Wedding Industry Networking Event 7/27/10

Tonight the hubs and I headed over to the Marriott Lafayette Yard in Trenton, NJ to meet up with our good pal Michelle Lawlor, owner of Lucky 17 Photography to check out the NJ Wedding Industry Networking Event. I had been invited by my good friend Erik Kent, owner of NJWedding.com. The go to source for any Jersey Girl bride-to-be.

I chatted a bit with Erik about the event. Here’s what he had to say.

I even ran into Denise Taylor, owner of Great Looks 4 Less. They are located in Mercer Mall, right off Route 1 in Lawrenceville, NJ. Great Looks 4 Less specializes in ethnic hair and offers a wide selection of services and products. Stop by and check them out.

I also met the women of Anywhere Childcare. They specialize in special event childcare & babysitting services. They provide children with a kids reception while the parents are at the “adult” reception. How cool is that? Check out my brief interview with the ladies.

We truly had a great time networking with all the industry professionals tonight.

Getting Lucky with Lucky 17 Photography

Chatting it up with incredible photographer Michelle Lawlor, owner of Lucky 17 Photography

How long have you been interested in photography and taking photos? What made you get into it? Just for fun?

I’ve been interested in photography for as long as I can remember. I have my grandparents to thank for that. I spent a lot of my formative early years with my grandparents, and would often fall asleep looking at the old-time portraits of them hanging on their wall. My grandparents were also very big into swap meets and yard sales, and I started to collect antique and often non-working cameras thanks to my travels with them. I loved (and still love) the way old cameras looked and felt. When I could actually put film in them and make pictures, it was like no other joy I’d ever known. Going on into high school and college I was constantly taking photos everywhere I went and filled my room with photos of friends and family. My first long-term job was at a busy portrait studio in the mall, and I put myself through college working full-time making pictures there. At times it was incredibly stressful, but I look back at that time in my life as a valuable learning experience, because I learned to think on my feet and adapt quickly to get the shots I was after. You have to move fast with little kids – their attention span is very short so every second counts. J So while my “career” did start just for fun, it still continues to be a huge source of joy in my life today.

When did you start your company Lucky 17 photography? What has been your proudest moment since its inception?

I started Lucky 17 Photography initially as Lucky 17 Consulting about 6 years ago. At the time, I couldn’t decide which profession I loved more: Graphic Design or Photography. Back then, I was doing more graphic design work than photography (logos, business cards, flyers, etc), and that was what I focused on initially. However as time passed I started to do more photo work and used my design skills to help me design complimentary products using my photography. Finally, it felt like I’d found my calling and things really started to click. I still maintain both halves of my business today, but a larger portion of my business comes from photography. I design all of my clients’ greeting cards, books, and albums, and so the graphic design skill set constantly comes in handy. I can give my clients unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, and that means a lot to them.

My proudest moment? Wow. That’s a tough one. There have been a lot of milestones along the way. I think I would have to say that my proudest moment was delivering my first wedding album to my very first bride. She was so thrilled with her album she literally carried around everywhere she went for a whole week. And that was no small feat because the book was 11”x14” and weighed about 12 pounds. That meant a lot.

Tell me about the type of photography you do.

Without trying to sound cliché, my photography blends a photojournalistic approach with traditional portraiture to get a complete observatory perspective on my clients’ events. Let’s be honest, many of us have a particular vision in mind when we say we want photos of something. I know that with a formal event like a wedding, for example, 99.9% of brides I encounter envision the pictures they’ve seen in bridal magazines. They see celebrity weddings and say “OH, that’s what I want!” They want to be the gorgeous, laughing bride with the debonair, handsome groom, and they want the romantic candid shots. And I LOVE that. I find that when you ignore the camera and truly just live in the moment – that’s when the real “you” comes out, and that’s what I love to capture. However, that’s only one half of the event. In my humble opinion, there is still a need for formal photos, like the ones taken of your parents and grandparents. There is something to be said about tradition. You still want the grand portrait from your wedding that you can hang proudly on your wall. I can keep them ultra-traditional, or we can mix it up a bit and give your portraits a modern edge. I strive to give my clients both styles of photography with my event coverage.

 
 
 

Katie & Nick DeVito Wedding

When I saw some of the wedding photos you took for various couples, I knew you had to be our wedding photographer. Besides weddings, what other types of people/things do you shoot? Tell me about some of the bands you’ve shot and celebrities.

Katie! That’s so sweet. Thanks so much. Your wedding was a blast to shoot and I’m so glad to have been a part of that amazing day. Aside from weddings, I also do general portraiture, which includes families, teens, seniors, children, maternity, pets, and live music and promotional shoots. I also do some music journalism, freelancing for various publications, and that’s really a lot of fun. Music’s a huge part of my life and I get a real kick out of shooting bands.

I work with a lot of great local bands but also occasionally get to shoot major acts too. I’ve had the great pleasure of covering performances from bands like the Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Phantom Planet, OK Go, Van Halen… the list goes on and on. My boyfriend is currently in the band Honah Lee, and I do a lot of their publicity and live coverage, as well as when they go on tour. It’s a whole lot of fun!

Green Day

What services do you offer? What do you think separates you from the rest of the photographers out there? Everyone thinks they’re a photographer nowadays with the easy access of special cameras and PhotoShop.

Aside from photography and graphic design, I can also do photo restoration, scanning, archiving, and some light retouching. If you have some old family photos you’d like digitized to either enlarge or share on Facebook/Myspace and don’t have a clue where to start, get in touch. I adore old photos and just love breathing new life into faded, cracked, ripped and stained old prints.

The age of digital photography has brought a lot of new photographers to the field. Modern cameras make it easier and easier to take a good picture. It’s incredible what you can do now even with your small pocket camera. My pocket camera is pretty souped-up and any advanced amateur can make great images with it with only minimal practice.

However I believe what sets me apart from the pack is my training, my knowledge of the history of photography, my ability to pose and address difficult lighting situations quickly and effectively, my experience with digital processing, archiving, and color correction, and most importantly, my passion for each event or assignment I undertake. Photography is my art, my outlet for my creative energy. I pour a little bit of my soul into each and every shoot, and I strive to make it fun for everyone involved. Believe it or not, I hate being in front of a lens as a subject. I 100% know how it feels to dislike being photographed, and keep my shoots lighthearted and fun. It’s a very personal experience to be photographed by someone you don’t know, and so I immediately work on establishing trust between my clients and I. I’m not going to take unflattering photos of you and then smatter them all over the internet. I want you to look your best and I’ll do whatever it takes to get the best pictures I can create.

I really, truly care about each of my clients and take my work very, very seriously. I’m not one of those photographers that will spend half of your wedding reception outside smoking cigarettes, missing the little moments that make a wedding day so special. I work very hard for each of my clients and treat each special event as if it were my own. I throw my heart into it. My ideal clients are those that value photography as much as I do. When I connect with those people, the possibilities are endless.

If you could shoot one celebrity who would it be and why? Place you would most like to visit to shoot?

One celebrity? Hmm. That’s a tough one. I think it’d have to be Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. I’ve taken pictures of him playing live but I’d really like to take a crack at doing a portrait session with him while his band is on the road, sort of a tour documentary style thing. He’s been called “the nicest guy in rock and roll,” and though he seems to be a private individual, I’d love to get behind the scenes and really try to capture his personality through photography. So Dave if you’re out there, give me a call. LOL.

As far as a place to visit and shoot, I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. My ancestors were from there and someday I hope to travel to the town that my family’s from and document the rolling countryside and my family’s history. Oh, and I’d love to stop off at the Guinness factory for a pint as well. People tell me there’s nothing like a Guinness poured in Ireland. I’d like to find out for myself.

I love to travel as well, and am available for travel around the world. Have camera, will travel.

What is your favorite photo someone has taken of you? Why?

This one’s easy. Last June I was hired to photograph the wedding of two of my very close friends. I brought my lovely and talented second shooter Heather with me to cover the reception because the bride and groom wanted me to be a guest when it came to be party time. We split the day in half and I shot all of the early day’s events and then handed the reigns over to Heather when we hit the reception. My boyfriend was also a guest at this wedding and so he and I had the rare opportunity to dance together. Of course Heather was on her game and snapped some photos of him and me laughing and dancing. It was really “us” – having a great time and enjoying the night. There’s one in particular where I’m in a mid-laugh in his arms and I just love it. We’re not “cheezing it” for the camera, just enjoying the moment.

 

How can people contact you? Why should someone hire you?

Contacting me is a piece of cake. You can visit my website at http://www.Lucky17Photography.com, email me at Michelle@Lucky17Photography.com or call me at 609-610-2953. I’d love to hear from you!

Choosing a photographer for a special event or portrait session is an important decision. A client should take into consideration a few things when deciding on hiring a photographer:

  1. Does his or her style fit what I’m looking for? Am I looking more for a candid approach or formal portraiture or both?
  2. What’s my budget? Does this photographer fit into my price range?
  3. After our initial consult/email/phone call or meeting, do you feel that we get along on a personal level? Do you feel comfortable around him or her?

I pour my heart into each session, shoot, event and assignment. A potential client should hire me because I truly care about the art of photography and the customer experience. I’m not a photo factory and I only take on a limited amount of assignments per year, in order to ensure a level of customer service and personal availability that you won’t get with a larger studio. When you meet with me regarding booking an event, you’ll be seeing my smiling face behind the camera at the event, not some stranger you’ve never met. When you have questions or need help, I’m the one there to assist. In an era of automated everything, I find that a personal touch makes all the difference.

LBI “I Do” Wedding Road Show

Welcome to LBI!

My husband and I were invited to attend the LBI “I Do” Wedding Road Show on Sunday, April 18, 2010 by Erik Kent of NJWedding.com which was organized by the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.  If you don’t already know, NJWedding.com is a Jersey girl’s go-to website for everything wedding related in New Jersey.

We met up with Erik at the chamber and met some of the event’s sponsors and chamber staff. The event was designed as a way to showcase Long Beach Island (LBI) and show why it’s one of the growing hot spots in New Jersey for weddings. Couples would have the opportunity to travel at their own pace in their cars to each venue, which would have a variety of exhibitors featuring their wedding services.  Couples could get a special book stamped by each vendor they visited, return it to the chamber office, in hopes of becoming the big winner to win an all expense paid wedding. Wow!

While we waited to start our tour, I began chatting with Annie Esposito, a Bridal Show Coordinator for WedAlert.com. WedAlert.com is a great website that is nationwide and with just a click of a mouse couples can search their Vendor Search Directory, Reception Site Locator, Wedding Song Directory and check out some great planning tools.

Throughout the day Frank Dicopoulos (Guiding Light) hosted for NJ Discover as they live-streamed the day’s events.

Ronald Faillace, President of Trolley Tours, Inc. greeted us as we boarded the trolley. The trolley would be taking the media/press and a few others around to each wedding venue for the day. It was such a fun way to tour the great island of LBI. The trolley’s are available to wedding parties in addition to a wedding motor coach (bus) also available to wedding parties or guests so that everyone can have a good time at the wedding and arrive to their destinations safely. The back of the trolley says “Just Married” so you can tell the world that it’s your big day. This is such a cute way to add some creativity to your wedding day.

The first stop on our trolley tour was to the Holiday Inn Manahawkin, where I was greeted by a mimosa. What a welcome! I walked into the room and immediately spotted Kevin Moninghoff from the Alliance for Wellness and was treated to an amazing massage. While I was being massaged, NJ Discover came over with Frank and interviewed Kevin on his holistic center and myself on the massage. I didn’t say much, I was way too relaxed. Kevin is not only open for business at his spa in Manahawkin but he travels and will be more than welcome to go to any location with his tables and give massages. Wouldn’t that be a nice way to relax before the big day? Getting a massage in your hotel room or bridal suite? Or even a nice treat for a bridal party? I’m sold. They also offer Site Corporate Massages and Pilates and Yoga classes.

Katie getting a massage by Kevin while Frank interviews from NJ Discover

The Stateroom was our next stop which offers a variety of ceremony sites including beach, bay front or a garden ceremony. What girl doesn’t love options?   The Stateroom is where I found the best cupcakes I have ever had. A Sweet Memory is a cookie & cupcakery owned by Annmarie Cooney which is out of this world! Not only are her cupcakes a feast for the eyes, but the margarita cupcake I tried was a feast for my tummy. It was the best cupcake I have EVER had! I also met Marie Addonizio of La Di Da which is a makeup and lash studio. I was so excited to hear they do threading. That is a service that is very hard to come by. Marie is an esthetician, makeup artist and massage therapist. Katie Reynolds Hood decorated the tables of this venue with beautiful tablescapes from the Reynolds Garden Shop. I grabbed a pretzel dipped in chocolate from the Philly Pretzel Factory located in Lakeside Village in Manahawkin, NJ. Shear Heaven Salon & Day Spa was there and offers some great packages in addition to their spa parties.

Yummy treats!

Next stop was the Surf City Yacht Club.  Moester’s Bakery had a large display of cakes available to sample. I opted to test the cannoli cake, which was delish. I chatted it up with the owners of Small Potatoes which is a catering company and after viewing their menu, I was drooling. They have plans to open a restaurant in the near future. Red Sails Salon was well represented at this event offering reasonably priced services for men, women and children.

The Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club is “the only premier ocean front wedding venue on Long Beach Island” and is a full service catering facility with the option of customizing anything to the extent of their ability. At the Sea Shell Resort couples can have a poolside cocktail hour and hang out in their tiki huts and enjoy a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. We entered this venue and were greeted by Barbara Crowley the harpist from our wedding. We were so excited. We headed off to the bar and grabbed a glass of champagne and took a stroll outside, taking in the beautiful scenery.

Barbara Crowley, harpist

Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club

Brant Beach Yacht Club was another stop in our travels.  They pride themselves on being “one of Long Beach Island’s most spectacular waterfront wedding reception venues” and they assure you that “your day will be everything you’ve ever dreamed”! After checking it out, I couldn’t agree more.  I grabbed a piece of salt water taffy from the Parties by Design NJ candy buffets. After all, salt water taffy is a Jersey shore staple. Tammy’s Cake Walk had some beautifully displayed cakes which showcased her beach themed designs. Perfect for a beach wedding! Roberto’s Dolce Vita a Northern Italian/Continental Cuisine restaurant has a menu that sounds divine and we were thrilled to receive a 15% off coupon, another place we will have to visit.  Bistro 14 in Bay Village was passing around a medley of samplings that were out of this world. I particularly loved their crab cakes and chocolate mousse. I can’t wait till they open for the season; we will have to check it out for the full experience.

Daddy O Boutique Hotel and Restaurant was our second to last stop on our tour. The establishment is very hip and chic with a South Beach vibe. My husband and I regularly visit LBI and enjoy the beach atmosphere and charm of the town, but Daddy O reminded me more of a lounge in NY, not very LBI. They were the only stop on our tour that didn’t offer beverages or snacks and there were only 2 vendors at this location. Quite honestly, I wasn’t that impressed. I didn’t feel especially welcome there and it didn’t have that warm, friendly feel of LBI that we all love. However, I did notice they had fried pickles on their menu and haven’t had them since I was vacationing in Florida as a child. I may need to go back to try them out.

Our final destination was Mallard Island Yacht Club which was the pièce de résistance of our whole trip. Unfortunately many of the vendors had already packed up by the time we got there, but it’s no wonder this is such a hot spot for weddings. Everywhere you look, you have an amazing view of the beach, the island or the Barnegat Bay. It’s truly unbelievable. Erik Kent from NJWedding.com recommended we take a look at the enormous bridal suite they have. I don’t need to explain how amazing it is. You can watch a video tour of the bridal suite here…  

This event was spectacular! I wish I had been to a bridal show like this when I was getting married. I was able to check out a variety of venues with exhibitors at each. It wasn’t crowded like most bridal shows tend to be. Lori Pepenella of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce along with Erik Kent of NJWedding.com did a phenomenal job orchestrating the event.  It was very well planned and thought out. My husband and I had a blast!

Participating Venues at the road show included: The Boathouse, Bonnet Island Estate, Brant Beach Yacht Club, Daddy O Restaurant & Boutique Hotel, Holiday Inn Manahawkin, Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences, Mallard Island Yacht Club, Sea Oaks Country Club, The Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club, The Stateroom, Surf City Yacht Club and the Tuckerton Seaport.

Media Sponsors of the event included: New Jersey Bride, NJWedding.com, New Jersey Department of State, travel and Tourism, Brides.com Media, (201)BRIDE and WedAlert.com. Magic 100.1 was the Broadcast Sponsor.

Once Upon a Time at Exquisite Bride

Exquisite Bride – Once Upon a Time at Exquisite Bride

By: Katie DeVito
Follow me on Twitter @kdevito

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there lived a girl… and a boy. They met, fell in love, got engaged and started to plan a wedding. The girl wanted to find the most perfect dress to marry the man of her dreams. Here, the now married girl tells the story of finding her dream dress at Exquisite Bride.

I can’t believe a year has come and gone already. On October 12th I will have been married for one year. Boy did time fly by!

Recently my husband and I have been drifting down memory lane thinking about the craziness of planning a wedding, how much fun we had at it, our relaxing honeymoon in St. Lucia and how stressed out I was about finding the perfect dress.

Let me tell ya… it wasn’t easy. My mom and I sure ran up some mileage on our cars travelling all over to find this perfect dress. We went everywhere from Bloomingdales to David’s Bridal. We even checked out a few stores in Pennsylvania. Price was not a huge factor in me finding a dress, I just wasn’t finding anything. Nada nilch zip. I scoured the pages of every bridal magazine looking for dresses, new stores I’d yet to visit.

I’d reached my breaking point. I was never going to find my perfect dress. So I figured, I guess I will have to design it myself. I started doing some sketching, while continuing to read my ridiculous amount of bridal magazines, when all of a sudden I found a beautiful gown. The fine print stated Exquisite Bride in Princeton Forrestal Village carried it. What? Exquisite Bride? That’s right around the corner from me and I had yet to go there. I immediately called and scheduled an appointment with Remy Quinones.

I went to Exquisite Bride (by myself during the week) to meet with Remy. This was the first time I didn’t have an entourage with me looking at dresses. I figured why drag them around again. Big mistake! Just walking up to the store I had a good feeling about it. I walked in and was greeted by Remy. The store is the most beautiful bridal store I have ever seen. First off, they have amazing designer couture gowns. Not to mention the store is just beautiful. The dresses aren’t all squished up next to each other where you have to tug and pull and rummage to see what they have. All the dresses are perfectly placed and separated. You can just walk up and see the dress in its entirety without even having to touch it.

Exquisite Bride

Remy was super helpful. I chose a few dresses to try on and so did she. She really listens to what the bride is looking for, while taking into account the brides body type and what would look the best. Just because it looks good on the rack or in the magazine doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

I tried on all the beautiful gowns… but I saved the best for last… the Romona Keveza gown. The moment I put the dress on I knew it was the one. We walked out to the fitting area and I stood on the platform and stared at the mirror. It was perfect. I immediately started crying and wish I had my back up entourage with me for support. Remy grabbed a pair of shoes for me to put on. Then she put a veil and headpiece in my hair and gave me a faux bouquet of flowers. The tears just kept flowing. That was it. I was done. I instantly called my mom and I scheduled another appointment so my mom and matron of honor could see the gown. We came back a few days later so they could view this perfect dress. When I came out and stood on the platform in front of them, they immediately started crying and of course so did I… again. Once again, Remy brought out all the trimmings so they could see what the gown would look like all pulled together. It was unanimous, this was the dress.

The following months were great. I went for a number of fittings and because of the cut of my dress, the seamstress sewed my bustier into my gown so I didn’t have to worry about it sticking out of my dress and constantly readjusting myself. I also purchased my veil and vintage inspired hairpiece from there as well.

Exquisite Bride not only has amazing gowns and accessories, they also have the best customer service, are extremely helpful and so passionate about what they do.

Here are some of the designers they carry:

Princeton Location:                        Millburn Location:

Cymbeline Paris                             Alvina Valenta
Jim Hjelm                                       Amsale
Lea-Ann Belter                              Anna Maier – Ulla Maija
Marisa                                             Anne Barge
Matthew Christopher                  Badgley Mischka
Rivini                                              Christos
Romona Keveza Legends           Junko Yoshioka
Simone Carvalli                            Kenneth Pool
Vera Wang (coming soon)         Lazaro
Liancarlo
Novia d’Art
Reem Acra
Rivini
Romona Keveza Couture
Vera Wang

Accessories & Shoes:

Cheryl King Couture (Veils, jewelry & headpieces)
Erin Cole (Veils, jewelry & headpieces)
Toni Federici (Veils)
Benjamin Adams (Shoes)
Pink (Shoes)
Grace (Shoes)
La Duca and Bella Duca (Shoes)

Accessories
Dresses range from high $2K – $5K. Their Millburn location carries a number of other designers and if you are interested in one, the Princeton location can obtain the dress for you so that you may try it on in their store. How convenient! They even carry full figured gowns to fit “real women”.

Exquisite Bride holds trunk shows pretty frequently, information is provided on their website and is constantly updated. This is a great opportunity for a bride-to-be to check out some great dresses, receive a discount, all while sipping on champagne. They also have an ongoing sample sale, stop in or give them a call to see what’s on sale.

My dress was a huge hit especially with my husband and the other night I even received a message on Twitter asking me who designed my dress (the dress being my profile pic on Twitter of me in my wedding dress).

My Dress!
The girl and boy looked fabulous on their big day, had the time of their life at their wedding and lived happily ever after. The End
Come in and visit Exquisite Bride and enter a raffle to win a bridal shape up package, including personal training from Phrog Fitness (valued at $700).

Exquisite Bride
Princeton Forrestal Village
117 Main Street
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 452-7200
http://www.exquisite-bride.com

Follow them on Twitter @ExquisiteBride!