Custom By Nicole – Featured Wedding Vendor

Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer: Custom by Nicole

One of the most important vendors on your wedding day will be your photographer. While everyone is going to be an important part of the day, your photographer is going to capture images that will live on for years to come. Your photos will be able to tell the story when you no longer can. Here in the Hudson Valley we have found just the photographer for you!

wedding - hudson valley photographer - custom by nicole

Meet Nicole Wagner, Owner of Custom by Nicole

Nicole WagnerCustom By Nicole was started eight years ago by Nicole Wagner. She absolutely loves what she does and there is no other career that she would rather have. When we asked Nicole why she chose wedding photography as a career and what she loves most about it, she took us back to the beginning.  “I have always been a very creative person and found photography to be my favorite form of art. When I was thinking of starting a wedding photography business I had it in my head that I wanted to create art that the couple is a part of. After being in business for a little while I realized just how important the job of documenting this monumental day in the couple’s lives really is! It’s a day where everyone who is important to the couple is in one room together having an amazing time. There are so many moments to be captured throughout and these preserved moments only grow in value over time. I feel like documenting a couple’s love story and their wedding day is the best gift I could give someone!”

Wedding Photography Advice from Nicole

1. Make your engagement session personal and fun.

I always ask the couple if there’s a meaningful location to them. Many times they do have a spot in mind. Where they met, had their first date, or a park that they enjoy visiting. Couples who have a pet also tend to enjoy bringing them along as well.


Hudson Valley Photographer - Custom by Nicole

Custom by Nicole - Hudson Valley Photographer

2. Give your photographer creative freedom.

I prefer to not receive a wedding day shot list. It’s my job to know the standard portrait combinations and events that will be taking place that need to be documented. I ask my clients to fill out a details form that guides them through providing me with important information pertaining to their day. This helps me to get a really good feel for what’s important to them. I also discourage providing a Pinterest shot list. I want to deliver unique images to each couple rather than trying to recreate what’s already been done.

mountain top - custom by nicole

3. Do a private first look.

I like a private first look so the couple can focus on each other alone without distraction. I usually look for an area that is visually appealing, but also has even lighting since the couple’s movement is unpredictable during that time. For example, you don’t want harsh sun with raccoon eyes on one of the individuals and shade on the other. I also like when there’s a good distance that the bride has to walk to get to the groom. This allows for great shots of the look of anticipation on each of their faces as the bride approaches. It’s also fun for them to talk to each other before she starts walking toward him. Another option would be for the couple to stand back to back with each other while they read love letters that they wrote then turn around afterward to see each other. That usually makes the first look even more emotional.

first look - custom by nicole


4. Don’t worry about rain ruining your day!

Rain hardly ever causes big problems in regard to photography on wedding day. When the forecast calls for a chance of rain it just means there’s a chance it will rain at some point during the day. It hardly ever rains continuously the whole day and often it doesn’t rain during the time we would need to be outdoors for photos. Most of my couples tend to do a first look, which allows for a more flexible pre ceremony timeline. If it rains at some point during the portrait time, we can work around it by choosing to shoot indoors or under a covered outdoor area until it stops. Maybe do some portraits by a window inside using natural light or some more moody bride and groom shots with dramatic lighting until the rain stops. After the rain stops, there’s always a chance there will be a rainbow!


Custom by Nicole - bride and groom


We would like to thank Nicole of Custom by Nicole for taking the time to speak with us. You can check out some of the weddings and styled shoots we have worked on with Nicole in our Portfolio here. If you’d like to see more, you can also visit her website at to see more of her work.

Bridal Hair Tips from BW Bridal

Bridal Hair Tips from Brittany Weiss of BW Bridal

We know planning a wedding can be overwhelming with all the important decisions you’ll have to make for your big day, everything has to be perfect! One of these big decisions will, in fact, be choosing your hairstylist. We understand how important it is to look amazing on your wedding day.  Your photographer can make sure your photos look stunning but only your stylist can make sure you look amazing.  It is that time of the year when brides are selecting their stylists and getting bridal hair trials done, so we reached out to one of our favorite Hudson Valley stylists, Brittany of BW Bridal, for a personal interview to learn more about her and to get tips and trends for 2017.

About Brittany

Photo: Jordan Jankun Photography

Brittany Weiss of BW BridalBrittney Weiss is the owner and lead stylist at BW Bridal which was founded in October of 2016. She has been a licensed stylist for eight years, during that time she worked heavily behind the chair doing cuts, color, and up do’s. For the past two years, her main focus has been on bridal hair for both brides and bridal parties. When asking Brittney why she chose to specialize in formal hairstyles, there was no better way for me to say it then through her own words, “Creating formal styles is truly artistic and beautiful, and it intrigues me more than any other aspect of styling hair. Being a positive part of a bride’s wedding morning while creating a look that they remember forever is so fulfilling and special.” Her favorite thing about her job is being able to create something beautiful starting with a blank canvas. For her, this is truly more than just a job and her passion really shines through with each beautiful bride she has been able to work with.

Advice from Brittany

When preparing for the big day it’s very important to remember to schedule a hair trial to see your ideas and be confident in your choice for the big day. Brittany recommends scheduling a hair trial approximately three to four months before the wedding day. This allows time to make any adjustments you might want. I have heard many suggestions over the years about preparing for bridal hair, such as the more oil in your hair the better or if you don’t wash your hair for three days it is more likely to stay so I asked Brittany for her advice on the subject. When preparing for a trial, Brittney asks that the bride comes with “day old hair” or freshly clean but it must be dry. She also asks brides to bring hair inspiration pictures, this includes what the bride likes and dislikes. If the bride has her veil and/or headpieces those are important to bring along as well so the look can be pulled together and the bride can get the entire vision for her big day. If a bride is stumped on a hairstyle for her wedding hair, there is nothing to fear Brittney can help create the style of her dreams just by asking a few simple questions to understand her style. She typically starts by asking how you wear your hair 5 days outs of the week and how you wear your hair when it’s in a ponytail(high bun, side pony, low pony). This helps her determine the comfort level of the bride, if a bride wears her hair down every day and never choices to put it up then she knows that the bride is more likely to choose a style that’s all down or a style that is half up.

 updo bridal hairstyle Photo: Tomas Flint Photography 

We know it is always a little more nerve-racking when you do not know what to expect so we asked Brittany how much time a bride should allow for hairstyling on her wedding day. She told us that she likes to have an hour for the bride, even though she never uses the whole hour because she enjoys getting to spend quality time with the bride and not feeling rushed. Planning a wedding can be stressful enough and it is important that on the wedding day the bride feels as relaxed as possible! One of the best parts of the day for the bride is getting ready and having that quality time with her wedding party so allowing extra time is a great idea.

One of the best things about being able to experience the wedding industry is being able to see the different styles and trends. When it comes to bridal hair trends and style predictions for the 2017 season, BW Bridal is predicting tousled, romantic hair. Brittany says, “So far this year when it comes to the bridal trial, the 2017 brides are looking for romantic curls, soft updos, and face framing pieces. The hair accessories are very delicate and unique. Brides want to look organic and natural this year.”

bridal hairstylePhoto: Alicia King Photography  
bridal hair - bw bridalPhoto: Alicia King Photography

Of course, I had to ask Brittney what was one of her craziest wedding day experiences! She shared with me, “ I feel like every wedding is always such an incredible experience. Each group always brings their own style and spunk to the day! I wouldn’t say I’ve ever had a CRAZY experience. However, I have been surrounded by really rowdy groups of ladies and adversely, I’ve been around super quiet groups where I’m ready to put my Beyoncé Pandora Radio Station on and get the fun started myself! I think it’s important to have a happy medium on your wedding day! —- That’s about as crazy as my experiences really get!”

hairstylist - wedding hair

Photo: Alicia King Photography

half up bridal hair

Photo: Sweet Alice Photography 

Tips for the Bride

BW Bridal has given us some very helpful tips for our brides!

• I would suggest always having dry hair and to never, ever, ever flat iron your hair before receiving a formal style. The curls will fall right out.

• The neckline of your dress really alters your hair choices. If you hate wearing your hair up, try to stay away from a high neckline. A high back will also encourage an up-style or side-style as well.

• When surfing Pinterest, try to pin updos and bridal hair styles with your color hair. Too often I have lovely brunettes show me pictures of blondes, and, unfortunately, the finished up-style just never looks the same. Blonde hair updos have more dimension and more light reflection within them.

• If you are a dark haired bride, I always suggest adding a few highlights before a wedding day. Dimension is an extremely amazing quality of an updo. That’s not to say black/brown haired updos are less beautiful – they are stunning as well. However, having extra dimension makes an updo POP!

We would like to thank Brittney for giving us the opportunity to learn more able her business and for sharing some valuable tips with brides! Now that you know a little more about wedding day hair, it’s time to get your trial scheduled. You can see more beautiful hairstyles and get in touch with Brittany at her website

Make sure to also check out more wedding vendor interviews and tips on our blog!

5 Tips for Creating a Wedding Budget Before Booking a Venue

5 Tips for Creating a Wedding Budget Before Booking a Venue

When we meet with couples the first thing we discuss is the wedding budget. The wedding budget will be your guide for planning and designing your wedding. Since most couples have never planned a wedding, they have no idea what to anticipate spending. Couples often come to us after they have already booked their venue which can sometimes hurt the wedding budget. We strongly urge couples consider their budget before beginning to search for a venue. You won’t know know how much you should be spending on the venue until after you have laid out your budget. We find that couples tend to overspend on their venue when they have not set a budget. We felt inspired by engagement season and wanted to share the best tips for budgeting with the soon to be wed so we put together 5 tips for creating your budget before you get started on the venue search.

Decide on the total amount you can afford.

We all dream of things beyond what we can afford but when it comes down to it you need to be realistic. You don’t want to go broke paying for your wedding. Think about what you have saved and talk to family about what they might be willing to contribute before you start so you know what the big picture figure is. If you do this from the start you won’t be stressed later when your funds are gone and you can’t book the vendors you need.


Do your homework.

Do research. Find a free template that you can use to create your budget or start your own as a spreadsheet document. We use Aisle Planner for our brides but there is a fee for this one. Many of the wedding blogs and planning sites have free templates you can use. We suggest you don’t use sites like Wedding Wire or The Knot to guide you in what you should spend. These sites don’t actually have experience creating a budget but rather take the national average and provide suggested amounts. They tend to provide very misleading figures. The best way to create a budget is to do your research. If you haven’t hired a planner or it’s just not in the budget start reaching out to vendors to get an idea of what things cost. Be honest. When you reach out to a vendor tell them you are just starting to plan and would like to know what to anticipate their services costing. If you are honest they will be happy to share their information with you and who knows you just might book their services later.

wedding budget research

Consider the style venue you would like.

The style of your venue will be a big factor in the budget. Couples tend to assume having a wedding at a venue which is customizable will be cheaper but it actually costs more. A traditional style venue (ballroom, catering hall, etc.) will be less expensive than a non-traditional venue (barn, farm, retreat center, etc.). Traditional style venues include all the tables, chairs, china, linens, lighting, etc. Whereas a non-traditional venue requires you to bring it all in as well as whatever your caterer requires for cooking. If your budget is tight you might want to go with a traditional venue that includes everything.  This way you save on rentals which can start at around $5,000.
senate garage wedding

Photo: Max Flatow

Carefully consider your guest list.

Your guest list is going to be an essential part of creating your budget. If you choose to invite 200 guests your budget is going to be largely allocated towards food and beverage. In the Hudson Valley, you can expect to pay anywhere between $150+ per guest for food and beverage. This is figure excludes your venue site fee and rentals items, if required. We always suggest starting with just your closest family and friends. Anyone you have not seen in the last year can be the first to be cut.

invitations - nye wedding roundhouse beacon ny

Photo: Alicia King Photography

Consider your top three must-haves.

Every couple has their own vision. For some, the venue and food might be most important and others music and entertainment. If you have a list of your top three must-haves you will be able to allocate the most to those areas since you will most likely want top vendors for them. The balance of your budget is where you can compromise if the funds are tight. We suggest booking these vendors asap after you have reserved your venue and booked your caterer. Keep in mind the venue and food are going to be the most expensive ticket items in the budget.  We typically allocate 50% of your budget to these items depending on your guest count.
harvest table - hudson valley wedding

Photo: Love and Wolf Co.

We hope this tips you find helpful in creating your own wedding budget. If you are looking for some assistance with your budget feel free to get in touch with us for a stress-free budget plan.