Afternoon Fall Engagement Date, Cattus Island Park + Ice Skating | Emma + Nick

couple engagement photos on boardwalk on cattus island state park NJ
this boardwalk literally leads us to a parking lot.

Emma + Nick

This engagement session takes places at Cattus Island State Park in Tom's River, New Jersey. Then continues at Winding River Ice Rink in the same town.

Their love story

In 2014, Emma first saw Nick when he was playing ice hockey for the school team and she knew she wanted him to notice her - so she does what anyone else would do and volunteered to sing the national anthem at the games). Their first date, Nick picked Emma up and drove around aimlessly. They ended up at the "Bridge to Nowhere" and looked at the constellations.

When it came to their first kiss, Emma spent the ENTIRE date wondering when it was going to happen - and when it did, she was filled with both relief and excitement to see where their relationship goes.

Neither of them knows exactly when they fell in love with the other, but rather a combination of a lot of little moments, making each of them the other's "person". Emma loves Nick's sense of humor and his easy ability to make her laugh, no matter how hard her day is. Nick loves that Emma can brighten anyone's day with her smile and energy, especially his day.

Their future consists of careers they love and children that can look up to both of them. They want to be the example of true love that lasts and supports a wholesome, stable family.

When it came to their engagement session, we wanted to get a little personal.

Cattus Island State Park

We decided Cattus Island State Park (which is a super cool location with a boardwalk that leads to nowhere - despite that being the most Anti-New Jersey thing I've ever witnessed, trails and a small beach). We trusted Emma's intuition on bringing us to the correct locations. To be fair, she eventually did get us exactly where we needed to go - and had a fun time stopping to get cute and snuggly.

Couples ice skating Engagement session at Winding River Ice Rink Toms River New Jersey
Nick ties Emma's Skates as the perfect gentleman

Winding River Ice Rink

After we headed to Winding River Ice Rink. As an ex-hockey player, Nick definitely holds the title in being the fastest person to change into a jersey and ice skates.

Emma is not a strong skater, but there was no doubt in my mind that Nick would not let her fall. Although, if she did, she told me her mother imprinted to always throw your hands up if you fall so you do not get your fingers cut off - so there's that.

He was quick to put Emma at ease by taking her hands and guiding her onto and around the ice. They definitely were much more proficient at twirling on the ice, versus on the trails.

After free-skating for a bit, they threw on nick's old jerseys and got back onto the ice. That is definitely the teamwork symbolization here for marriage yada yada. I told them to ignore me and just be in the moment - this is where I capture those authentic, in between moments.

They HAVE TO come back during free skate and have a full date here, where Nick can teach Emma to skate confidently. I am totally going to hold them to that where they must complete it before their wedding day!

Future Plans

As wedding planning continues, Nick looks forward to every day, especially the part where he wakes up to his future wife, Emma. Emma is most excited about coming home to Nick and their furbabies after a long shift, where dinner and many smooches is waiting, ready for her.

Every day, they try to do "rose, thorn, bud" which is a way to explore each other's day (something good, something bad, and something they're looking forward to the next day). This is going to create an easy communication strategy that is going to make sure their marriage continues to blossom.

Today, I am looking forward to their upcoming wedding and being able to capture their day for them to look back on for the rest of their lives.

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5 Alternative Ways to do a Guestbook that your Guests will Love From Etsy!!

Having the memory of who attended your wedding day is something so important to have! For as long as weddings have been around guests have been signing the “guestbook” where they write a quick little message and sign their names. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that tradition, there are also amazing alternatives that you should definitely look into. Here are a few of our favorites :

An affordable option to the phone service!

Audio Guestbook :
One of the coolest things we’ve ever seen at a wedding was an audio guestbook! It’s a cute little vintage phone that the company leaves at it’s own station for all of your family and friends to leave a voice recording for you to listen to for years to come. This can be so sweet to be able to listen back to those who will one day no longer be with us and the best way to feel the person’s love behind their message. Not to mention, the more your guests drink the funnier these may become!


a lot of them come tree form - but how cute is this?

Fingerprint Guestbook :

This is an ADORABLE alternative guestbook idea. Each guest dips their thumb in ink, leaves a little print and writes their name on the “family tree”. This would make the cutest framed portrait to hang in your living room to keep the memory of your wedding day fresh in your mind all of the time. This is definitely an option that will get a lot of attention!


Perfect to display in the living room or office!

Guestbook Globe
This is the absolute perfect idea for adventurous couples. Guests can sign anywhere on the globe, even the countries that they (or their ancestors) come from - and that makes it SO fun! Not only is it an amazing guest book idea but it makes for beautiful home decor. It really upgrades the whole guest book experience and can be passed on from generation to generation. And who doesn’t love a pretty globe?!

Perfect to put in your living room!

Rustic Wooden Guest Book Sign
This gorgeous idea is perfect for rustic wedding couples. Etsy is FILLED with hundreds of amazing vendors that can make you a fully custom wood sign, with your names and wedding date for all of your guests to sign. Add some gold and silver sharpies and you have a literal art piece to keep in your home! This is one of the best ideas for couples looking to fit their aesthetic. Don’t forget to base the size of the guest book off of how many guests will be attending.

like so cute!!!

Heart Drop Guest Box
Last but certainly not least, here is a gorgeous and very popular option for a guest book. Each guest signs an individual heart and drops it into this keepsake for you to hang up on the wall. Being able to see everyone’s name protected in a beautiful frame is an excellent alternative for a regular paper guestbook!


There are so many fun and creative ways to remember everyone who attended your wedding. Finding the perfect one to display in your home is everything! Definitely be sure to check out all of the amazing vendors on etsy to make your guest book dreams come true.

From big to small ideas - your perfect guest book idea is out there for you! We hope this list inspired you!

My BIG, FAT GREEK WEDDING at The Yacht Club | Sone + Niko

When I was growing up, me and my yiayia's favorite movie was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Not only was it super relatable with our Greek culture, but it was also tastefully done, a little sappy, and hilarious. I mean, who doesn't have an aunt with the lump of their conjoined twin on their neck? No? Just Me?

Anyways, despite being Greek with a Greek mother, my parents (my father not being Greek) decided against sending me to Greek School. I never learned the language or went to church or anything like that. I felt like a part of me was missing, that was, until Sone messaged me about her wedding.

It was such an honor being able to photograph and attend her wedding ceremony that was Greek + traditional (meaning at the church). I started the day by stopping by her apartment and photographing a few detail shots; once I saw her dress, I knew I had to hang it up and take a picture - the long sleeves and all the lace - absolutely gorgeous. I also got to meet her dog whom was the absolute cutest little mush. After grabbing the detail shots, I got in my car and drove to Niko's prep.

Now, the thing with Greek culture is that the family has certain roles to fulfill in him preparing for his wedding day. Each important member partakes by helping him get dressed, one article of clothing at a time. For instance his father tied his tie and his grandfather helped with putting on the vest and doing the buttons. The house was festive and in great spirits with traditional music playing, people singing, and a whole spread of all types of food to snack on. Once dressed, the real fun began! If you have never witnessed a money dance, or Kalamatianós in Greek, is a cultural tradition at many wedding receptions where guests offer the newlyweds money to dance with them, or they shower the couple with money. The custom is to help establish the couple in their new life together, or to show how much they are loved and appreciated.

After we took some family photos, we were off to Saint Nicholas, Constantine, & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Roseland, NJ. Family members began to fill the pews, and everyone was very excited! As was I, I could not wait to see how beautiful Sone looked in that gorgeous dress and get to photograph it. Niko waited, the music began to play, and it all began - she looked absolutely incredible as her mother escorted her down the aisle.

Greek ceremonies are absolutely beautiful; there is a ton of love and signing and tradition that goes into it. I could not help but feel connected to my spirituality during the ceremony.

After such a wonderful experience, Sone + Niko were declared husband and wife!

This particular church was also decorated rather elaborately - it gave the perfect backdrop for family photos inside (which I often do not recommend because of lighting, but there were a ton of windows and natural light which mixing with my flash was perfection.

like, look how gorgeous her dress details are! and the intricate paintings and design of the church - so dreamy!

I always recommend couples to walk a little more than halfway down the aisle and kiss again so we get dreamy shots like this one, with all your friends and family behind you!

Guests greeted and celebrated the new marriage with throwing of rice as they exited the church; throwing rice is a blessing for newly-wed couples to symbolize prosperity and fruitfulness (in ancient times, this means having children).

Outside, Niko had a surprise getaway car waiting to drive to the next location. We decided to do their portraits in Hoboken, which is a super hip area in northern New Jersey and about thirty minutes from their venue. (FYI: be careful with parking in Hoboken on the weekends, it gets super crowded near the waterfront and the park - there are parking garages but I found some street parking three blocks away). Sone really wanted the New York City skyline in her photos and let me tell you, it was the perfect day for it.

Their bridal party came as well to get prettier photos of the group all together and they came to SERVE LOOKS. I mean c'mon, look at them!

Walking photos are my go-to signature, and they always come out soooo cute and candid.

untitled image

We decided to get a bulk of the bridal portraits out of the way while we were here and they came out so gorgeous. The tones, the lighting, their good looks - they came out exactly how they should of. Also, if you are considering a veil, do it. You do not have to wear it for your ceremony or reception in any means, but a few veil shots for your bridal portraits come out so pretty - like a tad extra pizazz. The park was super crowded and there was a bunch of construction, but we found an amazing spot that had everything we needed. Also, shout out to the guy on the bicycle who kept riding past, yelling weird stuff to us - hope you are doing okay.

The reception was an absolute blast - everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, was on the dance floor. There was another money dance, where everyone participated in. The energy was high from the moment I arrived at the Yacht Club to the moment I left. It was a wicked good day, and I had an absolute blast capturing it.

untitled image

We also snuck out at sunset for some more pictures: Here's the Yacht Club.

Sone + Niko,

Thank you so much for letting me capture your gorgeous day - I am so glad that I got to experience your culture, enjoy the festivities, and dance with y'all! You can truly feel the love between you two as well as all the love and support coming from your families. I hope you have the most amazing marriage and look back at these moments fondly.

xoxo,

Christina Hernandez

PS - look at the dessert table:

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Romantic DIY Wedding Day at Patterson Family Barn | Kenny + Spencer

The Storybook love story beginning at Allaire Village Chapel then heading to the Patterson Family Barn.

allaire village wedding chapel new jersey
Allaire Village Chapel, NJ

Kenny + Spencer met while playing Playstation. They instantly connected and began dating long distance for eight months before she booked a flight all the way to Iowa! They look back fondly of their first date, dinner at Applebee's then some added sweetness by taking a trip to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream!

And then we met outside of Allaire Village's Chapel to have them pronounce their love in front of their friends and family. The Chapel itself is a photographer's dream due to all the windows allowing a ton of beautiful natural light in. Kenny was lined up outside with her bridal party and mother, and she looked absolutely radiant. As I prepared for the ceremony, I met Reverend Anthony Cavallo who was officiating and I watched as he prepared Spencer for Kenny to walk down the aisle. Spencer showed me his handwritten vows (totally recommend writing your vows for anyone who is about to do their nuptials. On your wedding day, it not only becomes a keepsake but it photographs better than you reading off your phone) which had a tons of scribbles and corrections all over: "I'm not great with words". I later found this to be false since I literally listened to him pout his heart out in his vows to Kenny.

As Kenny walked down the aisle, tears were already falling down her cheeks. Both Kenny + Spencer had smiles from ear to ear the entire time as she walked down the aisle. Kenny was so excited to call Spencer her husband. From countless hours talking on the phone, to date nights and adventures, to this moment right here where they say "I do".

I was over flooded with emotions as they both said their vows - their devotion to each other was so clear to each other and everyone around them. She literally traveled halfway across the states for him and then he moved here to be with her, it was like a fairy tale coming true. And everyone cheered as they were pronounced Husband + Wife, swarming them with love + hugs + congratulations as soon as they stepped outside, bubbles being blown and surrounding them.

But Kenny removed herself to go walk over to her grandfather and share a moment with him. The joy she felt that he was able to witness their marriage and celebration meant the world to her - there was a period of time where they did not know if he was going to be able to show up for the event, but he did, and tears kept falling as they embraced. He wished her love and wedding day wishes.

Kenny + Spencer had their closest friends and family at their wedding and were so thankful for all the love and support they have received from them over the time in their relationship. Their bridal parties were so enthusiastic throughout pictures, the ceremony, and the whole day.

Leaving Allaire and heading to the reception at the Patterson Family Barn, I called my husband to let him know how emotional and beautiful the ceremony was. Photographing weddings really has me missing my husband, so I always try to speak to him for a few moments in between venues. What can I say, I really, really adore love stories.

Arriving at the Barn, cocktail hour was ago (catered by: Tuscany Italian Market) and people were loving all the little apps. Everyone was laughing, smiling, having a great time. At the venue, they have this cute little bridal house - this is where I met Kenny + Spencer as they took a moment to take in everything that already happened. Kenny sat at this beautiful vanity where she and Spencer chatted whether or not it was "too early to join cocktail hour". I gave them the difference and suggested I take some photos while they prepare to be bombarded with hugs + handshakes.

The details of Kenny + Spencer's wedding were rustic, romantic, and floral, which was perfect for the whole vibe of the day. The wooden barn created their gorgeous set up, plus adding the open door, created a beautiful amount of natural light flowing onto the dancefloor.

Introductions had everyone breaking down their best dance moves as they walked in - especially Kenny's mother and Spencer's father - I mean, c'mon can you see the grooviness?

The thing about Kenny + Spencer's combined family, is that everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - makes you feel welcomed, as if you are apart of their own bloodline. Joining the party, everyone roared with excitement - and all the dancing began!

After Kenny + Spencer's first dance they played a "selfie game" which challenged everyone to take as many selfies with others at the wedding as quick as possible - whomever has the most, wins! This is a super cute game for intimate weddings to be able to have pictures with everyone! The song only lasts about ninety seconds, so it does not take a huge amount of time either - and gets everyone up out of their chairs (and hopefully head to the dance floor)!

Then, while everyone is up - the dance floor opens up and people get to groovin'.

When it comes to parent dances, Kenny and Spencer decide to do something a little different: Spencer dances with Kenny's mom + Kenny dances with Spencer's dad.

The thing about weddings is that you can make it exactly how you want because it is YOUR day. Focus on what's important to you and your values and do exactly that!

After speeches, there was a surprise live musician - can you guess who?

Our bride, Kenny, brought out her guitar; she played and sang a song she learned specifically for their wedding day and it was an emotional, beautiful moment to witness.

And just like that it was almost my time to leave - but before that, golden hour portraits!

It is always recommend doing portraits forty-five minutes before sunset; this will create that warm, romantic, glow that I am known for!

I just want to take a moment to thank Kenny + Spencer for letting me capture their love from engagement photos to their wedding day (and beyond!). Creating a literal obsession with how beautiful these portraits came out (and her skin looks FANTASTIC). Kenny + Spencer reminds me that true love is worth making an effort for, no matter what hurdles are in your way - because they let NOTHING stop them.

Want to see another DIY Rustic Wedding? Check out Jennifer + Tristan's by clicking here!

Or Check Out Other Weddings Below:

Pinterest Worthy Boho Wedding at Emmerich Tree Farm | Jennifer + Tristan

The day started at Tristan's family home where the soon-to-be-newlyweds got ready.

Tristan's now-iconic green suit was the highlight of the outfit, although - later on- he brought out a very cool hat to change the dynamic of the look. We started photographing the details and those closest to Tristan, helped make sure he looked perfect for his future wife.

And boy, does he clean up nice (as you can see below!):

While Tristan hung out in the basement, Jennifer was getting ready upstairs with Renee of Retzy Glam (@retzyglam). I am absolutely obsessed that she decided to keep her hair natural and curly for their wedding day; I am also someone who has an everlasting desire to perm their hair so it is big and curly, but unfortunately, it would all melt.

Details are one of my favorite things to photograph as a part of your wedding day. They always vary so much from person to person. Having an invitation is an easy way to make your details come together as a part of a "whole" - it gives it your very own identity to them. I always recommend shoes, invitations, jewelry, accessories, rings, vow books, perfumes/colognes, and any other "little detail" that makes your day more YOU.

and just like that it was time to head to the venue - but the party has to arrive in style, and very thankful for David of The Good Life to have their very own Trolley Bus!

The best thing about living near the venue, is the easy accessibility both parties can use the trolley without the couple seeing each other! Although it was rather scary for the cutest good boy to actually get on! He did eventually - after some coaxing - and the trolley was on its way to the venue with Tristan and his party before it comes back for Jennifer and hers.

(Below) Photo of Good Boy Arlo:

Emmerich Tree Farm is an amazing venue for those looking for a woodsy, rustic, almost faerie-like location. Also, Emily - the event coordinator of Emmerich Tree Farm - was a pleasure to work with and great at her job (two for one, win!).

Jennifer and Tristan really took advantage of DIY options for their wedding and they came out adorable! As you can see, the ceremony arch overlooks the entire tree farm which is such a vibe! Name placements were stamped with florals, little floral and gold centerpieces, and even a station to make your own floral bags. All the vendors that they used for this day were local, small businesses. (Mentioned above: Flowers by Emmerich Greenhouses in Warwick, NY | Wildflower Seeds by Hudson Valley Bee Supply in Kingston, NY | Milk & Honey Mobile Bar).

While Jennifer's mom helped her put on her dress and do any last minute fixes - I took Tristan to a secluded spot to prepare for their first look!

One of the best things about Emmerich Tree Farm is the variety of spots that are so photo-worthy. Hidden down a trail, there is a small opening with a lake. This spot was able to be just their's for the day - where no one else intruded and they can see each other for the first time.

This is where the real excitement happens - I chat with Tristan as she approaches and make sure he is ready to see his beautiful bride - he told me he was super excited and ready to go.

It went a little like this:

He was BEAMING. And so was she.

We took a few moments to let them embrace and check each other out and then decided to grab a few portraits.

Also - there is this super cool wooden building on the base of the trail where we decided to snap a few photos. The intimacy of these type of moments allow you and your partner to breathe before the ceremony - just to collect your feelings and express your excitement to each other.

Then, the amazing event manager of Emmerich Tree Farm, Emily, picked us up to hide away before the ceremony - we rode in style. We hid at the Bridal Tent which is up the hill in a secluded spot. It has a small little vanity in it, a table, some sitting arrangements. Jennifer + Tristan took a moment here before they say, "I do".

Golf Cart Wedding Couple

Like I am a sucker for people looking in opposite directions - like such a vibe.

Emmerich Tree Farm Bridal Tent
Jennifer + Tristan at Emmerich Tree Farm Bridal Tent

Now, let's get to the action.

While Uncle Eddy got his last minute photographs with his camera, I lined up ready to get mine. The violins began to play and Tristan's father (who was officiating) and then Tristan walked down the aisle. You could feel and see the determination flying off of Tristan as he walked down - he was ready to make Jennifer his wife. Everyone stood as Jennifer, escorted by her father, walked down the aisle. She looked like the ideal boho bride - lace, curls, looking GORGEOUS.

Ceremonies tend to go so fast when they are not in a very traditional setting. But I was hanging on every word that was being spoken. Listening to their vows - about how much love and care they have for each other, about how their journey of TEN YEARS brought them to this very moment, about how bright and exciting their future looks - had me holding back my very own emotions, thinking about my own love story. The fact that they took their time building their relationship to be sustainable and functional for over a decade, is awe-inspiring. All while these warm, sweet moments, their furbaby, Arlo, was totally uninterested and took a snooze (as pictured below!).

I have every couple write out family groupings for their family photos - this makes sure we can knock them out of the park right after the ceremony. I literally bring the list with me and we go right down it. Since there was no time before the ceremony to do bridal party photos, we got right to them after the family ones! The Good Life - Trolley Bus had no issue holding the trolley so we could get some fun trolley pictures.

first dance boho bride

Divin' right into the reception, we had the usual entrances, first dance, and speeches. They did break up the parent dances to later in the evening (this is a good idea for those who want to break up all the formalities).

As Jennifer + Tristan slow danced to their first song, they held onto each other as if gravity disappeared and they were no longer grounded. That must be some sort of symbolism for marriage. Watching them made my heart sing.

black and white first dance boho wedding
first dance

Now - for what I am known for. Glowy, warm, romantic portraits. This is the most fun of the day not only because its my expertise, but because the newly weds get to take a moment and breathe a little bit. We walked around the grounds and explored as the trees whispered to us in the wind. They even started the campfire for us so we could make s'mores (local vendor plug: Gourmet Marshmallows by Hudson Valley Marshmallow Co). We took about thirty minutes taking some GORGEOUS portraits that will be a beautiful family heirloom. When dusk hit, we even got some lit up lights in some!

Emmerich tree farm rustic venue
Emmerich Tree Farm

Then it was time to BREAK IT DOOOOOOOOWN on the dance floor. People were going OFF. Booties poppin' and hips swingin'. DJ Joey B literally lit up the party (and supplied the Photo Booth). Also, shout out to Tristan's mom, because she had the best moves of the night.

As the night came to the end, it was time for the sweetest exit: pie + ice cream + coffee!

The pies looked AMAZING and were local, as well, from Nobile Pies, accompanied with ice cream from Bellvale Farms Creamery and coffee from Milk + Honey. They also tasted better than they looked since multiple people signed up for seconds + the coffee was a great hit (and fueled my three hour ride home!)

Jennifer + Tristan have this amazing love connection that isn't hard to miss. It was an absolute joy capturing their day and I am so honored they chose me. Their family and friends were absolutely incredible and brought all the energy!

Congrats to the newly weds!

milk and honey mobile taps wedding
Jennifer Grabbing Coffee

"Should We Do A First Look?"

“Should we do a first look?” The absolute #1 question asked by every single wedded couple ever! Do we have a first look? A private moment between the two of us? Or do we keep it traditional and wait to see each other down the aisle for the first time? I am a firm believer in “to each their own”, but let me tell you why I HIGHLY recommend that you consider a first look!

For starters, some people may feel the “pressure” to cry in front of their family and
friends when they see you coming down the aisle. Of course it is every bride’s dream to
have that moment of true magic captured while tears are rolling down their partners face
after seeing them for the first time. I’m here to tell you, as a very experienced wedding
photographer, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Could this moment be
absolutely everything you’ve ever dreamed of? Of course!

Gina + Jeff Industrial First Look, Alley 14, NJ
Gina + Jeff First Look, Alley 14, NJ

Or, your partner might not have a big (physical) reaction at all. Sometimes the person down the aisle waiting is so overwhelmed with happiness and love that they are stunned - no joke! Well, what is a first look? A first look is a private moment, between just the two of you before your ceremony. You pick a beautiful area (with the best lighting!) and approach your partner while their back is turned towards you. You tap them on the shoulder, they turn around, and the emotions start flying! We’ve seen so many sweet moments, so many happy tears and shocked faces that make for the absolute best additions to any gallery. Having the private moment allows for your partner to be open with their emotions and honestly gives you a better chance for that “crying reaction” we all dream about!

During your first look, your photographer and videographer will likely be a few feet away snapping away and recording every moment. Feel no pressure! We are there to capture the MOMENT, your energy, the love. Pretend like we’re not there, we want you to embrace and soak up every second. This is also a HUGE PLUS for our clients that have anxiety!!! Seeing your partner before the ceremony can alleviate any or all butterflies or nerves you may have before the ceremony. It can be nerve wracking knowing you will be in front of all of your family and friends, but the private moment with your partner will have you both excited for the ceremony to begin. It’s also a huge plus that you can reserve this time for some romantic portraits, giving you the freedom to enjoy every second of your cocktail hour! That is the best food of the day of course.

That being said, one of my couples did a "fake" first look where the best man put on a wedding dress and surprised the Groom! We, of course, did a real first look after - but just putting this option out here as well.

Joke First Look With Best Man in Wedding Gown
"Fake Bride" First Look

In conclusion, we want nothing more than for your wedding to be perfect, and exactly how you want it. After photographing and attending hundreds of weddings, our brides always rave about how thankful they are that they took the time out for a first look. Not only for the sweet, private moment, but on average it adds anywhere from 25-50 additional photos in your gallery! Who wouldn’t want as many photos as possible from their wedding? If you’re unsure which direction you want to go, talk to your photographer and they will help you make the best choice for your special day.

Why I Love First Looks

Rustic Wedding First look Running Deer Golf Club NJ
Alyssa + Brian, Running Deer Golf Club, NJ

I love First Looks. One of my favorite parts of the wedding day is when I get to watch the bride and groom see each other for the first time. They usually cry. I cry. First looks make this moment so emotional and so private. Today, I wanted to send an email over with some helpful tips and pros and cons of doing them so you can  make the best decision as a couple!

Disclaimer: I Never Ever force my couples to do a first look but I know the ones that do have not regretted it one second! I think tradition can really be replaced with REACTION. 

Here are some pro’s and con’s of both options:

Option #1 | First Look

Pros:

Option #2 | No First Look

Rustic Wedding First look Running Deer Golf Club NJ
Alyssa + Brian, Running Deer Golf Club, NJ

5 Easy Poses for DIY Boudoir

So, you want to take some *spicy* photos, but not sure how to go about it? Feel like your poses are a tad too awkward? Forget all your worries - I got you.

This being said, you will need your phone and a ledge to prop it up with. Instead of putting the camera mode on an interval timer, you are going to set it up on video! This will allow you to move into multiple poses and be able to see and adjust yourself accordingly.

#1 Ballerina Arch

diy boudoir poses

This one is a great starting point because it’s going to show off all your curves and allow you to relax your body. Move your wrists and fingers around until you can hold them up in a relaxed position. Cross your feet over the ankles - point your toes - and arch your back!

#2 Curvy + Relaxed

diy boudoir poses

This one is all about the curves of your body - think you are a siren calling out to sailors of the sea. You are going to sit mostly on one hip and let the opposite arm to sensually caress your thigh - almost like an invitation! Keep your feet crossed over the ankles and make sure your toes are pointed - this will lengthen you! Break up the curve with you opposite arm, slightly bent, on the armrest. You will look like you are ready to pounce.

#3 Cheeky Smile Ahead

diy boudoir poses

This is a cute and simple one. With your side profile facing the camera, pop your booty out, arch your back, and smile into the distance. Put your hand closest to the camera on the top of your thigh.

#4 Booty Pop

diy boudoir poses

This is similar to #3 but instead of looking forward and curving your hand around your thigh, you’re going to put both hands on the back of the chair and look over your shoulder with a slight smile. Really pop your butt out because this is the focus!

#5 Advanced Avant Garde

diy boudoir poses

This one is one of my more fine art poses, but it definitely shows the human form in all of its glory. You’re going to sit your butt sideways in the chair and toss your legs over the arm of it. You’re going to keep your toes pointed - one up and one down! Your arm closest to the back of the chair holds the top of it and the other hand holds the base of the chair gently. Point your chin up and keep your gaze also up - this will give you a renaissance painting type of look!

Remember, try what feels comfortable and do a bunch of variations! You will look through the film and screenshot each and everyone you love - add a cute filter and you’re good to go!

xoxox

Creating Wedding Day Timelines

One of the most stressful parts about wedding planning (despite the whole process being incredibly overwhelming) is creating a wedding day timeline! It is not only essential, but it is crucial to have to eliminate day-of stress and any type of scheduling conflicts. This will allow everyone - and I mean, everyone, from the make-up/hair vendors, to your mother-in-law, to the DJ, and everyone in-between - to be on the same page. It is your wedding and you have some sort of vision to exactly how you want your day to go but scheduling too much or too little time for certain things can cause lags, boredom, or even straight-up chaos.

We definitely recommend building a rough wedding day timeline in the start of the planning process, rather than waiting until the very end. As you continue to hire more vendors, you will be able to start envisioning your day - and can often spot timing mishaps early on.

Plan with your vendors

specifically your photographer and planner.
You need collaboration between vendors to give input so you are able to build a realistic wedding day timeline. As a wedding photographer myself, I always encourage my couples to allow thirty to forty minutes for golden hour bridal portraits (this will create the warm, romantic, glowy portraits I am known for!). If you do not have a planner, talk to your venue! They are definitely a great resource since they are consistently hosting weddings and know, from experience, what timelines typically work best.

START with your ceremony.
Usually the venue gives you a rough time for the start of your ceremony. Start with this and work backwards. Creating a simple timeline gives you an idea of where to add more detail. While working backward, go all the way to the time you wake up, go back to your ceremony and work towards the end of the night starting with major events - grand entrances, toasts, dances, cake cutting, etc - then add all the additional details around these events.

Transportation also takes time.

Taking time to figure out traveling time is super important for creating a timeline for photography. If you are not sticking to the same location from hair and makeup all the way to the end of reception, it might knock off a decent chunk of time between locations in transit. Also take in consideration that there might be guests that are NOT familiar with the area and unsure of traffic patterns or differences between locations. When creating a timeline, hop on google and estimate the travel time is between locations and ADD a buffer; this way your timeline is realistic (when is teleportation going to become a thing?). Things typically take longer than they are planned, so add a buffer so the day continues to go smoothly. Forgetting this detail will throw off your entire timeline for your wedding day.

SPEAKING OF BUFFERS

No matter what point of the timeline you are creating and how you are envisioning your day, add buffer time through out the day. For example, you're thinking that your ceremony is only going to last twenty minutes (pretty typically) then put on the timeline it is for thirty minutes. Google tells you it take eleven minutes to get from the first look to the ceremony, round up to fifteen. If you are doing a first look and have no traveling, finish up those photographs and allow thirty minutes of downtime before the ceremony. This will allow you to BREATHE, relax and to take your time enjoying your day. This will also protect the rest of your timeline if things are being delayed.

Also, I highly recommend scheduling about fifteen minutes of cocktail hour where you and your newly-announced spouse can soak up the moments. You did it, you're married and we want you to enjoy the day.

Sample of Day of Wedding Timeline:

The Ultimate Wedding Timeline shows an example timeline from getting ready at 9am to the end of reception at 11pm

Here is a wedding day timeline template that you can keep on your wedding Pinterest board!

Engagement Session at Willowwood Arboretum (NJ), Victoria + Frank

Scouting out locations are all apart of the job - and stumbling upon Willowwood Arboretum is a dream come true. Willowwood, 130 acres of rolling farm land, has about 2,100 kinds of native and exotic plants, many of them rare. In addition to the formal gardens near the residence and undisturbed forest, they are open daily from dawn to dusk and offer one of the dreamiest of locations that is outside the standard gardens and beach photos we often see here in New Jersey.

Victoria + Frank are one of the sweetest people I have met. Victoria loves reading, movies, and animals while Frank love sports and gaming. They met through Tinder roughly six years ago, and his first line (which was a play on her name) was, "If I won your love, would be Victorious". Like c'mon, how cute is that? Their first date was at Barnes & Nobel, where they browsed their favorite books and had coffee. After a few dates, everything felt natural and went with the flow. Two and a half years later, they moved in together and eventually added five cats, a dog, and two guinea pigs to their family. On Halloween 2020, he leaned down while she was on the couch and proposed.

Victoria said it felt they were already married but looking forward to the wedding cake since they are total foodies and definitely looking forward to cocktail hour as well.

Victoria + Frank, I am so excited for your wedding day - you to absolutely adore each other and it totally shows. I love you both!

xoxo,

Christina