Childress Vineyard Engagement Photography, Deb & Brett

Like so many modern couples, Deb and Brett met online.  Both of them had recently gotten out of less-than-fantastic relationships, and were just trying to get themselves back out into the dating world.  They spent a month or two messaging back and forth before Brett asked Deb to meet up at Duckworth’s Sports Bar and Grill.  During that first date, they tossed all of their skeletons on the table and found out how much they had in common, and that they wanted many of the same things from life.  Most importantly, they felt an immediate ease with one another, and the conversation just flowed.

Deb says that she knew she loved Brett just a couple of months into their relationship.  Her car had broken down, and during the entire week it was in the shop, Brett drove her to and from work—both her home and work were well out of his way—and even brought flowers, wine, and cheese when he picked her up from work on that first day.  Brett quickly discovered that he was drawn to Deb’s openness and honesty.  He was particularly blown away by how willing she was to put herself out there on their first date and discuss some difficult topics.  Before long, he found himself falling in love with her genuine and honest nature.

As things between Deb and Brett got more serious and they realized they were probably in for the long haul, conversation turned (as conversation is wont to do) to two things: buying and house, and getting engaged.  Brett told Deb that, just to be reasonable, they should probably take those leaps one at a time.  Deb chose the house, and as far as she knew, that was that.  Little did she know, however, that Brett was still busy looking for a ring. 

Fast forward to summer, and the two head up to Michigan to Brett’s family lake house.  Just before heading out for dinner and fireworks one night, the whole family was sitting outside on a porch.  Brett had purchased Love You to the Moon and Back, one of those little books full one cute and loving sayings.  He gave it to Deb and Deb handed it to Brett’s sister, Haleigh, to read aloud.  At the end of the book was a handwritten message from Brett asking Deb: “Will you marry me?”  When Haleigh read it, Brett dropped to one knee and produced a green ring pop, then asked if Deb would marry him.  Deb, a little confused, said, “Are you serious?”  Brett agreed that green was the wrong color and then pulled out the real ring, a princess cut diamond on a diamond and white gold twisted band. 

For the shoot, we met up at Childress Vineyards in Lexington, NC.  I got there early and the proprietors gave me free range to look around; it didn’t take long to find a hundred beautiful spots to shoot.  When Deb and Brett arrived, the grabbed a few glasses and we headed to the cask room, then we finished off in the vineyard itself.  It was such an easy shoot.  Deb and Brett were charming and naturally affectionate, and I can’t wait to see what their wedding holds in store.  These two love their cheese, wine, and yummy cuisine, so I’m sure their guests will be in for quite the treat.   

Charlotte Wedding Photographer, Kaley & Blair

Kaley met Blair while she was working for the Susan G. Komen Foundation during the planning stages of the Race for the Cure.  It just so happened that Blair was a marketing producer for Komen’s media sponsor, WBTV.  When Blair came to pick up his team’s race t-shirts, he and Kaley immediately hit it off, but since both of them were a little too shy to ask for each others’ numbers, Blair had to keep finding reasons to stop back by in order to chat Kaley up.  Finally, he gave her his card, and they continued to find reasons to connect professionally leading up to the race.  It was Kaley who made the first move and asked Blair out for drinks.  They hit Sir Edmund Halley’s and spent three hours talking on the patio.  Only later did Blair find out how unusual it was for Kaley to stay out past 10 o’clock on a weeknight, so she must have been having a great time. 

As Kaley and Blair began to see more and more of one another, they quickly began to understand that they might have stumbled into something pretty fantastic.  And then, as couples do, they started to muse about their future together.  In thinking about a future engagement, one thing Kaley told Blair was that he couldn’t propose to her on Valentine’s Day.  This, of course, left Blair with no option but to propose to Kaley on the day BEFORE Valentine’s Day.  I should note here that I also confronted my own husband with the pre-conditions that he would not proposed to me on a holiday or in a restaurant, so he took the liberty of proposing to me a couple of days after Christmas and in a brewery.  What I’m saying, I guess, is that men just do this.  Maybe one day we’ll figure out why, and all of the mysteries of the universe will be solved…

For the proposal, Blair flew Kaley’s best friend in to accompany her on a scavenger hunt around the city.  Each place they visited was a location special to Kaley and Blair, and at each she found a separate group of friends or family and a gift.  The final stop was at the office of Susan G. Komen on Randolph Road, and it was there that Blair proposed to Kaley on the very same stairs where they’d met 14 months earlier.  They ended the day with a cocktail party in Charlotte, and the next day they drove down to Columbia to share the news and celebrate with Kaley’s extended family. 

When it came to the wedding, Kaley and Blair really wanted to make sure the big event showcased their personalities.  Blair, who has a Masters Degree in Art Direction, created the wedding logo, the Save the Dates, the table numbers for the rehearsal dinner, the rehearsal dinner decorations, and more.  But it was his toast at the rehearsal dinner that Blair would probably say he was most proud of; there was a projector screen and all, and by the end of the toast, everyone was laughing and crying. 

The wedding took place at Myers Park United Methodist Church, where both Kaley and Blair are members, and for the reception, they chose Charlotte Country Club.  Their first dance was to Ben E. King’s Stand By Me.  Before the big day, they took 8 dance lessons, but they were so caught in the moment when the dance actually arrived that all of it went out the window.

Kaley and Blair honeymooned in Playa Mujeres, Mexico and had an amazing time.  I’m so happy for these two as they celebrate their 1st anniversary, and I feel lucky to have had the chance to spend this incredible day with them.  

Ceremony Location: Myers Park United Methodist Church

Reception Location: Charlotte Country Club

Reception Coordinator: Kelli Taddonio of Charlotte Country Club

Videographer: Whitewash Films

Floral Design: In Bloom

Cake Artist: Charlotte Country Club

Hair & Make Up: Sabrina Simpson of Be Pretty

Band: Sol Fusion

Bridesmaids Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids

Tuxes: Wearing their own or Men’s Wearhouse

Reception Lighting: Wink Lighting

Transportation: Sunway Charters

Charlotte Family Photographer, Rebecca, Evan & Xavier

Evan and Rebecca met in their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio when he was taking classes at a local community college and she was finishing up high school.  But they were both working at the same pizza joint, and as it has since time out of mind, the pie worked its magic, and here we are.  It was Evan who made the first move.  The two had been flirting a little since Evan began work, but when he asked her to lunch in a cool part of town, things kicked up a notch.  Especially cute is the fact that he had to meet Rebecca’s parents since she was still in high school, and that he’d made a special country mix for the trip into town.  There’s a song from that mix that still takes them back whenever they hear it.  Their second date was just a couple of days later.

Rebecca fell in love with Evan’s brutal honesty, his ability to make her laugh, no matter the circumstances, his kind heart, and his constant support, no matter the cost to him.  Evan found himself falling in love with Rebecca’s sweetness, quirkiness, and compassion.  She was just fun to be with. 

Not too long into their relationship, Evan ended up moving out to Las Vegas to be near his mother, who had relocated out there.  After a stretch of doing the long distance thing, Rebecca took a summer semester in Vegas and loved her experience so much that she ended up transferring to finish up school.  Evan was also back in school, and since their schedules were so busy, the two started carving out dedicated time with each other to celebrate the end of every semester.  At the end of the summer semester of 2010, Evan had scheduled a nice dinner at the casino where he had started working.  On their way, he handed her a card (not unusual for these celebrations) but told her to wait until dinner to open it.  On their way up to the restaurant, Evan excused himself to go to the bathroom, so Rebecca took a seat to wait.  A moment later, she got a text from Evan instructing her to open the card.  It contained a loving message, and some instructions: head to the VIP area, get into the limo waiting for you, and then use the room key to the Bellagio that I’ve included.  Rebecca did all of that, and when she opened the door, she found Evan on bended knee with roses on the floor leading up to him.  He proposed, and of course she said yes. 

Rebecca and Evan got married on June 24th of 2011 at The Bell Event Center in Cincinnati.  There was dancing, great music, and fun, and they got to spend a ton of time with their family and friends in attendance.  Nowadays, Rebecca is a family medicine resident physician at Carolina’s Medical Center, and she falls more in love with the job each and every day.  She’s currently in her second year of residency and will finish her training in June of 2019.  Evan recently made a career change and has moved into a role as a staffing manager, not his dream job, but one whose challenges he enjoys.

When they aren’t working, their favorite things to do are taking walks to Central Coffee in Plaza Midwood, finding great new places to get brunch or breakfast, talking about life and dreams, or just snuggling up on the sofa to watch something funny on the tube.  They have a labradoodle named Xavier who is, essentially, their child, and get out with him as much as they can. 

I had a such great time with these two, and wish them all the happiness in the world.        

Wedding Photographer in Charlotte NC, Hillary & John

When I was in college, I remember a friend telling me that most of us will know the person we’re going to marry by the time we’re 18.  Well, I think that statistic, if there was ever any truth to it at all, probably hailed from a much earlier time when people were less mobile and tended to marry the people with whom they grew up.  Things are obviously very different in this day and age, with people gallivanting all over the map, so it’s always so sweet to see two people who knew each other as kids coming back together in a new way as adults. 

Hillary and John have known one another since middle school.  They both grew up in Charlotte, but attended different schools.  Still, they had some mutual friends, including two of the groomsmen.  Hillary says she doesn’t remember exactly how she and John first met, but she recalls hanging out with John at functions, and even going to some of his church basketball games.  One of her favorite memories of her youth, she says, was that she invited John to her Sweet 16.  She was allowed to invite 5 friends from other schools, and John made the cut.  I gotta say, that’s pretty adorable. 

Hillary and John moved from friends to something more during senior year of college; John asked if Hillary wanted to have dinner with him, some of Hillary’s girlfriends, and their boyfriends.  She said yes, not realizing that the whole thing was a set up.  After dinner, the group hit Angry Ales on Montford and had a blast.  A few days later, John invited Hillary and a few other friends to his mountain house for some skiing, and that was where things really started to fall into place.  Hillary quickly discovered that John was kind and sincere and incredibly selfless.  Although she had known John as a good friend for years, she found herself drawn to him in a new way.  For his part, John found himself attracted not only to Hillary’s natural beauty, but also to her confidence in what she wanted from life, and to her willingness to stray from her comfort zone.

John proposed during the July 4th weekend.  The two had planned an impromptu trip to Beaufort, SC, just for the heck of it.  When they arrived on Friday evening, they had no real plans, so they headed out to look for a place to get dinner and drinks.  After striking out—John kept finding little reasons to say no—they headed back to their bed and breakfast to regroup over a glass of wine in the adorable little courtyard.  Hillary turned around for a brief moment to dry off her chair, and when she turned back around, John was on one knee.  They spent the night celebrating, then announced their good news the next morning.  When they got home to Charlotte, they held a big family dinner with both of their families to celebrate.  The ring was based on one Hillary and her best friend (and eventual Maid of Honor) discovered a year earlier when they went out to do a little research.  It’s a three-stone design with an oval and two half-moon diamonds.  It’s pretty gorgeous. 

While planning the wedding, Hillary and John knew a main priority was for their out-of-town friends to have a great time in the city in which both of them grew up.  They decided on Covenant Presbyterian Church in Dilworth for the ceremony because it was John’s childhood church.  For the reception, they chose Carmel Country Club because it was such a big part of Hillary’s life as a kid.  Win-win.  I for one, was thrilled with both choices.  Carmel CC offers some beautiful scenery, and Covenant Presbyterian has both a fantastic-looking exterior and one of the loveliest sanctuaries in Charlotte. 

Both the bride and the groom got ready at their family homes.  Since John’s family lives only a few blocks from Covenant Presbyterian, the fellas decided to walk to the church, and that stroll yielded some great shots of the guys against the backdrop of downtown Charlotte. 

After a lovely ceremony, the party reconvened at Carmel CC, where Right to Party, one of the most popular wedding bands in town, kept things hopping all night.  The whole day was flawless, and I could see how much fun Hillary and John had reveling in the love of friends and family. 

Congratulations, you two.  I loved working with you, and I wish you all of the very best.

Event Planner: Sarah Beth Thie of We Tie the Knots

Ceremony Location: Covenant Presbyterian Church

Ceremony Coordinator: Lauren Walker

Minister: Bob Henderson

Reception Location: Carmel Country Club

Reception Coordinator: Megan Fennie

Floral Design: In Bloom

Cake Artist: Carmel Country Club

Hair and Make-up: Lindsey Regan Thorne of Be Pretty

Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids

Tuxes: Jim’s Formal Wear | Onward Reserve

Band: Right to Party

Linens and Draping: Shay of Party Tables

Invitations: Natalie O’Dell of Chez la Mariee

 

Thank you to Nathan and Emily for helping me craft such a beautiful image collection for Hillary & John.

Duke Mansion Engagement Session, Jules & Patrick

Julia and Patrick first met one another when they were freshmen at Boston College.  They saw each other around campus every once in a while and said hello, but nothing more.  After a brief summer away from school, they returned for sophomore year in 2011 and ran into each other.  They exchanged numbers and started dating a short while later, in December of 2011.  I’m a sucker for high school and college sweetheart stories, especially when those stories belong to a couple as adorable as this one.

And of course their first real date is adorable, too.  Jules drove over to Rye, NY, where Patrick was staying with his family for the holidays.  They ate lunch by the window overlooking all the beautiful Christmas lights, and then—and this is where it gets fantastic—Jules and Patrick joined Patrick’s family at an outdoor rink they’d rented out for skating.  Not just his immediate family, mind you, but 50 members of his extended family who had gathered for a reunion of sorts, many of whom had a long and storied history in skating and hockey.  Jules, who had next to no experience with skating, held her own and had a blast, and needless to say, she got a feeling for the family pretty quickly. 

When Patrick proposed, he took Jules back to the same restaurant in Rye where they’d had their first date.  He’d arranged to have the whole production filmed, and ten minutes after he popped the question, both of their families joined them for brunch and mimosas.  The ring was a three stone concoction Patrick designed himself (after judiciously consulting Jules’ Pinterest page).

Jules (that’s what most people call her) moved on from BC to grad school, where she’s in training to become a physician’s assistant.  When she’s done with school, her hope is to work in the ICU or in emergency medicine.  Patrick, on the other (but equally awesome) hand, is a hockey player.  He played at BC and signed his first professional contract out of college, with the Carolina Hurricanes.  Currently, he’s in his fourth season with the Hurricanes, and his second as team Captain.  I find these two so interesting, as I always do with couples who pursue what I see as exotic and kinda/sorta conflicting professions.  Patrick plays a fast-paced and sometimes violent sport, and Jules patches people up.  Gotta love that kind of yin and yang in a couple.

When Jules first got in touch with me to photograph their engagement session, it turned out that I was already booked for the date she and Patrick had hoped for, so I referred her out.  When she got back in touch a few weeks later to let me know that their timetable had shifted, I was thrilled to have an opening.  We decided to have our session at the Duke Mansion during the holiday season, and if you’ve been to the Duke Mansion during that time of year, you know how beautiful it is.  Add two attractive people and mix.  It was a fantastically easy shoot.  My favorite moment was toward the end of our time together, when we made our way back to the Peter Rabbit Garden.  There’s a little picnic table back there, and I asked Jules and Patrick to sit together for some portraits.  Since I’m a southerner and know little about the finer points of northern life, I asked Jules if she would regale me with the rules of hockey.  For the next ten minutes or so, she did her best to fill me in, Patrick chuckling every time she got something wrong.  It was sweet and funny, and I adore the images. 

Jules and Patrick will be married on July 7th in Palm Beach, Florida, and I wish for them all of the very best things.  This shoot was a pleasure, and they are an inspiring couple.

Venue: The Duke Mansion

Hair and Make up: Patrick at Shine Salon

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