sometimes i decide i’m going to leave one of the classic summer holiday weekends free for myself, but when rachel and andrew wrote me about their memorial day weekend wedding,  i decided to entertain the inquiry and i am very glad i did. rachel and andrew, and their family and friends, were an absolute pleasure to work with from start to finish. for their engagement session, rachel and andrew came out to my hood and for their wedding i headed up to the estate at florentine gardens in northern new jersey.  while the temperatures dramatically warmed up just before their wedding day, the rain held out… it was meant to be!

love this! rachel and andrew florentine gardens wedding groom prep estate at florentine gardens groom prep

i like how i worked both dad’s into this shot… wedding rings nj

rachel gets emotional as her look is just about complete… bride getting emotional bride getting emotional sister helping bride with earrings

sisters… sisters talking to bride

rachel tears up reading a card from andrew… bride crying while reading card from groom bridal portrait back of dress

so pretty… portrait of rachel cohen as bride

rachel composes herself just before her first look with andrew… bride composing herself for first look at florentine gardens rachel cohen and andrew lee estate at florentine gardens wedding bride and groom estate at florentine gardens new jersey wedding

simple and straightforward, love it. rachel cohen and andrew lee wedding rachel cohen and andrew lee new jersey wedding couples at florentine gardens rachel cohen and andrew lee estate at florentine gardens wedding estate at florentine gardens wedding new jersey

hah. groomsen making funny faces estate at florentine gardens

i love ketubah signings because they are usually a bit more casual then ceremonies. i had a lot of favorite photos from this ketubah signing, lots of smiles, but i think this one sums it up the best! ketubah signing new jersey wedding

groomsmen fist bumps groom at ceremony bride approaching aisle outdoor wedding florentine gardens

andrew watches on as rachel approaches… groom watching bride walk down aisle nj wedding

andrew circling his bride… bride circling groom seven times bride wipes tear during ceremony nj wedding

i love that the parents stand up together with the bride and groom during a jewish ceremony… bride and groom look at cantor nj wedding bridesmaids watch ceremony bride puts ring on groom

mazel tov! groom steps on glass end of ceremony mazel tov florentine gardens rachel and andrew first dance new jersey wedding horah

love this! groom surprised face being raised in char florentine gardens bride and groom hora florentine gardens nj crowded dance floor at estate at florentine gardens wedding

‘it’s a bagel!’ michelle arlotta photography laughter during best man toast parents dances florentine gardens

it didn’t take the napkin on his head for me to figure out that rachel’s dad is a fun guy… father of bride and sister of bride wearing napkins on their heads new jersey wedding dancing at reception at florentine gardens new jersey wedding rachel cohen and andrew lee nj wedding michelle arlotta photography florentine gardens wedding livin michelle arlotta nj wedding photographer

although temps heated up and the threat of rain was upon us… rachel and andrew’s wedding day turned out to be perfect! thank you to kelsey davis for assisting me.

  • June 20, 2016 - 5:59 pm

    Rachel - Absolutely beautiful work as always Michelle! These pictures took us back to our wedding day and we cannot thank you enough for that. As you said, the day was perfect 🙂ReplyCancel

when i met sandy and joe, it was evident that they both have big hearts and an amazing connection with one another. i loved their enthusiasm for their day, it lacked the neuroticism i run far away from in this industry, hah, and was truly about having a wonderful time together with friends and family. their wedding took place at the fantastic rock island lake club in sparta, nj where the day presented us with the threat of rain. while we weren’t able to stay outside for very long, the misty rain created a pretty awesome backdrop that i’ve never seen before while shooting at the rock island lake club. a fantastic day all around with lots of love and emotion!

rock island lake club wedding photoi love when a person smiles and their entire face lights up. joe’s dad has one of those smiles… father of the groom helping groom get ready groom adjusting tie

i love the solitude of joe working on his bowtie juxtaposed with the camaraderie of the guys doing their thing… groom adjusting tie in mirror ring bearers

groom adjusting suit

while reading his card from sandy, joe took a moment to look outside to compose his emotions. so sweet.  groom tearing up reading bride

sandy looking beautiful already! bride getting ready

engagement ring with veil as backdrop

love this moment when it all hits sandy! bride reacts to seeing herself in full length mirror

bridesmaid fixing bride dress in bridal suite at rock island lake club

too many fave portraits to pick from of sandy, her hair looked so phenomenal that it just made the black and white shot for me.  rock island lake club bridal portrait

first look… first look

there was a lot of intensity in this moment. joe was so moved at seeing his bride, i had to wipe my own tear away… first look rock island lake club

fantastic misty backdrop at the rock island lake club… rock island lake club misty wedding day

is it me or does sandy look like a prettier tori spelling here (no offense, tori!)? groom kissing bride on forehead

love when the wind takes ahold of the veil… veil moving in the wind sparta new jersey wedding

bride and groom umbrella

a couple shots inside to warm up and get out of the rain… bride and groom

as if i timed everyone up, a few people interrupt our photo and create a perfect triangle around the couple… rock island lake club wedding sandy rhein and joe cardoso wedding michelle arlotta photography bride and groom

joe watches his bride come down the aisle… groom watching bride walk down the aisle father kissing bride at aisle flower girls watching wedding ceremony groom looking into bride

ring security… ring security sparta wedding ceremony

i always love laughter during a ceremony… bride laughing during wedding ceremony rock island lake club end of wedding ceremony

let the party begin! bride and groom enter reception rock island parent dances rock island lake club bride and groom during toast at rock island lake club

there’s that smile again… father of the groom

aw… bridesmaid and teenage son dancing

 i love when a couple really gets out and enjoys themselves on the dance floor….. bride and groom dancing rock island lake club

i know this shot is kinda straightforward, but i just thought these two radiated happiness so i wanted to radiate that happiness out to the interweb… wedding guest dancing

‘i got a man.’

‘what’s your man got to do with me?’ i got a man

‘i’m not tryin’ to hear that see’

(see what i did there?)

bride and dad dancing flower girl dancing rock island lake club portuguese wedding dance

always have room for cute dancing grandmas on my blog! groom and grandma dancing mother of bride and grandmother

rock island lake club wedding

it was a pleasure to work with sandy and joe from the very start. a beautiful day with with awesome friends and family. capturing their amazing connection was my honor. thank you to kelsey davis for assisting me.

liz’s brother had attended three weddings that i had photographed over the last few years, so when liz reached out to me, i knew i was talking to ‘good people’.  for those of you who may be new to my blog, i only work with ‘good people’ because being a wedding photographer that truly cares about their client’s images and experience is stressful enough, i don’t need to add people who suck into the mix. so a sister of a three- time wedding guest and friends of three of my past and one of my future grooms was a good indication that i would like liz and if i liked liz, i’d like tom, but i digress… the setting was a new york city wedding at the tribeca rooftop on a lovely springtime day. w hotel couple portrait wedding day

i love bright and airy hotel rooms… bride having makeup applied w hotel downtown bridesmaids looking in mirror bride bracelet earrings necklace

the final spritz to seal the look… bride being sprayed make-up

louboutins… christian louboutin bridal shoes

louboutins…again… christian louboutin shoes flower girl getting ready

love the look on the ring bearer’s face… groom and ring bearer groom getting ready w hotel downtown

secret handshake… groom and brother secret handshake wedding day

 secret handshake? secret handshake grandfather and grandson tuxedo getting ready w hotel groomsmen bowtie

what makes this shot for me is not just the composition and godfather-esque feel, but it incorporates both liz and tom’s dads… father of the groom and father of the bride in godfather type photo

liz’s feet awaiting her dress… bride maid of honor helping bride get in dress louboutin shoes and reflection of bride getting ready

joy and jacquelyn of evj wedding co doing their thing… EVJ wedding co helping bride get dressed mother and bride bracelet

moms looking on… mom and mother-in-law looking at bride

a couple of slightly different bridal portraits… bride portrait chandelier bride portrait reflection

i loved this expression out of tom just before their first look… groom laughing before first look wedding couple kiss

stroll on a chilly rooftop… bride groom W hotel rooftop

wedding couple portrait

photobomb by the empire state building… bride and groom with empire state building laughing bride and groom w rooftop

love the texture of liz’s dress… liz santoro tom yes wedding day

simple and beautiful… bride groom debrosses street bride groom portrait

tom looks on as liz approaches the aisle… groom watching bride come down the aisle

love how liz’s dad is looking at her… bride and dad walking down aisle tribeca rooftop

and here he does it again. meanwhile, tom is just beaming and thinking, ‘hell yeah, let me have my bride’… dad giving bride away groom laughing at altar

caught! i wasn’t ninja enough for this little guy! wedding ceremony nyc

love laughter during a first dance… bride groom first dance mother son and father daughter dance

i don’t know if tom missed this, but hopefully he doesn’t get pissed when he sees another man holding his bride!  bride picked up in arms by guest on dance floor laughing bride

i always have some space on my blog for sweet grandmas… grandma at wedding

four time michelle arlotta photography wedding attendees…

leaves you wondering who chris had hanging from his back on the dance floor… front of conga line

i’m not gonna lie, my main reason for posting this pic is because liz’s butt looks so good! (sorry for drawing the interwebs attention to your wife’s butt, tom) dancing butt shot nyc wedding dance floor

liz and one of her new brothers… laughing groom on dance floor tribeca rooftop bride groom dancing

it is only proper that i post the evolution of the ‘santoro wedding fist bump’..



2015 and 2016…. santoro wedding fist bump tribeca rooftop dance floor

it was my pleasure to work with liz and tom on a beautiful wedding day. always so much fun seeing familiar faces again! thank you to kelsey davis for assisting me.

i have a sweet spot in my heart for couples that are willing to get married around the swing time between true winter and true spring… probably because i did the same thing myself. it takes some guts to choose this time since it can mean a major snowstorm or eighty degree weather. when i first spoke with keri and matt they were so chill, i knew they’d be able to handle whatever weather came their way on their early april wedding day. they’d been together a long time, originally meeting in high school, and i’m sure had weathered many storms together… see what i did there? it turned out that keri and matt’s wedding day was much like mine… a lot of clouds with the sun peeking out every once in awhile, a bit of wind and a temperature that seemed not so bad at first, but was quite cold after awhile. i don’t have a word for that kind of weather. i just call it ‘my wedding day weather’.

keri and matt had their ceremony an reception at the rock island lake club bridemaids rock island lake club

the wedding dress just chilling among the chaos of the bride’s arrival… wedding dress hanging in window

bride getting ready

a moment for the badgley mischkas… bride putting on shoes

love this shot… totally candid and slightly sexy… bride putting on shoes

i love the two expressions here, keri’s mom watching on as keri gets ready for some bridal portraits and keri’s maid-of-honor looking on at keri’s mom… mother of bride bride getting ready

although i love a beautiful shot of the back of the dress, i truly love the candid shots that happen before it… bride getting ready at rock island lake club bride

love, love, love this neckline… bridal portrait at rock island lake club

matt’s expression right before he saw keri for the first time on their wedding day was a mix of excitement and nerves… first look on dock at rock island lake club

the bridal party was all smiles! bridal party watching first look

love the laughter… bride and groom laughing

bride and groom at rock island lake club new jersey bride and groom on dock at rock island lake club

love the quiet moments… bride and groom veil bride and groom walking on dock at rock island lake club bride and groom walking keri and matt walking

it’s really great when the sun works with you on a wedding day. for what wasn’t even a whole minute, clouds parted a bit to reveal beautiful blue skies and sun peeked out to present this unreal light… bride and groom blue skies bride and groom blue skies at rock island lake club

family photo photobomb… family photo bomb

a bit too chilly for an outside ceremony, keri and matt had a heartfelt ceremony inside the rock island lake club… wedding ceremony bridesmaids watching ceremony

tie inspection… father of the groom and ring bearer looking at ties groom during ceremony guest crying at wedding

keri’s eyes welling up… bride tears wedding ceremony maid of honor watching ceremony rock island lake club reader during ceremony bride groom laughing during ceremony at rock island lake club mother of the bride watching ceremony

she laughed… she cried… bride laughing and crying during ceremony

uncle kurt kicked some serious ceremony butt… uncle kurt officiating matt and keri

love this moment. usually when the officiant doesn’t move out of the way for the kiss they end up as this creeper in the background peering between the two, but uncle kurt did not just stand there quietly, he put some oompf into the whole ‘kiss the bride’ moment… bride and groom kiss groom and bride first dance

lifelong friends… maid of honor speech

bride crying during maid of honor speech bride and groom laughing during best man toast

party time! i don’t think keri missed a song! rock island lake club reception rock island lake club dancing bride spinning on dance floor at rock island lake club rock island lake club reception dancing matt on the mic… rock island lake club groom has the microphone

little known secret: if the dj thinks your voice is good, he will actually turn the mic volume up so people can hear you. if not, no one will hear you, but you will look cool. in this case, the mic was on!

if this bridesmaid dress designer had some good marketing skills, they’d be selling this dress as a multipurpose bridesmaid dress/limbo stick… guest using bridesmaid dress for limbo at rock island lake club wedding last dance at rock island lake club

while i knew keri and matt had met in high school,  i really enjoyed uncle kurt’s more detailed story of how they came to be. it really set the tone for a great wedding. thanks to keri, matt and all of their friends and family so being so awesome to work with. thanks to kelsey davis for assisting me.

at first contact with shannon, i knew we were a good fit for one another for many reasons. one of them being that she is an absolute animal lover! when i had a chance to sit down and chat with her, i learned that her and her fiancé have quite a history in the sports industry. they both currently work in the golf industry, he was a minor league baseball player now turned pro golfer, she was an nfl cheerleader and dance teacher and both of their dads are golf pros. i figured they must have met at some golf tournament, but that’s not how it all went down. in fact, shannon’s family was saying there were enough golfers in their family… so a golfer is not what she was looking for, but she found one anyway! i guess some things are meant to be…

on our third attempt to schedule an engagement session, the weather finally held up!

shannon has a great smile!

brandon’s list of favorite things to do does not include being photographed. i fully understand and respect this, so i tried to make it as painless as possible for him. he was a really great sport about it all.

love this…

making use of the one blossom tree that wasn’t quite full yet…

don’t let brandon fool you with his dislike of being photographed… he has swag.


i love all the laughter and big smiles, but i also enjoy the more quiet, intimate moments…

rescheduling their shoot a few times paid off… we had wind, we had sun, we had clouds, we had some blossoms to make for a great shoot. looking forward to shooting shannon and brandon’s ryland inn wedding in january of 2017!