wedding article

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

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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Why you should do an engagement session

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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! 

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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]! 

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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!

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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!”