I am so excited to share one of my favorite shoots of all time! The beautiful and talented ladies behind the East Coast Bride blog & boutique (Keri and Krista) put together this super unique styled Bridal Luncheon – inspiration for a fun and photogenic “getting ready” morning with your bridesmaids! How gorgeous are these florals by Viburnum Designs? I’m swooning over the colors!
This dessert table by The Girl Next Door Cakes is making my stomach growl all over again! I seriously want to eat like a million of those macaroons right now.
I love love love this beautiful pink stamped fabric panel from Rekha of Divine NY. I fell in love with this design the minute I saw it and knew it would be absolutely perfect for this shoot!
After everyone is dressed and ready, have a celebratory lunch with your girls! This will keep you from getting hunger pains during the ceremony, and it’s just plain old fun!
The first step to throwing your own bridal luncheon? Finding the perfect location! Melissa, the owner of this gorgeous home in Sea Girt NJ, happily rents out her home to brides-to-be. It is literally across the street from the beach and every inch of it is immersed with natural light! It’s a photographer’s dream! If you are interested in renting out Melissa’s home, send her an email – email@example.com! :)
After lunch, head to the beach for some awesome photos of you and your maids!
Bridal portraits on the beach? Yes please!
The stunning “getting ready” room in Melissa’s home! The exposed brick, wall of windows, and tasteful decor made me feel like I was in a real life West Elm catalog!
Remember when I said Melissa’s house is immersed in light? I wasn’t kidding! Ryan you make a GORGEOUS bride!
Credits // Event Planning & Design: The East Coast Bride // Photography: Cassi Claire // Venue: Melissa’s House (firstname.lastname@example.org) // Gorgeous Models: Ryan, Liz, Ilse, Meghan, Jennifer & Nicole // Floral Artist: Viburnum Designs // Custom Hand-Stamped Pink Panels: Divine NY // Make-up Artist: Blush // Dessert Table: The Girl Next Door // Lunch: Sweet Tease // Plates & Aqua Mason Jars: Sailor Trading // The End!
You might remember Joe and Jill from their awesome Brooklyn engagement session last fall. For their wedding, they went for the complete opposite environment – a beautiful, scenic mountain venue called The Full Moon Resort! Even though Jill was born and raised in Brooklyn (Bay Ridge in the houuuse!), she embraced a rustic vision for her day. Joe and Jill met on OkCupid and were together for two years before they got engaged last May. Although, if you spend any time with them at all, you’d think they’ve been together for 10 years! They have such a natural connection, and several times throughout the day I caught them sneaking prolonged glances with each other. Made me smile every single time! :)
Wind. If you can’t beat it, join it.
Look at that little munchkin in the middle! She’s soooo cute!
Jill and Joe’s “First Look” in the barn…so beautiful!
Jill, you are a knock-out!!
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this moss! So dreamy!
It has been a dream of mine to photograph a beautiful tented reception with floating globe and strung lights! Thank you Jill and Joe for helping me fulfill that one! And Jill, you might want to consider wedding planning as your next career choice! :)
I love these white vases from BHLDN!
And then we danced the night away!
Credits // Venue: Full Moon Resort // Photography: Cassi Claire // Floral Artist: Jarita’s // Hair & Make-up: Karen Neblung // The Dress: White by Vera Wang // Veil & Bridesmaids’ dresses: David’s Bridal // Custom Anniversary Wine Box: Uncommon Goods // Ceremony musician: Chad McLoughlin // Paper goods: Designed by Melissa Kent // White Vases: BHLDN // Favors (Salted Caramels): Home Made by Bride & Groom; Stamp from ChattyPress // DJ: JTD Productions // Cake Topper: DIY by the groom! // The End!
Within the past few years, a new tradition has been born: the First Look. Aptly named, this is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time on the wedding day before the ceremony. To most of you brides, this isn’t news. But, the decision is new to you…and you likely have no idea what to do. Your mom/mother-in-law are probably completely turned off by the idea (and aren’t afraid to voice their opinions!). Your photographer is like “c’mon man, everybody’s doing it!” Your best friend is asking if she can hide in the bushes and watch. But what do you want? If you’re like most brides, you want the moment. You know the one! That moment when his eyes light up and slowly fill with awe. That moment of complete shock over how unbelievably gorgeous you look. The moment when you know, without a shadow of doubt, that you’ll be his forever. Well, I was blessed enough to have that moment twice! Don’t worry…same man, same wedding day! This is the story of my First Look AND Traditional Aisle experience…
I had spent four hours sitting in a not-so-cozy hotel room desk chair the night before. At least I got to sit. My beloved friend and hair stylist had to stand while also inhaling the smoke from my frizzy, curly hair meeting her super fancy straightening iron. She was straightening like 10 hairs at a time…so she could make this transformation…
I then spent another chair-ridden hour on the wedding morning while Christina added back in some pretty loose curls and styled me up. I then applied my make-up and eye-lashes. My girls helped dress me just like Cinderella’s birds. My 5-inch heels were on, and I was ready to go. After all this work, I simply couldn’t wait to see my future-husband…to have him hug me and kiss me and tell me how beautiful I looked. I knew that I wanted to do a First Look so that I could have lots of pictures of Chris and I. And I was really really hoping he would cry…because apparently I’m evil!
Our photographers helped guide us into our waiting positions and then assumed their hiding spots in the bushes. As I turned the corner, Chris was anxiously waiting for me. His jaw hit the floor and his eyes immediately watered up. He pulled me in close, told me he’s never seen a more beautiful vision in his life, pushed me back out again so he could keep admiring me, made me do a little turn for him, and pulled me back in again.
As we held each other close, we had our first secret moment. No words, just the warmth of the sun on our necks, his arms wrapped around me, and tears flowing to our cheeks. It was a little piece of heaven on this earth. We had a few minutes to ourselves to just talk and get super giddy over the fact that we were getting married!
After our First Look, my nerves were mostly calmed. Now we just had to wait for the ceremony. As my wedding party lined up to begin their walks down the aisle in the garden, my nerves started to return. Here we go, I’m getting married…oh man! My dad put my arm in his and began telling me how proud he is of me. My mom passed away when I was 8 years old, and my dad (who is “technically” my step-dad) took me in and raised me as his own. We didn’t talk about my mom very much, so when he started to say “Your mom would be so proud of who you are…” both our eyes immediately turned to water. Before I even began my trip down the aisle, I was liquid. Then as we walked toward our guests, I found myself doing the ugly cry down the aisle…my eyes rolled over my best friend (and maid of honor) since 4th grade who was hysterically crying, my step-mom who was trying her hardest to hold back tears but was failing miserably…I couldn’t look anymore. The only safe place to look was Christopher. I had already seen him, and I knew he could help me hold it together. Our eyes locked and I refused to look at anyone else. Our second secret moment. Our traditional aisle moment. We weren’t talking, but we were communicating. I am his…his forever. And he is mine…mine forever.
And then we cleaned up our ugly cries together!
I wanted to share this story with you because we so frequently hear that you have to choose. That you either have a moment together before the ceremony or you have a moment together during the ceremony. But I honestly believe you can have them both, because I was fortunate enough to have them both! :)
There are a million reasons why I am happy that Chris and I opted to do a First Look. But I’ll narrow it down to four! :)
1. I spent more time than ever making myself look beautiful. And even though I could look in the mirror and confidently know I looked the best I ever had, I couldn’t wait to hear it from Chris. I wanted to run to his arms and listen to him tell me how pretty I looked. Yeah, I know, I need way too much attention! If we waited until the ceremony, I wouldn’t have been able to hug and kiss him and we wouldn’t have been able to talk to each other for at least 30 minutes. By then most of the initial “wow factor” would have worn off, and we still wouldn’t have had alone time because we’d have been rushed off to family photos. Plus, I wouldn’t have been able to listen to a thing our officiant was saying…I’d be too busy wondering what Chris was thinking!
2. It was our only alone time until the wedding day was over. It was our time to really take in the magnitude of the day and to let it hit us that we were really getting married!
3. Our pictures are AMAZING!
4. You know how they say weddings don’t always go as planned? Well, I had 5 inch heels that were the culprit on my day not going as planned! I’m not a heel wearer – I’m 5’9″ I don’t need heels! I already feel like the jolly green giant! But they do make legs look gooood (heyyyy!), so I wore heels the day before the wedding (rehearsal dinner) and for about 3 hours on my wedding day. My feet were broken…like really. Okay, not really really…but they went numb during the ceremony and I physically couldn’t take one more step once we exited the ceremony area. We weren’t planning on having a receiving line, but once my heels came off I couldn’t move. SO I stood there for 25 minutes greeting all our guests. We started family/wedding party photos late and barely made it in time for the start of the reception. If we didn’t have our first look, we wouldn’t have had any portraits. Well maybe a few because I would have happily skipped dinner for some photos!
I know it seems like I am advocating for a First Look (because I am), but I know it’s not for everyone. So if you read this and think “that girl is crazy desperate for attention” (guilty!) or “I don’t care, I want to wait until the ceremony to see my fella!” – then, GOOD! I helped you make up your mind, eh? But if you are on the fence, I hope this helped you see that you really can have your cake and eat it too! :)
(Photos from my wedding compliments of Cecilia Grace and Lauren Allison)
I can’t believe I forgot to blog this when it happened! A photo of mine was featured on SHEfinds.com! I was so honored to receive an email from a graphic designer for their site (thanks Jenna!) about wanting to feature my image in one of their upcoming posts! Check out their article for 10 awesome alternatives to wedding cake!! :)
Once upon a time, I donated a basket to a tricky tray fundraiser. I waited anxiously for the date of the event to approach, and the day after I kept hoping an email would come in from the lucky winner. Thankfully, Kristen was apparently just as anxious as me because she didn’t keep me waiting long! After a few emails back and forth, I realized that Kristen and I went to the same high school together!! She graduated a year before me! I think we even played field hockey together! Maybe? :)
It is so awesome to see how many wonderful blessings Kristen has received since high school! She got engaged just a few months ago, her wedding is this May, her baby boy will be born this July, and her and her husband-to-be will be buying a house in between all of that! Talk about checking life off the list! :)
This is Bear – the happiest pup ever! Just look at that smile! :)
Oh hello beautiful! Kristen you are stunning!
I was asked by a family friend to donate a basket to a Tricky Tray fundraiser to benefit my former elementary school. The easy part was saying “Yes, of course!” while the hard part was figuring out WHAT to donate. I even tried googling for “how to create a donation basket for photography” but barely found any results. So, I had to put my creative energy to work.
I figured the best gift would be something that didn’t come with any strings. For instance, I toyed with the idea of giving a gift certificate for $500 off a wedding collection…but that would have to guarantee too many uncontrollable things – like availability on the winning couple’s date, that we’d connect & be a good fit, and they’d still have to purchase a wedding collection to be able to use the gift. So I narrowed it down to a Complimentary 1-Hour NYC Engagement Session (valued at $500).
But how on earth do I put that in basket form? Well, I starting of thinking of things that were helpful to me as a bride. I absolutely LOVED Real Simple Weddings as a bride, and I threw in Brides magazine as well. They are both such helpful resources!
I didn’t want to buy an ordinary wicker basket (I kind of hate wicker), so I thought this grey storage bin would be adorable and practical! As a planning bride, I had a lot of stressful moments (am I riiiight married ladies?!), so I included a copy of Bride Wars to help lighten the mood and remind her that as long as her BFF-turned-ex-BFF doesn’t try to turn her hair blue…everything will be just fine! But I couldn’t let the bride have all the fun! I included a copy of Wedding Crashers for the groom! Then I wrapped them up, because honestly, who doesn’t love un-wrapping gifts?! :)
And of course, a hand-written thank you note on my custom stationery to introduce myself. Looove this color!
Lots and LOTS of tissue paper to bring it all together!
And lastly, how to describe the prize! I bought a simple black frame that would look good in any home to display the prize description. Once the images are done, the couple can put their favorite in the frame! I made sure to include the following info on the prize description: my business name & logo, contact information, a few images so they could see my style of photography, a little bit about me (because I put such an emphasis on personal connection), a detailed description of the prize, how to book their date, and lastly, the terms & conditions…aka the not-so-fine-print! If you are a photographer, you are probably wondering exactly what wording I used, so feel free to download the PDF! I hope it helps to see an example of what you can do to create a donation basket! Obviously my way is not the only way, and you should feel free to get as creative as possible! :)
I’ve already photographed the lovely winning couple, so be on the look out for their session on the blog next week! :)
Oh me, oh my…I’ve been putting off this post for way too long! I wanted to blog about WPPI the minute I got home, but the project became more and more overwhelming the more I thought about how much I had to share! So I tried to tackle it in chunks! Before the trip, I shared a bit about my schedule for the week. When I got home I shared some of the headshots I took of my beautiful friends, and then I shared about my experience at the Katelyn James Vegas Workshop. So, in an effort to put the rest of the trip into one post…here is the final chapter of my WPPI experience! :)
5:00 a.m. I crawled out of bed. I forgot that un-Godly hour existed. I’ll spare you the details of my agonizing fight with the pre-sunrise morning. At least our flight to Vegas was full of amazing views! (…and, er, lots of sleeeep)
We arrived to Vegas just in time for lunch and our first class with Kenny Kim. I learned a ton about destination weddings, and I seriously cannot wait until I book my first oversees wedding! For real, anyone want to hook me up? :) After my first class, Chris and I met up with my New York girls for some fun Vegas headshots followed by dinner at Cabo Wabo with about 40 other photographers! On the way I got to see “fake Paris” – one of the things I anticipated most – and a whole bunch of Johnny Depp impersonators! Apparently he’s the new Elvis! :)
Trade show day!! One of the main things I was looking forward to was the trade show/expo – and it did not disappoint!! I had a list of over 40 vendors that I wanted to see…from album companies to printers to accessory designers and more! I bought a fabulous new camera bag by UNDFIND; got to see some of my favorite books in person from Vision Art, Artifact Uprising, Red Tree Albums, Cypress Albums, & Couture Books; got to meet some of the faces behind my favorite business card printer Moo.com; and I got to meet one of my favorite musicians Marie Hines at the Music Bed booth!
Later, Chris and I learned from the incredible Lawrence Chan on how to create worthy blog content. Hopefully I can apply some of his tips so ya’ll will still like me! :) That night Chris and I were lucky enough to attend the sold-out Madera party! I must say, it was my favorite night of the trip!! The party took place in the Penthouse suite at The Palms, and in case that wasn’t impressive enough, Madera also brought in an incredible band, had cigar girls in full costume actually serving cigars, and had bartenders creating Sidecars and Monte Carlos all night long! On top of all that, we met so many incredible photographers from all across the globe! It was so great being able to connect and bond with other small business owners who face the same struggles and successes as me. Here’s to some new friendships!
Remember that time I told you that I don’t really get along with 5:00 a.m.? Well, I SURELY don’t get along with it after a night of socializing and drinking Sidecars! But, I truly adore Katelyn James so I dragged my sleepy butt to her 6:30 a.m. posing workshop! You can check out my post on that here. We also attended Elizabeth Messina’s and Jasmine Star’s classes – they are so great! Another highlight of the trip was dinner with Fotofafa at Lotus of Siam! I’ll do a full post on Fotofafa another day because they are that awesome! We made so many new friends, and I just felt crazy honored to be sitting at a table full of so much talent! I mean, you have to be REALLY talented to make faces like these! Thanks Angie Sloan for the collage!! :)
And thanks Fotofafa for taking a “normal” photo of us! :) [PS: That's my hand in the bottom left corner, and that's my husband chewing on his hand in the bottom right haha!]
We ended the night at the much-anticipated Lazers & Blazers party – held at the Hard Rock’s private nightclub called Vanity! Dear Lazers & Blazers, you had me at…photobooth!
There was also lots of dancing! Lots and lots of dancing women in stilettos…stilettos that like to attack my ballet-flat wearing feet! :(
Ahhhh, our day of rest. Kind of. This was a day of no WPPI, but it was certainly jam-packed! We walked the strip, spent hours in the arcade (my version of gambling), played some slot machines, explored the lobbies of the really fancy hotels, rode the roller coaster and ate at the famous Bacchanal Buffet at Ceasar’s Palace!
After learning from Jill LaFleur (a super talented wedding planner & friend of Jose Villa) and Jeremy Cowart (philanthropist photographer), we relaxed by the pool and enjoyed every last bit of the beautiful Vegas weather.
It was an AMAZING week. We filled our brains and bellies to the brim! We both came home motivated and excited! This trip was particularly enlightening for Chris – who used to just like shooting because it meant spending time with me, but now gets just as giddy and excited as I do with a camera in hand!! This trip was the PERFECT jump start to our 2013 season!! Beyond excited to see what’s in store for this year!! :)
Once upon a time I bought a Canon Rebel XTi. I thought I was the bees knees. The cats meow. The end all be all. The Queen of Camera Land! Being the clearly unstoppable force that I was, I couldn’t wait to photograph my very first wedding! With my fish-eye lens attachment in one hand and my camera in “P mode” in the other, boy oh boy did I think I hit a home-run! I remember coming home from the wedding day, uploading my cards, and anxiously waiting to see how I did. Then….I remember being so crushed at the results. I remember being frustrated that so many images that looked sharp on my LCD were actually blurry. I remember posing the bride near the window in an attempt to get that beautiful glow that Elizabeth Messina gets in every single photo…and being so sad to find an underexposed, barely salvageable image. And I remember the moment where I said “It’s okay, I can fix it with…Photoshop ACTIONS!”
Even though I was over-the-moon proud of my first wedding, and I bragged to my then-boyfriend (now husband) about how these are going to be the best wedding images they’ve ever seen…I was truly motivated to actually learn how to USE my camera after this wedding. A friend of mine said “Cassi, you just need to put your camera in manual mode and don’t let yourself switch it back to P. You will learn.” I thought of it as a challenge and a game! Every time I was in a new lighting situation, I’d play around with my camera settings until I was able to create a pretty picture and then try to memorize the settings! I’d get it right, then mess up all the settings and try and get it right again on the first try! I’m pretty sure I can accomplish anything as long as it’s in game format!! :)
What seemed like the most daunting project of all time, ended up being the most freeing experience ever! I was finally able to do all the things that I wanted to do, but use to only be able to do if my auto-focus made a mistake (like that bokeh shot below). I was in control finally! Here are some before and after samples of the huge difference it makes to know your gear!
So today I want to encourage all of you to tackle something daunting…whether it be learning your camera or cleaning your basement or finishing that book by Marcel Proust…it may take time, but start today. And if that’s not motivation enough, here’s the internet meme that inspired this post! :)