Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral Wedding, Alexis & John

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.


Kimpton Hotel, Love Conquers All, Mary Stanton & Matthew

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.

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.

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