it slip right into the pocket?

 

Another thing to consider is if you want it to match your spouse-to-be’s ring. Remember, rings are going to be photographed as well. Do you want both rings to be white gold, or are you OK with one being white gold and one being yellow gold or a different color metal?

 

Lastly, Michael J. Halpy, owner of Hannoush Jewelers in Wappingers Falls, relates back to what Matero says about usage and how you are going to wear it. Halpy recommends taking a look at your lifestyle and finding a metal that matches. “I’m a big proponent of gold or platinum bands and the reason is because it’s a malleable metal that you can work with, so it can be sized, it can be adjusted, soldered if it cracks…it can be fixed without even knowing.” Other metals can’t be sized or altered as easily. Halpy says, “It takes special machinery to make these other rings that are forged in tungsten carbide or titanium or steel and all sorts of other different alternative metals.” If damage happens in a stronger metal, you need to get an entirely new ring, which, presents many issues, one of which being that the sentimentality is gone. Your ring will no longer be your original ring.

 

Are you going to wear a wedding band? Is there a special metal you’ve had your eye on? If you’ve gotten your wedding band, we’d love to see it to give other guys inspiration.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jaymark Jewelers

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Everything You Need To Know About Your Save The Dates

If you are getting married next summer, now is the time you should be sending out your Save the Dates (STD for short). Chances are, by now, you’ve been invited to a few weddings and received a STD in the mail, but for those who don’t know, a Save the Date is literally an invitation-type card, trinket or, in some cases, an e-mail or video, informing you that a wedding will be taking place on a certain day, that you are invited, and to expect a formal invitation in the mail closer to the time of the wedding.
 

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

Mailing your Save the Dates is a critical step in your planning process for many reasons. First, it forces you to create a guest list, which is the most important part of the whole planning process even bigger than choosing your date. You need to know who to send them to and your guest list and that number will help you determine the size and scope of your wedding, will help you determine the type of location you want, and the all-important budget. Second, STDs help you choose a date. You can’t send out a Save the Date without a date; that would be pointless.
 

However, while that does sound like a lot of work, it’s important to get the date and guest list done first. It will help you immensely with the rest of your planning as those are the two things every vendor you speak to will be asking you…when is your wedding and how many people are you inviting. They may ask you where you are having it too, but it’s not as important, yet.
 

RELATED: 12 WEDDING TRADITIONS YOU CAN SKIP, AND 5 YOU SHOULD KEEP (PART 2)
 

The good news is, that unlike invitations, STDs don’t need to have anything specific on it other than the date. You really just want your guests to book that date on their calendar. They don’t need to know specifics just yet because they unwritten rule is if you receive an STD, you will be getting a more detailed invitation at some point, at which time, guests can officially accept or decline.
 

To help you navigate through your Save the Dates, we asked Hudson Valley stationers and graphic designers for their advice:
 

When should you send out your Save the Dates?

 

Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

Frankie D’Elia, owner and creative director at Fitting Image Graphics, Inc. in Carmel, says, “There is not a universal timeframe for when to send out your Save the Dates,” but he always suggests that as soon as you know your date, let your guests know as soon as possible after that so they can secure that day. ”Keep in mind,” he says, “that you’ll want to give your guests as much notice as possible if your wedding falls around a holiday weekend. This is because people generally plan their vacations or days off from work around holidays and you’ll want to catch them before they make plans; your big day, of course, takes priority!”
 

Kristal Walden, owner Kristal Walden Graphic Design in Beacon, says, “Usually you send out your Save the Dates a year before your date.” However, she says, “If you don’t have a year out, send them out ASAP.”
 

“We say nine months to a year,” says Amy Eddy, co-owner of Graphic Nature, LLC in Fishkill. “Usually if it’s on a holiday weekend or if you have a lot of out-of-town guests, we say a year out.” Sometimes they have couples who come in six months before their wedding and want to send out Save the Dates. At that point, Eddy says, “We say don’t waste your money because in two months time you are going to work on the invitations.” However, she says, if you are in that situation and don’t send Save the Dates, she recommends sending out invitations a little earlier. More on that in the coming weeks.
 

RELATED: 8 EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY AS A WEDDING GUEST
 

What should be included on a Save the Date?

 

Photo Credit: Graphic Nature, LLC

Stephanie McHoul, also co-owner of Graphic Nature, LLC, says, “They’re usually pretty basic. If there’s no photo, first and last name (of the couple) are important, and then they (the couple) usually keep it very vague.” Sometimes they’ll put location in terms of city, usually never a venue name, but if the couple has a wedding website, they’ll include that. This way, guests can visit the website which the couple can update as they get more details or just list all their details at that time.”
 

Should the Save the Date match the invitation?

 

Because couples are coming in a year in advance of their wedding to do their Save the Dates, many details of the day are still unknown. Eddy says, ”Half the time they (couples) come here to do Save the Dates and it’s a year out from their wedding and they don’t really have their ‘vision’.” That’s OK. McHoul says, ”It’s nice if it’s complementary…I personally like it when things coordinate without being overly ‘matchy-matchy.’ ” Eddy says, “Most of the time it’s just a big photo with script font, save the date, and it’s very simple so it’s not so themed or specific.” That way it leaves room to design an invite the way you want that’s more specific to your theme or aesthetic once you know it.
 

Featured Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

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12 Wedding Traditions You Can Skip…And 5 You Should Keep (part 2)

This is the second part of a 2-part series

 

If you’ve been to many weddings, you’ll know there’s a certain ebb and flow to them and certain main elements you can rely on, mainly being that weddings have some type of ceremony with some type of celebration after. What those end up looking like is totally up to you and your personal style and taste.

I mentioned I am a traditionalist, to an extent. I love the formality of weddings, but I also love it when couples change up tradition to match their personal preference, taste and personality. What’s great about weddings being full of traditions, is that, by definition, means that they aren’t rules. You can basically do whatever you want. While there are some traditions that can totally be skipped or changed up, there are 5 that, in my opinion need to stay:

RELATED: 12 WEDDING TRADITIONS YOU CAN SKIP…AND 5 YOU SHOULD KEEP

Wedding Tradition: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

What’s great about this tradition is that it’s vague enough that a bride can make it as obvious or as subtle as she wants. That’s why it’s a tradition I think should always be kept…more so than keeping a white dress. Why? Because fashion changes, times change, styles change. A dress is something that will be memorialized in photos and is one of the outwardly obvious indications of the bride’s personality so she should choose what she likes and what makes her comfortable and radiant.

This is such a time-honored tradition that I think any bride, no matter how traditional or off-beat will agree, is something she won’t be walking down the aisle without doing. The something new is almost always a wedding dress, so that can be ticked off a bride’s list right away. The something blue can be something subtle like blue shoes or blue stickers on the bottom of her shoes spelling out “I do” to something more obvious…maybe a blue dress or blue flowers or even blue hair!

Something borrowed can be absolutely anything and sometimes, can be combined with something old. For me, my old and borrowed item was a brooch my grandmother always wore which I had attached to my bouquet.

Wedding Tradition: Keeping the ceremony a ceremony

 

Back in the day, almost all wedding ceremonies took place in a house of worship. Now, more and more ceremonies are taking place outside or in non-secular locations. Either way, they are beautiful in their own right. However, every once in a while you hear about the couple that gets married under water, gets married while sky diving, or gets married doing some sort of non-traditional activity. While I do agree it’s your wedding and you can do what you want with it, it’s VERY, VERY important to not make light of the situation. A wedding is a sacred, special, meaningful day, and the ceremony itself is so life-changing that it needs the proper attention, formality, and dignity it (and your relationship) deserves. There are other times during the day you can express your love of diving, running or any other activity you enjoy, but the ceremony needs to be a ceremony…dignified and formal (however you define it).

Wedding Tradition: Mailing out paper invitations

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I know couples are strapped for cash and sometimes, invitations can get expensive, so especially now, in this tech-based society, many couples are opting for paperless invitations. While I understand the financial aspect of it, and understand most people just throw them out afterward, it kind of goes back to my last point about keeping your ceremony formal and dignified. Now, does that mean you need to spend $10 a piece on invites? Heck no! You can print them yourself. What that does mean is seeing your wedding in the bigger picture. Are all your guests going to be able to navigate an e-vite? Are you going to want pictures of your invite? Are you going to want to keep some for framing?

Now, there are things you can do so save paper and money. Maybe send electronic Save the Dates, or have guests RSVP electronically to save money on postage, but sending a paper RSVP to grandma instead. You could even try sending post card invites and then include all pertinent information on your wedding website. Whatever you decide, sending an invitation sends a message to your guests that it is a special event.

RELATED: WHAT IS IT REALLY LIKE TO BE A DIY BRIDE?

Wedding Tradition: Hiring professional vendors

 

In this day in age, it’s very easy to say “I’m going to have a friend take our photos” or “I’m just going to play my iTunes playlist” or “I’m going to cook all my food,” and while that’s all well and good, you have to think about the end result, and what that all really means.

While it’s not really tradition, it is something you shouldn’t skimp out on. Is your Itunes play list going to give you the type of entertainment you want? Who’s going to announce you, or announce the speeches or announce the cake cutting or last dance? Are your friends’ photos going to capture every moment you want? Do you want your friend to work or have a good time? How long will it take to the photos back? Will they be edited? How are you going to get an album? Same with the food…are you going to cook or get married? You can’t really do both without having to work on your wedding day. Who’s going to set up?

So, that’s why the professionals are there, to help you enjoy your day and make it everything you dreamed of.

Wedding Tradition: Honoring those who have passed

 

At most weddings, there is either something said about those who couldn’t be there physically with you, something written about them, a candle symbolizing your loved ones or even a table with photos of your loved ones. However you want to recognize your loved ones is up to you, but it’s a tradition that needs to be kept. Remember, your wedding is about two families coming together, sharing love, and honoring your loved ones reminds everyone of their love for you and how their loved shaped you into who you are today.

What wedding traditions would you keep? Would you trade one of these for another tradition? What traditions are you keeping in your wedding? We’d love to know.

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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Summer Weddings: What You Need to Know to Stay Cool and Stylish

While summer may not officially be here yet, we’d be kidding ourselves if we said we weren’t already in summer mode. That means vacations, beach days, barbecuing by the pool, and weddings … lots and lots of weddings. If you are getting married in the summer or are attending a summer wedding, here are some tips for you to stay cool and stylish.

 


 

Summer has always been a popular season to get married, as you might have discovered when you were doing your planning. Who wouldn’t want to get married in the summer — fresh air, bright sunshine, longer days (though my husband would say the day isn’t longer, there are just more hours of daylight)? You also have more options of where you can get married: inside, outside, maybe even on a beach. However, summer also means heat, so here are some ideas to help you with your wardrobe decisions to keep you cool.

 

Brides

 

Think about the location of where you are getting married. If you are getting married outside, you might want to opt for a looser, more free-flowing gown made of silk organza chiffon or tulle (though, too much tulle can make you hot) to keep you cool. If most of your day will be spent inside with just photos outside, you could opt for something a little more formal and structured. Just make sure you use a makeup setter to keep your makeup from dripping, keep tissues on you to blot the sweat, and carry a fan to keep cool between shots.

 

While sleeves are a big trend, opt for something sleeveless or strapless, but don’t forget your sunblock. You don’t want to burn up in the summer sun. If you like the look of sleeves, but are afraid of getting too hot, see if your dress can be ordered with removable sleeves or a removable bolero that hides a sleeveless gown underneath

 

Grooms

 

Well, guys, unless you and your fiancé are having an informal dress code, you will be in a suit or a tux. Tux material, which is usually polyester, is very hot and heavy, so you may want to opt for a nice suit instead, which gives you more options in terms of fabric and colors. Again, it goes back to location of your wedding. If it’s outside, a suite may be best. Try to stick to lighter, softer colors like grey or beige. You might also want to consider a linen suite which is very breathable. The downside to linen, though, is it wrinkles … a lot! So, if you are doing your photos before the ceremony, that would be OK. Otherwise, prepare to have a steamer handy. If the wedding is indoors except for photos, then you could get away with wearing a tux. Again, just like for the brides, make sure you have tissues to blot the sweat and a fan to stay cool.

 

Also keep in mind the same rules apply to your bridal party. They’re going to be in the same environment as you so the same tips need to be applied to their outfits as well.

 

 

Before I get into the tips for what you should wear to a summer wedding, there are three things you must remember, no matter the time of year or location…

 

RELATED: 5 SECRETS TO BEING AN AWESOME WEDDING GUEST

 

Always adhere to the dress code

 

If the dress code is Black Tie, that means you need an evening gown or a tux. If it’s a casual outdoor wedding and the dress code is jeans and country boots, you need be there in jeans and country boots. If there is no dress code, that means you need to dress like you would for a work event or business event. A nice dress that you wouldn’t mind your boss seeing you in and for guys, that means a suit. Why do I keep talking about work attire? See my next point…

 

You are attending a wedding, not a club

 

You know what I’m talking about: no club clothes! That means nothing too revealing, nothing too tight…like suck-it-in-tight-and-hope-the-zipper-doesn’t-break tight, and nothing shiny (like leather). Even if the affair is a very casual one, it is still a wedding and a sacred event. There will be clergy in attendance, there will be elders in attendance, there will be kids in attendance, and, you never know, your boss might be in attendance too if the couple invited coworkers. Why am I making such a fuss over club clothes? See my next point…

 

You NEVER, I mean EVER want to upstage the bride!

 

First and foremost, that means no all white dress (unless specified in the dress code). The bride is in white for many reasons, one of which is to make sure she stands out. Evening wear is usually on the darker side, and even when the lights dim in the reception venue and the dancing starts, you can still spot the bride in a large crowd because she’s in all white. If your outfit has some white in it, that’s fine, but all white is a big no-no. It also means no sequence (even if it’s black tie). All eyes should be on the bride, not you. The bride should be easy to find and the one person at the event that stands out the most.

 

RELATED: 30 TRUTHS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR WEDDING DAY

 

Other tips to consider:

 

Garment fabric

 

Ladies, take a cue from the bride. Guys, take a cue from the groom. The same fabrics that keep them cool will also keep you cool.

 

Layer what you wear

 

I know that sounds odd to say for summer, but temperatures are a funny thing. The bride and or the groom will be hot most of the day (no matter the season) because of all the activities they need to be a part of, but as a guest, you aren’t doing as much running around as they are. Bring a sweater if you will be in air conditioning. Sometimes the thermostat doesn’t want to cooperate, and if you’re like me and get cold easily, you want to cover up until you start dancing. Being too cold is just as uncomfortable as being too hot. Also, if you’re outside, it might get chilly at night, so the sleeves will keep the chill off. Plus, sleeves also help with mosquito bites and keeping those nasty bugs off your skin!

 

Miscellaneous essentials for summer weddings

 

Last but not least, don’t forget your sunblock, a fan, sunglasses, water, bug repellent, an umbrella if it’s going to rain, and high heel protectors so your heels don’t sink into the grass.
 

What advice do you have for staying cool and stylish at a summer wedding?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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Traditions and ceremonies of a Hindu wedding

I’ve attended many gorgeous weddings over the years, and no matter the location or the type of ceremony (non-denominational or not), what I love most about weddings is how each couple makes it their own and how you become part of such a sacred event. Whether it’s a simple ceremony or one full of cultural or religious traditions, no two weddings are ever the same.
 

I have to admit weddings full of religious or cultural traditions hold a special place in my heart. The symbolism is so beautiful and you get to see, first-hand, centuries-old traditions come to life. It also gives you a chance to learn more about what makes the bride and groom so special. These traditions helped make them who they are, and it takes you into their world, if only for a brief moment.
 

That’s why I was so excited when my best friend got married. Besides the fact I love her like a sister and was so happy she was going to be spending her life with the one who makes her truly happy, she was having a wedding unlike any I had ever been to before. Her wedding incorporated two ceremonies, one Hindu and one Christian. This was my first Hindu wedding, and I was thrilled to witness first-hand, the rich traditions of her culture.
 

Photo Credit: Red Pepper Shots

The only things I knew of Hindu ceremonies prior to the wedding was that they usually last a few days and are very ornate, colorful and full of blessings, traditions, and rituals that signify the sacredness of the marriage. I knew the groom usually enters the ceremony on a white horse, and I also knew as part of the ceremonial rituals take place prior to the wedding, the women received tattoos made from the Henna plant, called Mehndi, and the bride’s Mehndi takes hours of precise designing covering her arms and feet.

 

While my friend’s wedding ceremony was an abbreviated version lasting only about 45 minutes, it contained 9 beautifully symbolic ceremonies I want to share with you, so you can see the differences, as well as the similarities in weddings that you might be familiar with and with those celebrated in other parts of the world.
 

Jaimala

 

The bride and groom exchange flower garlands which signify their acceptance of each other in marriage.
 

Ganesh Puja

 

This is an offering of prayer to the Lord Ganesh, who blesses the bride and groom. Ganesh is the Lord of beginnings and removes both material and spiritual obstacles.
 

Kanyadan

 

In this ceremony, the parents of the bride join the hands of the bride and groom, signifying the handing over of their daughter to the care, love, fidelity and security of the groom. This is similar to what you might be familiar with of the father of the bride (or significant family member if the father is not able to be there) giving the bride away.
 

Gathbandhan

 

A corner of the bride and groom’s garments are tied together symbolizing the bond of marriage.
 

Photo Credit: Vijay Solanki

Agni Pujan and Havan

 

The ceremonial fire is set up by the priest, or Pundit. The fire is set up in a copper bowl called the Havan Kund and the fire symbolizes the illumination of the mind, knowledge, and happiness.
 

Mangal Phera/Saptapadi

 

Once the fire is lit, the bride and groom circle it seven times, with the priest bestowing blessings. The blessings are for eternal happiness and a healthy marriage, and as they circle the fire, the couple seeks four basic goals of life: Righteousness (Dharma), prosperity (Artha), pleasure (Kama), and salvation (Moksha). Each of the seven circles around the fire represents the vows the bride and groom make to one another. They are:

 

  • Promising to nourish each other physically, mentally, and spiritually
  • Promising to grow together in strength
  • Promising to preserve their wealth
  • Promising to share in their joys and sorrows
  • Promising to care for their future children
  • Promising to be together forever
  • Promising to be lifelong best friends

 

Sindoor

 

The groom places red powder (Sindoor) on the forehead of the bride signifying she is now a married woman.
 

Mithai

 

Mithai are sweets. In this ceremony, the bride and groom feed each other Mithai as a symbol of sharing whatever they have together in life.
 

Ashirvad

 

The ceremony has come to an end and the bride and groom bow to the Lord, the Pundit, their parents, and all the elders who offer blessings to the newly married couple.
 

Can you see how, while different, many of the ceremonies are very similar to what you might be familiar with?
 

We’d love to know what kind of cultural or religious wedding ceremonies you’ve attended. What similarities or difference did see? What were they like?
 

Featured Photo: the Mandap, or canopy, where the ceremony takes place. Photo credit WCHV

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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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What Is It Really Like To Be a DIY Bride?

When it comes to weddings, the “Do It Yourself” trend is here to stay. With more and more couples wanting to incorporate personalized aspects into every part of their day, DIY weddings seems to be the way to go. In addition to making their wedding personalized, many couples are planning weddings with limited budgets or at non-traditional wedding venues, and so, DIYing elements is a perfect fit.
 

Let’s not forget, too, that for the bride or groom who just have a knack for crafting or making things, a wedding in the perfect playground to let your creative juices flow. It was for me.
 

However, DIYing your wedding is not always as easy or as “perfect” as you think it’s going to be. While, what we see in magazines or on sites like Pinterest are beautiful and are great for inspiration, when it comes to actually recreating what you see and doing it yourself, it’s not always that easy. We asked two Hudson Valley DIY brides – Michelle from Suffern, and Lauren from Poughkeepsie – to give their real, first-hand experience on what it was like making their wedding come to life.
 

RELATED: DIY WEDDINGS: 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW
 

Why did you DIY?

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Michelle – “DIY has always been in my blood. I am a crafter at heart, and absolutely love to create things and be able to put my own personal spin on it. If I can make it, why buy it? It means so much more when you can personalize things. Plus, it gives a sense of empowerment and gratification. Creativity is so important to me; it keeps my sanity! After finishing a project, what’s better than admiring it and saying ‘WOW!!! I did that!’ ”
 

Lauren – “The biggest thing that inspired me to go DIY with our wedding was seeing all of the amazing ideas on Pinterest and thinking, ‘Why spend all that money when we can do most of this ourselves?’ I knew finding a stylist for the ideas I liked would cost an arm and a leg and I figured, I’m great at copying ideas, why not do it myself?”
 

What did you DIY?

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Michelle – “I wanted to carry a unique bouquet that would last forever. That’s when I came up with my brooch bouquet idea. I had asked my friends, family, and patients to donate their favorite pieces just to make it THAT much more special. Another thing that I made were my invitations.
 

“The theme of the wedding was ‘rustic-vintage,’ so there was a lot of lace, doilies, burlap, wood, and chalkboard that was used. I made all the menus, the fans, the place cards, the ‘table numbers,’ the takeaways and had my centerpieces bought from Bed Bath & Beyond with Shoprite flowers in the vases.’
 

“I decided to have each table with ‘Love’ in different languages in the center. The ‘Love’ phrase took place of the table numbers. For the place cards, I had small honey jars with squares of lace on top, complete with twine wrapped around. They held little tags with my guests’ names and the ‘Love’ phrase in whichever language their table had on it.
 

“We had a ‘photo area,’ in front of the fireplace mantle where the reception was held. I had made all sorts of props on long dowels complete with eyeglasses, old-fashioned mustaches, chalkboards, and large picture frames for people to hold up in front of them…I wanted to have a cute takeaway for the end of the night, so we went with milk and cookies.”
 

Lauren – “Personally, I made the bridesmaids’ bouquets, I did my own makeup, I made all the signs and decorations, set the tables and their settings up myself, I made all the decorations for the centerpieces. We had my husband’s aunt make all the desserts and the cakes and his friend make all the food (taco bar). We set up the ceremony area and decorated an arbor with a lot of things we found around my sister in law’s house (we had the ceremony and reception there).”
 

What does DIY really mean in terms of saving money or invested time?

 

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Lauren – “While we didn’t spend nearly as much on a wedding as most people do (in the end we spent about $9,000-$10,000 total including attire on a 100 person event), it was still a lot when all was said and done. Every time you turned around you’d be spending money on more things. When you hire someone to do something, like the centerpieces, you just pay money and it’s there looking beautiful. But when you’re doing it yourself, every little piece you envision has to be purchased or found on some crazy scavenger hunt. So it takes a lot more time than you would think.
 

“In addition, I think because we were doing it all ourselves and didn’t really have “deadlines” other than the day of the wedding, procrastination ran high and we spent a lot of the morning of the wedding running around trying to set everything up, finish decorations, run out for last minute items, and just worried about the little things (like not having a tap for the keg!).”
 

RELATED: 3 EASY WAYS TO DIY YOUR WEDDING WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE THE TIME OR CRAFTY GENES
 

What advice do you have for those interested in DIYing their wedding?

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Michelle – “Although being a DIY bride was stressful, and tough, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. As long as you prioritize, and plan things out, you’ll be fine! Lists were my best friend. And get friends to help put things together! Not only does it save you money, but it really puts a sense of self into your wedding. And people will notice. Do not have a cookie-cutter wedding…get your creative juices going!”
 

Lauren – “Don’t be discouraged if things don’t turn out exactly how you envisioned them. Some of the items you see in pictures are nowhere to be found, or crazy expensive! So improvisation can be key in this regard. Just go with the flow. Also, don’t procrastinate! Things will go wrong or not turn out right, but you can eliminate a lot of that if you set a deadline to get everything done, like a week before the big day so you can just relax until the ‘I do!’ ”
 

What advice do you have for those who love the DIY look but don’t have the time or know they don’t have crafty genes?

 

Lauren – “Employ your crafty friends and family! Show them the picture of what you want and ask them to help or bring any creative ideas to the table (even though everyone will already be throwing ideas at you). In terms of making things from Pinterest, don’t expect it to look exactly the same. Go into your crafting knowing it won’t, but that you’re also making things for your own, unique wedding. If you’re determined to have everything looks the same to a T, expect even more money or investing in the help of a professional.”
 

Featured Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

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What You Need To Know Before Scheduling Your Hair & Makeup Trial

Join us for part 1 of a 2-part series. Today we discuss general facts about your hair and makeup trial.

 

With so many aspects of wedding planning, there are some items that you might think you could skip in an effort to save money. However, skipping on a hair and makeup trial is not recommended. Why?

 

Well, picture yourself on the day of your wedding: You go to the salon, because we know that your hair and makeup should be done by professionals, and the stylist asks what you are doing. They do what you ask but then you suddenly realize that what you wanted looks totally different on you than what you expected it to. Well, because it’s your wedding day, you are on a tight schedule, so you don’t have time to redo anything. That leads to a very stressful situation and something you don’t want to be worrying about last minute, especially on your wedding day.

 

RELATED: THIS IS THE ONE MISTAKE THAT CAN RUIN YOUR WEDDING PHOTOS

 

So, what exactly is a hair and makeup trial?

 

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

A hair and makeup trial is just that: a trial run. It’s a chance for you to try out different styles of makeup and different styles of hair that you think you might want for your wedding day. That way, the day of your wedding, you and your stylist know ahead of time what styles you are going to have, so the appointment is streamlined, organized, stress free, fun, and, most importantly, efficient.

 

Since your hair and makeup appointment is usually the first stop on your wedding day itinerary, if you run late at the salon, it has a chain reaction on the rest of your day, making you late throughout the day. Knowing what the plan is ahead of time helps to get you in and out in a timely manner.

 

How far in advance should I book a trial?

 

Unlike buying a wedding dress or booking your vendors, scheduling a hair and makeup trial doesn’t really have a set timeframe; however, you want to make sure you schedule one at least a few months out from your wedding. This way, you have time to see what you like, have time to think about the looks you tried, and have time to make another appointment, if you feel you need one. You also want to make sure that you leave yourself enough time to prep your skin and get it close to the way you want it for your wedding day.

 

RELATED: EXPERTS SHARE BEST ADVICE FOR FLAWLESS WEDDING DAY SKIN

 

How long does a hair and makeup trial appointment last?

 

Each salon is different, so that’s a question you want to make sure you ask when booking your appointment. “I block out an hour-and-a-half,” says Stephanie Jones, owner of The Blushery in Beacon, who primarily does makeup. Rebecca Lee, owner of Bella Luci Salon in Poughkeepsie, says a hair trial lasts about an hour, and for makeup, expect an additional 45 minutes to an hour.

 

What you need to know and what should you bring with you

 

First, you need to know that a trial really starts with a conversation. You may have an idea of what you are looking for, but you need to have an open discussion with your stylist about your day. Cheryl Conklin, Platinum Stylist and Bridal Coordinator of Salon Lucere in Chester, says it’s always good to know what kind of wedding you are planning to have “Is it a very glamorous evening wedding? Is it formal? Is it casual? Is it outdoors? Because that does effect what we suggest for them,” she says.

 

Photos

 

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

“Usually, I tell them that they can bring in any pictures that they like,” says Jones. Sometimes she finds that brides don’t necessarily have a specific style. “They (brides) could bring in 10 totally different looks; but at least I know what kind of colors they like, if they want more of a smoky eye, if they want more of a natural look.”

 

The thing to remember is that the photos you bring with you are really meant for inspiration, not meant to copy exactly. “The good thing about a trial is that we take the pictures and make them applicable to them and their hair,” Lee says, “because sometimes the picture has extensions and they aren’t taking that into consideration, or the whole hair texture is completely different than their hair texture, so we use that as inspiration to then create a look that fits their hair style and their hair type.”

 

You also want to bring in a photo of your dress. “If they don’t have a dress,” says Jones, “they tell me either what kind of dress style they like or what color their bridesmaids are going to be, and we just go from there.”

 

Headpiece

 

It’s always a good idea to bring in any headpiece or hair accessories you plan on wearing that day, including your veil. “If they have it (headpiece), we like them to bring it,” Conklin says, “because sometimes it will dictate a bit of the hairstyle.” She says it also gives the stylist an idea of the overall look you are going for.

 

“If they have a headpiece,” says Lee, “I always say bring it to the trial because sometimes the style (of hair) that they chose doesn’t look well when the veil is in or we need to make a few adjustments so that it does compliment the hairpiece. Are they going to wear the hairpiece throughout the day, or just the ceremony, are they taking it out? Who’s going to do that? We do try to train at least one person (in the bridal party) to be able to put it in and take it out.”

 

We hope this gives you an overview of how to prep for your trial and what you can expect. Join us next week when we go into specific detail about your makeup and hair trial and how to leave with the perfect look for your wedding day.
 

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

 

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Not Sure if You Want to Hire a Wedding Planner? 5 Things You Need to Know

When I was planning my wedding, I didn’t hire a wedding planner. I had preconceived notions of what a planner did and honestly, I was looking forward to the challenge of planning a wedding and didn’t want to spend any more money than I already had. I’m the type of person that loves to plan, loves to create, and my wedding was the perfect playground for me. We also had our reception at an all-inclusive venue, so I felt like everything was taken care of, and it was, perfectly.

 

There was, however, one part of my day that did not go as planned, that still bothers me to this day and still has me doubting my decision of not hiring a planner, at least a day of coordinator. Here’s what happened…

 

When we arrived at the church, my bridesmaids and I were led to a room off to the side of the vestibule in the church. Within a few seconds, my girls left the room to line up with the groomsmen and then I heard our processional music playing. I couldn’t see anything from where I was waiting, but in my head, I envisioned the bridal party walk down the aisle, like we rehearsed the day before, and knew we good to go.

 

However, it wasn’t until I saw my video that I realized the timing was totally off!! Our first couple to walk down the aisle did so before any music started playing, then the second and third couple walked to music, then our ring bearer started walking down to my music!

 

The thought never entered our mind that we needed to make sure someone was going to signal to the organist in the choir loft that we are ready to go. She couldn’t see us and needed guidance! We never thought to ask the question of how the timing was going to go. We just assumed, somehow, it would happen…but it didn’t. Once the ceremony started, the organist had vocal cues from the priest to know when to start playing music, but to start, she had nothing…co clues or signals to know when to start.

 

It’s such a tiny detail, but when you spend hours planning your perfect day, and something like that happens, it’s cringe-worthy!

 

I share this story with you, not to scare you, but to show how common misconceptions can sometimes lead to poor decision-making. So, I wanted to take this time to debunk some common myths about wedding planners to help you make a more informed decision when it comes to your wedding.

 

Myth #1 – Wedding planners are too expensive

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Weddings

Many couples think that hiring a wedding planner is a luxury, something that they will spend money on, IF they have money leftover in their budget. The result is many couples, at least those familiar with the Hudson Valley, forgo this “luxury” because they don’t think it’s worth it.

 

Truth –

 

As with all aspects of your wedding, you are investing in something much more. You are investing in memories. Joann Provanzano, owner and certified bridal consultant of What Dreams Are Made of in Kingston, says, “Yes there’s a price, but there are so many perks to it (hiring a wedding planner) that people don’t realize.” Perks include all the little items that some folks forget about such as cuing the music at your ceremony or making sure your gifts are packed and taken back to your hotel room.

 

Other perks of hiring a wedding planner is that they can act as a mediator and “therapist” of sorts. If families don’t get along, your wedding planner can step in and ease some of the tension by finding workarounds. They deal with the problems at hand so that you can relax and not be so stressed out. Jeanne Stark, of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says with a wedding planner, “You have an advocate on your side, you have someone that you can always run questions by, etiquette, family issues.”

 

Another perk, which kind of sounds ironic, is that by investing money in hiring a wedding planner, you could actually be saving yourself money (and time and stress) in the long run. Stark also says that planners have vendors in their repertoire that you may not ever know about. Little hidden gems, as she likes to call them “We also have a lot of vendors that they’re (couples) not going to find on The Knot or Wedding Wire,” she says. “They just don’t advertise, they don’t feel they need to or want to and they’re going to be at a lower price because they’re not paying for advertising.”

 

Myth #2 – Wedding planners are too bossy!

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

This misconception, I’m sure, comes from the portrayal of wedding planners in movies and TV, where they show up and start bossing people around. Think Martin Short’s character Franck from Father of the Bride. While it’s fun and entertaining, for the most part, wedding planners are not like that.

 

Truth –

 

Nellie Hill, Event Planner and Owner of Nellie Hill Events in Hurley, says the right planner actually keeps their relationship with other hired professionals cordial. “We all work together,” she says. “I’m not going to step on their toes…I will just step back and make sure that it’s happening from afar.” However, she says, as the second set of eyes, she makes sure everything happens the way it’s supposed to. She gives an example of a photographer. “They are a professional, they know what they are doing” but if she sees something happening that they may not be aware of, she will make sure to tell them.

 

Stark says a common misconception is that wedding planners go around yelling at everyone, telling vendors what to do and bringing them down the lowest level they can charge. “A good wedding planner,” she says, “is a team player, we’re all on the same page, so the misconception is that we are there to tell everyone what to do, and we’re not.” She continues to say that “it’s not our job to say ‘do this!’ It’s our job to say ‘let’s come up with a couple ideas,’ and then they (the couple) can choose what’s comfortable for them or what they feel is going to work best in that situation.”

 

However, if you are still unsure of this truth, talk with your vendors and your venue on planners they’ve worked with before. You want to make sure that the planner you hire works well with others and is not the type that lives up to this misconception.

 

RELATED: The One Thing That Will Ruin Your Wedding and 4 Ways to Prevent It

 

Myth #3 – I don’t need a wedding planner because my wedding is in a non-traditional venue

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

Getting married at a non-traditional venue has its perks, but also has its setbacks. Remember, most non-traditional venues were built with another purpose in mind first, like a barn, an inn, or an old industrial space, not for weddings. That means that you need to turn that space into a wedding venue.

 

Truth –

 

Provenzano says, “Unique venues such as barns, backyards, wineries – it’s more complicated.” If you are turning a non-traditional space into a wedding venue, it’s all on you, unless you hire someone to help you. You need to provide everything from tables, china, napkins, silverware, to portable restrooms, heat, tents, etc. Even if you are a DIY bride, do you really want to be in charge of all of those details? Stark says, “Most of our clients are going to be ones that are in a venue where they pay a site fee and they have to do everything. EVERYTHING! So that’s a typical couple that would need a wedding planner, just because there’s so many moving parts, so many components to the wedding itself.”

 

RELATED: DIY Weddings: 5 Things You Need To Know Now

 

Myth #4 – I don’t need a wedding planner because I’m getting married at a full-service venue

 

A full-service wedding venue is one you would typically associate with a wedding. A catering hall at a venue or hotel where you choose your linens, your menu, etc. and have staff taking care of you throughout the night. Because of all the staff catering to you during the night, it’s easy to assume you don’t need a wedding planner.

 

Truth –

 

While most couples who have weddings at venues like this do not hire wedding planners, “Full-service wedding venues still need someone there”, says Provanzano. The venue is almost always your biggest ticket item. “If you have a problem with the venue,” she says, “and you don’t have a planner that you’ve hired, who are you going to turn to?” You need to go to someone who works at that venue instead of having an independent person to help you through the issue.

 

Hill says at full-service venues, “sometimes the maître d’ may not be there when a vendor is not showing up…the maître d’ is following the food and managing the staff.”

 

Myth #5 – A wedding planner will take control and not give me the wedding I really want

 

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

Some people have this misconception that a wedding planner will take over all control and force their opinions onto a couple creating a wedding that is the planner’s vision and not the couple’s vision.

 

Truth –

 

When you hire a wedding planner, you are also hiring a third-party “voice of reason.” Sometimes couples get so caught up in the wedding day that their expectations are set way too high, and become unrealistic. The wedding planner comes in and brings them back to reality. Provanzano encourages couples to make smarter decisions. If a couple wants a flame thrower at the reception or wants to spend $2,000 on invitations, she will often times show them what else they could get for their money that would go a lot further instead. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but she gives alternative options to let the couple ultimately decide what’s really important to them and what they really want to do.

 

“The other part of being a wedding planner,” Stark says, “is making sure that clients are making good choices, in a timely manner, and unfortunately, sometimes, being the one that says ‘OK, I know you love the fact that you want to come in a hot air balloon, unfortunately, you have a $25,000 budget and that’s going to blow it out of the water.’ ” Because of that, Stark says planners “sometimes have to be the one that has to be the bearer of bad news. But from experience, what you do is you say ‘well, what about this idea instead? It’s going to be a third of the price, it’s something spectacular, and people are still going to think it’s really cool.”

 

The fact that this “voice of reasoning” may be where this myth comes from, the reality is, the couple actually ends up makes smarter decisions.

 

Are you hiring a wedding planner for your wedding? What made you decide to hire one? Why did you decide not to hire one? We’d love to know.

 

Featured Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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Featured Couple: Melissa & Kaveh

Their Love Story…

 

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

Their story started out as a series of missed moments. Melissa says, “Kaveh and I spent years just missing each other, as a mutual friend kept trying to set us up, but the timing never quite worked for both of us. Then about 4 years ago we were invited to the same holiday party where we met for the first time and have been together ever since.”

 

The Proposal…

 

Their proposal didn’t go quite as planned but worked out perfectly in the end. “Kaveh had been working on planning a proposal for just before my 30th birthday,” Melissa says, “however I got sick and threw a bit of a wrench in his plans. I insisted on staying home to rest up and he switched gears and prepared to do it another time. We ordered sushi and had a picnic in our living room, surrounded by tissues and tea. It was there that he ended up proposing, saying it was those moments that made him want to spend our lives together so what better way to ask.”

 

Wedding Theme…

 

“We didn’t really have a theme,” Melissa says, “but I love rustic elements and pastels.”

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video


 

Why the Hudson Valley?…

 

Melissa says, “I have family that lives in the Hudson Valley and growing up it was always one of my favorite places to visit. With so many happy memories there it was a natural fit for our wedding.”

 

Most Memorable Moment…

 

Melissa says the most memorable moment for her was during their first dance. “It was when my nerves melted away,” she says, “and it was just me and Kaveh surround by our cheering friends and family.”

 

Hudson Valley Professionals…

 

Venue – The Garrison (Garrison)

Photography/VideographyEmma Cleary Photo and Video (New York City)

FloristFloral Fantasies By Sara (Rhinebeck)

HairAnnaliese & Co. (Fishkill)
Makeup
Bridal by Alexandria (Fishkill)

 

Photo Credit to all: Emma Cleary Photo and Video (Click images 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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Top Floral Trends and Your Wedding: What You Need to Know

When it comes to choosing flowers for your wedding day, there are so many options to choose from. Some brides go with their favorite flowers, some want traditional arrangements or pick flowers that hold special meaning to them, yet others want what’s new and trending.

However, it’s clear that one trend, in particular, is sweeping wedding by storm. The shabby-chic, country, vintage, “casual” look is in, and it goes far beyond having an outdoor wedding on a farm with a barn in the background. It’s safe to say that no matter your venue, many brides today want that organic outdoor feel.

With that in mind, we asked Hudson Valley florists how they’re seeing this trend incorporated into today’s weddings.

RELATED: 3 Valuable Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Florist

 

Bouquets

 

Photo Credit: Floral Fantasies by Sara

Sara Salazar, Owner of Floral Fantasies by Sara in Rhinebeck, says brides are going with bigger bouquets. “Brides are staying away from tiny bouquets or even tight compact bouquets,” she says. “Now they want a loose, airy feeling like they’re (the flowers) freshly picked out of the garden.” This is a trend that started late last year and this looser, more casual feel seems to be continuing into 2017 and beyond. Theresa Colucci, owner of Meadowscent in New Paltz, says, “In the past, there were a lot of mono-botanical arrangements, meaning bouquets and arrangements of all one type of flower. Now, there’s more texture, more use of foliage. The designs are airier and open.”

Steve Morgan, owner and designer of Morgan’s Florist in Poughkeepsie, says when choosing a bouquet, keep in mind that the bouquet needs to compliment the bride and her gown. “No one should say they love the bride’s flowers,” he says, “because the flowers shouldn’t overwhelm or overstate the bride. For example, if a bride’s gown is ornate and really has a lot going on, the arrangement should be simple.”

Textures

 

Colucci mentions textures, which are also playing a huge part in wedding floral trends. What do we mean by texture? The best way to describe this is by thinking of a forest. Forests have all sorts of lush greenery, from plants with smooth leaves, plants with fuller greenery, and lots of twigs and wood. Kathy Herzing, owner of Hyde Park Florist and Gifts, says that forest look is very appealing to couples these days. “Unusual foliage like thistle and succulents” gives bouquets and floral décor that sense of bringing the outdoors in. She says the textures are countered by the softer feel of wildflowers.

Sarah Faoro, owner of Floral Affairs by Sarah in Gardiner, says, “The succulent fad is exploding” and can be found in both bouquets and décor. “Succulents aren’t just a gorgeous addition amongst fresh flowers, but also double as a pretty keepsake.”

Colors

 

Faoro says that a very popular color palette is soft neutrals like blush pinks and blush peaches. “However,” she says, “now we’ll see the addition of deep, rich colors: wine, navy, moss and gray. Also mixed in will be some brighter pops of coral, orange and pink.”

RELATED: 3 Steps You Need to Follow for Choosing Beautiful Wedding Flowers

 

Photo Credit: Floral Fantasies by Sara

Décor

 

Because couples today want that feeling of being outdoors, even if they are inside, Salazar says in barns, industrial-looking venues, even tents, couples are bringing in actual trees to decorate the space to give it more of that outdoorsy feel!

Faoro says trees and large floral displays are seen throughout ceremony and reception spaces. “Couples are opting to invest in giant floral topiaries for either side of the sweetheart table or a lush floral wall to hang at the reception as a photo-op for themselves and guests. Arches and gazebos are being adorned with extravagant garlands and place card tables are greeting guests with show-stopping florals in an effort to ‘wow’ their guests.”

How much does this new trend cost?

 

Well, I have good news and bad news on this. In the past, and if you are a bride that still wants a more traditional look, adding greenery can sometimes save you some money because you are interspersing it throughout substituting the more expensive flowers.

However, because the current trend is to use so much more greenery, you really aren’t saving as much as you would think. Salazar says, “It’s not like we’re doing just a little greenery here and there. The garlands are expensive. People think that by using the greenery, they’re going to be saving money, but they’re not because there’s so much labor that goes into doing a garland.”

However, don’t lose hope yet. There is still a way to save if you want a lot of greenery in your wedding. Salazar says, “What we’ve been doing a lot of is just placing greenery on the table, so you don’t have so much labor and it gives you a similar look.”

Now that Hudson Valley florists have shared these trends with you, what do you think? Are you choosing any of these trends for your wedding or going with a more traditional, formal look? We’d love to know!

Featured Photo Credit: Floral Fantasies by Sara

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30 Truths You Need to Know About Your Wedding (Part 3)

One of the most special days of your life is here and you are bursting with excitement! You’ve waited for this day for so long and you’ve played it out in your head so many times, you know exactly how the day is going to go before the day even arrives. However, there are things that happen on your wedding day that may stray from the vision in your head. Good or bad, there are things that no one ever tells you about your wedding day, that they should. Today, we finish our massive list of 30 wedding day truths you need to know.

 

Wedding Truth #21 You may not get cash or gifts you registered for

 

Part of planning your wedding is registering for gifts. Most couples do this, but some, if they have been living together for a long period of time, opt out. And that’s totally fine. The main purpose of the wedding gift registry is to make sure you have most, if not all of the items you need to start your life together. Typical items may include china, bedding, kitchen appliances etc. Most of these gifts are given at the shower, but if there are still items left, some guests may give them to you at the wedding. Another popular wedding gift is cash. However, you may have a guest who, for whatever reason, strays from that registry and would prefer not to give cash either. Perhaps they are crafty and decide to craft you a wedding item. Maybe they are giving you an heirloom. Be prepared for guests to take liberty with your gift. Some of the best gifts we received were hand-made and now hold a special place in our home as a constant reminder of that day.

 

RELATED: 7 Practical Ways to Create Your Awesome Wedding Registry

 

Wedding Truth #22 Your wedding is not the time to change who you are

 

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

Your wedding day will inevitably change who you are forever in terms of your marital status, but it’s not a day to change who you are as a person in terms of how you act and what you look like. What do I mean by that? Take me, for example: I wear glasses, always have since the age of 9. They are part of who I am. I wasn’t about to ditch my glasses (though I did go as far as trying contacts for the day and hated them) just because I am getting married. I realized that’s part of who I am. Why is today any different? If you wear natural makeup, your wedding day may not be the time to try cat eyes with mascara or a bold red lip. If your wardrobe is full of classic staples, you may not want to wear a blinged-out wedding dress. I know there is a lot of pressure to have a “perfect” day and I realize that in magazines, you hardly ever see brides with glasses on, but guess what? That’s not real life. You have to be you, after all, that’s who your fiancé wants to marry.

 

RELATED: The One Thing That Will Ruin Your Wedding and 4 Ways to Prevent It

 

Wedding Truth #23 You will tire of kissing and smiling

 

Wedding days are full of love and romance, there’s no denying it. There’s also no denying that by the end of the night, you are going to be really sick of kissing and smiling…in a good way. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, you will be posing for photos all day. Many of your wedding photos include kissing poses. You are going to get really tired of having to pose for kissing shots or pose with a smile. Sure, it makes for awesome photos, but soon, you are going to want it all to stop so you can actually smile and kiss organically and naturally. You are going to get so used to smiling and kissing that the day after, it’s going to feel weird not doing that.

 

Wedding Truth #24 You will be the most exhausted you have ever been in your life

 

I mentioned before that your wedding day will be the best day ever. It’s so much fun and so full of excitement that you will never want the day to end. And you don’t. However, no matter how much you want the night to go on forever, you will be exhausted! Trust me, when everything is said and done and you finally have a moment of quiet to yourself, exhaustion is going to hit you like a ton of bricks! You’re probably already working on little sleep from the night before (if you were too excited to sleep), then you were the center of attention all day, then you partied hard, then you had to maybe entertain guests for a few days and you have to pack and prepare for your honeymoon. It’s exhausting and you can only sustain that for so long before you crash. For me, I passed out on the plane on our way to our honeymoon and didn’t even realize I was asleep until we were in our descent. I never, ever sleep on planes, no matter how hard I try, so I knew I was spent! My loving hubby took some pretty funny selfie photos of me dead asleep, too!  I actually love them because they say so much.

 

Wedding Truth #25 Not everybody dances

 

DIY Wedding

Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

Dancing is the part of the reception I think everyone looks forward too, however, it doesn’t matter how great your DJ is and how pumped he gets your guests, the truth is not everyone is going to dance. It doesn’t mean they are not having a good time, but some people are just not into dancing and won’t under any circumstance. And here’s a bit of advice if you notice some people not dancing at your wedding. Do not force them to dance! Ever! You could be making it very uncomfortable for them. Just let the non-dancers do their thing.

 

RELATED: The One Mistake Couples Make When Hiring Their DJ

 

Wedding Truth #26 Your wedding day is not just about you

 

In some instances, your wedding day may coincide with a special day one of your guests might be celebrating, like a birthday or anniversary. If that’s the case, make sure you acknowledge that. Yes, people are there to celebrate your marriage, but your guests are at your wedding when they could be celebrating their special day, so make sure you do something special for them, too. Perhaps ask the DJ to play a special song, or purchase a small cake or cupcakes and have everyone sing happy birthday. At our wedding, one of the kids we invited was celebrating his 6th birthday. We surprised him by purchasing a special cake, asked our maître d’ to put in a candle, told our photographer and DJ what we had planned and everyone sang happy birthday to him. It was truly a sweet and special occasion for everyone!

 

Wedding Truth #27 You are going to love the attention

 

One of the things that stressed me out the most about our wedding was knowing that we were going to be the center of attention. I hate being the center of attention and I was even shaking walking down the aisle because I knew everyone was looking at me. Even though two people are getting married, it’s always the bride that seems to get the most attention. Everyone wants to see the dress! No pressure! But, I have to say, that by the end of the night, I actually missed being the center of attention. Think about it. It’s the one day where you are put on a pedestal. Everyone wants to make you happy, and will do whatever it takes. You’re catered to all day, and without sounding arrogant, it’s kind of nice. It’s the only time in your life you are going to experience that, so enjoy it…but don’t let it get to your head.

 

RELATED: 30 Truths You Need to Know About Your Wedding (Part 1)

 

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

Wedding Truth #28 You are going to be congratulated by everyone…even strangers

 

It’s not every day you see people walking around in tuxes, evening gowns and big white dresses. Remember, for everyone not at your wedding, your wedding day is an average, normal day. People are out running errands, living their lives, so for them, seeing a wedding party out and about is an exciting coincidence. People you don’t know will be congratulating you everywhere you go. We had some photos taken at a park, so everyone who was walking or jogging by said congrats. Even people driving by honked their horns at us. It was really cool!

 

Wedding Truth #29 Your wedding day makes you a better person

 

I mentioned earlier that your wedding day is not a day to go changing who you are on the outside, but fundamentally, getting married changes you. The unromantic side is that it really boils down to you signing a piece of paper, but that signature represents so much. I remember being in a constant state of euphoria for months after our wedding. I felt like I was in a unique and elite club. There’s something so amazing about being officially married, saying “husband” or “wife” for the first time, knowing, that forever and ever, you have someone watching your back, a trusted partner. Even people I know who were in long-term relationships prior to getting married say nothing beats that feeling. You literally become a better person!

 

RELATED: 30 Truths You Need to Know About Your Wedding (Part 2)

 

Last but not least…Wedding Truth #30 Your wedding day goes by incredibly fast

 

You’ve all heard the expression that time flies when you are having fun. It goes even faster on your wedding day! Actually, there have been studies done on this phenomenon. No matter how much you want to stop time and savor the day forever and ever, your reception does have to come to an end. It really feels like in a blink of an eye, it’s all over. All the planning, all the prepping, all the coordinating, it’s over in a flash. That’s why it’s so important to hire a professional photographer and videographer to capture the day. The experience is one you can never really repeat and to have photos and videos to replay the day whenever you want is priceless.

 

Are you recently married? Is there something you discovered about your wedding day that no one told you would happen?

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Featured Couple: Sandy & Steven

Their Love Story…

 

Sandy and Steven were college sweethearts. “We met in college during the first few weeks of our first year through mutual friends,” says Sandy. “We became really close over the years as we shared so many of the same interests. We didn’t hang out too often but when we did, we made a big deal about it. Ultimately, we graduated sitting side by side with the same majors (Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Spanish Liberal Arts). The rest is history.”

 

The Proposal…

 

bride in wedding dress

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

Christmas was the setting for their proposal, which is a very special time for both Sandy and Steven as they usually set aside one day to buy decorations and put the Christmas tree up, usually with a movie playing in the background. Sandy also loves to make Christmas cards for the family, so Steven used taking their Christmas card photo as the perfect decoy.

“I got home (from work) and he had the holiday decorations out and ready,” says Sandy. “We put on a movie and got straight to it. We wanted to take our holiday picture after we were done and Steven suggested we prop the cell phone up and record it and then screen shot the phone screen when we like a certain pose… I thought he was a genius for it.”

After the decorating was done, it was time for their photos. Sandy quickly put on some jewelry and Steven said he was going to run to the bedroom to “choose a watch to wear” for the photo. On his way to the bedroom, he hit record, for what Sandy thought was to screen shot a photo for their cards, but was really to capture the proposal. “He came out and it all happened in slow motion, I could tell he was so very nervous and he got on one knee and asked me the big question… I said yes immediately,” said Sandy.

After Sandy said yes, Steven had one more surprise. Letters to Sandy he wrote every day since he purchased the ring a few weeks before over Thanksgiving weekend. “We quickly started calling family who was in-the-know and our close friends who were over the moon excited.

The next day, we went out to lunch to celebrate, as we walked into La Stazione (one of our favorite New Paltz restaurants) our families were waiting for us, filled with so much joy!”

 

Wedding Theme…

 

“We wanted a rustic theme,” said Sandy. “We are very big on nature, light, woods, flowers and burlap. We both love trees and the metaphor trees provide. My dad always has analogies that have to do with trees and nature. We also included lots of lanterns. Our color scheme was a blush rosy pink, mint and hints of gold.”

 

Why the Hudson Valley?…

 

groom

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

“I was raised in The Bronx and Steven in Long Island. We both came to SUNY New Paltz for school in 2007,” Sandy says. “We fell in love with the picturesque views and tranquility of our college town and lived there through college. We tried to live back home with our families after graduation, but that was very brief. We both started looking for jobs up here (Hudson Valley) and have never left. We have no family up here but there was just no way we would get married anywhere else. The Hudson Valley is our home and it was such an honor to share the natural riches of our home with family and friends for our special weekend. For a lot of our college friends, it must’ve felt like a homecoming of sorts.”

 

Most Memorable Moment…

 

For Sandy, there were many moments that really stood out. “Walking down the aisle was very special, Steven was very giddy and I, whom everyone expected to be a mess of tears, was all smiles and excitement.” Sandy also says, “Our first dance was so special because Steven learned the words to our song and whispered them in my ear whilst we danced.”

In addition, Sandy says, “We both got blessing from our parents before getting married in Saint Joseph’s in New Paltz. Steven got a special blessing from his grandmother who was able to make the trip from Colombia.”

Family really made the day special for them. “We had family come from so many places (Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, and Spain); it was so special to see these loved ones after quite some time.”

 

Hudson Valley Professionals…

 

Venues: Saint Joseph’s Church (New Paltz) & Christos Catering (Poughkeepsie)

Photography: Myles Studio Photography (Highland)

Hair & Makeup: Bridal by Alexandria (Poughkeepsie)

Cake: Pastry Garden (Poughkeepsie)

Flowers: Osborne’s Flower Shoppe (Poughkeepsie)

Transportation: A Hudson Valley Limousine, Inc. (Pine Bush)

Photo Credit to All: Myles Studio Photography

 

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