Jay and Jess | Saybrook Point Inn Wedding

I could say a million things about Jess and Jay, but I think the pictures will do most of the talking for me.  The two of them are infectious together, they are so full of laughter and life that you can’t help but smile around them.  Their wedding was an absolute dream, after weeks of off and on snow we were met with a gorgeous sunny spring day.  The venue was situated right on the water in Saybrook, and the wedding decor matched the venue perfectly!

Jess got ready at the inn surrounded by her sisters and stepmom, and the emotions were flowing as she stepped into her dress.  I loved the reactions of her honorary bridesmaids as they saw her!  Jay got ready at their charming, nautically themed beach house.  The ceremony was held in a quintessential New England Church, and was so sweet and thoughtful.

Afterwards, we made our way back to the inn for some more photos on the docks.  The wind was blowing off of the ocean and made Jess’ dress blow behind her like a fairy tale.  The party started with Dj Melee and continued all night long!

Venue: Saybrook Point Inn

Coordination: Kelsey Sullivan with Events by Jackie M.

Makeup: Naomi Martinez

Hair: Hannah Provost with the Cutting Edge

Dress: In White

DJ: DJ Melee

Flowers: Ashleigh’s Garden

Cake: Creative Cakes by Donna
Planning a wedding at the Saybrook Point Inn and looking for a wedding photographer, email me here to chat!

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5 Tips for a TRULY Stress-Free Wedding Day

Look at you, working all those nights and weekends on your wedding plans. You’re doing all this on top of everything else you’ve got going on, because you want your wedding to be one that delights your guests, but more importantly, honors you and your partner. This is the defining moment in your life, the moment you’ll look into each other’s eyes and promise forever. Does anyone else get teary just THINKING about that moment? It never gets old, no matter how many times I get the opportunity to see it.

I’m sure along the way, someone’s told you to relax and not stress too much. After all, it’s just one day. Honestly, statements like that do the opposite of chill us out, am I right? No matter what, the planning phase is going to get a little overwhelming at times, but it kind of has to be that way. You can’t just leave everything up to chance! This is a massive event, and there are a lot of moving pieces to consider.

However, when the day arrives, the hard work you put in will all be done and hopefully you will be able to stand back and appreciate all of the little details you so lovingly incorporated, and all of the special things that make your wedding day truly about your love for each other!

I want to share with you five super helpful ways you can enjoy a stress-free wedding day. Some of these are bigger things you will have to plan ahead for, but some of these are teeny tiny little “hacks” that will make a humongous difference.

#1 – Ask for help!

Okay, this might seem obvious but so many of us are resistant to asking for help. The thing is, everyone is dying to help you. They’re just waiting to be asked. Think about the last time you got to help someone. It felt great, right? Give someone else the opportunity to feel great about helping YOU!

Maybe you’re going to use a wedding coordinator (a great idea if it’s in the budget!) or maybe you’ve got a super loyal group of bridesmaids and groomsmen that you can turn to. Either way, don’t feel like you have to take on everything all by yourself.

#2 – Take a deep breath

This is another one that might seem obvious, but so many brides get too swept up in what’s happening next, they legitimately forget to stop and just breathe. On top of that, they don’t drink enough water or eat throughout the day. Stress can get even more real if you start to get lightheaded or dizzy because you’re not taking care of yourself. Stop, inhale for four counts, hold it a second or two, then exhale slowly for four counts. Do this a few times whenever you feel you need a reset.

#3 – Choose wisely

The biggest regret people have post-wedding is not staying true to themselves. Maybe you got talked into a wedding dress you didn’t really love, or you went with a band that was just “meh” because the singer was a friend of your uncle’s. It is SO hard to say no to people, especially when they’re trying to help, but you have to try to stay true to you.

This is also important with your photography. Share inspiration photos with your wedding photographer so they get a clear idea of the style and poses you really like. Choose someone that matches your vibe (I wrote a really great post about that here) and send them a link to your Pinterest board! Put in a little extra effort upfront to share your vision and choose details and vendors that you connect with, and you’re sure to have zero regrets later on.

#4 – Take some time off

So many brides are hustling right up to the night before. They stay up too late, feel run down in the morning, and haven’t had even a moment to put their feet up in the days before their wedding. Trust me, a relaxed bride is a beautiful bride. This is the number one time to pamper yourself!

Get a pedicure or a massage a day or two before your wedding, or grab your maid of honor and see the latest rom-com the night before (maybe skip the popcorn though, you don’t want to deal with that salt retention the next day). Then, get to bed at a decent time. You’ll be so happy you did.

#5 – Be prepared

You’ve put so much time and energy into your wedding plans. The last thing you need is a broken strap or heel to derail everything. Make sure you have an emergency bag packed with things like:

  • Safety pins and a small sewing kit
  • An extra pair of shoes
  • Super glue (you never know!)
  • Extra bobby pins, makeup, makeup wipes, and blotting papers
  • Stain remover
  • Aspirin and Pepto-Bismol
  • Clear nail polish

There’s lots of places that sell emergency wedding day kits, but in my opinion, it’s not worth the expense. You probably have all of these things laying around, and whatever you don’t have you can easily grab in the travel section of any Target or Walmart.

Having a wedding day that you remember fondly for the rest of your life isn’t about the big things. It’s usually about the little things. Take a few small steps ahead of time to be prepared, stand up for what you want, do a little research, and remember to take good care of yourself.

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New York Wedding Venue Spotlight: Historic Barns of Nipmoose

Why I love it:

Oh my goodness, I cannot say enough good things about this wedding venue.  When I first heard about it from Kristina and Phillip, I was so excited.  They had planned an outdoor ceremony underneath some old birch trees, and a reception that flowed from inside the barns to in front of the fire.  I love the versatility that this venue offers, with multiple barns, the couple can plan different stations and have a reception that encourages their guests to be outside and sit in front of the firepit roasting marshmallows and dancing under the setting sun.  The coordinator there is so helpful, and she goes above and beyond to work with her clients and create their vision.  If you are love mountain views and beautiful barns, check out Historic Barns of Nipmoose.  
What makes your venue unique?

The fully restored Historic Barns of Nipmoose are superb examples of America’s rich agricultural heritage. They are positioned in the center of a 123 acre farm with spectacular views of an agricultural landscape. Besides the beauty of the barns and their location in the upper Hudson River Valley, what is most unique is that all three of the barns are included in a single event.

The German Barn serves initially as the reception and bar site, and later in the evening, as the dance hall. Dinner is held in the Scottish Barn, while the little Corn Crib can be used for memorabilia, gifts, seating cards or coffee and desserts. The most popular location for ceremonies is in front of the aspen grove, but you have a number of other options for where your ceremony could be held. In case of rain, it could be held in the German Barn.

What amenities do you offer?

Three guest bathrooms, one of which is handi-cap accessible.

A bridal suite.

Two gardens and a pond complement the expansive courtyard area.

A parking lot large enough to hold over 40 cars with room for buses.

Staff of generally three men on hand throughout the 5 hour pre-wedding Set-Up period and the wedding to help with parking, vendors and decorations.

Close to 100 oil lanterns hanging from shepherds hooks are placed throughout the site.

Barcelona hanging lights in all three barns.

Rustic furniture for decoration (tables and chairs for dinner are not included)

What advice would you give brides and grooms?

We would recommend that couples visit us because our site is even more beautiful than in the photos. Also, we encourage our couples to be creative with their vision of how to use our barns.

Looking for a photographer for your Historic Barns of Nipmoose Wedding, email me at brooke@brookeellen.com to chat!

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Five Tips For Choosing The Perfect Engagement Photo Location

Your engagement photos are more than just a special way to show off your ring or get a nice shot for the newspaper or your Save The Date cards. They’re an opportunity to capture exactly who you are as a couple in your everyday life, before you get all glamourous for the wedding day.

It can be easy to get so caught up in the wedding photography that you don’t put as much thought into your engagement session. However, I strongly encourage you to you take some time to think about the story you want to tell with these photos. It’s the perfect opportunity to incorporate your passions and your history together to share the journey you’ve taken as a couple… a journey that will soon culminate in a walk down the aisle and a promise of forever.

Choosing a Location For Your Engagement Photos

The location for your engagement photo session should be something that speaks to you. It’s fairly common for couples to ask me to suggest locations, but really, I think the photos work so much better when it encompasses part of the life you’ve built together.

So, rather than just trying to recreate something you feel in love with on Pinterest, think about approaching your engagement photo location in one of these five ways:

Tell Your Story

Call me sentimental, but I love when couples choose a location where they experienced one of their “firsts” like their first date, where they first met, or their first kiss. The moment we reach the location, I can see the love and magic in their eyes, and I just know the photos are going to be amazing.

A while ago, I did an engagement session for a couple at UCONN where they met and were finishing up their degrees and it turned out so great! Get creative and think about the locations that help tell your love story, even if it’s not a traditionally romantic place.

Capture Your Passions

What are you passionate about? If you love relaxing on your boat in the summertime, think about including that in your photos. Do you love hiking in national parks? I can’t think of anything more more beautiful than a golden hour shot on the top of a mountain peak.

Don’t rule out an incredible indoor location, like among the shelves of your favorite library or inside a quaint ice cream shop. I know there’s some bookworms and foodies out there that would be perfect candidates for fun photo locations like these!

Paint a Picture

The thing about choosing a location for your engagement photos is the fact that most locations (the outdoor ones specifically) look different throughout the year. Are you more drawn to the beautiful bright colors of summer or the muted, rustic colors of autumn? Don’t rule out winter, either! If you’re game to stand outside in colder temperatures, you’ll definitely be rewarded with some stunning shots.

When choosing the time of year for your photos, think about the colors and the features of the seasons. Will they tie into your wedding theme and colors? You also want to make an effort to choose clothes that compliment the season, as well as any accessories that you’re going to use, like blankets. In my opinion, there’s nothing like a splash of mustard yellow in the fall or bright red in the winter.

Family First

Getting engaged is such a monumental occasion because it signifies the beginning of your new family. That’s why I love engagement sessions that highlight the theme of family. You might not think about taking photos in your home at first (because you spend all of your time there), but that’s exactly why they work! Couples are so relaxed and natural when they’re at home, cuddling on the couch or lounging in bed being silly.

If you are set on doing something outside your home, consider a location like the family cabin, a beautiful spot in the backyard, or a favorite vacation spot. And since you’re making your photos all about family, don’t forget to incorporate your furry best friend into some of the shots!

Bucket List

If you want to go big with your engagement photos (and honestly, who doesn’t?) consider checking something off your bucket list at the same time! Travel to a dream destination, rent a hot air balloon, or splurge on that fancy champagne you’ve always wanted to try. This is a really big deal and the perfect time to go all out!

When you want your engagement photos to tell a story, think about what makes you unique as a couple. Whether it’s your love for adventure, the outdoors, or cuddling at home with your pups, let your photographer know and they will be happy to brainstorm some ideas with you! Think about the stories you want to tell with these photos, both today and down the road to your kids and grandkids!

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Winter Wedding Inspiration: The Retreat at Norwich Lake

Tucked away just outside the edge of the Berkshires, this lakeside Christian Retreat is the perfect space to host a variety of functions.  From weddings to showers to reunions, the recently renovated hall and endless trails provide the perfect backdrop for your unique event.  Not only do they offer the space to host your function, they also have accommodations for all of your guests.  Spacious lodge rooms and cabins are available on site!

For our winter inspiration, we started with a palette of charcoal, rich mahogany, silver, and pops of red. Our head table remained the same wooden farm table, except now it was adorned with a pale gray chiffon runner and a stunning winter floral centerpiece set in a gray stone container.

Silver chargers were the base for white china, khaki napkins, kraft paper menus, and touches of buffalo plaid ribbon. Our guest tables were dressed in a lovely pewter gray. Centerpieces were a combination of stemmed mercury glass candle holders and winter greens. Dark wooden chiavari chairs completed the look but for added interest, our head table was flanked with white chiavari chairs and a blanketed wooden bench.

The grand mantle was still covered in winter greens, to which we added birch logs and candles. A soft purple lighting offered a new hue of winter that accented the room perfectly. Our bride cozied up to her groom by the fire in a perfect periwinkle dress from Addy Elizabeth Boutique. When they were warm enough, they moved to the gorgeous wrap around porch to overlook the beautiful lake and take in the quiet comfort of this wonderful retreat.

Planning/Design Concept/Styling/Coordination
Jackie Martucci & Kellsey Sullivan of Events by Jackie M
Melissa Sullivan of Michael’s Party Rentals
Hair & Makeup
Crystal Vazquez & Shelby Dufour of Crystal Vazquez & Company
Bridal Wardrobe 
Crystal Vazquez of AddyElizabeth Boutique
Floral Design
Rebecca Lashway Fitzgerald of Forget Me Not Florist (Northampton)
Amanda McHugh of Cakes by Amanda
Apollonia Nunez
Ken Tavernier


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