This past weekend, Jack and I spent 24 hours in my home state of New Jersey for a destination engagement session! We are serious travel bugs and COVID has been killing that this year. We didn’t even get to have a honeymoon! When I got word that my godsister, Laura, wanted to have her engagement session in New Jersey, I jumped at the opportunity! It was the first of MANY mini-moon honeymoon for Jack and I.
Our first mini-moon honeymoon started off a bit rocky. We had both been working crazy hours the week leading up to the adventure and the exhaustion was VERY apparent. Nevertheless, we packed up our gear and headed to the airport early Saturday morning for our flight to New Jersey. Rocky joined us on the ride to the airport, and that was a mistake! It was so sad to see him looking back at us with that pitiful fluffy face as he drove away from the curb with my mom. Ugh. My heart!!
With COVID, Jack and I have been EXTRA cautious when traveling. So when we got to the gate and I realized that someone had booked the seat next to us, I freaked out a little. JetBlue has amazing procedures in place to make sure you do not have 3 people in a row. They were super helpful and upgraded us to a different row with extra legroom. Jack was in heaven and everything went smoothly from there.
When we touched down in New Jersey, we headed to get our car for the weekend. Car rentals for us never turn out how we expect. In Albany, we ended up with a Mustang convertible while we requested an SUV for our gear. We always get a license plate not from where we are visiting (typically Texas or Florida). This time, our car seemed normal, besides the Florida license plate.
When we got out of the car for a drink, though, I realized that the registration on the license plate had expired in June. What?! How do you rent a car like that to customers??? I looked in the glove compartment to see if they had just forgotten the sticker, and sure enough, the registration was expired there too. IN JUNE OF 2019. We were super cautious and nothing happened to us on this mini-moon honeymoon, but what the heck!! As Jack insisted on quoting our entire 24 hours there, “Everything is legal in New Jersey!”. Thanks, Hamilton.
I still have a ton of family in my little hometown! My other godsister, Sarah, and her husband, Tony, have owned a photography studio (Anthony Ziccardi Studios) there for many years. In the past year, they bought two other businesses in town: An ice cream shop called Sparta Dairy and a restaurant called the Alibi Beach Bar. We’ve been wanting to go support them for a while, but COVID made it hard for us to get up there. Now was our chance!
We wish we had time to visit everything, but we at least got to start with one. Jack and I had the most delicious lunch at the Alibi, and the scenery was absolutely amazing. Tony and the crew put so much work into the place, so definitely check it out if you are ever in the area! Fun fact: My dad used to frequent this restaurant back in the day when it was known as Falconers! One of his best friends lived on the lake and they would canoe over all the time. It was so fun to connect to my former life and my dad’s as well while we were on our mini-moon honeymoon!
Our next stop on our adventure was visiting the wedding venue we would be photographing at next year! When I told my mom that Laura would be getting married at Waterloo Village, she exclaimed “That’s where your dad and I got married!!”. I had no idea and it made this venue so special to me. We had to check it out for ourselves! Guys, this place is freaking STUNNING.
Waterloo Village is a working village that many schools would come to on field trips. It didn’t appear to be open for guests to walk through the actual buildings due to the current pandemic, but it was still amazing to walk through the property! Waterloo Village has a ton of old houses, a blacksmith shop, a general store, and a working mill. The church my parents got married at is still a functioning church and available for weddings (it opened in 1859!!!). It was so gorgeous on the outside! Laura is getting married in a different area of the venue, but it was still fun to see. Jack and I didn’t have a ton of time there, but the hike through the property we DID see was gorgeous beyond words. I’m so excited to shoot there!!
Side note: When we were leaving, Jack found a small area with animals and he was overjoyed. He also had a brief stand-off with a sheep.
We had about an hour before we had to leave for our session, and it was really important to me to go back to my hometown. I left New Jersey when I was 5, but I still have such vivid memories from that time. Showing Jack where I was born and spent the first years of my life is really special. We drove to my old house (it has a treacherous driveway) and around the little town, taking in all of the fall scenery. We talked about the houses we loved and what we wanted to take back to a place with not a lot of snow. It was amazing to discuss our future together on our mini-moon honeymoon! We then took off to the Clifton area to meet up with Laura. They had the best engagement session (which you can see here if you haven’t already!!).
After resting up overnight, we decided to go on some quick adventures before heading back to Florida. One of the best things about going back to New Jersey is the bagels, so we stopped at a local deli to pick some up for our drive! Jack and I share a love of podcasts, and one of our podcasts (My Favorite Murder) CONSTANTLY talks about a water park near my hometown called Action Park. We had to check it out because my whole family had been there! We also stopped in on an old family friend to send her our love from a distance.
On our way to the airport, my dad suggested that we stop at Liberty State Park to play tourist. From this park, you can see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the New York City Skyline. Can you believe that in Jack’s 31 years, he had never seen the Statue of Liberty?? On all his adventures in and out of New Jersey though the city?? It meant the world to me to show him something new on this trip together.
Although this trip was only for 24 hours, we made the most of the getaway. I love every second I get to spend with Jack, especially when adventuring! I can’t wait to have more mini-moon honeymoons with him. Where should we go next???
Click here see more of our travels and personal stories! Plus, you can book your own destination wedding or engagement by clicking here! We are always up for an adventure.