My sister got married, and it pretty much looks like a post card dream. Being on this side of weddings is so different. I learned a lot about what a bride experiences during her planning process, and it’s fascinating. My sister and mom came out to NY last fall to do some dress shopping to see what we could find. One thing no one tells you that when you try on wedding dresses, is that you have to go into a tiny dressing room with your attendant and strip naked, so they can help you put the dress on. That was a surprise to all of us! Regardless, we had fun hitting up some of the usual suspects for boho bridal shops in NYC. We had some really fun experiences, and some not so much. In the end, Ginger was not comfortable in a typical wedding gown. My family is pretty low key, and not a big fan of too much attention, I think we all share that in common. In the end, we ended up hitting up a vintage shop in Bushwick, and found an amazing traditional Guatemalan skirt that my sister felt suited her better. My mom is Guatemalan, and both of us lived there for a time as kids, so our background became the jumping off point for the wedding. She sourced lots of great pieces from Etsy, and even found her now husband Kyle a beautiful tie made from traditional Guatemalan fabric. In the end it was a very intimate family affair, with only 40 guests in total. Everyone pitched, including Kyle’s dad who made all the food! My mom did the floral pieces, and sourced a lot of the items as well. My lovely boyfriend officiated, and did an amazing job. He definitely impressed me :) Clearly Maroon Bells was not too shabby! Congrats Ginger and Kyle!
When Charley reached out about her elopement, I was so delighted to hear about her plans with her longtime partner Marcus. They had been together for 15 years, and engaged for 5, and planning a secret elopement in NYC with just a few of their family members! I love intimate elopements, as it’s such fun opportunity to focus on just the couple and a few close friends or family members. Charley also happens to be a well known wedding blogger and planner in London called London Bride, so it was an extra special treat to have her reach out to me, as those of us in the industry are even more particular about certain details. Needless to say, Charley and Marcus pulled off a really special little celebration in Dumbo, and I couldn’t be more more happy for them! Congrats to you both!
Location: Brooklyn Bridge
Planner: London Bride
Dress: Elie Saab
Shoes: Charlotte Mills
Flat: Charlotte Olympia
Suit: Alexander McQueen
Bowtie: Marwood London
Pocket Square: Daisy Sheldon
Hair & MUA: Jackie Schneider
Band: The James Zeller Trio
Yellow Cab: Film Cars
As you may have noticed, I have very much slowed down on the amount of styled shoots I’m doing these days, since it really takes so much time, work, and true collaborative vision. I love doing these types of shoots, because it gives me an opportunity to do something that might not otherwise be visible in the bridal world. For me, this is my chance to create something that I want to see more of: to be bold, to be dreamy, and to shake things up a bit.This shoot was a truly a labor of love shot with my dear friend Katie of Going Steady Studios. We both had been dying to do something beautiful out in Joshua Tree, and we collaborated on this lunar vision, that is both other worldly and a total dream. Her vision was desert mirage, and she incorporated mirrors into the shoot to pull in that theme. Of course the colors of this shoot kill me, and our models, THE MODELS. They slayed this shoot. I’ve been holding onto this one for so long, that revisiting it feels like a dream. I can’t believe how much I love these images, and adore how everything came together. Big big thanks to the guys over at The Ruin Venue for having us, as well as to my friend Erica at Lovely Bride, who made sure I got my dream dresses from Odylyne the Ceremony. I have been dying to shoot their pieces for so long, and this couldn’t have been more perfect! Of course, I’m thrilled that Green Wedding Shoes shared this shoot, check it out here as well!
Photographer: Amber Gress
Venue: The Ruin Venue
Florals and Design: Going Steady Studios
Dress: Odylyne the Ceremony
Dress Boutique: Lovely Bride
Makeup: Olya K Tizer
Model: Model Mayhem
Models: Rebecca Amahayes & Charles Osuala
These two lovely souls, braved 23 degree weather and high winds to get some of these shots. Nico hails from Italy, and Flavia from Venezuela. This beautiful and intimate event all took place at Fitzcarraldo in Bushwick, in my very own neighborhood! When they reached out to me, I couldn’t have been more excited to shoot in my own hood! I love the intimacy and laid back style that they brought to their day, and how about the giant tiramisu cake! I’ll take some please! Congrats Nico+Flavia, thanks for having us!
Baker: Martha's Country Bakery
Who wants to go to Cartagena, Colombia, but doesn’t have time to plan their own trip! My dearest friend Sahara Borja has just launched an amazing travel service, Scarlet Macaw Trips, geared towards conscious travelers, that want to have more meaningful and culturally relevant experiences abroad! She’s booking amazing trips to Cartagena Colombia for this August, and is doing an all inclusive rate at a bargain! Check out her new site, and get at her! She is truly one of the most amazing brilliant women I know, and this is not a sponsored post! This is because I believe in her, and she is magic. Don’t miss out!!!
Some words about what they are doing.
Scarlet Macaw Trips is a social purpose travel effort that emphasizes a rich cultural experience while empowering local communities in Cartagena, Colombia. This August we're taking you to Cartagena for 7 days and 8 nights and organizing your stay into a series of mini-adventures that range from seriously relaxing (hammocks, coconuts) to adventurous and immersive (cultural lunch-and-learns).
You'll experience the city's most relevant spots, you'll get a chance to dip your toes in clear blue waters, you'll (try to) dance like a local, and you'll get your Omega 3s on the daily with fresh seafood from the Caribbean.
BEYOND THE TRAVEL SECTION
This trip seeks to give you a direct line to the beauty of the region while offering intercultural exchanges at various junctures throughout the week for an opportunity to dialogue and to get to know some of your global neighbors, many of whom made their way to Cartagena from other regions in the country because of the country's prior civil conflict.
Built into the itinerary of ALL THINGS FUN AND BRIGHT, we think it's important to facilitate a lunch-and-learn in La Boquilla, an Afro-Colombian fishing village just outside the tourist center where we'll be chatting with Peace Corps volunteers and their students. We'll also interact with the folks from FUNSAREP, a local nonprofit that empowers women through art and group therapy and provides assistance in a variety of ways that is not available through the state. We met one of our guest speakers,Gavelys, at FUNSAREP.
Check it out guys, and happy travels!
Not only are these two adorable, fun, and just the best! They also chose one of the most unique locations for an engagement shoot to date. I cannot express to you, how much this makes my heart sing. I love Central Park and all, but this, this my friends, is where it’s at. Who else would choose the site of the 1964 NYC World’s Fair, as their engagement shoot location? I had never actually been to this location, so just the fact that this shoot took me to a new place, was enough for me. They also love lemon ices, so we stopped there for one of their favorite treats before heading to our next location. I can’t thank them enough for bringing it on a cold NY day, with all smiles, good vibes, and good times. I can’t wait for your wedding day, see you in the fall!
These two just warm my heart so much, and I’m so happy to finally be blogging this one. This was on hot summer day, filled with love, sweat, and tears!! Julia and Jan were introduced to me by way of our mutual friend and natural beauty expert Jessa Blades. Last year, while Shawn (my partner) and I were on a weekend getaway upstate, we had the pleasure of paying these two a visit in their most adorable converted barn homestead. Julia and Jan met in India, where I had recently traveled to, so that was a fun little connection. After drinking tea, and meeting their cat, we walked around the property, and knew that the wedding was going to be amazing. Sure enough, when July came around, Shannon and I couldn’t have been more delighted to work this most beautiful and relaxed wedding on their family farm. Thanks so much Julia and Jan, we wish you all the best!
Venue: Private Residence
Planner: Gina Maloney Events
Catering: Blue Mountain Bistro
Baker: Blue Mountain Bistro
Florist: Farmhand Flowers
Dress: Wtoo by Waters
Bride's Shoes: Tory Burch
Groom's Shoes: Allen Edmonds
Hair: Salon Hudson
Makeup: Jessa Blades
I’ll just say this, these two know how to party, and party they did at one of my favorite venues in New York! If you’re planning a Brooklyn wedding any time soon, be sure to check out The Green Building. On Erica and Michael’s wedding day, they planned to have the wedding in the garden, but the threat of rain was eminent, so luckily the venue was prepared and put up a white tent to make sure the wedding didn’t get rained out. We couldn’t have had a better time with these two love birds, and I think it shows! Some of my favorite portraits were taken on the handball court near by, and I love the minimal and gritty background it provides! It’s always fun finding new places to shoot around the venue, and these shots prove anything is possible in Brooklyn!
Venue: The Green Building
Planner: Ashley M. Chamblin Events
Hotel: Wythe Hotel
Catering: Pies 'n' Thighs
Baker: Milk Bar Bakery
Florist: Starling on Bond
Dress: Ines Di Santo
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik
Hair: Marshall Lin
Make Up: Yelena K Beauty
Guess what, Nancy, Shannon, and I will all be at Wedding Crashers this year! Come by and say hi, and find lots of other great vendors for your wedding day! This year it will take place in both The Green Building and 501 Union. We'll be kicking it in 501 Union, showing off our albums, and films, so don't be shy!! To get $10 off your tickets, use the code AmberGress at the check out! See you there! Follow the link for more info!
So I did a thing, and now it’s on the internet, and I’m scared to listen to it. My dear friend Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events interviewed me for his podcast, covering all things weddings and more. Clearly this is my first podcast interview, and I was so nervous, that I think I blacked out, and have no idea what I said on there, except that I know I talked a lot. After it was done, I thought, did I talk too much??? Anyways, I had a lot of fun, I think, and hope you enjoy it. Check out the links, and have a listen, and feel free to send in any questions!!
When Gena and Alex reached out to me last year, about their Los Angeles wedding, I almost jumped out of my seat with excitement! Her and Alex planned their wedding reception to take place at the Millwick in downtown Los Angeles. Alex is from Hawaii, so his family planned an awesome backyard celebration for them, in the house he grew up in! They also wanted to be able to celebrate in LA, so this was more of a reception slash awesome party to celebrate with their friends in family in California. I’m originally from California, so I spend a lot of time going back and forth between California and NY. Since they planned to celebrate in January, it was perfect timing for my winter exodus from NY, and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect couple to work with in the middle of January. Between getting ready at the Ace Hotel, her Stella McCartney dress that was also donned by Rhianna on the red carpet a while back, and the magic that is the Millwork, this was pretty much my ideal couple! Cheers Gena and Alex for getting me out of NY for a great celebration in LA!
Photography by Amber
Hotel: Ace Hotel
Planner: Sweet Emilia Jane
Catering: eco caters
Cannoli: Eagle Rock Italian Bakery and Deli
Stationary: Aida Klein
Dress: Stella McCartney
Suit: Hugo Boss
Ring: Anna Sheffield
Hair & Make Up: Brittany Monge
Well, I guess 2017 is off to good start! I landed my first magazine cover in Rangefinder's latest issue! Inside the magazine, I also talk about what it's like shooting in the city, and different ways to approach it. I loved taking a minute to think about shooting in the urban landscape, since it really did have an impact on the way I shoot. I moved to NY from LA, and I really hand to change the way I shoot. I used to be able to lug gear around LA in my truck, and load up with all kinds of fun things for a shoot, but living in NY, is a whole different game! I downsized dramatically, learned to embrace the chaos, and had to become real quick on my feet. I love the challenge, and I love what it's taught me on how to shoot with less. Would love to hear your thoughts about shooting in the city! Check out Rangefinder for the full article!
As I’ve mentioned many times, I LOVE California. I was born and raised on the Central Coast here, and since moving to NY, I think I may have even developed an even bigger love for it since leaving. Every time I come back, I find new things to love, and old friends to come home to. I love spending time here, while NY is covered in snow, and I feel less compelled to leave my house, so this is my way of avoiding becoming a total hermit. My last few visits have included trips to the desert, while this time, a few of my friends made a trip to Northern California, which couldn’t have been a better idea. It was the perfect way to start off the new year, and spend a little time in nature, while taking in some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen in a long time. Our first stop included a visit to our friends organic vegetable farm in Willits, where we got to harvest fresh veggies for our trip out to the coast. We loaded up on kale, brussels sprouts, chard, and a few other items for our trip. After leaving the farm, we drove in the rain to a spot right on the Beach in Mendocino County, and spent some time taking in the views, the air, and the ocean.
Serendipitously, two of our friends are engaged, so of course we did an impromptu engagement session on the beach, and the beautiful woods that we hiked in the next day. We found the loveliest trail in the Jug Handle State Natural Reserve. This trail was certainly the highlight of the trip, the most beautiful backdrop for some great images of my lovely friends. If you make it out that way, I highly recommend this trail, it’s pretty spectacular! Happy New Year to you all, and I look forward to blogging much more this year!
Everything about these two made my year! When they reached out to us, I knew we had to make it work, even though Shannon and I already had weddings that weekend! We are not big on double wedding weekends around here, but if you are magical unicorns like these beauties, we can make an exception for you. Since their wedding was on the smaller side, and didn’t require the same number of hours of a big wedding, we made it work, and I couldn’t be happier. Luckily Shannon was available, and off she went to make magic with Bri and Andreia. They live in London, but Bri is from New Jersey originally, while Andreia is from England. They both used to live in NYC, and they love Brooklyn, so choosing the winery was a no brainer for them! They got ready together at the Wythe Hotel, and took a stroll around Williamsburg to shoot some photos, in their amazing custom suits!! I’ve literally been waiting for this moment forever! I love a beautiful same sex wedding, and I usually see brides wearing two white dresses, so seeing these two babes slay in their matching custom suits, paired with their floral Ted Baker shoes, I literally gasped! These two are everything, and I couldn’t be more honored that you chose us for your big day! Wishing you all the best together, and I hope that’s not the last time you rock those amazing suits!
the AGP Team!
Photography by our Associate Shannon
Venue: Brooklyn Winery
Suits: Gromley and Gamble
Stationary: Made by the Brides
Shoes: Ted Baker
Makeup: Makeup by Pennina
Florals: Sachi Rose
This wedding is a prime example of you get what you give. These two really came through with time to shoot, and an openness to anything I suggested for photos. I honestly can’t get over how lovely and no fuss this wedding was, with a guest list of only 14, including them. I don’t get to shoot solo very often anymore, but I have to say it was such a treat, just getting to bop around the wonderland of upstate during fall with these two. The colors, the location, the intimate setting was just one of the loveliest weddings I have ever been witness to. They were both so mellow on the day of, and looked fabulous to boot! I am completely in awe of Conor’s no holds barred floral wedding suit. I mean come on, not many people can pull this look of, but he killed it. It complemented Hannah’s Boho lace dress perfectly, and how about her bouquet!!! Those colors kill me. Fall is officially my favorite for weddings. Also, I can’t recommend the Hotel Tivoli enough, I was lucky enough to dine there after the wedding, and everything was amazing! Thank you Hannah and Conor, you rule!
Venue: Hotel Tivoli
Ceremony: Poets Walk
Florals: Flower Kraut
Dress: Dreamers and Lovers
Shoes: Maryam Nassir Zadeh
Hair: Bodhi Holistic Spa
Makeup: Clare Lille
I had the pleasure of meeting Megi when I first move to NY, and just getting my toes wet in the photo scene out here. My friend Linda had just created a new fashion line, and she needed a model and a photographer, which is where Megi and I came in! We kept in touch via FB and that’s how this all came about, well of course, that is after her chance meeting with Chris at a birthday party in Manhattan. I love how things come around, and we get to revisit friends from the past, and usher them into a new chapter of life! Funny enough, her and Chris just moved across the country and now live in the same area I grew up! I love how they chose to celebrate their big day, and always enjoy working at one of my favorite venues, 501 Union in Brooklyn!
P.S. For those of you who don’t know, we are now offering video as part of our services, and we are so delighted to share Megi+Chris’s video with you!
I'm delighted to share this lovely feature in this issue of White Magazine alongside some of my awesome friends Samm Blake and Team Woodnote!
We went to Cuba, and I have lots to share with you.
It’s no simple task addressing a country that has been written about, photographed and documented as much as this one. I will be providing you with a massive amount of information, so that if you want to go too, I will make it as easy as possible for you! When traveling I’m always interested in getting on the inside, and discovering the interiors of a place that can sometimes prove to be difficult in a short period of time. The experience we had is not even remotely reflected in the photos I have, because so much of what happened occurred after dark, and my biggest regret was not bringing a flash. This was a lesson learned on my part. I like to travel light, so I did not pack one, even though I briefly contemplated it right before we left. It was so hot, that the best hours of the day, were always after the sun set, giving a brief, but much needed respite from the blazing sun, and oppressive humidity. After being out all day, we had to come back to the house and shower, and change out of our sweat drenched clothes to go back out after dark. This became our routine. We were lucky to land a sweet Casa Particular, essentially the Air Bnb of Cuba, where families host travelers from around the world in their homes. These are government regulated, and are now part of the burgeoning private businesses that are popping up around Cuba. Before 2008, everything was state run, and since Castro’s brother Raul took over, he has loosened up the restrictions, which has created a rise of many private business around Cuba. This has been great for everyone, in that Cuban people are able to make more money, while providing travelers access to better places to eat, sleep, and explore. It was once illegal to house US residents in your home, and now it’s so common, that it’s just part of the social fabric of Cuba.
Before I go on and give you some tips on what to do, where to go, and what to eat. I’m sure you will want to know the how of getting there. I will skip this part, since my friend Caroline over at Team Woodnote, did such a brilliant job of that for you already. She explains a lot of the logistics on her blog, as well as shares some great photos. We definitely have some other tips for you, so be sure to read both for a very thorough profile of Havana.
We paid $30 CUC to get from the airport to Vedado. It should not cost more, $25-$30 is the going rate. While in Havana, you will need to take cabs pretty much everywhere. The average cost of a cab from Vedado to Havana Vieja is $3-$5 CUC. If you want to do it Cuban style, you can stand on one of the main thoroughfare’s where you can wait anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour to jump in a “collectivo” cab and pay .50 CUC to go to a central location, of either Parque Central or up and down 23rd in Vedado, and just tell them which cross street you want to jump out at.
Wifi: All the hotels have wifi. Cuban’s all use prepaid wifi cards, and there are only certain hotspots where they are able to pick it up, so you will notice where the hubs are, where there are lots of people congregated staring at their phones. We didn’t bother with this, since I wasn’t even sure our phones would work, and I was happy to just unplug! Go to the Hotel Nacional to use the internet. Also note, that there is still a firewall between U.S. and Cuba, and I was not able to log into my business email account. Facebook was the best way to communicate to friends and family that we were alive :)
Hotel Nacional pictured above
Havana's very own Chinatown. We did not partake in the Chinese cuisine, but did enjoy one of Havana's favorite local spots blelow called La Juliana Cuba
Food and other places to eat:
Cuba is most certainly not a food destination if you are a super foody. Essentially you go for the music, the culture, the sights, and to get your belly fed when it calls, but don’t expect to be wowed by the food. Cubans eat a lot of Pizza and Spaghetti to go! We tried the Cuban Pizza, and it was ok, everything there tends to be sweet. The sauce definitely has a lot of sugar in it. It was not terrible, and if you are on a budget, it does the job. We did not try the spaghetti that was oh so prolific, I’m good on that. The best things I ate were all more traditional criolla food. I stuck to things like Ropa Vieja, which is a shredded beef in a tomato sauce, usually accompanied with rice, and some type of veggie. I also loved all the shrimp and seafood that I ate there. It tasted fresh, and not like farm raised shrimp. Another thing to note, is that things run out, like a lot, so always have two things in mind when going out to eat. Steak is almost completely nonexistent, although it will be on the menu, don’t even think about it. Pork is always available, so think about eating something with pork if you don’t want to be let down. La Gitana in Havana Vieja, definitely one of the best meals we had there. La Bien Paga for a good Cuban sandwich, and Topoly, an Iranian restaurant in vedado if you want to switch it up, order the jugo de melon for sure! The best watermelon juice that I craved every day!
We went to Playas de Este. This beach was absolutely lovely, with a restaurant near by for lunch, beautiful blue waters and white sand, as well as the fact that it is not touristy. The beach everyone in Cuba raves about is Varadero. There are lot more all inclusive resorts there, and everyone says it’s gorgeous, but we did not make it. To get to Playas de Este, it’s only about 30 minutes out from Havana Vieja, where you can go Cuban Style, and go from the the parque central or hire a cab to drop you off and pick you up. We paid $20 CUC each way for the cab, or you can pay for the bus $5 CUC round trip. Here is a great link to read more about those options.
I really didn't expect this gorgeous beach to be so lovely. The best part was that we stayed the whole day, and just as we were leaving this dark storm blew over, and created these gorgeous skies. Luckily we were close to a restaurant that we could take cover in, while we waited for our cab.
Arainbow just after the storm.
One of the best parts of our trip was reuniting with one of Shawn’s old friends he met in Cuba 13 years before. They have not been in contact since, and amazingly Shawn still had his address written down in a tattered old notebook. We just walked over to his street and yelled up at the balcony. This is Raul seeing Shawn for the first time in 13 years. The most amazing part, is that he doesn't even live there full time anymore, since we spends most of the year working in Jamaica now. It was pure luck that we found him at his house taking a little vacation while we were there.
Another serendipitous event was meeting our new Cuban friend and his Norwegian girlfriend at this cute little cafe called El Dandy. This is moments just before our meeting, and they ended up leading us to some of the best parties and events we went to during our time in Cuba. Shawn and I were taking a short break to rest from all of the walking when this couple came in and started chatting with Shawn because they liked his hat. This hat was our ticket to many things in Cuba, so shout out to our friend Fred Stuy, local maker of said hats! Turns out they were on their way to a hip hop show on a rooftop nearby and invited us. We pretty much stuck with them the rest of the time we were there.
Our new found friends also invited us to this amazing party at an abandoned theater in Havana Vieja. Knowing that I did not have my flash, I asked them to give me the directions so I could go photograph it during the day, since it sounded like it would be something super fun to photograph. I’m glad I did it, because these are definitely some of my favorite shots.
This is the infamous Callejon de Hamel. Towards the end of our trip, we hit this spot. It is definitely a tourist hot spot, so go if you're daring. The music was good, and Shawn insisted we go, since he enjoyed it a lot on his previous trip. Much has changed, but he still loves a good Rumba beat, and I found some great people that let me take their portraits.
I LOVE this guys look, and he was kind enough to take a walk with me to take some photos.
For a day trip, we headed out to Las Terrazas. It took about an hour and a half by taxi to get there, our driver stayed the whole day, and brought us back after. This is a small eco village made famous by a singer who died an untimely death named, Polo Montañez. There are several areas to visit, including this lovely little abode with the best meal we had on our whole trip. They roasted a whole pig and served it with rice and beans, bread fruit, taro root, fresh avocado, and more. Lunch was $12 CUC per person, and I’m just sorry I didn’t take picture. It's a bit far just to go for lunch, but if you want to hit the Baños de San Juan too, you won't be disappointed.
Our home for 10 days pictured below at Casa De Minverva Y Martino. We highly recommend it!
By luck, were set up with some friends of friends in Havana, which meant that we stayed in the section of Havana known as Vedado. This is the more “suburban” area of Havana, meaning that it is a bit more residential with not as much nightlife, or rather than meets the eye, because all of the best things we did were in this area and around. We loved staying in Vedado, but if you want to feel more centrally located, I would recommend going for a spot in Havana Vieja. The upside to our place, is that we only paid $25 CUC per night, and our place was LOVELY. Our private room had AC, which was a god send, since I don’t know if I could have slept without out it, and the shutters are almost black out, so there was not much light in the room at night, and it was a very quiet safe neighborhood. The bathroom was impeccably clean, they had a cute little doggy that I was obsessed with, and a beautiful garden with a terrace that we would sit in the morning and have breakfast.