Brittney + Ressie | Hamilton Manor | Hamilton NJ

How did he propose? : “It was at my nephews preschool graduation party, with all of my family. He put the ring box in my nephew’s legos because my nephew always asks me to help him build lego houses. So just like any other time, my nephew pulled out the legos and we were building away. My nephew picked up the ring box and was playing with it and said “what is this?!” I looked at it, turned around and saw Ressie on one knee.”

Unplugged Wedding

DSC_1666 LR.jpg

Oh, your wedding day! What a magical time for you and your loved ones! And such an important time for all those in attendance to be truly present and invested in the moment.

Sometimes I wonder, do we honestly even know what that feels like anymore, to really be in the moment? We are so over-stimulated with our phones and other wonderful devices that it feels like it has become an actual part of our experiences. I’m guilty of it, too! I carry my phone with me everywhere; it's always in my hand or at least in my sight [I can literally see my phone out of my peripheral vision as I write this]. As much as our phones have become a fixture in our every day lives, there's no denying that there is a time and a place for technology, but your wedding ceremony is NOT one! 

I have heard and unfortunately witnessed several horror stories where beautiful professional photographs have gotten ruined by eager guests getting in the way of the camera. People will literally lean out into the aisle, or even worse, stand in the middle of the aisle, to get their own [blurry, unflattering, amateur] photos of the bride. Sometimes, they stand right in front of the groom with their phones in front of their faces, oblivious to the magic happening all around them. WHAT?! I know! Guests, with the best intentions, often get so caught up in getting a quick snap for themselves, that they don’t realize that they are actually stealing that moment from the couple, AND the photographer!

In our digital world, everyone wants to be the first to post the best shot and get the most likes. However, chances are your guests don’t even realize they are sacrificing your most precious moments and memories in exchange for their own “perfect” photo. By standing in the way of your views of one another, or standing in the way of the photographer, or by hiding their raw and authentic reactions to the love story that is unfolding in front of them behind the screens of their ugly cell phones, they are ultimately missing all the good stuff! What they are forgetting is that they are very much a big part of the wedding day! Your guests become part of the backdrop. They set the mood; their faces are a part of the story. It’s really difficult to see your favorite aunt’s beaming smile when it’s hidden behind a giant iPad and it’s such a damn shame when the tears of joy that are streaming down your mom's cheeks as her actual dreams play out right in front of her are completely overshadowed by the Hello Kitty phone case positioned right behind her gorgeous up-do. Maybe we get lucky and no one dives out into the aisle during the first kiss and I have a clear shot, but then Uncle Bob decides to bring his entire camera set up and starts snapping photos on the side. His flash goes off at the same time I'm taking my shot. I wasn’t planning for that, so my settings are not set for someone else’s flash to blow out my exposure [photographer jargon, did I lose ya?!]. The entire frame is now just a white blur. I have now missed the photo of your first kiss as husband and wife, and it only happens once! You get the picture? It’s just NOT WORTH IT.

DSC_3139 LR.jpg

Think of it this way: You most likely spent hours going through websites and reading reviews before you booked your cake vendor. You thoroughly examined the menu, had a taste-testing to carefully chose your favorite flavors, and even showed them your wedding-cake Pinterest board. What if someone decided to take it upon themselves to bring their own home-made, clearly amateur cake and served it to everyone at your wedding? Even as a kind gesture, there’s no denying that would be absolutely ridiculous! Why should you look at your wedding photos any differently? So someone can Facebook blast an unflattering angle of you in your gorgeous wedding gown? You selected your photographer for a reason [it’s probably because we take professional pictures and would never let something like that happen]! Unfortunately, between all of the technology upgrades and updates, we haven’t really been programmed to think that way about our camera phones. A small sign at the entrance of the ceremony sight or a quick line addressing it on the ceremony program is all it takes to politely bring it to your guests attention. 

Again, you have invited your guests to your wedding to create memories with you; to step away from the rest of the world into a magical moment made up of two people's love for each other and everyone around them. I challenge you to have an unplugged wedding. This will require you to ask your guests to be fully present with you. To request that they take mental photographs and to allow themselves to feel everything that is happening. I promise to get all the shots of the ceremony and give you an opportunity to share them with your family with a sneak peak and your online gallery. They will certainly be able to view that special moment again. However, no one will ever be able to re-LIVE those moments, so it’s best to enjoy it as it unfolds before your eyes and let the professionals you chose do their jobs.

Seriously! I got this, you guys! I just want you and your guests to be able to relax and take in every single moment for exactly what it is. You have worked really, really hard to bring this day to life. It’s only fair that you and your hand-picked special guests get a chance to enjoy it to the fullest. So kindly tell them to put down their phones, iPads, and cameras and just be there with you!

Still not sure how to go about it? Try looking on Pinterest for “Unplugged Wedding” ideas and see how other couples made it happen! Click here for a great article by the Huffington Post about this very topic.

DSC_3182 LR.jpg

Why you should do an engagement session

DSC_5489 LR.jpg

When considering booking an engagement session, you may be asking yourself: 

“Do we really need to do this? I’m already dreading getting in front of the camera for the wedding and we already have a ton of photos together. Maybe we can just skip the whole engagement photoshoot thing.”

I get it— getting in front of the camera is not the most naturally comfortable thing for everyone. If you happen to be someone that doesn’t feel like you’re going to throw up a little in your mouth when you hear that you have to get your photo taken, then GOOD FOR YOU! If you’re like the rest of us, I feel you. That is exactly why you NEED to get in front of the camera before your wedding day.

So, when was the last time you got professional photos taken? It’s probably been a while and all I have to say is, NOW is the time! 

DSC_5036 LR.jpg
DSC_5050 LR.jpg

Doing an engagement session gives you guys the opportunity to have some camera time! It’s scary— I KNOW! And like, why would you put yourself through that twice?! This is the thing: I do not want you stressed about the photography part of your wedding day [I actually don’t want you stressed about ANYTHING, but this part is my job!] and there's really no better way to face that fear than to do a trial-run session before your big day! By the end of the engagement session, you are going to be a thousand times more comfortable in front of the camera! You’ll have a better idea of what to expect on your wedding day, how it feels to have a camera in your face, and what works and what doesn’t work for you guys. I promise you that you will leave your session feeling so much more confident and comfortable and overall more prepared for the most important day of your lives [so far]! 

DSC_5446 LR.jpg

Also ask yourself, how many photos can you guys realistically use of you wearing freaking formal attire? If the only professional photos that you have of you two were taken in a wedding gown and a suit, you’re going to be limited on photos to print out and hang on the wall or share on social media [you don’t want to be THAT person that is reposting the same wedding photo 2 years later because that's all you have. Also, anniversary photos sessions are a great idea, but let's chat about that in a year or so :)]. Photos of the two of you in casual clothes, playing with and loving on each other, are simply priceless; you really can't have enough of them. It’s probably a super crazy, sometimes nerve-wracking, time for you as you guys are working to pull everything together for the big day. You really deserve to take a step back and capture these memories so you can look back on it all years from now and remember how exciting it all felt!

DSC_4846 LR.jpg

A note from Brittney + Ressie [pictured above] : “As our wedding day was approaching, we couldn’t wait to hang out with Stephanie again. All those nerves that we had in the beginning of our engagement shoot were completely gone. We were so excited to get back in front of that camera because we knew it would be so much fun again. She helped us so much during the engagement shoot and we really got to know one another. She was now not only our wedding photographer, she was our friend. After our engagement shoot, Ressie said “Even if we were awkward and you can tell in the pictures, it was such a great experience and so much fun!”. We knew it would only benefit us for the wedding day. I am so glad we chose to do the engagement shoot and really got to know each other. Of course our engagement photos are beautiful because Stephanie is AMAZING! On our wedding day when she walked in my door, I was so happy. We felt so comfortable during the entire process and knew we could be ourselves around her. Seriously no judgment at all (love her for that). My bridal party and family couldn’t say enough good things about her and they are so excited for the pictures. I am so glad we did the engagement shoot and were able to feel so relaxed on our wedding day. It made such a huge difference and the experience so much better. Although my husband now thinks he’s some sort of model - thank you for that Stephanie hahahaha! You are so great to work with and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. You are so much fun and so laid back. You made this experience so wonderful for us and we can’t thank you enough!”

Kate + Eric | Devils Pool, Wissahickon, Philadelphia | Anniversary Session

To look or not to look | A why to have a first look

1.jpg

I’ve ask you the “First Look” question and you either quickly answered “YES!” orrrrr you made the emoji grimace face and you’re just not sure, you really can’t decide. That’s okay, let’s talk about it! 

If you’re not sure what a first look is, it’s when the bride and the groom see each other a few hours before the ceremony and spend some time together before the events of the day begin. Not traditional at all— but what even is tradition anymore!? People are constantly coming up with new ideas and adding special touches to make their wedding more personal….more “them”. No disrespect to the olden days, but the whole “it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding” thing is a bit dated. In fact, the tradition of couples not seeing each other before the nuptials dates back to when marriages were more of a business deal between two families [not very romantic]. Apparently, there was often a fear that one of the parties would change their mind and back out once they actually saw each other [hence the veil], so it became customary for the couple to not even meet until they got to the alter and there was no turning back! [swear to go, google it!] It’s a very old and outdated tradition that is centered around an issue that you guys don’t have to worry about [you guys HAVE met, RIGHT?!]. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose to go the traditional route— I will respect your wishes either way! I just want to make sure I lay it all out for you so you understand why I personally love first looks so much!

2.jpg

You get to spend more time with your partner

As you know [or will know very soon], weddings take months of planning. Weeks and weeks of making decisions and arrangements— all for one single day. Your wedding day will go by really, really, really, really fast [I would use more reallys but I think that you get the point]! Ask any newlywed couple. With as much time and energy that goes into putting this day together, I’m always taken aback at the little amount of time the couple actually gets spends together. As you’re planning that perfect sunset ceremony, it’s really common to overlook the fact that you won’t see your fiancé until the sun is actually going down. Most of the day has already passed and now you only have a few hours left of your wedding day to spend together! Not to mention, you’re spending it with tons of guests who also want your attention. Planning a first look a few hours before the ceremony gives you much more time with your love on the best day of your lives [so far]. Why would you want to waste precious hours of your wedding day avoiding the person you are about to spend the rest of your life with?! Because someone from centuries ago deemed it to be bad luck? I beg to differ.

It could be your only time alone all day

Okay so this one is super important! YES— this day is about you guys, but you can’t ignore the fact that you've invited all these people and they are going to expect you to spend some time with them. I know that you have, like, the rest of your lives to spend with one another, but the feels of your wedding day are so real and special, and it’s so important to get that time to connect! Doing a first look gives you guaranteed alone time. Typically, we plan the first look and then schedule about 30 minutes of portraits of you two before calling the rest of the wedding party to join us. If we wrap up this part before we were expecting to be finished, then you guys have time to hang out with your wedding party or maybe run off for some extra one-on-one time. If you want, we can even schedule in some chill time between photos and the ceremony! This is your day, let’s plan it exactly how you guys want it to go. 

It helps to melt away your nervous energy

Just being honest here, you’re probably going to be nervous. Not that you are scared to get married, but you want this day to go just perfect and you might be dealing with some flutters knowing all eyes will be on you. Nerves can consume you, especially if you are not a fan of being the center of attention or embarrass easily. Although it's all going to be perfectly FINE, I’m willing to bet that your fiancé will know exactly what to say to make your anxiety and nervous energy melt right away. Getting the chance to embrace one another and just be together will create a sense of calmness and help you to relax a bit. 

3.jpg

Eat, drink, greet your guests

First looks are typically planned about 3 [or more] hours before the ceremony. This gives us ample time to shoot portraits of the two of you, bring in the entire wedding party, and possibly get the family photos done before you even walk down the aisle. Now, assuming everything goes according to plan [because of course it’s going to], that means after the ceremony you're free to go enjoy your cocktail hour like it's meant to be enjoyed! Traditionally, most portraits and wedding party photos are shot during the cocktail hour, but let’s face it— you put so much time, effort, and money into all of this, you should get to party too! A first look gives you the opportunity to enjoy the amazing appetizers, drink the delicious drinks, and greet all the generous guests who came to love and support you on your special day. It’s always nice bonus to get the introductions and congratulations out of the way before the reception begins. That way, you can spend your entire reception boogying down without people constantly coming up to you, interrupting your dance sessions, trying to have a full-on conversation with you [NOW IS NOT THE TIME, CAROL! I JUST WANT TO DANCE WITH MY BABES!].

It gives us all the time for photos

Now this one might totally be selfish on my end but, like, it’s my job. I need to make sure that you get all the photos that you want on your wedding day, and if we only give ourselves the short time during cocktail hour, we will be forced to rush through things and are more likely to miss something. Getting most of the portraits done and out of the way before the ceremony leaves us a lot more time and opportunity to take more photos [if you're up for it]. Depending on the time of the year, first looks are the only way to get outdoor, naturally lit photos of you and your bae. With the sun setting so early in the winter months, we are extra pressed for time. I really, really hate to rush through my job and when it comes to the bridal portraits [bridal portraits include just the couple], I like to make sure that we have the most amount of time possible to get you the best photos ever. It also leaves room for any hiccups in the schedule, like if the weather isn’t cooperating or we have a wardrobe malfunction. I don’t want you to think of your wedding day as one big photoshoot, but giving yourselves more of a lax schedule gives us time to break up the photos and allows you to be present in the moment. With more time to spend, we will be able to capture REAL moments of the two of you. Wedding photography is an investment, why not make sure that you get the most bang for your buck?!


Don’t worry, you’ll still feel all the feels

I think one of the biggest reasons people have concerns about a first look is that they fear that they will lose that “ WOW feeling” when walking down the aisle. Brides are always worried that a first look will ruin the “she took my breath away” moment when her love sees her. I will have to respectfully disagree. In fact, I would dare to say that it HEIGHTENS your emotions. I want you to think about that moment right now, seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day. Not in any specific situation, it’s not your first look and it’s not walking down the aisle. You are just two beings, in an unidentifiable space, getting to see each other for the first time on the most special day of your lives. What do you want to do when you see each other? Emotions are running high, nerves might be getting the best of you. Your answer is probably, “I want to give them a hug and a kiss and tell them how much I love them and how excited I am that I get to marry them TODAY!” Yeah— totally!! If you wait for the ceremony to see one another, you can’t do any of that! The first looks gives you guys the chance to hold each other close, take it all in, and spend some one-on-one time together before the day really takes off. I promise you will still have that amazing “this is actually happening” moment, even though you saw each other before the ceremony. Once you start walking down the aisle, IT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN! That feeling can NEVER be replaced with anything.

4.jpg

Getting the chance to see one another before the ceremony will help calm the nerves, allow you guys some alone time, and give you the opportunity to slow down and be present during the day. It gives you the chance to breeze through the day a little easier and really enjoy everything that you've put so much of yourselves into creating. I’ve personally become a huge fan of the first look tradition, but I’m a way bigger fan of making your day go the way you want it to go! No matter what you decide to do on your wedding day, I am here for you 110%!

5.jpg

QUEEN OF WANDS

queen of wands :

optimistic, authoritative, spiritual, practical, independent, charismatic, attractive, visionary, ambitious, inspirational, innovative, exuberant, impulsive

who is the queen of wands : standing at the edge of her domain, the queen of wands is a magnetic force who knows her place in the collective consciousness. there is a diving fire within her personality, as she is strong and assertive yet knows the important of kindness and generosity. the queen of wands walks her own path, charting a course that aligns with her heart and spiritual nature. here at there side stands her familiar — a spirit animal who is fierce, protective, and loving.

the queen of wands is an extremely outgoing, generous person, who is both strong-willed and fierce. she is fully aware of how her unwavering kindness and intelligence have shaped her beauty over the years, and , through her own set of standards, she celebrates and embodies her sexuality. this person does not need the assurance of validation of anyone else and lives her life freely without apology. she is highly protective and involved in the lives of her friends and family. she is also able to adapt well in almost any social environment, making all who surround her feel warm and welcome. the queen of wands may also become fiery, stubborn, and uncompromising when things don’t go her way. due to her strong temperament, there may be a tendency for extroverted communication and for placing draining emotional demands on those closest to her. 

the message behind the card : it is important to acknowledge your limitless potential! you are capable of accomplishing anything you wish if you put your mind to the task. maintaining a positive mindset attracts an abundance of light into your life — the first step world manifesting your dreams.

the wands are inspired by the world around them. as a result, may of them love to travel and explore. wands are highly charismatic and self-determined, and they take their life goals very seriously. they have strong leadership qualities and are extremely outgoing , attracting like-minded people. their beliefs and opinions are in many ways connected to their spirituality, which they consider very important in defining who they are. wands can sometimes be harsh or fiery if they become agitated or frustrated. overconfidence can lead to egotism, impatience, foolish risk taking, or insensitive to others. the aid of other elements can help diffuse the hotheaded disposition of this type. sometimes, all the wands may need is a grounding conversation with a good friend.

the wands rule our creativity, confidence, and determination throughout life. they are related to our ambitions and dreams and connect to our spiral natural and Higher Self. the element of fire is transformative, expansive, and inventive.

vendors :

photographer+creator : @stephanie_bar

model : @kellyanneduffy

set designer+creative director : @blondeandblueboutique

makeupartist : @beautifulnightmarefx

hairstylist : @mollys_chair

threads : @sgstyleme

jewelry : @creadesigns

florals : @eastlinfloraldesign

crystal : @kaytmoats

QUEEN OF CUPS

queen of cups :

introspective, psychic, loving, compassionate, honest, healing, empathetic, psychic, mysterious, dramatic, melancholic, inventive

who is the queen of cups : the queen of cups looks directly into the deepest corners of our hearts. she is dreamy and intuitive and aligns with the diving principle of love, being a channel of light in all that she does. in her realm, we see the starts of the cosmos above her, a sacred mirror of her connection to Source energy. from a deep place of knowing, she lives her life with a sense of care for all who cross her path, always putting others before herself.

the queen of cups is a nurturing individual who is deeply attuned tot eh needs of others. her warm and tender personality will make you feel at home from the moment you meet her, and she gives advice freely and unconditionally, with love. this woman is real and won’t other with small talk or formalities, so expect to connect with her on the deepest of levels. it’s not uncommon for the queen of cups to be a natural healer, working her magic subconsciously through her creations of in actual musical or spiritual practices. the queen of cups expresses a deep wisdom from the unseen realms of spiritual insight [and may even have the ability to see into the sprit world]. she might appear quiet and shy but is highly intelligent and strong in her convictions. remember to be gentle with her heart, for she hurts easily.

the message behind the card : this card comes as an opportunity to nurture your relationships with others and to make time for celebratory gatherings. listen to your inner voice and psychic abilities. the manifestation of loving energy and soulful experience with the people in your life. creativity and expression in all of its glory. 

the cups are ruled by the heart. plain and simple. with this attachment comes sensitivity in all aspects of emotion, psychic awareness, and perception. intimacy is extremely important to this type in all relationships, whether platonic or romantic. the cups want to connect deeply with the people they care about and can sometimes overanalyze other’ opinions or actions. cups are intelligent dreamers and can spend a huge amount of time visualizing or wanting to escape from the stress of the real world. when they are not harnessing their creativity properly, they become prone to sadness, flakiness, or emotional detachment. cups are creative and artistic and love to express themselves in all areas of their life. they are extremely compassionate, empathetic individuals who are nurturing and caring toward others.

the cups rule our emotions and deal with love and spiritual consciousness. they tap into our subconscious mind, psychic abilities, relationships, and internal forces. the element of water is mutable and ever changing, which reflects the flow of our emotions and feelings.

vendors :

photographer+creator : @stephanie_bar

model : @carissa_macy

set designer+creative director : @blondeandblueboutique

makeupartist : @beautifulnightmarefx

hairstylist : @mollys_chair

threads : @sgstyleme

jewelry : @creadesigns

florals : @eastlinfloraldesign

crystal : @kaytmoats