I had to go back into my e-mail and refresh my memory. Michael e-mailed me first in December 2010 to inquire about having us photograph him and his fiancee Annalisa’s wedding. They were both from New Jersey, but graduated from NC State and were currently living here and going back and forth over whether or not to have their wedding in NC or NJ. I met with them, we loved each other, they decided to have their wedding in New Jersey, and they decided to take us with them to photograph our first New Jersey wedding (NEAT).

In between booking them for their wedding and their actual wedding, I went over to Annie’s to take photographs of her cat and dog (Pookie and Sabrina, respectively). We got along super well (you’d be surprised how quickly you bond with a stranger when laying on the carpet shaking cat treats around above your head) and realized that we had many similar interests (Annie’s a World War II and True Blood buff and obsessed with cats). One of the things I remember her saying during that time was that Michael wasn’t sure whether or not I would find it appropriate or weird if he friended me on Facebook, and that he wasn’t sure what to do about that, which I found really funny. At some point, Michael came to Annie’s mom’s house just as I was leaving, and asked about bringing Beatles props to their engagement shoot (Michael is a huge Beatles fan, and Annie loves the Doors). At this point, I was really loving the two of them as I was obsessed with the Beatles from about 3rd-8th grade (as I am sure anyone who knew me then can attest to), but the deal was permanently sealed with Geoff shot their engagement session with me, and it was discovered that they both have practically every Seinfeld episode memorized. Um, friends for life? Done.

At some point after the engagement session, they invited us over to their house (they had just bought it!), and we bought them a horror movie anthology collection as a housewarming gift (did we mention they also are horror movie obsessed?). Geoff learned that they have a designated horror movie room that has both a giant Friday the 13th poster and New York Yankees memorabilia… and a bromance was born. They are also the only two people we know who literally have matching his-and-her machetes in preparation for any zombie apocalypses that may occur (very useful people to know although I get kind of nervous whenever Annie brings them out). We’ve been seeing them just about every week ever since. They’re great hang out friends. The type who understand that we don’t actually want to go out, but would rather just sit there and talk or play board games or watch bad movies. We love them. We love them sooo much. And it was such a great honor to be at their wedding as friends now… and to hear Annie’s incredible New Jersey accent in its proper place. And the whole thing went off without incident, too… except a teensy weensy little infection that spread rapidly through the bridal party that caused them to crave brains.

First Dance: “These Arms of Mine” – Otis Redding

Bride’s Occupation: Full time French tutor

Groom’s Occupation: Mortgage QA Analyst at Wells Fargo

How You Met: At a locker in our high school’s hallway in Tom’s River, New Jersey in 2003. We have been together ever since!

Interesting Bride Fact: Has a collection of 72 Chapsticks and “hoards, I mean, collects” fake eylashes

Interesting Groom Fact: I love horror movies… but the classics!!! Such as Friday the 13th, Night of the Living Dead, the Evil Dead, etc.

Honeymoon Destination: The Bahamas – Sandals

Date: May 19, 2012

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Eagle Ridge Golf Club // Lakewood, New Jersey

Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn // Lakewood, New Jersey

Officiant: Reverend Patrick Sheehan

Cake: Piece O’ Cake

Hair: Profiles Hair Salon

DJ: Sound Connection Entertainment // Jason Jani

Greg is called “Grisha” by Abby, her family, and subsequently Geoff and myself, and will therefore be known as Grisha for the rest of this post. The reason this post is so very long is that it’s kind of an engagement session+wedding rolled into one. They wanted to use their engagement session as a first look + wedding pictures instead of doing their newlywed photos on the day of. Unfortunately, we got about five minutes into it when the rain set in. And we’re talking monsoon style rain tapering off into a steady pour. We decided to move them to their wedding day, and we got in about 1.5 hours worth of pictures on their friend’s farm. Abby wore a vintage 1960s dress with a feather hair fascinator that she made. Her earrings were also handmade by Abby and Grisha…made from the plastic ring-sizer kit that Grisha bought when he was trying to figure out her ring size.

Their invitations were also handmade…courtesy of their printer and an atlas they bought. They printed the invitations and folded various sections of the atlas maps for envelopes. They kept the Newfoundland envelope. It’s where they plan on going for their honeymoon. Abby’s mom collected all of the materials for their centerpieces from every place imaginable. She’s been collecting since before they were engaged. “It gotten a lot worse since the engagement happened,” said Abby. I was told that I should probably receive a tetanus shot before photographing the wedding. Grisha’s mother sewed the chuppah and the poles were made from bamboo from the farm where we took their pictures. The cocktail hour was held before the wedding much to the delight of the guests. There was no aisle in the ceremony so I photographed Abby and her father walking to the Top of the Hill from the Carolina Inn. Grisha’s thumbprint is on the inside of Abby’s ring. Instead of a receiving line, the couple opted to serve ice cream to all their guests. There could not be two kinder people on the planet.

I recently started asking some questions to my couples for the blog. Sometimes they answer, sometimes they don’t. Here are Abby and Grisha’s:

First Dance Song [Carolyn’s Answer]: None. After breaking the glass, Abby and Grisha’s guests erupted into spontaneous cheering and dancing, much to the plan of the newlyweds (hence the cocktail hour before the wedding).

Bride’s Occupation: Research assistant, currently applying to medical school, but will probably be applying again next year. So it goes.

Groom’s Occupation: Self-employed fleet GPS tracking device installer.

How You Met: Elevator! At Russian Language Summer Program at Middlebury College.

Interesting Bride Fact [Carolyn’s Answer]: Abby didn’t answer this, so I’ll use this opportunity to tell everyone that we creepily have the same purse, only in different colors. We both got it from Etsy from different sellers, but it’s the same purse. She also has other cute purses with birds. I used to have cute purses with birds until I literally wore a hole through the straps. We’re kind of purse soulmates.

Interesting Groom Fact: Grisha vermicomposts – yes that’s right, there’s a bin of worms in our apartment that he feeds our fruits and vegetables and shredded paper to.

Honeymoon Destination: Newfoundland, Canada (the whole thing! Not just St. Johns or Gros Morne National Park) – but not until summer 2012 and only if I get into medical school.

Date: October 22, 2011

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery // Chapel Hill, NC


Florist: Abby+Grisha made their flowers and boutonnieres using flowers from the Carrboro Farmers Market the morning of their wedding.

Pie: Top of the Hill

Officiant: Robin Renteria

Hair/Makeup: Destenee

Day-Of Coordinator: Not Your Grandmother’s Wedding // Chrissy Brady

Photobooth: Five Star Amusements // Bob Haggarty


How much do we love Martha and Justin? Let me count the ways:

1. They took us to Chicago for their engagement session.

2. Martha likes to send me links about glow-in-the-dark cats.

3. They agreed to a Back to the Future themed wedding… but somehow that fell through.

4. They are smart: Justin is an astrophysicist and Martha is some sort of developmental biologist who holds some sort of job studying fish hearts (sorry, Martha, for butchering your official title… all I can remember are fish hearts).

5. They wanted to have their final consult over pizza… and any couple that wants to have a consult over pizza is a-okay with me (gluten-free for me, of course).

There are lots of other ways, but we all know I’m bad with math and science, so I’m going to stop at 5 because that’s a reasonable number. May we now present to you Martha and Justin’s wedding! It was full of sciencey goodness, rolling heads, blue shoes, and lots of salsa dancing. Read on, friends!

Date: September 3rd, 2011

Ceremony Venue: Immaculate Conception // Durham, NC

Reception Venue: Kirby Horton Hall at Duke Gardens // Durham, NC

Day of Coordinators: C and D Events

Catering: Durham Catering

Non-Bouquet Florist: Dan and Ethel Vogel

Bouquet Florist: Flowers on Broad Street

Transportation: Jason Clark

Cake: Daisy Cakes

Hair/Makeup: Posh the Salon // Durham, NC

DJ: Cortland Williams

How pretty is our Martha? I loved her hair and veil. It fits her spunky personality perfectly. She’s beautiful! Also, digging the blue wedding shoes.

Their wedding centerpieces were fantastic. They laid pieces of different fabrics down the tables as runners, but the fabric was patterned and gave the tables a sort of antique-y feel. They coupled these with wild flowers in mason jars and old-timey science books. Yes, there was Solaris and Space Odyssey. It was an adorable and very tasteful way to incorporate their love of science. :) Later (a few pictures down), you’ll see their computation guest book and the little tubes that Martha took from her lab to fill with M&Ms as favors, haha. Brilliant!

Martha’s wedding ring is a sapphire and we loved Justin’s tie!

The stories behind the pictures below: Martha and Justin had a regular first dance, but they also had a choreographed dance. You see, Martha and her family are super good salsa dancers. Martha’s family frequently make fun of Justin for his white-boy dance moves, so Martha’s been teaching him. I’d say he’s doing quite well.

While it ended in tragedy, it was the best cake cutting ever while it lasted. Note Martha’s head in the middle tipping a little too far to the right… then it’s gone. Martha came up to me afterward and said, “So what does that mean?” and I said, “Good luck?” :) Justin was very concerned.

Geoff and I excessively documented the little boy below throughout the afternoon, as neither one of us can resist a kid playing a Gameboy in the middle of a wedding. The following are pictures of this adorable ring bearer being completely in the zone while everyone dances away around him.

Loved the streamer exit, Martha’s dad’s exit, and Geoff’s awesome picture below to the right. :)

We love you, Martha and Justin! I’d say good luck and that we’d hope to see you in the future but we have a pizza date in the near future… and I hope that you both find jobs in Raleigh and get used to the total lack of public transportation so that Justin doesn’t get too sad and convince you both to move back to Chicago. It’s warm here! And we like you guys a lot!