We can't often say that we actually had a hand in bringing together one of our couples, but with Alissa and Carmine that just happens to be the case. To be more accurate, it was Rob that played a part in bringing them together. Well, Rob and his friend Carlos. While I would have liked to have helped this was over ten years ago when Rob just happened to be in school with Alissa and Carmine.
It was a high school dance, the kind of dance where people spend more time standing around than actually dancing. But that standing around allows plenty of opportunity for making observations. So, while standing on the outskirts of the dance floor, Rob and his friend Carlos just happened to notice the way Carmine kept looking at Alissa. So they walked over to him, gave him a bit of a hard time about his obvious crush and encouraged him to go over and ask her to dance.
It's safe to say that was probably the one and only time Carmine needed encouragement when it came to Alissa. From that day on, no advice was needed. He set out to sweep her off her feet and did just that. Every single day. A year later, they were officially a couple. He made a point to make her smile every day, over and over again, culminating in one of the most dramatic proposals we have heard to date. Alissa was on a trip to California to visit family without Carmine. Or so she thought. Little did she know that shortly after she had flown over to the West coast, Carmine had followed bringing Alissa's mother along as well so she could be there when he popped the question. There, at a family party thousands of miles away from home, Alissa got the surprise of her life when she walked onto a balcony and saw Carmine standing there, ring in hand, asking her to marry him.
It was just the kind of grand gesture that only Carmine could have dreamed up and as surprised as Alissa was, in a way she wasn't. This was the man she had come to love over the last ten years. From that very first dance on, he has never ceased to surprise her. And she couldn't wait to see what he had in store for the rest of their lives.
* * *
It was pouring rain and gloomy outside when we arrived at Alissa's parent's house, but you would never know it from the excited energy swirling around the house. Alissa was finishing having her hair done by her family friend and hairdresser Linda Chamenko. Once Alissa's hair and make-up were complete, it was time for her to put on her beautiful Demetrios gown and take the short trip over to St. Michael's Church in Beacon Falls for the ceremony.
If you have met Carmine, you would remember his smile - a big, bright grin that could make just about anyone smile right back. On his wedding day, that smile was out in full force, particularly when he saw Alissa walking down the aisle toward him on her father's arm. It was a romantic ceremony with the rain tapping against the windows and the room falling quiet when Alissa and Carmine exchanged their vows. Remarkably, when the ceremony ended the rain stopped for a few minutes - just enough time for us to get some great shots of the very happy new husband and wife and their exuberant wedding party.
The reception took place at Villa Rosa in Waterbury. It was a particularly lively reception - complete with Alissa & Carmine's unique family traditions and plenty of dancing while DJ Donato packed the dance floor. As the night came to an end, Alissa and Carmine spent the night in the center of the dance floor, surrounded by their family and friends enjoying every last minute of their day. Looking at them and seeing just how happy they are together, you knew their life together would be filled of happy surprises. After all, Carmine would make sure of that.
Alissa had many personalized touches throughout the wedding, one of which was this ring bowl that she actually made herself.
Alissa's cheery purple color scheme brought a nice pop of color on their overcast wedding day.
There are a handful of moments in your life so profound it's almost as if you can feel you life changing in an instant.
The day you moved out of your childhood home, the day you graduated from college, the day you got married. You can probably think back to each one of those days and one distinct moment, one still frame in your mind, stands out in your memory. The moment that, to you, defines the day and shaped your life. They are the moments after which you knew, now everything will be different. As photographers, we tend to be the ones observing these moments. Acting as almost gatekeepers of time, we are there to preserve it, to freeze it in time. We are the ones that actually catch that still frame for you, so that you can stare at it each time you want to go back and feel that life-changing moment all over again.
But there are times when we can't be the gatekeepers. Times when the moment is ours to live, when we capture the frame in our minds instead of with our cameras.
It was a Sunday, normally a day we set aside just to relax and spend time together just the two of us. Rob returned from his morning run to a slightly frantic me, concerned that my water broke. A call to the doctor confirmed that we should make our way over to the hospital and suddenly our lazy Sunday was something else entirely. Even on the ride over to the hospital, we had no idea just how different things would be in a mere twelve hours.
A long labor turned into a c-section and to say we were overwhelmed by the emotion of it all is an understatement. Rob had his camera by his side all day, but never got much of chance to use it since we had both made the conscious decision that these were moments we wanted to live fully, not peeking out from behind the lens. So when they wheeled me down the hall for the c-section, Rob gave quick instructions to the anesthesiologist on how to use his camera and we put our faith in him that he would be able to capture the moment for us, while we lived it.
It was a nerve-wracking few moments as the surgery began, I was holding onto Rob's hand as tightly as I could trying to comprehend what was about to happen. Then we heard it, the single most beautiful sound I had ever heard in my life. Reverberating off the walls of the operating room and shaking me out of my fear, there it was: our son's cry. The moment I heard it I looked up at Rob as he gripped my hand tighter. When I saw the tears in his eyes, I could no longer hold back my own. We brought our heads together and let the big fat tears roll down our cheeks. It was a moment we will never forget for as long as we live.
And we won't have to, since the anesthesiologist happened to capture the exact moment for us. The minute Malachy had been brought into this world - lifted up, covered in gunk, with his eyes open and his arms spread out. Looking at the picture brought the very same tears to my eyes and it probably will every single time I look at it. I can almost feel Rob's hand holding mine again, feel his head resting on mine as we hear Malachy's newborn cry. That image is like a portal right back to that very moment. And every time I see it I can feel my life change all over again.
One year ago today we woke up in Pennsylvania. We were awoken to the sounds of my then three-year old niece clamoring up the stairs to my brother's loft to say good morning to us. We were out in PA visiting her and her brand-new little sister Claire, who was just three weeks old. The family time was a welcome respite to the hectic month that had led up to it. In the midst of the busy fall wedding season, we had decided to move our business, ourselves and the contents of our Connecticut home to a brand new place. And that morning was the official start of it all.
We left Pennsylvania that afternoon and made the three hour drive directly to New York City to pick up the keys to our new apartment. My brother had told me that the minute I walked into the new place for the first time I should run through every room, just as he had with every new place he had ever moved into. It seemed like a good idea to me, so that was the first thing I did - run from room to room with the enthusiasm of my three-year old niece. Because I kind of felt like a little kid, finally get to live out a dream that I had never thought was possible - living in New York City. Of course, I never thought it was possible before I knew Rob. He has taught me that anything is possible. Especially when we're together.
This morning, we woke up in New York City, awoken by the cries of very our own brand-new baby, just four weeks old. Now, we have family time each and every day, a welcome respite to the still hectic schedule that we wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. On one hand it's hard to believe it's been a year since it seems like just yesterday we traveling back and forth on the West Side Highway brining box after box to our new place. But then I look at how much we have accomplished, how much has changed in the past year and it's hard to believe it's been a mere twelve months. It's been one of the most incredible years of our lives, personally and professionally and we can honestly say it has changed us in ways that we could have never foreseen… all for the better. And I can't help but feel it's the result of having the courage to chase after our dreams and having faith that anything is possible. Sometimes you get so much more than you ever wished for in the first place.
The day after Mike met Sandy he made a phone call to his best friend. He just had to tell him about the girl he had met at a bar in South Norwalk. She was tall, blonde and gorgeous, but more than even more than that, she was different. She was the kind of girl that he really wanted to impress, to sweep her off her feet from the very first date. The kind of girl that made him call his friend just to talk about her. That didn't happen every day.
The day of their wedding, Sandy had a special letter delivered to Mike's room. It wasn't just any letter, it was written on a card that she had custom-designed and filled with words that could only begin to express how she felt that day. It was the simplest way for her to let him know just how lucky she felt to become her wife. Because, just as he had known so many years before, Sandy knew Mike was different. She knew that they were different. And that this day would be unlike any one she had ever lived before.
On that day they stood in front of all of their friends and family and reminded them just how visible love can be between two people, especially when they are so perfectly suited for one another. And that's not something that happens every day.
* * *
We started the day at The Inn at Stonington where Sandy and her girls were getting ready in the bridal suite. The super talented Jennie Fresa and her team were there when we arrived, making Sandy and her girls look extra beautiful with their hair and make-up. There was a relaxed atmosphere in the room as Sandy and her girls talked and laughed, enjoying the quiet moments before the events of the day would begin. Soon it was time for Sandy to get dressed and her sister helped her into her stunning Amsale gown. Then, it was time to head to Jonathan Edwards Winery where the ceremony and reception would take place.
Shortly after we arrived at the winery, it was time for Sandy & Mike to see each other for the first time. It was a sweet and romantic first look, taking place on the sprawling grounds of the winery and filled with the kind of contagious smiles that we had gotten a preview of back at Sandy & Mike's engagement session, Sandy & Mike's videographers. We were especially excited to be able to capture it all along side Mike and his team from Buzz Media Company. As the sun was setting, Sandy and Mike exchanged their vows in the midst of rows of vines. It was a personalized, beautiful ceremony which Sandy and Mike had worked on together with their officiant Mary Coburn.
We knew the reception was going to be gorgeous since Sandy has an incredible sense of style (she personally designed a lot of the details for the wedding) AND she had Candice Coppola and her team from Jubilee Events Jubilee Events working their magic as well. The reception was held just steps away from the vines in a beautiful large tent from Sperry Tents decked out with lighting by Shoreline AV, tables and chairs from Party Rental Ltd. adorned with stunning La Travola linens. On the tables were lush centerpieces by the talented Elisabeth from Blush Floral Design. The party kicked off with Sandy & Mike's very sweet first dance followed by plenty of dancing as DJ Rob Alberti packed the dance floor. Of course, everyone was able to have plenty of energy from the delicious (and abundant) food from A Thyme to Cook. As the night came to an end, everyone gathered around Sandy & Mike as they swayed in the center of the dance floor - soaking in every last minute. Because they knew, this day was different. And this moment was definitely not something that would happen every day.
Sandy, Mike and their wedding party all got ready at The Inn at Stonington, a classic New England-style inn set right on the water.
It was no surprise that Sandy had beautiful accessories to compliment her absolutely stunning dress.
Sandy had her hair and make-up done by Jennie Fresa and her team.
I am absolutely in love with Sandy's gorgeous Amsale gown.
Sandy actually happened to know the owner of Milk & Honey shoes and created these custom shoes.
This is Sandy's adorable niece on hand to make everyone smile that morning - not that they needed any additional reasons to smile, but how could you not when you see that face?
When it came time to put on her gown, Sandy's sister had the honor of zippering her in.
Then Mike's sister helped Sandy with her earrings.
Finally, it was time for some beautiful portraits of Sandy by herself. Doesn't she look gorgeous?
When Sandy's father came in to see her for the first time in her dress he was overcome with emotion. Such an incredible moment.
One last finishing touch, the veil - also put in by Sandy's sister.
Here is Mike actually getting to read that special letter from Sandy. No doubt he was moved by what she had to say.
After capturing his reaction to Sandy's letter, Rob took this portrait of Mike before we headed over to the ceremony.
Mike had sent over Sandy something special as well, a gorgeous pair of earrings.
Don't ask me why, but I'm such a sucker for white pumpkins. Especially ones decorated so nicely.
Rob captured this photo of Sandy and her father patiently waiting as they first arrived at Jonathan Edwards Winery. Definitely one of my favorites from the day.
We are always blown away by the gorgeous bouquets Elisabeth from Blush Floral Design creates and Sandy's was no exception.
Finally, it was time for our favorite time of the day - "first look."
Mike was so happy when he saw Sandy for the first time that day, he could barely contain his excitement.
Ok, maybe this one is my favorite from their day (disclaimer: I have a lot of favorites from their day!).
Sandy had made a point of doing a different take on the traditional fall color scheme and created something totally gorgeous and unique.
The ceremony was held in the center of the vineyard with many thoughtful details leading the way for their guests.
Guests could grab a soft drink on their way in or out of the ceremony.
Not only were these flower girls adorable on their own, but how cute are those dresses? I would get one in my size if I could!
This moment of the ceremony gets us every time, watching Mike see Sandy walk down the aisle was incredibly moving.
You can't deny just how in love these two are, look at that smile on Sandy's face.
Sandy's parents were so happy to see their little girl marry such an amazing guy - her father said as much later on at the reception.
This adorable red head? That would be Mike's nephew, also decked in an adorable outfit that matched the colors of the day.
Mike's uncle did a reading during the ceremony as his mother looked on.
Sandy and Mike love wine (they call themselves wine-o's), so it was quite fitting for their wedding ceremony to take place in the middle of the winery.
Ok, so here's another favorite. After saying his vows, Mike took Sandy's hands and gently kissed them. Does't get any sweeter than that.
Then it was time for the rings...
...and a few tears.
And, of course, their big first kiss!! :)
Before joining cocktail hour, we got a few "mantle-worthy" portraits of the very happy new Mr. & Mrs.
A Thyme to Cook always does an amazing job and Sandy & Mike had made a point of selecting some especially delicious food for their guests to enjoy.
There were a ton of thoughtful details throughout the reception tent. I especially loved this burlap banner they had on display at the cake table.
At a table where they had a collection of family pictures, Sandy and Mike had this quote which seemed especially fitting since family is clearly so important to them both.
How cute are little Sandy & Mike? Such a fun little detail, having their pictures on the bathroom doors.
The reception tent was absolutely amazing and guests were greeted with these small plants that served as their table card and favor.
The design on the cake was reminiscent of the beautiful detail on Sandy's wedding gown.
I loved the playful mixing of colors and patterns in the La Travola linens.
Sandy & Mike smartly mixed in high-top cocktail tables with traditional tables so guests had plenty of options during the night.
As the sun was setting, we grabbed Sandy & Mike for a few more portraits to show off their adorable details.
And maybe just a few more snuggling! :)
While the guests were finding their seats, we stepped out to get some shots of the tent against the beautiful deep blue sky. I gotta say, when you're doing a tented wedding - Sperry Tents is the way to go! :)
It's always a great idea to get to re-use the ceremony flowers for another part of the day. I especially liked how Sandy & Mike had the mason jar bouquets placed on the stone wall that was next to their reception tent. Gave it such a romantic feel.
The perfect way to start a reception? With a tear-inducingly sweet first dance.
Sandy's father was the first to offer a toast to the happy bride and groom and he was sure to leave everyone laughing with his sharp sense of humor.
Then it was time for Mike's brother and best friend to toast the bride and groom as well.
After dinner, Sandy danced with her father...
...and Mike danced with his mother.
Then it was time for dessert to begin - with Sandy & Mike cutting their wedding cake.
Ok, one last favorite. I just love how sweetly Sandy is resting her head on Mike. It kinda sums up whole spirit of the day - these two just couldn't be more crazy about each other if they tried.
Sandy & Mike, thank you so much for inviting us to capture your absolutely gorgeous wedding day. We had an amazing time with you and your families! We're so happy for you both!
Before they met, Lizzie and Geoff were two people completely content with their lives. They each had pretty much everything you could want - successful careers, families that love them and friends that would do anything for them. But something - someone - was missing. Without it, their lives felt uneven. Like a child stuck on the bottom of a see-saw, they were looking for that one person that would come along, lift them up and balance out their lives.
When they finally found one another, they knew that this relationship was different. When they are together, Lizzie practically melts into Geoff's arms, as though the minute she feels his arms embracing her everything else in the world disappears. She leans into him, closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. He has made her life complete in a way she never thought possible. For Geoff, Lizzie brings levity to his life, making every day seem that much brighter from the moment he sees the smile on her face. It didn't take either of them very long to know with absolute certainty that they were somehow destined to find each other. Because together, they had discovered the one and only time in their lives where they finally felt complete. It was as though they each answered the need in the other, without ever having to say a word.
* * *
Lizzie started the day at the Omni Hotel in New Haven where she was getting ready with her bridesmaids. Once her hair and make-up were complete and Lizzie was in her stunning Priscilla of Boston gown from the flagship store in Boston, it was time to head over to St. Mary's Church in New Haven where the ceremony would be taking place.
The church is set right in the heart of the Yale campus and just as beautiful as you would imagine it to be. Fittingly, the ceremony was equally as beautiful, with Lizzie and Geoff holding hands tight and staring into each other's eyes throughout it all. Following the ceremony, we grabbed a few shots of Lizzie and Geoff on the streets of New Haven before heading to New Haven Lawn Club for their reception.
Christine and the staff at the Lawn Club did an amazing job as always, decking out the cocktail and reception rooms and doting on Lizzie, Geoff and their guests all day long. The reception kicked off with Lizzie & Geoff's introduction to their favorite Coldplay song followed by a very romantic first dance. Once dinner was complete there was never a moment when the guests were not celebrating - toasting Lizzie & Geoff, hitting the dance floor and rejoicing that this very happy couple had found one another.
Lizzie and Geoff selected a gorgeous church for their wedding ceremony, St. Mary's Church in New Haven steps from the Yale campus.
The ceiling at the church is very dramatic, setting the tone for the beautiful ceremony that would be taking place.
Lizzie looked absolutely gorgeous and couldn't wait to get inside the church to marry Geoff.
And she was all smiles while she waited with her father for her turn to walk down the aisle.
Geoff couldn't wait either... he was so happy when the doors opened and he got his first glimpse at Lizzie.
The archways of the church are stunning. This is my angle as Lizzie walked down the aisle...
...and this is Rob's shot from the same moment.
Then it was time for Lizzie's father to hand off his daughter to his very happy new son-in-law.
Lizzie's bridesmaids were so happy for her, they were smiling almost as much as she was.
Rob always makes a point of taking several dramatic wide shots during the ceremony to really capture the overall feel of the ceremony.
This might be one of my favorite wide shots from their ceremony, it really shows off just how beautiful the church is.
Geoff's mother was very happy to see her son say his vows.
And Geoff was extremely happy to finally be saying them to Lizzie.
Lizzie's parents were very moved as they watched their daughter get married.
Then the ceremony came to an end - with a kiss and a big smile from Lizzie.
Before heading over to the New Haven Lawn Club for their reception, we spent some time on the streets of New Haven with Lizzie and Geoff.
Which gave them some much-needed time to snuggle and enjoy the fact that they were now officially husband and wife!
This might be one of my favorites from their day - I love the look on Geoff's face and the way the wind caught Lizzie's veil.
Finally we arrived at the New Haven Lawn Club and spent some time outside before Lizzie & Geoff enjoyed cocktail hour.
We're a huge fan of dresses with pockets and Lizzie's Priscilla of Boston gown is one of our favorites.
Of course, Geoff looked quite handsome himself.
This seems to sum up Lizzie & Geoff to me, the way Geoff is so sweet and gentle with her and the way Lizzie smiles whenever he is near.
Then it was time for one more kiss before we brought in the wedding party.
Lizzie chose a simple mix of colors and types of flowers to compliment her bridesmaids attire.
Before the reception began, we made sure to grab one more gorgeous bridal of Lizzie. Doesn't she look amazing?
Speaking of amazing, the ballroom at the Lawn Club is one of our favorite venues in CT. It's so elegant and beautiful and the staff always makes a point of bringing in all the details that are special to the couple.
Lizzie selected a vintage cake topper to compliment their wedding cake.
The wedding invitations were really important to Lizzie and she made a point of working with her stationer to create these beautiful invitations.
Lizzie & Geoff's first dance was really romantic, the whole room seemed to stand still as they danced together.
At the end of the dance, Geoff spun Lizzie out one last smile, making her smile even wider.
Before dinner got started, toasts were offered by Lizzie's sister and Geoff's brother.
Then it was time to cut the cake and officially start dessert.
As the cake was distributed, Lizzie danced with her father and then Geoff danced with his mother.
Lizzie & Geoff, thank you so much for choosing us to capture your day! We had an amazing time and we couldn't be happier for you both!