After photographing 250 couples’ weddings, I had my own wedding on Friday, October 28, 2022 at Paramount Country Club!
The question I get asked most often is “how on earth did you pick your own wedding photographer??”
Talk about “analysis paralysis”! After working in the industry since 2011, I have SO many talented photographer friends, it was so hard to choose only one.
When it came down to choosing our photographer, my fiancé made a comment that ended up being the guiding force behind our choice. He jokingly said “If only you could just clone yourself so we could hire you.”
I had worked alongside a photographer name Lizzie Burger and knew that her shooting style was similar to mine, her editing style was also very similar, she was also very organized and great at preparing for the wedding day, AND she had also been an October bride the previous year so she knew what it was like to be in my shoes! She was basically the closest thing as possible to a clone of me (we even look alike!). It felt like a sign. Ever since we had our consultation with Lizzie, we felt great about our decision. Even though I had a list of 50+ talented photographers we could’ve hired, we didn’t even interview any other photographers. Once we decided on Lizzie, we felt great about our decision and didn’t look back. We are SO happy with our decision! The photos are beyond beautiful and it was a joy to work with Lizzie.
Similarly, when it came to choosing a videographer, I instantly had one team in mind: Steph and Justin of ToneMedia. They have a similar style of shooting (photojournalistic and non-obtrusive with an emphasis on storytelling) and editing (light, bright, natural). It was a delight working with Steph & Justin and we are absolutely blown away by all the beautiful footage they captured.
As a Type A person, the thought of not being able to capture my own wedding and giving up complete control to someone else was pretty overwhelming, but we felt so confident that Lizzie & ToneMedia would do a great job that I actually felt a lot of peace placing all my trust in them. As a fellow wedding vendor, I know just how important it is for couples to trust their vendors and give them creative freedom in order to receive the best results.
As a compromise, I told myself that I was allowed to photograph any flatlays or detail shots that would be ready well before the wedding day. On the day of the wedding itself, I told myself no cameras allowed! This allowed to get some creative expression out of my system while allowing myself to be completely present and be in the bride role, not the photographer role on the wedding day.
When it came to video, we added on the raw footage option to our video package so that I could create my own video edits, in addition to the deliverables Steph & Justin made, with the footage that they captured.
This is something I’ve always recommended to my couples and can now validate with my own personal experience: While it’s important to clearly express your vision and wishes to your vendors, creatives will always perform their best work when they’re given artistic freedom without micromanaging. This was certainly true on our wedding day. When we received our wedding photos and videos, we were blown away and still get teary when we see some of the images.
After seeing 250 weddings by the time mine came around, my mind was BRIMMING with inspiration and ideas for our own wedding. The first thing I did after getting engaged (after taking some time to celebrate and enjoy our engagement) was scroll through and curate my giant folder of inspiration. I culled any of the ideas that no longer resonated with me and kept the ideas that I loved the most.
The most exciting part about being a bride-to-be was getting to finally implement all of the ideas I’ve had in my head for years! Even though Photography was my Concentration in college, I was actually a Fine Arts Major, so I have an extensive background in all different types of creative fields including Drawing, Painting, Paper Arts, Bookbinding, Sculpture, Graphic Design, etc. It was SO exciting to get to use some of those skills for our wedding details!
I made our own vow books using handmade paper and a saddle stitch binding, designed and printed our entire invitation suite with gold foil detailing, made several watercolor signs for our programs and other signage, embroidered some of our bridal party gifts, hand-ripped deckled edge paper for our menus and stationery, dyed our groomsmen’s ties, painted our cake topper and champagne bottles, and made lots of other little DIY projects!
It was a ton of work but I enjoyed every minute of it. You can’t expect a girl to go to art school for 4 years and then work in the wedding industry for 11 years and then *not* DIY everything possible for her wedding. 😉
A unique hurdle I had to overcome was figuring out how to juggle WORKING during the 2022 wedding boom with BEING a 2022 bride.
I prepped almost all of my DIY projects during slow season so that I could focus all of my attention on shooting & editing my clients’ weddings during peak busy season.
As hard as it was to turn down bookings, I strictly told myself that I wouldn’t accept any jobs 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after our wedding so I could fully immerse myself in our own wedding. This was extra hard because my own wedding was during my busiest month of the year, October! Work Life Balance has always been a struggle for me as a business owner but it was important for me to be strict about this policy so I could enjoy this unique milestone in my own life and allow myself to feel the joy that all my couples get to experience.
We fell in love with our venue, Paramount Country Club, for a whole ton of reasons:
- First and foremost: The staff. They truly treat you like family and go above and beyond to make it the wedding of your dreams. I’m forever grateful to Alana & Maria for all their care & attention!
- The location: We loved that the venue was perfectly located between all of the most sentimental spots in our relationship.
- The incredible mountain views, the cottages, fountain, Juliet balcony, tall grasses, stone walls – so many beautiful backdrops to use for photos (which obviously was a selling point for me 😍).
- And of course the foooood. 🤤 I’m still dreaming about those carving stations, chicken & waffles, sweet potato casserole, tuna tartare, octopus skewers, lamb chops, and especially the chateaubriand.
In our hotel welcome bags, we wanted to treat our guests to some of our favorite local Hudson Valley fall goodies:
- Strawberry Vanilla Jam from Hudson Valley Pantry – Rockland County, NY (where our wedding venue was!)
- Cinnamon Swirl English Muffins from Dam Good English Muffins – Peekskill, NY (where Corrado and I lived in our first apartment together!)
- Bobcat Dak Bars from Adirondak Bar – Adirondacks, NY (where we went on our minimoon!)
- Pumpkin Spice Smoked Almonds from Papas Best Batch – Dutchess County, NY (where we live!)
Getting to stay overnight in the bridal suite in the cottages on-site was such a unique perk about getting married at Paramount. Being able to set up my dress & details before going to sleep and knowing that I was already on-site on my wedding morning helped ease my Type A brain (lol) and it was so magical looking out the window overlooking the ceremony garden on our wedding morning knowing that we would be getting married there in a few short hours.
It was also super convenient being able to leave all my stuff in the room but come back to it throughout the day whenever needed for touchups. We were also able to discreetly peek out the windows as guests arrived for the ceremony which was super cool – that’s something the bride doesn’t usually get to see since she’s tucked away in hiding!
I chose to wear flats (10/10 recommend 🙌). For me, it wasn’t really much of a choice – since having a sesamoidectomy on my foot in 2012, I can’t wear heels, so I’ve been embracing flats ever since. These lace-up sandals were so comfy!
I had always dreamt of wearing a long sleeve lace wedding dress, but after starting to try on some dresses, I realized how tight, itchy, and constrictive most of them they were. I’m SO glad I found this Grace Loves Lace “Nathalia” dress. It was so incredibly comfortable, stretchy, and soft and made me feel beautiful but still like myself. I was able to run around, bend down, sit, dance, and jump around on my wedding day so easily.
Corrado got a stretch cotton made-to-measure Indochino suit so he was also able to move around and be comfortable too!
These were the custom gifts we got for our parents and bridal party (most from Etsy):
I’m so glad Corrado & I had a First Look. It was so great to be able to share that moment together and ease each others’ nerves before all the formalities began, and we were able to take so many portraits all over our venue’s property without feeling rushed.
My bridesmaids wore mismatched dresses in different shades of peach. It took a bunch of dress hunting and trial-and-error to get the perfect combo that all the girls were happy with, but in the end they came together beautifully! So grateful to have had all these incredible ladies by my side on my wedding day. <3
Also a big shoutout to our groomsmen – thank you for being such good friends to Corrado and for being the best groomsmen!
The color scheme for our wedding was inspired by my favorite flower: peach ranunculus. The bridesmaids dresses were different shades of peach, coral, and orange, and we had lots of vibrant peach-colored florals (which matched perfectly with the orange fall foliage of the mountains in the background!).
Flowers by Angel did an amazing job bringing all of my floral dreams to life. (I wish I could’ve kept our ceremony arch forever!)
While I do love neutrals & pastels, I am definitely not afraid of pops of color – especially warm, vibrant colors! (I literally have a request in my will that my loved ones wear warm colors to my funeral, not black – yes, really 🤣.)
We have such fond memories of the entire day, but if I had to pick one favorite part, it was definitely the ceremony.
The ceremony garden at Paramount is one the most beautiful features I’ve seen at any wedding venue. Reciting our vows on top of that little slope with the mountains behind us and all of our loved ones looking up at us was truly the most magical moment of my life. I still get goosebumps when I think about it.
The way the fall foliage glowed bright orange in the background of our ceremony was just gorgeous.
All of our guests commented on what a beautiful setting it was. They also loved being greeted with the fall-themed welcome drink station when they arrived – such a nice touch!
Because I’m Danish and Corrado is Italian, we wanted to make sure we included several special traditions on our wedding day to honor our heritage:
🇩🇰 “Kransekage” – As our wedding cake, we had a delicious Danish tiered marzipan wreath cake.
🇮🇹 “Bomboniere” – It’s an Italian tradition to give the guests five sugared almonds representing each of the wishes for the couple: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and a long life together.
🇩🇰 At our reception, we played the Danish “Kissing Game” – When guests clinked on their glasses, we had to stand up and kiss. When guests stomped their feet, we had to kiss under the table!
🇩🇰 🇮🇹 The most important cultural staples in Denmark and Italy, “hygge” & “mangia”, perfectly summed up what we wanted our guests to experience, so we printed the translations on our cocktail napkins. We wanted all of our guests to “hygge” (be cozy) and “mangia” (eat up)!
🇩🇰 🇮🇹 We honored our lost loved ones on our memory table with our favorite childhood photo with them and scrolls reading: “I hjertet gemt, aldrig glemt” (“Kept in the heart, never forgotten”) & “Non ti dimenticheremo” (“We will never forget you”)
🇮🇹 At our reception, everyone danced to the “Tarantella”!
🇩🇰 We also danced to my favorite Danish rock song “Rabalderstræde!”
🇮🇪 And because Corrado is also a little bit Irish, we did a handfasting during our ceremony.
Our DJ was Christian LaGrotteria from SCE Event Group.
Christian kept everyone out on the dance floor all night long, even people who don’t usually dance. My husband kept turning to me and saying “oh my gosh, even [so-and-so] is dancing right now!”
Not-so-fun-fact: my mother-in-law actually danced so hard she threw out her knee on the dancefloor! 😂
We had a lot of mixed age groups at our wedding so it was really important to us that everyone had something to dance to and no one felt left out and Christian nailed it. It was a “musical rollercoaster” in the best way possible, with all of the best genres mixed together (oldies, rock classics, club music, pop, hip hop, some latin, slow songs, throwbacks, plus a few special requests).
Instead of a written guest book, we rigged up a phone to record audio messages from our guests. Guests could share their congratulations, marriage advice, ideas for a date night, their favorite part of the wedding day, or any other message they wanted to share. Our little flower girl left so many adorable “messages” too! We’re so happy to be able to hear everyone’s best wishes in their own voices for years to come.
In lieu of a traditional favor, we wanted to give our guests the most precious gift we could think of: a really great professional portrait with their loved ones. So we hired Christie Caiola to set up a pop-up studio at our reception! (A much more high-quality alternative to a typical amateur photobooth with silly props.) It was the best decision ever. Getting to see all of our loved ones captured so beautifully is a gift we will treasure forever. Her way of styling and posing everyone made them feel confident and beautiful. All of our guests raved about it and were SO thankful and blown away by the photos (so many of our guests instantly changed their profile photos to Christie’s photo, and several of them used the photo for their holiday cards that year!).
The day after our wedding, after our Farewell Breakfast at the hotel, Corrado and I headed up to Minnewaska to have our own little photoshoot on top of Sam’s Point on our way to our minimoon. The perfect ending to the most perfect wedding weekend, soaking in all the of those blissful “Just Married” feels.
Now that I’ve been on the other side of the camera, as a bride, I understand weddings even more deeply than I did before. It has definitely made me more empathetic as a wedding vendor and I feel like I can relate to my clients on a deeper, personal level. I learned a lot of random little insights that have been really helpful in teaching me how to serve my clients even better:
- I was surprised that I cared way less about the technical “quality” of the photos and videos and cared so much more about the sentimental value of the content (even though I’m a perfectionist and care a lot about the technical aspect of my own work). This has inspired me not to cull any “imperfect” photos that my clients might find value in.
- I used to only take a handful of reaction shots at weddings, since these moments aren’t the “main event”, but after my own wedding day I realized just how nice it was to see the expressions on our loved ones’ faces during all the formalities. Since then, I’ve ramped up how many reaction shots I take, so couples can relive all the reactions that they’re too caught up to see firsthand.
- How you make clients feel during the booking process (and beyond) means so much. I was shocked that some vendors (who I highly respected) didn’t even answer our inquiries. It’s possible they just weren’t available on our date, but the fact that they didn’t bother to respond left me with a bad impression and dissuaded me from referring them to any other potential clients, even though I used to admire they work.
Weddings are a beautiful, joyful, “perfectly imperfect” day. While it might not be the best day of your life (because the best is yet to come), it’s certainly one of the most special days of your life. There’s nothing like it. To have all of your loved ones under one roof for one day, getting to celebrate love, all kinds of love, is something very precious. Of all the days of your life, this day probably took the most planning, effort, and envisioning, and it carries so much emotional and sentimental weight to it. I’ve always truly loved my job, but after 10/28/22, I’m even more humbled and grateful to be entrusted to capture all of my couples’ big days.
Venue: Paramount Country Club @paramountcc_ny
Coordinator: Alana Capano – Paramount Country Club @lanamichelle9
Photographer: Lizzie Burger Photography @lizzieburgerphoto
Videographer: Tone Media – Steph & Justin @tonemedia
Hair Stylist: BohoBeauty – Ashley DelVescovi @bohobeautyguru
Makeup Artist: Carla Genova Manzione @carlagenova.mua
Prep PJs & Socks: Shuyi & Skola
Wedding Dress: Grace Loves Lace @grace_loves_lace
Bride’s Veil: Unsutuo
Bride’s Shoes: Shein @sheinofficial
Brides’ Earrings: Beautiful Earth @beautifulearthboutique
Bridesmaid Dresses: Shein @sheinofficial & Azazaie @azazie
Flower Girl Dress: 2Bunnies @2bunniesclothing
Groom’s Suit: Indochino @indochino
Groom’s Shoes: Allen Edmonds @allenedmonds
Groomsmen Suits: The Black Tux @theblacktux
Groomsmen Ties: Groomsman Gear @groomsman.gear
Pocket Squares: Jacob Alexander @jacobalexander.ny
Florist (Arch, Aisle Petals, Bouquets): Flowers By Angel @flowersbyangel
Invitations: Lin Pernille @linpernille
Signage: Lin Pernille @linpernille
Centerpieces (Candles, Florals, Table Numbers): Lin Pernille @linpernille
Menus/Notes: Lin Pernille @linpernille
Welcome Bags – Almonds: @papasbestbatch
Welcome Bags – Bars: @adirondakbar
Welcome Bags – English Muffins: @damgoodenglishmuffins
Welcome Bags – Jam: @hudson_valley_pantry
Transportation: RamStar Transportation
FOB Tie Patch: Daribee – Etsy
MOB & MOG Cuffs: TomDesign – Etsy
FOG Tie Clip: BrielleBelle – Etsy
Officiant: Alexander Leventhal @alexlev11
DJ: SCE Event Group – Christian LaGrotteria @sceeventgroup @iamchristianl
Danish Wedding Cake: Mandel @mandel_kransekake
Portrait Booth: Christie Caiola Studio – Christie Sayer @whatischristie
Voice Message “Guest Book” Phone: Lin Pernille @linpernille
Cocktail Napkins & Matches: For Your Party @foryourparty
Reception Socks: Emery Rose @emeryrose.official
October 28, 2023