Wedding Planner Getting Married – Brooklyn Rooftop Engagement Session: Victoria + Michael

Hello Munaluchi Bridal readers! It’s been a long two weeks of juggling summer nuptials for my clients and I have a few more to go before I say "I do." As a wedding planner, I’m finally starting to feel like I’m planning my own wedding instead of someone else’s and I'm so excited! It’s been an amazing ride so far and I can’t wait to see all of the hard work come together into a beautiful celebration with the man I love.

Photo Credit: Alakija Studios

In my last blog post my fiancé Michael aka MikeMusic and I finally found the perfect MunaBling for our wedding bands. Once that was crossed off our list, we tapped some of our talented friends in the wedding industry to collaborate with us on our engagement shoot.

I always recommend engagement shoots for my clients as this will most likely be the first time they take professional photographs together as a couple. This gives you an opportunity to become comfortable in front of the camera – whether you’re both camera shy or super outgoing – and further prepare you for the big day. From the moment you wake up on your wedding day until you bid farewell to your guests, your every move will be documented on camera so it’s best to get used to the attention in advance.

These photos will not only be used for your save the date, wedding website, invitations, and décor at your wedding, but they will also serve as part of your legacy. Think about how awesome it is to look back at your parents’ and grandparents’ photographs from when they were young. Be sure to leave a lasting impression that will not only “wow” your wedding guests but live on in the hearts of the next generation.

Michael and I have taken lots of photos throughout our dating years, but being professionally styled and posed was a lot of work – and it was absolutely worth it! The end result was better than I could ever imagine thanks to our professional team of “friendors” (friends + vendors) who are at the top of their game in their respective fields. We are so blessed to know each of them and to have them work with us on this shoot.

So here are my top “Victorious Tips” for creating an amazing e-session.

Be Prepared

Preparing for our engagement shoot began with the selection of our photographer. Michael and I had the pleasure of getting to know internationally-acclaimed photographer Jide Alakija of Alakija Studios last year while working together on a wedding. His superior artistry and documentary style is unmatched and our personalities really clicked. We knew without a doubt that he was the perfect choice as our wedding photographer and working with a good friend is always a dream come true.

It’s so important to have a great relationship with your photographer so they can capture the real you.

“I would advise couples to take their shoot seriously,” says Jide. “Come in your best dress and really put some thought in to it. Otherwise you will regret not being prepared and it will show in your photos.”

While planning our shoot, we contemplated our location (a rooftop in Brooklyn), color scheme and activities. We really wanted to take full advantage of this opportunity to be photographed by Jide and it definitely paid off. Our attention to detail created a cohesive look throughout our photos.

Dress to the Nines

Next up on our list was picking out what to wear. With Michael and I having hectic schedules this summer working on multiple weddings, we knew we needed some professional assistance in choosing the perfect outfits for our shoot. So I reached out to Selina Howard, my colleague, friend and Creative Director and Stylist for Vainglorious Brides. Her fashion sense is always on point and she arrives to every event looking uber-fabulous! She encourages her clients to define their personal style story and that’s exactly what I needed.

“Some people don't have time to figure out what they want to wear,” says Selina. “And others may need a second set of eyes to help them figure out how they want to look. A stylist can help translate your vision for an engagement shoot into fashion.”

Selina picked out these sexy fringe embellished heels for me to dance the night away. Selina and I chose to have some custom pieces created by our talented friend and designer Andrea Pitter of Pantora Bridal. A rose gold top with a blue skirt to pay homage to our wedding colors and a body hugging sequin dress for our more formal look. Use this opportunity to dress for the occasion and give your guest’s an idea of what’s to come and the kind of attire they should wear.

Playing dress up at Pantora Bridal.

Once the custom pieces were ready it was off to the mall for some shopping! It was so much fun going from store to store to pull accessories to go along with my looks. “Make sure not to over accessorize,” warns Selina. “Choose a key element like a statement necklace or statement earrings, but not both. You don't want to take away from the overall point of the shoot which is to focus on you and your fiancé.”

There’s nothing like a sharp-dressed man.

Mr. Baldwin Style is a husband and wife menswear styling team run by our good friends Donnell Baldwin and Courtney Arrington-Baldwin. Donnell is a fashion stylist, image consultant and styling editor who has worked for and collaborated with numerous top brands and Courtney manages the production side of the business. Michael and I were honored to have this powerhouse team work on his looks for our shoot as well as for our upcoming wedding.

“Men generally don't have a good idea on appropriate fit,” says Donnell. “So we encourage tailoring as well as men's etiquette standards. Rules for buttons, length of tie, boutonnieres, and the break in the pants [where your pants fall on your shoes] aren’t something that the average gentleman is aware of.”

Having a stylist also helps you to enforce men's fashion etiquette rules. 

“The groom should always select his apparel after the bride identifies what she is wearing,” added Courtney. “Once her look is set he can then select items to complement and not compete. You’ll both stand out by how well you look as a unit.”

The Baldwins have penned a helpful coffee table book entitled “Grooms: A Professional Stylist's Guide to Wedding Day Apparel for Every Budget” and it is currently available for pre-order. ( For those in need of additional styling tips this book will lead the man in your life down the aisle looking handsome, modern and well put-together.

As I mentioned in my bridal shower post, I definitely used this shoot as an opportunity to do a hair and makeup trial for my wedding. Don’t waste your trial on an ordinary day when you have no place to go. Utilize it to see how your makeup artist’s work translates on camera. I scheduled an appointment with my girl Khadeen Ellis of Kolor and Kontour by Kay to hook me up. Her ability to transform her clients and and enhance their true beauty is incredible. Not only did she do a fabulous job, but the makeup lasted the entire day even when we went over time with our shoot.

We were able to incorporate MikeMusic deejaying into our e-session for a personalized touch.

Only Video Can Do That

One of our favorite things to do as a couple is salsa dancing! And although a photograph is great for capturing a single moment in time, only video can show the motion and true beauty of this art form. On our first date, Michael and I chose a weekday to meet for lunch. We hit it off so well that we decided to continue our date after work and met in Battery Park City to dance to the legendary Eddie Palmieri perform Latin Jazz and Salsa classics. We’ve been dancing together ever since so we knew we wanted to incorporate our passion for salsa music and dance into our video.

In addition to salsa dancing, we also wanted our video to convey our business partnership showcasing Victorious Events NYC and MikeMusic as a team. We knew the perfect person for the job – our good friend Nikki Miller of Mae B. Films! Her storytelling technique is so magical and we knew she would be able to create a beautiful storyline for us.

“The people you know may not necessarily know your entire history as a couple,” says Nikki. “Your video is an opportunity to let your personalities shine and to demonstrate why you’re the perfect match for each other. Moving pictures allow your loved ones to see how you interact. Why not bring them on that journey with you?”

Victoria + Michael's Sexy Salsa "Save the Date" Video from Mae B. Films on Vimeo.

And above all else, have fun on your engagement shoot! Pick a location that means something to you and/or an activity you both enjoy so those truly authentic moments can be captured. Do something that genuinely shows who you are as a couple and you’ll be guaranteed to have photos and video to be proud of.

In my next blog post, I’ll chat with Coterie Member Ola-Tokunbo of Ijorere, The Invitation about the process of creating our wedding invitation suite and tips on how to incorporate your wedding theme into your stationery.

Happy Planning!

Xoxo – Victoria


Engagement Shoot Planning: Victorious Events NYC
Music: MikeMusic
Photography: Alakija Studios
Videography: Mae B Films
Women’s Styling: Vainglorious Brides
Men’s Styling: Mr. Baldwin Style
Attire: Pantora Bridal
Makeup: Khadeen Ellis of Kolor and Kontour by Kay

Victoria Nee-Lartey is a contributing author for Munaluchi Bride Online and owner of Victorious Events NYC. To keep up with her, follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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