Nubble Light Proposal Photographer :: Heidi + Eric

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If you're a regular blog reader then you'll know I usually photograph and blog around 30 engagement sessions each year. At each shoot I chat with couples about how they got engaged and sometimes they'll show me a blurry little cell phone picture of the two of them taken by a stranger just seconds after the proposal. I've been dying to photograph more proposals but sadly I don't think it's the first thing you think of when you're planning to propose - you're thinking about the ring, what to say, where to do it.

I was chatting on email with one of my favorite 2012 brides (hi Jess!) about some family pictures when she mentioned that one of her close friends Heidi would be getting engaged soon. Jess had been helping her boyfriend Eric with some ring advice (she's a jewelry expert!). I was all "Ooooh, tell him to email me and if the location/date works out I'm totally up for photographing the proposal"

A little while later I got a lovely email from Eric telling me all about his plans to propose to Heidi at Nubble Light (also known as the Cape Neddick Lighthouse) in York, Maine.  Through a series of awesome coincidences and timing miracles I was able to photograph it all happening. Enjoy:

For those of you interested in the logistics of how this all went down it was fairly hilarious and involved a fair amount of planning and subterfuge. Initially Eric had planned to propose in Boothbay Harbor where he and Heidi were spending Labor Day weekend, I wasn't going to be able to photograph the proposal as I was heading back down from Maine for a Boston wedding. However Nubble Light is a really meaningful location to Heidi and when Eric emailed me to let me know he'd decided to stop at the lighthouse I realized I'd be driving past York at almost the exact same time.

Eric wasn't familiar with Nubble Light - an insanely busy tourist stop in Maine. I was a little concerned that it would be hard to find each other and for Eric to find a place to propose not surrounded by tourists. As luck would have it my parents were visiting from the UK so we hatched a plan that I would be "photographing" them by the lighthouse and that way we could "reserve a spot".

I made my parents get into position so I could test out my camera settings (it was almost noon so challenging overhead sunlight). My dad was very concerned about the stones on the ground and was worried that Eric wouldn't be able to kneel comfortable so he spent quite some time brushing a clear spot on the rocks! Eric was texting me pictures of him and Heidi and I was texting back pictures of me and my parents. Just after Eric and Heidi arrived, another couple were about to sit down just in front of the proposal spot! I didn't see them as I was watching Eric and Heidi out of the corner of my eye. My mom wasted no time in hissing "Stop!!! Don't walk there! He's about to ask her to marry him AND MY DAUGHTER IS PHOTOGRAPHING IT ALL!!!!"

For your Tuesday evening entertainment here are the messages :) and yes that's my dad practice-proposing to my mom in the bottom right :) 

Heidi & Eric - congratulations!!! It was an honor to capture this awesome moment for the two of you!

Spread the news people - I'm all into proposal photography now! Heck - here's an idea. If you (or someone you know) is planning to propose in the New England region in November or December (I'm kind of busy with weddings in September and October), then email me (Leah @ Leah - take out the spaces) with the following information:
1. Your story - how you met, why you know he/she is the one
2. A picture of the two of you (so I can put faces to names)
3. Your rough proposal plans in November or December (if you have any specific location or date in mind or if you're open to suggestions for locations).
I'll pick my favorite story/proposal plan and photograph it as my gift to you! The deadline for submissions is September 30th 2014.

Newburyport Engagement Pictures :: Holland + Loren

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of meeting Holly and Loren for a pre-shoot cocktail at Ceia in Newburyport. Although I have a strict "no drinks when working" rule at weddings, I'll break the rules at an engagement shoot ;)

We sipped our cocktails and I got to hear all about the plans for their upcoming wedding, Loren's bachelor weekend in Montreal for the F1 race and Holly's upcoming bachelorette weekend in Chatham with her girlfriends

Way back when, Holly and Loren were both at different schools in the great state of New York and they found themselves at the same social evening. They got to chatting at the bar and there may even have been talk of dancing.

They started spending more and more and more time together and although Loren was initially a little hesitate to put a label on their relationship, pretty much everyone else knew they made a great couple

Fast forward to a wedding that Holly and Loren were attending as guests. Unbeknowst to Holly, Loren spent most of the evening telling everyone he was planning to ask Holly to marry him. Loren also made sure to ask both of Holly's parents for their permission including a rather epic lunch with Holly's father involving a man-to-man stare off :)

A weekend was planned at Loren's family home on Lake George. As part of the trip Loren had booked a stay at the beautiful Woodstock Inn in Vermont. Loren couldn't wait any longer and as soon as they arrived, they hadn't even left the parking lot when he got down on one knee and proposed to Holly.

Holly said yes and I'm so excited to photograph their wedding which will be happening in less than one month at the lovely Wentworth-by-the-Sea Country Club in Rye, NH

There was a LOT of laughing at this shoot:

We wanted to take a few night time pictures with the twinkle lights of the harbor in the background so we took a little break. Drinks and oysters for the win. Audrey even joined us so we could use her mad lighting skills :)  

One last night time picture. Holly and Loren - I hope you like these preview pictures - lots more to come including all sorts of crazy faces and silliness :) I'll see you in 25 days!

Next up on the blog I have a surprise proposal in Maine, a Boston engagement shoot and then it'll be time for Amara & Chris's wedding at Wellesley County Club followed by Toby & Jesse's Taj Boston Wedding!

Beacon Hill Engagement Pictures :: Jen + Chris

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Tuesday! What's happening with you? I'm a busy bee in the office after having a great few weeks with my parents and in-laws visiting from the UK. I thought I'd get back into the blogging saddle with a pretty awesome Beacon Hill engagement session.

Cast your mind back to one week ago today, it was one of those uncomfortably sticky, muggy, humid days with crazy intermittent rainstorms. We probably would have postponed the shoot in normal circumstances but Jen and Chris live in San Francisco so we decided to forge ahead!

Growing up and through school Jen and Chris had a bunch of mutual friends. There were SO many near misses (think Sliding Doors but without the cheating!) when Jen and Chris were in the same places, nearly at the same events but their paths never crossed. At one point Jen was living in Pennsylvania studying at UPenn when her good friend Brian mentioned that his good friend Chris had a travel layover in Pennsylvania and maybe he could stay with her. Jen agreed but the travel plans changed and so Jen and Chris didn't meet. 

After the almost-meeting in Pennsylvania, Chris admits that he had a quick look for Jen on facebook, he thought she was cute but their lives carried on and neither gave the other one a thought

A few years later Jen and Chris would both be on Nantucket at the same time. Jen grew up spending July 4th on Nantucket with her family, this particular July 4th her family weren't there so she made plans with friends. Said friends and Jen partied a little too hard on July 3rd and as they made their way to the beach for July 4th Jen was feeling a little fragile. Jen and Chris were finally introduced in person but Jen admits she was feeling kind of miserable and not the best of company so she was surprised when Chris made an effort to talk to her.

After Nantucket, Jen and Chris would meet again! This time at an annual get-together at a friend's barn in NH. Jen was secretly a little excited about seeing Chris again. Chris was feeling the same. At one point in the evening Chris asked Jen if she'd help him find something he'd misplaced but it was all part of his master plan and as they walked towards the barn he kissed her.

Although they were only in NH for a few days Chris asked Jen if he could take her out for a date, Jen said yes but in the back of her mind was the fact that she was about to leave for Australia for a year as part of her nursing career. Even worse Jen came down with the flu and against the advice of her Mom insisted on going on the date with Chris. Despite feeling horribly sick, Jen and Chris had a great evening at trivia and when Chris dropped Jen back home to her parent's house they both wished they could have more time together.

The next day Jen was literally about to click on "book my flight" when her phone rang. It was her dream job offer from Children's Hospital in Boston. Unbeknownst to Jen, her manager had entered her for consideration for a program there. Jen accepted the job but didn't get back in touch with Chris. She says "I didn't want to presume that he'd want to see me again!" Jen might be a little nuts!

Luckily good friend Brian once again intervened and told Chris that Jen has stayed in the US. A short while later there was another trip away with a bunch of friends and ever since then Jen & Chris have been together.

Jen is a good friend of one of my favorite 2013 brides Laura who emailed me the night after Chris proposed to Jen on vacation in Hawaii. I was super happy to hear from Jen (gotta love it when couples check on my availability before booking their venue!) and it was so great to finally meet them in person! 

I'll be photographing Jen and Chris again in the spring at the place where it all began - Nantucket - and I can't wait for their fall wedding at Castle Hill Inn in Newport, RI. They've already started assembling a dream team of vendors - Wendy Joblon Events, Long Haul Films, Dani Wagener Beauty, Beantown Band (who just played at a recent Taj wedding and were SO good that I have no words!) - whoop!!!

Where should we sit at our wedding reception? 8 tips for better wedding pictures during toasts!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The easy answer to this question is, "Anywhere you like! It's your wedding!"

However if the question is "Where should we sit at our wedding reception for the best pictures?" then I'm here to help! I posted a couple of tips on my facebook page about this very topic and I had a couple of emails asking questions about it afterwards so I thought I'd prepare a helpful little blog post.

1. Talk to your photographer/filmmaker about where to sit. 
I'm always more than happy to take a quick look at your seating plan and suggest a couple of options for you to consider. Usually I'm looking for seats that will allow me to photograph you/the person toasting without blocking the view of your guests. Most venue coordinators will let you sit where you want to (repeat: it's your wedding!) but some of them will insist you sit in a corner/against a back wall. Having a blank wall behind you makes any pictures of your reactions during the toasts look kind of sterile.

In an ideal world your photographer will have a clear line of sight to the two of you, your parents and the person toasting. I like to have my second photographer quietly moving around the room to get guest reactions.

Often my couples will send over a copy of their floor plan and I'm always happy to suggest seats! Here's a copy of a Toby & Jesse's ballroom wedding seating chart with my nifty colored seating suggestions. Note that although I'd initially suggested the parents sit in the green seats, on the wedding evening we found a tall centerpiece (see tip #3!) blocking the view so the parents moved to the blue seats and just turned their chairs around to face the dance floor:

And here's Toby & Jesse during the toasts:

Here's another seating chart - this time a tent wedding for Sara & Jason:

And here's a picture of Sara and Jason at their table:

2. Try to have depth behind you. 
Do a google search for "politician campaign speech" and you'll see that rarely are politicians photographed with a blank stage/wall behind them. Nope, they bring in hoards of happy, smiling people to stand behind them for depth. Having people/centerpieces/candles behind you gives context to the picture, it shows that your wedding reception was filled Ask not what you can do for your wedding guests, but what your wedding guests can do for you ;)

If you're seated on a larger table with other guests against a wall/tent wall consider sitting on the other side of the table and turning your seats 180 degrees during the toasts. Now you have depth behind you and we can't see any dirty plates! Melissa and Morris turned their chairs 180 degrees to face the dance floor at their Mandarin Oriental wedding (bonus points for holding hands!):

Depth doesn't have to be just guests! At Courtney & Mike's amazing Red Lion Inn wedding last fall, their sweetheart table was carefully placed with stairs/flowers/guests behind them. Much better than a wooden wall.

3. Have a VERY low centerpiece in front of you. 
Once you decide on your table/seats then let your florist know that it's important for you to get good reaction pictures during the toasts and you don't want any height directly in front of you. No tall centerpiece, no tall votives, no tall vase with your bouquet. Frankly nothing higher than maybe 6 inches would be good! If you're alternating tall/short centerpieces then also consider putting the low centerpieces on the tables with your parents so we can try to get good reaction shots of them also.

If there had been a tall centerpiece in front of Lauren & James I couldn't have got this picture:

4. Seat flexible/easy going people directly opposite you (or even consider leaving a space). 
Think about TV sitcoms or films, whenever there's a scene with people sitting at the table they all sit around in a U-shape with an open side of the table for the camera! Ideally you'll have good friends or siblings opposite you who will be super happy to just scoot their chairs over by a foot or so to allow for a clear view across the table.

Obviously a sweetheart table removes the issue of people directly opposite you blocking the camera but still consider placing your table next to the dancefloor with tables behind you vs. in a corner of the room.

5. Don't eat!
This is a tough one, you're hungry and a delicious looking salad or appetizer is put in front of you while your Maid of Honor or Best Man is speaking. If you eat through the toasts there won't be any reaction images, I don't photograph people when they're eating as no one looks good with a mouth full of food!

6. Smoosh those chairs close together. 
If you're at a sweetheart table your chairs are often placed at an angle to the table and there can be a good foot or two of room inbetween you. Good for eating so you're not bashing elbows but not good for pictures during toasts. Don't be shy - you're married now! Scoot those chairs close together, hold hands, enjoy the toasts together.

Chris not only moved his chair close to Amara but he also held on tight for the toasts:

7. Make sure there's going to be room for your photographer/filmmaker to get pictures.
One of my favorites weddings last year was Kristen & Jon's wedding at Tupper Manor. I love this picture of them below during the toasts but I think I was pretty much sitting in the lap of the best man to get this shot. I don't like to block the view of friends and family during toasts, they want to be able to see the couple's reactions too!

8. Enjoy yourself!
Your closest friends and family are saying lovely things about you!
Here's Katherine and Greg at their Boston Public Library wedding. Let's work down the list - they have "depth" behind them in the form of their lovely guests, no tall centerpieces blocking them, no guests opposite blocking them, they're sitting nice and close together and having a pretty great time! Check! 

In summary:
- chat to your photographer about your seating chart
- try to avoid sitting with a blank wall/tent wall directly behind you
- consider sitting on the opposite side of a large table and just turning your seats around for the toasts
- consider locating your sweetheart table on the edge of the dancefloor with tables behind you
- seat relaxed friends opposite you who'll be cool shifting their seats slightly to the side
- sit nice and close together
- try to eat before or after the toasts to avoid mouth-full-of-food pictures
- avoid any tall centerpieces/candles directly in front of you
- enjoy!

Coming up next week I have some awesome engagement pictures for you followed by Amara & Chris's wedding at Wellesley Country Club and then it'll be time for Toby & Jesse's wedding at Taj Boston. Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Boston Harbor Hotel Wedding Photographer :: Stephanie + Jason

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happy Labor Day weekend! How can the summer be over already?!?! I protest! I had a pretty epic weekend with a surprise proposal in Maine and then the most beautiful wedding at the Taj Boston yesterday. Next week is a flurry of engagement shoots and then fall wedding season starts in ernest!

Anyway, enough of my schedule :) Guess what happened 3 weeks ago? Oh, just one of the most elegant and super duper fun weddings ever at the Boston Harbor Hotel. I love the BHH - it's the quintessential Boston wedding venue - stunning waterfront setting, amazing food, elegant ballroom - not to mention the incredible Michael Boivin who is always such a pleasure to work with.

I started my day with Stephanie and the girls in her suite. I advise all of my brides to set aside all the"details" they'd like photographed on check in - wedding rings, jewelry, invitations, dress out of the cover and on a pretty hanger, shoes etc - so I can photograph them all without disturbing hair and make up. I noticed this little Boston Harbor Hotel shaped cookie and thought it might make for an interesting picture of the wedding rings: 

Classic William Arthur Invitations via Toby Dondis:

Loving Stephanie's Stuart Wietzman shoes and purse. Stephanie's new initials were monogrammed inside the purse:

On arrival guests were met by thoughtful giftbags and welcome notes from Stephanie and Jason:

Audrey had her own wedding to attend as a guest so I drafted in two awesomely talented photographer colleagues to shoot alongside me for the day. Jennifer started her day with Jason and was a good sport when I suggested she follow Jason and the guys to the hot tub :)

How cute are these cufflinks?

One of these days I plan on shooting groom's coverage myself! Unlike the hair and make up and dressing and flurry of activity that's usually happening with the girls, there's always time for a relaxing glass of scotch and a toast :)

Back over with the girls the amazing Dani Wagener was working her magic. Dani is hands-down the very very very very very best make up artist in Boston.

Stephanie's mom Annette helped her into her dress, assisted by Maid of Honor Jackie and bridesmaids Annie and Windsor: Bride being helped into her wedding dress by Mom at Boston Harbor Hotel Wedding

Those beautiful Stuart Weitzman shoes in action. Stephanie's wedding dress was Amsale Calista from L'√©lite in Boston.  

Sometimes certain parts of your wedding day can be a bit of a blur, you need to be somewhere/do something and you're rushing. It can be nice to schedule a little extra time to catch up with your parents. It's often a big deal for parents to see their daughter as a bride for the first time and it's special to celebrate with your family: 

It was very important to Stephanie and Jason that they got to spend their wedding reception celebrating with friends and family vs. spending their time taking pictures so they wisely planned a first look and all formal pictures prior to the ceremony. As you can imagine, the waterfront area at the Boston Harbor Hotel is kind of busy in the summer so we used the beautiful (and private) rotunda area:

After hugs and laughs and kisses, we took some time for pictures of the almost newlyweds. I say "we" because I was working alongside one of my very favorite wedding film team - Long Haul Films. Not much to say about these guys other than HIRE THEM NOW if you want the best wedding film ever. Bride and Groom holding hands in Rotunda at Boston Harbor Hotel

Sayles Livingston put together the most beautiful (and fragrant) flowers:

It's always a good idea to schedule more time that you need for pictures on your wedding day. Occasionally other activities - hair, make up, getting dressed, bridesmaids getting ready, parents arriving - will take longer than expected and having extra time scheduled means that there's no stress.

Luckily everything ran on time like clockwork at Stephanie & Jason's wedding thanks to the organization of the amazing Linnea Tangorra of Tangorra Wedding Planning so we just had extra time for pictures :) If you're thinking of hiring a wedding planner or day of coordinator then I can't speak highly enough of Linnea. She's super experienced and works tirelessly in the background to make everything go so smoothly! And here are just a handful of the many pictures we had time to take! 

The above image is Jen's view :) And below is the iconic arch of the Boston Harbor Hotel:

We were joined by Stephanie and Jason's wedding party for some pictures. One of the best things about doing a first look/pre-ceremony pictures is that everyone looks their very best with fresh hair and make up AND you get to enjoy cocktail hour after the ceremony! 

Love, love, love the color of the bridesmaids dresses, also Amsale from L'élite:

We then took some relaxed yet totally mantel-worthy family pictures. Grandmothers are the best :) 

Stephanie and Jason signed their Ketubah:

The Wharf Room was perfectly set for the wedding ceremony, thanks to Kate for the shot below while Jen and I photographed the Ketubah signing. Kate joined me and Jen as the third photographer for this fabulous wedding. At every wedding I photograph there's always me and an assistant photographer (usually Audrey!) but it's a really great idea to add a third photographer if:
- you have more than 200 guests (you'll get better coverage of all of your guests with more photographers)
- you're planning on taking all of the formal pictures during cocktail hour. I'll be photographing the formals and Audrey will be working through the list/setting up lights for the reception. Adding a third photographer means you'll have coverage of cocktail hour
- you'd like extra coverage of your ceremony. Usually I'm up front to capture the processional of the family, bridesmaids and bride. Audrey is off to the side to capture the expression of the groom. Adding a third photographer means you can have additional angles from the balcony or have someone there to photograph those moments before you walk down the aisle. 

Proud parents of the bride and a very happy groom (the picture of Jason on the right is Jen's):


Cocktail hour was outside of the Wharf Room and guests enjoyed delicious hors d'oeuvres and champagne overlooking the sunset over the ocean while the Longwood Symphony Orchestra played on the balcony. 

Friends and family were invited in to take their escort cards and were met by a complete transformation of the Wharf Room from ceremony site to elegant wedding reception setting:

The new Dr & Mrs Lewis were announced and went into their perfectly choreographed first dance (thanks to Dance Academy of New England):

The picture on the left is one of my very favorites :) 


There were SO many wonderful toasts at the wedding - this is just a fraction of them! Both parents spoke beautifully about how happy they were for the newlyweds, Stephanie and Jason both have the most welcoming and supportive families. Friends and siblings also spoke at length about how Stephanie and Jason have always been there for them and there may have been one or two references to the size of Stephanie's closet and love of shopping ;) 

First Class band did a number of dance sets in between courses:

The cake topper was originally on the cake of Stephanie's maternal grandparents. Stephanie's parents used it at their wedding and so now I guess it's a third generation heirloom cake topper!  Stephanie danced with her father and then the dancefloor was officially declared open!

We took a few minutes outside for night time pictures - it was a perfect balmy August evening:  Stephanie & Jason - what a day!!! Such a beautiful wedding, you both looked so incredibly happy that it was a joy to photograph your wedding! Wishing you both a lifetime of love, laughter, health and happiness (and mutual respect of closet space)! Tons more pictures uploading to your full gallery as I post this!