It wasn't exactly the type of evening that Abby would have pictured if she had been asked to guess what it would be like the night she met her future husband. It was a bar on the Upper West Side. She had gone there to meet up with a friend. Her friend happened to bring along a friend of his own. His name was Mark. With his unique sense of humor and kind smile, Abby was drawn to him. A conversation sparked between them and they began to hit it off. Neither of them can quite remember what was said to prompt it, but somehow in the course of that evening Abby did a spit take upon which Mark was on the receiving end. Her drink all over his face. It's safe to say that when Abby left the bar that evening she didn't think she'd be hearing from Mark. Although she wished that she would.
Thankfully their mutual friend recognized the connection between the two and encouraged Mark to reach out to Abby. To say Abby was pleasantly surprised when she heard from Mark is a bit more than an understatement. He asked her out on a proper NYC date - lunch in Union Square. They walked around the neighborhood following lunch, discovering how much they had in common and enjoyed one another's company.
Abby started spending more time in her home town of Philly short after that and got a hint of how serious the relationship was starting to become when Mark made the trip from NYC to Philadelphia, with flowers for her on his lap throughout the entire train ride. She shared her favorite parts of Philly with him - took him for cheesesteaks and water ice, showed him Independence Hall and Liberty Bell. Like most landmarks, the Liberty Bell isn't exactly interactive - it's more of the "there it is" type of monument, you really just go and look at it. Mark told Abby later that was when he knew he was falling in love with her. He knew if they could have that much fun at the Liberty Bell, they could have fun anywhere.
When it came time to propose, Mark knew there was just one place to do it. He suggested they go down to Philly, have some cheesesteaks and get some water ice. Then he walked Abby over to the Liberty Bell. She turned away for a minute and when she looked back he was kneeling with a ring box in his hand. Thankfully, Abby wasn't drinking anything when she saw this, because it probably would have been that night in the bar all over again. This time it was just a yes, a giant hug and the promise to have fun together for the rest of the lives, no matter where they end up.
While Rob was at the hotel with Abby while she was getting ready, I was at Abby & Mark's Chelsea apartment hanging out with Mark and his groomsmen.
I actually very much enjoy getting to spend time with the guys in the morning. I have three older brothers, so it kinda reminds me of some of the wacky things my brothers would do. Mark and his groomsmen were a lot of fun.
Abby's engagement ring has special significance. The center stone is from Abby's mother's engagement ring. Mark had it set by the Belenky Brothers, the same jewelry store where his own mother's ring came from.
Abby looked absolutely gorgeous - classic and understated.
Abby has three brothers and is the only girl. Safe to say her father was pretty emotional when he saw her all decked out in her wedding dress.
We did Abby & Mark's first look in the courtyard of their apartment complex. Mark has lived there all his life. His parents still live in the same apartment her grew up in and he got a place of his own in the very same building. So doing the first look there had a special meaning. (It also meant his parents could look down from their balcony :).
Mark's reaction was completely priceless. He was so happy.
He couldn't wait to grab Abby's hands and spin her around.
And, of course, plant a big kiss on her.
The day wouldn't be complete without a "family" photo including Abby & Mark's dog Beaux. He was dressed up for the occasion, naturally.
The best part about shooting in this courtyard were all the neighbors that passed by and congratulated Abby & Mark. You could tell there was a very strong sense of community among the neighbors.
Abby & Mark made the very smart decision to have a car from First Corporate Sedan transport them around the city for their day. We went to the Meatpacking District to start off.
There's nothing like the cobblestone streets in this part of the city. We were SO glad that Abby and Mark had set aside so much time for photos so they could really take advantage of having a NYC wedding.
If there is one thing you learn right away about Abby & Mark it is that they make each other laugh. A lot. This shot is so naturally them.
We took the very short walk over to the High Line to mix it up a bit. Of course, Mark was making Abby laugh, as usual.
Within all the laughing, you can sense a real tenderness between Abby & Mark, they are so sweet with one another.
We have done so many shoots in the city and we can say that people hardly ever even pay attention. Until there is a wedding dress, then people stop and look. Especially when the bride is as beautiful as Abby.
One of our favorite things about what we do is that we have the rare job when we get to be around people who are happy. How many other people can say that? How many other people get to see smiles like this when they're working? Look at how sweet Abby & Mark are together - moments like these make our day.
I love the way Mark is pulling Abby in in this shot, like he can't bring her in close enough.
We headed from the High Line straight over to The Bowery Hotel, where the ceremony and reception would be taking place.
One of our favorite things about doing weddings in the city are the random moments that you really wouldn't see anywhere else. When we arrived at the hotel this little girl was walking down the street with her mother. She walked over to tell Abby how pretty she looked.
The Bowery Hotel is one of the coolest NYC hotels we have been in. From the lobby to the event space, everything has the same old-school NYC vibe that really sets the tone for the whole night.
The ceremony took place in this room, filled with light when we arrived. It was dark outside when the ceremony took place and filled with candles creating a romantic, intimate atmosphere.
Abby's grandmother Joyce made the Chuppah. Abby and Mark were the fifth couple to be married underneath it.
There were many framed pictures at the reception, including several of Abby's beautiful mother.
The candlelit ceremony started off when Abby was escorted down the aisle by her father.
This shot is classic Abby and really speaks to our belief that a "First Look" doesn't change the emotion of a ceremony. Although she and Mark had seen each other before the ceremony, Abby is still beyond thrilled and overcome with emotion when she and Mark stood in front of all their guests for the first time. At this moment it really became real - they're about to be married.
You may have seen this sneak peak from our Facebook page. One of my favorite shots from the ceremony. I absolutely love the perspective Rob got.
There were very loud cheers as Mark stomped on the glass and then shared his first kiss with his wife! :)
We had some fun with the wedding party out on the patio at the hotel.
Gotta love the super cute signs Abby tracked down.
The room where the reception took place was absolutely gorgeous, with the dramatic chandeliers and the centerpieces from City Iris creating a dramatic impact.
It was important to Abby and Mark that their guests have a lot of fun throughout the entire day. One of the things that drew them to the Bowery Hotel was the unique space by the bar that had an open setting and included a pool table.
The dancing was kicked off with Abby & Mark's first dance.
The, of course, the Hora.
Maybe it's because we're parents now, but the parent dances at Abby & Mark's wedding were extra emotional for me. It was so obvious how much their parents adored them and so sweet to get to see them hold them close and share in their happiness.
At the very end of the evening, we were grabbed Abby & Mark for a few minutes (they were glad to have the time to sit down and relax for a few!) when we spotted this fantastic beam of light right above a bench. This shot was the result - perfect way to end an evening if you ask us! :)
Abby & Mark, thank you SO much for inviting us to capture your beautiful day. We couldn't be happier for you both!
On the evening of October 23, 2011, I stood by the side of Malachy's crib, starred down at him and cried. I cried big, fat sloppy tears that turned into sobs. The sobs lead to the kind of heavy sighs in my chest I used to get when I'd cry as a little kid. As the clock turned to 10:13pm I felt an ache, knowing that one full week had gone by since he was born. Just like that, the week was over. I could never re-live those days. All I could think was, did I remember enough of it? Did I appreciate every moment? Did I let the sleep deprivation fog my memory? It was inconceivable to me that a week had flown by that quickly. How in the world did that happen? With the mix of lack of sleep and post pregnancy weepiness, I was a mess.
I felt completely helpless, like the time was already starting to slip away from me and there was nothing I could do about it. There was nothing in the world I wanted more in that moment than to figure out a way to slow down the clock. To not let another day, another week slip away so quickly. The teeny, tiny baby newborn we had brought home from the hospital was changing in front of our eyes already. It's only going to get faster, I thought to myself. Rob saw me standing in the nursery and came in. One look at my face and he understood without having to say a word. He pulled me into his arms and I leaned on him, gave up wiping the tears away and just let them stream down my face while I continued to stare at our beautiful little boy. A week I mumbled. I felt Rob nodding while he rested his chin on the top of me head. It's going by too fast already, I said.
The next day, after I composed myself, I did what any logical first time mom would do: I called my mother. She always has the best advice. She had four children, she had to know this feeling, I thought. My oldest brother was well into his thirties now. How do you deal with that? I asked her. How do you accept your baby growing up so quickly?
I can still see the baby, she said. I look at each of you and I see not only who you are now, but I can still see the baby, the toddler, the child, the teenager - all the stages of your life so far. She explained to me that with each new stage, she was sad to say goodbye to the previous stage but excited to get to see all the new things we were doing. That little baby may grow up, but it's never really gone.
Of course I cried while she told me this, imagining Malachy's first day of preschool, the day he would learn to ride a bike. Exciting moments of course, but each of them would mean another stage was over. But time had to move forward, I wanted him to grow and learn and do new things. And really, I couldn't stop time even if I tried. All that was left to do was embrace the change and freeze as many moments as possible in my mind (and with my camera) so that I can remember it all. I started taking more pictures, even if it meant doing more with my point and shoot rather than our pro gear - I didn't need to pull out the big lenses for every moment, I just had to capture them. The pro pictures would happen too. I started a journal for Malachy, writing him a letter every night, telling him about the cute things he did that day. Really, all of it is probably more for me than for him and that's okay. Because when he's a teenager, standing six feet tall and looking down at me, I'll still see that tiny little baby whose crib I cried over when he turned a week old. And when I miss that baby, I'll have the journal to read and the pictures to stare at. Time is going to keep on moving forward, I'm just going to keep on soaking in each and every moment - writing and taking pictures to help myself remember them later.
And someday (in the very distant future) when Malachy is an adult with a baby of his own, I'll be there for him just like my mother was for me. I'll let him know that he'll always have that little baby in his mind. No matter how fast he may grow up.
It was their freshman year in college when he spotted her across the quad and made it his mission to get to know her. She was sitting on the grass, her big brown eyes shining as she laughed and talked with her friend. There was something about her - her eyes, her smile, he couldn't decide which one for certain - that made him feel drawn to her. Ian knew he had to get to know this girl. He put on his most casual expression and slowly made his way over to them to introduce himself. Her name was Alyssa and her eyes were even more beautiful up close.
They became friends from that point on and it didn't take Ian very long at all to figure out that Alyssa was different. She wasn't the kind of girl you date for a few months, or even a few years. This was the kind of girl you marry. The exact girl he could even imagine marrying. The thought was almost too much for him. He was just a freshman in college after all - who could plan for forever now? So as much as he would have loved to ask her out that year, he didn't do it.
They spent the summer apart - she in her home in Westchester, New York, he in Pennslyvania - and although they may not have talked much she was definitely on his mind. They returned to school in August and Ian asked Alyssa out within one week of their Sophomore year. And just like Ian had predicted, they have been together ever since. Through the rest of college, studying abroad in London, during law school and graduate school, they have been together - making each other laugh, holding each other close and being forever grateful that they happened to be on the quad together at the same time all those years ago.
Today, Ian shakes his head when he thinks about his reluctance to ask Alyssa out at first even though he was so clearly crazy about her even then. Now it seems silly that he hesitated for even a day, but I'm sure many of us can think of a time we did something similar - waiting on something clearly so perfect for us because the timing didn't seem "right." Maybe there is no "right" time, there's just "the" time. The time when the universe gives you exactly what you need even when you may not even realize it. And in those moments you have to seize what's in front of you and trust. Trust that everything really does happen for a reason. Just look at how well it worked out for Ian. In November he'll marry the girl of his dreams and get to stare into those big brown eyes for the rest of his life.
Even before they met, it seems as though Jillian and Alex were on parallel paths in life. Growing up in different parts of the same state, they somehow managed to develop the same passions in life - hard work, travel, music, family. They even shared a lot of the same quirky interests, like their mutual love of late '90's punk rock and Broadway show tunes. They could have easily made each other the perfect mix CD (back when people still made mix CD's) even though they didn't even know one another.
Their paths crossed after they both had graduated college, after Jillian had wowed Alex's company with her internship skills and had landed a full-time job. They logged many hours together - working on the same team at work, happy hours with fellow co-workers - and yet neither of them took the leap toward romance right away. From seeing the way they interact today, there's little doubt that Alex was making Jillian laugh from the start. And from the way Alex looks at Jillian, it's clear that he noticed just how beautiful she was from day one. Maybe they were hesitant about an office romance at first, but after one adventurous night out in the city Jillian could no longer deny that Alex just might be the man of her dreams. It wasn't long after that Alex realized that Jillian was exactly what he wanted - and most importantly, exactly what he needed in his life.
Jillian & Alex, thank you for a wonderful afternoon exploring Grand Central together! We can't wait for your big day!