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