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6 Things to Consider When Having an Outdoor Summer Wedding in the Hudson Valley

It’s no secret that summer is prime wedding season and no matter where you are in the country, summer, especially June is, by far, the most popular season to get married. In fact, last summer, over 3,800 weddings took place in the Hudson Valley alone just between June and August*! So, if you are one of the couples who were lucky enough to book the few summer weekends available for your wedding, we want to share a few tips that you and your guests will appreciate.
 

But first, a small history lesson on why summer weddings, specifically June weddings, are so popular. First, the word “June” comes from the name “Juno” who was the Roman goddess of marriage. Second, back in Medieval times, when personal hygiene was almost non-existent, most people took yearly, yes yearly, baths, in May or June when the weather was warmer. This meant that people smelled better during those times, which, for such an important day, you want to be smelling your best. P.S. This is also where the tradition of carrying bouquets comes in. Women carried bouquets hoping that the smell of the flowers would disguise their body odor.
 

Today, it’s easy to see why Summer is so popular. after the long winter and rainy spring, couples, especially in the Hudson Valley, are eager to break their cabin fever and spend as much time outside as possible. And since summer doesn’t last too long, you want to take advantage of it as much as you can.
 

So if you are a summer bride or groom, here are 6 things you need to take into consideration…
 

The sun

 

I don’t need to tell you that while the sun is beautiful and warm, it’s also dangerous. But, so many people still forget to use protection. If you are having an outdoor wedding remember to apply sunscreen! Between the ceremony and pictures, you can be outside for quite a few hours. You don’t want to get sunburned on your wedding day. If you are red and burned in photos, your photographer can only do so much with editing. Even if you don’t burn and are one of the lucky ones that get gorgeously tan, SPF is your best friend. You don’t want those harmful rays damaging your skin in years to come.
 

Also, make sure there is shade too, your guests will thank you. If your guests are sitting out in the sun for your ceremony, they’re going to want shade. Whether it’s from trees, tents, shade from the building, or visors, make sure your guests are comfortable. Remind them to wear sun protection too.
 
RELATED: EXPERTS SHARE BEST ADVICE FOR FLAWLESS WEDDING DAY SKIN
 

The heat

 

Hudson Valley summers can get hot, even triple digits, and the last thing you want is to be sweating on your wedding day. Shade, as I mentioned before, can obviously help here too. However, if you can’t get shade, make sure you dress appropriately. Choose a gown that’s sleeveless and light, with loose construction. Beading and structure (boning, corsets) can make a dress VERY heavy, so you want to make sure that when you choose your dress it’s weather appropriate. Also, make sure your makeup is properly set, so that if you do start to sweat, it doesn’t start to drip off your face.
 

Again, think about your guests too, especially if they are older or very young. They are more susceptible to heat-prone illness. If your reception is outside, make sure that your venue has fans or ceiling fans that can keep you and your guests cool while you’re dancing. Tents, even with open sides, can get very warm, and remember, most barns weren’t built for events. If heat is a serious issue for you, skip an outdoor ceremony or reception altogether.
 

The rain

 

Summer can be rainy, even if it’s just a passing afternoon storm. Always have a plan “B”. If rain is predicted for your ceremony, can you move it indoors? If it rains overnight before your outdoor wedding or reception, are walkways going to be muddy? What about the parking lot? Are guests going to be parking in a mud puddle or is it a concrete parking lot? Is water going to seep into your reception area, especially if your reception is in a tent? These are all things you need to consider and knowing what your plan “B” will be is a very important conversation you need to have with your venue or wedding planner.
 
RELATED: 7 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO IF SEVERE WEATHER THREATENS YOUR WEDDING DAY
 

Bugs and mosquitos

 

Bugs come with summer, but after the rain, they seem to be more abundant. What is your plan to prevent summer bugs from bothering you and your guests? I went to an outdoor June wedding once, and by the time I left, my legs were covered in bites! Are you going to have bug lights around your perimeter? Are you going to leave little bottles of bug spray for your guests? This is a detail that you might not think about until you’re at your wedding smacking and swatting bugs all night.
 

Food & drinks

 

When you think of summer fare, you think light and fresh, maybe even BBQ. Have some fun with this. What are some of your favorite summer foods? For me, watermelon is right at the top. Maybe do watermelon slushies, or even have a cotton candy booth, reminiscent of county fairs. You can even do mini corn dogs or mini crab cakes as a passed appetizer. The possibilities are endless.
 

You want to make sure, though, that you stay away from really heavy foods. Think roasted potatoes over mashed, salad instead of soup. Heavy foods in the summer tend to make people feel even hotter. Also, check with your venue or caterer to make sure whatever food you have, especially if it has any sort of cream in it, is held at the right temperature to prevent illness.
 

Remember your drinks too. Because of the summer heat, you want a good mix of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks as you don’t want to consume too much alcohol if you’re really hot. Slushies or frozen drinks are always fun. Light spritzers are a good addition as well.
 

Think about adding cool desserts like shaved ice, ice cream or ice cream floats. Maybe even rent out an ice cream truck for the night.
 

Overnight accommodations

 

Summer is a popular time in the Hudson Valley. Between graduations, festivals, and yes, other weddings, hotels are at max capacity. Make sure you reserve your room blocks early. Since most hotels will only allow you to book 10 rooms at a time, and will not let you reserve more until the first 10 are reserved, you may want to get room blocks at a few different hotels. This is also helpful for your guests, too, because it gives them a choice in location and price point.
 

Are you having a summer wedding? What are you doing to beat the heat?
 

Featured photo credit: J. Ferrara Photography

 

*Source: The Wedding Report

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Dutchess Manor Wedding Majestic Studios Photography

6 Royal Wedding Trends You May Now See Thanks To Meghan Markle

We all know Royal weddings set trends. If you were one of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who woke up early to watch the Royal Wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, you know just how spectacular this wedding was. I, for one, will be talking about this wedding for a long time as it has since become my favorite Royal wedding for many reasons. Time will tell how this wedding will set trends for future couples, and here are 7 ways I think Meghan and Harry’s wedding will influence future wedding trends…
 

Going alone

 

For many brides, and fathers, it’s a lifelong dream to walk down the aisle together and for a father to “give” his daughter away. However, for some, the idea of being “given” away sends the wrong message. Yet, due to tradition, some brides may feel like they have no choice but to walk down the aisle with their father, or someone to represent a father. This becomes increasingly difficult if family dynamics are complicated. What if your father passed away? What if you don’t get along with your parents, either one? What if you have step-parents? What if, what if, what if…the list can go on. Meghan proved that you don’t have to walk down the aisle with anyone, and I feel that this statement is going to resonate for so many strong, independent women and will define a new trend.
 

Going all-natural

 

Meghan’s look was totally natural. Her makeup was subdued, light, natural and showed off her most beautiful features…her eyes and her freckles. I think brides everywhere are going to feel slightly relieved knowing that natural looking makeup is beautiful, especially for brides who don’t wear a lot of makeup in normal everyday life. Yes, you need some makeup on your wedding day, mainly for photos, and not for the reason you think. It’s not so much to look nice as it is to not wash you out. Meghan is also proving that your natural features should be the highlight and not to be covered up.
 

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

 

Less is more

 

Let’s talk about Meghan’s dress! I mean, WOW! Just wow! Understated elegance at its best. There has been a trend over the last several years that bling is better. Blinged-out bodices and belts are not only popular, but can sometimes be that touch of sparkle that many brides feel completes their look. Meghan proved, tiara aside, that clean lines and no sparkle can make a big, if not a bigger impact than bling. Necklines, silhouettes, veils and fabric can be stunning and slimming just on their own and can truly accentuate your body without distraction of crystals. Not to mention that clean lines are very classic. You won’t have to worry about looking at your photos 20 or 30 years from now and thinking it looked dated.
 

When we look at her bouquet, it was simple, meaningful, and most importantly natural and small. The flowers were just an accessory and did not, in any way, take away from Meghan’s look or distract from it.
 

Big veils

 

Meghan’s veil was 16 feet long and embroidered with flowers from the 53 British Commonwealth countries! While the dress was understated, she made a bold statement with one piece. No one will ever forget the now iconic images of Meghan on the church steps or walking down the aisle with that magnificent veil following behind her. If you want to make a statement, veils are going to be the new “must-have” accessory. A long veil is a lot easier to manage than a long train. Trains have to be bustled, veils can just be taken off. Not to mention, veils are a lot lighter than a dress. I think brides everywhere are going to be opting for shorter dresses (no trains) and longer veils.
 

Secular music

 

For couples wanting to get married in a house of worship, music choices may change. “Stand By Me” was sung so beautifully during Meghan and Harry’s wedding ceremony, and it’s very rare to hear secular music played in a house of worship. Some religious venues may give clearance on some specific secular songs that can have an undertone of spirituality to them. In fact, we had a couple played at our wedding, but they were pre-approved by our church. I think couples are going to want more secular music played in houses of worship, and because of the need, more houses of worship may take a deeper look into approving more songs that can be played. Now, if you are getting married outside of a church, or religious establishment, this doesn’t apply. You can play whatever you want.
 

RELATED: 3 STEPS YOU NEED TO FOLLOW FOR CHOOSING BEAUTIFUL WEDDING FLOWERS

 

Flowered archways or doorways

 

Flowers are one of the details of a wedding that can take a blank space and literally transform it into a masterpiece. However, where you see flowers at weddings may change now, thanks to Meghan and Harry. I predict flowers are going to be assembled in archways, around doorways, and framing already existing architecture rather than being pieces set into a room. Creating these archways gives the couple a beautiful frame for photos and entrances, and really turns your venue into a grand setting.
 

What was your favorite part of the Royal Wedding? What trends do you think Meghan and Harry have set?

 

Featured photo credit: Majestic Studios

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The one thing British couples never do at weddings

The Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is the stuff of fairytales. An American “commoner” marrying British Royalty is what dreams are made of.
 

In college, I spent a semester in London, interned at a couture bridal salon by one of London’s most renowned gown designers, Phillippa Lepley, and visited Buckingham Palace and Windsor castle. I absolutely fell in love with London’s history, culture, and people and feel such a close connection to anything British. Lately, knowing that this Royal wedding was coming up, it got me thinking about how our neighbors across “The Pond” do weddings. Are they the same? Are they really different? What do couples do to prepare? What’s their bridal style like?
 

To find out, I asked Emma Salt, a British-based wedding planner and Owner of Married in NYC, who helps couples navigate all the administrative paperwork and coordinating needed for them to travel to America and get married in NYC. We covered all aspects of British weddings including the one thing American couples do that British couples NEVER do at weddings.
 

RELATED: ROYAL HUDSON VALLEY WEDDING AT LE CHATEAU

 

Let’s start at the early planning phases. Do British couples have engagement parties or wedding showers?

 

Emma – “We don’t typically. I’d say 50% of my friends had an engagement party a couple of weeks after they got engaged. We just gathered with our family on they day (they all knew and so were waiting for us!)”
 

Can you explain what bachelor/bachelorette parties are like?

 

Dutchess Manor Wedding Majestic Studios Photography

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Emma – “So, a “Hen do” is for the bride and her friends and family, apparently the term “hens” was used in the 1800’s to describe a group of women gathered together. A “Stag do” is for the groom and his friends. I think it is just because a stag is such a masculine animal!

 

A typical Hen do will have the bride in white, friends in any other color, and the bridesmaids/friends will dress the Hen (the bride) up in a sash (usually saying “Bride to Be” or similar) and a cheap tiara and veil…It’s usually a night out drinking and dancing, or a cocktail making class etc.
 

“A “Stag do” is for the groom and his friends and family. Again, its usually a heavy night of drinking, and the “stags” quite often dress the groom up as something really embarrassing!”
 

“Recently, hens and stags have been abroad, there have been a lot if long weekend breaks in Spain or somewhere else hot in Europe.” Salt says “adult” items are often thrown into the mix as well to add to the fun. “It is like people make it deliberately cheap and tacky now”, she says.
 

What are some British wedding traditions?

 

Emma – “Things are changing now, there aren’t any definite traditions. However, it is often a given that the groom DOES NOT see the bride before the ceremony. The first time they see each other must be when the bride walks down the aisle. We cut the cake, however we don’t usually slice it and feed it to each other. At our NYC wedding, the photographer was like “that’s it? You aren’t gonna eat it??” because typically we slice it, then it gets served later to the guests. We give our guests “favours” and they can be anything from candy, to flowers seeds (to plant in the couples honour) or a lot of couples donate the money they would have spent to charity and put the details of which charity (and sometimes with a pin or badge of the charity, etc.) on each table.”
 

What is typical British wedding style for brides and grooms?

 

Emma – “…What brides wear varies so much! Some go for full lace sleeves, reminiscent of Kate Middleton. Some go for slinky strapless dresses… Grooms often do 2 piece suites, but there has been a big bow tie, tweed and braces (suspenders) trend the last few years.”
 

RELATED: WANT TO LOOK LIKE A PRINCESS ON YOUR WEDDING DAY? THEN YOU NEED TO REMEMBER THESE 3 EASY RULES

 

Are bridal parties a thing in Britain?

 

Photo Credit: Bom Photography

Emma – “Yep, though the Maid of Honor is sometimes called the Chief Bridesmaid and the Groomsmen are called Ushers.”
 

What about the reception? Do British couples have parties with DJ’s, dancing, cake, bouquet toss, etc. or are they more reserved?

 

Emma – “Pretty much. We have a reception with a sit down meal and speeches. Then a DJ/band and a buffet for evening guests to attend. I went to a wedding where we all did line dancing and a lot of people choose a live band if it is in their budget.”
 

Do couples do first looks?

 

Emma – “No way! First looks a NOT a thing here. The groom is kept well away from the bride and it is considered REALLY bad luck to see each other before the ceremony.
 

Featured photo credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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Hudson Valley Wedding Nidya LLoyd Photography Le Chateau

Want to Look Like a Princess on Your Wedding Day? Then You Need to Remember These 3 Easy Rules

A royal wedding doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it’s simply magical. It inspires everyone to want to look look like a princess on their wedding day.
 

Back in 2011, when Prince William and Kate Middleton were getting married, I was knee-deep in planning my own wedding. Actually, their wedding happened right at the same time I was planning on dress shopping. Shopping for my wedding dress was an event I had dreamed of for many years, and so I wanted to make the day really special. After all, I did go to school to become a wedding dress designer, so this was more than just a shopping trip.
 

I knew right away their wedding day was going to be the day I shopped for my dress. What better inspiration than to have a royal wedding take place on the day that you shop for your wedding dress? Since the wedding took place on a Friday, and since I knew Saturday’s would be crazy busy for bridal salons, I played hookie and took the day off from work.
 

I spent the night before at my mom’s house so we could wake up watch the wedding together (sweet, right?). I remember very distinctly what a beautiful sunny spring morning it was and waking up at 5:00 a.m. to start watching the live coverage. I got goosebumps when I saw the two princes, William and Harry, in their finest attire, and the moment we all saw the first glimpses of Kate in her dress was truly breathtaking. The Royal’s sure do know how to throw a wedding!
 

My dress appointment was at 10 a.m., which gave us just enough time to watch all the wedding events in London, and then get ready for my own royal engagement.
 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR IN A QUALITY BRIDAL GOWN

romantic garden wedding F.E.A.S.T. at Roundhill Windau Photography

Photo Credit: Windau Photography


 

I knew from the moment I saw Kate that I wanted to look just like her on my wedding day. However, I quickly realized that was going to be challenging for many reasons I explain below. So, brides, if you are watching the Royal wedding on Saturday, and If you want to look like Meghan on your wedding day, don’t go dress shopping…yet. Here’s why…
 

1) The trends have just been set
 

You will be watching history in the making, witnessing a trendsetting moment, and no one in the world, except for a few people, will know what Meghan is going to wear. That means on Saturday, designers all over the world are going to be taking notes and scrambling to create dresses inspired by the new princess. If you go to the store the day of the Royal wedding expecting to find a dress like what you just saw on TV, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one. I certainly was. Notice how many gowns today have sleeves? Guess who set that trend? Notice how dresses today have a more classic elegant vibe and silhouette than a few years ago? Guess why? Kate set that trend and Meghan will set new ones.
 

RELATED: YOUR WEDDING DRESS: HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’VE FOUND THE ONE?

 

2) You need to wait at least 3 solid months if you want to copy the new princess’ look.
 

There may be one or two designers that can create knock-offs quickly, but if you really want a good variety of dresses to choose from that are royal-inspired, you need to wait. It takes time for designers to design, source, make, and distribute gowns. Meghan’s dress is going to be the most analyzed dress in the world for the next few weeks, if not months, and so, you can rest assured designers are going to be busy making dresses you are going to want and love. You just need to be patient.
 

RELATED: WHO SHOULD HELP YOU SAY ‘YES’ TO YOUR WEDDING DRESS?

 

3) Does the way you want to feel match the way you want to look?
 

Looking like a princess and matching what you saw on TV sounds nice, but is it a reality? If the new princess wears a big, poofy gown, and you want to be comfortable, can you do both? Kate wore a dress with a beautiful long train, but for me, a train wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted something easy and no fuss, so a train (well, I had a small one) was out. Her dress also looked hot and heavy with the sleeves and all that material, and I wanted light and comfortable. Sleeves, though romantic and looked amazing on her, weren’t for me. I do wish I had waited a little while to get a Kate-inspired dress because she set the trend for dresses to have v-necks, which I love, moving away from the strapless sweetheart neckline, which, in my opinion, is overdone.
 

When are you getting your dress? Are you going dress shopping on the day of the Royal wedding? Do you want a royal-inspired wedding gown in any way?
 

Featured photo credit: Nidya Lloyd Photography

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LGBTQ Weddings: Important Info You Need to Know About Your Wedding Vendors

It started off as a question asked during a venue tour and ended as something much more.
 

“About five years ago, a mother of a groom asked one of our sales managers in their first tour, ‘How will you refer to my sons during their planning process?’” says Margaret Brower, director of sales at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie, NY.
 

A simple, yet weighted question.
 

After months of planning and getting to know the couple’s families well, Brower asked the mother why she asked that question during their first visit. She says, “That mom wanted to be sure her sons were going to be getting married at a venue where they didn’t have to be on the defensive. … She explained that every tour they went on, the venues used the word ‘bridal’ – bridal show, bridal suite, bridal party – and in this wedding, there is no bride.”
 

That was an ‘Aha’ moment for Brower. “A lightbulb went off that we needed an education on being better at serving and representing ALL of our couples,” she says.
 

She realized, at the moment, how exclusive wedding industry standard language is to ‘brides’ and ‘grooms’. “As a company, we talked about that pointed question (that this mom asked) and the vulnerable place it came from. We made a conscious decision as a company to be leaders in the movement to change that,” says Brower.
 

Soon after, Brower, along with the general managers, sales staff, maître d’s, operations staff, and banquet managers at all Bonura Hospitality Group venues (The Grandview, Anthony’s Pier 9, The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, West Hills Country Club, Water Club Luxury Living, Shadows on the Hudson, Blu Pointe) and the Bonura Hospitality Group corporate office attended an all-day certification program conducted by Bernadette Smith, founder and president of the Gay Wedding Institute and 14 Stories.
 

RELATED: FEATURED COUPLE: JENNY AND JANINE

 

What is the Gay Wedding Institute Certification Program?

 

Smith, who, coincidentally, is originally from the Hudson Valley, explains that the certification program is an intensive program designed to educate wedding industry professionals about the nuances of same-sex marriages.
 

In this program, Smith says, wedding industry professionals learn appropriate language and terminology, learn what wedding traditions same-sex couples prefer, learn how to rebrand their marketing materials and signage within their venue, get a detailed look at LGBTQ wedding data, trends, and are educated on laws and policies.
 

Brower says, “Bernadette’s certification course was motivating, captivating, and empowering.”
 

“The Bonura Hospitality Group are the only caterers and wedding professionals who are certified in our area,” says Brower. “It has actually made us better in so many areas because our training was not just about language. We dove into LGBT wedding data, trends, traditions, best practices in sales and marketing, cutting-edge information on laws and policies, and received resource material for future questions. We also learned about being an advocate for your client. That was my favorite section!”
 

What do vendors and venues having this certification mean for you, the engaged couple?

 

Before we discuss what the certification means to engaged couples, it’s important to look at some numbers. Between June 2013 – June 2016, 52% of LGBTQ couples were afraid of rejection based on sexual orientation/gender identity. Because of that, 86% found it very important that a vendor serves and supports LGBTQ weddings and 51% found it challenging to find themselves represented in wedding resources.* (Source: Gay Wedding Institute by 14 Stories)
 

For LGBTQ couples, working with a Gay Wedding Institute certified venue or vendor means that you get to work with venues and vendors where you are equally represented, that understand your unique vision for your wedding, and that can appropriately address your concerns.
 

Brower states that as a Gay Wedding Institute certified venue they changed a lot to better serve the LGBTQ community in the Hudson Valley. “With Bernadette’s guidance,” she says, “we made changes to our (marketing materials), making sure all of our packaging, websites, and brochures use inclusive language and represented all couples. … We also are making a conscious effort to work with vendors who are inclusive, themselves. You are only as strong as your associates.”
 

In addition, Brower says “At all of our facilities, we changed signage that once read ‘Bridal Suite’ to either ‘Suite’ or ‘Wedding Suite.’  Client info was changed from ‘Bride & Groom’ on our agreements to ‘Name & Name.’ We use the terms ‘Wedding Expo’ and ‘Wedding Show’ instead of ‘Bridal Show’.”
 

But being certified goes far beyond changing language. Brower says, “We are self-aware, and that doesn’t mean saying, ‘We do gay weddings.’  It’s actually far from that. It’s saying we love weddings, all weddings, no matter who you are marrying, and we will make that experience special for anyone who walks through our doors.”
 

RELATED: 9 CRUCIAL THINGS YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR WEDDING VENDORS

 

How can you get certified or find out what venues or vendors are certified?

 

14 Stories, the country’s first firm specializing in planning legal same-sex weddings, launched the Gay Wedding Institute in 2009, as a way to help wedding industry professionals become fully inclusive of all couples, including LGBTQ couples. If you are an engaged couple looking to find certified vendors or venues, or are a wedding industry professional and would like more information about the Gay Wedding Institute or information on how you can be certified, please visit Gay Wedding Institute by 14 Stories
 

Featured photo credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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3 Easy Ways to Stay True to Yourself and Make Your Wedding Special

By guest blogger Amanda Hudes, owner of Smiling Through Chaos.

 

Weddings are best when they showcase YOU!

 

2018 is all about customization baby! Nobody wants to have their wedding look and feel just like every other wedding out there, but where do you begin? Well, begin with YOU. By doing so, you almost guarantee your wedding will be different because there’s no one else out there like you. No one else has your style, taste, or imagination.

 

Here are some tips to help you figure out…

 

1 – Who you are

 

2 – How to feel confident about who you now accept, love and cherish, and

 

3 – How you can stay true to who you are on your wedding day

 

Go deep

 

Many of us go through several stages in life, and often times each stage is represented by our style. Does anyone remember wearing “babydoll tee’s” as our bodies were changing in middle school? What about the phase of “Oh my gosh, I’m going to graduate so I have to go out and buy a few suits for interviews!” And what about the stage when you said, “Yes!” to a marriage proposal and started shopping for the dress you were “supposed to” love?

 

That’s where we say, “Hold up!” Underneath the makeup and your favorite current fashion trend, who are YOU? Do you love poetry or heavy metal? Do you love adventure, or are you someone who loves to be comfortable in jeans and a sweatshirt most days? If you’re someone who loves to wear sneakers and sweats, you might be very uncomfortable in high heels all day, which will show in your pictures and your face when speaking to your guests! I’m not saying wear sneakers and sweats, but I am suggesting keeping “comfort” in your mind and choosing a wedding dress or jumpsuit. When you feel good, you smile, you laugh, you enjoy, and that helps others to do the same.
 

Who are YOU?

 

That’s the first step before proceeding with any wedding planning. Once you figure that out, you will feel so much more comfortable with your decisions and with the style of the wedding because it will represent the two of you.

 

Care for and love yourself

 

Once you realize who you truly are, it’s time for self-care and self-love. You know the saying, you can’t love someone else until you love yourself first. Well, I say love yourself because you are SO worth it, and when you love yourself, you become so irresistible that your significant other will love you even more. If the two of you are practicing self-care, this is magic.

 

Self-care starts with taking time to laugh, to enjoy moments with friends and family, and providing yourself with moments of silence and reflection.

 

Self-love also involves accepting and cherishing the body and mind that makes you so special. What makes us different makes us special. There are no such things as imperfections. You are perfectly you!
 

Do what feels right

 

So now it’s the time to plan your look and your wedding!

 

What feels good to you? Do you adore the smell of fresh flowers, or would you prefer more greenery? Have you realized that you would absolutely love a regal gown so you can feel like a Queen that day, or would you prefer to wear a mini dress with sandals? What says YOU? What feels right, and good, to YOU?

 

Being absolutely clear on what you enjoy and what makes you happy is crucial to having the day of your dreams. Confidence in owning who you are sends a clear message to those around who might be trying to sway you in a different direction. The more confident you are in your decisions, the less likely someone will be in trying to make you change your mind.

 

What are things you discovered about yourself during the planning process? What are some things that are truly you that you are doing at your wedding? What are some ways you care for yourself?  
 

Featured Photo: Ricky Restiano Photography
 

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Jill Nobles Smile Peace Love Boscobel House Hudson Valley Wedding

5 Surprising Things Your Bridal Party Expects Of You

We’ve all read those absolutely cringe-worthy emails sent by a bride to her bridal party making insane demands for her wedding. Everything from wanting extravagant parties, to making her party wear expensive designer labels, to getting angry when someone can’t be there 24/7 for her every waking need…essentially, despicable.
 

Your bridal party is not a group of people you can demand anything of. In fact, if you expect them to do that, then you really need to reconsider a lot. Yes, your bridal party is there to help you, of course, but to expect (or demand) them to make their world revolve around your wedding is simply out of the question. Period.
 

That being said, as the bride-or-groom-to-be, you do have a responsibility to those you choose to be part of your bridal party. So, what exactly is your responsibility and where is the line between needing help, wanting help and demanding help? To answer that, we need to go back a bit and actually look at the history of bridal parties.
 

What exactly is a bridal party?

 

Historically, the tradition of bridal parties started with the groom. Centuries ago, the responsibilities of the groomsmen (known then as the Groom’s Knights) were to ensure that the bride and her dowry arrived safely to the groom. As time went on, the bride enlisted a Maid of Honor, or Senior Maid, to help her in the days leading up to her wedding. Kind of like a personal assistant, the Senior Maid would help with the decorating and make sure all the bride’s needs were met.
 

As the tradition evolved, the bride eventually added more “maids” and both the groomsmen and bridesmaids dressed similarly to the bride and groom to both confuse evil spirits and prevent harm to either the bride or groom form a jealous past lover.
 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHOOSING YOUR BRIDAL PARTY

 

Do you need a bridal party?

 

Well, the quick and easy answer is you don’t. You just need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. So, if you’re worried about who to ask or how many people to ask, you can make it really easy on yourself by just choosing two. You can choose one and your partner can choose the other.
 

For most couples, choosing a few people for each side is the norm. They mostly consist of closest friends or family members to help with different aspects of the wedding, be of support to both the bride and groom and yes, sign the marriage license. The key word here is support and it needs to be a very symbiotic relationship. Here are some examples of that give-and-take relationship and what your bridal party really expects of you.
 

They EXPECT you to reach out to them for opinions and feedback

 

Asking your bridal party for their input or help is encouraged. You asked them to be a very special part of your big day, so they want to feel important and feel like they contributed to your happiness.
 

You CAN’T expect them to…

 

Let them make decisions for you. You may ask your bridal party to go dress shopping with you or go to your hair and makeup trial and they are going to give their opinions, but, you need to remember they are just that. Opinions. You need to make the final decisions based on what feels right to you. You can’t let their opinions sway you because, at the end of the day, you are the one that needs to be able to live with your decisions.
 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by their opinions, you can just simply say “That’s a good idea. Let me think about that.” That does two things right away. It lets the other person know that they’ve been heard and that you appreciate their ideas. It also diffuses the situation so you don’t have to be put on the spot. As long as the other person feels heard, they most likely, won’t care if you follow through on that idea because you took the time to listen and appreciate them.
 

RELATED: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO HAVE A DRAMA-FREE BRIDAL PARTY

 

They EXPECT you to keep drama at bay

 

The beauty of your bridal party is that you can ask whoever you like. From childhood friends to coworkers, to family members, your bridal party expects the group to be diverse, but with that, they expect you to be responsible enough to ask people who keep drama at bay. They are saying yes to be in your wedding to help you and see it as an honor. They don’t want to be involved in stress and neither do you.
 

You CAN’T expect drama is inevitable

 

There is such a thing as a drama-free bridal party, and one of the best ways to ensure that is by keeping your party small. Now, there are some who say that the size of your bridal party should match the size of your wedding, and I say “NO WAY”. No matter how large your wedding is, smaller is ALWAYS better for managing personalities and keeping stress at bay.
 

If you have a bridesmaid of groomsman that is causing a lot of drama and has got caught up in thinking that your wedding day is their wedding day, dismiss them immediately. Yes, you can “fire” a member of your bridal party. A wedding is stressful enough and you don’t need any added drama.
 

They EXPECT you to take their needs into consideration

 

You need to realize, and be ok with, the fact that not everyone in your party is on the same playing field. Take their budgets and time concerns into consideration. In fact, this is a must. Everyone in your bridal party is going to have different jobs, which means they all have different incomes. Everyone is going to have a different budget. Everyone is going to have different free times. Everyone is going to have their own life, with their own responsibilities.
 

You CAN’T expect your bridal party to neglect their own needs for yours

 

If you want a high fashion, glamorous wedding and you want your girls to wear expensive gowns, it may not be possible for some. If that’s not ok with you, you have a few options. One is to pay for their dress yourself or offer to chip in, and the other is to offer a range of dresses in the same color, so you have a cohesive look, but one in which they can choose which fits best into their budget.
 

If someone decides to do their own hair and makeup because they can’t afford to go to the salon, accept it or pay for the service for them.
 

You also can’t be hurt if someone can’t make every wedding-related event. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you, but maybe they just couldn’t rearrange a previous commitment or fly out or travel to be with you.
 

They EXPECT you to be transparent

 

bridesmaids in their dresses

Photo Credit: Kristina Walter

Transparency is absolutely essential and assuming your party knows what you want is a costly mistake. Explain your vision, and let them know your thoughts on aspects of your day. Keeping everyone on the same page reduces stress and anxiety on both ends.
 

You CAN’T assume they know what you want

 

Want a surprise shower or no shower at all? Tell them. Don’t expect them to know. Don’t want a raging stripper party for a bachelor or bachelorette party? Tell them, otherwise you are going to be devastated and embarrassed. If there’s anything you do or don’t want for your wedding, tell them. Even if you are super close siblings, assuming they can read your mind is a bad idea. Always be transparent, even if they know, so you all are on the same page and so that all expectations are met.
 

RELATED: 13 OF THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES ENGAGED COUPLED MAKE REVEALED

 

They EXPECT you to accept them for who they are

 

I’m saving the best for last. This almost sounds like a no-brainer. “D’uh! Of course”, you might be thinking, but you’d be surprised, especially given the opening to this post, how many times members of a bridal party have been asked to change something about them for the wedding.
 

You CAN’T ask someone to change any part of them for your wedding

 

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE can you ask your bridal party to change who they are or make them feel uncomfortable. You can’t invite someone to be in your bridal party and then ask them to lose weight, get a tan, cut or dye their hair, cover up tattoos, or change themselves in any way.
 

If your focus is only on how you want people to look in your photos, then you really need to take a step back and consider why you are getting married in the first place. Is it to have nice pictures or is it to formally declare your love to someone you are going to grow old with and create a new glorious life with?
 

Is there anything you would add? We’d love to hear from you!
 

Featured Photo Credit: Smile Peace Love Photography

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The Worst Times of The Year to Get Married in 2019 and 2020

If you are one of the estimated 3,600* couples to have gotten engaged in the Hudson Valley over the holidays, congrats!
 

By now, you and your fiancé are probably deciding on when to get married, if you haven’t done so already. Chances are, you might be finding that choosing a 2018 date with vendors who are still available is slim. There’s a good reason for that.
 

The average length of engagements is around 18 months*, so that means that couples who got engaged in 2016 or early 2017 are getting married in 2018 and have reserved most of the available dates. So…realistically, if you got engaged over the holidays, you’re going to have to look at dates in 2019, or even 2020!
 

The first thing you should think of when choosing your date is what else is going on during the time you’re thinking, and the second thing you should think of is when you want your anniversary to be. It’s easy to be caught up in the moment for your wedding, but that date will last a lifetime. That being said, there are three main categories of dates that you should avoid, if possible, and two specific to the Hudson Valley, that you shouldn’t necessarily avoid, but requires a bit more advanced planning. Read on to learn more and scroll all the way down for a complete list of date that you may want to avoid.
 

Avoid birthdays or special family dates

 

When my husband and I got married, it was a no-brainer for us to get married in October. Not only are both our birthday’s in October, but more than half of the month is full of friends and family birthdays and anniversaries. So, of course, we wanted to add to the list.
 

We quickly found out that “adding ourselves to the list” was a lot trickier and challenging than we thought. While we’re happy we did it, it was incredibly stressful to plan because we only had 4 Saturdays to choose from and needed to make sure none of them fell on anyone else’s special day, including ours.
 

While we did have one special guest who was turning 6 on our wedding day and made sure we made it special for him with a little cake and singing “Happy Birthday”, you still need to put yourself in your guest’s shoes. Do YOU really want to be going to a wedding on your birthday or anniversary?
 

While you may say it wouldn’t bother you, when the day comes, it will. Trust me, I know! Several years ago, I was invited to a wedding that took place on my birthday. I already had previous birthday plans prior to receiving a Save the Date, but it was a friend of mine at the time, so I didn’t want to not go to the wedding. With some rearranging, we made it work, but it was still tough.
 

RELATED: 4 THINGS YOUR GUESTS REALLY WANT AT YOUR WEDDING

 

Avoid holidays (big or small)

 

Many couples think getting married on or near a holiday like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day or even a long holiday weekend like for Memorial Day is easy because their guests are already in “celebration” mode and they may have extra days off from work. However, the truth is, for guests (and some venues), it’s really inconvenient. Here’s why…
 

Christmas, in any given year, is a crazy time for so many people and adding a wedding into the mix can really make it insane for you and your guests.
 

For many, New Year’s Eve is one of those holidays you either love or hate. You either want to be out celebrating, living it up or have nothing to do with it at all and want to be in bed by 11:00 pm. Many people don’t like to be out on the road that night either because they know many people will be out celebrating and you never know who might be on the road drunk.
 

For many venues, they host their own New Year’s Eve parties and may not have the night available for your wedding, or they may be available, but be more expensive.
 

Valentine’s Day (if it falls on a weekend) is a bit cliché. In fact, there have been articles written that say people who get married on Valentine’s Day are more likely to get divorced. Who knows if that’s true, but thinking long term, do you really want your anniversary to always be on Valentine’s Day, or do you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day separately? Also, think about floral costs. It may cost you more to get flowers for your wedding due to the high demand.
 

When you think of Memorial Day, it’s a patriotic day set aside to remember those who fought and continue to fight, for our freedom. In addition, it’s the first long weekend of the year and the unofficial first weekend of summer. People plan getaways and vacations around that time, sometimes a year in advance, meaning your wedding might interfere with their plans or their plans may interfere with your wedding and they may not be able to come. Even if people aren’t going away, it’s still a long weekend and some people may not want to do anything. Costs for hotel rooms are also going to be more expensive, so you want to make sure you take that into consideration as well.
 

Avoid repetitive, “superstitious”, leap dates, or somber memorial dates

 

In the past, dates such as 11/11/11 or 12/12/12 were hot days for weddings. In fact, couples who wanted these types of dates booked way out to make sure they got them. While not so prominent now, looking in the years ahead, 8/18/18, 9/19/19 or 2/20/20 may be popular dates as well.
 

If you are superstitious, you may want to avoid dates like Friday the 13th or March 15 which is the “Ides of March”, the day Julius Caesar was assassinated, and is traditionally considered a superstitious date. Leap dates you want to avoid for obvious reasons and September 11, and any other somber memorial dates are others you might want to avoid.
 

Hudson Valley times to be aware of

 

There are two times of the year in the Hudson Valley that require a little extra advanced planning. Having a wedding during these times is totally doable, you just need to plan accordingly.
 

May and June

 

May and June are some of the most popular months for weddings. But, guess what else happens in the Hudson Valley in those months? College and High school graduations. There are dozens and dozens of colleges and high schools in the Hudson Valley, and while students are not typically booking venues for graduation parties, their families, who come from all over the tri-state and beyond, are booking hotel rooms. You want to make sure that you book hotel room blocks far in advance so your guests don’t have to compete for rooms.
 

RELATED: MAKE THIS MISTAKE AND YOU’LL RUIN YOUR FALL WEDDING

 

Fall

 

More popular than May and June are September and October. You have tourists coming in to look at the fall foliage, colleges have both homecoming and parent weekends, not to mention countless festivals. The same issue you have with hotels in May and June happens here again.
 

In 2017, JUST in September and October alone, an estimated 2,900* weddings took place in the Hudson Valley. Let’s break that down… say each wedding had 120 guests, estimating half those guests need hotel rooms, that’s 174,000 people (or 87,000 couples) needing rooms in 8 weekends. If that’s not competition, I don’t know what is.
 

So, we want to know how you chose your wedding date if you have one already? Did you find any challenges with your date?
 

Source: The Wedding Report
 

Featured Photo Credit: The Photography of Jeremiah Shaffer

Wedding dates to avoid in 2019 and 2020

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Maltese Cross

3 Ways I Incorporated My Maltese Heritage Into My Wedding

Here’s a little fact about me. I’m Maltese. Usually when I tell people that they literally look at me like I have two heads. The conversation usually goes like this…

 

“Mal-what?” they ask.

 

“I’m Maltese!” I say.

 

“Oh, like the dog?”

 

“Well, not exactly. My family comes from Malta?”

 

“Malta? What’s that?”

 

“An island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily”

 

“Oh, so…your Italian?”

 

“Nope. Maltese.”

 

Malta

Photo taken by my cousin

Then I go into my favorite part where I get to talk about Malta. How it’s a country composed of three “tiny” islands (about 200 sq miles) between Sicily and North Africa with a population a little over 400,000. How it has some of the oldest ancient ruins on earth that predate the pyramids of Egypt. How it has its own unique language (Middle Eastern/Arabic with a mix of English, French and Italian) that’s the only Semitic language that’s written in the Latin alphabet. I could go on and on because I love educating people about Malta.

 

I’m first generation American on my father’s side, second generation on my mother’s side. In fact, if you do the math, I’m probably more Maltese than American (though I’m proud of both my heritages equally). But here’s the ironic part…I’ve never been to Malta (yet).

 

I’ve come close twice. Once in college when I was studying abroad in Europe (but wasn’t allowed to travel outside of the group I was with) and once the year I got married, when my cousins went. I couldn’t go then because between saving and planning for a wedding and saving for a house, it just wasn’t financially possible at the time. So, visiting is still on my bucket list.

 

That being said, because I’m so proud of where my family comes from, it was very important to me to incorporate my Maltese heritage into my wedding. I’ve said over and over that one of the best things about weddings is that it’s a great opportunity for the couple, even though they are coming together as one, to showcase their induvial styles, religions, heritages, cultures, etc. So, here’s what I did…

 

RELATED: 3 UNIQUE WAYS TO SAY ‘THIS IS US’ AT YOUR WEDDING

 

I incorporated my Maltese heritage in the details

 

Maltese Cross

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” This is a rhyme brides know all too well. The “new” was easy…that was my dress. The “blue” was easy…stickers I put on the bottom of my shoe that read “I Do.”

 

The “old” and “borrowed” was tricky. I was trying to figure out what those could be and then my mom had an idea to look through her jewelry box.

 

As we were going through the box which is full of family heirlooms, I found a magnificent filigree Maltese Cross pin that belonged to my grandmother as well as some lace she made. Making filigree jewelry and lace are traditional Maltese arts. My thought was to use them both on my bouquet. While I opted, in the end, not to use my grandmother’s lace (for fear of getting it stained from the flowers, or oils from my hand), I did have lace wrapped around my bouquet as homage to her and attached the pin to it. (There’s another story here on how I lost the pin on my wedding day and miraculously found it the next day…but that’s a whole other story for a whole different day).

 

I incorporated my Maltese heritage through romantic proverbs

 

Maltese wedding

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

My husband is Irish, so Irish wedding traditions and blessing are easy to find. Maltese wedding traditions and blessings, not so much.

 

Most Maltese are Roman Catholic, in fact, we’re some of the oldest Catholics in the world, dating back to 60 A.D. So, other than having a full Roman Catholic mass wedding, it was really hard for me to find ways to incorporate Maltese wedding blessings. Not to mention, the Maltese language is very complex, so I needed to find blessings that also had English translations.

 

I thought a cool thing to do would be to have Gaelic and Maltese love proverbs scattered on the tables during cocktail hour. I went online to see what I could find, because we know that if it’s online it must be “true”, right (haha!), and held my breath that what I found was correct (I’m not too fluent in the language). My saving grace was that if they weren’t right, only a few people would know. Thankfully, I have a cousin in Malta who looked over the sayings and said that, for the most part, they were right, so I went with it.

 

RELATED: 4 THINGS YOUR GUESTS REALLY WANT AT YOUR WEDDING
 

I honored my Maltese heritage by keeping my last name

 

My last name, Zammit, is not common at all over here in the States, but in Malta, my last name is like Smith or Jones here. It’s very common.

 

When couples marry, 98% of the time the bride takes the groom’s name. However, I didn’t want to lose my very Maltese name. Now, I know no one can take my heritage away from me, but without my last name, no one would be able to tell, from the outside, what or who I am. It’s very much a part of my identity and how I define myself.

 

A disclaimer here is that changing your name is a very personal decision. Everyone is going to have a different reason for changing or keeping their name, and whatever you decide is correct. For me, I wanted to keep my name but also honor my husband and our unity by taking his name as well, so, I hyphenate my last name.

 

Hopefully, learning how I incorporated my heritage into my wedding will give you some ideas on how you can do the same for your wedding. What specific part of your heritage or culture are you incorporating into your wedding? We’d love to know.
 
Featured Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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Expert Advice For Finding Perfect Photo Locations

I remember when my husband and I were planning our wedding, I spent hours looking for perfect locations for photos.  I scoured Pinterest endlessly pinning wedding photos of every kind…outdoor photos, indoor photos, posed photos, and everything in between. Then my husband and I made a list of all the places we wanted to go to get photos that would give us the desired look we found in all those Pinterest photos.
 

Through no fault of our own, we had a 3-hour gap between our ceremony and reception, so we thought we had all the time in the world. In fact, one of the places we thought about going for photos was 40 minutes away from our wedding and reception.
 

 

When we finally got our list complete and felt it was good enough to show our photographer, he stood in silence for a few minutes. I’m not quite sure what he was thinking, but we could tell right away that we had no idea what we were doing and that our lack of knowledge cost us a ton of time, time we could have used doing other things.
 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Once our photographer had time to process our list, he broke it down and rationalized what we gave him. He gave us the best advice we ever received. Keep the list small, keep the list simple, and keep the list local. While three hours was a long time, it actually did go by very fast, which he warned us it would. We narrowed down our list from 6 locations, two three, one of which was the church.
 

Apparently, choosing too many locations is a common mistake couples make. So, we asked Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography, for advice on how to find perfect wedding photo locations:
 

Keep locations close

 

“It has become standard for most weddings to occur in either one or two main locations,” says Leman. “Either both ceremony and reception in one spot, or ceremony in one location, and reception in another. As much as possible, I would recommend staying in one main location for photos. Traveling between a few different places for photos, especially with families and wedding party groups, can cost precious time on a wedding day.”
 

You’ll be surprised how many photos/poses you’ll be taking at each location, and all the little nooks within a location you’ll find for your photo, so there’s no need to drive all over town to find the perfect spot.
 

RELATED: 5 WAYS TO GET BEAUTIFUL WEDDING PHOTOS ON A TIGHT BUDGET

 

Look for at least one outdoor spot

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

“If your ceremony and/or reception location is really not conducive to photographs,” says Leman,”I would recommend finding a great outdoor spot that:
 

1) Has enough space for the entire wedding party and family, if needed, and
 

2) Has open shade, and the ability for at least a semblance of privacy so you do not have meanderers in the background of your photos (local and state parks are great for wedding photographs, but sometimes picnickers will be around – just be aware!).”
 

Keep in mind that locations can change

 

Leman says, “One location may look amazing in summer, but it will be a totally different story in the winter! And, keep in mind that some locations change occasionally; for example, if you are counting on an open field, and a developer buys it, they may start to build on your awesome space before your wedding day (this does happen)! It’s important to take a peek at your photo location just prior to your wedding to ensure that it is as you expected it to be.”
 

Pay attention to permits

 

Leman says “If you do choose a location besides your ceremony/reception spot, make sure you don’t need permits to shoot there. If you do, make sure you request them as soon as possible to ensure that you won’t run into any snafus on your wedding day. Keep in mind that ordering a permit is often the responsibility of you as the client, rather than the photographer – take a peek at your photographer’s contract to be sure of where this responsibility lies!”
 

So, we want to know, what locations have you chosen for your wedding photos? Did that list change at all?

 

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

Featured Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

 

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Summer Wedding ideas

4 Things Your Guests Really Want At Your Wedding

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

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

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

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

RELATED: 5 SECRETS TO BEING AN AWESOME WEDDING GUEST

 

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

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

Your wedding guests want to feel included and appreciated

 

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

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

Your wedding guests want to have a good meal

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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

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

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

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

 

Your wedding guests want to have a good time

 

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

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

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

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

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

Your wedding guests do not want to be too inconvenienced

 

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

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

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

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

Featured Photo Credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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7 questions you need to ask your wedding DJ

If you’ve been a faithful follower of the blog, you know that our main purpose is to help eliminate the learning curve many couples face. One of the best ways to eliminate that learning curve is by knowing what questions to ask. Not all questions are created equal. You can go online and download lists of questions to ask your particular vendors, such as a photographer or florist, but that only gets you so far.
 

The thing is if you ask the questions, do you even know what answer you should be looking for in return? If a photographer says they use a certain type of equipment, do you know anything about that piece of equipment or what it does? If a venue says they supply a certain type of chair or tables, do you know what those chairs or tables look like and why they are better than other tables or chairs?
 

Pat Mahan, owner and DJ at Digital Musicians Entertainment in New Windsor says “Everyone always asks ‘What kind of equipment do you use?’, ‘What kind of lighting do you have?’, ‘What are your backups…?’ Those are great questions but are a bit generic. Asking the right questions AND knowing what answers to expect is essential for hiring the right vendors. Andrew “Enriquez” Nikola, DJ and president of Enriquez Entertainment in Marlboro says “Knowledge comes with experience…Be sure to ask the right questions.”
 

Weddings are expensive, and the last thing you want is to invest a lot of money and have regrets at the end.
 

So, today, we’ve asked top Hudson Valley DJ’s to share the questions you really should be asking when choosing your wedding DJ AND the answers you should expect to receive.
 

How long have you been in business and what kind of events to you DJ the most?

 

Experience is key and comes with a price. That’s part of what you need to consider in your investment. Being underpriced could be a red flag that your DJ is new to the industry and are low-balling their rates to book couples fast just build up their experience and portfolio. But do you really want to pay less for inexperience, or do you want to invest more to ensure your day is one in which people really enjoy themselves? In addition to low-balling their price, you can tell how much experience a wedding DJ has based on the questions they ask YOU! Nikola says “Make sure the DJ isn’t just selling you too hard. If they truly want to be engaged in entertaining your guests, they will be interested in what the couples have to say.”
 

RELATED: WHY HIRING AN EXPERIENCED DJ FOR YOUR WEDDING IS A BAD IDEA

 

Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz says that asking your DJ what kind of events they usually work will also tell you a lot about the value you get with your investment. For example, if they primarily work in clubs or do a lot of charity galas or birthday parties, you are going to get a different type of “entertainment” than if you hired a DJ that does strictly weddings, with a few of those other events on the side.
 

Looking at their reviews online will help a lot with determining what types of events they do. This research allows you to see what their presence is in the wedding world. Hiring a DJ in the same vicinity of your wedding is important. Domenic Trocino, owner of DJ Domenic Entertainment in Poughkeepsie says “Local is important. Have they been to the venue? Do they know where they set up?” If you have an experienced DJ, who may not have been to your venue because maybe it’s a new venue, the DJ should ask to come to a site visit with you or ask for a contact at the venue to set up their own site visit. You want them to do this, but they should be suggesting that first. See if they do. If they do, you know they are on top of their game.
 

How do you entertain?

 

Trocino says “Another important question to ask is how they entertain…do they talk and entertain your guests to get them engaged?” Some DJ’s are more outgoing than others. Let’s face it, people are different. Some people are quiet and laid back, some are outgoing and the life of the party. Some people are introverts, some are extroverts. And guess what? Whatever type of person your DJ is comes out through their style of MCing and entertaining. And guess what else? Introverted and extroverted people make AWESOME DJ’s! Sometimes, you may just want someone to play music and not speak too much or interact with your guests. Sometimes, you may want a DJ that really gets involved with the guests and interacts with them all night. Sometimes, you may want someone in the middle. There’s a DJ for every type of couple, but it’s important to know that information before you book. If you want a lively off-the-hook party, you want to hire a DJ with that same personality, otherwise, you may be in for a surprise.
 

Where do you get your music from?

 

Have you ever thought about where music comes from? Mahan says “Another question people need to ask is ‘Where do you get your music?’ Is it ripped off YouTube or Videos?” Back in the day, I remember uploading all my CDs to iTunes so that I could listen to them digitally on the go. But did you know that professional DJs subscribe to different websites and organizations that provide them with the best quality version of songs? Your DJ should not be getting their music from sources that are not made specifically for industry professionals. The quality just won’t be as good, not to mention, ripping music from somewhere is unethical.
 

Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls says to also ask how the DJ mixes their music. He says “Make sure the DJ is mixing the music live and not using a prerecorded mix. Mixing live at an event is when you are actually blending the two songs together to make them sound like one. It helps to build that energy and that vibe and getting people dancing.”
 

RELATED: THE ONE MISTAKE COUPLES MAKE WHEN HIRING THIER DJ

 

Who’s coming to my wedding?

 

In the DJ industry, just like with many other vendors, they can be a “Single-Op” company, meaning one DJ runs the company and is the DJ that will be at your wedding, or a “Multi-Op” company meaning there are many DJ’s working for the same company. You want to ask this question so you make sure that the person you are speaking to during the planning process is also the same person who will be at your wedding. Why is this important? DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls says, “This is the person who is going to announce your name over the microphone, interact with your guests, do things like move you from entrance to first dance to toast, to parent dances, in a style that fits what you want as a couple. And then this is the person who is going to pick music for you and your friends to dance to.” Essentially, you want to build that rapport with your DJ throughout your entire planning process.
 

Do you have insurance and what kind?

 

All wedding vendors should have insurance. If they don’t, that’s a big red flag and you should walk away. In fact, many wedding venues won’t work with a vendor unless they have insurance. DJs, at a bare minimum, should have liability insurance, but many will have more. Why do they need insurance if they are just playing music? Well, it’s protecting you and them from the “What if’s”. What if…someone trips and falls on their wiring? What if…someone has a reaction to the fog machine? You can never be too careful and everyone wants to make sure they are protected from the unforeseen.
 

Do you bring backup equipment and where do you keep it?

 

You should always ask your DJ if they have backup equipment and they should always say yes. However, that’s not the end of that question. Where they keep their backup equipment is just as important. Mahan says you want to know this because “What happens, if, heaven forbid, your first dance cuts out? What would they do? What’s their process? What do they have in place to happen if your first dance cuts out?” He says their backups should always be set up and ready to go and not packed in their van. If we take his example of your first dance cutting out, and their backup equipment is in the car, then everything is put on hold because they have to go to their car, unload, set-up and then start again. If their backup system is set up and ready to go, they can easily make that switch so seamlessly that you may not even realize there was a problem in the first place.
 

RELATED: AVOID THESE 3 MISTAKES WHEN CHOOSING MUSIC FOR YOUR WEDDING

 

How long should a “Must Play” or “Do Not Play” list be?

 

We spoke in another blog post about how you need to be able to trust your DJ to play songs that you like and that will bring your guests to their feet and give everyone a night they will enjoy. However, there are some songs that a couple loves and really wants them played as well some songs couples can’t stand and don’t want to be played at all! Swatek says “Couples should ask how long a must play or a do not play list should be.” He says 10 to 15 songs is a good amount to give a DJ because it gives the DJ a good direction of where to go with the music while giving a couple a say in music.
 

Have you found your DJ? Were they able to answer all your questions? Did they say anything to you that cause a red flag to go up?

 

Featured Photo Credit: DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style

 

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Creative Ways To Make A Wedding Guest Book You’ll Love For Years To Come

For the longest time, I never really got the point of a wedding guest book.

 

I mean, you know who you’re inviting to your wedding, you know who’s coming to your wedding, and between your shower and wedding, every guest gives you a card with a nice sentiment written in it, so why do you need a guest book? Right?

 

Well, in the last 7-10 years, guest books have really taken on a life of their own. This once minute and somewhat boring detail of a wedding has now really grown into something really special and personal. No longer are they a formality, but a very personal creative keepsake of your wedding day. From thumbprint trees to puzzles and everything in between, guest books are rarely ever books anymore.

 

Because this detail is often something that’s very personal, many couples tend to DIY it, or at least purchase one on Etsy, made by someone else. Since it’s a very crafty and creative element of your day, we decided to reach out the largest DIY wedding resource to get their insights into what you can do for your guest book at your wedding.

 

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

 

Do you need a guest book?

 

wedding guest book

Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo and Video

The short answer is no. You can have whatever you want at your wedding, and you can also eliminate whatever you want at your wedding. Actually, most of the weddings I’ve gone to haven’t had a guest book at all! Remember, like I always say, there are no ‘rules’ when it comes to weddings.

 

Why have a guest book?

 

“Guest Books are a staple piece for the bride and groom so they can remember who came to their wedding or wedding shower,” says Debbie Louis, owner of the DIY Bride website and chief wedding planner and designer of A La Mode Events .“It also allows the guest the opportunity to share a memorable message (congratulatory or well wishes) to the couple… It can also be creative to represent the theme of the wedding.”

 

Just like your photos, your guest book is a tangible memento from your day. It’s really cool to look back years later at something people sign or create on the day of your wedding. Imagine your little flower girl or ring bearer signing their name the way little kids do, and then looking back at it 10 years later when that little guy or girl is now a teenager. Imagine seeing a message in your grandparent’s own handwriting and having that sentiment to keep forever.

 

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

 

What kind of guest book should you have?

 

If you are going to do a guest book, I’m a big proponent of not having anything at your wedding that you can’t reuse again. So, I’m always in favor of having a guest book that you can actually use or display in your home. My first thought is to make this something fun. Look at your style, your passions, interest or decorating style to give you an inspirational starting point. Louis says “I Love pictures that tell a story, colors or a theme. You can get über creative with these simple three things. But you should dig deep and figure out what you love in order to properly personalize.”

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

For example, my husband loves baseball, especially the New York Yankees. Knowing that I didn’t want just a plain old book, I thought about something that was a bit of a novelty, something that was different, and something that we could hang in our new home. After doing a bit of research, we decided that our guest book would be a baseball bat with our names and date etched into it that everyone could sign. It was a HUGE hit!! People loved it and were talking about it for weeks after. In fact, one guest wrote on the knob (the bottom part of the bat) “Best guest book ever!” It’s now hanging in our home office. I guess we knocked that one ‘out of the park!’ Sorry, more bad puns…I can’t help myself.

 

Anyway…take a look at your overall theme, what makes you happy and choose something that really depicts your personality and something that will be fun for your guests as well.

 

What are some unique, easy and personal types of guest books?

 

“Some really cool guest book ideas are puzzle pieces,” says Louis. She also suggests if you love to travel, you can have people sign decorated globes, or another idea is to have guests sign a photo mat surrounding an engagement photo which you can then frame and hang in your home. You can make a photo book and have everyone sign it. “Also the photo strips from a photo booth are usually easy and classic,” Louis says.

 

So, we want to know if you are having a guest book, and, if so, what type of ‘book’ is it going to be?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Emma Cleary Photo and Video

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make this mistake and you’ll ruin your fall wedding

 

Fall is FINALLY here! If you are a Hudson Valley couple dreaming of getting married in the fall and are in the midst of planning your wedding, you probably realized very quickly that just because summer is over, it doesn’t mean wedding ‘season’ is over.

 

In fact, it’s far from over. If you think about it, fall is the perfect time to get married in the Hudson Valley. The heat and humidity are both usually all gone by now (which is good, because we learned that you most-likely will be running hot all day), Mother Nature gives you beautiful fall foliage as the perfect backdrop to your photos, the ‘rush’ of the summer with everyone going on vacation has come to an end, and pumpkin and apple spice is in!

 

I was a fall bride, October to be exact, and for me, getting married in the fall was a no-brainer! My husband and I both have birthdays in October (in fact, in just October alone, half the month is full of birthdays…15 birthdays in one month!), so it was only fitting that we add to the festivities with a wedding.

 

Thankfully, we had a somewhat long engagement, which to us, seemed perfectly reasonable. We wanted to take our time and not be stressed, but the other part of that reasoning was because we wanted a fall wedding. But not just any fall wedding, a Hudson Valley fall wedding and we quickly found out what that meant!

 

RELATED: 13 OF THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES ENGAGED COUPLES MAKE REVEALED

 

I’m going to tell you what that means in a second, but first, the biggest mistake you can make when planning your Hudson Valley fall wedding is NOT GIVING YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME AND NOT PLANNING AHEAD! If you don’t follow this simple rule, you will be setting yourself up for a ton of stress and possible heartache.

 

Here’s why…

 

Fall is the new summer

 

September is the busiest month for weddings, followed by June and October which are tied as the second busiest months. Yes, October is the new June. Just check out these stats:

 

In 2016, just in Dutchess, Ulster, Orange and Putnam Counties alone, 728 weddings took place in September, and 623 weddings took place in BOTH June AND October (Source: The Wedding Report)

 

That means competition! Competition for fall dates with other Hudson Valley couples, and competition with other couples NOT from the Hudson Valley who want to get married here at the same time you do.

 

If you truly want a fall wedding, you need to give yourself the appropriate time to plan.

 

Vendors book fast

 

Because of this competition and this wedding version of supply and demand, the ratio of weddings to weekends to vendors is disproportionate. That means, your vendors will book FAST for fall weddings!

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

This was a great shock to me when I attended my first wedding expo to hear vendors, in January, saying they were booked for October of the same year. Hence our extended engagement. We wanted October, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it, so we had to wait. However, if the time of year doesn’t really matter to you, you have a lot more flexibility.

 

Now, if you’re vendor has multiple people working for them, otherwise known as a multi-op, such as DJs or photographers, you may have a little better luck simply because they have more people who can service more weddings on the same day. However, if your vendor is like most, it is one person, who can only be at one place at one time.

 

Before you choose your fall date, I highly recommend you call or visit a few vendors to get a feel for what their calendar looks like to see what dates are available. The last thing you want is to get your heart set on a date, and then find out all your dream vendors and venue are booked.

 

It is a bit of a dance at first, but it’s totally and completely worth it if you want a fall wedding in the Hudson Valley.

 

RELATED:  9 CRUCIAL THINGS YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR WEDDING VENDORS

 

Hotels can sell out

 

Remember, your wedding is not the only event in town, and fall in the Hudson Valley means an influx of tourism. People travel from all over to view the beautiful fall foliage, and that means they are likely staying for more than one day, which means they are lodging in area hotels, B&B’s, inns, etc., the same ones where your guests will need to stay.

 

“Everyone wants to visit Dutchess County in the Fall, and who can blame them?” said Melaine Rottkamp, vice president of Dutchess Tourism, Inc. “The same beautiful foliage and weather that attract couples wanting to get married here, also attract other visitors and as a result, hotels fill up very quickly.”

 

You also have all the several dozen colleges in the area who are hosting parent weekends, alumni and homecoming weekends, football games and the like. Those parents and alumni also need a place to stay.

 

This is where planning ahead to beat the ‘competition’ comes in handy. The first thing you should do once you secure your date and your venue is to call local lodging venues to secure a room block. By securing your room block, it ensures that those rooms are saved for your guests, so, no matter how full the lodging venue gets, your guests will still have a place to stay. In many cases, your venue will already work with an affiliated hotel and will set this up for you. If they don’t you need to act right away.

 

Each lodging area will have its own rules when it comes to room blocks, but it’s always better to book more rooms than you think you will need. For example, if you book at a hotel, most of the time they will book 10 rooms at a time and then give you another 10 once the original 10 are full. However, If they book 10 rooms and you know you’ll only need five, keep the 10 just in case. You can always get rid of rooms closer to your date, but it’s harder to add. Also, you will be given a code specific to your room block that you can give your guests so that when they book, they get one of those reserved rooms, which may or may not be discounted based on the facility.

 

Are you having a fall wedding? What tips do you have for couples who want a fall wedding? What has been challenging or easy for you in terms of planning your fall wedding?

Featured Photo Credit: Christine Ashburn Wedding

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Hiring A Wedding Videographer? 5 Red Flags You Need To Be Aware Of

Today’s contributing author is Lynette Romero of Pioneer Media

 

Your photographer and videographer are the only two vendors that will provide you with tangible memories of your wedding that you can watch and look at for years to come. They are the only ones that will provide the keepsakes you can share with your kids and grandkids. Long after your flowers have died, your photos of them remain. Long after the dance floor empties, the video of your family and friends remains. Your vows and the special moments of your ceremony will always be brought back to life each time you look at your photos or video.

 

Video is often a last-minute addition, mainly because couples aren’t sure if they can afford it, but I URGE you to budget for it right from the beginning. Not having a proper video of your wedding is the number one regret many brides/couples have. I can vouch for that because I am one of those brides.

 

Long gone are the days of videos being simply video of what is going on with the videographer going around to each table with a microphone getting all your guests to send their wishes. Today, wedding videos are mini cinematic masterpieces. Something you will treasure forever.

 

Now while video is important, your wedding is not the time to hire an amateur or an inexperienced professional. You only get one chance and one day, there are no do-overs.

 

We spoke a few weeks ago about red flags to look out for when hiring a wedding photographer, and today, Lynette Romero of Pioneer Media shares red flags you need to watch out for when hiring a videographer.

 

Lack of wedding experience

 

Pioneer Media Hudson Valley Weddings

Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

“As is true with any wedding professional you hire, you want to ask about your videographers wedding experience,” says Romero. “An experienced videographer anticipates the key moments of a wedding day, has backups in place, is able to see potential challenges before they happen and finds solutions when the unexpected comes up. How many weddings has your videographer shot? Ask to see videos, and not only short “teaser” videos or highlight reels, but a full wedding video.”
 

Single shooter or unknown shooter?

 

Romero says, “There are so many moving parts when capturing video and high-quality audio on a wedding day. It is extremely difficult to deliver a quality wedding video as a ‘one-man (or one-woman) show’. Will your videographer bring along an assistant or second shooter, or will they try to do it all on their own? And for that matter, do you know who the videographer will be on your wedding day? Will it be the person you met with or any one of the company’s many contracted videographers that happens to be available on your date?
 

 

They promise a specific length

 

“The length of a wedding video should depend on variables like hours of coverage, length of the ceremony, number and length of toasts at the reception, etc., etc.,” says Romero. “Without knowing these factors, we can’t guarantee how long a video will be. Sure — we could set a camera to record in a corner of the room for four hours to deliver a four-hour video, but how many times would you watch it? Our goal is to make every wedding video only as long as it is entertaining.”
 

On-camera video light

 

Pioneer Media Hudson Valley Weddings

Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

This is very indicative of ‘old school’ videos. Romero says, “On-camera video lights can be very distracting and obtrusive. They produce harsh, unflattering and inferior image quality. Does your videographer plan on using on-camera light during the ceremony, reception or otherwise?”
 

Aerial footage without license

 

Pioneer Media specializes in drone footage, and so, if you are hiring a company that offers that, you need to take note of certain laws to avoid being slapped with fines. Ignorance is not an excuse. “Many video companies have started to offer aerial “drone” footage to their wedding clients,” says Romero. “A couple should be concerned when a company offers aerial footage without a licensed UAS (unmanned aerial system) pilot. The video company that flies a drone commercially without meeting certain requirements can face huge fines for flying illegally. Surprisingly, even the unknowing couple who hires them can be fined. Does your videography company fly legally? Ask to see the UAS license.”

 

Are you hiring a videographer for your wedding? What made you decide to invest in video?

 

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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