Leah didn’t spend a lot of time obsessing about the details of her hypothetical wedding when she was a little girl, but once she met Danner, she started to imagine how it all might look, the dress in particular. What Leah saw in her mind’s eye was something lacy, classy, and fairly traditional, and she recruited her mom to give some help in the search. As it turned out, her mom nailed it. On their initial trip out to search for dresses—they went to White on Daniel Island in SC—Leah’s mom promptly produced a dress she’d found in her research and…voila. In this case, the first time was the charm. Leah tried on a few other dresses, but nothing else compared. What made the moment all the more special for Leah was that her mom, her sister, and her mother-in-law were all there to share in the find.
Leah says of the dress, which was by Anne Barge: “It had the lacy, traditional, and classy look I love, but I thought it represented me in that it had a little modern twist and flair to it so it wasn’t totally traditional or anything I had seen before.” She especially loved the back of the dress, which had a deep V, lacy flowering, and beautiful buttoning. And once she tried on the veil, she was sold.
Of course, a dress isn’t the only item on a bride’s to-do list. To highlight the love she and Danner feel for their families, Leah took lace from her mother and mother-in-laws wedding dresses and wrapped it around her bouquet. That the lace from all three dresses was nearly identical was a pleasant surprise. On her right hand, she wore a blue ring in memory of her grandfather—her something blue.
The location for the bridal portrait was The Duke Mansion, which Leah loves because it’s the epitome of Southern, and she knew it would represent her roots so well. She loves the garden area, and knew the surroundings would look beautiful in photographs. They did look beautiful, and so did Leah.
Hair and Make-up: Lindsey Reagan Thorne
Floral Design: Lily Greenthumbs
Dress: Strasbourg by Anne Barge
Location: The Duke Mansion
You can check out images from Leah and Danner’s romantic engagement session HERE.
For those of you who know my sweet Mark, you know that I am one of the lucky ones. I am married to a man who prioritizes my happiness, often over his own. He truly is the best partner a girl could ever hope for. Did I mention he has a fantastic head of hair and is a genius in the kitchen!?! Yep, I totally scored–which makes me feel terrible about how hard I made that darling boy work to find me the perfect wedding ring.
After a little over two years of dating, Mark decided to propose. He knew I wasn’t a diamond solitaire kind of girl, not because I didn’t think they were lovely, but because I am always using my hands–whether digging in the dirt, jamming my hand in my camera bag to fetch something, or just clumsily whacking my hand into a wall as I am walking by–and I didn’t want a ring I had to be extra careful with. I have always loved bold jewelry and, as far as rings go, the bigger the better. My fave ring is a knuckle to knuckle turquoise number that Mark bought for me on our first trip to see his folks in Spain. He knew he needed to find something unique for me that could stand up next to that chunker. He turned to my sister Ashley for assistance. She was sure they would find the perfect ring at Perry’s Southpark. After almost an hour of looking without finding a winner, the sales lady brought out a new ring to show them. It was a nature inspired, wrap-style band set asymmetrically with sapphires and diamonds. Mark was sure he had found my ring and Ashley, who is never shy, held in her objections–at least for a few days after the ring was bought and paid for. Then she called Mark in tears, apologizing and finally blurting out “you bought the wrong ring!” Mark can’t tolerate a crying woman so he offered to consider any alternative options, just as long as she would stop crying. Ashley pointed him in the direction of an online retailer of estate jewelry. He fell in love with an antique diamond and emerald beauty from the 1890’s and Ashley, thankfully, agreed it was the ring for me.
Not sure what to do with the first ring now, Mark decided he would employ both rings for the proposal. I am a keenly observant person and, according to Mark, quite difficult to surprise. When we had discussed getting engaged, the only rule I threw out was for Mark to not propose to me in a restaurant. Any other proposal plan would be just fine, I just didn’t want to be the couple in the restaurant that strangers were clapping for. However, in order to surprise me, Mark had to go ahead and do the one thing I would never expect–propose in a restaurant–a brewery, in fact. Romantic right? It actually was… We were in Bangor, Maine between Christmas and New Years. It was a random trip, the kind that just reeked of an engagement, so I was on my tip toes the whole time thinking it could happen at any moment. That is, any moment except the night of the blizzard. No major plans for the evening. We were just going to walk from our charmingly creepy room at the St. Charles Inn to the brewery down the road. We held hands as we walked and savored the silence of the heavy snowfall. I was relaxed. There’s no way it was happening THAT night.
As we enjoyed our first beers in the empty barroom, Mark said to me, “So I would like to give you that gift I didn’t want to give you at Christmas.” Okay, I thought, this can’t be it. He just has a gift for me. But then he slid a ring box across the table and sat back nonchalantly in his chair, just staring at me. Oh, crap. Is this it? Is this MY proposal? He was still just sitting there, so I opened the box to find the sapphire and diamond ring inside. He was STILL just sitting there. Maybe this was just a belated Christmas gift–I needed to react. It really WAS beautiful. Not really my style, but BEAUTIFUL. I took the ring out and slid in on my finger. As I looked up to thank him…he was gone. I looked all around, only to discover him on his knees, beside my chair, with ANOTHER ring, crying and mumbling something about marrying him. YES!! I was so confused, but YES!! He got me good. Sneaky devil. The only person in the bar to clap for us was our waitress, and I was just fine with that. Mark explained the ring story and said I could consider either ring my engagement ring. I chose the one he proposed with.
By the time the wedding rolled around in July, we learned that my beloved antique ring was a little too delicate for everyday wear. In seven short months, we had to have one of the emeralds replaced twice. We needed an everyday ring for the wedding band and I would wear the engagement ring on my right hand. How European, right? I found a very wide, fine silver band on Etsy.com that had a pressed cottonwood leaf in it. Perfect; or at least it seemed perfect until, a few months after the wedding, wearing the oh-so-wide band everyday gave me a wicked case of dermatitis. Ah jeez. 1st ring wasn’t me, 2nd ring was too delicate, 3rd ring didn’t breathe… what’s a girl to do? Mark and I talked about it and, with his full support, he agreed to let me take ring #1 back to Perry’s, explain my ridiculous story and see if they could do anything for me. After they quit laughing, they kindly offered to return ring #1 for full credit (WHAT?!?) towards another ring in the store. Yep. Ring #4. I picked out the perfect wide band with lace-like open diamond work. It was sparkly without being delicate and it looked amazing next to my other big rings. It made the perfect first anniversary gift.
So I wonder, with our fifth anniversary coming up in the summer, do you think I can talk my sweet hubs into ring #5? Doubtful. Mark, just in case you are considering it, I think a pave set eternity ring would look just perfect next to my band. Or maybe a claw set, I cant decide. No? Okay….
Shana’s undeniable beauty and cheerful disposition made our bridal portrait session feel like anything but work for me. It didn’t hurt matters that she showed up in an elegant and feminine lace stunner from New York Bride & Groom–her hair beautifully styled in a half updo by the endlessly talented Mandi English.
Shana and her sweet Mom met me on a gusty afternoon in uptown Charlotte. We selected a variety of lovely backdrops within just a few city blocks (I never want to make brides travel too far in new shoes). Using the strong breeze to her advantage, Shana floated effortlessly from scene to scene, happily chatting with me and her Mom along the way. We had such a fabulous time together. I left the session counting the days until I could photograph Shana and her gorgeous groom Brandon on their wedding day at Renaissance Hotel Southpark. Stay tuned for that one…
Brittany was the first bride to hire me to be her wedding photographer over the phone–we didn’t have our official introduction until I saw her on her wedding day, right before she slipped into her stunning dress. When we initially spoke, Brittany was facing the the daunting challenge of long distance wedding planning around her already busy schedule. She was living in Johnson City, Tennessee; her fiance, Phillip, was in Clover, South Carolina; and she was planning her wedding at Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock, NC. I have family just outside Johnson City, my father grew up in Clover, and Blowing Rock is right next door to where I went to school at ASU in Boone. Needless to say, we had plenty to talk about and became fast friends.
Brittany and Phillip wanted a smaller celebration centered around the children that would be in attendance, specifically her daughter and Phillip’s two sons. Tweetsie was a lighthearted, unconventional choice with plenty of activities for the kiddos. All of the wedding guests received a park pass so, after a brief reception, everyone was set loose in the park to enjoy the games and rides. Brittany and Phillip joined in the fun, decked out in their wedding day best.
To my surprise, Brittany and Phillip’s wedding was the park’s first official wedding. We had such a fantastic time on a truly beautiful piece of property. I am hopeful more couples will consider this unique location.