RED BANK: SEXING UP WEDDINGS

21-e-front-glassLast tenanted by chic furniture dealer Design Front, 21 East Front Street is now home to a wedding and boudoir photo business as well as a DJ. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallVacant for more than two years, a high-profile storefront in downtown Red Bank has landed a small co-op of wedding-related businesses as tenants.

This is not, however, where your grandma went to have her engagement portrait taken. And when the curtains are drawn across the glass-fronted space, you can be sure something sexy is happening inside.

coopPhotographers Chris LoBue, left, and Suzanne LoBue with DJ Mike Hernandez Jr. (Click to enlarge)

No, it’s not as raunchy as you might think, but it does have a racy element to it. Among the new tenants is LoBoudoir Photography, which offers the latest in must-have personal imagery: sessions for clients willing to strip down to their lingerie, or less.

It’s for the woman who wants to see herself in a new light and share the results with her boyfriend, fiancĂ© , husband or… others, say photographers Chris and Suzanne LoBue.

The soft-lit, sensual boudoir sessions are one element of a multifaceted cluster of services that moved in earlier this month at 21 East Front Street, the sexy and gleaming space last tenanted by the chic furniture seller Design Front, which left in 2009.

The husband-and wife LoBues, of Hazlet, own LoBoudoir and CLB Photography, which does wedding, engagement and day-after-the-wedding “trash-the-dress“sessions, at which brides let down their hair and get down and dirty in a gown they’ll never wear again. They also have an industrial photo business.

The LoBues took one half of the space. The other half is now home to Mike Hernandez Jr.’s Sounds to Go DJ service, which in addition to offering event music, works with cinematographers and videographers.

After a decade of sharing space in an office building at Avenue of the Commons in Shrewsbury, Hernandez and the LoBues decided it was time to answer the siren call of downtown Red Bank, which had long appealed to them.

After all, this is where many of their young clients hang out and shop, and the trio wanted to make the planning of a wedding part of a vibrant “experience,” in which clients would stop in before or after dining downtown or before hitting the clubs.

When a real estate agent showed the threesome 21 East Front, “we just stared through the window for literally an hour and said, ‘holy s___,'” said Suzanne.

“As soon as you see this space, you start to envision what you can do here,” she said.

With its northern rear wall also dominated by windows, and white walls on either side, the open, 1,875-square-foot space floods with natural light while conveying an urban, gallery-like vibe. In fact, the space, part of a three-story addition made about six years ago to an existing seven-story structure then owned by redeveloper Metrovation, has been used as a pop-up art gallery in the two-plus years it’s been vacant.

The photo and DJ services aren’t contingent on one another: a client is free to use one and not the other. But “there’s a a benefit” to brides-to-be, many of whom appreciate the ability to square away major planning elements of their big day, said Chris.

“Seventy-five percent of the people we meet with are thrilled that there are two vendors in the same place,” said his wife.

Hernandez, of Eatontown, says that while the rent is steeper than the trio had been paying in Shrewsbury, “the reaction of clients is worth it.

“When you’re in this space, you just feel cool,” he said. “You’ve got to be as cool as your product.”

Though the proximity of other wedding industry players in town wasn’t a particular draw, the threesome say they’re looking forward to participating in Red Bank RiverCenter’s third edition of its highly successful Wedding Walk next March 24.

BTW, there’s at least one other photographer in town offering boudoir sessions: Brandi Grooms Photography.

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