Mary Anne, a special education teacher, and Ethan, a budget coordinator for the city of Charlotte, met at Matthews United Methodist Youth Group while volunteering with middle and high school students. In retrospect, it’s so poetic that these two met while volunteering their time and love since doing so is a key part of both of their hearts. Almost immediately, Ethan felt a spark of attraction, and Mary Anne quickly found herself feeling likewise. Ethan was the first to make a move, asking Mary Anne out to dinner at Mama Ricotta’s.
As their relationship deepened, Mary Anne found herself falling in love not only with Ethan’s good looks but also with his remarkable thoughtfulness. For his part, Ethan fell quickly and irretrievably in love with Mary Anne’s sweet smile and with her innocent but hilarious sense of humor. They also learned what they loved to do together; for Mary Anne, it’s exploring new places and eating good food, and for Ethan, the emphasis is on exploring local craft brews. Not a bad combination, and one that bodes well for many great years of traveling, eating, and drinking in style.
Ethan and Mary Anne got engaged on August 11th, 2018 during a memorable date night in uptown Charlotte. The evening got started at Rooster’s with a charcuterie board–one of Mary Anne’s favorite things–and a couple of drinks. As they waited for their dinner reservation, they wandered through uptown looking for some quiet and found it in 1st Ward Park. Sitting there, watching the sunset, Ethan and Mary Anne vowed to commit their lives to one another. The ring features a gem that was worn by both Mary Anne’s grandmother and great grandmother. Ethan and Mary Anne went to the Custom Shop in NoDa and designed the ring together.
We got together for our engagement session at 1st Ward Park, where Mary Anne and Ethan had gotten engaged. For a while, we’d gone back and forth about locations, and I’d offered several options, but seeing as it was December and colorful landscaping was at a seasonal ebb, 1st Ward seemed like a good bet. When I learned during one of our conversations that this was precisely where Ethan had proposed, it was settled.
It had snowed the day before, and there were still patches of snow on the ground when we started shooting, but one of the great things about 1st Ward park is that it holds its color no matter the season. I love the various textured surfaces there and the soft tones of the Uptown skyline at sunset. To finish up the portrait session, we headed to the confetti hearts wall in South End for one more major punch of color. The mural had just been completed, and I felt it would make the most perfect backdrop for the final few images of Mary Anne and Ethan.
These two were a dream to photograph. They were incredibly tender and kind to one another, and I found myself touched by the depth of their commitment. I can’t wait to see these two at the end of the aisle today. They’re made for each other, and I count myself so lucky to be a part of their big day.
Hair: Blo Blow Dry Bar
Makeup: Woo Skincare and Cosmetics
Confetti Hearts Wall: Evelyn Henson
Emily and Brett met in Nashville in 2014. They were immediately interested in one another, and by the end of their first date, they were nestled in a corner booth, listening to live music and holding hands. Fast forward a few years and Brett is hiding an engagement ring in the closet for Emily to find when she goes looking for a new lightbulb. With that part taken care of, the two brunched with family at a local Nashville eatery and then turned their attention to planning their nuptials.
We started our day at the home of Emily’s mother, Catherine. Her condo is located in a gorgeous spot in historic Myers Park, right near Queens University. Because Emily and Brett wanted to have their first look in a scenic and intimate spot, Catherine’s home made perfect sense as the getting ready location for both bride and groom. Before my second photographer and I parted ways to shoot the guys and girls, we took Emily and Brett for their first look—always one of my favorite moments to document—on the central lawn in front of Catherine’s condo. The long, trailing ribbons from Emily’s bouquet (created by Lily Greenthumbs) were so lovely moving softly in the breeze as Brett approached. As all couples seem to do in this perfectly unscripted moment of a wedding day, Emily and Brett nailed their first look. There was the perfect amount of oooh’s and ahhh’s over each other’s appearance with a few tender kisses for good measure.
Once we completed our pre-ceremony portraits, the bridal party hopped on a trolley and made their way to the ceremony site, Covenant Presbyterian Church. If you’re not familiar with the church, I’ll just tell you that it’s one of the prettiest churches in Charlotte. The exterior doors alone are a backdrop against which I could shoot all day, and then there’s the sanctuary, where the wooden arches and stained glass windows are a thing to behold. Perhaps my favorite part of the ceremony was when the officiant asked Emily and Brett to face their gathered friends and family and spent five minutes or more describing how the couple met and why they worked so well together. It was a sweet and funny interlude, and it lent the ceremony a huge amount of heart and warmth from the get-go.
From there, it was on to another fantastic venue for the reception: The Terrace at Cedar Hill. The guests enjoyed a cocktail hour on the side patio, complete with fabulous views of Charlotte’s skyline, and then made their way into the reception area for the bride and groom’s first dances. There was a break for dinner, and then dancing, dancing, dancing. The band was Attraction, and it was the first time I’d ever worked with them. The music was seriously awesome, and I remember being totally blown away by the lead singer, who just killed it. I hope I get to work with them again sometime soon.
As the night drew to a close, Emily changed out of her wedding gown and into a blue floral dress for the exit. She and Brett hopped into a limo and were off to their honeymoon at the Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, NC. Emily has always loved the hotel, and it’s where she had her bachelorette party. This is a mini-moon, a three-night trip full of hiking and good eating, and it will be followed by a longer honeymoon trip for their one-year anniversary.
I’m so happy I got to spend this extraordinary day and night with Emily, Brett, and their delightful crew of family and friends. It was a celebration full of love and humor, and it was an honor to be a part of it.
Wedding Coordinator: Sasha Thumann of Jackie Fogartie Events
Wedding Venue: Covenant Presbyterian Church
Reception Venue: The Terrace at Cedar Hill
Hair and Makeup: Megan Clouse of Blushing Hair and Makeup
Floral Design: Lily Greenthumbs
Cake Artist: Suarez Bakery
Catering: Best Impressions
Bride’s dress: Antonio Gual
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: The Bride Room
Groom’s Tux: Brooks Brothers
Thanks to Emily of Emily Renee Photography for contributing her beautiful images.
Be sure to check out Emily and Brett’s engagement session at the Duke Mansion in Charlotte, NC HERE.
Emily and Brett were living in Nashville when they met in 2014. They were both out at a downtown restaurant called Jackson’s when their paths crossed, but each thought the other was already involved in a relationship, so things didn’t go anywhere that night. It wasn’t too long, however, until Brett was calling Emily to set up their first date. This time, things went better. They grabbed dinner at a Nashville restaurant called Sambuca, sat in a corner booth, listened to some great live music, and ended up holding hands. So sweet.
Casual and low-key when they aren’t at work, these two were a natural match. Emily found herself attracted to Brett’s blue eyes and to the fact that he genuinely seemed to want to spend as much time with her as she wanted to spend with him. On his end, Brett loved how Emily could light up a whole room, even if she were only meeting people for the first time.
When Brett made up his mind to propose, he decided to roll the event into another Emily had been requesting for several weeks–Saturday morning pancakes. The catch? Brett had no idea how to make pancakes. So he did what most of us do in the modern age and surfed over to Youtube for a few tutorials. On the day of the proposal, Brett and Emily took a walk about the neighborhood and a nearby park. Afterward, Brett told her he was going to make pancakes. When their delicious meal was over, Brett asked Emily if she would grab a new light bulb, saying there was one in the kitchen that needed replacing. And this is where it gets funny because unbeknownst to Emily, Brett had tucked the ring inside the lightbulb cabinet in a place where she was sure to see it when she went looking.
Only she didn’t go looking. At first, she said she didn’t want to deal with that kind of stuff today; Brett could just handle it another time. Scrambling now, Brett asked if Emily had seen any floodlights lying around. “No,” she confidently replied. “I know we don’t have any of those.” Finally, Brett was reduced to saying, “Can you just check to see what kind of bulbs we have in there?” Emily gave in. She yanked open the door, and Brett could just see the ring sitting there. But Emily only grabbed a lightbulb and handed it to Brett. “See anything else in there?” he asked. So, a little exasperated, Emily pulls open the door again and grabs a DIFFERENT bulb, still not seeing the ring. At this point, Brett grabbed the ring himself, dropped to one knee, and proposed. The ring was one that he and Emily had discussed, but that Brett tracked down himself. It’s simple and traditional, with a single round-cut diamond.
For the engagement shoot, we met at Duke Mansion It was in early January, but the temperature was relatively mild, so shooting outside was quite pleasant. It’s also a testament to how carefully the gardens around the mansion have been cultivated that even in the middle of winter, there was so much lush foliage to use as backdrops. For Emily and Brett’s shoot, we started out in the East Garden, wrapped around the back of the mansion through the McGuire Lawn, got some beautiful shots on the steps in the Nisbet Garden, and then finished–with the sun setting–on the Dargen Spring Meadow.
Emily had her hair styled at Blo and did her own makeup, and she looked lovely. Despite the fact that Emily and Brett had never had professional portraits taken, they were a complete delight to shoot. There was zero awkwardness, just a sweet and comfortable feeling of affection.
Can’t wait to see these two later today when they make it official.
Sara Caitlyn and Andrew’s first date was at Thomas Street Tavern in Plaza-Midwood. It’s a spot I know well from my own early days with my husband, and I can picture them there, talking and getting to know one another’s quirks and histories, all of those initial little details that tell you whether this person is just another one, or THE one. Their initial date led to another, and before too long Andrew was dropping to one knee in the kitchen on New Year’s Eve, giving Sara Caitlyn just the proposal she’d always wanted.
First Presbyterian Church is one of my favorite ceremony sites in town, so I was delighted when I heard that Sara Caitlyn and Andrew had chosen it for their wedding day. The tone they wanted to set for the event was simple and classy, and First Presbyterian fills the bill perfectly. Adding to the meaningfulness of the choice was the fact that Sara Caitlyn’s mother works at the church, so it’s been a part of her life for a long time.
Before the ceremony, we had the first look on the patio of the new Merchant and Trade, situated on the rooftop of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel. It was the perfect spot for that sweet moment between the bride and groom. Then we headed down to Romare Bearden Park for pre-ceremony shots of the guys and girls. The fall had been dragging on and on, so there was still a touch of color on the trees. From there, we returned to First Presbyterian and knocked out all of the family portraits. It was a fantastic choice for an autumn bride; it gets dark quite early in the late fall, and taking care of all the family shots prior to the ceremony really loosened up the schedule and gave us that exceptional late afternoon light. I am particularly fond of the moments captured between Sara Caitlyn, Andrew, and their grandparents. The bride and groom were so lucky to have some of them by their side on their big day. I haven’t had the blessing of grandparents in my life for some time now so, if a couple is blessed by the presence of theirs on the wedding day, you better believe I am going to make sure to get some unforgettable images of them together.
Just before the ceremony, I spent a final few minutes with Sara Caitlyn and Andrew in the back stairwell of the church as they exchanged letters they’d written for one another. The moment was incredibly sweet, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that their conversation eventually turned to Taco Bell. Leading up to the wedding, they’d put themselves on a self-imposed Taco Bell diet, and by the time the ceremony rolled around, they were reduced to reciting the menu to each other and giggling. It was perfect. And now I want a Mexican pizza. Anyways…
After a lovely ceremony, I captured some charming shots of Sara Caitlyn and Andrew exiting the oversized wooden front doors of the church and down the candle-lit front steps. There’s an image of them sharing a kiss that is straight out of a storybook. After a handful of additional portraits at the church, the newlyweds climbed into a horse-drawn carriage, enjoyed a lap around the Queen City, and then headed for the reception.
The reception took place at the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, one of the newest venues in town. I’ve been working with them since before the hotel opened, and with their absolutely beautiful building and commitment to customer care, it was an ideal choice for Sara Caitlyn and Andrew. When they arrived, the bride and groom headed to a private room to have a bite to eat. Their time together was briefly interrupted when Sara Caitlyn’s grandparents, Fritz and Nancilynn (who have been married for over 50 years!!) presented them with Nancilynn’s “world famous” coconut cake, complete with the lace bell cake topper from their own wedding decades before. It was such a precious moment to witness, and the cake was heavenly.
Once the bride and groom made their grand entrance into the ballroom, the party really got going. Their band, Right to Party, kept things hopping all night. When the festivities eventually drew to a close, Sara Caitlyn and Andrew made a bubble exit—the result of a bubble machine and bubbles of the more traditional mouth-blown variety—down the beautiful glass stairs into the lobby of the hotel and headed off into their new lives.
For their honeymoon, these two lovebirds headed to Antigua, where they had no particular agenda save for maximum relaxation and decompression. So happy for Sara Caitlyn and Andrew–such a well-matched pair. It was an absolutely perfect night, and I feel so fortunate to have been a part of it.
Wedding Coordinator: Anna Pecoraro
Wedding Venue: First Presbyterian Church
Reception Venue: Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel
Hair and Makeup: Lovely by Lindsey
Floral Design: Lily Greenthumbs
Cake Artist: Villani’s Bakery
Catering: Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel
Videographer: Life Stage Films
Band: Right to Party
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Lily Rose Bridal
Tuxes: The Tuxedo Shoppe
Carriage: Southern Breezes
Thanks to Emily of Emily Renee Photography for her beautiful images. I always LOVE working with you!
Be sure to check out Sara Caitlyn and Andrew’s engagement session at one of my favorite hidden gems in Charlotte, the UNCC Botanical Gardens.
Deb and Brett met in the crazy world of online dating. Both of them had recently exited less-than-fantastic relationships and they were just looking to get themselves back out there. For their first date, they met at Duckworth’s Sports Bar and Grill, and the connection was immediate. They were open and honest, and both of them just put it all out there for the other to absorb. During a family trip to Michigan a couple of summers ago, Brett popped the question using a green Ring-Pop. Don’t worry, he had the real deal sitting in his pocket and quickly substituted it for the equally sweet candy version.
In planning the wedding, Deb and Brett knew that what they really wanted to accentuate were the people coming to celebrate their union, and the food and wine. These are two people who really love to experience life as fully as they can, and the culinary arts are near and dear to their hearts. Because of this, Deb and Brett were VERY interested in finding a venue that would allow them to use their own caterer of choice. As it happened, a brand new spot was just opening up in Cornelius, about two miles down the road from where they lived. It was called Sweet Magnolia Estates, and it offered pretty much everything Deb and Brett were looking for, not only for their reception but also for their ceremony.
Sweet Magnolia Estates offers a variety of beautiful spaces for shooting. The getting ready rooms for both the bride and groom were lovely and functional, and the grounds are lush and well cared for. Add to the natural beauty of the surroundings the amazing floral contribution of Just Dandy Designs, and you have a knockout wedding site. Really, it was the flowers by Just Dandy that really set the tone for the day as much as anything else. The flowers were absolutely gorgeous, from the wine cork boutonnieres to the bouquets and centerpieces.
After getting ready, the bride and groom had a charming first look by the entrance to the ceremony site. I absolutely LOVE first looks and these two did not disappoint–so much sweetness! The highlight of the wedding itself (other than the “I dos,” of course) was the wine ceremony during which Deb and Brett mixed a pinot noir with a pinot grigio as a symbol of unity. I’d never seen that before, and it was such a lovely personal moment for the bride and groom.
And after the ceremony? Well, the party of course! Deb and Brett started things off by making a point to take part in their cocktail hour. We handled almost all of their formal photography before the ceremony in order to make this happen. Not enough brides and grooms get to experience that post-wedding moment. I love that they were there. From here, the party really got rolling. The music was provided by Split Second Sound, and the DJ kept things moving all night. The delicious spread was created by Family Catering, and they handled everything from dinner to dessert. One of my favorite details was the gigantic charcuterie display in the reception hall. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much scrumptious meat and cheese in one place. When Deb and Brett had their first dance, it was to a montage from The Greatest Showman. The whole thing was so delightful and romantic.
And I’ll tell you, one the things I really love is how Deb and Brett planned their honeymoon. Pretty genius. They knew they were going to travel through Spain, Italy, and France, so on their wedding registry, they gave guests the opportunity to gift experiences along the way. Tapas in Spain, a wine tasting in Italy, truffle hunting in France… For almost three weeks, these two ate and drank their way through the yummiest parts of Europe. I can barely hide my jealousy.
Deb and Brett, so delighted that I had the chance to be with you two on your wedding day. I hope married life has been amazing so far, and I can’t wait to hear about all the wonderful things coming your way. I’m going to keep stalking you two cuties on social media–I can’t get enough of those adorable pics of your new puppy!
Wedding and Reception Venue: Sweet Magnolia Estates
Wedding Coordinator: A Simple Affair Events
Floral Design: Just Dandy Designs
Cake and Catering: Family Catering Service
Hair and Makeup: Wink Inspired Beauty
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Azazie
Tuxes: Jos. A. Bank
Transportation: Avenue Chauffeured Transportation
Thanks to Christina of The Shutter Owl for her beautiful images. I loved working with you!