wedding photography

Wedding Cameras – Guest Table Cameras are Back

Saturday, November 5th, 2011 | Filed under: wedding ideas, wedding photography, wedding planning | author: By Keith Sly,    

We’re so happy to see the return of one-time-use wedding cameras set on our wedding reception room guest tables here at the Ram’s Head Inn in Galloway, New Jersey. For a time, they disappeared as brides and grooms sought to shave expenses from their wedding budget, but now wedding couples welcome them back into their tabletop design, offering their guests the fun of using them.

Here are the top reasons why wedding cameras are back:

  • They’re prettier than ever. At, you’ll see pretty red floral, blue floral, and purple floral one-time-use cameras, in addition to traditional ‘bridal white’ cameras. And you’ll also see cameras in solid colors coordinating with the top wedding colors of the season: orange, yellow, blue, red, even black and white for themed weddings.
  • They’re now made with top film quality. With 800-speed film, photos taken with these cameras can capture a priceless wedding moment in quality resolution.
  • They keep kids occupied. Many of our New Jersey wedding couples say this is their top reason – that the one-time-use cameras on every table get the kids playing, happily occupied, laughing, taking photos on the dance floor, and –simply put – not prone to behavior problems they’d have if play wasn’t an element of your reception.
  • They capture the moments you miss. While you’re out in the wedding gardens having your portraits taken, guests use these cameras to capture wonderful moments between relatives, such as great-grandma meeting a guest’s baby for the first time, or the bride’s parents showing off their skills on the dance floor.
  • Guests are told they’ll get to see and perhaps buy the photos. When you place a printed note with each one-time-use wedding camera, you let guests know that the photos they take will be included on a photo-share website for them to view and purchase. Guests then tend to take greater care with the pictures they take, and it works out wonderfully for everyone.
  • Extra wedding cameras let you capture the after-party. When all of the cameras are gathered up at the end of the reception, you can take the ones that still have shots left on them to your after-party to capture memorable moments with your friends long after your wedding photographer has left.
  • Panoramic one-time-use cameras let you snap your own wide-angle photos of our beautiful wedding gardens and grounds, as well as all of your friends and family celebrating your special day.

All the best,

Caitlyn Bradley, Director of Private Dining, Ram’s Head Inn

Wedding Videography Don’t List

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 | Filed under: wedding ideas, wedding photography, wedding planning, Wedding Videography | author: By Keith Sly,    

Your wedding video is a priceless capturing of your dream wedding day, and you get to help create it. When you alert your wedding videographer to what you do and don’t want on your wedding day footage, you play a big part in the final version.

The top wedding videographers we know from our elite community of New Jersey wedding experts, including award-winning video experts from the entire Northern and Central  Jersey and New York City regions, among others, want to hear from you about the types of footage you love, and what you have no desire for. For instance, you might not want your wedding videography to include interviews of guests at their tables. Some guests are camera-shy and cringe when they see the videographer coming at them. You don’t want your guests to be uncomfortable, so you might add ‘no table interviews’ to the Don’t list you deliver to your videographer well before the wedding day.

Here are some of the top Don’ts that today’s brides and grooms have in mind when it comes to their wedding videography:

  • Too many special effects. Couples say they find it distracting when their ceremony footage keeps transforming from black-and-white to color, so ask your wedding videographer to use special effects minimally.

  • Too much focus on us. A great videographer knows to stick close to the bride and groom in order to capture those wonderful looks between them, interactions with close friends and with the flowergirls and other magical moments. But today’s wedding couples want lots of footage of their family and friends enjoying the celebration.

  • No line dances. Some brides and grooms agree to having line dances at their receptions, sometimes on request from their parents, but they often don’t need that footage shot, nor included in their final wedding video.

  • No table interviews. Again, guests who get surprised by a camera in front of them often don’t express themselves eloquently. It’s not something they want captured for posterity. And wedding couples wish to spare them the awkwardness.

  • No picking out music for us. Brides and grooms prefer to submit a list of songs they’d like used as the soundtrack for their wedding video, not to be surprised when the videographer adds songs they don’t like…or that remind them of previous relationships!

  • No baby photo montages. Some of our New Jersey wedding couples choose instead to display those adorable baby and childhood photos as an entertainment feature at the start of their wedding dinner, not including them on their wedding video.

A large portion of wedding videography cost is due to the time it takes for your video expert to edit your video, especially if you’ve purchased a video package providing you with just an hours’ worth of footage. So your Don’t requests may even save you money by eliminating some editing elements such as special effects. Cost aside, though, the goal is creating the wedding video you want, one you’ll watch again and again in the future.


Michael Mahle, Director of Communications, Pleasantdale Château

Wedding Photography Don’t List

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 | Filed under: wedding photography, wedding planning, wedding receptions | author: By Keith Sly,    

Your wedding photographer wants you to be blissfully happy with your wedding day photos, so the new trend in arranging for wedding photography is one that local NJ photographers have actually requested: they want to know what you don’t want them to capture on your wedding day.

A great wedding photographer will adhere to your photo wish-list, while at the same time making sure that he or she is well-positioned to capture all of the most magical moments of your ceremony and reception. Top professional wedding photographers in the counties of Essex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Hudson and other nearby regions also know that the bride and groom want to enjoy their cocktail party and reception to the fullest, not spend an hour taking endless posed group photos. No reputable photographer wants to make you miss your cocktail hour, so join in the trend of delivering your Wedding Photography Don’t List to your photo pro in advance of your wedding day, letting him or her know which types of shots you don’t want, what not to waste time on. Wedding photographers we’ve known for years here at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange have said they’re greatly relieved to know what the bride and groom are thinking. They appreciate getting a Don’t List. It’s not an encroachment on their expertise.

Here are the top types of photos to add to your own Wedding Photography Don’t List:

Boring Shots

  • Posed lineups of the bridal party, with the ladies on one side and the groomsmen on the other. Today’s wedding couples request a more modern ‘blend’ of interspersed bridesmaids and groomsmen.

  • Posed lineups of the bride and groom with sets of parents. More candid wedding photography shots are often preferred for these priceless shots.

  • The cliché shot of the bridal party jumping up in the air, or running down a hill holding hands. While some wedding couples love these ‘fun group scenes,’ others would rather skip the ‘scripted levity’ photos and just have the photographer capture more natural group interactions, such as everyone dancing or sharing a champagne toast.

  • Posed photos taken at each guest table. They have wedding cameras on their tables, so they can take their own at-table photos.

Uncomfortable Shots

  • Tell your photographer if you wish to skip that cliché shot of the groomsmen holding you sideways, awkwardly, with everyone forcing smiles.

  • If your photographer asks you to pose a photo of the groom dipping you backwards over a pool or pond and that makes you uncomfortable, just request to skip that shot and move onto the next. [A Don’t can be delivered in the moment, not on a pre-submitted Don’t List.]

  • Tell your photographer about any awkward family situations, such as your father bringing his new girlfriend to the wedding, and you not wanting her included in the family photos. You might find it easier to skip the posed family lineups to avoid this situation, and instead just get photos of yourself with your father. Our favorite wedding photographers here at our New Jersey wedding venue are masters at handing tricky family photo situations, so that you don’t have to worry about them.

Your Don’t List can also include instructions on how you’d like your wedding photographer to capture you, such as getting you from your ‘good side,’ or not taking photos of you from the back. They’re your photos from the most important day of your life, and you’ll want every frame, every proof, to make your wedding wishes come true.


Michael Mahle, Director of Communications, Pleasantdale Château

Engagement Portrait Ideas

Monday, September 5th, 2011 | Filed under: Bright Ideas for your wedding, wedding photography, wedding planning | author: By Keith Sly,    

Upon the occasion of your engagement – whether it happened yesterday or months ago – you’re likely planning to schedule an engagement portrait session with a professional photographer as the first of your many, exciting, upcoming wedding photography tasks.

In the past, engagement portraits looked very similar – with the bride standing behind the seated groom, her arms wrapped around his shoulders and chest, with her new and sparkling engagement ring prominently showing on her left hand. Now, this traditional pose is just one of a collection of new engagement portrait poses that lead the way in first-couple-photo trends. Think of the beautiful engagement photo recently released by royal wedding couple Kate Middleton and Prince William. Kate and William posed in a near embrace, showing their closeness and natural affection as a couple, and yes the engagement ring was prominently-featured.

As a leading New Jersey wedding venue and top garden wedding location in New Jersey, we can attest to the natural beauty of our surrounding region here in the northern part of the Garden State where we have so many scenic overlooks – including the Highlawn Pavilion’s view of New York City – and natural vistas such as springtime blooms and the fiery colors of the autumn leaves. With engagement portraits experiencing a wedding photo trend evolution into using more nature scenes as backgrounds for these couple photos, our local wedding couples are quite lucky to have access to beautiful botanical gardens, estate homes, and especially beaches on our many shore and lake destinations here in New Jersey.

Here are some of the top engagement portrait setting styles that New Jersey wedding couples and our many New York City wedding couples choose for their signature couple photo:

At the Beach

  • Sitting or lying directly on the sand
  • Sitting or lying on a colorful beach blanket
  • Splashing ankle-deep in the ocean’s edge water
  • Groom carrying bride into the water, or along the ocean’s edge into the sunset
  • Bride and groom sitting in a lifeguard stand
  • A favorite of our New Jersey wedding couples – photos located at the family shore house where they’ve spent many summers, and perhaps where they became engaged
  • At the precise spot on the beach where the couple became engaged.
  • A natural, just-walking-along shot of the couple by the water’s edge

On the Boardwalk

For playful couples, a beach-setting engagement portrait session may include a quick stop at the boardwalk, where they may pose:

  • On a carousel
  • In the seat of their favorite ride
  • Holding colorful cotton candy while overlooking the ocean
  • Holding enormous stuffed animals the groom and bride have won for each other.

In the Park

The park may be easier for you to reach, and many New Jersey couples choose their nearby park setting, or a favorite spot in a state park overlooking a waterfall or a brook, as their engagement portrait setting. When couples look for places to take NJ wedding photos, it’s often the park that provides the setting closest to a gorgeous garden wedding’s feel. Here are some of the top trends in park photos:

  • At a gazebo
  • On a park bench
  • By a fountain
  • On a wooden bridge crossing over a stream
  • On a playground’s swingset
  • Lying on the grass in the middle of a softball field where you’ve played or watched games together
  • Kissing in the end zone of a park football field, where you may have had childhood sports memories

The goal is to design an engagement portrait that will join your spectacular professionally-taken wedding photos in your home displays for all time. Your wedding photography expert will guide you in suggesting poses that make you both look your best, but it’s up to you to choose your stunning location, bring several different styles of outfits or dresses to your photo session, and speak up when a setting or pose is what you want.

Many of our New Jersey wedding couples say they fall in love with several of their engagement photos, framing those for home display and using those for their personal wedding website and wedding program designs.


Michael Mahle, Director of Communications, Pleasantdale Château

Wedding Photography: New Trends in Mess the Dress Photos

Thursday, June 16th, 2011 | Filed under: Bright Ideas for your wedding, wedding ideas, wedding planning, wedding receptions | author: By Keith Sly,    

When the Mess the Dress photo trend first started, many people were shocked that any bride would subject her wedding dress to destruction. But we’ve come a long way from the days of brides sliding down muddy hills or smashing chocolate wedding cake against their skirts. The trend now is to arrange for artistic mess the dress photos, with the bride posing for magazine fashion spread-inspired stylistic images in the ocean surf or in other natural settings. The resulting mess to the dress is purely exposure to natural elements like sand or a grassy field; it’s the bride relaxing and not worrying about getting anything on her dress. The mess the dress photo sessions that our New Jersey wedding couples are booking with our preferred wedding vendors and other New Jersey wedding photographers work very much just like high-fashion photo shoots, complete with stylists, makeup artists, and pro photo teams with light reflectors and other professional photography equipment.

Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography

Before you worry about your wedding gown, keep in mind that many brides purchase second, often inexpensive, wedding gowns to be used in their mess the dress photos. Local brides purchase these gowns at NJ wedding gown shops’ sample sales and trunk sales, or through online auctions, choosing pretty styles that suit their vision for elegant and artsy mess the dress photos.

Here are some of the most popular styles and settings of mess the dress photos:

  • On the beach, with the bride standing ankle-deep in the ocean surf, perhaps kicking some water, or holding her skirt up a bit and dancing in the surf. Since many of our New Jersey beaches have beautiful, fine sand as well as sparkling sandy beaches like Cape May’s, a popular beach photo is the bride simply walking barefoot along the water’s edge in the perfect sunlight to get those Cape May diamonds and sea glass pieces sparkling.
  • Underwater shots, with the bride looking like a mermaid fully submerged, her hair flowing, the dress flowing.
  • Field shots, with the bride walking, dancing or lying in a grassy field of flowers.
  • Farm shots, which are especially popular with our New Jersey wedding couples who enjoy the natural atmosphere of our many New Jersey family farms. These photos may be posed in an apple orchard – perhaps with the bride perched in an apple tree, with an apple in her hand – in a pumpkin patch, sitting on top of an enormous hay bale or on a hay bale pyramid, even on horseback.
  • In a tree, another favorite of our New Jersey wedding couples. They may invite their wedding photographer to their family home so that they may have photos taken of the bride and of themselves as a couple sitting in the same tree the bride may have climbed as a little girl.
  • Snowy shots, with the bride playing in a fresh snowfall, or making snow angels, or a playful shot of the bride sledding down a hill in her full wedding regalia.
  • Fall weather shots, with the bride playing among piles of colorful fall leaves, making the most of our beautiful New Jersey autumn foliage scenery and creating a colorful photo that may be displayed in the couple’s home.
  • Painting the dress, a new trend in mess the dress photos, inspired by high-fashion’s recent showing of hand-painted dresses. New York City bridal gown designers have even opened their fashion shows with artists painting bridal gowns with watercolors, so brides are quite inspired to do the same with watercolor flowers and designs painted onto their dress’s skirt.
  • Sitting on a vehicle. Some popular vehicles on which the bride may perch include classic cars and convertibles, perhaps the wedding-day limousine, and some brides ask permission to hop onto the back of a parked fire truck for a fun photo.

Mess the dress photos no longer raise eyebrows when they’re styled fashionably and when they reflect the bride’s love of the shore, or a farm setting, or when they capture the exuberance of her winter wedding. And many brides create flip photo books of their entire mess the dress photo sessions, finding these as pleasing and keepsake-worthy as their official wedding day photos.

Michael Mahle, Director of Communications, Pleasantdale Château

Wedding Photography: Capturing the Location

Thursday, June 9th, 2011 | Filed under: wedding ideas, wedding photography, wedding planning | author: By Keith Sly,    

As you’re researching or working with your New Jersey wedding photographer, your wedding photography focus is likely on the different photography styles – photojournalism, candid, and so on – and how they would deliver the most important images of your day. As you explore the websites and portfolios of professional wedding photographers, look within their galleries for location images, those detailed shots of the wedding venue and wedding gardens, the banquet hall’s architectural details…photos that convey a sense of place.

Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography

You’ve chosen your wedding location for its beauty and breathtaking details, and on your wedding day, with wedding décor further enhancing the natural beauty of this wedding locale, your photographer can capture the stunning details that set the scene for your dream wedding.

Here are some of the most popular details that wedding photographers encourage you to add to your requested-shot list for your photographer’s use:

  • Photos of the entryway, featuring the elegant, inviting design of the doorway itself, elaborate floral arrangements at the entrance, servers standing with trays of champagne or mimosas, and so on.
  • Your ceremony site, fully decorated, before any guests arrive – a ‘ceremony setting before it all begins’ wedding location photo.
  • Your reception ballroom, fully decorated, before any guests arrive, the same ‘setting before it all begins’ photo as above.
  • An elevated view of your reception banquet room, such as from our balcony, providing for a sweeping, panoramic photo of the decorated, guest-free ballroom…and then other photos from the same perspective later on, when guests are dining and then dancing.
  • Photos of the room’s architectural elements, such as our cathedral ceiling, arches, chandeliers and other design accents of your setting.
  • The bridal suite, decorated, free of guests.
  • Water features throughout the wedding site and wedding gardens, including a reflecting pool, ponds, reflections of the gardens on the lake’s waters. Your photographer may suggest photos of you both at the ornate fountain in addition to extreme close-ups of the water bubbling from the fountain itself. The goal is to pair the two photos in a frame or album, for a lovely effect.
  • Panoramic shots of the wedding garden grounds, from the front of the property and across the lawns, especially if the trees are in bloom or in full autumn leaf-changing color.
  • Close-ups of your wedding location’s trees in bloom.
  • Close-ups of the wedding reception hall’s sign.
  • Close-ups of the food displays within the wedding cocktail party menu, capturing images of the banquet chef’s artful presentations of gourmet cuisine.
  • Lighting effects, such as your names or designs projected onto the dance floor using special-effect gobo lights.
  • Evening photos of the grounds and fountains lit up for decorative effect.

An experienced NJ wedding photographer knows best how to capture these wedding location photos and wedding detail photo, in extreme close-up or panoramic vistas, with masterful use of lighting and special effects in his or her editing session.

During your wedding celebration, you’ll likely be dancing, dining, celebrating with friends, in a blissful whirlwind, and you may miss the entryway décor or the presentation of the gourmet wedding menu at the cocktail party. So having these photos perfectly capturing the beauty of your wedding’s scenery, down to the finest décor detail, is priceless.

Michael Mahle, Director of Communications, Pleasantdale Château

Photographing the Wedding Menu

Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | Filed under: Party Planning, Style Alert, wedding planning | author: By Keith Sly,    

The best wedding catering is as beautiful as it is delicious. Chefs and pastry chefs prepare and present their delectable cocktail party, wedding reception menu, and dessert hour items with painstaking care, creating a breathtaking display of wedding menu treats. Chefs have gone to great lengths to make every dish a work of art, garnished to perfection and arranged so beautifully that guests hesitate before digging in.

From shiny pearls of caviar on top of salmon puffs to tiny martini glasses filled with mango salsa and shrimp, that platter of perfect little petit fours with the tiny little pink rosettes on top. The entire wedding menu features fabulous accent details just like the wedding dress does…which is why photographing the wedding food is a new top trend in wedding photography.

While the bride and groom are dancing or visiting with guests at the start of their celebration, the best professional photographers move through the cocktail party room, snapping fabulous photos of the buffet menu items, in HD close-up, capturing the most sensory elements of the cocktail party and reception with the same spotlight focus given to close-up photos of the bride’s bouquet or her wedding ring.

The result is a collection of magazine cover-worthy images of the gourmet fare at the reception, a capturing of wedding menu details the couple planned together yet didn’t notice fully during the swirl of their wedding celebration. But now, and in the future, they can look at these photos and marvel at the beautiful platters and food displays their wedding venue’s caterers arranged for their big day. Photos of the food become cherished images from the best day of their lives. In fact, many brides and grooms include photos of their food in their professional album collections, and guests have even been spotted photographing impressive cocktail party spreads, texting the images to far-away friends.

Other foodie photographs: close-ups of the wedding cake details, platter shots of dessert bites, monogram-shaped swirls of sauces on dessert plates, and brightly-colored cocktails and champagne glasses at the bar.

Michael Mahle, Director of Communications, Pleasantdale Château

Contemporary wedding photography

Thursday, August 26th, 2010 | Filed under: Bright Ideas for your wedding | author: By Keith Sly,    

By Rolf Shick, Banquet Manager, The Manor

Just because it’s raining – or even snowing – doesn’t mean you can’t get outdoor wedding photos at your ceremony. When discussing your photo needs with your wedding photographer, be sure to mention any weather- or season-related issues that he or she needs to be ready for. If your wedding is going to be in January and there could be snow on the ground, discuss this with the photographer beforehand, so that he can be prepared with the gear needed to take photos outside.

You don’t need a sunny sky for great wedding photos, either. Rain and grey skies can actually provide very dramatic photographs that a clear day can’t match. You and your photographer need to be aware of wind conditions, too. Taking wedding photographs in heavy winds can be a challenge – especially if your bride or bridesmaids have long hair. Be sure to bring extra bobby pins or other hair clips to keep it in place. And inquire about any outdoor spots at the wedding venue that are both scenic and provide shelter from the wind or other elements.

Thank you!


To make an appointment with a banquet manager, please contact us at 973-731-3100.