Tips & Tricks: Engagement Photos
as many of you know, ryan and i got married about two months ago, so we took our engagement photos quite a while ago. this is a post i've been meaning to write for quite some time!
after we got engaged, i knew I wanted to take engagement pictures. i always wanted the "pinterest perfect" photos of me and my fiance. i knew i wanted something like this...
what i didn't know (or expect) was what it would be like to scroll through about 900 photos...some good, some great, and some bad. this post is to give newly-engaged people some advice about taking engagement pictures (and to calm any nerves you may have!)
before i really dive in, i want to say how much ryan and i absolutely loved our photographer, alex kaplan; they were fantastic and we would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a wedding photographer!
here's eight tips and tricks we have for you! enjoy!
number one: don't worry about coming up with poses!
before we arrived at our photoshoot, i was nervous. i've never taken photos like this before so i had no idea what to expect. but, the photographer will literally tell you exactly what to do. when ryan and i got there, we walked out onto the grass and blankly said, "uhh...what should we do?" immediately, the photographers told us how to position ourselves. they tell you where to look, whether or not to smile, where to put your hands, etc.
number two: for every beautiful photo a couple posts to instagram, there's 200 bad ones
social media is very DECEIVING. we all know that social media is completely curated to display people looking their absolute best. what we don't see is the pictures of people blinking or sneezing or just being flat out awkward. to ease any nerves you may have, here's a few of our absolute gems from the photoshoot. these guys DEFINITELY didn't make it to social media...(don't make fun of us!)
number three: don't worry about props; it's not worth it
i blame pinterest for this one as well. i saw so many cute pictures online where the couple brought really cute props to feature in their photos. some were the date they were getting married to use for the save the date; others were just sweet additions to the photo. the thing about this is that props generally don't come cheap and who knows if you'll even like the picture.
number four: pets don't always cooperate
if you know ryan and i, you know how obsessed we are with our dog, amber. throughout our engagement, we toyed with the idea of involving her in the ceremony. (we opted not to; she's nuts and it would have been a disaster.) so, we wanted to take some of our engagement pictures with her in it.
here's what they don't tell you: dogs don't always cooperate. first, i didn't think of what we would do with her when she wasn't posing in the picture. we ended up having to tie her up on a cable close by, which she didn't love. she barked for a solid 20 minutes throughout the time. then, when she was actually in a photo, she was too consumed looking for squirrels or sniffing around. our advice would be to involve the pet if it's super important to you, but don't have extremely high expectations for them.
number five: it's weird to see yourself kissing
not only is it weird to see myself kissing, but it's weird to see what i look like all different angles. the thing about engagement pictures for us was that it was the first time that we've ever seen this many photos of us in so many different ways. we're used to seeing straight on pictures of us smiling directly at the camera at a birthday party or smiling from our seat at a restaurant with a group of friends. so, looking though 900 photos was a little uncomfortable at first. i'm not going to lie; the first time i looked through them, i only liked very few of them, mostly just because it was something totally new TO ME. the more we looked through them, the more comfortable we got and we realized we loved a ton of them.
ryan and i talked about this a lot throughout our engagement and after our wedding. after looking through our couple thousand wedding pictures, we thought it would have been a much different experience if we hadn't already looked through our engagement pictures. we got the "whoa, that's what i my nose looks like from the side?" and were ready to simply enjoy our wedding photos.
number six: be comfortable
be comfortable. i mean this in so many ways. be comfortable with what you're wearing, with where you are, with who you're with, etc. we chose to take our engagement pictures at the lake in ryan's childhood neighborhood, across the street from his parents' house. we would have felt completely out of place in the city or surrounded by a bunch of strangers at the beach, so this was ideal.
we wore clothes that we were comfortable in and i did my hair and makeup in a way that felt normal to me. (i even had a glass of wine while we got ready because it made the day feel more fun!) i think trying something totally new before engagement pictures would be a risky idea, but that's just me!
number seven: think about the vision of your wedding
if you're planning on doing save the dates, using an engagement picture would be fantastic! think about the vision you have for your wedding. will it be super formal or more organic? rustic? daytime? nighttime? think about the elements that will make it "yours" and try to incorporate it into your engagement photos. we knew we were getting married at the lake valhalla club, which is a beautiful lakeside venue in montville, nj that has huge fireplaces, floor-to-ceiling windows, and wood floors. taking our engagement photos by the lake was perfect and matched our vision well!
number eight: have fun!
most importantly, have fun! getting engaged is a super exciting part of your life! being engaged is also exciting, but it's lots of work to plan the wedding, so remember to really enjoy your engagement pictures. the camera will capture the love you have for one another, so just try to be as comfortable as you can and have a wonderful time!
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! IF YOU'RE RECENTLY ENGAGED, CONGRATULATIONS! ENJOY THE PROCESS AND HAVE A BLAST TAKING YOUR PICTURES!
BEFORE I GO...HERE'S A FEW OF MY FAVORITES FROM OUR SHOOT:
THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!
"Peaks" of Orlando
Something my college roommates and I used to do that I continue to do now with my boyfriend and family are "peak" and "pits" The "peak" is the best part of your day, weekend, vacation, etc. and the "pit" is obviously the worst. So, I decided to put together a list of "peaks" of our amazing family vacation to Orlando for this year.
Peak 1: Sanaa's Indian Style Bread Service
Our flight was supposed to leave at 7:10 in the morning. We boarded around 6:30am and didn't take off until about three hours later. Needless to say, it was a long day. When we finally arrived, we stopped in Disney Springs for lunch, checked in at our hotel, relaxed for a bit, and headed to our first Disney dinner at Animal Kingdom. We went to an African-inspired restaurant, called Sanaa, where we ordered a bread service to split as an appetizer. It came with various types of naan bread and nine different "sauces", ranging from mango chutney to garlic pickle. It was AMAZING. We were lucky to have gotten the opportunity to try such unique food.
Peak 2: Poolside Pina Coladas
Our first two days in Orlando were pretty relaxing (the long days at the park started later in the week). We went with a total of 17 people. Some days, we were all together; other days, we were split up doing our own thing. On Monday and Tuesday. Ryan golfed in the morning and then we went to the pool for the afternoon. We enjoyed tasty summer drinks, went jet skiing, and relaxed in the pool.
Peak 3: Hollywood Studios with Mom & the Cousins
Since my cousins live in Colorado and California, it's rare that we're all together. So, I was very thankful to have this trip to spend some time together with them. We all got to Hollywood Studios before it opened so we could make the most of the day. We headed to Toy Story Mania first. The other big hits of the day was the Rock n' Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror, of course. I especially like this picture of the Tower of Terror of us.
Peak 4: Our Big Italian Dinner
On Wednesday night, 19 of us enjoyed dinner in a private room. As I've said, it's so rare that my whole family is together. This 19 makes up my mom's whole side of the family. It was a great night with AMAZING food. (And it was the first time I sat at the "adult table"...ahhh.) After dinner, we took advantage of the fact that we were all together and took pictures together. I'd say it's safe to say that this is a favorite of everyone.
Peak 5: Magic Kingdom Wishes Firework Dessert Party
Thursday was a long day at Magic Kingdom. Knowing we would be staying until almost midnight, we arrived around 10am, when it instantly started pouring. After the rain, we enjoyed all of the big rides and shows of the day along with a great lunch at Be Our Guest. After a light dinner, we headed to the Wishes Firework Dessert Party, which was INCREDIBLE. We entered an outdoor venue and were greeted with glasses of "champagne" (aka cider) and proceeded to our table. The black table clothes with pretty lights was perfect, especially right next to Cinderella's Castle. The dessert party included a cookie bar, an ice cream bar, and an entire Viennese table of desserts. After indulging in the desserts, it was time for the front row seats to the fireworks. It was a great night. We're so thankful our parents included us in this! Thanks, Mom and Dad!
Peak 6: The Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom
On Friday, we headed to Animal Kingdom. When we arrived, we headed to the Festival of the Lion King Show, then to Expedition Everest. The rest of the day was spent walking looking at animals like gorillas and tigers, riding the Kali River Rapids, enjoying an African-inspired character buffet, and a Jungle Book Night Show. My absolute favorite part of the day, though, was the safari ride we took at dusk. (Shout out to my mom for knowing to go at dusk because the animals are more active!!!) We saw giraffes RUNNING, lions walking around, hippos, alligators, and more. It was awesome.
Peak 7: EPCOT
We've been to EPCOT before, but I've never appreciated it as much as I did on this trip. We started out the day by riding Soarin' and the Nemo ride. Then, we headed to the countries to taste the food and have some drinks. Ryan and I did our fair share of taste testing throughout the day.
Germany: Shared a bratwurst. Both got a beer.
Japan: Split sushi.
Morocco: Split small plates with family. (Lamb sausage, brie fondue, and garlic shrimp).
Mexico: Dinner with the family at San Angel Inn Restaurante
Peak 8: Chef Mickey's
One of my absolutely favorite things to do in Disney is Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort. We were lucky enough to get a reservation for all of us before our flight back home on Sunday. Chef Mickey's is a character buffet with excellent food. Knowing it was our last time to fully indulge on vacation, we all filled our plates with breakfast, lunch, and dessert.
Peak 9: Coming home to Amber!
It is a miracle I made it through the week without losing my mind because of how much I missed my dog daughter. If I didn't have her to come home to, it would have definitely made the trip home more devastating. Thankfully, I couldn't wait to see her again. We're reunited!
For months and months, I lived in a tree farm in North Jersey with all of the other Douglass Firs and Norway Spruces. The Friday after Thanksgiving, a blonde-haired, bearded man and a brunette with cheap blue aviators came and adopted me. Their names are Lisa and Ryan and I have no idea why they didn't just sleep in and enjoy the day after Thanksgiving off.
On the car ride home, the girl named me Kyle.
When we got back to their apartment, which is conveniently located next to Quick Chek and a liquor store, they arranged me in their barely-800 sq. foot apartment. Ryan had to give me a haircut so I could fit. They dressed me with white lights, silver garland, and their childhood ornaments as we listened to the Jazz Christmas station on Spotify. Quickly, they started placing beautifully wrapped gifts under me as their anticipation for Christmas grew stronger.
The month of December passed quickly as Lisa baked about 400 different varieties of cookies (only 5 of which were actually edible). On Christmas Eve, they shared a glass of wine and Lisa gave Ryan a handmade "Our First Christmas" ornament, which he immediately hung on my branch. Lisa wrote a letter to Santa (I'm not sure when she'll get too old for that habit) and they went to bed after falling asleep watching Elf.
When morning came, I sat quietly as they wished each other a Merry Christmas and began opening presents. They both got each other selfie sticks (for some reason) and worked way too hard to take a selfie with me in the background. I can't blame them though - I am quite handsome. It was a joy to watch them create their own traditions and to smell the french toast Lisa worked on in the kitchen before doing some last minute wrapping for family gifts.
They went to visit their families during the day, but returned to me at night as we all relaxed in the living room with the balsam pine Bath and Body Works candle. All was calm. All was bright.
After dreaming of the magic of Christmas during my days at the tree farm, I was lucky to have such a wonderful experience at their little apartment. Here's hoping that next year one of my brothers or sisters can enjoy an even better celebration with Lisa and Ryan.
Top Ten of 2015
As 2015 comes to a close, it's nice to think back on the year and all of the awesome things that happened. Here we go (in no particular order):
1. Moving out with Ryan.
It's been great. He's a keeper. Other than the fact that he leaves glassware and towels everywhere. I think I can deal. Plus, he's a really good cook.
2. Long weekend in Upstate New York with friends.
Such amazing memories with lots of fantastic people (and lots of fantastic wine tasting).
3. Being awarded Halsted Heisman Teacher of the Month.
Voted on by the students. Yay!
4. Waking up on Christmas morning with Ryan.
It was one of the most memorable Christmas days in a long, long time. I'm a lucky lady.
5. Playing in softball league with Dad, Ryan, and old friends from travel leagues.
Just like old times!
6. Inviting friends and family over to our apartment for the first time.
Now I understand why my mom would always want to clean before company...
7. Buying my first car.
And wanting to keep it perfectly clean forever. So much for no food or drink other than water.
8. Starting graduate school.
I'm one-sixth of the way done!
9. Being asked to be a bridesmaid for the first time.
Can't wait, Corine!!
10. Maintaining a positive relationship with my parents and watching it change and develop as I get older.
Overall, it's been a wonderful year. It's easy to sometimes let the monotony of the week get the best of you and to fall into a routine. Each day, I try to think of ways that "today will be exciting" and to create fun adventures to look forward to. I have been SO BLESSED to have such terrific and supportive people in my life. Looking forward to another excellent year with much more excitement.
What are your top ten moments?!
November in New Jersey means a few long weekends, especially for teachers. We get the first Thursday and Friday off because of the big convention down in Atlantic City. Instead of going to the convention, my friends and I decided it was time for a getaway, a mini vacation.
Ryan's amazing family has a cottage on Lake Cayuga in Aurora, NY. On Thursday night, we packed up our bags and started the four hour journey up there. Upon our almost 10pm arrival, it immediately meant a bonfire and a glass of Chardonnay. By Friday morning, all four couples had arrived and we were ready for the weekend. We left the cottage around 11am and began the wine tastings at all of the incredible wineries. By Sunday afternoon, Ryan and I had accumulated this small collection of wine bottles.
We were lucky to make stops at the Goose Watch Winery, Eleven Lakes Winery, Montezuma Winery, Heart and Hands (my personal favorite), Varick Winery & Country Store (where we ate our body weight in cheese dips and seasoned olive oils, as well as the Ithaca Beer Company, where we took a tour of the brewery and had an INCREDIBLE lunch.
If we weren't enjoying the wine, beer, and food, we were enjoying the bonfire and the views. It was so great to be right on the lake where we could take the canoe out at our leisure and lounge on the Adirondack chairs with a marshmallow at the end of a stick. We visited the Ithaca Falls on Saturday and finished the weekend with a yummy brunch at the Blue Water Grill in Skaneateles.
And if all of that wasn't enough, we got to spend some time with Ryan's cousins and aunts and uncles. Truly wonderful people.
As Ryan and I drove home late on Sunday afternoon, we thought about how lucky we were to have great friends and family to spend time with and already started planning the next trip. Can't wait!
Today, I went to ShopRite, which is big deal all by itself. I get anxious and lost and feel like people notice me turning left when I should be going right, steering my cart in random circles around the store while trying to locate the parmesan cheese. Ugh. I didn't help that the produce guy barked at me for putting the cucumber in the wrong colored bag today. Stressful.
As I turned another lost corner, looking for wraps, a very short old man wearing a black windbreaker stopped me to comment on my Long Beach Island grey sweatshirt. He talked for a moment about how he has family who lives there and that it's a nice place to go. Cool. I thought that was sufficient for a grocery store conversation with a stranger. Nope.
Next, it was the Mets hat I was wearing, which was apparently a major issue. He was a Yankee fan.
"Why are you a Mets fan?
"I'm not sure, because my dad is..."
"Well, why is your dad a Mets fan?"
The conversation lasted another fifteen minutes.
He talked about how I should have been a pharmacist because they make good money.
Or an accountant.
He asked why I don't have a plan for marriage and kids yet.
He very passionately talked about how the Kardashians and social media is ruining America.
He spoke negatively about programs for helping underprivileged children because he thinks it robs people by paying them next to nothing.
He did all of this not in a way where he was trying to come across as rude or disrespectful. Instead, it was much more of a bold outspoken grandpa giving his granddaughter advice.
He did tell me I had a nice smile. Thanks.
The whole time I worried about my frozen yogurt melting and how this conversation was going to come to an end.
Eventually, it did end. I paid and packed my car with the groceries. It wasn't until 15 minutes later in the car that I realized I didn't have the music on and I had been scrunching my eyebrows, deep in thought.
It wasn't that this guy made me angry. Instead, it was that I noticed I felt like I had to defend myself against everything he was saying. Why? Why did I care what a perfect stranger thought of me? I felt like I had to keep bringing things up that would impress him as if I needed his acceptance. He was impressed I was a math teacher, but seemed to think I could be doing something more than "just" teaching because there's not enough money in it. He said he's been to 48 states and 40 countries as I smiled and nodded.
I'm very proud of my life. I'm proud of the person I am and the life I have. I'm proud to be a teacher and to be living in my own apartment. Maybe I bumped into him for a reason. I'm not sure if I believe in that whole "everything happens for a reason" thing and that "people are brought into your life for a reason", but he's definitely made me think. He reminded me to be proud of who I am, regardless of what other people think. And hey, if anything else, he liked my smile, so there's that. The end.
Ryan and I moved in at the beginning of August, after an exhausting apartment-hunting process came to an end.
For the most part, it's been dandy. He likes to cook. I like to clean. He doesn't seem to mind my strange obsession with lighting candles and I don't mind his large collection of beer-making supplies. It's going well.
Before we moved in, we remember hearing people say, "Oh, you are going to learn so much about each other", "Good luck, you two!", and "You never really know someone until you've lived with them". All of these seemed to have an undertone that sounded a lot like "Noooo! Don't do it - it's scary to live with a significant other! RUN AWAY."
After a little over two months, we are both very happy living here together. Absolutely no blow out fights. We make pretty darn good roommates, if I say so myself.
What they don't tell you about living together is all of the stupid, little, just "living" stuff.
I heard about learning how to split bills appropriately. I was forewarned about the cleanliness of women verses the dirtiness of men (Ryan's not really that dirty, guys). I knew about being fair with chores. But, I missed the memo about what to do when I like to sleep in a freezing cold room, with the fan blasting on my face in the middle of October as his nose slowly forms icicles. No one told me about not being allowed to watch the Walking Dead until Ryan's in the other room because he doesn't like the noise of the walkers. (Read: I had to watch last Sunday's episode four days late.) And what happens when I like the lights on and he's trying to save money on the electric bill? Or when I swear there's a small part of our apartment that smells like ethnic food and he thinks I'm insane?
It's the little things they don't tell you.
Maybe I like living one way (sleeping in a 45 degree room at night after watching the Walking Dead and waking up by turning on all the lights) and he likes living another way. But, hey, it's working and it's lots of fun.
Here's to many more happy months living together and many more strange little things I was never told about before.
Dear Freshman, ENJOY IT. Love, Me.
My little sister just left for her freshman year of college. Barf. Only six years ago, she was a little twelve-year-old, helping to move me in. And now, she's OFF.
I just closed out my Facebook after scrolling through some pictures from college. Freshman year is, without a doubt, one of the most fun years in so many people's lives and I'd give anything to go back. Thinking of all the memories she will make this year, I'm pretty jealous.
You will sit at the campus cafeteria for five hours on a Sunday afternoon with a dozen friends, staying for lunch AND dinner. You will fling food across the table off a spoon and catch it in a cup. You'll grab the soft serve on the way out and play basketball with the rotten apples on the way to the dorms.
You will make a little 12 x 15 foot room your home with your new roommate, who would quickly become your best friend.
You will sneak back from the sweaty frat party into your dorm room and hope not to wake the RA. You will order a pizza at 2am and eat it on the floor, listening to country music.
You will create a ridiculously large (and ridiculously bad) Mickey Mouse when it snows for that long weekend and will invite over ten friends to watch one of those stupid scary movies. You will all cram on the two twin extra long mattresses that were lofted eight feet off the ground.
You will make friends with some upperclassman and hope his house is "conveniently available" when you want to have a party.
You will plan a beach day with all of your new friends and then get insanely sunburnt because Mommy didn't tell you to wear sunscreen.
You will think it's a really great idea to dress up as a mustard bottle for Halloween. In fact, you'll think a lot of the ideas you have in college are good...in that moment.
You will take the cheesiest Christmas pictures with your girlfriends and save the Christmas card for years.
You might even meet the love of your life, whether you know it then or not.
You'll make the best of memories with the best of people. So, enjoy each and every second of it. It flies.
"Don't blink; life goes faster than you think."