December 27, 2016

You’re Engaged!!!! Now what?

We just passed the second major holiday where the rings come out, and we are rounding on down to the third and final major one that brings out love! Did you just snag yourself a pretty shiny beauty? If so, this blog is for YOU.

Step 1: Announce to your closest friends and family that you’re engaged. Duh. Celebrate!
Step 2: Prepare for the, “When’s the big day?!” questions to follow immediately after.

Say what?! Oh yea. People immediately go in for the kill with that one, so be ready! But how do you “be ready”?

First things first – stop, take it all in, and spend time together { just the two of you } to enjoy this next and major step in the relationship! There is no need to rush anything right off the bat. Once you are ready to take on planning your wedding, start with a general idea of your budget along with your vendors listed out in priority of must-haves. If you are hiring a planner, I strongly suggest finding one that YOU feel is the right fit, who can understand your wants and needs, and will get the job done properly. Research! If you are choosing to forego the planner route, do you have a venue you absolutely MUST get married at? If so, put that at the top! Well, put venue searching at the top regardless, because every other vendor will be asking you when and where. I know wishful thinking is easy, and you can say how much you love a certain date and venue, but the truth is that they may already be booked. Go in with an open mind! If you have another must-have vendor, such as a photographer, it may be a good idea to ask for their availability for that entire month you have in mind, and then bring that along when speaking with the venue to coordinate the perfect day where they are both available.
*TIP TIME* – Saturdays are THE most requested days, so to save a little money, check out Fridays and Sundays since most venues will offer a discount for those, and other vendors may be more likely and able to flex their pricing on an ‘off’ day.

Once you’ve booked your venue and have a set date, that’s when the fun of shopping around for your dream team happens! Look at your ideal budget, and set realistic expectations for yourself. Personally, I know photography is at the top of my list when it comes to my wedding day (whenever that is), and I’ve already started setting aside funds for that despite not being engaged yet 😉 That investment means the most to me since I know some of the most beautiful places can have their flaws, and some of the most unexpected places can be hidden gems. Having a photographer that is experienced and that will provide quality work is my highest priority. For you, it could easily be floral design, the perfect dress, or even an ideal honeymoon! Just begin reaching out to those in your area to get quotes on their services, note what comes with that, and really determine what’s the best option for you.

 *REAL MOMENT*  – Do not be afraid to tell a vendor you have gone another route. One thing that irks vendors the most is having all these inquiries come in, and then getting crickets after sending pricing or contracts.  To have pending inquiries can become frustrating and time-consuming. We are all adults here, and I promise we would much rather be told ‘no’ than to be told nothing at all.

Also, be open with your budget with each vendor. That is one of the first questions I always ask couples – “What is your ideal budget for wedding photography?”
If it’s too low, I already have their date and venue, and can easily reach out to others in the area to see who IS available within that budget to connect them. Most other vendors would be happy to give other recommendations if they aren’t within the point you are looking for, so don’t get discouraged.

Think about the weather/earth. This is huge. October has been known to be the busiest wedding month every single year here, and it’s also the hurricane month of NC. Are you thinking about a summer wedding? Look for venues that provide solid AC. Winter? Somewhere with decent heat. Spring or fall? Remember that spring may still be cool while fall may still be toasty.

*TIP TIME* – When things get too warm, people are less likely to stay and dance the night away, everyone will be sweating for photos outside, and just be prepared to bring lots of water.

So, I know this is a lot of info, but you got this! Congratulations on your engagement, and enjoy it 🙂

Now for some of my favorite moments from my 2016 couples:

02.27.16 – The Farm at Brusharbor in Concord North Carolina –
Ian’s reaction to seeing Katie for the first time, kissing her for the first time, and Katie’s reaction to getting announced as husband and wife for the first time

 04.17.16 – Carolina Beach North Carolina –
That one-on-one time with Amanda and Daniel along the beach

05.07.16 – The Ritz Carlton in Charlotte North Carolina –
We got to tour uptown with Kim and Jared’s wedding party, and had an absolute blast with them and a trolly

Not to mention Kim’s custom gown – so much yes!

05.13.16 – Breakfield at Riverwalk in Rock Hill South Carolina –
When you ask Shardal to whisper something to Marlon, and get this reaction 😉

05.14.16 – Separk Mansion in Gastonia North Carolina –
Laura was surrounded by the sweetest girls on her wedding day, and had the best time fluffing her dress before she walked down the aisle!
Seriously – so stunning!05.21.16 – The Wyche Pavilion in Columbia South Carolina –
I have no doubt these two thought I’d lost it at their wedding when I asked them to casually go stand on a rock in the middle of the river. Being the most graceful person ever, I know they trust me, because I fell at least five times just trying to get this first shot. And they were nothing but love and cuddles

06.04.16 – Pine Island Country Club in Charlotte North Carolina –
These two came as a blessing – a last minute booking, and had the best dancing EVER at their reception.

06.18.16 – Alexander Homestead in Charlotte North Carolina –
06.25.16 – Dillon South Carolina –
How to pick a favorite moment….. Could it be the first kiss these two shared the moment they saw each other? The cute moments Courtney had with her parents? The beautiful prayer her mom shared with her before the ceremony, or even Chris’s reaction to seeing her coming down the aisle? Or maybe it’s the dance off they had on stage at their reception with the live band? I can’t choose, so here.
07.06.16 – Uwharrie Vineyards in Albemarle North Carolina –
The best moment of the day was when the bridesmaids jumped into the fountain to cool off on Mallorie’s day! These guys were SO much fun, and truly had the best time despite the heat
07.14.16 – Castle McCulloch in Jamestown North Carolina –
You may recognize someone here… Look above! These lifelong besties had their weddings less than a week apart, and got to share in their celebrations together! Also, major props to Tyler for pulling out his inner GQ for photos 😉

07.21.16 – Treasure Island in Florida –
One word. Russians. 

This Russian family spoke zero English, and photobombed this wedding basically the entire time. We attempted asking them if we could have just a tiny moment with space, but that was a no. We still killed it though 😉

07.24.16 – The Arbors in Cleveland NC –
JR and Sarah show it’s okay to have your own personality shown in your wedding! Cowboy boots and hats never looked so good

07.31.16 – Fawn Lake Country Club in Spotsylvania Virginia –
These two had something sweet and beautiful up their sleeves…
During their first dance, they celebrated Heather’s grandparents’ wedding by showcasing some of their wedding photos from their day! Classic beauty runs in this family08.20.16 – The Lodge on Hatley Farm in Albemarle North Carolina –
Well, someone forgot the groom has a twin, and about had a heart attack when said twin came around Dakota on her wedding day. That someone would be me! But their day was beautiful, and the right twin aka groom was blown away when he saw his bride
09.03.16 – The Palisades Country Club in Charlotte North Carolina –
I am a huge dog lover (obviously), and when Tori mentioned having their furbaby Max brought in for some photos, I was SO. EXCITED.
09.11.16 – The Cotton Gin in Monroe North Carolina –
These two got married on a special day that’s shared with Katie’s parents, and their day was complete with a TACO TRUCK. I loved all their moments, but something super special happened during the reception… Katie’s dad went to dance with her mom for their anniversary, only to surprise her with a stunning ring to celebrate!

09.16.16 – Hilton Charlotte University Place in Charlotte North Carolina –
Photobombed yet again. This time, it was geese. Hilarious geese fishing all throughout the ceremony. Melissa and Jacob got free entertainment!

09.24.16 – Separk Mansion in Gastonia North Carolina –
If ever there was a wedding where I felt like I’d walked into a styled shoot, it was this. We had so much wonderful down time to capture every tiny detail, Phillip and Eric, and then had a casual yet elegant (and insanely fun) rest of the evening. There’s no hiding their personalities!
10.01.16 – Hill Center in Washington DC –
These two. My heart. We had only met officially once just two weeks before their wedding, but it was an instant connection when we first chatted. Their day was completely ideal, classic, and their love was thoroughly felt in every way. Their first look struck me right in the heart, and I’m sure it will for you too
10.07.16 – Champagne Manor in Monroe North Carolina –
Now, when this inquiry came in, I questioned everything. A Canadian couple. We get TONS of spam all the time, so this instantly had me thinking it wasn’t real. They were too beautiful. Obviously a fake inquiry. To my surprise (because I called the venue to verify this was legit), they were completely real, hearts of gold, and their story will forever be near and dear to my heart. Morgan had lost her father when she was younger, and there was a hurricane coming through on her wedding day. Having lost my grandmother, I’d heard that butterflies were a symbol of our loved ones visiting, and in the midst of a hurricane, a tiny little yellow butterfly caught my eye as it fluttered just behind Morgan during her bridals. In the rain. I got a shot of it as bokeh in the background, and then I stopped, lowered my camera, and told Morgan. Everyone was in instant tears as they saw this, and we all knew her father was there with her throughout this special day.
10.08.16 – Hotel Concord in Concord North Carolina –
Day two of hurricaning (totally a verb now) came for these lovebirds, but they didn’t let it get them down. Everything was upbeat, happy, and full of life as they combined their families into one
10.30.16 – Appalachian Farm Weddings in Asheville NC –
Well, this one is obviously special because it’s my brother’s wedding! But their wedding had a ton of random complications, including at least three flat tires for folks in the wedding party alone, and Emily’s pup that was supposed to walk with her down the aisle decided to take a five mile run shortly before the wedding. We all got in cars, and traveled around this new town searching endlessly for him before it just came time to head to the venue. I was insanely worried, but tried my best not to let it show, and just before it was time for Emily to get ready to walk down the aisle, her uncle called saying Kato had been found, was being given a bath, and would be there ASAP! It was seriously a miracle, and their day was magical
11.04.16 – Platform 9 and 3/4 (jk – The Wallace Lodge) North Carolina –
This day was bittersweet for me. I loved watching Katia and Tommy get married, BUT I knew this was one of the last times I’d get to see them anytime soon since they’d move to Italy shortly after this. I LOVE these guys so so much. Their love story is so unique and beautiful, and Katia has been a dear friend to me since 2007; to see her so happy really meant the world to me. Also, they had endless Harry Potter references throughout their day – TOTAL WIN. 

11.05.16 – Kannapolis City Club in Kannapolis North Carolina –
Rachelle and Adam felt like old friends the moment I met them (which was the day of their wedding!), and it was obvious their platform is built on happiness and laughter. Adam is a dancing machine, and that paired with what Patty, Rachelle’s stepmom, had planned meant everyone had the time of their lives that night! Confetti poppers, hats and sunglasses, fog machines, and bubble machines – legit. Rachelle wanted to honor her mother, who had passed, by wearing her jewelry the day of her wedding, and it brought this classic beauty to complete her romantic look, and was a sweet sentiment cherished by everyone that knew and loved her.
Best exit ever:11.12.16 – The Peninsula Club in Charlotte North Carolina –
Another photobomb, but this one isn’t so funny. At least it wasn’t at the time… Baby copperhead. Snake. NOPE. It slithered out right when we started photos down by the dock, and that was ALL anyone could think of, especially me since I knew that meant probably many more right there under me (!!!!), so we took this quick shot that I love, and got OUT. Oh, the fun that we have! Shoutout to Chelsea for watching my back for this wedding – literally.
Me: “SAY CHEESE… GREAT. RUN AWAY.”12.10.16 – Morrow Mountain in Albemarle North Carolina –
This was a surprise last minute wedding that meant a lot to me to get to do. I’d been incredibly shy and kept to myself in high school, but Tiffany always made a point to reach out. We got to be roomies on a senior trip to Virginia, and it honestly made me wish I’d gotten to know her sooner! With her wedding coming up, I got to jump in and photograph her and Justin — annnnnd got to see my brother in suspenders and a bow tie HAH. It was the perfect wedding to end the year on!
Just look at how happy and excited Justin is to see Tiffany!And there ya have it! My (almost) complete list of weddings for the year { one last surprise up this sleeve before 2017 😉 }, and tips to help you start planning your wedding. Can’t wait to share the new and fun stories of 2017! If you are looking for a photographer, let’s chat 🙂 You can visit my website at

All the pretty on the daily:



All the pretty on the daily: