So many of us have funny stories about how we first met our significant others. A chance meeting online; out with friends at a bar when your glance meets that of a mysterious stranger; an innocent workplace flirtation that becomes something more…. And then there’s the way Philip and Amanda met, and I happen to love this one. Both Philip and Amanda volunteered at Habitat for Humanity—a nice enough beginning, right? They first met during a Habitat outing during which the volunteers were playing Laserquest, and Philip, who had spotted a girl he thought was pretty cute, just kept shooting her. Over and over. I mean, that’s basically right out of a Jane Austen novel.
Their first date was dinner and then a trip to a wine bar. Their conversation wandered from topic to topic, and they were both intrigued enough that they continued to see one another. Soon, Philip found himself drawn to Amanda’s incredible sense of compassion, and to her genuine love of life. He proposed during a hiking outing to Crowder’s Mountain, using a ring he had designed himself.
Philip and Amanda found me through a recommendation from an acquaintance. We decided to do our engagement shoot at McGill Rose Garden, always a beautiful backdrop for romantic portraits. Adding to the holiday charm of the garden was the fact that Rosie’s Wine Bar was open late this December evening, and their Winter Wonderland décor added a whole extra level to the goings-on. The shoot was awesome from the get-go, in part because we walked in on a guy waiting to perform a surprise proposal. Not wanting to botch things for the nervous beau, we hid behind some bushes until his girlfriend showed up and he was able to pop the question. Quite the mood-setter for our own engagement session, and it only got better from there. Philip and Amanda were affectionate and charming in front of the camera, and Philip kept all of us laughing the whole time. I left the shoot feeling so fond of these two as a couple.
I can’t wait to see Philip and Amanda tie the knot this afternoon. They’re kind, generous, and loving people, and I feel so very fortunate to be part of their wedding story.
From the moment Rosey and Lauren met through an online dating site, they have been inseparable, and spending time with them, you can understand why. These are two deeply loving human beings whose strengths are perfectly complementary, each filling in the other’s weaker spots. When I met them, one of my first thoughts was how well matched they were, not because they were so similar, but because they were so different.
It was Rosey who proposed. Or rather, it was Rosey who proposed first. She had a lovely ring designed at Morrison Jewelers and, as soon as she had it in her possession, she rushed home to propose over cookie cake and champagne. Not to be outdone, Lauren had her own ring made and proposed right back. Her plan involved a note tied to a dog’s collar, but since the dog was more than content to just chew on the note instead of delivering it, Lauren had to give him a few urging pushes to get him moving. Once the note was finally delivered (slobbery, but apparently still legible) Lauren got down on one knee and asked officially.
The day of the wedding kicked off with both Lauren and Rosey getting ready in adjoining rooms at the Westin in uptown with their respective wedding parties. Once everyone was ready to roll, it was time for Rosey and Lauren’s first look. And what a first look it was. Just next door to the Westin is Regions Bank, and one of the features of the building is a third-floor terrace that offers stunning views of the Charlotte skyline. This is where the ladies had their first look, and it was a moment rich in both sweetness and humor. Prior to seeing one another at this moment, neither Rosey nor Lauren had seen the other’s dress, and it was a hilarious moment when they realized that, as different as their dresses were in many respects, both of them had chosen gowns with nearly identical silhouettes. It was an intimate moment and just more evidence that these two have a lifetime of sweet surprises ahead of them.
From here, we all headed over to the Design Center, which is adjacent to Byron’s South End. The ceremony would take place in the atrium of the Design Center. It’s really such an incredible space. The Design Center was originally built in the late 1920s as the Nebel Company’s first knitting mill. The building currently operates as a multi-level office and retail space. The atrium made for a perfect ceremony site with its’ lofted ceiling and open concept. Rosey and Lauren designated a portion of the room as their ceremony site using pipe a drape to define the area. A simple a-frame alter and plenty of candles made everything so lovely and romantic.
When we arrived on site we knocked out as many of the formals as possible. It would be dark when the ceremony concluded and the bride’s wanted to be sure to have lots of portraits with the building’s historic brickwork in the background. There was one image I absolutely KNEW I wanted to get, and I had been thinking about it ever since Rosey and Lauren told me they were using Byron’s as their reception site. I wanted the brides and their wedding party (18 ladies in total) to be captured in front of the Confetti Hearts Wall, a charming and joyful mural painted by Evelyn Henson. It features oodles of colorful hearts–a few resembling the candy conversation hearts we all exchanged as children displaying messages to “love others” and “be kind”. The artist hoped to create a visual reminder that the world is brighter when we consider, respect, and love each other. There’s just something about so many women being gathered together to celebrate the same-sex union of their dear friends that called for this kind of portrait. The image created was my favorite of the entire day.
After we finished up with the pre-ceremony portraits, Rosey and Lauren took a few minutes by themselves to prepare for the ceremony. Each of the brides walked separately down the aisle. Lauren walked first with her father, and then Rosey made her way down the aisle accompanied by her dad in his wheelchair, which was being pushed by her brother.
The officiant was Reverend Ben Boswell from Myers Park Baptist Church. His words established such a loving and warm environment for the ceremony, and it was a special kind of joy for me to listen as he wove the story of Rosey and Lauren’s love. The line I remember most vividly from his lead-in was this: “As the great philosopher Lin Manuel Miranda said, ‘love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love and cannot be killed or swept aside.’” People were crying happy tears when Ben pronounced the ladies wife and wife, and then, when Rosey and Lauren raised their hands victoriously as they made their way back up the aisle, there was boisterous cheering and open weeping. I’ll just go ahead and admit that quite a few of the tears shed were my own…
One more sweet moment from the ceremony I have to mention. Lauren is notorious for her card and note giving. Apparently, she designated a card-holder in the crowd, and as she and Rosey were walking back up the aisle, there was a furtive hand-off made, and then Lauren presented Rosey with the note once they were away from the crowd. Rosey was completely surprised by the gesture. Whatever was written there must have been pretty sweet, because Rosey started to shed tears of her own. I get the sense that Lauren knows exactly how to speak directly to Rosey’s heart.
After a few more photos it was off to Byron’s for a pretty phenomenal party. The band was Sol Fusion–there’s truly no better act in town. I’ve worked with these guys more consistently than any other band over the years. Not only are they all crazy talented, but they’re also all so genuine and kind. I am always psyched when I find out they’re the main act. They put on one heck of a show and they kindly allow me to tiptoe through their performances for fantastic angles of the guests enjoying the entertainment.
After an adorable first dance with one another, each of the ladies danced with their dads–Rosey’s father used a walker to stand with his daughter on her big day. Halfway through the song, they ladies switched positions and finished the song with their arms around their new fathers-in-law. I was so touched by the intimacy and tenderness that exists between Rosey and Lauren and these men in their lives. A little later, Rosey got her father on the dancefloor one more time, this time in his wheelchair, to dance with her and her mother. It was an incredible moment. Soon after, Rosey became an honorary member of Sol Fusion. Not even kidding–they should call her if they ever need a sub. That girl rocked it up there for half the night.
What a unique and fabulous celebration. I always feel fortunate to have crafted my lifelong passion for photography into my career, but it’s occasions like this that really affirm my belief in people and in love. I literally counted down to Rosey and Lauren’s wedding all year and, when the day finally came, I was beyond honored to have been chosen to be a part of it.
I will close with one more snippet from the ceremony, courtesy of Reverend Ben Boswell:
In the landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage, Justice Kennedy offered an impassioned opinion on the nature of love. He proclaimed: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. Marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand to say these men and women disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. And now, the Constitution grants them that right.”
Thank you to the stellar vendor team that brought it all together for Rosey and Lauren’s wedding day:
Ceremony Location: The Design Center Atrium
Officiate: Reverend Ben Boswell of Myers Park Baptist Church
Wedding Coordinator: Lauren Gomez of Something Perfect
Reception Location: Byron’s South End
Catering: Best Impressions
Floral Design: Tayflower and Kelly McKinnon
Cake: Suarez Bakery
Band: Sol Fusion Band
Hair and Makeup: Charisse Holliday of Look Love Beauty
Rosey’s Dress: Ladies of Lineage
Lauren’s Dress: House of the Bride
Bridesmaid Dresses: House of the Bride
Transportation: Carolina Continental Limos
Huge thanks to my second photographer, Christina, of The Shutter Owl for her lovely image contributions!!
Be sure to check out Rosey and Lauren’s romantic engagement session in Uptown Charlotte HERE.
Alexis and John met at work in 2013. They were both employed by the same company, just in different departments. Still, they sat close together, so they’d certainly noticed one another. One day, a year or so later, Alexis and John both found themselves at a coworker’s pool for the afternoon. They spent some time talking, and when it was time to leave the pool party, John asked Alexis to dinner. They recall that they went to Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in Dilworth, and that there was A LOT of laughing during dinner. What really matters besides that?
As they spent more time together, Alexis realized that John was a man she could see herself with. He was incredibly easy to talk to, encouraged her in everything she did, and made her laugh and smile constantly. For his part, John loved that he and Alexis connected instantly and that they could just be themselves while spending time with one another. They just wanted to do the same things, and to do them together. He’d never known that feeling until he met Alexis.
In June of 2018, John, Alexis and her family (mom, dad, and sister) took a trip to New York City. On a beautiful blue-skied Monday morning, the plan was to head down to Jane’s Carousel to take some pictures before the attraction opened. For anyone who doesn’t know, Jane’s Carousel is on the East River, right next to the Brooklyn Bridge, and it overlooks the Manhattan skyline. A pretty stunning backdrop, in other words. During a pause in the picture taking, Alexis’s sister said she’d love to take a picture of Alexis with the bridge in the background, While Alexis had her head turned and was distracted, John took out the ring and fell to one knee. When Alexis’s sister tells her to turn back around, John tells Alexis he loves her and asks her to marry him. Needless to say, there were plenty of pictures taken to memorialize the occasion.
As planning for the wedding moved along, there were some easy choices to make and some that required a little more thought. The ceremony location was a given. Alexis is Greek Orthodox, so the Greek Orthodox church in town seemed like a pretty ideal spot for the wedding. For the reception site, they chose Providence Country Club. They needed a space big enough to fit a pretty large guest list, and one where the head table would be visible from the entire room. There also needed to be plenty of space for a pretty epic dance floor. When it came to choosing a photographer, I came up high in the search results. Alexis said that she connected with the bio on my site, and once they contacted me, things just fell together.
In all my years of capturing weddings, this was my first Greek wedding and it truly was so different and amazing. One thing I had to adjust to pretty quickly was that I was front-and-center during a lot of the goings-on. Normally, I try to be as unobtrusive as possible, to just disappear into the mix while I’m getting my shots, but not on this day. During both the ceremony and the reception, I was encouraged to remain right in the middle of things. Considering that I tend to get a little teary-eyed at practically every wedding I photograph, working in view of the guests meant I couldn’t succumb to the emotional swell of the heartfelt ceremony. I had to swallow the lump in my throat more than a few times, and I may have dipped behind a bridesmaid to dab at a few tears with the cuff of my sleeve. I wouldn’t want Alexis to have to answer questions about why her photographer was crying at the altar.
I wasn’t able to hold back the tears all day, however. There were so many sweet family-oriented moments during Alexis and John’s celebration, but the one that will stay with me most vividly was watching Alexis’s sister–her absolute best friend–deliver the maid of honor toast. Watching Nicole talk so lovingly about Alexis, I was touched not only by the sincerity of the relationship between these two women but also by the thought that one day my own two daughters might be recreating this very scene. Ever since I became a mother to my two girls, I’ve imagined the ways in which they would grow together, and the ways they might grow apart. Each day, I see my girls take part in a hundred little moments that could go any direction, and so often I wonder where all of this, all of these tiny and seemingly insignificant interactions, will take them. After the toasts, I pulled Alexis’s mother into the hallway to compliment her as a parent for raising these two amazing women, and for fostering the bond between them. Parenting is the work of a lifetime, and I can only imagine how divine it must be to see such a lovingly tended tree bear fruit.
I loved every minute of Alexis and John’s wedding day. Give me all your Greek weddings, please.
Ceremony Location: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Reception Location: Providence Country Club
Videographer: Apollo Video Productions
Floral Design: Economos Designs
Cake Artist: Tammy’s Creative Delights
DJ: George Yamalis
Makeup Artist: Abby Watkins
Hair Artist: Dolce Lusso
Bridesmaid Dresses: Brideside
Tuxes: Men’s Warehouse
Thank you to my second photographer, Ariel, for her lovely imagery and fantastic company.
I’ve never done a wedding quite like this one, to be honest. On every wedding day, there’s that incredible sense of love and trust as two people take the ultimate leap and dedicate their lives to one another, but this one was, for many reasons, just a little different.
Mary Stanton and Matthew have known each other since time out of mind. They’re high school sweethearts, but each knew of the other in a peripheral sort of way even before that. Anyway, in high school, they started dating, and they quickly realized that there was a spark of something powerful between them. In so many love stories, that just about does it. The meet-cute, the development of a unique bond, marriage, kids… But life had something else in store for these two.
Mary Stanton was diagnosed in 2017 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and as part of her treatment, she went through 12 rounds of chemotherapy. She and Matthew hoped for the best, but later that year test results showed that the cancer had returned. Her best shot for recovery at this point was a stem cell transplant, so she underwent both that procedure, new chemotherapy treatments, and a three-week stint in the hospital’s isolation wing. This past February–a year after her stem cell transplant–new tests showed no cancerous activity, indicating that she is in remission.
In the midst of all the medical chaos and uncertainty, Matthew proposed. He knew that this strong and resilient woman was the one for him, so he followed his heart and popped the question during a Christmas-light-peeping trip to McAdenville. So, what next now that they were engaged? The answer is complex and kind of amazing.
Just 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 heard that they had won (by a landslide) an all-expense paid 100 person wedding at the lovely boutique hotel in uptown Charlotte. After giving the couple the news, the Kimpton put me in touch with Mary Stanton and Matthew. They knew my work and thought we’d be a good fit for one another. I have routinely donated portrait packages for various causes, but never a complete wedding. However, after hearing their story, I was sure that theirs was a day I wanted to bear witness to and I coudn’t wait to begin getting to know such a unique couple.
The ceremony took place at Christ Episcopal Church. They had joined the church and loved how active the community was, especially in their advocacy for young people. Before heading to the church, Mary Stanton and her ladies got ready at the Kimpton, then headed over to Romare-Bearden park with me for some pre-ceremony portraits. The fellas headed to the church with my second photographer, Emily. I absolutely love the exterior of Christ Episcopal Church. Hard to ask for a better backdrop. Once I wrapped up with the ladies in the park, we all headed to the church for Mary Stanton and Matthew’s first look.
I’ll tell you, this is where the waterworks started for me. I don’t know how many times I teared up that day, but it wasn’t just a few. Mary Stanton and Matthew met each other for their first look in front of the church, in the circular drive. Watching Matthew see her, this woman he’d been through so much with, for the first time…that was just it for me. I was mush. And then Mary Stanton had a first look with her Dad. I was wiping away tears with my sleeve at this point. It was such a touching moment.
After a delightful ceremony, we all headed back to the Kimpton for the reception. What I recall most vividly about that night were the moments of gratitude–from pretty much every direction–that this event was even happening at all. At one juncture during his toast, Jim, Mary Stanton’s dad, pulled onto the dance floor Mary Stanton’s medical team and employers who had cared for and supported her so faithfully through her illness. He separately thanked and embraced each individual. The entire room was teary-eyed, particularly Mary Stanton. Gah! Can you even imagine?
Other toasts, from Mary Stanton’s sister and from Matthew’s brother, touched on the gratitude each felt to be gaining such an amazing sibling. The comments made about Mary Stanton’s strength, and about Matthew’s love for and unfailing dedication to her, were powerful beyond my ability to convey.
While guests were eating and mingling about, I stole Mary Stanton and Matthew away for a few sunset romantics on the rooftop parking deck of an adjacent building. These are some of my favorite images of the day. Amazing what can happen in just a few minutes in perfect light.
When the party really got going, the dance floor was packed. Sol Fusion was the chosen band, and if you’ve never heard them, they’re honestly just the best. At the bar, you could order a vodka drink called “The Knox,” named after Mary Stanton and Matthew’s dog. He made a brief appearance to rep his booze and to watch the first dance before retiring to their suite. Gotta love a dog-friendly hotel.
At the end of every wedding, I understand that I’ll never get to do something JUST like this again. Every story is different; every story is powerful. This one, however… I can’t possibly overstate the positivity of my wishes for these two. I hope a long life together brings them all that they could possibly dream of. A sweet honeymoon in Greece must have been a nice start.
Thank you to the incredible vendor team that pooled their talents to make Mary Stanton and Matthew’s wedding dream into a reality:
Ceremony Location: Christ Episcopal Church of Charlotte
Reception Location: Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel
Wedding Coordinator : J. Leigh Events
Hair and Makeup: Lovely by Lindsey
Floral Design and Event Rentals: Clux
Cake Artist: Celestial Cakery
Paper Goods: Viri Lovely Design
Band: Sol Fusion
Video: Hart to Heart Media
Thank you to my second photographer Emily for her beautiful image contributions.
Be sure to check out Mary Stanton and Matthew’s engagement session, featuring their beloved pup, Knox, captured at the UNCC Botanical Gardens.
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.