The Medoza family was referred to me by one of my other families I have photographed, the Silver family! The original photo shoot plan was to take photographs in Philadelphia, however the weather had a different plan in mind. We ended up having to switch days and locations! We relocated our ideas to Batsto State Park. Despite having to change locations , I was still excited. Batsto State Park is one of my favorite spots to photograph!
Batsto Village State Park is a historic site in New Jersey known for its beauty and historical significance. There are so many great photograph opportunities here with the gorgeous buildings, faded brick walls, and worn barn doors. But my favorite spot to photograph? Is this beautiful blue door.
The door is on the old general store and I have used this door at every session I have done at Batsto. I was saddened to see that they cut down the pretty tree that used to stand tall next to it and am hoping they have plans to plant a new one! I love the color of the blue and the old weathered walls. It never fails to provide some great photographs.
After taking this photo...I knew it was going to be a good one. I saw it in black and white the second I took it! This photograph almost takes you back in time, and the Mendoza family did the model pose so well!
I have been known to say this more than once during a session!
On the way out, I saw this old barn and the way the sun was peeking over the top creating a beautiful glow and illuminance... I just had to take just a couple more!!
It was a little chilly this day, but the Mendoza family killed it! Everyone looked fantastic in their fall/winter attire and we definitely got some beautiful shots. I loved how willing they were with the poses and how they humored me when I asked to take a couple more photos! This session was perfect...a perfect location and a great family!
Thank you so much Mendoza Family! As always I am incredibly grateful you chose me to capture these memories for you!
Meet Tom and Ela. I have had the pleasure of knowing Ela for 14 years, and Tom 12 of those years. Ela and I met through work and became fast friends. Its always a special photo shoot when you get to photograph one of your closest friends!
Ela and Tom met on August 31st, 2007 at the New York State fair during a concert. Tom and Ela weren't looking for love...love found them. Tom was looking for a bike path girl and Ela a runner guy. They were perfect for each other. Their love only grew stronger during their 'thru-way' relationship traveling from Rochester to Syracuse and vice versa! Everything fell into place effortlessly.
Two years later, on February 5th, 2009...Tom proposed. He got down on one knee and stood in front of the huge Epcot ball in Disney World exclaiming that "In front of the whole world I'm asking you to marry me." And the rest is history.
They got married the following October. Ela quit her job, got a new job, and moved to Rochester. Tom became Ela's runner guy and Ela became Tom's bike path girl. And here we are 10 years later. Still so in love.
Ela and Tom share so much in common. They love the outdoors and you can almost always catch them running, hiking, and/or picnic-ing at the local parks. They love to travel and have become avid cruisers. They have already traveled up and down the Caribbean, Aruba, and Mexico!
Ela loves bridges and can never resist a good photo opportunity of them. This is why we knew The Webster Arboretum would be the perfect spot since it is home to some beautiful bridges. And we made sure to incorporate every bridge that day!
The wintery backdrop gave these photographs some life, making the bridges pop with color. Ela made a beautiful banner for their shoot, and brought along some champagne, balloons, and a cupcake! Everything tied together beautifully and made the celebration complete!
On our way out of the park, a blue bridge caught our eye. With birch trees decorating the landscape around the bridge, the water, and snow covered rock...everything was very picturesque! We found the perfect spot by the water with the birch trees and snapped away! These ended up being some of my favorite photographs from the day.
October was a busy month for Ela and Tom. Ela's work schedule was crazy! This didn't stop her and Tom from celebrating the fact they just moved into their dream home.
I was excited to see their new home and it did not dissapoint! It is beautiful. Ela, being an avid baker, dreamed of having a kitchen spacious enough for her baking fantasies and she finally got it! A photo session at their new home only seemed fitting. They celebrated their anniversary, Ela's recent birthday, and their new home with of course a little more champagne.
I am so honored to have witnessed your love bloom, and stand here with you two 10 years later! I hope you have many, many more happy and healthy years together. Thank you for letting me capture these moments and memories for you!
Hilary and Bill...Married | A rustic elegant wedding | The Grove at Centerton | Pittsgrove, New Jersey
These two met on a dating app called Bumble. They knew they both were onto something good when they had their first date eating sushi and bonding over corny jokes. And the rest is history. Bill and Hilary got engaged in Hilary's favorite place: Alexandria, Virginia. They ate at the Chart House and sat outside. There was a storm approaching so Bill asked the waitress to take their picture and he pulled out a sign asking Hilary to marry him. She saw the sign, but didn't see the question. She was definitely surprised once she realized, and there wasn't a doubt in Hilary's mind when she said yes!
I met this beautiful couple back in May 2019. Their engagement shoot was at Smithville's Historic Village. We got some beautiful shots that day and I was definitely looking forward to photographing their wedding day as well! When I asked what kind of wedding they were dreaming of they said, just a simple evening with family and friends. Hilary went a little more into detail saying how she wanted a country glam, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross vibe to her wedding. Classical with a modern twist. And they did just that!
The bride and groom got ready at The Grove at Centerton. They chose their wedding venue because it was the perfect combination of rustic and elegance. The fire place in the front room and the chandeliers created a dreamy and romantic ambiance to the venue. The venue gave Hillary a Chip and Joanna Gaines vibe...and it sold her in .20 seconds! To top it off the bridal suite was named Magnolia (like magnolia farms) and Magnolia is her great grandmother's name. I think it was just meant to be.
How gorgeous is this bride? All of her wedding details...the bouquet, the dress, the color scheme..everything fit seamlessly together and it was beautiful. Hilary incorporated sunflowers into her and her bridesmaid's bouquet as a nod to her mama since they are her favorite flower! This bride's mama also made her dress! Hillary dreamt of an off the shoulder mermaid dress and mama made that happen. Hillary's bridesmaid's consisted of close friends and family. It was pouring rain that morning. Hillary had her red rain boots ready. They were very fitting for the type of morning we had.
Bill, his groomsmen, and his sister all looked perfect. The men all had little dinosaurs on their ties because Bill loved dinosaurs as a kid and Bill wore his grandfather's shoes as a special tribute to him. Bill's groomsmen and groomswoman consisted of his close friends and his sister!
Bill and Hilary did decide on doing the first look. After Hilary read my blog post on first looks and talking it over she was convinced. She realized that the first look she originally envisioned could be much longer and sweeter if it was just Bill and her instead of at the alter during the ceremony.
First look photographs will always be my favorite. You can't recreate the feelings you see in these photos. The looks on their faces were priceless...mirroring so much love for each other! The original plans we had for the first look had to be adjusted due to the weather, but that didn't effect the outcome. The rain stopped, the sun came out, we were surrounded by the bridal party and we got some awesome shots under the carport in front of their venue. Since the rain stopped and everyone agreed to get their feet a little wet we were able to get some of the photographs we originally envisioned before the weather had a mind of its own.
After a few photographs with the bridal party, we headed behind the venue to a tree covered path near the golf course. The rain enhanced the vibrant colors of fall, making the bride and groom pop in the photographs. We laughed when the wind blew and we got a little rain shower. Everyone was in good spirits and so ready to celebrate Bill and Hilary.
While we were posing and getting the perfect shots, a little lady bug landed on Hilary and then flew to Bill's finger. It almost seemed like confirmation that Bill's grandfather and Hilary's grandmother were with us in that moment.
Before we headed back into the venue we took a couple of photos by Bill's grandfather's truck. It meant a lot to them to have photos taken with the truck on their wedding day. These photographs are some of my favorite. I am glad I was able to capture this special idea for them.
I recently asked Hilary and Bill to look back on doing the first look. I wanted to know if they still thought it was the right decision. They both agreed with each other, it was the best thing! They were more relaxed and really enjoyed the rest of the day. And they didn't have to worry about rushing for pictures after the ceremony.
Once again due to the weather having a mind of its own we had a change of plans. The ceremony was originally suppose to be outside, and had to be moved indoors. However that did not change how beautiful the ceremony was. The chandelier and the arch still created that classical look!
Hilary's dad walked her down the aisle to the Game of Thrones theme song. They loved that show and wanted to incorporate it into their wedding in sneaky little ways. Their vows were so sweet, sincere, and there were definitely some tears! They braided the ropes to signify their eternal bond, had their first kiss as newly weds, and then they were heading down the aisle with faces screaming pure joy.
After the ceremony we went right into family photos. Thankfully we had some help from a family friend gathering everyone together! We snapped a few more photographs of the newlyweds and then headed into cocktail hour! Bill and Hilary had a chance to relax a little bit, have a drink, eat some food, and mingle before the reception started.
The couple shared their first dance to Can't Help Falling in Love by Hailey Reinhart, with so much love in their eyes. Toasts were made from the best man, maid of honor, and Bill's sister. Bill's Aunt gave the blessing and both sets of parents welcomed everyone and shared funny stories they had of the two of them.
Everyone danced the night away, There wasn't a moment that the dance floor was empty! So much love and laughter consumed the room. Bill and Hilary played the shoe game, and everyone was erupting with laughter at their answers. There were definitely tears during the father-daughter dance and mother-son dance. I would say that their reception was a roller coaster of feel-good emotions between not only Bill and Hilary but also every single one of their wedding guests.
They had a Game of Thrones themed cake cutting. When Bill came out in his fur coat (he found at a garage sale) there were gasps of awe as well as laughter heard among the wildlings... I mean guests. They cut the cake with Hilary's father's sword.
I had no clue what was going on, and later had to be schooled on Game of Thrones. But I could tell that this was special to them and something they share and bonded over. The cake feeding was all very sweet...up until the end. Hilary smashed some right on Bill!
A wedding day is filled with so many special moments. I got to witness a very special one, and I am glad I did. Bill's grandmother was looking at her late husband's photo on the remembrance table. She then reached out, touched his picture, and said she still missed him. Be still my heart.
Another special moment I was able to capture was when Hillary was talking with one of her relatives and I caught her wiping away a tear off Hillary's face.
Many reasons why I love photography so much is because I get the chance to tell a story with my camera lens. These photographs Bill and Hilary will be able to look back on and feel all the emotions and memories. I am so honored to do that for them.
The reception came to an end with a huge group dance and a touching slow dance. It was such a beautiful day full of memories to last a lifetime. So much love shared between these two. I got my signature end of the night photographs with Bill and Hilary in front of the fireplace. They were so relaxed and happy. They look like Chip and Johanna in their living room!
When I spoke with Hilary and Bill recently I asked them if their day was everything they envisioned. Bill got the girl so he had no complaints! Hilary said some of her plans fell through, things happened that shouldn't have, and there definitely were some surprises, but it never took away from their day. She had an amazing time and married the coolest guy.
I wish you two nothing, but the best. I knew you both were a special couple the day we walked around Smithville for your engagement session. I loved seeing your plans and dreams come to life and being a part of your special day. You both are so loved and definitely have some angels smiling down on you. As always I am honored to have photographed these memories for you. Thank you! I look forward to capturing the next chapter of your story. Have fun in Disney!
Bill's advice: think of back-ups for everything!
Hilary's advice: Have what you want! If you want to have a game themed wedding go for it. You want to have fun and smile. So pack your day with things that mean something to the two of you, even if no one else gets it. She also suggested to let go of the reins and enjoy because it really zips by.
Venue: The Grove at Centerton, Pittsgrove, NJ
Officiant: Weddings by Dave
DJ/Entertianment/Lighting: BME Event Group
Wedding Dress: Handmade by Hilary's Mom
Grooms Attire: Boscov's
Wedding Rings: Select Jewelers
Florist: Lillie's Florals
Wedding Cake: The Grove at Centeron's baker, Dani
Alissa and Matt...Married | An Ocean City, NJ Wedding | A historic Flanders Hotel Wedding | Ocean City, New Jersey
Meet Alissa and Matt
Alissa and Matt met five years ago through a mutual friend. At first, Alissa wasn't interested in Matt. Little did she know how wrong she was. After, hanging out sporadically for six months Matt and Alissa both realized their feelings for one another were stronger than just friends. October 18th, 2014 is when they started dating. Fast-forward three years and Matt was getting down on one knee asking Alissa to marry him on Christmas Eve 2017.
Alissa could tell something was wrong or off by Matt's demeanor during her family's traditional Christmas Eve gathering. As soon as they arrived to Matt's parent's house, he immediately retrieved the ring, got down on one knee, and proposed. Alissa was in such shock she didn't believe it was happening at first-- but through tears, of course she said, "Yes!".
You can find Alissa and Matt going to concerts together, doing yoga, listening to podcasts, trying out new restaurants, relaxing at the beach, hiking, or just sitting in their backyard having a cocktail and enjoying each other's company.
I met these two last year when they were searching for a wedding photographer. When we met we clicked right away! I was excited for the opportunity to photograph their wedding for them. Matt and Alissa envisioned their wedding day to be a celebration of love celebrated by close friends and family all while sharing with everyone their favorite spot, Ocean City, NJ. Their vision came to life on October 18th 2019. Five years after the day they became boyfriend and girlfriend...they said "I Do".
The bride and groom both got ready at the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City. The Flanders hotel is such a grand venue decorated in a vintage art deco style which perfectly encompassed Alissa and Matt's theme. They loved how it is a historic piece of Ocean City with gorgeous architecture and knew it had to be their venue when they chose it.
Alissa and Matt were getting ready in suites just down the hall from each other, which definitely made photographing the two getting read very easy for me!
When I arrived at Alissa's suite she had just finished with hair and make-up. She looked absolutely stunning with her hair pulled back into a classic bun. Her rings, earrings, save the date card, antique purse, shoes and her bouquet were all beautiful and intricate, but all of those details came to life when she put on her wedding dress. A classic romantic dress with gorgeous sparkly, embellishments on the back. It was gorgeous. I couldn't resist taking down the beach landscape photograph on the wall to capture the beauty of her dress -- even if It mean struggling to put the photograph back on the wall afterwards. Alissa's mother and maid of honor were both there to share these special memories with her,
Next up was Matt. His family was all ready for their photos when I knocked on the door. Matt was so calm and ready to call Alissa his wife. Matt's family were in such good spirits, we were laughing and joking the whole time. They made photographing them so easy and fun. Special thanks to Matt's brother (the best man), for dragging the pretty blue chair up and down the hall for me!
Alissa had mentioned that there was a pretty room downstairs in the hotel. Well, she definitely wasn't wrong. The Terrace Room was perfect. White walls, white drapes and an antique green tile floor made for some truly enchanting and elegant photos. Alissa's grandmother's rosary was her something blue as well as extremely sentimental to her. We took some special photos for her, and her grandmother was happy that she carried it with her on her wedding day.
At first, Alissa and Matt didn't plan on doing a first look. However as their wedding day approached closer and closer they started to consider it. It just made more sense with their schedule and transportation to the church. Getting some of their photographs in earlier allowed them to spend that extra time and celebrate with their guests.
I personally love when couples chose to do a first look. It allows them to share that special moment together in a more intimate setting instead of in front of an audience. Alissa's advice to future couples is to definitely consider it and shared, "Having that special moment together wipes away any anxious energy and brings your focus back to your partner and the union of marriage.".
We took these photographs in the hall of mirrors. It is a beautiful hallway decorated with mirrored doors and gorgeous chandeliers. After photographing the first look we also dove right into their bridal shoot. How could I not take advantage of the mirrored hallway? It added so much elegance to their photographs. The light streaming in from the window at the end of the hall was perfect and really illuminated their silhouettes. And of course we had to take some photographs on the boardwalk!
The catholic ceremony was at St Francis Cabrini Church in Ocean city. The couple walked into the church together to proclaim their vows to each other as fiance's and walked out as husband and wife. The ceremony was as beautiful as the church itself.
I now pronounce you husband and wife
After the ceremony we went to the boardwalk and beach in Ocean City. This is a special place for these two. Making it a part of their special day felt perfect, and you can see how at ease they are in each other's arms. Love was definitely in the air.
Mr. and Mrs. Whelan, the bridal party, and I ventured to the music pier and then down to the beach. The boardwalk wasn't busy and it was a perfect day,
We took photographs at some of Matt and Alissa's favorite spots, and had the perfect amount of time to capture some memories before heading back to the hotel for cocktail hour.
The cocktail hour was filled with laughter, food and signature drinks. Alissa and Matt were enjoying every moment being surrounded by family and friends.
The reception was held in one of the gorgeous ballrooms. Divine chandeliers and sconces decorated the room, and were accompanied by a huge stone fireplace. Matt and Alissa took the less is more approach while wedding planning. They didn't go all out in decorations and flowers. They felt the beauty of the hotel would suffice and that it did. Everything still felt luxurious and looked beautiful. In lieu of flowers Alissa and Matt made donations to the Philadelphia's Children's hospital.
Their first dance was to Shining Star by Grateful Shred. I just love the way they are looking at each other in these photos! So much love! Alissa shared a special dance with her brother and Matt danced with his mom.
Matt's Grandfather blessed the couple and toasts were made from the maid of honor and the best man. There were many tears and laughter throughout! The DJ did a great job getting everyone onto the dance floor! Everyone danced their night away while celebrating the bride and groom!
After the traditional dinner and cake the venue put out a spread of Ocean City favorites: Manco and Manco pizza, Johnson's popcorn, Shriver's saltwater taffy, and boardwalk french fries! It was a huge hit! And it was another way for Alissa and Matt to share their love of OCNJ on their wedding day. It more special for them and their guests. I loved it!
I walked by the terrace room at just the right moment during the reception. The sun was setting and illuminating the room with a gorgeous orange hue! We didn't have enough time to run outside so we took advantage of the terrace room once again..and wow, I think it worked beautifully!
Just before I leave I make sure to snap a few photographs at the end of the evening. From start to finish their day was beautiful, elegant, and perfect for them. I love the classical touch the piano adds in these photographs. Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Whelan!
I loved being a part of Alissa and Matt's day. I personally love Ocean City myself, and seeing all of the Ocean City elements tied into their wedding day was magical.
Alissa and Matt didn't have to worry about a thing. They both were very calm and didn't let anything stress or frazzle them. I asked Alissa and Matt recently what their favorite moment of the day was and Alissa said it was hard to pick just one! They will always cherish the amount of love they felt for one another walking down the aisle, hearing Matt's grandfather give the blessing at dinner, their first dance, and the dance party after dinner!
Alissa"s advice for future brides: Less is more! Don't lose sight of the purpose behind the entire day.
I enjoyed this wedding and getting to know Alissa and Matt, I will always be honored you chose me to capture these moments for you. I wish you both many happy, and healthy years together. And Alissa always remember that Matt is your ticket into heaven!
Venue/Caterer/Wedding Planner: The Flanders Hotel, Ocean City, NJ
Officiant: Father James Dever
Wedding Cake: Simply Sweet Cupcakes
Florist: South Jersey Florist
Wedding Dress: Irini's Orginals
Men's Suits: Suit Supply
Dj/Entertainment: James McElFresh
Memories by Maria
Every photo has a story and every story will have many photos.