Christ Episcopal, Charlotte Country Club, Elizabeth & Andrew

Elizabeth and Andrew met in 2015 at a Panthers-Cardinals playoff game.  Both found themselves veritable strangers in a large group of casual acquaintances, and since there was really no one else to talk to, they started talking to one another.  Among other things, they discovered a mutual preference for college football over the pro game, so we can just chalk it up to serendipity that these two found a pleasant distraction to fill the time.  They talked all the way through the game and into dinner. At the end of the night, they exchanged numbers, each thinking the other lived in Charlotte, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.  Elizabeth lived in Raleigh, and Andrew was in Atlanta. Still, the six-hour gap couldn’t keep them apart.  

Because of the long-distance factor of their relationship, their first official date actually took place in Asheville.  They met up for dinner at a French restaurant and spent the next three hours chatting. Then and long afterward, Elizabeth found herself falling hard for Andrew.  She especially loved the conversations they would have, long talks spanning topic from sports to ethics to history to the news. When they spoke, there was always laughter, and she always felt that Andrew was genuinely hearing everything she said.  Andrew was falling hard, too. He remembers how thankful he was that Elizabeth just allowed him to be fully who he was. She never looked to change anything about him, but just accepted him.  

Andrew proposed during a weekend trip to Asheville.  They were staying at an AirBnB and had reservations at Curate, their favorite restaurant in town.  Elizabeth was getting ready for dinner and Andrew was waiting. When Elizabeth came out, she suddenly decided she wanted to wear a different dress, and when she once again emerged from the room, saying, “Okay, NOW I’m ready!” Andrew replied, “No, you’re not.  You’re missing something.” Thinking that she must have lost an earring, Elizabeth turned to look in the mirror, exclaiming, “No, I’m not! What am I missing?” Andrew replied, “Something pretty important. You should turn around.” When she did, he was on his knee, the ring in his hand. 

From there, the planning got underway, though at least one of the choices was pretty clear cut.  Elizabeth’s mother and father had been married years before at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte, and she knew that was where she wanted to have the ceremony.  For the reception, they chose Charlotte Country Club, one of my favorite venues in town. 

Typically, brides will get dressed downstairs in the women’s locker room, but Elizabeth made the choice to slip into her gown instead in the Georgian Room.  I can’t believe that I’ve never had a bride make that choice, considering the drama of the space. It was so elegant. Once she was dressed, Elizabeth’s dad entered the room for a charming first look at Elizabeth in front of the huge bay window.  It was such a tender moment.

For Elizabeth’s first look with Andrew, we chose to head out back, where the sun shed a lovely light. Friends and family stood on the sweeping stairwell as the soon-to-be newlyweds shared a brief moment together.  The cheering and clapping were infectious.

After a lovely ceremony at Christ Church, the party returned to Charlotte Country Club, where The Band Punch lit things up.  I’ve heard about this band for years, and they most certainly lived up to their rep. The first dance was to Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody.  Andrew, not a dancer by nature, just can’t resist moving when Whitney Houston comes on. The dance lessons they had taken to prepare paid off, too. They looked like they were having the best time.  

At the end of the night, as the guests filed out to prepare for the pom-pom send-off, the band played one last song: Etta James’ At Last.  This was where the enormity of the night finally caught up with Elizabeth and she cried for the very first time as a married woman.  It was so incredibly sweet, and I loved that the newlyweds had a private moment to close out such a perfect night.

I couldn’t be more thankful to have had this night to spend with Elizabeth and Andrew.  I’m so happy for them, and I can’t wait to see where life takes them next.

Cheers to the incredible vendor team that made it all come together!

Wedding Coordinator: Lisa Smith
Ceremony Location: Christ Episcopal Church
Videographer: Stuck In Love Films
Floral Design: The Bloom Room
Paper Goods: Bonnie Clark Calligraphy
Reception Location: Charlotte Country Club
Cake: Charlotte Country Club
Reception Coordinator: Madeline Buchta
Band: The Band Punch
Hair & Makeup: Who’s The Fairest
Dress: Pronovias from Tre Bella Bridal
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Brideside
Tuxes: The Black Tux

Thank you to Christina Elmore of The Shutter Owl for her beautiful image contributions.

Uptown Engagement, Rosey & Lauren

Rosey and Lauren met in the way so many couples do nowadays, through an online dating site.  There was an immediate attraction, and from the very first time Rosey messaged Lauren, they haven’t stopped talking.  It was Lauren who initiated the first date, and the two met up at RuRu’s for margaritas. The date couldn’t have gone better, and they only regret both girls felt as they parted ways that night was there hadn’t been a goodnight kiss.  

As they continued to see one another, Rosey fell hard for Lauren’s passion for life.  She loved that Lauren worked so hard and always strove to achieve her dreams, and she also deeply appreciated Lauren’s patience with her stubborn and occasionally headstrong nature.  It’s not every couple that finds it within themselves to allow one another to be 100% who they are, but that’s what Rosey had found in Lauren. Did it hurt that Lauren’s eyes were simply stunning?  Probably not. For her part, Lauren found herself compelled by Rosey’s willingness to constantly place everyone else’s needs above her own. In Rosey, Lauren saw a loving and caring heart, the kind of human being who would not only support her in life, but who also made her a better version of the person she had already been.  Add to that Rosey’s fiery red hair and it was a recipe for love.

If you’ve ever wanted to hear a sweet proposal story, here’s one for the books.  It was Rosey who proposed first (that’ll make sense in a minute). She had just gone to pick up the ring she’d had custom-made for Lauren; it was a project she’d been working on for months. As soon as she had the ring, she knew she just had to go right home and propose that instant.  Luckily, Morrison Jewelers also happened to have a bar in the store, so Rosey sat with Samantha–the woman who had helped with designing the ring–and they kicked some ideas around about how Rosey might do the deed. Everything in Rosey screamed champagne and cookie cake, so Morrison’s generously provided a bottle of bubbly and she rushed off to have a cookie cake made.  When Rosey got home, she told Lauren she had a surprise in store, and since Lauren knew Rosey had been to the store, she asked if the surprise was cookie cake (these two REALLY like their cookie cakes). Rosey told Lauren to close her eyes, and when she came back into the room, she was holding the cookie cake in one hand and the ring in the other. Lauren read the cake and immediately said yes, but Rosey made sure to take a step back and ask more officially.  

But now that Lauren had gotten the full proposal treatment, she wanted to make sure Rosey also got to experience the joy of being asked, so she started a plan of her own.  First, she set about designing a ring for Rosey with the same designer from Morrison Jewelers. Once the ring was ready, she came up with a plan involving a tattoo parlor–they had kicked around the idea of mutual tattoos–but the first available date for a tattoo session was too far off, so Lauren ended up rushing home, much as Rosey had, to pop the question.  After considering numerous ways she might ask, Lauren finally settled on tying a note to the collar of one of their dogs, hoping he would carry it to Rosey. Instead, he lay down and started chewing on it. Once he finally made his way over to Rosey, Lauren got down on one knee and proposed.  

For our engagement session, we met up at the rose garden that is tucked inside Independence Park on Hawthorne Avenue.  I thought it would be a perfect place to get together since involving their four dogs in the shoot was important to them.  I managed to get shots of everyone–human and canine–sitting and standing, and then we did individual portraits with each dog.  Once the fur babies had been suitably captured, two of Rosey and Lauren’s friends took the dogs home and we continued with the shoot. Our second location was uptown, in Marshall Park.  The park has been a fixture in Charlotte for decades but is scheduled to be demolished soon.  For that portion of the shoot, we sort of floated back and forth between the park and courthouse, and I think the results are so lovely and romantic.  

So psyched for these two.  I can’t wait to see them make it official later today. If last night’s rehearsal dinner is any indication of what is to come. were gonna need a lot of Kleenex.

Check out another beautiful same-sex engagement session at the Anee Springs Close Greenway here.

MPPC, Byron’s South End, Mary Anne & Ethan

Mary Anne, a special education teacher, and Ethan, a budget analyst for the city of Charlotte, met each other at Matthews United Methodist youth group while volunteering with a group of middle and high school students.  Ethan knew he was interested right away, and Mary Anne quickly moved from being curious about this new man in her life to the realization that there was something here she wanted to explore.  After a proposal in 1st Ward park with a ring featuring a stone once worn by Mary Anne’s grandmother and great-grandmother, the wedding planning got underway.  

Since it was the church in which she had attended preschool and been baptized, Mary Anne and Ethan decided on Myers Park Presbyterian Church for their ceremony.  I also happen to adore that venue, so I was pleased to hear the news.  The reception took place at Byron’s South End, where the newly renovated interior features high ceilings, exposed brick walls, and fantastic light for photography, so I couldn’t have been more pleased. 

Before the big day even got started, there was an adjustment.  Theresa, the maid-of-honor and one of Mary Anne’s very best friends, couldn’t attend because she was pregnant and too close to full term to travel.  One of the sweetest things about the day was that Theresa was constantly keeping up with things on Facetime.  Mary Anne chatted with her while she was having her hair done and at numerous other points during the day.  It was very much like she was there.  At one point during the live stream of the wedding, Theresa sent Mary Anne a photo of herself, at home in her living room, watching the ceremony in her bridesmaid’s dress. So sweet! 

The groom and groomsmen got ready at The Catalyst, a newer structure overlooking Romare-Bearden Park.   You might notice that I have chosen to include more photos than I normally would of the boys getting ready, but it was absolutely adorable watching them study videos of how to properly fold a pocket square, or how to pin a boutonniere.  The guys had their pre-ceremony shots taken in the park before heading to the church.

For her part, Mary Anne waited to get into her dress until she reached the church, and then she and her bridesmaids were photographed there.  Mary Anne and Ethan also had their First Look in the same walkway where they would exit from the sanctuary as husband and wife.  I loved the circularity of that.  A really cute moment here, too. When Mary Anne caught sight of Ethan, she remarked almost immediately on how much she liked his haircut.  For some time, cutting his hair had been her province, but he’d gone in for a special do for the big day.  During the ceremony itself, one of the sweetest moments was when Ethan’s grandmother presented Ethan with the ring his grandfather had once worn up until he passed.  She had it around her neck on a chain, but at that moment, it became the symbol of Ethan’s union to his soon-to-be wife.   

After the ceremony, everyone made their way over to Byron’s South End.  If you haven’t seen Byron’s since its remodel, make it a point.  It’s a photographer’s dream.  Light toned wood against beautiful brick.  Bright, but not overwhelming light.  I hadn’t been there in some time, and I was knocked out.  There were gorgeous flowers by Ashley of Bookout Blooms.  I hadn’t seen her work before, and the flowers were truly stunning.  The band was The Diamond River Band, out of Asheville.  They killed it.  The lead singer’s voice reminded me so much of Joe Cocker.  When it came time for the last dance, the band broke into an acoustic version of Hallelujah.  it gave me goosebumps.   

All in all, a perfect day for these two lovely souls.  For their honeymoon, they jetted off to Bar Harbor, Maine, where they whiled away their time eating lobster, riding horses, exploring Acadia National Park, and just generally relaxing.   

Ceremony: Myers Park Presbyterian Church
Planner: Gathered Events and Design
Hair: Lia Watson
Makeup: Julie Metzger
Floral Design: Bookout Blooms
Reception: Byron’s South End
Catering: Best Impressions Caterers
Cake: Celestial Cakery
Band: East Coast Entertainment Diamond River Band
Wedding Dress: Poffie Girls (Ella Grace)
Bridesmaids Dresses: Brideside
Tuxes: Jos A. Bank 

Thank you to my second photographer, Laura, for her lovely images!

You can swoon over images from Mary Anne and Ethan’s engagement session in 1st Ward Park here.

Love Conquers All, Mary Stanton & Matthew

Every wedding I capture is special to me.  The genuine pleasure I take from the opportunity to be part of a couple’s union is one of the reasons that I do what I do.  When I was approached by The Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel about donating my photography services to an incredibly deserving couple as part of the Kimpton’s “Love Conquers All” Wedding Giveaway contest…there was never a question about whether I wanted in.  The wedding day of Mary Stanton and Matthew will truly be like nothing I have ever experienced. Theirs is such an unimaginable, and inspiring, story. I’m so delighted that I’ll be there to document this next step in their journey together. Let me give you a little background so you’ll understand why I’m so honored and thrilled to see these two tie the knot.

Mary Stanton and Matthew have known one another since high school in Greensboro, NC.  Even before that, they each knew who the other was, but it was only once they started to hang out in high school that they realized there might be a spark there.  Matthew initiated the first date, asking Mary Stanton to dinner at the local Mexican joint. Mary Stanton’s one regret from the date was that she barely touched her food because she was so nervous.  As time passed and the two continued to spend time together, their bond intensified. Mary Stanton fell in love with Matthew’s sense of humor, and Matthew, for his part, found himself bewitched by Mary Stanton’s eyes.  So, among other things, this is the story of high school sweethearts. But there’s so much more.  

Mary Stanton was diagnosed in March of 2017 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and as part of her treatment, she went through 12 rounds of chemotherapy.  They hoped for the best, but later that year Mary Stanton was rescanned and the results showed that the cancer had returned. Her best shot for recovery as this point was a stem cell transplant, so she underwent that procedure, new chemotherapy treatments, and a three-week stint in the hospital’s isolation wing.  In February of 2019–a year after her stem cell transplant–her scans showed no cancerous activity, indicating that she is now in remission.

Now let me rewind a bit–When the cancer came back in late 2017, Mary Stanton and Matthew were both affected profoundly by the news, but watching the woman he loved go through so much with such strength, Matthew decided that NOW was the time to propose.  He made the event a whole-day affair, starting off with breakfast as Sunflour Bakery (well-chosen, sir). Starting in the morning and continuing throughout the day, he passed Mary Stanton little handwritten notes with questions about their relationship and its evolution over the years.  They laughed about how some of their answers were the same, some different. Afterward, they drove to a nature preserve and spent some time strolling around a lake. The walk began in rain but ended in snow. They stopped by home and got ready for dinner at Foxcroft Wine Bar, one of Mary Stanton’s favorite spots.  After dinner, he blindfolded Mary Stanton so she wouldn’t know where they were going and drove them to McAdenville, where they’d been before to look at the houses decked out for the holidays. This time, he said he wanted to walk the town instead of driving, so Mary Stanton began to suspect something was afoot. They stopped at a private area near the lake and after giving her one last handwritten note, Matthew popped the question.  Soon after, Mary Stanton’s mom and some of her best friends showed up with champagne to celebrate. It all sounds magical.  

So they were engaged! But what to do about the wedding?  Well, not long after the engagement, Mary Stanton’s sister passed on the word about Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel’s “Love Conquers All” Wedding Giveaway contest.  In April of 2018, the couple–much to their surprise–discovered that they had won an all-expense paid 100 person wedding at the lovely boutique hotel in uptown Charlotte.  I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot at the Kimpton numerous times since it opened, and I know well the crazy level of service the hotel provides. In fact, it was The Kimpton that put me in touch with Matthew and Mary Stanton.  They knew my work and thought we’d be a good fit for one another.  

For our engagement shoot, we met up at the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens.  Mary Stanton and Matthew brought along their 10-month-old Golden Retriever, Knox.  He’s their baby, and man is he cute. Watching Mary Stanton and Matthew interact with one another during the shoot, it hit me that they were like a very new couple and a very old couple all rolled into one relationship.  On one hand, there was an excitement and a vital intimacy in the way they treated one another that struck me as so young and fresh; on the other hand, it was impossible to miss that these are two young people who have already been through the wars together.  That they have come out the other side is a testament to their strength and bravery. I can’t say how honored I am to have the chance to capture their big day.   
The wedding will take place at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte; the reception, of course, will take place at the Kimpton.  This is going to be a good one!

I’m so looking forward to today.  What a life and love-affirming moment for these two, and for all of us who get take this next step of the journey with them.   

These vendors are also donating their services for Mary Stanton & Matthew’s wedding day. Can’t wait to share the day with all of them.

Wedding Coordinator: J. Leigh Events
Reception Location: Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel
Cake: Celestial Cakery
Hair & Makeup: Lovely by Lindsey
Florals and Rentals: Carolina’s Luxury Event Rentals
Stationery: Viri Lovely Designs

Check out Sara Caitlyn and Andrew’s Kimpton Hotel reception here.

Uptown Charlotte Engagement, Mary Anne & Ethan

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

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