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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Tips For Your Engagement Session (From A Photographer!)

First off all, congratulations on your engagement!! This is absolutely the most exciting time ever - and we are SO glad that you stopped here for some tips! We’ve photographed hundreds of couples from their engagement session, to a surprise boudoir session, to their wedding day, and all the way to any of their future events, so we hope that you stick around too! Here are our MOST important tips for your engagement session, from a professional standpoint:

1. Location, Location, Location

My biggest advice is to pick the location that screams YOU and YOUR love story. Do you love being outside? I’ll help you scout out the perfect location. Hate the outside? Think about the activities you both are into - we can go to a roller rink or arcade or anything in between! Still stumped? I always have a list of places I adore and will always create the most dreamy of photos.

2. Wear SOLID, neutral colors!

I know what you’re thinking! “But I saw this beautiful flower dress that I really wanted to wear!” or “my partner really wanted to wear matching plaid” and if that’s really what your heart desires, who are we to stop you. But let me explain why we highly suggest you take our advice! Prints, such as stripes, florals, animal print etc. tend to “warp” on our high tech cameras. Stripes can be extremely unflattering depending on the outfit, and florals will just about clash with every background. Why neutral colors? Our editing style is “earth tones” which focuses on greens, browns, yellows, etc. and a BRIGHT red or purple outfit might not match with the vibe that you were after. Neutrals allow you to blend in with the beauty of nature for a more cohesive, warm vibe.

3. Try to plan your session as close to sunset (or sunrise) as possible.

I cannot stress this enough! When you’re hiring a photographer, you hire them because you love their work and trust their artistic abilities. Every photographer’s dream is that EVERY session be photographed at sunset! Or for the early birds, even sunrise! This is the absolute best lighting of the day and we cannot stress enough how much lighting impacts your photos. If you’re looking for those dreamy, creamy, warm tone photos, trust us - sunset is the best time! Even if at first it may seem like you’re unsure, we definitely recommend it. We have the ability to make magic regardless of the time of day, but we promise the BEST lighting is about 45 minutes before sunset!

Feeling nerdy? Click here to learn why golden hour is the absolute best and to know all the good scientific facts behind it!

4. Be confident + have fun!

We ALL doubt ourselves. Some of us don’t like how we look in selfies, some are unsure of how poses will look on ourselves - but trust us!! We have spent hundreds of hours PERFECTING our personal posing style so that you look and FEEL amazing in every single photo! If you’re not feeling so sure, the camera may capture that! The best way to enjoy your engagement shoot is to let loose, have fun, smile, laugh and be yourself! Let us capture your beauty how the world sees it! Don't worry, we’ll be hyping you up every step of the way.


Engagement sessions are so much fun and an amazing way to get to know your photographer. We hope that you consider our advice when you schedule your engagement session! Either way we can’t wait to create magic with you and have the best time capturing your love in the best way possible. As long as we have a good time, you will love these photos for the rest of your lives.

This being said, so not worry about posing - do not worry about feeling awkward. My signature style is “romantic and candid” and I will have you both doing silly movements to loosen you up and capture the in between, goofy moments - then I will start bringing in the more classic poses, this way you get the best of both worlds!

5. Not sure? Ask your photographer.

If all else fails, ask your photographer for their opinion! We are constantly learning the new trends and styles as well as spend our free time scouting new locations, learning the latest and greatest in the photography world. We want to take time to make sure you have the absolute best experience as well as have amazing photos to show for it! We want to make it totally customizable for each and every client that it can represent you in the best way. This isn’t just my job or some type of side-hustle, it’s my art and career - both things that I absolute love and take pride in. Nothing is more rewarding for me than creating emotional, jaw dropping, art that captures you and your partner.

Interested in booking an engagement session? We will have a total blast! Contact me here and tell me your vision: Girl, let me tell you our love story!!!

Get Fancy: Host a Tea Party

Bridgerton's Netflix series has undoubtedly proven to be the most popular ever, with over 82 million households looking into the era's drama since it was broadcast on our screen. It's little wonder that she is so adored based on Julia Quinn's novels, written in the quintessence of the regency in London and with her magnificent locations, elaborate clothes, and dramatic stories. We have motivated us to make our own Bridgerton tablescape with a second series already confirmed and put up a great guide so that you may go to the magnificent 1800s and your own charming tea festival.

Establish a Dress Code

Encourage visitors to dress for the occasion by throwing an event inspired by society. Include your invitation with the correct dress code. A Bridgerton event's attire falls from casual to semi-formal business. Tea-long robes and somber outfits with lengthy ties are included.

Customized dress code language might be used for creative hosts to make the tea party attraction even more special. The more contextual indications you provide to visitors, the better — this helps them choose equipment that feels good enough to offer them a positive vibe.

Send Thematic Invitations

Send invitations to guests after confirming crucial parameters such as date, time, venue, dress code, and color scheme. Guests are a significant aspect of the theme of your party. It's the first thing attendees see, and it's a great time to establish the tone for their party. Choose your invites to extend the theme seamlessly.

Set Tablescape

This would be a fantastic moment for people who store their best China for special occasions! For our tea party, we utilized old Chinese tea glasses and think tea certainly tastes better! Now we realize that not everyone at home will have china fancy, so we covered you. Our brand-new Truly Scrumptious V10 line blends classic and contemporary flower design. The set comprises a lively flowery table cover, a 3-story cake stand, plates, serviettes, mugs, and canape flags, each with a distinctive, beautiful pattern. No need to worry about any valuable break-up of the vault, and the entire spectrum of components may be recycled.

Organize Events

Without a few entertaining activities, no party is complete. Plan to organize a few activities to make it entertaining between snacking and snacking on tea to our visitors. Adding several activities in Bridgerton will enhance your topic. Create your own printable company pages, leave them blank so that guests may write well wishes and advice for your future life.

Pop Champagne!

We strongly feel that grown-up tea parties demand to enjoy your favorite beverages, from fresh-brewed tea to champagne for a particular occasion. And if the favorite-inspired tea party inspired by Bridgerton isn't a fantastic opportunity, we don't know what it is!

Please remember that a Bridgerton tea party is not a showstopping aspect. Instead, a range of tiny, individualized nuances that make an unforgettable experience is more crucial.

My Own Elopement in The Valley of Fire, NV.

interracial couple elopement valley of fire Nevada

When Wesley proposed in the middle of COVID we originally wanted to run away, just the two of us, somewhere picturesque. I mean, look at the two of us; he proposed by sneaking us into a park that overlooked the NYC skyline (this was when parks were shut down due to COVID in New Jersey). Yet, our families pushed for a traditional venue. We looked at two venues and ended up booking the second one which was an alpaca rescue. Throughout the wedding process it only became more stressful and further from our vision.

Pre-Wedding

At a certain point, we decided to elope so the day was more about us than all the family. We went from May 2022 to eloping on our four year anniversary, December first 2021. We fell in love with the red rocks of the Valley of Fire in Nevada.

I did the research on elopement packages and stumbled upon Cactus + Lace (insta@/@cactusandlaceweddings) which is an all women team of photographers and planners. We did book them and they were very open with communication throughout the whole process. For the first time, I felt at ease. For a fraction of the cost, we were able to do exactly what we wanted to do.

We invited a few friends and family and my own company’s videographer. My mother’s best friend, Lisa, booked us a room at the Aria Resort & Casino with the most beautiful view of the strip and the city. All together, there was ten of us flown in for our elopement!

The night before the wedding, Wes, Me, My Mom, and Lisa had some slamming Mexican food from Nacho Daddy not too far from the hotel - the vegan options were amazing and the margaritas were delicious! Wes and I went back to the hotel room and set our alarm for seven am.

Wedding Day: Getting Ready

gothic wedding details dr martens flower headpiece rings on lace dress

We woke up and both realized - we needed to write our vows! He got to work immediately and I took a bit longer to regain consciousness before my shower. Brian + Joe (our friends and groomsmen) picked Wesley up and they got ready at their airbnb. My mother, Tiffany, Sarah, + Danielle (my friends and bridesmaids) arrived and so did hair + makeup and our getting ready photographer!

I just wanted to say, my makeup has never, ever looked better than on my wedding day and it did not budge once (even when I cried hysterically after our vows). My hair was perfect and lasted for several days after that day in which we did a photo session with a local photographer the day after.

While my dad or sister could not make it due to health issues and what not, I am forever grateful I had this moment with my mother. Growing up I gave my mom so many issues due to being mentally ill, refusing help, and being unmedicated. Nowadays, I can confidently say she's my rock, my best friend, and my biggest fan. I would of never gotten to be where I am at without her.

mother of bride and bride look at each other

A Quick Shoutout to My Gals

I am also so blessed that I have had my closest friends (minus two) come and supported me through out this entire process. When I had a fallout with my best friend (who was going to be my Maid of Honor), Tiffany took over and made sure everything went smoothly. She became my officiant, made sure we looked cute, and did the damn thing. Danielle is my chaotic friend who we had to edit out a lot of things she said that was picked up on the mics. She is an amazing time wherever we go, has an amazing aura, and always brightens my day. Sarah is my hot mom friend that does not tolerate bullshit. Loyal to the end, and has a laugh that is rather maniacal but is rather contagious. Y'all are the absolute best.

Although Darian + Maryanne could not physically be there, I would never get to where I am at through this entire process. Darian, you are my absolute best friend (since we were five!) and I love you more than anything in the world. Maryanne, you give me the bad bitch energy I always needed to thrive and made me confident in everything I do. Forever loving you both SO much.

I did not have real friends for the longest of time and having you all makes life truly amazing. I love each and everyone of you. Thank you for giving me undying support through my relationship, the planning process, and everything in between.

And to their Boyfriends

They also brought their boyfriends so that Wes could have some people behind him since neither his friends or family could make it. The hard truth about eloping or having a destination wedding is that not everyone will come. Sometimes the excuses are valid, but a lot of the time people just do not give the same support to you, as you would them.

Shoutout to Brian, Joe, and my videographer, Jake, for keeping the bro-vibes real and giving Wes support. Also shoutout again to Brian + Joe for always offering to drive, that was super dope of y'all.

bride takes iphone selfie

First Look

groom in burgandy suit waits for first look at the neon museum las vegas nevada

We did our first look at the Neon Museum. It is the coolest little outdoor museum of retired neon signs (hence the name). I obviously got there first with ALL my bridal party and mom/Lisa since Wes runs on his own time. I got to explore and kick dirt around in my boots, checking out all the cool signs. Wes arrives and its time to do THE BIG REVEAL!

I do not know why I felt so anxious walking to Wesley, but the nerves definitely kick in with a mixture of excitement. This is our moment, the one we have been waiting for, and it happens in a matter of minutes. To calm the nerves, I stare directly at him as I walk and do not put my focus anywhere else.

After we got some couple’s portraits done, we had everyone else come in, look around, and take pictures with us! Then we got back inside the SUV, and both finished writing our vows on the way to the ceremony.

bride looks at groom during first look

Ceremony

Then it was time to get married.

You can watch the ceremony below:

The wonderful thing about eloping is that the focus is on you as a couple. We were surrounded by everyone who was genuinely happy for us. I could feel the love and support around us.

All-inclusive Planning: Cactus and Lace Weddings @cactusandlaceweddings

Location: Valley of Fire – Seven Sisters @valley.of.fire

Portrait Location: Las Vegas Neon Museum @theneonmuseumlasvegas

Officiant: Amanda Monk of Jubilee Occasions @jubilee_occasions_

Desserts: Caked Las Vegas @cakedlasvegas

Florals: The Front Porch Flowers @thefrontporchflowers

Hair and Makeup: Ruby Finch Salon @rubyfinchsalon

Photography: Kayla Doty and Amanda Monk of Cactus and Lace Weddings

Videography: Christina Hernandez Artistry

After the elopement, we went to Hank’s Fine Steaks and Martini Bar. Surprisingly, this was one of the more vegan friendly spots on the strip and the drinks were delicious. I had mushroom risotto which was to die for. We drank and ate and had a great night. We stayed out a bit in the casino after, but went back to the hotel room.

A Weekend in Vegas

untitled image

The next day, we met up with a local photographer, Jenni (insta@/jenniphoto.co) who did a photo session of us on the Fremont Experience! We woke up at 6 am to be able to catch sunrise and it was well worth it because our pictures came out AMAZING. She was such a sweet individual, and had us doing the cutest prompts. She was so personable and knew of the best spots - I totally recommend her for anyone looking for a session!

After a nap, the group of us went to and experienced OMEGA MART, which is one of the coolest art installations in Las Vegas. I totally recommend going - you can literally spend hours there, figuring out all the hidden secrets. After, we went to the Seven Magic Mountains and enjoyed the 76 degree weather.

The last few days we ate, drank, went to a boxing match and enjoyed our time together until we flew home. Marrying my best friend was absolutely perfect in every way - eloping was so much more amazing then we ever expected and if we had unlimited funds and could redo it, we would do the exact same over again.

Want to see elopements I've done? Check these bad boys out:
PSA: I'll hop on a plane, anytime, anywhere.