Tonya & Ray – their wedding at The Seasons NJ – Wedding Photography
I think every wedding photographer has their own favorite part or element of the day to photograph – and for me, I love working with the bride and groom with their romantic portraits. When it all comes together with a great couple, in a superb venue (The Seasons, NJ), then it’s all a bit of a high. I loved working with Tonya and Ray on their wedding day – friendly, quirky personalities – I mean, just look at the white Converse sneakers they wore with their wedding day attire! I’m going to let the photographs stand as evidence of what a wonderful day this was, and how endearingly in love the two of them are. Tonya and Ray, thank you, and best wishes for your future together.
I sent a Q&A set to Tonya and Ray, and here they are with a few words about their wedding day:
Why did you chose The Seasons as your wedding venue? What did you love most about it?
Seasons was the first and ONLY venue we looked at. I had heard about it from some of my co-workers that it was a beautiful venue and had an amazing cocktail hour, so I knew we would want to check it out but figured we couldn’t afford to pay for it. When we went to meet with the owner, Carl, we fell in love with the place, the cocktail hour, and everything about it. We didn’t even go to any of our other appointments and booked it that day! My favorite thing about Seasons was probably the cocktail hour haha and if I could pick another favorite, it would be the staff. They were incredible down to every little detail that I didn’t even think about. They made the day so easy and carefree for Ray and I.
Tell us about your dress, shoes and other accessories!
My dress is designed by Essence of Australia. It is ivory with pewter lace and beading. I got it at “I do…I do” in Morristown, NJ – also a wonderful place with wonderful staff. When I tried this dress on when looking for a wedding dress, my mother and sister cried and I knew it was the right one. My dress was obviously my something new. Shoes…haha…I am not what you would call a “girly girl.” I am very athletic and I like to be comfortable, so I knew I wouldn’t survive all night standing if I was wearing heels, not to mention I probably would’ve fallen flat on my face, because I am not the most graceful person. Ray and I finally decided that it would be very unique and very “us” if we wore Converse since we both love sneakers and comfort. He and his best man wore black, I wore white, and my matron of honor and flower girl wore purple. I am SO glad we went with the converse because we were comfortable, we have great pictures with them, and it made our day unique to us. As far as accessories, my garter was my something blue. I wore a small tiara that was my something borrowed from my sister (matron of honor). My necklace was also the one my sister wore at her wedding. My mom had special earrings made for me that matched the necklace. The diamonds in the earrings were from a ring that my paternal grandmother had worn when she was alive (she passed away before I was born, so it was nice to have a part of her with me) – becoming my something old. I also had a penny in my shoe that my mom and sister both wear in their shoes at their wedding, completing the old saying “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a penny for your shoe.” Of course I didn’t want to wear my fitbit on my wrist so I put a white band on it and put it around my ankle – still had to get my steps in!
What was your wedding inspiration?
Describe some of your favorite wedding details and how you came up with them.
For wedding inspiration, I looked for a great deal of ideas on the app Pinterest. I would say our style or theme was a wintery twist with some rustic accents. We chose a deep purple for our “color” because it was wintery and yet still looked very classy. Ray and I are fairly plain and simple so we tried to keep things simple and not overdone. Favorite wedding details are probably our flowers/bouquets and the centerpieces. Flowers were calla lilies with some purple carnation type flowers mixed in. Our florist did an amazing job on them and they were so beautiful. Our centerpieces I actually made with the help of my mom and sister and some of our lush friends. We had approximately 150 wine bottles that we had to soak, scrape labels off of and spray painted white. Some of them we spray glued and covered in Epsom salt to have the appearance of snow. Our florist added some Christmas-y branches in the bottles and we also added some silver and purple Christmas ornaments around the bottles and some pine cones that my sweet niece/goddaughter/flower girl handpicked for me. I had seen the idea for the spray-painted bottles on Pinterest and we developed our own spin on the idea.
What song played for your first dance? What song played for the parent dances?
Our first dance was L.O.V.E by Nat King Cole. We love oldies music and this one has been one of our favorites for a long time. Whenever we would hear this song after Ray had a few drinks, he would play his “nose trumpet” and it always made me laugh. He did it for about half a second while we were dancing to the song during our first dance and it made me laugh as it always does.
His dance with his mom was “A Mother’s Song” by T Carter Music. His mom actually selected it. My dance with my dad was “Apple of Your Daddy’s Eye” by Pete Cetera. Cetera is one of my dad’s favorite artists and the song was a bit faster paced and less tear-jerky, making it a much more appropriate selection for him and I. I also love that it was a unique song and hasn’t been overplayed at weddings.
What was your favorite moment during your wedding day?
My favorite moment is really hard to choose, but I would say it was watching his face as I walked down the aisle at the church. He is not a very emotional man typically, but seeing him hold back tears as he saw me walking in reaffirmed how much he really does love me. Being up there together at the altar holding hands and making such an incredible promise to each other was extremely humbling and overwhelming. I felt so much love for him in those moments and felt so much love from him. One moment that will last forever with us both I think was our first dance. He hates attention and does not like to dance in public so he was dreading the first dance for months! When we got out there together and danced to our song, he looked at me so lovingly and he looked so vulnerable, not in like a childish or weak way, but in a way that he had truly given me all of him and it was a beautiful moment. So beautiful that I am crying happy tears right now thinking about it haha!
How did you first meet?
We first met in 2007, our junior year of high school. We both went to private Catholic schools, him Don Bosco Prep and me, Mary Help of Christians Academy. In November of 2007, our two schools selected four students to go on a retreat to Ohio called NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference). I saw him on the bus ride there and immediately thought he was adorable and hilarious (still think that to this day). He however, liked one of my other friends that was on the trip and I looked for any opportunity to talk to him. After much effort, I was finally able to get his phone number from my friend that he liked. He was oblivious that I liked him at first but eventually after being very specific about my feelings, he grabbed my hand at a dance party on the retreat and pulled me out to dance in front of hundreds of teens. We were the only ones dancing at first, but it was so sweet and romantic. When we returned home we went on our first date and became boyfriend and girlfriend!
What advice would you give to future brides for their wedding day?
I feel like I could write a book about all the advice I would give future brides! I received so many great tips from my family and friends. The best was probably facing the toilet to pee! Hahaha. In all seriousness though, my best advice would be to allow plenty of time between everything for pictures and transportation so that when you get through the ceremony and get to the reception, you can just enjoy the day. I would say be sure to take a few moments periodically throughout the night to just look and watch and take it all in. Make the day unique to you and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks….I had some people tell me that it was not very tasteful to wear converse to my wedding with a beautiful dress like that, but I didn’t care. I was comfortable and the converse were a unique touch that was specific to Ray and I. Most of all, don’t panic. Things will probably go wrong whether before or during the day of your wedding. Just embrace them and laugh and remember to lean on each other to get through the process and the nerves and remember you always have friends and family to help you through everything. Also the struggles and obstacles that you manage to get through together will make your relationship stronger. (Ray cracked his tooth the night before the wedding and ripped out the loose piece with plyers since we didn’t have time to get him to a dentist. Our best man didn’t have a suit until the day of the wedding, and our toilet overflowed as we were about to leave for our rehearsal – made for some good laughs and good stories!)
What was the biggest surprise on your wedding day?
The biggest surprise was probably how nicely and perfectly smooth the whole day went. We had a TON of obstacles the weeks before and event he day before the wedding. Everything was so perfect from start to finish. Our vendors were all so fantastic and the staff at the venue had everything running better than I could’ve expected. I was preparing for some things to go wrong and I was okay if things weren’t “perfect.” The day WAS perfect though and I’m also surprised I didn’t cry!
Why did you choose me for your photography?
Initially we chose to meet with you because of a recommendation by a friend. Then we met you and loved everything about you. We both loved that you have your own business not for a making money scheme but because you truly love what you do. We not only thought that your photographs were gorgeous and extremely artistic and unique but we also liked you as a person and found you to be extremely interesting, genuine and funny. Of course, that accent also has its appeal! It was easy to see that you love what you do and that you are so phenomenal at it. You were a joy to work with and you took so many amazing photos and let me drag you everywhere to take all the photos that I wanted. You also helped us to relax and gave us instruction on what to do and how to stand which made the pictures easier on us. Seeing your giddy face when you got “the perfect shot” reaffirmed our decision in choosing you because you love your work so much. I also thoroughly enjoyed having you photograph me without Ray for a few shots, which I was surprised I enjoyed so much! I usually hate having my picture taken and hate how I look in pictures but you made it fun with all of the different lighting and angles that you used to take such beautiful pictures. You were a huge part of the day and we didn’t even get a videographer because we trusted that you would take amazing photos that we could look back on to remember our day. I can not stress enough how pleased we were with you and your work. There are not enough words in the English language to describe how wonderful, amazing, phenomenal, extraordinary your photographs are and there are also not enough words to describe how wonderful you are as a person! I would recommend you to anyone and everyone!
What’s next on your calendar as a couple?
Next on the calendar is Christmas with both of our families and then back to work for a few weeks until our honeymoon in Disney World at the end of January. We have plans to fix up our house once we recuperate some money and then we will see what life brings us. Right now we have our two crazy huskies and each other and we are extremely happy.
Tonya + Ray
- Technical details on the lighting of the portraits: Wedding photography – Style & Serendipity