So this is probably not the post you'd expect to follow our previous one, but here it is. We spent the afternoon in a room filled with cakes - literally. Wall-to-wall cakes. (Not too worry, we hit the gym before we went. We are well aware of our temptations.)
I know what you're thinking - "where were you and how can I go there too?" Well that's the good news, you can totally go there yourself and, if you're a bride, you can order a stunningly gorgeous custom wedding cake in the process. It's the showroom of Ana Parzych Custom Cakes in Cheshire. If you haven't seen her work before, allow us to introduce you to her art because that's really what these cakes are - pieces of art. Which makes sense actually because Ana studied art and graphic design before getting into wedding cakes. She works side-by-side with her husband Garry who does quite a bit of the baking himself while also running the business side of things. It was great to get to talk to them over the course of the afternoon - we always love to see how fellow husband-and-wife teams work.
We had worked with Ana & Garry this past May and we were absolutely blown away by their talent. They build completely custom cakes based on whatever their couple is looking for - Ana even does sketches of the cake beforehand and works with the couples one-on-one to make THE perfect cake for them. So when Garry got in touch with us earlier this month and asked if we would come by their showroom and takes some pictures of their cakes we said yes without hesitation. Not just because we love cakes, but mainly because we just love working with other artists that have pride in what they do, which they totally do. As a result they are in high demand - working throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York as well as international destinations. They even had a wedding in Dubai this year!
That was our lovely afternoon, spending time with another husband-and-wife team and photographing some gorgeous cakes. One of the many, many reasons we love what we do. The fact that they also sent us home with small cake of our very own was a total bonus. (I know...I'm setting the alarm as we speak to wake up for the gym tomorrow!)
So without further ado, here are some of Ana's cakes for your viewing pleasure. Be sure to leave Ana & Garry some love in the comments, or with a phone call to make your own cake. Delicious!
Some people could probably say there is an art to job interviews, knowing how to handle yourself and answer all of the questions a potential employer could throw at you with style and grace. I wouldn't know, it was definitely not my strong suit. I was always holding my breath and hoping to avoid that one question I hated, "List your strengths and weaknesses." I mean come on - we all know it's a total trick question. You could tell the truth, I guess and risk exposing a true weaknesses or you could play the game, turning your "weaknesses" into strengths (sometimes people think I just work too hard!). But that seemed like such a cop out to me. Inevitably my brain would go to a complete different lists of strengths and weaknesses. Strengths like the fact that I can usually find a great deal on shoes and that I know how to do the Thriller dance. If only I could have talked about my weakness for Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints in particular), pretty much all disco (best cure for a bad day), and the Pillsbury Dough Boy (I'm know it's strange but I just love him).
Clearly not the answers a potential employer was seeking. So instead my head would fill up with all of the things I knew I wanted to work on about myself and what I planned to do about them. But as soon as they came into my brain I tried to push them out. I couldn't possibly tell them that, I would think. Honesty? That wasn't an option, was it? And if I couldn't be honest than what's the point? One time I actually did list the things that rushed into my head. I didn't get that job. And that was okay because really, I didn't want it. Now I have this job, my dream job - way better than any one I ever interviewed for.
One of the perks of this job is having this blog, where we can be as honest as we want. So that's what we're going to do. We're going to have a new series of posts we're calling "Strengths & Weaknesses" talking about pretty much whatever we're up to. It could be a strength that we have built in our photography, business, maybe even or relationship and weaknesses we have for reality TV, celebrity gossip (maybe that's just me).
Today, we're gonna rip it off like a band aid and start off with what is probably our biggest weakness: food.
* * *
When we first got together, we discovered we liked to do a lot of the same things which was great. Except one of those things we loved to do together was eat. A lot. Usually in the beginning of a relationship I would do that stupid girl thing and pretend I didn't like to eat as much as I do. But with Rob I didn't have to do that because we were friends first, so he already knew that I would tackle someone in the street for a Carmello bar if I was in the mood for one (well not really, but you know what I mean). So that first year or so of being a couple we spent a lot of our time having long, incredible talks and wonderful dates that somehow always ended up involving food or some kind: brownie sundaes on the couch, nachos at our favorite place, snacks at the movies. We knew we hit rock bottom when we would justify having ice cream for dinner. Doesn't sound too bad, except every single time we would try to do that we'd end up hungry for dinner within about two hours - and then we'd have it. But it was happy pounds. We were in love and accepted each other as we were, so it was okay. Or at least that's what we told ourselves. When we celebrated our first anniversary we were newly engaged and had a combined weight gain of about 60lbs between the two of us. Not exactly my dream prospect when thinking about wedding dress shopping.
So we knew we had to accept that as good as we are for one another in so many other areas, this was one area where we weren't helping one another and we'd have to change that. So we did. We changed our diet and our habits. We would go to the gym together, encourage each other and keep one another on track. It wasn't easy. Especially when the alarm would go off and all we would want to do it stay home and work in our sweatpants. It was definitely not easy to drive past our favorite pizza place and not go inside (even when one of us was trying to justify that "one slice couldn't hurt.") And I must admit it had to be pretty trying on Rob when I would throw a temper tantrum when I couldn't get my chocolate fix. (I am mystified sometimes that he still married me after that.)
By the time our wedding came (about a year and a half after our engagement) we had lost more weight than we had gained in that first year together. We had lost a combined total of 100 pounds (Rob lost 60lbs, I lost 40lbs). I weighed less on our wedding day than I had throughout my entire four years of high school, and college for that matter - a huge accomplishment for me personally. With Rob's help and motivation I had done what I had never been able to do before.
Going off on our honeymoon in Hawaii we felt like we had a new lease on life. Problem was, we no longer had a deadline or additional weight to lose. Our perception of what we could do now was way out of whack. We thought that since we were "skinny" now, we could eat whatever we wanted. And we did. Every place that had a "Best Hamburger" sign in Hawaii I had to try - “How else would I know which was the best?”, I justified. (Dukes in Waikiki Beach won by the way.) When we got back from our honeymoon, we had each put on about 5lbs. It didn't seem too bad, but it was a slippery slope. Five pounds became ten and, even though we didn't get back up to where we were before we knew that if we didn’t watch what we were doing we could go right back there.
It was then that we realized that this wasn't going to be a one-time thing. This would have to be a constant battle - us vs. the gym, me vs. chocolate, Rob vs. Pizza, us vs. the many, many other things we wanted to eat and shouldn't (at least not in the quantity we wanted). It's been a back and forth fight, and sometimes we do better than others (the holidays are always rough, it’s way too hard to say no to pies and stuffing).
Two weeks ago we decided once again to get back on track. We're back at the gym, cutting back the calories and excessive carbs and trying not to be too goal-focused because we know now that the ultimate goal is to be healthy, not just fit into a certain size. That's the biggest lesson we have learned in the course of this whole process, how to work together to change our lives and our mindsets. I think it's made us a stronger team and even helps us in what we do in the office, on wedding days, maybe even in life in general.
I'm sure everyone has a thing they constantly trying to work on, individually or as couple. Hopefully you also have someone (a friend, a significant other) that helps reach your goals and win the fight. So tell us, what's your biggest weakness?
So as you can probably tell, this is our before and after picture. Not sure what in the world possessed either of us to wear the outfits we are wearing in the before (not very flattering, but I guess that's the point of a before pictures, not like we knew it was "before" at the time).
Right after we met at Chris & Meghan for the first time, we closed the door, looked at each other, and didn't have to say much to know that we were in complete agreement about two things. First, that we had probably just met the single most excited groom we had ever seen and second - that we couldn't wait to photograph their wedding. All through that first meeting, Chris held Meghan's hand tight as he talked about the wedding plans with the same level of energy you hear a lot of guys talking about the starting line up of their fantasy football team. And, to be honest, he was getting us pretty excited too. All of the details sounded amazing, of course, but we were just drawn to how happy they both were. Because it was clear that Chris wasn't really particularly interested in each and every single detail of the wedding, he was just that eager to marry Meghan. And Meghan, she actually didn't have to say much of anything to make her feelings known, happiness was clearly written all over her face.
They definitely brought that excitement to their wedding itself. In fact, they even turned it up several notches. That was evident from the beginning of the day when Meghan was nearly brought to tears by the note tucked into the roses Chris had delivered to her that morning. Her sister and her best friends gathered around her, ohh-ing and ahh-ing at it all. More than one of them told Meghan that she had found "a keeper," even though they knew that was not news to her. We saw that excitement again when we arrived at the church and saw Chris for the first time that day. He was surrounded by his groomsmen, making them all laugh. Pretty soon they all had the same big smiles on their faces. Not only because of Chris' jokes, but also because they were all so happy that he had found the perfect girl for him. But without a doubt, Meghan and Chris spread their joy to every single person in the room when they did their first dance. It was then that their excitement to be married to one another was in full view. They danced to Alicia Key's "If I Ain't Got You," an energetic dance with just a touch of drama and tons of fun, much like the two of them. Their guest lined the dance floor and the balcony of the Society Room, captivated. Even while we were photographing it, we were pretty enthralled ourselves. It was just another reminder of how lucky we are to do what we do, because of moments like this. Moments when two people's love for each other is so evident that you can actually feel it yourself when you see them together. No doubt that's what all of their guests saw too.
* * *
We started the day at Meghan's childhood home where we were greeted by her parents who were just as sweet as she is. They insisted on feeding us snacks (yes, please!) and showed us where we could find Meghan's dress and shoes to get a head start on the fun detail shots before Meghan and her bridesmaids returned from hair and make-up. We found some gorgeous light and great locations and had just finished up right in time for Meghan's return home. She saw the roses first thing and knew right away who they were from. After gushing a bit about just how amazing Chris is, she and her girls headed upstairs to get her into the dress. She came down looking stunning and braved the cold outside for a couple of shots. (She said she had been going outside without a coat the last couple of days to build up a resistance.) Thankfully she had a fur wrap to put on as we headed over to St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hartford for the ceremony.
It was a romantic ceremony which ended with one of our favorite readings, the Apache wedding blessing. (Check it out if you get a chance, it's really beautiful). From there, we headed over to City Hall in Hartford for some shots of Meghan, Chris and their wedding party in the hall's beautiful atrium (just some of the incredible architecture you can find in Hartford.) The reception took place at yet another Hartford architectural gem, The Society Room of Hartford, which we were very excited about since we are big fans of super cool old buildings. The Society Room is particularly unique in that aspect - it used to be bank and the building is just plain gorgeous (the light fixtures, the ceiling, the old vault). It was the perfect place for the type of party Chris and Meghan wanted their reception to be - elegant, romantic and fun. And that's exactly what the night turned out to be - tons of dancing, delicious food, and plenty of laughs. A huge celebration for one ridiculously happy couple.
We started the day at Meghan's parent's house where we actually arrived a few minutes before Meghan and her girls got back from the hair salon. It gave us a chance to know Meghan's parent's even better while we captured some photos of her dress...
...and her shoes.
Details are such an important part of a wedding story, after all they are the things that help trigger the feelings and memories of the day. On the bottom left, Meghan's Maid-of-Honor puts the finishing touches on her speech.
Meghan's classic red rose bouquet was really beautiful.
Meghan could not contain her excitement as she was helped into her wedding gown by her sister.
The moments before the ceremony are always filled with such a fun energy. It is a mix of a little bit or nervousness, a lot of excitement and usually a whole lot of fun, we really love it.
Meghan looked absolutely beautiful.
Despite the cold (and it was quite cold) Meghan had no problem going outside for a couple of shots...
...and neither did her girls!
We love this moment as Meghan's Dad sees her in her wedding dress.
We think of each part of a wedding day as a chapter in a book, many smaller stories that make up the big one. So I guess arriving to the church would be Chapter 2! :) Meghan and Chris got married at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hartford. How insanely great is that winter blue sky?!
We entered to the sounds of string music filling the church with gorgeous music.
We also found this bobble head verison of Chris and let me tell you, it was really right on! Take a look...
...See how close. Now I kind of want one of myself! :)
Kathleen waited outside to capture Meghan getting out of the limo and coming into the church...
...as I stayed up front to get these three adorable flower girls coming down the aisle.
As everyone made it down the aisle Meghan waited patiently with her Dad.
This church was so classically beautiful and we absolutely loved the long aisle. Kathleen captured the photo on the left while I captured the one on the right. Meghan didn't stop smiling once as she made her way closer to her soon-to-be husband one step at a time.
I love the handoff, it is such an exciting and emotional moment. It is kind of when everything becomes really real.
As soon as Meghan and Chris sat down at the beginning of their ceremony, the both look at each other with pure happiness and love in their eyes.
There happened to be an elevator at the front of the church and it was partially covered by a small wall. This provided the perfect place for us to hide (as to not be obtrusive) and get a great vantage point such as this.
See didn't I tell you that this church was really beautiful?! It was filled with so many great architectural details.
Meghan and Chris stepped up three stairs to the sanctuary for their wedding ceremony.
Meghan did not once take her eyes of Chris as she sweetly watched him recite his vows to her...
...and Chris did not stop smiling or take his eyes off of Meghan. We LOVE moments like this.
Their exchange of rings...
...followed by their first kiss.
Kathleen loves looking for the groom's reaction after the wedding ceremony and this is really great.
I had to fight a little (in a good way of course - armed with a smile) to get this shot as many of the guests were jumping out in front of me to get Meghan and Chris walking out of the church. So much excitement!
After the church we headed over to Hartford City Hall for photos with the wedding party and of course with Meghan and Chris.
They were such a fun group.
We were running a little tight on time but that did not stop us from capturing some seriously amazing moments between Meghan and Chris.
The energy that Meghan and Chris radiate is really wonderful.
I know that we probably start to sound like a broken record, but we really love Hartford City Hall, especially the stairwells...
...and really tall ceilings.
The thing that is great about this photo is that Megan and Chris did this without us telling them to do anything.
Can't you tell how happy them make each other just by how they look at each other?!
As I mentioned a little earlier, some things ran a little late during the day so we had literally only about 10 minutes at City Hall. For those of you who have been there you know how amazing it is to get to all of these places in a such a short time. It was a really good thing though because we all got our workouts.
Chris always did a good job making Meghan laugh.
Kathleen captured the shot on the left (which I love - I really like the open space behind them) and I captured the shot on the right.
On our way out or course we had to get a couple more photos of Meghan and Chris on the stairs. Mine is the one on the left and Kathleen's is the one on the right.
Speaking of really beautiful architecture, we headed over to The Society Room of Hartford. This place is so magnificent, you feel like you have been transformed to a time where we should be carrying cameras that have those big lightbulb size flashes.
I mean tall ceilings, insane chandeliers, details everywhere - does it get any better?
Chris and Meghan had famed photos of their familiy members weddings as one of the details of their day. We love touches like this.
As if this room wasn't already amazing enough, Meghan and Chris were introduced down a big sweeping staircase with their guests on both levels cheering for them.
Their first dance started off slow...
...and then really picked up some speed.
Kathleen captured this emotional image...
...as I ran up the stairs to get this one. We could have shared a ton more moments from just their first dance.
Meghan also danced with her Dad - one of Kathleen's favorite moments...
...and Chris danced with his Mom.
Right after cake cutting, Chris swept Meghan off her feet and gave her a huge kiss.
The Society Room at one time used to be a bank so the original vault is still there. How cool is that!
Meghan & Chris - thank you so much for letting us into your lives for this truly magical day. We hope you had a wonderful time on your honeymoon and can't wait to catch up with you soon! ~Rob & Kathleen
If you read our blog regularly you probably already know that we have a thing for Paris. We visited it for the first time in the summer of 2008 and we were hooked. Rob says that Paris is one of those places that has such a grip on you that you don't even realize it until you have left it. And as soon as we left, we felt it. We were aching to go back. In fact, this past summer we were trying to decide where to go on our next vacation and we were having the hardest time. We have a long list of places we'd like to visit but we felt like we hadn't seen all we wanted to see in Paris.
To be honest, we felt a little weird telling people that we were going to Paris for the second year in a row. Because to some people Paris is the city of poodles and overindulgence. But that's not the Paris that we know. We saw a city filled with art, music and architecture. A place where it wouldn't be unusual to stumble upon an impromptu performance of live music on the street, on a bridge or even in a metro car. A place where you could have just as amazing a meal on a picnic blanket by the water as you could at a bistro in the fanciest part of town. A place filled with people with broad smiles and big hearts - people that would give you a ride to your hotel because they wanted to help you but couldn't speak English (a man actually did that for us), people that would buy extra fruit to hand out to a poor woman with a child on the metro.
A place with an energy and spirit that have inspired some of the most treasured contributions to art, music, theater and design. And we like to think that when we visit just a small bit of that energy is passed along to us. To put it simply, Paris just plain inspires us. Even more so this past summer when we met up with a few French photographers. We were blown away by their openness, excitement and passion for photography. We only got to spend a few hours with them but we loved every minute of it. And as soon as we got home we realized that something we had been dreaming about since the very first time we visited Paris could be a reality. We could get together with photographers out in Europe and share with them what we have learned and what we love about what we do. And get to shoot with them in front of some of the most incredible locations in the world. And now we will.
We know it's going to be an amazing adventure and can't wait to meet even more European (and maybe even some more American) photographers and reconnect with the ones we already know. We will be sharing the lessons we have learned about building our business, creating beautiful images during the fast-paced wedding day and establishing a solid web presence. Most of all, we want to share what we feel to be the true nature of Paris: the city that we know, the one that inspires us - the one we know will inspire you as well.
*** For more info and to Sign Up for “Taking Off” CLICK on the logo below ***
Most people probably just know Robert & Kathleen Photographers as just the two of us. But for the last six years there has been another person who has been right by our side: Susan Magnano. Sue started out as Rob's steady second shooter and then became our third shooter when Kathleen officially came on board full-time. We have loved having her with us at weddings - not only does she take incredible photos but she's just plain fun to be around (any of you that have had Susan at your own weddings can certainly attest to that). Even more, she has been an invaluable source of friendship and inspiration to us, encouraging us every step along the way and being one of our biggest cheerleaders.
In that last year or so, we have been very fortunate in that our hard work has been paying off in a big way. We are generating more and more interest our photography for weddings. One of the hardest things for us is getting an amazing request from an excited couple only to realize that we are booked already for their date. As the interest has grown we have decided that the best solution would be to place those interested couples into the hands of someone that has been by our side, someone that knows and understands our approach to weddings, and someone that has her own personality and style that we know our couples would love. We didn't have too look very far to find that perfect person, we knew who it would be all along. Susan has shot countless weddings with us starting back in 2004, she knows the ins-and-outs of how we approach a wedding day just as well as we do and we have been blown away by her work time and time again.
So it's with tremendous joy that we announce that Susan will now be booking weddings for 2010. She'll have her own custom packages, which include a second shooter at your wedding, and can include an engagement session, wedding album, guest book, etc. She will be available for weddings in Connecticut, the Northeast and any destination you may have in mind. There will be blog posts directly from Susan, she'll even have her own stamp coming soon! You'll get to meet her couples, see the weddings she photographs and possibly even see the places she goes (like us, Sue loves to travel and she takes the most incredible landscape photographs). To secure Susan for your wedding date, contact us right away! She's already booking up fast!
To give you an idea of Susan’s talent and style, below are some of our favorite photos from just a few of the weddings she shot with us in 2009.