I can’t think of a better way to kick off the weekend than with Alec & Alessandra’s beautiful spring wedding at The Stone Terrace!

Alessandra and Alec have known each other since 2008 when they were in eighth grade and youth group together at their local church. Although they knew each other, they weren’t friends until their sophomore year of high school. That’s when Alec really noticed Alessandra and saw how beautiful she was! After seeing her at school and at youth group, Alec realized he had feelings for Alessandra and asked for her phone number one day after church. After a few weeks of talking and texting, Alec asked Alessandra to go with him to the Spring Formal at the school. After a fun night of dancing and hanging with their friends at Spring Formal, they wanted to kiss on Alessandra’s doorstep but were both too nervous! Time passed, and in a few short weeks, Alec texted Alessandra one night during the week. He asked her if she would be in school the next day as he had an important question to ask her. Just outside of her homeroom class, on May 27, 2010, Alec asked Alessandra if she would be his girlfriend. She said yes, joyfully, and the rest is history! These two high school sweethearts began the journey of a lifetime together.

Congratulations, Alec & Alessandra! Enjoy some of my favorites from their beautiful spring wedding below!

If Alec & Alessandra receive 30 comments on this blog post, I’ll send them a complimentary 8×10 print of their choice!

A huge thank you to all of the fabulous vendors involved!

Lead Photographer: Tori Petrillo
Second Photographer: Monika de Myer
Ceremony Venue: Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Reception Venue: The Stone Terrace by John Henry’s
Dress Designer & Boutique: Donna Morello of Marriage Couture
Shoes: Revenge Heels & Keds X Kate Spade
HMUA: Christina Formaroli of Deserrie’s Salon
DJ: James River (The Pros)
Florist: Joanne Voorhees
Cake: Eet Gud Bakery
Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal
Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Warehouse
Invitations: Shutterfly
Officiant: Dan Sparling

I’m so excited to share that Brittany and Ian’s golden hour engagement session at Cross Estate Garden has been featured in Contemporary Weddings Magazine!

Flipping through the pages at Barnes & Noble yesterday morning felt all sorts of surreal (and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t buy every copy on display!). The Spring 2019 edition will be on stands from now until May.

Check out their full engagement session by clicking HERE. Congratulations, Brittany & Ian! I cannot wait for your beautiful wedding at Indian Trail Club this summer.

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There’s something so magical about winter weddings, especially when they’re at Park Chateau! I’ve always said that Park Chateau is a venue fit for a fairytale — complete with beautiful gardens, twinkle light covered trees, and one of the most incredible bridal suites that I’ve ever seen. I had the pleasure of second shooting Christina & Anthony’s wedding with Jennifer Larsen Photography…. and I loved their wedding so much, that I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from their day with you!

After Christina & Anthony said “I do,” their guests lined up outside of the church to cheer them on as they made their exit. An antique car adorned with greenery waited at the end of the receiving line to whisk the newlyweds away to their reception — but not before we could take some pictures with it, of course! When we arrived at Park Chateau, we continued to photograph Christina, Anthony, and their bridal party in all of the gardens around the property as well as inside the cozy library.

One of my absolute FAVORITE details to photograph during the day were the candlelight centerpieces, bouquets, and floral staircase installation created by Twisted Willow. The staircase installation was truly a work of art in and of itself — some of my favorite portraits of the couple are of them on the stairs surrounded by all of the blooms. It was beautiful!

Enjoy some of my favorites from the wedding day!

Lead Photography: Jen Larsen
Second Photographer: Tori Petrillo
Photography Assistance: Rebecca Lori 
Coordinator | Mallory Weiss Planning
Ceremony Venue | St. Mary’s Chapel
Reception Venue | Park Chateau Estate
Dress Designer | Pnina Tornai
Dress Boutique | Kleinfeld Bridal
Shoes | Christian Louboutin
Hair Stylist | Michelle Elise Artistry
Makeup Artist | Michelle Elise Artistry
Wedding Rings | Goldtinker
Band | The Rhythm Shop
Florist | Twisted Willow Flowers
Videographer | Reubinedde Malamug
Cake | Palermo’s Bakery
Bridesmaids Dresses | DessyBella Bridesmaids
Groom & Groomsmen Attire | The Black Tux
Invitations | Darling + Pearl
Ring Box | The Mrs. Box
Transportation | Shore Luxury Limos
Photobooth | Pop Shop Photobooth

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A couple of weeks ago, I took to Instagram stories and asked my followers what kind of topics that they wanted to read about on my blog (wedding related, or otherwise!). One of my sweet brides suggested a favorite products round-up, and I thought it would be fun to turn her idea into a monthly series!

1. “Happy in Bloom” Perfume by Clinique

Guys. This perfume smells AMAZING. I’ve always been a fan of Clinique’s “Happy” perfume, but I love this spin on their classic scent. One of my friends was wearing it when I picked her up for a coffee date last month. She told me that it was one of her favorite perfumes, and that she was planning on ordering more since she was running low. Long story short, we both ended up buying it for each other for Christmas! I find myself putting it on even if I don’t have anywhere to go. I love how light, fresh, and slightly floral the scent is.

2. You are a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero

Ryan and I were waiting to get a table at The Cheesecake Factory a couple of weeks ago and decided to check out the Barnes & Noble next door. We’re not huge readers (I’m working on that for one of my 2019 goals!), but we casually left with 8 books in total. I have to admit that I’m only halfway through this book, but I love the authors humorous tone, positive vibe, and overall “you can do it” attitude. It’s a great book to read to kick off the new year!

3. Cleansing Balm by Beautycounter

I was introduced to Beautycounter last spring by a blogger who was gushing over their safe and healthy cosmetic products. Since then, I’ve purchased (and fallen in love with!) so many of Beautycounter’s products, one of my all time favorites being the Cleansing Balm. It can be used as a makeup remover, overnight mask, or regular cleanser. I’ve always said that my skin type is strange because it’s both dry and oily at the same time. After I wash my face, my skin can feel so tight that it hurts to smile (especially during the winter months!). Now, I apply a small amount of Cleansing Balm to my face right before getting out of the shower and it leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized all day without any greasy feeling. It’s on the pricier side, but it lasts for MONTHS, and my skin has never felt more balanced.

4. Simplified Planner 

Does anyone else love opening up a brand new planner in January? It feels like a new, clean slate! I had been using another type of planner for the past couple of years, but I decided to give Simplified Planner a try after hearing friends rave about it. It gives an overview of the month, a daily breakdown (with space to jot down notes next to each day), space for meal planning, and paper in the back for general note taking. I love how clean and organized the layout is! The size is also perfect at 7 x 9. I carry my planner with me nearly everywhere I go, so it’s important that I’m able to tuck it away in my bag!

As a side note, I’m not being paid by any of these companies, and all of the opinions that I’m sharing are 100% my own 🙂

 

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Crafting your wedding day timeline can be a tricky and overwhelming process, especially if you’ve never made one before and are unsure of what to expect. Every wedding day timeline is going to look different based on a variety of factors. Couples have to take into consideration the season/sunset times, amount of travel locations, and whether or not to stick with tradition or commit to doing a first look.

Brides, take a deep breath with me!

The blocks of time allocated for the photography portions of the day will generally stay the same from timeline to timeline (the way we divide the time might change, but the total amount of time likely will not). I always suggest the timings below for the photography portions of the day when I’m creating wedding day timelines for my couples:

  • 1.5 hours for detail / getting ready photos
  • 15 minutes for the first look
  • 30 minutes for bride & groom portraits
  • 45 minutes for bridal party photos (15 min for bride w/ bridesmaids, 15 min for groom w/groomsmen, 15 min for full bridal party)
  • 30 minutes for immediate family photos
  • 5-10 minutes for sunset/night portraits

 

While every couples wedding day timeline is going to be unique, I think it’s helpful to see a visual! Below is an example of a first look timeline from a photographers perspective:

First Look Timeline

  • 1:00 pm-2:30 pm: Getting Ready
  • 2:30 pm-2:45 pm: First Look
  • 2:45 pm-3:15 pm: Bride/Groom Portraits
  • 3:15 pm-4:00 pm: Bridal Party Portraits
  • 4:00 pm-4:30 pm: Family Photos
  • 4:30pm – 5:00pm: Bride & Groom Rest Before Ceremony
  • 5:00 pm-5:30 pm: Ceremony
  • 5:30 pm-6:30 pm: Cocktail Hour
  • 6:30 pm-10 pm: Reception

 

Have any of my couples used the full 15 minutes for their first look? Honestly, no. They’re usually ready for bride & groom portraits after only a minute or two! While the length of the time blocks above might seem excessive, I can assure you that wedding days are somewhat unpredictable and not everything will go as planned. This is why scheduling buffer time is so important! Anticipate the unexpected while drafting your timeline and always allow for more time than you think that you’ll need. This way, if hair/makeup runs a little longer than planned, we’ll still have some wiggle room to work with that’ll help us stay on schedule.

 

 

 

 

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What do you remember the most from your days spent as a kid in elementary school? The parts that stand out to me are assemblies, field trips, science experiments, and moments when my teachers would talk about something unrelated to school — like their family vacations, pets, or something silly that their own children had done the night before. I used to love it when my teachers briefly digressed from their lessons plans. Not only would this help to humanize them, but their stories would captivate the students by giving them an otherwise unseen glimpse into their lives.

Storytelling in content marketing has a similar impact on consumers. Before stories were able to be physically recorded, people either shared them verbally with one another or used drawings to communicate their messages. That’s because stories provided (and continue to provide) a format that was memorable, entertaining, engaging, and could be shared throughout the generations.

Entrepreneurs, listen up! The nature of storytelling has never changed. Once you craft an authentic brand story, you’ll begin to reach and build connections with your target audience. Every brand has a unique story unlike that of their competitors. Although competing brands might have similar motivations, core values, solutions to problems, etc., no one else’s brand story will be identical to your own. This gives your brand a competitive advantage by delivering a one of a kind perspective and reaching ideal clients who resonate with your message — and your message alone.

Can I let you in on a little secret? My most popular blog posts over the past few years have had nothing to do with photography. I was so surprised by the stats after I hit publish on my “10 Things You Might Not Know About Me” blog post a couple of months ago. People are naturally curious and want to know about the person behind the brands that they love and support.

What are their values?

What do they like to do in their free time?

What motivates them to pursue their chosen career?

What causes are important to them?

How and why did they get started?

What did they think that they could improve upon in the marketplace?

Gone are the days of solely listing products/services on a website or in an ad and expecting to make a sale. I’m yawning. Sure, you might make a few sales, but without incorporating storytelling, you probably won’t reach the type of clients who you want to serve. And the few consumers who actually do convert might not even think to refer your brand to a friend because because they haven’t established a connection with it.

Why do I publish posts that have nothing to with photography from time to time? It builds trust with my readers, makes me a human, and allows me to share about the things that get me fired up. It also helps me connect with future clients who might be scrolling through my blog posts and think, “hey, I’m a huge fan of chocolate milkshakes too!” 🙂

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Ryan and I first met over SIX (!!) years ago as juniors in college during a small party our mutual friends were having to kick off the start of the new school year. To give a little backstory, Ryan and I went to different colleges, but I used to go down to his college all the time to visit a couple of my friends from back home!
Now, I have to admit that I knew who Ryan was about a year before we officially met (I promise I’m not creepy!). Since we had mutual friends, pictures of him would pop up on Facebook from time to time and I always thought he was adorable. So, imagine my surprise when he walked in the door that September night! I couldn’t tell you what we talked about, but I know that we sat next to each other until the early hours of the morning. He was so sweet and made me laugh (real laughs, too, not just nervous ones!) and I knew that I wanted to know more about him. We swapped numbers that night and decided we’d get breakfast sometime soon.

Flash forward to early October when we all met up at the same dorm room once again, but this time to watch That 70’s Show. Before Ryan left, he asked if I wanted to get breakfast the following morning. I was going to be spending the night with friends and I realized that I didn’t bring a change of clothes with me for the next day. I was planning on driving back home the next morning in my pajamas — which consisted of leggings and a sweatshirt. As much as that realization made me cringe, I said yes anyway. He picked me up and the two of us head over to iHop and ordered two enormous breakfasts. I remember eating about two bites, and he never once questioned my “outfit.” 🙂

After a few more dates, Ryan and I become officially official on a freezing night in the beginning of November while standing in my driveway around 3am. And it didn’t take me too long after that night to realize that there’s no one else I’d rather do life with!

Thank you, Jen Larsen for the amazing photos!

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I met up with Angie & Dennis a couple of weeks ago for their engagement session in New York City! While we were planning for their session, Angie sent me pictures of a rooftop deck near Columbus Circle with incredible views of Central Park. I’m almost positive that I was grinning from ear to ear while looking at her photos (yes, I’m serious!). I always love photographing my couples in unique locations that are significant to them, and since Angie lived in New York City and had previously worked in the building with the rooftop deck, I knew that it would be the perfect location!

After soaking in the views, we made our way through Central Park and over to Bethesda Terrace. I had never been to Bethesda Terrace before, but I’ve always been drawn to the grand architecture. I was so thrilled when Angie & Dennis decided to take my suggestion for their second location! And I think it’s safe to say that this location DEFINITELY didn’t disappoint! 🙂

Congratulations, Angie & Dennis! You are both such a joy to work with. I can’t wait for your wedding at Waterloo Village this fall!

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Whenever I’m chatting with my couples during their initial consultation, I find that they’re either on the fence about sharing a first look or completely against it. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to photograph both traditional weddings and weddings where the couple chose to do a first look. While I would never expect all of my couples to go with the untraditional route, I DO think there are some benefits worth sharing!

Smooth Flow

With a traditional timeline, after the ceremony ends, we’ll have a two hour time block scheduled for family formals, bridal party portraits, and bride and groom photos. If the ceremony location is different than the reception location, guests will likely have to wait it out until cocktail hour begins. This can make the timeline start to feel a little choppy.

Ideally, with a first look, we would schedule:

  • 45 minutes of bride and groom portrait time
  • 45 minutes for bridal party portrait time
  • 30 minutes for family formal portrait time

 

With a first look timeline, we’re able to prioritize bride and groom portraits. Since they’re scheduled first, we can minimize of any feelings of being rushed or under pressure. With a traditional timeline, bride and groom portraits are always scheduled last. If the family formals and bridal party photos take longer than expected, I may not be able to deliver as many bride and groom photos as you had hoped, simply because the venue timeline might not allow for it.

On a related side note, you’ll look your best because I’ll be photographing you shortly after you’re done getting ready rather than after the ceremony & family formals!

More Portrait Time

As I mentioned above, first looks can take anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour. Think about ALL of the beautiful portraits that you can decorate your new home with! Usually, bride and groom portraits feel a bit like a race against the clock with a traditional timeline – literally and figuratively. We usually have only 20-30 minutes to take portraits before a) the sun sets and/or b) we need to get ready for grand entrances.

They Ease Nerves

Real talk: you’re going to be nervous for the sole reason that you’re getting married! Now, add in the fact that you’ll have 200+ pairs of eyes on you and your groom who are anxiously waiting to see your reactions. Cue all of the nerves! Doing a first look beforehand gets most of those jitters out of the way. They give you a chance to breathe, soak in the moment, and relax. Also, they’re the closest thing that you’re going to get to “alone time” on a wedding day.

One concern that I hear from my brides that are considering a first look is that they’re worried their groom won’t have a reaction when they walk down the aisle. I can say from experience that the grooms reaction is usually even MORE priceless when the ceremony starts. I think that’s because everything starts to become very real at that moment!

You Get to Enjoy Cocktail Hour

Doing a first look allows you to go and enjoy cocktail hour with all of your guests. You’ll be all done with taking photos after the ceremony is over. But that’s not including 5 minutes of sunset portraits during your reception, of course 🙂 Family and friends have travelled from all over the map to come see and celebrate alongside of you. You probably haven’t seen many of these people in while, and I’m sure you’d rather be enjoying their company instead of taking photos. Plus, cocktail hour food? Enough said.

So there you have it! With all of this said, you should decide whether or not to do a first look based on what feels right for you as a couple. It’s part of my job to give you all of the information I’ve learned from my experiences so that you can make the best possible decision for yourself on your wedding day. I hope this helps!

Click here to see photos from Krysti & Taylor’s first look!

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  1. Have the details ready

    During our last “checking in” phone chat before the wedding, I’ll ask my brides to set aside all of their important details into a small box (shoes, jewelry, invites, perfume, family heirlooms, etc.) for me to photograph first thing when I arrive. This is a great way for my brides to ensure that everything is accounted for beforehand and that nothing important will be missing! Plus, it saves time when all of the details are already gathered in one place.

  2. Check for distractions

    Be on the look out for hair ties on wrists (the biggest offenders!), wall outlets, air/heating vents, TV screens, and those unfortunate hotel paintings.  These are all difficult to get rid of during post production and will cost hours of your time.  Try to fix the problem right then and there by removing the distraction, switching up your perspective or changing location entirely if possible. It’s so much quicker and easier to deal with the distraction right then and there than to fix it later in Photoshop. Been there, done that!

  3. Don’t be afraid to ask people to move

    Anyone ever had an Uncle Bob set his tripod in the center of the aisle during the wedding ceremony? I would always cringe whenever I’d see this happening, but I never used to say anything. Kindly ask Uncle Bob if he could 1. move his tripod out of the aisle and closer to where he is sitting or 2. hold off on setting up his tripod until after the bridal party processes to ensure distraction free, clean photographs. Most of the time guests are very understanding and realize that you were hired to do a specific job – and that you want to do it well!

  4. Expect the unexpected

    This tip might go without saying, but I’ve been thrown a photography curveball at nearly every wedding I’ve photographed for the past 4 years. I would say that 99% of these curveballs are related to lighting and bad weather. Simply put, not every venue is going to have huge windows and light colored rooms. And (unfortunately!) not every wedding day is going to have perfect weather. I’ve worked with dark venues that didn’t permit off camera flash, and I’ve also photographed weddings where it down-poured the entire day. The most important thing is to be prepared to adapt to any curveball you’re given. Pack lots of clear umbrellas for bridal party portraits, know your flashes inside and out, and always have a one light set up on standby just in case. Also, pack a wedding day emergency kit – mine has helped me more times than I can count (click HERE to see what’s in my bag).

  5. Always bring a second shooter

    Having a second shooter with you during a wedding day is a great way to be able to cover more ground, be in two places at once, and see an entirely new perspective of the same day. Plus, it’s so helpful to have another person hold a reflector, grab a lens, and check off family formal combinations as they’re taken.

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