Melissa & Andrew’s minimony day in Montclair was such a beautiful celebration of their love. Despite the forecasts of rain and thunderstorms all day leading up to their minimony, we lucked out with only a little bit of misting and light rain after the ceremony ended! Their intimate ceremony brought together their family and close friends on the lawn of the church Melissa grew up attending. When we were planning their post-ceremony portrait session, Melissa had the best idea to swing by Montclair Bread Co. (one of their favorite local spots) for a few pictures! I was so excited about this idea, being local to Montclair myself. The cool industrial vibe made for such a fun backdrop, and naturally donuts had to be involved in the photos too! 😉 We finished up their newlywed portraits at another favorite local spot – the Brookdale Park Rose Garden!
I loved everything about this day, and this couple! I can’t wait to share all their photos with you, but first you’ve gotta read their love story. It’s a special one!
Melissa and Andrew met through a dating app in 2016, and the way Melissa tells the story is so beautiful. When I first read their story it gave me chills, and all I could think was how perfect these two are for each other. In Melissa’s words, “In January of the previous year, I lost my younger and only brother, Peter, after a 10-year+ battle with a brain tumor. While 2015 also brought our French Bulldog, Warner, into the picture it was a difficult time as my family grieved and I would often think about how I’d answer “do you have any siblings? in a casual conversation without becoming a puddle. The thought of getting through that on a first date was like climbing a mountain to me. When I decided to go on Tinder in early 2016 I wasn’t expecting anything from it but thought it was the best way to slowly put myself out there and face my fears of answering questions about myself or my family comfortably. Out of the blue in February, Andrew sent a super-like, sent a casual “hey” (nothing fancy or witty, but straight -forward and totally him) and we got to talking about our interests quickly. We had more in common than I thought possible so when he asked if I wanted to meet for dinner I surprised myself when my fingers typed “yes” before I had the chance to overthink it. We met for dinner in Morristown, both of us trying to play it cool and wing it without making a reservation or forgetting to actually leave a name at the host stand, and spent 2 hours talking about work, Game of Thrones, Marvel and movies, football and college sports and it was so easy and fun. I completely blanked that we hadn’t talked about family once.”
“In fact, it would take a few more dates and countless inside jokes before the topic ever came up. And when it did, it was me who brought it up. Nervous, I started to play with my hands under the table and then, when he took my fidgeting hands and rested them on my knee I knew something was different. I wasn’t going to just get a “sorry” and silence. As I told him about Peter I couldn’t believe the expressions on his face. It was like he was living the ups and downs with me. Afterward, I didn’t need to explain why I hadn’t brought it up sooner, or apologize for making him feel sad or awkward..he just understood. It wasn’t an understanding out of pity, it was like he knew that who I was and what my family had gone through made me the person I was sitting in front of him and he accepted that person wholeheartedly. He had that understanding and confidence in me before I had it myself. I’ve considered myself the luckiest person every day since.”
Want to hear how Andy asked Melissa to be his wife? This is another good story! 🙂 Melissa told me, “We really enjoy going out to eat so as a go-to for special occasions we would take a visit up to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, trying each time to visit a new restaurant on campus. The campus has a gorgeous view overlooking the Hudson River and we’d often walk through the area to take it all in. On our second visit, and first to the Italian restaurant (which is incredible) we were celebrating year 2 of living together, and an upcoming month-long work trip to India for Andy. Right before dinner as we were walking near our favorite viewpoint of the Hudson, he said my name and when I turned to him, he was stretching out on 1 knee reaching out in his back pocket….where he then gave me his wallet and asked me to put in my purse for dinner. Needless to say I thought this was going to be the proposal. He got a solid belly laugh out of that over dinner and he has made fun of me for ever since.”
“Later that November he had asked me to take off randomly because much to my surprise, he had planned out an entire weekend up near the Culinary Institute to try out the French restaurant where we had yet to have dinner. I teasingly asked him if he had any important questions to ask me that weekend but he stressed this was “just because” and I wasn’t allowed to ask any more questions. Thursday night he picked me up from work, and with the dog in the backseat we drove to out to the Christmas light display at Skyalnds Stadium (I LOVE all things Christmas). Friday morning, we went to breakfast at one of our favorite spots in New Paltz and then walked across the Hudson River on a beautiful walking bridge with the dog. We then went to a winery and were the only ones in the place, a nice perk of going to a winery at 3pm on Friday. We sat and talked while Warner ate scraps off the floor. As we were getting ready before dinner that night, I texted one of my best friends saying “well if he was going to propose the kid should shoot his shot” to summarize just how great the day he had organized had been. I was clueless. We later went to dinner at the CIA, again strolling through campus and talking about Michael Scott from The Office when he walked back to the spot where he “fake” proposed the year before. This time proposing for real and, asking me, “Will you do the marry me?”. After a minute of burying my face in my hands, I looked up and asked, “are you going to get on one knee”? because I was too busy crying happy tears that I completely missed it him being down on one knee. Just giving him more material to make fun of me for. We then had a nice moment overlooking the Hudson at night, called our excited parents and had a nice dinner at the French restaurant just the two of us. The next day we drove home, and he surprised me with an engagement party of our close friends and family, waiting for us at the door including the best friend who drove up from Virginia who I had texted shot-calling the proposal.”
Melissa & Andrew, congratulations on your minimony marriage day!! It was such a joy to be a part of this day and capture these sweet memories for you! I know your big celebration next year is going to be a BLAST, but in the meantime, enjoy being newlyweds!!! xoxo
2nd Photographer | Ryan Hardin
Ceremony Venue | Grace Presbyterian Church
Florist | Bedminster Florist
Bridal Attire | BHLDN
Jewelry | Kreations by Anne
Wedding Rings | Ferdinand Jewelers
Hair Stylist | JC Hair Design
Make Up Artist | Beauty on Location
Groom Attire | Adam’s Fine Clothing & Tuxedo