PRINCETON WEDDING: Allison + Jeremiah
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It was the day after a nasty Nor'Easter. 

"I'm expecting the weather to be horrible," Allison said to me about her wedding in one of our last few phone calls before the date. Her hair and makeup trials, dress fittings and everything else part of her planning had been rained on, snowed on, you name it. 

There was thankfully no snow on the ground after the previous day's storm, though the wind had knocked down tons of trees and power was out in a lot of the state. But their venue was good to go and the day of Allison and Jeremiah's wedding was gorgeous. Sunny skies with Bob Ross-like clouds littering the sky. A tiny bit of warmth peeking out behind the upcoming cold front; getting let down by the expectation of crappy weather was hardly a disappointment.

Allison and I hit it off almost instantaneously during our initial meeting. She told me she and Jeremiah had just bought a farm and had a bunch of animals coming. Alpacas, chickens and their dogs. Oh em gee...where do I sign up? 

I could tell Jeremiah and Allison had a playfully snarky relationship with each other. Jeremiah's the type of guy who will whip out his flask as Allison walks towards him during their first look (true story.) He'll crack jokes that make Allison's eyes roll like an avalanche. But...he's also the type of guy who will dote on Allison and her poodle, Joy, hand and foot if Allison breaks her ankle, or spend four days helping her find Joy when she runs away (also true stories.) They're the type of couple that will skip the tropical islands and hit Alaska instead for their honeymoon. I'm not going to lie -- I'm just the tiniest bit jealous.

I've hit the jackpot with clients this year, having becoming really good friends with most of them. I'm so happy to have met these two as we continue to share animal pictures on Facebook and chat about all their adventures. I can't wait to see what they do next!

Dress: Essense of Australia | Bridal shop: i do, i do | Heels: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaid dresses: Halston + Adrianna Papell | MUA: Make Me Glam | Hair: Cosmo Bleu | Starbucks cups: CleverHollyDesigns on Etsy | Groom's attire: JoS. A. Bank | Groom's shoes: Taft | Engagement ring + wedding bands: Roman Jewelers | Florist: Petunia Bergamot | Venue: Nassau Inn | Cake: The Caketeria | 

Bernadette Marciniak
WINTER WEDDING IN N.J.: Melissa + Erik at the Grand Summit Hotel
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When you live in the Northeast, winter weddings are more of a rarity than a normal occurrence. So when you get to do one, it's really something special. It could be frigid outside but the warmth of such a happy day keeps everyone snug. Don't you already feel all giddy and cozy seeing that kiss?

Melissa and Erik are a couple with conviction. It's one of those things, Melissa says, that when you know, you know. And when she and Erik met for a first date at Darby Road Pub, she had an overwhelming sense of "this is it" hit her in the face. Everything about their relationship fell completely into place and their love and commitment to each other immediately took off. Within a year, they were engaged, planned a wedding and got married. Because you know what? When you know...YOU KNOW. 

Their wedding at the Grand Summit Hotel was an absolute blast and the both of them looked absolutely stunning. From Melissa's gorgeous locks and Betsey Johnson heels, to Erik's slicked back hairdo. And wherever the road may take them later, they'll stand together, hand in hand, ready for those adventures.

 

 

Dress: Zac Posen | Heels : Betsey Johnson | Dancing shoes: Skechers | Wedding bands: Verragio | Engagement ring: Ritani | Florist: Events to Perfection | HMUA: Nicole Makeup & Hair | Venue: Grand Summit Hotel | Cake: Bovella's Bakery | DJ: Strategy Event Productions

Tips: How to get the wedding photos of your dreams

Do you think you look awkward in photos? Have you been burned by professional photography in the past? Nervous about the money you'll be dropping on a photographer for a day that can't repeat itself?

Fear not. There's a way to get the wedding photos you've always dreamed of.

wedding portraits alexa michael

 

Visualize

First, picture that bare wall above your couch. The space above your fireplace. The hallway of your home. Now picture the one photo you want taking up that space. Is it a romantic dip in the sunset? Is it your first dance? Or maybe it’s the silly faces you made at each other during the cake cutting.

Whichever one it is, figure out what your dream photo display would look like. Create a Pinterest mood board with photos you like. Think about the colors, the expressions and the composition that stand out to you. Once you’ve found a pattern in what you like, it’s time for the next step.

 

Get the right photographer

Well, duh. But this sounds easier than it is. You want someone who can mimic that mood board. Their website, Instagram or own Pinterest gives you all the same feels you get when you look at your collection of images. They don’t have to be identical, but the emotion you get when you see them should be pretty darn close. 

After you’ve narrowed it down to a few, meet in person. Or at least a Skype call if you or the photographer are out of town. You want to see them and feel them. You didn’t say yes to your fiancé after an e-mail exchange. Don’t say yes to a photographer without that face-to-face interaction either. The chemistry is super important. My brides love me because we will chat and laugh about girl things. Didn’t get to the gym this week? I hear you. Just bought a home? Oh my gosh, that’s so exciting. Tell me ALL about it. My favorite coffee shop just closed. Girl, I got you. There’s a place I know in town.

 

Plan your day around the photography schedule

This sounds super selfish from my end, but let me explain.

Your photographer is the one vendor who is going to be there with you for most, if not all of the day. And you hired them to document it — give them the time to do so. Talk to them first to find out what time is best for their arrival so that they can get pictures of your dress and all the details. Figure out what time to put your dress on so that you can get to the first look on time. Do a first look. Do bridal party pictures right after the first look. And lastly, don’t try to rush family photos at the top of your cocktail hour if you want to mingle with guests during it. 

 

Have a disconnected ceremony

It’s totally cool that your guests want to document the day for you. Those hashtags on Instagram won’t feed themselves. But there is one time you should ask your guests to refrain from whipping out their cell phones and iPads, and that’s the ceremony.

I used to find it kind of funny and amusing when a sea of electronics went up in unison as soon as the procession started. I even incorporated them into my shots.

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But is it really the cell phones you want to remember from your walk down the aisle or is it those last few moments of being Mommy and Daddy’s Little Girl? Does hubby want to see your face making your way towards him or Aunt Mildred’s grainy version of it?

By all means, gesture hi to your guests when you’re on your way to the altar. Put on a big smile as if their cameras were out. And let me capture it, because I promise, I’ll get that smile from a mile away. And it’ll look 10 times better than Aunt Mildred’s.

 

Remember the touchups

Designate a bridesmaid to carry a small bag with any makeup you might want to freshen up with. If it’s going to be a hot day, bring some blotting paper to keep dry without ruining your makeup. Pack a curling iron to tighten any curls that went loose.

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Relax and don’t overthink it

We get to a great spot and I position my clients. Then I walk away, look back at them and the first thing I say when I see them is…

B R E A T H E.

I get it — you’re about to have this big ass lens stuck into your face and you don’t know what to do. And if you feel like you look weird trying to figure it out, you probably do. There is a solution.

Just B R E A T H E.

I’ll tell you how to stand and where to put your hands. If something doesn’t look right, I’ll fix it. If hubby’s jacket is riding up, I’ll tell him to unbutton. If there’s a strand of hair in your face, I’ll take it out. Let me worry about the minutiae and you just worry about being yourselves.

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Bernadette Marciniak