Welcome to my blog! I'm thrilled to be able to share with you my favorite images from weddings, engagements, maternity, and more! Grab a cup of coffee and get snuggly cuz this blog will give you all the feels!
I buzzed with anticipation as I took the short drive out to Baldwinsville. It was FINALLY HERE! Yolanda & Arel’s wedding! I had been day dreaming about it for several months. All of the details, planning, and chats we’d had finally led up to this moment! The morning consisted of hugs, laughter, and experiments…on my behalf. You see I had also just returned from a photo conference where I always become infused with a fresh dose of inspiration! One of my favorite shots (Yolanda through the veil) resulted because of my inspiration infused brain. Of course Yolanda paid no attnetion to my crazy, in fact it seemed that the closer she got to wedding time, the more peaceful and calm she became.
You see, Yolanda and Arel have this story book kinda love. That love, when they’ve caught each others gaze and nothing else matters in the whole entire world….yeah THAT kind of love!! Don’t you just want to curl up on a couch and eat popcorn to their life?…ok…maybe that’s just me…;)
Anywho, back to the big day, and one of my favorite parts, the first look!!! My words will fail at describing the excitement running through Arel’s veins and the serene grace of Yolanda’s movements as she floated on air to tap her groom on the shoulder. That moment when their eyes met and the rest is history…sweet, passionate, history!
From then on the day was a dream, their Ketubah signing and ceremony was so beautiful and full of emotion. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the entirety of Mohegan Manor! Their formals were snowy but awesome and who can forget that first dance?! Certainty not me! Arel & his best man dressed as Mario characters, while Yolanda donned her Princess Peach crown and the most epic dance battle I have every been witness to, ensued! I’ve posted the video of their first dance if you failed to see it the first time! It was in all seriousness EPIC!
This wedding was one for the books! I was so thrilled and honored to not only be able to capture their amazing and gorgeous moments, but to gain two new wonderful friends! Thank you so much Yolanda & Arel!
How did you meet?
The day before my college graduation, I was at an Indian fraternity’s house party with my friends. Arel showed up with his fraternity brothers and I noticed him right away. He eventually made his way over to me and we started dancing. Arel asked me for my AIM screen name (this was before the days of facebook) and I gave it to him. Later in the evening, he scored my phone number and email address. We talked into the wee hours of the night followed by days of him calling me. I initially didn’t want to call him back because I found out he was 4 years younger than me and I thought he was a child but my friend insisted I do the polite thing and return his call. That call lasted 5 hours which led to our first date in New York City. We were out and about for 13 hours and became inseparable ever since. I left for South Korea to teach English just a few months later, and we stayed together. We had a long distance relationship for about 4 years, living in different states, different countries, and eventually different cities. We’ve dealt with all sorts of obstacles, age differences, religious differences, career, financial, and relationship challenges, as well as health issues and surgeries, and we’ve stayed together through it all. It’s been quite the journey so far and it’s amazing to know that we are now husband and wife. Wow.
How did your fiance propose? Our proposal story is not the stuff made of fairy tales but it was definitely memorable. Arel was away at a conference in Switzerland and I joined him a few days later. We made our way to Italy and we were having the time of our lives when Arel was bummed out by a work related issue that came up. I asked him to promise that he wouldn’t do any work during our trip but he insisted he had to take care of the work issue and I was upset. It led to one of the biggest fights of our relationship. You should have seen us, yelling at each other on the streets of Rome, Italy. The locals looked at us like we were crazy. In our rage, Arel blurted out that he was going to propose and I was flabbergasted because I had no idea that was on his mind, and then I became angry because he spoiled the surprise. I thought for sure our relationship was over and later that evening after we cooled down, we agreed to have a talk about ‘us’. It was a very serious tear filled discussion and I thought Arel was going to break up with me but he really surprised me when he got down on one knee and with tears in his eyes, he said the most beautiful words and asked me to marry him. I was in shock because I wasn’t mentally prepared for what just happened. My first response was ‘really’? After I processed his question, I said yes. I’m not sure if this qualifies as romantic but it was magical.
Tell me a bit about the planning process for your wedding (how did you pick the venue, colors, funny stories, etc..):
First of all, Arel and I after nine years of being together, decided we really didn’t need a long engagement. We became engaged in May 2011 and in the fall we found a great deal at Mohegan Manor in Baldwinsville, NY. To keep costs low and also because Arel’s schedule is least busy in January, we decided we would go with a winter wedding in early 2012 which gave us about five months to plan a wedding. Initially, I wanted our wedding to take place in an industrial, modern setting or a barn but both were quite expensive so in the end we went with what was affordable. I knew that I wanted our wedding to be different and within budget which means we had to be creative. I wanted a rustic theme with a bit of glam. I perused tons of wedding blogs for inspiration and of course started numerous pinterest wedding boards. I bought lots of magazines and some recently married friends gave me their magazines. In the end, I went with plum and champagne because it’s pretty and wintry, and bought cotton bolls instead of flowers, and brought a forest vibe into Mohegan Manor with branches and moss. I also wanted a bit of romance, so there were lots of mason jars with ‘snow’ and candles strewn all around. In the end, it all turned out pretty nicely.
What details at your wedding had special significance?
My bouquet, the bridesmaid bouquets, and all of the boutonnieres were mostly made with vegetables. I absolutely adore vegetables and knew I wanted them in the wedding. Our florist was thrilled to take on such an unusual request and her ideas were fantastic. We had artichokes, kale, asparagus, broccoli, rosemary, and cauliflower mixed with some flowers. The guys laughed at me and joked about eating their boutonnieres. Arel actually did eat his after the wedding. Arel and I were particularly touched that his brother created the design of our chuppah. It looked so beautiful because of him and our first dance was so memorable because our groomsmen, Adrian Scotland, used his creativity and talents to come up with such a fun way to dance together for the first time as husband and wife. I also loved how we incorporated bits of our respective cultures in different ways. My sister brought wooden Korean ducks that represent fidelity and a strong bond between the husband and wife, and Arel’s aunt brought Jamaican black cakes for our dessert bar. We also included my Puerto Rican culture with plantains as part of one of the food stations which I thought was really yummy.
What was the most memorable moment(s) of your day?
For Arel, it was seeing me for the first time. He had never seen me in my wedding dress before and he said seeing me all dolled up was powerful because it finally hit him that I was his bride. He also really loved the ceremony and the part where I circled him seven times. I was particularly touched by what happened the morning of the wedding. Arel’s brother drove us to the only mikvah (pool of water) in Syracuse so Arel can dip his body into the water as a cleansing ritual before the ceremony. And we both sat on the edge of the mikvah as Arel cleaned my hands and feet. It was beautiful, private, and an amazing way to start our new path together. I too absolutely adored the ceremony and to see Arel so caught up in the emotion that he freely cried was so moving.
If you had to do it all over, would you change anything?
There were a few things I wished that we had done but forgot to do because we were excited and just taking everything in. First, I wish that we didn’t leave my parents out of our slide show (big oops), and we both regret not thanking everyone who helped make our wedding a reality and for traveling so far to celebrate with us. We also regret not formally introducing the bridal party. I also really wish we had signs for things that meant a lot to us like the Korean ducks my sister brought from Korea. They were just sitting there and I’m sure almost nobody knew why. I also wished that we would have slept more the night before.
Funniest memory from your wedding day?
Our groomsmen, Bert, gave the most hilarious speech along with an unexpected freestyle rap. He had us laughing with some of the memories of when all three of us were roommates. Arel especially enjoyed when my bridesmaid, Carla, showed us how to smile with our eyes during the photo shoot.
What was your favorite wedding purchase?
For Arel, the super Mario costumes because they were really whacky and funny. For me, I loved my wedding dress and the cotton bolls.
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
Runaway Bay, Jamaica.
Any advice for future bride & grooms?
1. Plan ahead of time. Shoot for the goal of having everything mostly planned out at least a week before the wedding so you’re not stressing out and you can actually enjoy the last few days leading up to the wedding.
2. No matter how well you plan it, things aren’t going to be a fairy tale, but it turns out just fine. Don’t lament over things that didn’t go as expected, it’s a waste of energy and time.
3. Do your research and hire excellent vendors. By doing so, you don’t have to worry about them doing their job. Trust that they know what they’re doing.
4. Hire a wedding day coordinator. Your wedding day will go by so fast and you’ll want to soak up every second of it and none of that time should be wasted in worrying or stressing out about how things are or are not flowing. Let your wedding day coordinator take care of everything.
5. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before.
6. If you ask family and friends to help, be sure you tell them EXACTLY what you want. No one knows as well as you do what you’re thinking, so speak up but there is never an excuse to be disrespectful or hurtful towards anyone so remember to be kind (always).
7. Focus on the entire reason why you’re getting married in the first place instead of getting lost in the wedding planning process. Be respectful and loving to your fiancé throughout the whole process. There is NEVER a need to be a Bridezilla or bitchy. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how stressed out you are, or how things aren’t going your way, treat each other with the utmost care and love. This is your life partner so don’t forget it. Weddings should highlight your love for each other and nurture your connection instead of destroying it.
8. Take the time to focus on the marriage itself while you’re wedding planning. This is crucial. You will be husband and wife but have you thought about what that really means? Read books, talk to successfully married couples, and soak up all the helpful advice you can to figure out how you two can have an amazing marriage beyond the wedding day.
9. Make your wedding what you want it to be (especially if you’re paying for it) while still respecting your family and friends. The wedding is a celebration of your love, but it’s also for your guests. These days anything pretty much goes, so if you want to do something outside of the wedding cookie cutter box, than do so.
10. Have fun on your wedding day! No matter what happens, who says what, what didn’t go right, what was forgotten, etc., the day will still be magical. Everyone will be so excited just to bask in the celebration of your love that just seeing you two together will be enough and everything else is icing on the cake.
Anything else you’d like to add that will help me tell your story?
Our wedding was the first time most of our guests including ourselves ever experienced a Conservative Jewish wedding. Arel and I had to make sure that our mostly non-Jewish guest list felt comfortable experiencing a religion that they’re not familiar with while making sure our Jewish guests felt like it was indeed a Jewish wedding. We also wanted to show respect to our respective cultures which we did with our menu choices. Arel’s father is Jamaican and his mother is European Jewish, and my mother is Korean and my father is Puerto Rican. We wanted to acknowledge the diversity and richness of our cultures while having a predominantly Jewish feel. I think we achieved it and it was so amazing to see so many of our male guests wearing the kippot on their head even though they have never done so before. It was so awesome to see our friends and family that come from so many different backgrounds come together for us. We felt really honored and blessed.
A big shout of thanks to Genevieve Fridley for helping me out with the day! She did a great job with the table details! 😀
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