2018 Wedding Year In Review | Buffalo NY Wedding Photographer

(the below paragraph should be read in a tone of extreme excitement - and like someone that has had too many espresso shots…. because that’s accurate too)

2018 was such an amazing year for my business, and personal life! I hit the 10 year mark of being in business in May, totally crushing the “two thirds of all small businesses fail within the first 10 years” statistic. Personally, my husband and I also hit our 10 year wedding anniversary in June (and celebrated with an amazing trip to Scotland - but more on that in another post to come later). We opened our office, which is connected to our house, making it super easy to go to work. For me, this means I have a dedicated meeting place for client meetings (which in 10 years I have never had, shockingly), and a place to get away from children while I work (life saver!). For my husband, this means his massage office is a simple step away (www.bostonvalleymassage.com if you are feeling a little sore these days [shameless plug]).

But more than all of that, the weddings I got to be a part of this year were so amazingly heartfelt. I feel like it’s so cliche to say things like “I’m so lucky this is my job” because what wedding vendor doesn’t say things like that, but it’s so true (which is probably why everyone says it!). You guys, I get to take pictures (something I’ve always love doing) of people on their best day ever. I don’t have to make people fake excitement, or happiness, because they are overflowing with all of that already. I get to take amazing photographs of all the moments that become memories, and I get to call it work. When I look back on years like 2018, and go through all of the pictures from all of the weddings I did, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness that these amazing couples picked me to capture one of the biggest days of their life - and definitely the one day you spend a crazy amount of time planning for. I was lucky enough this year to have brides and grooms totally trust me when I say “hey, can we go out in this blizzard/rain storm/crazy wind for pictures” or when I say “I know we’ve already done all of your portraits for today, and I am totally happy with everything we got………. but you have a KILLER sunset happening right now, would you mind coming outside for it?” - and you know what, they all did. This year was rainy, but man it made those bursts of sunlight so much more appreciated, and some of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen.

I am not going to describe a bit from each day here, because this blog post is already going to be insanely long… but please know that every single person in these pictures touched my heart in ways that I couldn’t describe. The pictures themselves are beautiful, but it’s the people in these pictures that make me love them. So, in no particular order, some of my favorites from this year, bride + groom edition:

Winter Engagement Portraits in Buffalo, NY

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Chances are that if you are planning a 2019 wedding and have not had your engagement portraits done yet, you are going to be doing them in the winter - or maybe early spring if you have a fall wedding date. While engagement portraits don’t actually have to be done at any specific time, most people like to have a little bit of space between their engagement pictures and the wedding.

One of the questions I get asked the most is when should you have your engagement portraits done? And while that is not the reason for this blog, it does go along with why you may end up having a winter engagement portrait session. There are two different options:

  1. If you are looking to use your engagement portrait images for your Save-The-Date cards (or, as one of my favorite brides called them, her STD cards), you want to have your portraits done at least 6 weeks BEFORE you want to send your STD cards out. This gives enough time for your photographer to edit them, you to pick your favorite pictures, your photographer or stationary graphic designer to design them (along with any revisions), to have them printed AND mail them out. STD’s should be mailed about 4 months before your wedding (as long as it’s local)

  2. If you are not looking to use your pictures on your STD cards (I really just laugh every time I use that acronym), then try to have your portraits done at least three months before your wedding date - just so you can enjoy the pictures from your engagement session before all your gorgeous wedding pictures take over and blow you away!

Ok, so it’s winter in Buffalo, and as most Western New Yorkers know, this season lasts until mid-April sometime. Which means, unless you are getting married in October or beyond, and you want to use your engagement portraits for your save the dates, you will probably be planning for some winter time engagement portraits. Fortunately, snow looks stunning in pictures. Unfortunately, most parks look less than beautiful this time of year. That’s where I come in! Below is a list of my five favorite winter time engagement portrait locations!

1. Chestnut Ridge Park - This park is covered in evergreen trees, usually has a good covering of snow, and has a ton of different options. It’s located in Orchard Park, which means it’s not too far of a drive for anyone. I could do portraits here a hundred different times, and I would still find new places to call my favorite every time. Chestnut Ridge is one of my top favorite Fall Engagement Portrait locations as well. :)

These first couple were taken at a wedding, but this snow was so stunning that I couldn’t help but include them in my engagement portrait location. This is at the “main” park.

My second Chestnut Ridge location is actually at the trail for the Eternal Flame. While I wouldn’t suggest walking the whole Eternal Flame trail for your winter engagement portrait session, I definitely love the first part of it! No matter if it’s snowing or even just muddy (yup, this spot works in mud too!), this location reminds me of the Pacific North West more than any other spot in WNY (I spent the first half of childhood in PNW, so anything that reminds me of there reminds me of home).

2. Botanical Gardens - because really, who is up for freezing on those super bitter cold days? The Erie County Botanical Gardens are absolutely stunning, and as long as you realize that they are open to the public and you may have to wait for other visitors to move, and be kind and considerate to others while you are there, this is one of my favorite “we live in WNY and the weather isn’t always the best” locations. We are so lucky to have this amazingly gorgeous indoor location in Buffalo! Things to know: They close at 5pm most days, and there is a fee to get in.

Outdoors at the Botanical Gardens is on my list of favorites too, especially if you want some killer outdoor portraits without freezing for your entire session! :)

3. Downtown Buffalo - Even if it’s bleak and bare on all the trees, downtown looks amazing no matter what time of day… or no matter what time of year! And the top of parking garage roofs are always my favorite!

Cobblestone is another one of my favorite “Downtown” areas for engagement portriats!

4. Delaware Park - While most of Delaware Park will look a little bleak in the dead of winter, the steps to Albirght-Knox Art Gallery will look amazing. I normally shy away from these during weddings - not because they aren’t beautiful, but because I hate wasting my couples precious time on a wedding day by waiting for other couples to be done with their wedding pictures - and those steps can be BUSY on a Saturday in the summer…. but in the winter? They are perfect!

5. Your home - what better way to feel connected and get close with each other than in your home? This allows you to snuggle and cuddle on the couch, cook together, play video games, or whatever it is you guys do together on a regular night. It makes your engagement pictures 100% personalized, and is always an awesome spot no matter what the weather is doing outside!

Kloc's Grove West Seneca Wedding Photography | Buffalo Wedding Photographer

Megan + Matt were married at Kloc’s Grove in West Seneca. They lucked out with the one day of October it didn’t rain, and put up with the frigid temperatures (that today would probably feel lovely and warm) without a second of complaint. Ok, maybe there was a second or two, but they totally toughed it out and were rewarded with some of the prettiest light of the year.

Megan and Matt opted to not do a first look, but also wanted to have their guests go straight from the ceremony into their cocktail hour, since everything was at one location. They also wanted to enjoy some of their cocktail hour with their guests, which gave us pretty limited time after the ceremony for portraits - so we did a work-around that is a great option for anyone with limited time between ceremony and reception, but doesn’t want to skimp out on the bridal party portrait time - we did the girls and guys all beforehand. This is something that makes two photographers so useful - while I photographed Megan and her bridesmaids at Amherst State Park, Deanna took Matt and the groomsmen elsewhere!

Their amazing vendor team:

Venue: Kloc’s Grove
Hair/Makeup: Elle Salon
Videographer: Matt’s Next Level Media
Dress: Victoria's Bridal Shoppe
Tux: Men's Wearhouse
Stationary: Hoopla House Creative 
Cake: Marsha Fortman
Florist: Maureen’s Buffalo Wholesale Flower Market

Deerfield Country Club Wedding | Rochester Wedding Photographers

Kiersten and Zach were married at Deerfield Country Club in Brockport, NY back in September, and chances are that if you follow me on social media at all, you’ve seen parts of their wedding. Kiersten and Zach are both two of the most thoughtful souls I’ve ever met. They are full of joy, affection and warmth, and I honestly feel so thankful I was there to witness their love story unfold.

Because Kiersten and Zach had their ceremony and reception all at one location, they opted to have a first look, and do all their couple and bridal party portraits before the ceremony. Their first look was one of the sweetest, most touching first looks I have ever witnessed. The amount of love these two share overflows and touches every else around.

And of course, their day wouldn’t have flowed half as easily or been as beautiful without their amazing vendor team:

Venue: Deerfield Golf & Country Club (Ryanne was so amazing to work with!)
Flowers: Flowerwell
Photography: Becca Sutherland Photography (hopefully you figured that out)
Dress: Heart to Heart Bridal North
Hair and Make Up: Salonagogo
DJ: Encore Events / Kyle Orton
Cake / Cupcakes: Rachael B. Cupcakes & Bake Shoppe

Sarah + Jason | Buffalo Botanical Garden Engagement Portraits

Sarah and Jason and I had such great plans for an outdoor session, and then October happened. Remember October? Rain 95% of the days, and ridiculous winds? Well, we had these engagement portraits schedule since we first met last winter, and there weren’t any times we could reschedule them for… So instead, we improvised. That’s what you do on bad weather days in Buffalo, right? We ended up going to the Erie County Botanical Gardens, and having the place virtually to ourselves. It was amazing! Then there was Sarah and Jason, who described themselves as needing help posing… Except they lied. Their chemistry is amazing, and they fell into perfect posing every time I turned around! Plus, I am absolutely loving my new camera system (have I mentioned on here that I switched to Sony from Canon? Probably not, but I did, and it has been AMAZING. I’ll write a separate post about that). Every picture was my favorite. Because you can have more than one favorite, right?

Alison + Pete | Olean Wedding Photographer

I smiled the entire time I was editing this wedding. Alison, you have the most infectious smile I have ever seen. Your whole being radiates joy, and I couldn’t help but love every second I was able to spend with you and Pete - from our first meeting, to your engagement portraits, to your absolutely stunning wedding day. For having “not perfect” wedding day weather (it rained while we did bridal party portraits, and then not even a minute after we finished Alison + Pete’s couple portraits, the skies opened up and down-poured enough that I could barely see out the windows of the Bartlett Country Club!), you guys sure didn’t let it affect your happiness at marrying the love of your life. I would do this day over a thousand times if I could, but I don’t think we would ever top the day you had.

This day wouldn’t have been half as perfect without Alison + Pete’s amazing vendor team:

Reception: Bartlett Country Club
Planner: Two Ladies and a Party
Videographer: Hannah Forrest Films
Florist: The Scarlett Lily
Dress: Bridals by Elena
Hair: Halie Frazier
Makeup: Megan Yvonne
Cake: Reid's Food Barn
Baklava: AnnMarie's Homemade Baklava
DJ: Ben Gilroy

Katie + Toren | Cobblestone Barn Wedding

What feels like forever ago, I got a message from Toren through WeddingWire, quickly followed by an email from Katie through my website. I replied to both, not realizing they were the same couple, and exchanged several emails, answering different questions in the span of a couple hours and getting excited about both weddings because they seemed like awesome people, while a bit sad knowing I could only cover one of them. Eventually Katie mentioned that her fiance had also been contacting me, and I was thrilled! Katie and Toren are down to earth, excitable, blissfully in love, and completely caring about others. They wanted to do their engagement portraits at the gym they both work out of, and I adored that they were bringing so much of themselves into their portraits and wedding. Every detail of their wedding day was perfect, but what made it even more perfect was that none of that really even mattered to them. It was the people that mattered, and the life they were starting together.

“Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.”

-Avett Brothers (and Katie’s vows)

Buffalo Engagement Portraits | Anne + Joe

Anne + Joe decided to not let the annoyingly raining-forever weather get in the way of their engagement portraits! Instead of rescheduling, Anne said “A little rain might be fun!” Umm, yes. Can everyone think the way you do, Anne? Please?!

We started off with some garage rooftop pictures, because I was worried if we waited to do them later, we might not get any non-thunder and lightening time (which, although I will shoot in the rain, I won’t shoot on the top of a parking garage in the lightening… yet). I am absolutely in love with parking garages. I have been suggesting it as a place for portraits for years to couples, but Anne and Joe were the first to take me seriously! You get the best viewpoints, and the wind just adds to the feelings!

Then we went to Tifft Nature Preserve, where we struggled to stand upright and see at the same time in the whipping winds and torrential rains. We later learned there was a tornado warning in the area at that time…. which would have probably been a good thing to know about beforehand…. Then again, maybe not… Because I wouldn’t have been able to get Anne and Joe to dance in the rain otherwise.

We finished up walking around their neighborhood, finding lovely little alleys, coves, and garage doors. Weird things like that always make me happy.

Anne + Joe - if your wedding is half as fun as your engagement portraits were, I can’t wait!!!

How to Choose Your Perfect Wedding Photographer

I tend to get a ton of wedding photography inquiries at this time of year… Not all of them book me, and while sometimes I wonder for hours about why they didn’t choose me, most of the time I am happy they found their perfect photographer. As much as I know this sounds surprising, I know I am not the perfect photographer for every couple, and have put together a few tips on how to make sure you find your perfect photographer for your wedding day!


1. Know your budget!

Weddings are expensive. Insanely so. And while there are certain things you can probably get away spending less on, photography should never be one of them. I’m biased, obviously, but even before I was a photographer I felt this way. Unless you hire a videographer, this is literally the only thing that you will walk away with that will show you your whole day. Yes, you will probably still have your dress, maybe you’ll preserve your flowers, and you might even freeze that top layer of cake… But will that show the way your flower girl smiled, the way your mom cried, or the look your dad gave you when he first saw you? These are things that experienced wedding photographers know to look for, and to capture. Those are the precious moments that you can’t turn back time to see. Photographers (and videographers - but that’s a different post!) are the ones capturing the amazing venue you spent weeks picking out, the flowers you dreamed of, and the cake you planned on pinterest.

HOWEVER, I am not saying you should go into student-loan sized debt over your wedding just to afford a photographer… but know what good, experienced photographers cost and make sure you plan that into your entire wedding budget.


2. Research photography styles

Do you like dark and moody? Light and airy? True to life? Bold? Vibrant? Romantic? Candid? Photojournalistic? Did all those words just completely go over your head because these are words photographers use to describe themselves, but you aren’t sure what they actually describe?

There are actually two different types of styles mentioned above…

The first describes the colors and brightness of the final images. Dark, moody, light, airy, bold, vibrant - all describe the editing.

The others are the type of pictures taken - how people are posed, or not posed. Are you drawn towards pictures of people looking at the camera together, towards people looking at each other, or towards the pictures of a bridesmaid crying while watching the bride and groom saying vows? The first is very traditional, the second is more towards candid (but most likely with posing help from the photographer) and the third is photojournalistic.

TIP: Now that I went over all the terms, how do you know which you like? I’d suggest making a pinterest board and just add all the wedding and engagement pictures that call to you to it, and then see if there is a common theme to them - are they all darker pictures? Is everyone posed very stiff and formally? Is it a mix? If you made a board of at least twenty images and still have no idea, feel free to shoot me a message and I’ll look it over and see if I can find a common thread!


3. Know what you want from your photographer

This seems to be something most couples that I meet with haven’t thought all the way through yet. Up until this point, you are so intent on planning the wedding, you haven’t had time to stop and think about the after. After the wedding, do you want to have a bunch of pictures that sit on your computer and wait for you to print them? Do you even want to spend the time going through and printing them? Do you want an album you can show to your family? Do you want artwork for your walls?

TIP: I highly suggest having things printed by your photographer - not only because it gets it done (I still haven’t printed anything from my trip to Scotland last June…. Or really anything since my three year old son’s newborn pictures! And I have the resources at my fingertips every day… So, being completely honest with yourself, are you actually going to print your own wedding pictures? What were the last pictures you printed?), but also because your wedding photographer should be using a professional print lab that their computer is calibrated for… Which means all that time we just spent talking about their editing style, and paying for their professional editing, won’t mean much if you take those pictures that were edited for their print lab and print them at walgreens.


4. Be willing to adjust your budget for the perfect photographer

This goes back to number 1. Know your budget… but also know where or how much you might be willing to adjust that budget for if you found the PERFECT photographer for you. Not all photographers will be perfect for you. But there will [hopefully] be one that just gets you. In the back of your mind, be aware that this perfect photographer may be more expensive than your budget allows… And sometimes that is worth it.

With this said, I always think it’s a good idea to meet with a photographer that is at your budget, above your budget and below your budget, just to get an idea of the differences… and who knows, maybe you’ll find the perfect photographer below your budget!


5. Meet with them.

This goes with number 4. How will you know if you get along with someone enough to increase your budget if you never meet them? Even if it’s just a phone call (so many of my couples are from out of state and are unable to meet up, so skype or phone calls are amazing alternatives!)

Your photographer will be with you, and more involved with your day, than any other vendor you hire. Even if you have a wedding planner that will be there the entire day, your photographer is in charge of setting up all the family portraits, the bridal party portraits and the couple portraits. This is the time where I strive to get you guys to look as relaxed and natural as possible, even if there are a thousand things happening and we have limited time… Even when there is a wedding planner, we will be helping plan the timeline so you know when family portraits are, how much time to leave for the wedding party pictures, and making sure we are done with everything to get you to your reception on time. Without a wedding planner, I tend to take on that role as well - helping make sure everyone knows where to go and when they need to be there… This means a lot of communication with you before and during the day. It is imperative that I get along with all of my couples.


6. View a complete wedding album

No, I do not mean view all 700 pictures from someone else’s wedding, but at least an online gallery that shows one entire wedding from start to finish to give you a feel of how your photographer captures all aspects of a day (see my featured weddings to view complete galleries of three different weddings!). Make sure that they haven’t just picked the best of the best to show on their facebook or instagram. Make sure their style matches throughout the whole day, that they can light a reception well, that they can set up family portraits, and that they can capture every part of your day the way you want it captured.

I HIGHLY suggest also viewing a printed wedding album. If you meet in person, this should be one of your first requests! You want to see the quality of their albums, how they design a wedding album, and how they tell the story of someone else’s day.


7. Book them.

Once you know you found your photographer, book them. Immediately. Even if it means just looking over at your fiance and raising eyebrows in a silent questioning, or asking the photographer to give you guys a moment to make sure you are on the same page. Photographers book quickly, and usually do not hold days without contracts and retainers (and please do NOT hire a photographer that does not have a contract in place!).