Mary Liz and Rajit are both in the jewelry biz, so when I was given the opportunity to photograph their wedding, I knew from the start that it was going to be a good one. What I couldn’t have anticipated was just how good. This wedding truly had it all: a lovely ceremony, two fantastic venues, gorgeous flowers, trolley rides, an incredible cake, a jaw dropping dinner set up, a killer 13 piece band, and so much more, all of it pulled seamlessly together by the always amazing planner Dina Berg Blazek.
Mary Liz and Rajit met in Carlsbad, California at the Gemological Institute of America. Before too long, Rajit was proposing to Mary Liz during a trip to India—with a ring he designed, of course—and they were making plans to hold dual weddings, one in North Carolina, the other in India. Quite the whirlwind, but all I can say is that the first of their two big days was just spectacular.
The girls’ day got going at Mary Liz’s childhood home in Myers Park. Mary Liz dressed in her parents’ room with assistance from her mother and matron of honor. I loved capturing her bridesmaids’ reactions when she made her entrance into the foyer. Just moments later, her grandmother caught her first glimpse of the bride-to-be as she descended the staircase, and the image was unforgettable. After a few portraits in front of the home, the girls rode the trolley to Belk Chapel on the campus of Queens University, and we finished up on the steps to the chapel. The guys, meanwhile, were prepping at their rental house in Plaza Midwood. After some portraits there with my other photographer, Laura, they wrapped things up in and around the beautiful new atrium on the side of Belk Chapel.
Charlotte’s favorite bagpiper, Dave McKenzie, preceded the bride and her father down the aisle. Once the knot was officially tied and it was time for a few post-ceremony portraits, I was presented with an interesting conundrum. Beautiful as the chapel was, there was only one step up to the altar. I didn’t have any trouble positioning the immediate family for their portraits. However the wedding party was quite large—about 27 people—so that presented a visibility issue. To solve it, I moved the wedding party into the pews, then climbed up on top of the pews in the opposite aisle, balanced myself carefully (thank you, yoga!) and fit everyone perfectly into the frame. A little dangerous, admittedly, but I absolutely LOVE the result.
After the formals, the entire wedding party rode the trolley to Quail Hollow Country Club. The reception was truly stunning, partly because there were so many little memorable details. The giant elephant ice sculpture in the center of the main bar; the hookah lounge outside on the back patio; the exceptionally gorgeous cake by the talented Kathy Allen; the vibrant and eclectic floral arrangements by In Bloom, and so much more. The dinner tent on the clubhouse lawn was especially stunning. I was tempted to pull up a chair to one of the guests tables just so I could let it all soak in.
After the delicious dinner and cake cutting, I Love This Band took over and Mary Liz and Rajit had their first dance. They’d been taking lessons at First Dance Charlotte, and the lessons paid off. They nailed it! Immediately after, a six-member Bollywood crew hit the floor for a delightful dance. The dancefloor never cooled off after that. Mary Liz and her mom even hopped up on the bandstand and sang along to Stop in the Name of Love, complete with choreography. It was one classic moment after another.
When the time came for Mary Liz and Rajit to make their exit, they climbed into the back of a gold, convertible Buick Wildcat and headed down a straightaway lined with fireworks by East Coast Pyrotechnics. That hadn’t always been the plan; at one point, Mary Liz and Rajit had considered riding off into the sunset on the back of an elephant, but when they discovered that elephants only worked in pairs, they opted for the car—probably wise.
A few weeks later, Mary Liz and Rajit, along with piles of their family and friends, jetted off to India to do it all over again. Afterwards, the newlyweds rang in the New Year as they honeymooned in Thailand, where Mary Liz finally got to have that elephant ride.
Event Planner: Dina Berg Blazek Event Planning & Design
Ceremony Location: Queens University Belk Chapel
Reception Location: Quail Hollow Country Club
Reception Coordinator: Sarah Portela
Videography: Hart to Heart Media
Hair and Make Up: Who’s the Fairest
Floral Design: In Bloom LTD
Cake Artist: Kathy Allen Fine Cakes
Tent and Linens: CE Rental
Reception Lighting: Wink Lighting
Draping: Party Tables
China: Party Reflections
Lounge Furniture: Old South Vintage Rentals
Bagpiper: Dave McKenzie
Dance Lessons: First Dance Charlotte
Bride’s Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Groom’s Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse
Band: I Love This Band
Exit Lighting: East Coast Pyrotechnics
Thank you to my immensely talented second photographer for the day, Laura.
You can read more about Rajit’s proposal to Mary Liz and see some of their lovely engagement images HERE
Anna and Graham were married on an especially beautiful day in late October. They had been together since their senior year at Wake Forest in 2013 when some mutual friends threw a party just so they could meet. Although it took them a little bit to start talking that first night, everything seems to have worked out just fine. These two are truly so well matched–the essence of compatibility.
The girls all got ready at Anna’s childhood home on Queens Road. I love when Anna saw her dad for the first time. She had just descended the gorgeous spiral staircase into her living room for her “first look” with her dad. As soon as he saw her, stunned, he just said, “Oh, Anna. Oh, Anna.” When she came to him, he put his face in her hands. It was such a tender moment between a dad and his little girl, after which my shirt came in handy for clearing my tears off of the back of my camera. It seems I shed a few tears on every wedding day. Good to get it out of the way early, I suppose.
The fellas got started at the Ritz Carlton in uptown Charlotte. Once they were dressed, they headed to Myers Park Country Club for some pre-ceremony portraits. The girls all showed up at MPCC soon after for their own portraits, having ridden the trolley from Anna’s parents’ house just down the road. This was where Anna and Graham had their own first look, and I adore the shots we captured of the two on them admiring one another in front of the trolley, the whole wedding party looking on. The high five exchanged at the end was particularly adorable.
Everyone rode the trolley from MPCC to St. Gabriel’s Church. This was the church in which Anna had grown up, and the man who would be marrying her and Graham was Father Frank O’Rourke, a family friend since before Anna was born. The ceremony was perfection. I remember watching Graham in the moments just before heading down the aisle. He made his way down the line of groomsmen, shaking hands with each of them, and I could feel how much he valued their involvement in this day. This is how the whole day felt—as though a few hundred people had come together to stand solid with these two in their union. There was such a sense of community.
The reception was a total blast. The music was provided by Java Band, and as they tend to do, the band kept the dance floor packed. The father of the bride surprised me with his, um, enthusiastic dance moves. When the band started playing “Hey Ya!” by OutKast, he flew into action, yelling “This is my favorite song!” as he bounced up and down like a bunny. And I guess it really was, because everyone knew how much he loved it. He was immediately joined on the dance floor by his wife and three children. While I was busy capturing the dancing hilarity, my second shooter, Kailey, was outside taking shots of the boys puffing on cigars, and these images are some of my favorites from the night. This is one of the reasons it is so crucial to have a second photographer—had Kailey not been there, I’d have missed something so special between Graham and his boys.
The sugar magnolia-themed cake was stunning, but of course it was, having been created by the absurdly talented Kathy Allen. Every time I see another one of her cakes I swear it is my new favorite. And they are all as delicious as they are awe inspiring. When the night was drawing to a close, Anna and Graham shared one last smooch under a bubble-gun salute, then climbed into a golf cart and sped—well, puttered—off into the night.
For their honeymoon, Anna and Graham went to South Africa, starting in Cape Town, and then taking two separate safari jaunts. I can only imagine how much fun they had fulfilling Anna’s lifelong Africa dream.
Ceremony Location: St. Gabriel Catholic Church
Reception Location: Myers Park Country Club
Wedding Planner: Sami Roberts of Something Perfect
Floral Design: Flowers from the Cellar
Cake Artist: Kathy Allen Cakes
Band: Java Band
Make-up Artist: Brandy Conley of Woo Skincare and Cosmetics
Hair Artist: Mandi English
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Bill Levkoff
Tuxes: The Black Tux
Transportation: Trolleys of the Carolinas
Reception Lighting: Wink Lighting
An enormous thanks to Kailey of Kailey Faith Photography for her beautiful contributions to Anna & Graham’s wedding collection.
Be sure to check out images from Anna & Graham’s engagement session at the historic Wing Haven Gardens HERE
Kevin and Tiffany don’t really remember when they first met. They’d both been working for the same company for quite some time, so it’s all but assured that they had met at a training or team event of some kind, but both Kevin and Tiffany had significant others and never saw one another as anything but coworkers and casual friends. It wasn’t until four or so years later, during a work event in Arizona, that Kevin and Tiffany, both recently single, started talking and realized that there might be something more than a just-friends energy between them.
Kevin was the one who asked Tiffany out, but she definitely let him know it would be okay to do so. Their first date was at a Sushi joint near her hometown in Ohio, and now, two years later, they’re still looking for great places to eat and cooking their own cuisine. When they aren’t looking for great food, they’re in search of good beer, cruising the local brewery scene—which makes good sense, since Kevin now works in sales at the Unknown Brewing Company. Tiffany still works for the same events company she did when she and Kevin first met, but now from North Carolina.
Kevin got in touch with me a little over a month before the date he planned to pop the question, so he and I had some time to scheme. The first time we met, it was at Resident Culture. Seemed fitting considering his line of work and I had been wanting to try out the newest neighborhood brewery. I liked him immediately, and we talked for about an hour about ideas for the proposal. Because Kevin hadn’t been in Charlotte for long, I made a lot of suggestions, and we settled on First Ward Park, which would afford a beautiful skyline background for the portraits. We met once more the week of the proposal, this time at the park itself. We agreed on a spot, found some bushes for me to hide in (classy, I know), and then it was game on.
One of the things I really love about the proposal shots is how true-to-life they are. Nothing happens just as you plan it, especially when you’re all amped up about proposing to your girlfriend. When Kevin and Tiffany arrived at the park that day, Kevin was going to escort her about three quarters of the way across the open grassy area. I’d spoken to most of the people in the park, kids included, about what to expect, but when Kevin showed up, he dropped to his knee a tad early—right in the middle of a football game. Pretty funny and pretty cute. The boys broke out in congratulatory applause after Tiffany said “YES!”
I have no doubt that these two will have so much to celebrate in 2018. Wishing them the happiest New Year!