Category Archives: wedding

engaged!! now what? 7 wedding planning tips from a photographer

Wedding planning tips by me, a photographer.

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Happy New Year and congratulations on getting engaged! It’s fairy tale romantic, until the gargantuan task of planning a wedding hits you. Fear not, what you perceive as big issues are just brimming with possibilities. You may not want to hear some of this, but trust me things will go more smoothly if you consider the following wedding planning tips.

  1. It’s not all about you and your dream wedding, at least not in every situation. Recently I had a bride who wanted to dress like a ‘boy’ but she didn’t, because she wanted to make her terminally ill dad happy by wearing a dress.

Let’s talk about moms. It is about them too, like it or not. They also want to look gorgeous, and they often have a dream of what the day will be like. Humor them. They love you more than you’ll ever know. Unless you have kids, then you know.

  1. Choosing a bridal party is often a sensitive task. Especially if you want a big group and you have a lot of friends. Personally, I think people will get over it. And in many cases, be relieved that they weren’t chosen. But don’t be surprised if someone outside of your bridal party ends up being your angel on your big day. There is always, always someone who comes out of the blue and saves the wedding day. It may be your sister or your maid of honor, but often it’s a random friend who sews your dress back together, who finds your earring, who decorates the last minute indoor setting plan B. Just appreciate it and know that angels do exist. Not wedding planning tips, but a fortuitous aspect to consider.

  2. Please please don’t fret about the weather. Just be zen about it, not just on the outside, but deeply. We all know that there’s nothing you can do to control the weather. I have been to dozens of too hot, too rainy weddings, and nothing was lost. Rain is like a special effect. So is fog and wind. Some of my prettiest pictures were from rainy weddings.

  3. Pick vendors you personally like. A snobby florist, a pushy photographer, and an inflexible caterer has no place in your special day. Save all your compromises for your loved ones, not vendors.

  4. Cut costs wherever possible, but realize that you will pay in other ways. Sanity, time and money. Pick two. Even if you’re uber-organized and can DIY like no other those projects are very time-consuming. If you love it, go for it! But beware of the dream that you can do all flowers yourself. Once, as guests were arriving at a wedding the bridal party was still arranging the centerpieces. Avoid that kind of hustling whenever possible. And know that everything takes more time than you think.

  5. Related to #5, don’t worry about every little detail. I hereby give you permission to dump those ideas you just saw on Pinterest. No, you don’t have to make cookies in a handmade bag as a parting gift for each guest. Before Pinterest, before the sea of wedding blogs, people still got married. Weddings don’t have to have a theme. I’ve gone to weddings where essentially nothing was done to the table settings. Just some nice cloth napkins and a simple centerpiece. And I’ve been to weddings that were more elaborate than the Taj Mahal. While it’s wonderful to have those special touches it’s not essential for a festive wedding.

  6. When things get stressful, repeat after me, HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHA! Don’t take it too seriously. Watch a lot of comedies on Netflix. I won’t go so far as to say your problems are first world problems, but they are. Remember what you’re doing, marrying that love of your life, that person who is on the same team as you, who will always go up to bat for you. Now knock it out of the park and happy wedding planning. Call if you have any further questions or would actually like solicited advice.

Bonus piece of advice. Dress for the season, and make sure your shoes are comfortable or at least broken in.

Coffee Love at Astro Coffee

This is one of my favorite engagement portraits of all time. It took place at Astro Coffee, a wonderful little spot in the Corktown district of Detroit. Corktown happens to be a small, up and coming so to speak, neighborhood. It’s uncharacteristically filled with colorful Victorian Houses. Astro Coffee is not just for locals; people come from far and wide to visit this cozy little café. I didn’t try to coffee, but it took a while to make a cappuccino. That’s a sign that it’s great coffee, no? I loved the lighting and decor. After that, we went to Supino’s Pizza, at my suggestion. (Pleading?) As a New Yorker, or at least honorary since I lived there for so many years, I can say that Supino is just as good as the best NYC pizza place. Viva la slice.

wedding venue northampton ma union station

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s Amore!

Wedding venue Northampton MA Union Station.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I wanted to re-iterate how very lovely Union Station is for holding an event or wedding. It’s the real deal, the original wonderful station for this original wonderful town. If you find yourself searching for a wedding venue Northampton MA this is one to consider.

Corey’s new there, and he organizes events. He’s professional and kind. You’ll very likely enjoy working with him.

The DJ for this wedding was also very nice, though his name escapes me. I think he said he’s on thumbtack.

Abbey Chappel at Mount Holyoke College is amazing as always. I do admit that that campus is superior to my alma mater’s, Smith. I do have a special love for Helen Hills Hills (sic) Chapel. But I digress.

Last but not least, the couple. Oh my goodness. Couldn’t have possibly been more lovely and nice to work with. The end of the night included an Italian music set. First, the noodle roni song, very festive. Then That’s Amore … the bride happened to be hugging her grandma, and when that song began, they held their embrace. The crowd noticed and formed a circle around them. It became an impromptu bride/grandmother dance. Just thinking about it gets me all teary-eyed. How people could not love photographing weddings, when things like this happen, is beyond me. These are the most important things to experience, and photograph. It’s what makes us human. I was close to both of my grandmother’s so this dance was especially sweet for me.

Speaking of sweets, I ate two cannolis (pictured) but could have easily gone for more. If you hire me, I make sure to put, “allowed to eat cannolis” in my contract.

Valley View Farm, a new Northampton wedding venue

Valley View Farm, Haydenville, MA

I am based in Northampton, and I photograph a lot of things, including weddings. There are a lot of lovely venues here, but it seems like the area is growing, and that there’s a need for more choices for couples.

I discovered a new venue, Valley View Farm two weeks ago.

It’s in Haydenville, just a few minutes from Northampton. I drove up a hill, and of course said to myself, “Oh that’s why they call it Valley View.” It’s a family run business. You’ll see pictures in this gallery, sprinkled in, of the couple, wife in a cool hat and on the golf cart, husband with a Paul Newman vibe pictured separately with his spouse, daughter and watering can. Kids — a boy and a girl, and employees, whom they appear to treat like family. You’ll see how warm and fuzzy the whole place is: an employee posed with the kids.

It’s hard to call the place new. It’s an old farm. What’s new is that the barns have been moved from other locations and reassembled. It feels like more than a barn wedding venue, because the grounds have several usable spaces: The farm house where people can get ready, and incidentally there’s a museum of furniture on the main level. On the wrap around front porch there’s an antique scale, pictured below and a highlight for me. There’s the main barn, with a place called Love Nest up a loft type stairwell with a big sliding door entrance. Inside Love Nest, you enter into a lush living room with deep velvets and haunting portraits in guilded frames. It offers natural light, though it’s dark —  really really wonderful place for pictures. And totally original to this region. A good place for bridal parties to congregate and prepare. There’s also an open barn, which the owners say they may protect from wind and rain in the future. This is a perfect place for ceremonies, offering valley views.

Horses graze near a red stable, fire pits blaze on the huge patio, and the barn carves a beautiful shape into whatever sky you may have the day of your wedding. It’s overall a great place.

Okay, enough is enough about the venue. The couple, and their adorable seven year old, in addition to friends and family were the true highlight of the day. That’s how it always is for weddings, and that is why after so many years I continue to photograph them. I loved working with them and getting to know them.

For food, they chose a food truck from Mission Cantina. They affectionately call the truck Tacotina. It was amazing. Such great Mexican food. Worth the drive for me from Northampton to Amherst every time.

Spinning was Chris from Cloud Nine Productions. Hope you like Motown, I do. He’s very kind and friendly and pictured below in a fuschia shirt.

 

 

hotel northampton wedding july 2017

This Hotel Northampton wedding gave me a new appreciation for the place. The last wedding I photographed there in October offered me little light to show off the beauty that the huge windows offer. This summer, I barely used a flash at all in the atrium, in the lobby and even in the “Grand Ballroom.” I was able to see the details of the historical hotel.

The bride is exuberant in nearly every single picture. I don’t think I even took a picture of her when she didn’t look like she was floating on air with happiness.

I made sure to include some pictures of the lovely town of Northampton, MA. The picture of her on the balcony of her room is one of my favorites.

I always like to take pictures at night, something most people forget to do because they’re in full dance mode. The couples are always to have a break and get some fresh air for a couple of minutes. The town is lively at night. The pretty turn of the century patterns along the street are especially nice at night.

The bride got ready in one of the rooms, which featured a big round window and two story high ceilings and balcony (pictured).

They had a traditional Mass at Elizabeth Ann Seton parish on King Street, just steps from the hotel.

One of the best things about photographing weddings is getting to know the key players: the wedding party, the family and cherished friends. The family was especially nice. The mom of the groom is pictured below serving me a cup of ice water. What a sweet lady. The brother of the groom got me a candy bar from the corner store. What a sweet guy.

 

 

Hotel Northampton wedding  July 2017

red barn at hampshire college wedding

The Red Barn at Hampshire College Wedding July 2017

This wonderful Wedding at The Red Barn at Hampshire College was my second at this venue. The grounds are perfect. A majestic oak tree is where the couples say their vows. The tree reminds us of all of the beauty and strength of the natural world. It protects the couple and it empowers the words of the ceremony. It really is breathtaking.

It’s a bit of a walk to the tree especially for people wearing heels so there’s a golf cart to bring people.

The catering is always great. I heard  it was Seth Mias. He does catering in the area for Smith College events and many many more. There were delicious potatoes, grilled vegetables, fish, and most tasty butternut squash ravioli with walnuts.

There’s a permanent Cornhole set that guests enjoy. Reminds me of my days in Michigan and Ohio.

I wish I knew who did the flowers and cake, because as you can see from the many photos, I really liked them.

There’s always something very unique about every couple. This bride looked adorable and pretty in her choice of tea length dress, crown of flowers, and floral pumps.

And the barn, oh the barn. One of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. That warm, old wood. They cut out these cool windows to create pictures of the landscape.

The DJ was Northampton’s own Joan Holliday from the River. A station that is located just steps away from my new home. She, like me, loves special weddings such as this one.

 

union station northampton ma

Union Station Northampton MA

I shot a beautiful wedding a few weeks back, before the sweet sixteen party on Long Island, NY.

The couple took pictures at the Quad at Smith College. The bride lived at Martha Wilson House. I lived in the Quad as an undergrad and didn’t appreciate how very pretty and harmonious it is. The pictures are coming soon. It’s crazy season for me and I have little time for anything at all.

It was the first time I’d been to Union Station. It’s beautiful. Not too big, not too small, warm, with a gigantic fireplace.

Hope I’ll be able to shoot there more often. Besides fields and farms, it’s for sure the prettiest location in Western Mass that I’ve seen.

In other news, my sweet kindergartener just graduated. We had a party at Look Park (another great place for weddings by the way). It was the sweetest thing needless to say. The kids played at the waterpark and I took pictures with my new-to-me 1968 Hasselblad, a camera that I bought on Ebay. Nobody had ever used it before. It came with all the trimmings including the original aluminum case. Some things I had to take the original wrapping off. I’m still pinching myself that I have it.

Happy Summer, Everyone!

 

Hotel Northampton wedding

This is the first time I photographed a Hotel Northampton wedding. I’d photographed several small weddings at the Hotel, some taking place in the bridal suites, some just for the getting ready portion of the weddings, and one on the porch of a hotel room. But never had I photographed a whole wedding, a big banquet style wedding at the beautiful, historical hotel.

I had a lot of obligations but I tried to at once photograph the couple wherever they were, and highlight the beauty of the hotel and surrounding town. In my view, the most lovely part of the hotel is the portion perhaps called the atrium, or front porch. They do a great job of placing beautiful plants throughout. The large windows offer nice lighting and views of the vibrant outdoor life of Northampton. And there’s adequate, comfortable cushioned benches on which people can relax and enjoy themselves.and then there’s this beautiful cake:

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Also very beautiful is the banquet room. At first it seemed sort of stuffy, but in pictures, it conveyed a classic historical New England-y charm:

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Also of special note was the outward excitement and happiness conveyed by the groom. He was so excited about marrying the bride, he just couldn’t contain himself. As someone who photographs lots of weddings, it’s especially adorable to see a groom such as this…… additional photos of the adorable mother-of-the-groom-with-groom and with friends, as well.

img_8563 img_8558 img_0151 img_8955 img_8963-2 img_8994-2 img_9076Of course weddings are about the couple, and also of the bride. This bride reminded me of myself 20 years ago. But she has an Audrey Hepburn vibe that was a pleasure to capture in pictures. The bride had the Classic Hollywood style, yet she is a huge fan of Blink 182 and the like. An original combination, illustrated by the classic beautiful portraits, and the pointy blacky-red manicure and studded platform shoes. See for yourself.

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When I met the couple, they were concerned with the late ceremony and early sunset. The lady at the Hotel, encouraged them to get the pictures done ahead of time. But they didn’t want to see each other before the ceremony. I assured them that we’d get some outdoor photos, and even some fun night time pictures. And so they waited to see each other and came outside on that iconic Northampton crosswalk. Yes, that crosswalk that everyone loves, at night……

And lastly, some random photos. A cats with hat coloring book that the bridesmaids colored in while waiting for hair and make-up, a bridesmaid on the ground whose broken zipper had to be repaired on the spot. Alternative shoes for the groom. A happy mother of the bride. A Hotel Northampton doormat. My signature elevator picture. And some Northampton photos.

 

Central Park Shakespeare Garden wedding

Central Park Shakespeare Garden wedding

Mr. Shakes would have been proud. Every time I photograph a wedding in Central Park, NYC, and I do this often, I am in awe of the beauty and magic of the places. This was a wedding from a while back, that I haven’t gotten around to blogging about. Why? Because the father of the bride is a photographer, and I gave him the RAW files. So editing wasn’t first on my list. But I did, and there are a few observations that make this wedding special. Seriously special.

The first thing is that they were an excessively kind and nice group of people. Now, all my brides and grooms are nice, but few insist, after my job is over, that I come to the Plaza Hotel Palm Court for cocktails, and insist that I join them for dinner at Tavern on the Green. This wasn’t a large group, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. I had to be there. Kindness. Thank you!

First, the fairy tale beauty of Central Park (and before that the Roosevelt Hotel):

Here are pictures of the couple in front of the Plaza, facing 5th Avenue:

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Some quirky things…. I always take pictures in elevators….

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Father of the bride writing me a check on the bride’s back:

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Peter Boruchowitz,

Wedding officiant, and his lovely smile:

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Not to be ignored, this group did something amazing. They stopped in the crosstown tunnel in Central Park to get out of the car and go up the stairs to their wedding. Now, I am a local, and I wouldn’t have dreamed of stopping a car on the busy street. But they did, and it worked out just fine. I discovered something that I have never noticed in all the years in NYC: the stone staircase. I have always marveled at the tunnel, but never knew about the staircase:

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Another thing that I love from this wedding is the pictures from and involving the car. It’s a special time, and many photographers forget about it:

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Columbus Circle:

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future’s so bright

The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

Enjoy this song while I go on…..

This was a tent wedding on the property of the parents of the bride. I am a huge fan of tent weddings. Backyard weddings. I appreciate all of the love and work that goes into making an event such as this happen.

We met before the wedding and they actually asked me which way the ceremony should be facing.  I replied that while it would be back lit, the pictures would be colorful, and glowing with sun speckles, glare spots and sparkling light. It wouldn’t be a straightforward image, but it would be much more interesting and magical than if we were faced the other way. And, there were beautiful flowers in that direction.

Here, you will see why I chose not to photograph in the other direction. While people might think direct sun is nice, and sometimes it is, it didn’t work in this situation. The light was bright. The couple would have been squinting the whole time. The sun would have been in their eyes and they would have been distracted during one of the most important moments of their life, and as you can see, half of the scene would have been in the shade. Here’s what not to do below:

The family and couple seemed to understand right away, and I’m happy they did. Their garden was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The day was a perfect break from the oppressive heat of just a few days before. I loved every bit of this wedding, from the bonding of the families of the bride and groom, to the setting, to the heater inside the tent, to the expansive Indian buffet by Bombay Royale.

Without further ado, enjoy the sparkle of the day:

Oh! and before I go, I’d like to say that it was very nice to meet the DJ and Planner, Fern!