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

Today’s author is Kathryn Cooper of Kathryn Cooper Weddings


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

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


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



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

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

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





Hudson Valley wedding photographer Kathryn Cooper Weddings

Photo Credit: Kathryn Cooper Weddings

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



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

Shooting Style:


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

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



Editing Style:


Hudson Valley wedding photographer Kathryn Cooper Weddings

Photo Credit: Kathryn Cooper Weddings

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

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

Image Delivery:


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

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

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

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

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

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. This is not a sponsored post.


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



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


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




Hudson Valley wedding photography Rose Schaller Photography

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

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


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


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




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


Getting ready:


Hudson Valley wedding photography Rose Schaller Photography

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

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


First look:


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


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


Hudson Valley wedding photography Rose Schaller Photography

Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

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


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

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

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

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

Featured Couple: Julia & Steven

Their Love Story…


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

The Proposal…


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

Photo Credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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

Why the Hudson Valley…?


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

Wedding Theme…


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

Most Memorable Moment…


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

Photo Credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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

Hudson Valley Wedding Vendors


Venue: The Grandview (Poughkeepsie)

Photographer: J. Ferrara Photography (Cornwall)

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

Photo credit to all: J. Ferrara Photography



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

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. This is not a sponsored post.

Today’s author is Hannah Servidio from Hannah Nicole Photography


Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer Hannah Nicole Photography

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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


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

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

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



A chance to build a rapport


Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer Hannah Nicole Photography

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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


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



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

Easier communication


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

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

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


Creative inspiration


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


Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer Hannah Nicole Photography

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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




The cost


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

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

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

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


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

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6 Important Things You Need to Tell Your Photographer

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. This is not a sponsored post; no compensation was received or exchanged for this blog post or the promotion of the photographer.

Today’s contributing writer is Alicia King from Alicia King Photography


When it comes to your wedding day, all your vendors are important, but perhaps one of the most important is your photographer. Now, I’m not just saying that because this is a post on photography, I’m saying it because it’s true. They are one of the most important vendors because they are one of the first vendors you need to book, they are one of the vendors you spend the most time with, they will be with you almost all day during some of the most private and emotional points of the day, they will help you create a timeline (if you don’t have a planner), and they are the ones who will create the family keepsakes you will treasure for a lifetime.

If you have a photographer and you haven’t been communicating with them, you need to start now. If you think that just telling them when and where to show up is enough, you are mistaken. Photographers need to know waaaaaaaaay more than you think, and to help you with this process, we’ve asked Alicia King, Owner, and Photographer at Alicia King Photography, to share with you exactly what you need to be telling your photographer to make sure they capture everything you want them to on that day, the day you don’t get to do over.

Details, details, details


Hudson Valley Wedding Photography Alicia King Photography

Photo Credit: Alicia King Photography

Since I was a DIY bride, I had so many details that I wanted photos of. I made sure our photographer knew of everything I wanted a memory of. King says “The first thing I would highly suggest telling your photographer about would be if you have any special family heirlooms you are incorporating into your day that you want to be photographed. This could include a special charm or fabric wrapped around your bouquet or a necklace that belonged to someone important. If it’s something that means something to you, let your photographer know!! That goes for other details as well. Even if a specific detail isn’t an heirloom, if it’s dear to you, and you want a photograph of it, make sure to mention it!”




Any special or unique moments of your day


King says “It’s also helpful to let your photographer know if you have chosen to incorporate anything special or unique into your ceremony or reception. For example, a sand mixing ceremony, the Hora, or singing happy birthday to a guest if the wedding date happens to fall on the same day.” Our wedding day was also the birthday of a special little guest who was turning 6. We wanted to do something special at the reception for him, so we purchased a big cupcake for him and had everyone sing happy birthday as the staff brought out the cupcake with six candles on it. If we hadn’t have mentioned that to our photographer (or our DJ too, for that matter), he could have possibly missed the whole thing. By telling him in advance, he knew to expect it. King also says “Some church ceremonies also include the first kiss in the middle of the service instead of at the very end so that would also be something to tell your photographer if you know ahead of time!”

Who your family members are


“You may also want to let your photographer know if there are key family members coming that you want photographs of or with,” says King. So, this may seem silly but think about it. Your photographer knows you, maybe your parents, but he doesn’t know who your cousins are, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. You want to make sure you give him or her a list of all the important people in your family you want pictures with. They don’t have to know what they look like, because they will announce who they want to have pose for photos, but if your grandma is there and if they don’t know who your grandmother is or if you want a photo with her, that’s a photo op you will most likely regret getting.


Special spots


“I always like to ask my couples if there are any special spots at their venue that they would really love to take photos,” says King. “Sometimes they say no and want me to choose (which is totally fine!) but sometimes they say yes! It is always my goal to take pictures the couple really wants, so knowing what spots stick out in their mind as important helps tremendously!”

Venue restrictions


Hudson Valley Wedding Photography Alicia King Photography

Photo Credit: Alicia King Photography

You may not realize it but venues may have restrictions in terms of where and how something can be photographed. “Most times,” says King, “Churches have strict rules about what a photographer can and cannot do. It is a good idea to find out from whoever is performing the ceremony if there is anything your photographer needs to know.” For example, King says “Some churches have balconies that photographers are not permitted to use for photography. If you have asked your photographer to take a picture from the balcony, and they are not permitted to go up there, it would be better to know that ahead of time then expect it and not receive it.” As a related topic, this is a question you want to make sure you ask your venue about. Some may tell you, but if they don’t make sure you ask to be double sure.




Officiant restrictions


“It is also a good idea to ask whoever is officiating your ceremony if they personally have any restrictions,” says King. Everyone knows that your ceremony is the most important part of your day, and so, because of that, your officiant may have restrictions such as no flash photography during the ceremony.

In the end, your photographer needs to know almost as much as you do about your wedding day. King says “It sort of sounds funny but keeping them in the loop will make your day go as smooth as possible!”

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Avoid These 3 Wedding Photography Pitfalls

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



Today’s post is written by Doug Madden of Duetimage Photography


Everyone makes mistakes.  And sometimes mistakes are not due to simple carelessness or bad judgment.  Mistakes can come about through good intentions too, and this is how I think some couples are undercutting their wedding photography.


Here are three examples of how couples can wind up shortchanging themselves when planning their wedding photography timetable, and some practical advice for avoiding these pitfalls.


The Friend Factor


Hudson Valley wedding Photography

Photo Credit: Duetimage

Quite often, when talking to prospective clients for the first time, we hear the phrase: “We want great wedding photos, but not of us.  We mostly want candids of our friends.”


Now I get it.  Your wedding posse will likely include good friends from college and high school.  Maybe even further back, to elementary school, playschool, possibly the neonatal unit.  You love your BFF’s and you want to remember their camaraderie on the biggest day of your life.  But I can think of no worse plan for your wedding photography than making your images all about them and not about yourself.


Wedding photographers can seem hung up on portraiture and there’s a good reason for this.  That’s because weddings are about beauty, about looking your best on a day when you’re spending a lot of money on stunning venues, elegant decor, a knockout dress, and everything else that goes into a wedding.  Your photographer wants you to look as gorgeous as all that.  And even more importantly, your photographer wants to capture the love that shines in the eyes of you and your spouse on the day that you formally commit to each other.


At our studio, we always recommend that the bride and groom set aside at least one hour for their portraits.  When clients hear this, they usually want to head for the hills. That hour is easily imagined as a very long shooting time, and many clients are often concerned about stepping away from their friends for so long and missing out on the party.


The good news is that you don’t have to.  If you’re concerned about being a good host to your besties, plan your wedding portraiture before your guests arrive.  If your friends are in the wedding party and will be present all day, then explain to them your intention to take wedding photos alone as a couple.  It’s a pretty sure bet that they will understand and they’ll find plenty of ways to occupy their time while you’re working with your photographer.  And since wedding minutes go by faster than normal minutes, your couples portraits will likely be over before you even know it.




The Live Audience


Hudson Valley wedding Photography

Photo Credit: Duetimage

Sometimes couples have no problem setting aside time for their portraits.  Where things start to go wrong is in the crowd control department.  More often than not, members of your wedding party might want to trail along while shooting things like first looks and couples portraits.  These are moments that should be set aside exclusively for the bride and groom, and their photographer, and here’s why.


Mothers of the bride can be notorious for making an insensitive comment to their daughters that deflates their confidence when the cameras are clicking.


Bridesmaids, in their enthusiasm, can start giving camera directions that run contrary to what the photographer is trying to achieve.


Large groups of friends watching from the sidelines can get rowdy, and especially with a drink or two, they’re likely to get loud and tease you all in good fun.  And it is good fun, except that it eats up time and diminishes the sense of intimacy that bride and groom photos require.


If first looks and portraiture are important to you — if that’s the kind of imagery you’ve been looking at for months on Pinterest and wedding blogs — then you can’t be shy about demanding your “me” time.   Tell Mom that you love her.  Thank your bridesmaids for being there.  And tell your friends they can tease you when you show them your wedding album.  But your camera time belongs to you and your spouse alone because the moment can’t be repeated.


They’re Just Formals, Nothing Personal


Hudson Valley wedding Photography

Photo Credit: Duetimage

So, you’ve set aside time for portraiture and you’ve drawn a clear line in the sand when it comes to crowd control.  So now you’re going to make it up to everybody by including each and every guest in a 100 or so formal shots.  Right?


Quite often, when our clients create their photography schedules, they tend to use family formals as a time to acknowledge each and every guest at their event.  The lists of guests to be photographed can be quite extensive, ranging from relatives to kindergarten friends, to relatively new work colleagues.  Sometimes couples are pressured to have formals with friends and colleagues of their parents, who they don’t really know.  And sometimes guests end up on the formals list because so-and-so is on the list, and the other people might get insulted if they’re not included too.


The thing to remember is that while formals look simple, each group to be photographed takes time to setup and pose.  It all comes down to minutes, which as I’ve already said are shorter on wedding days than on regular days.


We recommend choosing the subjects of your formals very carefully.  Narrow the list down to the really important people in your life, namely your parents, siblings, and grandparents, plus any aunts or uncles who’ve been a positive force in your upbringing.  Friends who have stuck with you through thick and thin, or who were instrumental in bringing the bride and groom together, certainly deserve a formal too.  As do guests who have traveled to your wedding from very far away.


Making the final selection can be painstaking for couples who are concerned about bruising the feelings of their guests.  If this sounds like you, keep in mind that most people will understand the need to keep your list small.  Everybody gets it that time on a wedding day is limited, and chances are they’re planning to take their own selfie with you anyway.




It’s All About You


As you might have noticed, in each of the examples above, the solution is to keep the focus on you and your spouse as a couple.  And that’s the way it should be.  Weddings are a formal declaration of a union, broadcast to the world at large by way of those present at the moment you say, “I do”.  Let your wedding photos say: we are here … we are one … and this is our time.




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

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5 Ways to Get Beautiful Wedding Photos on a Tight Budget

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


Today’s contributor is Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography


We all know that weddings are expensive and today, many couples find themselves paying for most, if not all of it themselves. Many couples today also have other financial obligations to take care of such as student loans, rent or savings for a down payment on a house, or even family or child-related expenses.


wedding photos tight budget

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

With all of that, budgets are tight, and some are extremely tight, but no matter how tight your budget gets, the one thing you should never eliminate from your wedding budget is photography.


It’s very easy to say you’ll have a friend or family member take them, but in the end, you will most likely regret that decision when you are looking back at your album years later and see subpar photos. Unless your friend is a professional, you aren’t going to get the photos you really want or deserve to have as part of your legacy. Do you really want your friend or family member taking your photos instead of enjoying their night? Remember, they want to enjoy their day, and can’t really enjoy themselves if they are photographing you all night and “working”. It also puts a lot of pressure on them as well.




Additionally, and most importantly, your photos are not a purchase, they are an INVESTMENT you are making to yourself, your memories, and your family. Don’t think that just because you don’t have that much money to invest, you can’t hire a great photographer. In fact, the opposite is true.


We spoke to Erica Leman, lead photographer for Sweet Alice Photography, about what couples who are on a very tight budget can do about saving money on wedding photography.



Why is she the perfect person to answer this question? Because she was a bride on a budget. She says “Believe me, I totally understand tight budgets! I was the bride who had everything in a spreadsheet to make sure we didn’t go over our budget and had to finance my own wedding dress. I cried when I didn’t think I could find a photographer in our budget – and I was a wedding photographer! Budgets are a big piece of wedding planning, and ensuring that you don’t overspend is key when you are starting a life together.”




wedding photos tight budget

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

What are some conversations you can have with your photographer if you are on a tight budget?


As a photographer and a budget-conscious bride, Leman says don’t assume you can’t afford a photographer just because you have that much budgeted for it. Having a conversation with your photographer is a must and these are some things she suggests:


Think about the hours of coverage you want? “If you don’t need an entire day’s worth of photography coverage, ask your photographer what type of hourly options may be available,” she says.

Think about your album. Leman says “If your photographer includes an album as a part of your wedding package, ask if that may be taken out, either to save money or in favor of more hourly coverage.” I might even add asking if you could purchase your album at a later date when you have more money to invest in one. Maybe as a nice first-year anniversary gift. That’s what I did (after thinking that I would make my album myself and realized it was never going to happen). 


Ask about second photographers. “If your photographer shoots with a second photographer, ask if their hours can either be reduced or completely negated,” says Leman.


How about a trade? Leman has a great thought. She says “If you offer a good or service yourself, ask your photographer if they may be willing to accept a partial barter as a portion of the payment.” Of course, this all has to be agreed upon beforehand and spoken about in depth prior to signing any contract. Plus, not all photographers may be interested in doing that.


Keep an open mind. Leman says “When looking for ways to stay on budget with your photographer, please be open to their suggestions, as well as the fact that they may not be able to accommodate your request. Not every photographer likes to shoot weddings solo, and they may not be able to accept barters as a form of payment. It’s ok to move on, and find someone who may better fit your financial needs.”


We’d love to know, if you are a couple who had a candid conversation with your photographer about your budget, what are you doing to keep your budget in tact?


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

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Photography Trends and Highlight Videos – What You Need To Know

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

Today’s contributor is Lynette Romero of Pioneer Media

Photography and videography go hand in hand when it comes to your wedding. Photos are great for capturing snapshot moments of the day, while video captures the sound, movement and the essence of your wedding day. Photos are a must when it comes to capturing your special day, but your memories go up a notch when you have video capturing your conversations, your voices and everything that makes these precious moments such a great legacy and a treasured heirloom.

Hudson Valley Wedding Photography

Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

Today, we spoke to Lynette Romero (photographer), who, together with her husband Bryndon (videographer), co-own Pioneer Media in Newburgh. In our conversation, Lynette discusses current photography trends as well as explains the difference between a traditional wedding video and a highlight reel.


Photo trends


Photography trends change over time. Just look at what you’re seeing on Pinterest compared to what your parent’s album looks like. Today, couples are asking for more intimate and personal moments to be captured and not so much of the formalized portraiture you saw 15-20 years ago.


Photographers love capturing those special moments on film because they not only make each wedding unique but also creates a really special keepsake that’s so much fun for the couple to look back on. Many of these special moments happen the morning of your wedding (or during the ‘getting ready’ phase of the day).


WCHV: What are couples doing the morning of their wedding that makes for such memorial moments? 

Romero: “Many couples mark the unofficial start of the wedding day by exchanging gifts or cards and reading their notes to each other for the video and photo. Since the morning of the wedding sometimes can be stressful or busy, reading love notes from each other focuses the couple back on each other. It sets the tone for the first time they see each other, and adds great content to their wedding video and photo album.”

WCHV: What are some ways couples have personalized that moment?


Romero: “At a recent wedding, our groom wrote a love note on the bottom of his bride’s shoe. We saw a variation of this idea at another recent wedding, where the whole bridal party signed and wrote little notes on the bottom of our bride’s shoe.”





Hudson Valley Wedding Photography

Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

When it comes to videography, there are two main types. There’s documentary style which is more traditional and captures longer moments. Think of this as the type of video you would take on your phone. You are capturing the moment live, without edits. Then there is cinematography style, which is video edited with the addition of music for entertainment value to make your day look more like a movie.


Cinematography style is one of the hottest trends, and most of the examples you see online are highlight reels. Think of them as the “movie trailer” for your wedding


WCHV: What exactly is a highlight reel and how is it different than a regular video?


Romero: “Our highlight reels are typically one song length, three to five minutes. They are very cinematic and include the most emotional and entertaining content from the day. Our full videos are much longer, normally at least a half hour, but have the same cinematic style, with shorter clips and set to music. In both cases the audio (can be the card readings, the vows, the toasts, etc.) drive the story of the video.

What are some of the moments you want to be captured on your wedding that goes beyond the traditional? What special moments do you and your spouse-to-be have planned? We’d love to know. 


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

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

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

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

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



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

What role should your dog have in your wedding?


Photo Credit: Arius Photography

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

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

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

What do you do with your dog during the reception?


Photo Credit: Arius Photography

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

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

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

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

Tips for having your dog in your wedding


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



Photo Credit: Arius Photography

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



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



Your guests


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

The “formality” of your wedding


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

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

Featured Photo Credit: Red Pepper Shots

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Featured Couple: Lynne & Kyle

Their Love Story…


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

The Proposal…


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

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

Why the Hudson Valley?…


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

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


Wedding Theme…


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


Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer


Most Memorable Moment…


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

Hudson Valley Vendors…


Venue: The Chalet On The Hudson (Cold Spring)

Photographer: Jeremiah Shaffer Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer (Poughkeepsie)

Flowers: Flowers by Reni (Fishkill)

Cake: Homestyle Desserts Bakery (Peekskill)

DJ: Much Music DJ (Port Jervis)

Officiant: Harris Bloom Weddings (New York City)

Invitations: Fine Lines of Katonah (Katonah)

Photo Credit To All: Jeremiah Shaffer


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Featured Couple: Dana & Martin

Their Love Story…


Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

Dana, an event planner, had just recently moved to Westchester for her job, which was based in Connecticut. Since she was new to the area, and as a way to meet new friends, she decided to get a part-time job as a bartender at a local Italian restaurant in Stamford, CT. One of her new colleagues, who she met on her first day, was her future husband-to-be, Martin. A few months later, some of her coworkers from the restaurant were going out for drinks and Martin asked Dana if she wanted to join them. However, Dana quickly realized as they were closing the restaurant that she and Martin were the only ones heading out. The following week, Martin asked Dana out for dinner, and the week after that Dana cooked dinner for Martin. “The rest,” as Dana says, “is history.” As the old saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!


The Proposal…


Miami has always held a special part in their lives. It was the site of their first vacation as a couple, and it was the place they eventually moved to. “It was a tradition of ours to do a nice Christmas Eve dinner at a special restaurant,” says Dana, and they wanted to keep that tradition alive, especially now that they had moved to Florida. So, on Christmas Eve, Martin took Dana to a restaurant they visited one Valentine’s Day in Key Biscayne and proposed.


Why the Hudson Valley?


Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

Dana grew up in the Hudson Valley and always dreamed of getting married here. “The scenery of the Hudson Valley can’t be beat,” Dana says. “Finding a venue that provided those stunning unforgettable view, as well as a local farm-to-table food concept, was exactly what we imagined. As an event planner the food and beverage needed to be above average and that’s exactly what we received.”


Wedding theme…




Most Memorable Moment…

Dana says “having my future husband’s mother from Uruguay come from her country for the first time and attend our wedding. She was able to meet my mother and make a connection with my family regardless of her not speaking our language.”


Hudson Valley Professionals…


Wedding Planner: Dana Prytula (the bride)

: Floral Fantasies by Sara (Rhinebeck)

Cake: The Pastry Garden (Poughkeepsie) and Floral Fantasies by Sara (Flowers)

: Hair Design by Danielle (Middletown)

: Makeup by Danee (Marlboro)

DJ and Lighting
: DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style (Wappingers Falls)


Photo credit to all: Emma Cleary Photo & Video

(Click image for larger view)


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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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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)
Bridal by Alexandria (Fishkill)


Photo Credit to all: Emma Cleary Photo and Video (Click images for larger view)


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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?…



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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wedding makeup

Experts share best advice for flawless wedding day skin

On your wedding day, you will be a blushing bride. There’s something about the day that just makes you glow and beam. But there is a way to make that glow even better, and that is by skin treatments. No, I’m not talking expensive invasive treatments; I’m talking about treatments that can be done at a salon.


wedding makeup

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

You know the importance of having professional makeup done for your wedding, and you know why wedding makeup is slightly different than what you wear every day. Treating and prepping your skin prior to your wedding, though, not only helps your radiant glow, but, like makeup, it also makes the photos look better and most importantly, it helps your makeup last longer and look better.


RELATED: This is The One Mistake That Can Ruin Your Wedding Photos 


However, before you start any sort of skin treatment, there are things you need to know. First, what is mentioned here is just for informational purposes. If you have any reservation about skin treatments or have a skin condition, I encourage you to seek medical advice before trying any of the treatments listed below. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.


That being said, we asked local experts for their advice, and here are some things they’d like you to know to get your skin beautified for your wedding day.


Make sure you nourish your skin year-round


A wedding is a great excuse to get motivated to get in shape, lose some extra pounds you’ve always been wanting to get rid of, or start a skin routine. However, taking care of your skin is something you should be doing every day, regardless of whether or not you have a wedding to plan.


Ada Seymore, Owner of Salon Lucere in Chester, says the best way to do this is “hydration, hydration, hydration.” We all know how important drinking water is on a daily basis, but it has a dramatic effect on your skin as well. Seymore says to “make sure your skin is clean, that you are eating well, and that you are drinking plenty of fluids (preferably water), and that you are generally just taking care of yourself.”


I’d also add, using a daily SPF lotion is good not just for your wedding day, but is a good health practice all together as it prevents sun damage or worse, melanoma.


Why should you take extra care of your skin before your wedding?


wedding makeup

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Wedding Photography

Skin treatments not only hydrate your skin and clean your pores, but they also reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark spots, giving you an all-around even tone.


Stephanie Jones, owner of The Blushery in Beacon, says, “You should always prep your skin, because, first of all, if your skin is dry or dehydrated, the makeup won’t look very nice. It’ll either look a little flaky, it could settle into some lines, and it may not wear as well or as long throughout the day.”


How far in advance should you start facial treatments?


All our experts agree: NEVER start a skin treatment you haven’t tried before anytime close to your wedding day. You need to give yourself time … sometimes a lot of time.


Seymore recommends “not anywhere before the two-week mark.” Rebecca Lee, owner of Bella Luci Salon in Poughkeepsie, says, “You don’t want to do too much with your skin for the first time close to your wedding…to do a series of facials three months before your wedding day, your skin will be prepped and smooth and healthy before the wedding.”


“I always say when you get engaged…it’s never too soon,” says Jones. “If you want to start coming in and treating your skin at that point, you’ll have beautiful skin for your wedding day. You don’t want to come in a week before your wedding and get a facial because you don’t know how your skin is going to react. So start early on – that could be a year, that could be six months – it doesn’t have to be so, so far in advance; but give it a few months, at least, and start doing monthly facials.”


What kind of treatment is best for you?


The list is endless and it really depends on your goal, your skin type, what the condition of your skin is now and the time you have to devote to treatments. You should speak with your aesthetician to see what is best for you. No matter what you do, know that treated skin allows skin care products to penetrate deeper so they work better because they don’t have a layer of dead skin to go through.


wedding makeup

Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Wedding Photography

“You should always get rid of some of your dead skin,” says Jones, “and with that, a microderm abrasion is very good to do. If a bride has brown spots, oily skin or acne, we can try to control that for them. So if they come in a few months in advance, five to six months, they can do five to six facials.”


So what is a microderm abrasion? Jones says a “microderm abrasion is a mechanical exfoliation, so it uses a machine; it’s pretty much like a vacuum. It has a little tip that feels like sandpaper, and you move it back and forth across the skin, like an eraser. The wand has a long tube attached to the machine, and that sucks up all the dry skin and you’ll feel immediate results.”


Over time, microderm abrasions also help with fine lines. However, Jones says getting them done is not a one-and-done treatment. You need to get it done regularly to really reduce the appearance of fine lines or sun spots.


Other skin treatments include waxing and spray tans, which are very popular with brides (wedding season or not). “A spray tan will give you a natural glow,” says Lee, who suggests coming in 48 hours before your wedding so you can properly give the spray time to settle and have time to wash the residual spray off your skin so it doesn’t rub off on clothing.  She also suggests waxing first, otherwise, the spray will come off with the wax.


Waxing is a great temporary fix to remove hair; I’m sure many, if not all of you, have had it done before. However, if you want a more permanent solution to hair removal, you can do laser hair removal. “If you start six to eight months ahead of your wedding date. You could do laser hair removal and be hair-free by your honeymoon or have most of the hair significantly reduced,” says Jones.


So we’d like to know if you are doing any skin treatments, which ones, and how do you like it so far? What advice do you have for brides who want to start a skin treatment?

Featured Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Photography

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