The first kiss is the official first step as a married couple. Liz & Steve had an amazing one complete with mountains and streamers! Mabyn Ludke Photography


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Up until a couple of years ago, I had never been past Buffalo NY as far as going west in the USA. The east coast and I had become fast friends, but the rest of the country was an undiscovered adventure waiting to happen. Slowly but surely, wedding photography has brought me to places like Chicago, Colorado, Boston, St. Thomas, Long Island, Florida, and now my longest flight to California! These adventures never would have been a thought in my head if it weren’t for some pretty incredible people. My clients, whom have taken it upon themselves to get me to their wedding, are the only reason I’ve been able to adventure and see this beautiful country.

Liz & Steve are two such incredible people that I’ve been privileged to meet and befriend.  We originally met to chat about their Syracuse based wedding that was quickly turning into a mega event! After watching the guest list grow and grow, Liz & Steve realized that their dream wedding day didn’t include running around like chickens all day saying hi to 400 people and maybe getting a bite of cake in between. They really wanted to enjoy their day with their closest and dearest family & friends. So as many of my destination clients do, they changed their original plans to and started searching Napa California for the perfect venue. The most surprising part of it all was that they asked me to come with! *insert the happiest of dances here*

When Gina and I drove up Napa Valley we couldn’t help but be in awe by it’s beauty. I mean, you hear about how beautiful wine country is, but you don’t really get it until your there. Had Gina and I known, I think we would have spent more time there. I definitely want to go back and just wander! But I will say, that Liz & Steve chose one of the most incredible venue’s I’ve shot at yet. Calistoga Ranch is this amazing little hide away that is tucked on the hillside of a mountain. It’s got this feel like you’re camping in the forest but at the hight of luxury.

So when I’m at a venue like this, and the likely hood of being there again is low, I try to take full advantage if I can. Sometimes I ask a little more of my clients than I normally would. I knew Liz & Steve wanted amazing photos, so I stepped out of my comfort zone and asked if they’d be willing to take a short walk up one of the hiking trails there at the Ranch. It was risky, the trail was dusty, and Liz hadn’t officially walked down the isle yet, but regardless they said YES! Really?! YES?! We held up her dress & made the walk up to the perfect little ledge. I scrambled down the hill (got covered in tumble weeds in the process) and snapped away while Liz & Steve snuggled on the hillside. How many brides can say they took a hike on their wedding day? I love Liz so much! 😀

Then it was time for their wedding & celebration. Jessica Kerns of So Eventful took Calistoga Ranch and made it her playground! Every inch of Liz & Steve’s wedding was covered in some sort of beautiful detail, from the stationary to the flowers, to the adorable cake topper, everything was flawless. So of course you know I was feeling like a kid in a candy shop. The rest of the day was full hugs, stories, dancing, and a lot of delicious wine! It was an honor to get to know Liz & Steve’s family & friends and spend time capturing every moment for this rockin’ adventurous couple! It’s weddings like this that remind me of how lucky I am to do what I do. Thank you Liz & Steve for having such faith and trust in me. I can’t wait to see you and share everything with you!


Liz & Steve were married in Napa Valley. It was a stunning area.Grape season was early this year which I found very convenient. Thank you Napa Valley for the perfect day! MaThe groom getting ready in a near by hotel in his rented tux from Mens Warehouse. By MabynBoutonnieres by Bella Vita Event Productions captured by Mabyn LudkeLiz gave her groom Syracuse cufflinks as her gift. A little piece of home in Calistoga California.Liz's Alfred Angelo gown couldn't look more amazing at Calistoga Ranch in California. Photo by MabynphiloSophie did a wonderful job creating Liz and Steve's invitations and other stationary.California succulents are a beautiful accent to Liz & Steve's wedding rings. Rings are some of Mabyn's favorite details to shoot.

The mother of the bride and her beautiful daughter spending a sweet moment together as Liz gets ready. Mabyn Ludke Photography

Liz looked stunning in her Alfred Angelo gown just moments before she saw Steve for the first time. Mabyn Ludke PhotographyI love Liz's excited face before her first look session with Steve. You can cut the anticipation with a knife!The looks of love that melt my heart in a first look. Mabyn's favorite moments!Liz had a beautiful veil that loved to flow in the wind while they rode in the golf cart around Calistoga Ranch. Photography by Mabyn LudkeLiz rocked her Alfred Angelo gown and Mabyn Ludke Photography was in love with the California country side at Calistoga Ranch.Liz and Steve took their wedding plans from Syracuse NY to Calistoga California. Mabyn Ludke captured the dreamy romance of their destination wedding day.Calistoga Ranch provides a beautiful backdrop for wedding portraits. Photo by Mabyn LudkeAn epic wedding calls for an epic setting. The California country side did not disappoint! Photo by Mabyn LudkeHow many couples take the time for a romantic walk on their wedding day? A first look really slows the whole day down and allows you to really enjoy your day. Photo and advice by Mabyn Ludke PhotographyLiz & Steve had sweet details everywhere. I especially love this one on the bar. Mabyn Ludke PhotographyI especially loved Liz & Steve's ceremony programs. This unique fan shape was beautiful and who doesn't love a streamer send off? Program by philoSophie’s and photography by MabynJessica Kerns of So Eventful designed a simple and intimate wedding ceremony for Liz & Steve's big day. Photo by MabynMoments like this between a bride and her father are why I love wedding photography. Liz & her dad were so sweet walking down the isle. Mabyn Ludke PhotographyCalistoga Ranch has some breathtaking mountain views. Calistoga Ranch is the perfect spot for an intimate wedding. Photo by MabynLavender bushes lined the path to Liz & Steve's romantic California wedding at Calistoga Ranch. Mabyn Ludke PhotographyLiz & Steve kept their wedding small. Only 30 guests attended their day at Calistoga Ranch which kept the mood intimate and peaceful. Photo by Mabyn LudkeLiz, Steve, and their wedding party look on as their friend serenades them with a gorgeous Adel song at Calistoga Ranch in California. Mabyn Ludke PhotorgraphyThe first kiss is the official first step as a married couple. Liz & Steve had an amazing one complete with mountains and streamers! Mabyn Ludke PhotographyThe Wine Cave at Calistoga Ranch is an amazing setting for a wedding reception. Photo by Mabyn LudkeJessica Kerns of So Eventful created an elegant table setup for Liz & Steve's gorgeous wedding with the help of Bella Vita Event Productions in the Wine Cave at Calistoga Ranch. Mabyn Ludke PhotographyMabyn Ludke Photography was in love with these silver sparkly chargers that Jessica Kerns of So Eventful found for Liz & Steve's Calistoga Ranch WeddingMabyn Ludke Photography was in full display all over the Wine Cave at Calistoga Ranch.Jessica Kerns of So Eventful thought of ever little detail for Liz & Steve's Wine Cave wedding reception. Location Calistoga Ranch. Photography by Mabyn LudkeBella Vita Event Productions couldn't have created more beautiful floral arrangements and So Eventful did an amazing job bringing Liz & Steve's vision to life. The Wine Cave at Calistoga Ranch was absolutely breathtaking. Mabyn Ludke PhotographyPâtisserie Angelica made one of the cutest wedding cakes I've ever seen! I was especially in love with this sweet wire cake topper. Photo by MabynSmall weddings provide the perfect setting for more than just toasts. The guests at Liz & Steve's wedding told wonderful and hilarious stories all night long. Mabyn Ludke PhotographyLiz and her best friends celebrated her wedding day in the Wine Cave at Calistoga Ranch with wine and laughter. Photo by MabynEveryone had a good time at Calistoga Ranche's Wine Cave for Liz & Steve's beautiful California wedding. Photo by MabynA beautiful first dance in California at the Calistoga Ranch Wine Cave. Photography by MabynFun moments at a gorgeous Calistoga Ranch wedding by Mabyn Ludke PhotographyA very sweet moment with the bride and her father during their first dance at Calistoga Ranch. Mabyn Ludke PhotographyThe ceremony streamers came in hand at the reception when the guests decided to party at Calistoga Ranch. Photo by MabynAMS Entertainment knows how to throw a good pary. Liz & Steve's guests had an awesome time dancing the night away at Calistoga Ranch. Photography by Mabyn LudkeGuests were getting down on the dance floor while AMS Entertainment rocked it out. Photo by Mabynfriends, drinks, and amazing dance moves were all thanks to AMS Entertainment at Liz & Steve's Calistoga Ranch wedding. Mabyn Ludke PhotographyThe entrance to the wine cave was the perfect spot for Mabyn Ludke Photography to light up at the end of Liz & Steve's Calistoga Ranch reception.

– Tell me a bit about the planning process for your wedding: My husband and I initially began planning our wedding at home in the Syracuse area. We were planning a very large wedding to accommodate our large group of family and friends. However, as we progressed in the process, we began to realize the wedding we were planning was not the wedding we truly wanted. Half joking and half serious one night, my husband suggested we return to Napa Valley for my birthday to look into the possibility of planning a destination wedding. What we initially joked about, quickly became a reality as we booked plane tickets and engaged our wedding planner to help us with a venue search. Once we stepped foot on Calistoga Ranch’s property, there was no turning back. We fell in love with the natural beauty of the property and knew that a true “Napa Valley” wedding would be a once in a lifetime experience for us to share with our guests.

– What was the most memorable moment(s) of your day? For the Bride: Calistoga Ranch is located in a private valley and has several hiking trails for the use of their guests during their stay. On our wedding day, Mabyn asked us if we would be willing to “take a hike” so we could get some amazing pictures from one of the hiking trails. Our guests hardly believed me when I told them Steve and I had been hiking the hour just before our ceremony began! We had a blast and I’m sure the pictures will be even better!

For the Groom: For me, the most memorable moment was immediately after our ceremony was finished as we were introduced for the first time as husband and wife. However, the whole day was very memorable.

– Funniest memory from your wedding day? The funniest memory we have was when we had to quickly getting ready after getting back from our hike so that we could look our best for the wedding ceremony, and not look like we had just been working out, full wedding attire and all.

– If you had to do it all over again would you change anything?  We would have just started planning our Napa wedding sooner—we wouldn’t change anything about that experience.

– Any advice for future bride & grooms? Enjoy every moment of the planning process and most importantly, your wedding day. It is over too far quickly!

– What was your biggest fear before hiring Mabyn Ludke Photography? Did it come true, and if not, what happened instead? Right after my husband and I got engaged, we found out Mabyn was moving to North Carolina. We knew we wanted to hire her because we fell in love with her pictures after she photographed one of my law school friend’s weddings. Of course, we were afraid Maybe would not be willing to travel back to New York. And then, when we chose to have a destination wedding, we were afraid she wouldn’t want to travel to California with us! Mabyn was nothing but supportive throughout the entire process. She even had an assistant travel with her to help document our wedding day. Her enthusiasm and excitement to go on this journey with us was a very special part of our wedding weekend.

– What, specifically, was your favorite part of working with Mabyn Ludke Photography and why? Mabyn’s personality allowed us to relax. She instantly became a friend in addition to being our photographer. She made us comfortable during our photo shoots and her work product has always been impeccable. We have never doubted the quality of work we would receive from Mabyn. She is truly an amazing artist!

– If you were to recommend Mabyn Ludke Photography to your best friend, what would you say? Before my husband and I were even engaged, I recommended Mabyn to a close law school friend for her wedding. All I told her was, take a look at her pictures—they are worth more than I could ever say. Of course, just as I did, she saw Mabyn’s work posted on her blog and there was no turning back. Mabyn has a gift to be able to capture raw emotion and love in every picture she takes. It is a gift very few have, and Mabyn no doubt does!

Hair/Makeup Artist: Denise Cronk, Studio 304, Liverpool, New York // Dress Designer & Store Location: Alfred Angelo, Syracuse, New York // Jewelry: Lia Sophia // Veil or Hair accessories: Alfred Angelo, Syracuse, New York // Shoes: Kate Spade // Bridesmaids Dresses: Alfred Angelo, Syracuse, New York // Grooms Attire: Men’s Wearhouse // Ceremony Venue: Lommel Lawn at Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga, California // Reception Venue: Wine Cave at Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga, California // Florist: Bella Vita Event Productions, Santa Rosa, California // Transportation: Pure Luxury Transportation, Petaluma, California // DJ: AMS Entertainment, Sebastopol, California // Caterer: Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga, California // Cake: Pâtisserie Angelica, Sebastopol, California // Event Designer/Wedding Coordinator: Jessica Kerns of So Eventful, Healdsburg, California // Invitations & Stationary: philoSophie’s, Spencerport, New York // Other event rentals: Hartmann Studios, Richmond, California; Encore Event Rentals, Petaluma, California

Calistoga Ranch Wedding – Liz & Steve

Syracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography


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A wedding is stressful. There are so many details that have to play out perfectly. It’s easy to becom overwhelmed and turn into bridezilla! I have yet to experience a bridezilla, but I’ve whitnessed numerous occasions that easily could have warranted it. Luckily my brides understand that in the end the most important part of the day isnt the flowers, cake, or dresses,it’s that they’re getting married to the one they’re intended for!

Rachel is a perfect example of how to take pressure in stride. She pretty much planned her whole wedding from Florida! So many factors could have gone wrong, but none of that mattered when she saw Ben at their first look! The stress melted away and their genuine love and affection transformed their day! Despite the weird winter weather (40 degrees in Jan) their wedding was gorgeous! Amy and I had a great time capturing every single moment!




Syracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography

Syracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke PhotographySyracuse, NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography

How did your fiance propose? It was a Sunday like any other. I got up early and headed off to church where I was singing in the worship service and had to be there at an undesirably early hour. While there, I shot off a few texts to Ben while he was at school and received one back telling me he had a funny story to relate when I was out of church. I agreed to call him directly thereafter and because of that made no attempt at lunch plans or grocery shopping (which I actually needed to do). I arrived at my house and turned the key in the door, opening it up to about sixty lit candles, my favorite Trevor Hall song and 8.5×11 pieces of paper bearing some of my favorite poems and verses. They were even cited properly on the back. Needless to say, I cried, and made no effort to stop when I reached the kitchen and saw there Ben waiting with a diamond ring. I actually made him wait a little while I read all the poems in the kitchen along with the transcriptions of meaningful Facebook messages from the past year. On that day, January 29, 2012, one year exactly after our first date on a snowy Saturday night, Ben asked me to marry him. I think I said yes, I don’t actually remember because I was crying. But I believe there was nodding, at least enough for him to slip the ring on to my finger.
Tell me a bit about the planning process for your wedding (how did you pick the venue, colors, funny stories, etc..):
We planned the majority of our wedding in the summer of 2012 when Ben worked in Syracuse and I had the summer off. Otherwise it was all through phone calls and emails especially when I moved to Florida to start a new teaching job and Ben was in Philadelphia at school and my mother was shouldering most of the planning in Syracuse (the wedding location). My maid of honor, Kim (cousin) was supremely helpful. It really was a joint effort on all parts and I’m so grateful to everyone who made our special day so special.
What was the most memorable moment(s) of your day? One of my most memorable moments had to be during our first-look pictures when the bustle button snapped on my dress and we weren’t able to fix it until AFTER the ceremony. My little flower girl, Hallie, carried the train of my dress in her little arms as I greeted and hugged guests. She took her responsibilities very seriously 🙂
Funniest memory from your wedding day? My bouquet was so much heavier than I had anticipated and I didn’t actually hold it until we got to the church and I was waiting to go down the aisle. When I met Ben at the altar I was trying not to cry, so I made a joke and whispered to him “My bouquet is the weight of a toddler” and we both VERY silently chuckled.
If you had to do it all over again would you change anything? I would danced more 🙂
Any advice for future bride & grooms? It truly does go by in an instant. When Ben and I were sitting at our sweetheart table he said to me “Just take a moment and look around, drink it all in. It’s a day like no other.” I echo his advice to any bride and groom. Enjoy every moment!
What was your favorite part about working with Mabyn Ludke Photography? I really felt like Mabyn was committed to getting the right shot. It was fun and easy to work with her, she made us feel comfortable right from the very beginning.

Hair: Christina Lombardi//Makeup Artist: Christina Lombardi//Dress Designer & Store Location: Alfred Angelo in Syracuse//Jewelry: Pearls…idk from where. Gift from my mother.//Veil or Hair accessories: All Alfred Angelo//Shoes: Madden girl pumps from Sears//Bridesmaids Dresses: Alfred Angelo eggplant purple satin//Grooms Attire: Joseph A Banks grey suits//Ceremony Venue: Grace Assembly of God//Reception Venue: St. George’s Macedonian Orthodox Church//The Galleries of Syracuse//Transportation: American Limousine//DJ: Black Tie Entertainment//Caterer: Karen’s Catering//Cake: Nino’s Bakery//Wedding Coordinator: Andrea from Karen’s Catering//Invitations & Stationary: Kim Venuti

Rachel & Ben’s Love Story

Syracuse NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography


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You know those weddings where everyone has been on pins and needles waiting for this day to arrive? Where the emotions are running so high that it’s like an electric current is in the air? That is the best way I can describe the energy that surrounded Alexa & Mike’s wedding day! Everyone was so excited that there were sparks in the air!

I have known Alexa and Mike for almost as long as they have been together, which brings us to about 5 years! I’ve watched their relationship go from a budding romance to a full on epic love story! Everyone has known that Alexa and Mike were a perfect match for a long time, but they were careful and wanted to make the right choices in their relationship while keeping God as numero uno! I am so impressed by how they’ve gone about their relationship. I know that their wedding day is only the beginning of one of the best love stories that I’ll get to witness!

Along with the amazing energy in the air, Alexa & Mike’s wedding day had a deep deep love that combined with the electricity created an emotional event that I even cried at! I managed to make it through the whole ceremony, but as soon as they started walking down the isle the waterworks started to flow! After that moment everything was a joyful dance in celebration! We danced in the formal pictures and we rocked out at the reception! It was truly a buoyant celebration! Thank you so much Alexa and Mike! I feel so honored to have captured your day! I can’t wait to watch your story unfold!


Syracuse NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography

Syracuse NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography

Syracuse NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography

Syracuse NY Wedding Photographer Mabyn Ludke Photography

How did your fiance propose?
Well it was my birthday the day before, but he wanted to carry it over to Saturday. We started out by going to breakfast that morning, then we went up to the fish hatchery up north (random stop that we decided we wanted to do ) We went to Salmon river falls, one of the first places we went while dating, and then up to Southwick beach, where we first met. He originally said at the beginning of the day he wanted to do a picnic. And by the time we got to the beach, he wanted to walk around first, so he held my hand and we started walking and he was reminiscing about the first time we met. It was beautiful evening, sun was going to be setting and the water was glistening. We walked a little more talking, he turned around to me, and popped the question. I was totally blown away!! It was so sweet, and the day was so great!!! The way he did it was very much us I loved it and wouldn’t have changed a thing
Tell me a bit about the planning process for your wedding (how did you pick the venue, colors, funny stories, etc..):
The planning process wasn’t too bad actually, I had alot of help from my mama and my mother-in-law. In the beginning it was a little stressful picking things out, but down the line it got a little bit better making decisions I started out thinking I would do red and yellow as my colors, but that didn’t last too long, I ended up picking cobalt blue and yellow as my two colors. I just wasn’t set on the red and yellow, but knew I wanted to include yellow. And it turned out blue and yellow are my two favorite colors! I don’t even remember exactly how we picked Justin’s, I know that we were checking different venues, and my good friend Morgan was having her wedding reception at Justin’s as well. So we ended up meeting up Heather MacArthur, the wedding coordinator at Justin’s, and we really liked it so we went with them, and they did a FANTASTIC job!!! I’d recommend them to anyone.
What was the most memorable moment(s) of your day?
I have different ones I can think of, being with my bridesmaids beforehand was special spending time praying and getting ready. Another memorable moment was being up on stage with Michael for the ceremony. Thank Jesus I was calmer than I thought I was going to be! which was so great. But two of the most memorable for me that day, was going around with Michael and saying hello and thank you for coming to our family and friends. Thats definitely an important thing to him and I, and we were/are so thankful to God that he had/has given us these family and friends in our lives and to celebrate with us on that day. One other special moment was singing to my mama. So very glad that I did because I was hesitant because of nerves and timing etc. but thankful that it ended up happening!
Funniest memory from your wedding day? The one that I can think of right now would be the bouquet toss. I literally went from crying because of singing to my mom RIGHT into the bouquet toss haha The first toss I faked throwing it, and then the second toss I did really end up throwing it. I loved that and have to say that was one of the things I was looking forward to out of the whole day (we should also note that Alexa’s toss bouquet was actually several Bouquets tied together so when she threw them they fell a on multiple people confusing them and making for hilarious pictures – Mabyn)
If you had to do it all over again would you change anything?
No I don’t think I would change anything that I can think of
Any advice for future bride & grooms?
Try as much as you can to take in that day, it goes by SO SO quick!! But even more than that, which is something my husband told me and its so true! Its not the day that makes the marriage. Marriage is an everyday thing!! Love is selfless.
What was your favorite part about working with Mabyn Ludke Photography?
Well besides the fact that she is AMAZING and AWESOME, she is a dear friend to the both of us!! She made it fun, and probably more comfortable than it would have been because sometimes you can definitely get nervous, at least I do! She does such a wonderful job and she is so sweet. Favorite part about working with her, we got to work with our friend, and take part in her wonderful gift in photography.

Hair: Jamie Martin – Mackenzie Elizabeth Salon//Makeup Artist: Colleen Weimar (my aunt  )//Dress Designer & Store Location: Alfred Angelo
Jewelry: From JCPenneys//Veil or Hair accessories: Veil is from Alfred angelo, hair accessories are from – Best Way beauty supplies//Shoes: Payless//Bridesmaids Dresses: Alfred Angelo//Grooms Attire: Men’s wearhouse//Ceremony Venue: North Central Assembly of God//Reception Venue: Justin’s Tuscan Grill//Additional photo venue: Downtown (franklin square)//Florist: Sandy Richards, she did good! (friend of Kim Milea’s family//DJ: Jim McVicar //Caterer: Justin’s grill//Cake: Justin’s grill (pascale’s actually made the cake through justin’s)//Invitations & Stationary: we bought invitations from walmart

Alexa & Mike’s Love Story