Emily + Mike | Long Beach Island

t h e s t o r y o f e m i l y a n d m i k e

Michael and I met a long time ago.  Our families were wrestling and field hockey friends. Mike wrestled at Rider University and I played field hockey at Indiana University. My dad was a long time wrestling coach at Rancocas Valley HS and his mom was the Executive Director of USA Field Hockey.  

Our paths crossed quite a bit. We connected through my youngest brother. It was his senior year in high school and Mike wanted to get updates on his matches. We eventually met up at the historical NJSIAA HS State Wrestling Tournament in Atlantic City. After watching wrestling all day we danced to Brown Eyed Girl at the Bally’s Casino. From that moment on we knew our connection was more than wrestling. Not you average romance story,  but it is ours. Wrestling has been a part of our lives since we were born. 

Michael proposed at our first date location in Beach Haven New Jersey at the Engleside Inn Restaurant on Christmas Eve. Whenever we eat there now it’s a friendly reminder of where we began. 

Mike and I have had the it factor since day one. He may or may not know this but I was so in love right when we met. When our families connected that was it. Mike is home for me just as much as New Jersey is. ♥️

Venue : Little Egg Yacht Club

Florist : A Rose in December

Dress : Grace loves Lace

Shoes : Seychelles Footwear

Jewelry : West Village Tribe [bracelet/necklace]

Hair : Billie Curtis

Bridesmaid’s dresses : Show me your mumu

Band : Captain Eric and the Shipwrecks

Bar : Barrel Mobile Bar

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

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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.

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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.

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Sarah + DJ | Eagle Manor | Fairton NJ

“I really can’t say enough good things about having Stephanie as my photographer for my wedding day!! Her photos speak for themselves [they are amazing!!] but what you don’t see from the photos is how amazing Stephanie is to work with. She made the entire day, and experience go so smoothly! She made me, DJ, all my friends, and family feel so at ease and comfortable in front of the camera. [I know because they all told me multiple times after the wedding how much they loved working with Stephanie!] Stephanie was so organized and professional to work with but also felt like a friend who was meant to be part of the day. She made us laugh and kept it fun [even if it was freezing cold and 30mph winds], she even put up with the groomsmans silly antics [trying to include a creepy doll in our wedding photos] without missing a beat. I seriously couldn’t have picked a better photographer for our wedding day!!” -Sarah R

Rebecca + Ben | Indian Springs Country Club | Marlton NJ

“I feel like I made a friend through Stephanie. Not only did she make me feel so comfortable and beautiful, she also made Ben feel right at home. She did an amazing job throughout the day! There was a little confusion on transportation and SHE drove not only me but MY MOM to the venue too! My heart felt so happy at that moment! I knew she was something different than any other photographer I’ve ever met! She was understand of our wants from the day. My girl, just right on the dance floor with us! 

My family couldn’t get enough of her. Even days after the wedding, my family is still talking about Stephanie. everyone single person who saw her working was obsessed & I don’t blame them! I was so taken back, she was organized, friendly, bubbly. She make us laugh, cry [good tears obvi], literally everything under the sun!

But outside of all this, she was just such a kind hearted & caring individual! I mean she helped my mom fix my dress, when it magically broke out of nowhere. I couldn’t ask for a better person? You just can’t. She’s perfect! “ -Rebecca S

“She’s truly in a class of her own” -Ben S

Deana + Drew | Terrain Cafe | Glen Mills Pennsylvania

“We want to start this by giving a huge thank you to Stephanie and Madison for photographing our wedding. From our very first meeting, we knew Stephanie had the right vision and style for the rustic Terrain wedding we were planning. Stephanie stayed in touch during the planning process which made us feel supported up until the big day. The morning of the wedding both girls fit right in at our parent's houses, capturing the feel of family and excitement. Our first look was arranged perfectly and we truly cannot wait to see our pictures to relive the entire day. Stephanie was incredibly professional but at the same time had us laughing throughout the day.  Both sides of the wedding party commented on how much of a perfect fit she was. Stephanie, you really exceeded our expectations and we really cannot thank you enough! We highly recommend Stephanie as a wedding photographer. She was incredible! xoxo, Deana and Drew”

-Deana C

Melanie + Ryan | Jackson Lake Lodge | Grand Teton National Park | Wyoming

Stephanie has been my cousin's best friend for a life time. She is very familiar with my family having captured two of my [other] cousin's weddings. I've watched her work develop over the years and it has gotten so amazing that as soon as we got engaged I just knew she had to be our photographer. It was the one expense we were willing to go all out for and we are beyond glad we did. She came out to Wyoming to photograph our National Park wedding and even though the weather didn't cooperate, we know she still got fantastic shots. Stephanie was amazing the whole day, hitting all the key pictures even though she was flying solo! My mom made a comment that when she saw something she thought would be a great picture, she would turn to Stephanie already snapping away. She was on the floor with us all night, dancing and catching all these cherished [and some inappropriate] memories. She was exactly what we wanted as a photographer and I wouldn't trade her work for anything. We will absolutely use her again for all the years to come. -Melanie R