Historic Smithville Mansion Engagement Photos | Kandice & Barry

Kandice and Barry are a super sweet couple, so I knew they'd be a pleasure to work with.  We first met at their home to chat all about their wedding at the Versailles Ballroom (one of my favorites!) and I got to meet their equally sweet, but a little more hyper, furbaby Reese.  They brought Reese along for the fun at their fall engagement session to get a few family shots with her before she got to rest while the three of us explored more of the Smithville Mansion property.  I am seriously in love with this place and it's now one of my new favorites!  It has variety, gorgeous old buildings and beautifully landscaped grounds perfect for any kind of shoot.  The bonus was that we had the best fall weather.  I'm so excited to work with Kandice and Barry again next September on their big day!

Forked River Summer Sailboat Cruise Proposal | Matthew & Jocelyn

To say that Matthew put a lot of thought into asking his then-girlfriend to marry him this summer was an understatement.  He reached out to me months in advance to craft the perfect proposal and kept me updated through many calls and emails as the details were set in place.  The original thought was to convince Jocelyn to go to the Jersey Shore on her birthday weekend and go for a boat ride, in which Matthew would operate the boat.  I'd stay behind at the Captain's Inn, where he'd have family and friends waiting to surprise her later, and photograph his proposal when they pulled into the dock after their cruise.

As the nerves began to build up as it got closer to the big day, Matthew pulled the plug on the original plan and went even bigger... he hired Captain Dave of Jersey Coastal Adventures to charter his 35-foot sailboat and invited me along for the ride!  The new plot... his parents won a raffle that included a sailboat cruise for two with a photographer on board to capture it.  He created a fake email account to go along with the gift certificate and booked the cruise for the morning after her birthday, and we were set to sail!

But, before any of this could happen, Matthew needed a ring.  And, he went all out there too!  The ring he'd place on Jocelyn's finger when she said yes was not going to be just any engagement ring.  It would be customized and have so much meaning behind it.  The ring once belonged to Matthew's Great Grandma Pearl and he had it completely restored by hand by a specialist in Seattle. He combined that with two small diamonds from Jocelyn's bat mitzvah bracelet and finished it off with both his great grandparents initials and his and Jocelyn's initials hand engraved inside the ring.

On the big day, we were blessed with beautiful overcast weather as Matthew and Jocelyn boarded the North Star for our little voyage.  It was hard to pretend like I was just meeting Matthew for the first time, but I think we pulled it off pretty well.  We secretly planned out the best location for the proposal and, after some very sweet words, he got down on one knee at the bow of the boat and asked Jocelyn to be his wife.  The rest of the time at sea was spent taking some casual photos and chatting all things weddings, as Matthew revealed all of the secrets that went into his master plan to his new fiancé.

But, the proposal wasn't the only surprise waiting for Jocelyn that day... As we approached the Captain's Inn to dock, she was greeted by many of their friends and family for a party full of great food, a candy bar (Matthew hand etched all of the mason jars) and a cake provided by A Sweet Memory featuring one of the photos I captured less than 2 hours prior.  Thank you to the Sweet Memory team for pulling that off!

Matthew and Jocelyn are set to get married in February 2016 at an amazing venue and I can't wait to capture it!  This time, with a lot less sneaking around. :)

Fall Engagement Photos at Laurita Winery | Courtney & Chris

I've known Courtney for as long as I can remember.  We grew up around the corner from each other and I later was her Pop Warner cheerleading demonstrator before we cheered on the same high school team together.  When I heard about her surprise proposal in the snow last winter, I was so excited for her!  I was even more excited when we later met up to chat all about Chris and Courtney's upcoming winery wedding at Laurita Winery... the location we also got to use for their engagement photos!  

We met up on a sunny early fall afternoon and the winery was packed.  In between passersby, we got some great shots and enjoyed chatting all about the details of their wedding plans.  These two came prepared with an outfit change and looked absolutely adorable in their coordinating fall wardrobe.  And Courtney's hair was on point... it's seriously perfection.  The poor girl can't go anywhere without people commenting on it or asking to touch it!

Courtney and Chris were nervous at the start of their engagement session, as most subjects are being photographed for the first time, but you would never know it because they look so naturally comfortable and happy.  I can't wait to celebrate these two at their Laurita Winery wedding next year!

Baseball Themed Engagement Session at Lakewood BlueClaws Stadium | Kate & Bob

Baseball Themed Engagement Session at Lakewood BlueClaws Stadium | Kate & Bob

I always get excited when I see a familiar face come through with an inquiry about a wedding.  I didn't know Katelyn too well growing up, even though we were always in the same homeroom classes with last names so close in the alphabet.  We were both the shy, quiet type back then, but after I met up with Kate and her fiancé Bob at a local coffee shop, I could tell that's changed for both of us since high school.  We chatted about our upcoming weddings, our love for Denver, and their incredible proposal story about the picture perfect moment when Bob asked Kate to marry him while they were traveling there this July.  

 

Preparing for Your Engagement Session | What to Expect | New Jersey Engagement Photographer

Did you recently get engaged and you're considering whether or not you'd like to have engagement photos taken?  Or did you schedule your engagement session already, but you're not sure what to do next?  Read on below for some tips on preparing for your "e-session"!

When to Schedule Your Engagement Session

While there's no mandatory time to hold your engagement session, if you'll be using your engagement photos in your Save the Date design, it's ideal to hold your session at least 9 months prior to your wedding date.  This will ensure that you receive your digital images from your photographer with enough time to order your Save the Dates and get them in the mail to your guests at least 8 months before the big day.  If you need some recommendations for Save the Date designs, or you'd like something custom made up, I can help you there!  Often, I work with clients to design their Save the Dates incorporating their e-session images and they use their session print credit towards the purchase of them.

The best times of day for an engagement session are within two hours of sunrise or sunset.  If you're not sure when that is on the date you have in mind, you can look it up online or ask your photographer.  I'm always in tune with those times, and my booking software even automatically tells me as I schedule with my clients... that's how important that magical "golden hour" light is!

 
These two chose a location for their engagement photos that was so close to their venue, that we were able to recreate some of these images on their wedding day too!

These two chose a location for their engagement photos that was so close to their venue, that we were able to recreate some of these images on their wedding day too!

 

Selecting the Perfect Location

Is there a certain place that holds meaning to you and your fiance?  Maybe the location of your first date, the spot he proposed, or a place you like to spend a lot of time at together.  Holding your engagement session somewhere that is meaningful to you would add an extra personal touch to your images.  These photos are meant to document your special and unique relationship.

Another important tip that is often overlooked when selecting an engagement session location is the following: consider your home decor.  After all, your beautiful images are intended to be printed and framed where you can enjoy them in your home for years to come.  So, think about your home's color schemes and style when considering a location that will set the mood for your photos.

One final consideration regarding location is your wedding day theme.  Are you going for a nautical vibe?  Maybe hold your session at a local marina or yacht club to tie in your theme, like Krystee and TJ did with their Tuckerton Seaport engagement session.  Will your wedding be at a barn or other rustic venue?  Find a more historic spot with character like Chelsea and Dan's Batsto Village engagement session.

 
These two chose a local seaport for their e-session to go along with their upcoming yacht club wedding venue.

These two chose a local seaport for their e-session to go along with their upcoming yacht club wedding venue.

 

What to Wear for Your Engagement Session

Similar to location choice, your clothing selection should say something about who you are and vibe with the setting you're in.  Stick to what you would wear naturally.  The more comfortable you feel in what you're wearing, the more it will reflect in your images.  Not many people are "naturals" in front of the camera, and it can take a little bit to get warmed up to.  If you add an unflattering outfit or a new pair of uncomfortable heels to the mix, it will make for a less pleasant experience!

When it comes to wardrobe, think neutral and classic with a pop of color and avoid too many crazy patterns.  I typically recommend that only one person sport some stripes or plaid, while the other's color selection is pulled from the colors in that pattern.  You can go casual or fancy, or bring along a change of clothes to switch things up midway through your session!

 
Lindsay and Lewis chose complimenting outfits and Lindsay added a pop of pattern in her scarf.

Lindsay and Lewis chose complimenting outfits and Lindsay added a pop of pattern in her scarf.

 

How to Plan for Your Engagement Session

It's an excuse to get dolled up!  Take advantage of this time to test out a potential future hairstylist or makeup artist for your wedding day by scheduling your hair or makeup trial for the day of your engagement session.  It will help you feel more confident in front of the camera if you look your best.

It's also an excuse to go shopping!  Getting in front of the camera is also a good reason to go to your favorite store and pick up a new outfit or two and a few accessories.  Have both of your outfit options pre-planned and ready to go before the date of your session so you're less stressed the day of.  If you're ever unsure of your selections, you can always send over a few photos of what you've put together to your photographer for approval.

Bring along a prop or two.  There's no requirement that you bring anything but yourselves to your engagement session since, after all, it's all about you two.  But, if you have a certain vision in mind or you want to incorporate something special to you, feel free to bring some props along!

Get your bling cleaned.  Whether you do it at home or bring it to your jeweler, don't forget to get that stunner on your left ring finger cleaned up and sparkling before your session!  Just like yourself, you want your ring to look its best for its close-ups.

Dom had a little help from his dog when he proposed to Renee, so they brought along the dog collar he designed for when he popped the question.

Dom had a little help from his dog when he proposed to Renee, so they brought along the dog collar he designed for when he popped the question.

Don't forget to get your ring cleaned so it's ready for it's big photography debut!

Don't forget to get your ring cleaned so it's ready for it's big photography debut!

What to Expect During Your Session

A typical engagement session lasts between one and two hours.  During this time, you can expect to be yourselves, have a lot of fun, and come away with some beautiful photos of you two to share with family and friends!

If you're recently engaged and want to find out more information about scheduling an engagement session in the New Jersey area (I travel too!), reach out to Nicole by filling out this form.

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