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2020 has been difficult for many people and many reasons but on June 20th in Watchung, NJ you wouldn't know know it. Here there was a celebration! Of love, of family, of close friends, all the important things in life. An intimate Catholic ceremony at Devon's high school was always part of the plan, the larger guest list and party just had to be scooched a bit down the calendar. They will have two chances to celebrate! This one, was a joy for me and obviously for them.
Devon, with her father, walked down the aisle to Rob with her best friend ( from the age of 5! ) singing "Only Fools Rush In." At the end of the aisle, there were HUGE smiles, on Rob's face, on Devon's face, on her Dad, even the Monsignor looked overjoyed. As it was a family affair, both of the sisters had readings and after the homily Devon and Rob exchanged rings and vows. The huge smiles came back again as everyone clapped them back down the aisle and outside as a married couple!
The first thing we did was a group photo of everyone. ( Which I always like to do at an intimate affair. Pictures of your people are important! ) With much joking and making sure everyone looked their best, we proceeded with pictures outside the chapel. Once we finished Devon, Rob and I headed over to Ninety Acres. Which was a nice drive because it was pretty hot and the air conditioning was a blessing.
Now it was just the three of us. Have you ever met a couple and think to yourself, "Wow, they really go well together!"? Well that's Devon and Rob. They met a mutual friends party and Devon agreed to go to a Springsteen concert, thinking it was a joke. Well, Rob bought the tickets for real and they've been together ever since. Ha!
Devon, Rob, you are warm, friendly, funny, and amazing people, it was an honor to be included and I can't wait to see you again in November to do some more celebrating!
Hair and Makeup : Beauty and the Blush
Florist : Cassandra Shah Flowers & Events, Red Bank, NJ
Sign & Menu : The Jess Press, Middletown, NJ
Chapel : Mount St Mary Academy High School, Watchung, NJ
Dinner : Ninety Acres, Peapack and Gladstone, NJ
I love you and I like you
You really couldn't ask for a more perfect day. The weather was divine, the ideal temperature, partly cloudy and no rain. The kind of day everyone hopes for when planning their wedding. And it couldn't have happened for nicer people.
I met Suzanne and Rob 3 weeks before their wedding at their charming house for an engagement session. It was another beautiful Sunday, foreshadowing the upcoming nuptials. We spent an hour together, taking pictures and having fun with Jay, their 3 year old son. Engagement sessions are like an intense practice. They allow you to become more comfortable in front of the camera, with your photographer (me) and with pda. I know it's weird to have someone watching you make out and cuddle, but it looks great in photographs! Connection is a big part of a great image, your connection together, trust in me, knowing the posing, your comfort in front of the camera. So the more prepared and comfortable you feel, the more smoothly and quickly we can get everything done during your wedding day. I feel like Suzanne and Rob didn't need too much practice, they were obviously very comfortable with each other. You know when a couple's been together for a while, and you can just feel the bond and anticipation of what the other person thinks/needs? That's what Suzanne and Rob have.
Arriving at the Maplewood Country Club, I walked in and found Suzanne getting her hair and makeup done, while chatting with her bridesmaids. They helped her into her dress and shoes and assisted with some last minute jewelry choices. ( I loved what they chose, really went with the look. ) Once we had taken some bridal portraits, it was time for first look.
Rob was waiting outside with Jay, who wanted to see Mommy! We assured him she was coming and soon enough, Jay ran to greet her and then Rob turned around and got a good look. He was grinning from ear to ear! We walked around the golf course ( never on the greens ) and took some gorgeous shots. What a beautiful venue! The bridal party was very close friends and family.
The ceremony began with friends playing Irish music. Jay walked his parents down the aisle and then headed out for a well deserved nap. Suzanne and Rob said vows to each other with love, laugher and a tear or two. They included a special sand ceremony, mixing three different colors together to represent the members of their family. After the first official kiss as husband and wife, Rob grabbed Suzanne's hand and triumphantly swung their hands in the air! It was time to party!
I mean take family photos. Which only took about 15 minutes. And then party!
Many of the guests chose to spend cocktail hour outside. As I mentioned earlier, it was a beautiful day which transitioned into a beautiful evening. There was some fantastic jazz music too. ( I don't know a whole lot about jazz but I really enjoyed what I heard.) After dancing to the classic "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra and a short dance set, it was time for toasts. I enjoy listening to toasts, you can always learn something fascinating. Like Suzanne plays the fiddle with an Irish music group or Rob is someone who goes "all in" and loves jazz. The rest of the evening commenced with dining and dancing and dessert. SO MUCH DESSERT! Cake and ice cream and cookies and cupcakes and ice pops! It was a sweet tooth's dream come true. And Jay's, I think!
Thanks to Lynda Bailey for being a great second photographer, Maggie McGill for recommending me, Eileen for being awesome to work with, and most of all, Suzanne and Rob for trusting me on your big day!!
Wedding Planner: An Affair to Remember
Hair and Makeup: Truly Happy Beauty
Florist: Lotus Petals Floral Design, LLC
Videographer: Volyar Media, LLC
Officiant: Dana Lawson
Jazz Trio: Yuma Uesaka
DJ: Unique Musique
Venue: Maplewood Country Club
Hainesport is a small NJ town that most people have no idea exists. I know this because, I must clarify with "near Mt Laurel" or "between Mt Holly and Cherry Hill" to well, everyone, including people who have lived in NJ all their lives. It is small enough to have a K - 8 school, which is where I met Lisa. Her big brother Mike was in my class of 30ish people and we spent ages 5 - 13 learning and growing together. Although that was "several" years ago, Lisa, Mike, and Brian are the kind of people who go out of their way to make everyone feel like family. So you can imaging how excited I was to be asked to photograph Lisa's big day!
Turns out she's a cop now, and I am a little awed, as I can only imagine that's one of the more difficult jobs to have. That and being a mom. Here's some other fun facts; in the last year, she and Rob planned a wedding, bought a house, moved, and had a baby. So Lisa's a tough, multi-tasking, cross-fitted, mom!
Rob so obviously loves Lisa, you can see it from space. (Okay, I exaggerate here but it's close!) Other people he loves; Briana and Ryan, his beautiful daughters. Briana ADORES her dad, she spent every minute possible with him, including on the dance floor. I'm sure Ryan will too but she's a little young for dancing as of yet. She was an excellent sleeper for most of the day though!
Arriving at the beautiful Greenbriar Oceanaire, with hair and makeup done fabulously, the ladies had some time to relax, have a snack and get the four flower girls ready. Who, by the way, were adorable, (you'll see!) Their dresses had this cute heart cutout in the back and flowers in their hair. Ryan was extra special as she had unicorn booties for her little, teeny, tiny baby feet. After the bridesmaids were ready, Lisa's mom and sister-in-law helped her into her dress. A couple of bridal portraits later and we were first look ready!
We walked out to the bridge on the golf course with Rob, who was looking very dashing in his suit, and waited patiently for Lisa to arrive. It didn't take long. Hopefully, Lynda and I faded into the background like ninjas as Lisa and Rob had a few minutes to themselves. It's always such a special moment. They were SO HAPPY to see each other. We hung out on the course for more pictures, which both was beautiful and seemed appropriate as Lisa and Rob are both golfers. No stepping on the greens on this day though! (Heels put holes in them and apparently that's bad for golf. And the groundskeepers.)
The cloud cover was menacing at times but the rain held off all day. Lisa, fighting back tears, and her very proud father walked down the aisle to a beaming Rob. I do's said and rings exchanged, the outdoor ceremony was over in a blink. Rob and Lisa were MR. and MRS.!
Husband and wife high-fived and cheered their way into the reception to the delight of family and friends who were ready to party! Lisa and Rob couldn't take their eyes off each other during the first dance. I love to take dancing pictures, there's such a great energy, the love that shows while slow dancing or joy that comes through when people are moving and grooving. Towards the end, the cake was cut. I'm not sure who the bigger fan is ( I heard Rob say Lisa yells more at the TV )so an Eagles wedding cake was totally them and the perfect dessert.
Lisa, Rob, Briana and Ryan thank you so much for letting me be a part of such an important event! It was a pleasure and an honor.
E - A - G - L - E - S !!!
Venue: Greenbriar Oceanaire Country Club, Waretown, NJ
Caterer: Touch of Elegance, Waretown, NJ
Flowers: Black Eyed Susans, Barnegat, NJ
DJ: East Star Productions, Barnegat, NJ
Cake: Big Apple Bakery, Manahawkin, NJ
Second Photographer: Lynda Bailey
A long time ago, in Princeton, I used to work at a photo studio. Everything was photographed on film with medium format cameras. 24 exposures per roll and all manual focus. And in that studio worked a studio manager named Michelle. Michelle, being an excellent business woman, would keep us in check when it came to overshooting. Medium format film was expensive, developing was expensive, and proofs too cost money. Now you may be saying to yourself, what does this have to do with Ana Sofia's Quincenera? The answer is this, Michelle is her mom and I definitely did not pay any attention to how many photographs I captured.
Ana Sofia is charming, beautiful, gracious and from what I gather, fiercely loyal and a bit hot tempered. I had not seen her since she was a toddler. Which like any "old" lady I informed her of; by telling her the last time I saw her she was around the height of my knees. That's how I know she is gracious, as she grinned and did not roll her eyes. Ana's dress was stunning. A soft pink with lots of fluff and excellent for twirling, a bonus for pictures and super fun on the dance floor. A sparkly tiara capped Ana's fun and festive style.
You know when you see love in the way someone looks at someone else? Well that's what Ana's dad's eyes were brimming with when he saw her for the first time. The moment didn't last long as Maddy, the dog, was also very interested in seeing her but while it did Dad only had eyes for his little girl. We did all of the posed pictures before the party so no-one would get a glimpse of Ana's dress before the grand entrance.
And grand it was! Escorted by her brother, Matthew, Ana circled the dance floor surrounded by her cheering family and friends. There are several traditions that commenced at this point. The first, was that Ana's dad removed her shiny golden sneakers (and socks) and replaced them with shiny golden heels, signifying her stepping into womanhood. (She was extremely good at walking in them and a little bird told me she's been wearing them since kindergarten. I on the other hand, can barely make it 10 steps, so I was still impressed.) The second tradition is the gifting of a doll from her mom, symbolizing the last childhood present she will ever receive. The doll is custom made to look like the birthday girl. Dad then gave a speech and everyone got to dinner.
Dance party! Some people are dancers and some are not. This crowd was both enthusiastic and talented. Ana Sofia danced her heart out and had an obviously fabulous time doing so. Even a certain someone who swore he didn't dance got out there for Ana's birthday.
Closing out the night was a candle ceremony with 15 candles. Ana did a really impressive job with her speech, enough that I'm sitting here wondering if she would proof my blog posts. Her words were thoughtful, sweet, entertaining, and funny. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and Ana blew out the candles.
Happy birthday, Ana! I hope any wishes you made come true!
DJ: Encore Entertainment & Ultrax Disc Jockeys
Cake: Cramer’s Bakery
Florist: Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Co
Venue: Princeton Marriott at Forrestal