Let me preface this blog post by saying that this was a commitment ceremony rather than a wedding, but “Raleigh Commitment Ceremony Photographer” is kind of a mouthful, so the header says it’s a wedding. :) But a terrific commitment ceremony it was. Just absolutely beautiful. Geoff and I had never photographed anything at Snipes Farm Retreat before, but I can soundly say that it’s my new favorite venue hands down. There isn’t an photogenic area within a mile of the property. Just gorgeous and absolutely perfect for our environmentally-conscious couple, Melanie and Eric. And, to be honest, I ran home after the rehearsal and called Geoff to tell him we totally should’ve had our Halloween-themed wedding here, had we known it existed. It would’ve been perfect! But alas. Anyway, we were super happy and thrilled to shoot here. Roger, the owner, couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating, and their celebration was stellar. Living in Boston, Melanie and Eric came back down to North Carolina (where they first met in undergrad at UNC) to have their ceremony with close family, friends, and adorable details. I apologize in advance for this super long blog post, but I really couldn’t choose. :)

Date: July 16th, 2011

Ceremony+Reception Venue: Snipes Farm Retreat // Chapel Hill

Officiant: Rev. Robin Renteria

Florist: Bluebird Meadows (Alice)

Videographer: Rachel Julkowski

Caterer: Vilmala’s Curryblossom Cafe

Pies: Scratch (Phoebe Lawless)

Popsicles: Locopops

Dress: Chrissy Wai-Ching

Bluebird Meadows farm did a ridiculously awesome job of the flowers, and Melanie and Eric chose succulent plants to give for their favors (ours are growing on our deck!).

I could not possibly love this photo more, and I’m predicting that my mom could not love this photo less. ;) But hey, I’m a little offbeat, Melanie and Eric are a little offbeat, and together  we all decided that this would be hilarious and/or kinda weird and/or adorable. Or maybe all at the same time. :) When you find a fake cow skull at your venue, you gotta use it, right?

Above: the chocolate chip cookie mix in mason jar favors! Below: the beautiful pies from the bakery of Phoebe Lawless, complete with the tiny clay turtle and octopus as pie toppers. :)

Melanie wore a beautiful handmade purple dress with a tiny succulent plant in her hair, which was so very her and so very them. Best hair ever! Eric wore the vest/tie combo, which, I gotta say, is a great option for guys getting married in the South in the summertime. It looks nice but is much cooler than the full suit.

For those who follow the CSP business page on Facebook, you know I’ve been talking about this for a very long time… and here it is… and it did not disappoint. The Unity Volcano!!! Handmade by Melanie’s talented sister Audrey, the Unity Volcano was seriously epic. I just about died when I saw it. Tiny hand-painted wooden dinosaurs and palm trees, as well as Dora, Melanie’s super fat cat, stood guard over the seriously awesome volcano and waited patiently for the ceremony. :)

Rev. Robin Renteria officiated the beautiful ceremony with grace. What a wonderful woman! This was our first time working with her, and we absolutely adore her!

They chose to pass their rings around in a tiny glass bottle for people to bless or give good wishes to. It’s was a beautiful part of the ceremony.

And here it is… the unveiling of the Unity Volcano. :D

GOOD TIMES. We predict this will spawn multiple copycat Unity Volcanoes which will launch Audrey’s awesome Unity Volcano making career.

After the ceremony, our newly united couple walked down to the lake and had a couple minutes of private time, which is seriously highly recommended. They didn’t even want me with them, which is good. Sometimes couples need that breather in their day.

Best. Guestbook idea. Ever. Melanie made these herself and printed them out after not finding a guest book she liked. They were two-sided and whole punched and fit into a photo album binder. They asked questions such as wishes/advice for the couple, where they should travel, predictions for the future, and you draw pictures of yourself. It kept everyone thoroughly occupied and had me cracking me. Every hour or so I went back and checked on it to read the new ones. So funny.

Above: Drawing of myself and Geoff, done by yours truly. Also, predictions for Melanie and Erick in the future: Robots. And, one of my favorites of the evening: “Don’t be afraid to talk with an accent – it keeps things fresh.” Below: In lieu of a DJ, the couple had multiple games scattered throughout the farm. Everyone had a great time enjoying them and it was totally different and relaxing. And, thankfully, I went home without the Cha Cha Slide stuck in my head.

Fidelma, who brought the rings after the ring passing ceremony up to the front by the volcano, was jokingly being called Gollum by everyone, transporting the rings to Mt. Doom, our Unity Volcano. So, naturally, we had to re-create it. Fidelma, wherever you are, if you have a Facebook account, you need to make this your profile picture for the rest of your life. Also, thanks for being the best sport ever!

And yes, ring shots with Jenga! Geoff’s dream ring shot come true.

This scale is just sitting outside the venue, which to me was a total sign we should’ve had our wedding here. But it’s totally old! I freaked out when I saw it and everyone who didn’t know we’re from Pittsburgh looked at me kinda weird. Pittsburgh has always ended with an ‘h’ except for the time period of 1890-1911, when it briefly dropped the ‘h’. So this scale is old. And awesome!

In lieu of a first dance, they held a Melanie and Eric trivia game! It was hilarious and the answers were off the wall. Grading it was amusing to say the least.

Hey local Triangle peeps! Did you know Locopops can come to your wedding!? They apparently totally can! And had I known this, I would’ve been all over it for our wedding last year! Yet another failure on our wedding that this day brought to light. However, we had fun eating them. Melanie and Eric had pies, brownies, chocolate chip cookie mix, and Locopops… to which Geoff delightfully proclaimed to me, “They have all their dessert bases covered!”

This is my first wedding to end with Chinese Wish Lanterns instead of sparklers, and I must say they are gorgeous! You must be a decent amount away from any other land or airport due to the fire and the flying and the flaming things made of paper going high into the sky, but it’s pretty!

Congratulations, Melanie and Eric! We hope you had a great trip to the mountains and love the pictures upon your return. :) Have a lovely life in Boston and we hope you visit us someday again in the south!

 

Remember our UNC fans Janice+Dan? They’re back! This time it’s their wedding photos and we were so excited! Janice and Dan are the perfect couple, exhibited by how much they crack each other up and the fact that their friends started calling them “Danice.” They’re super sweet people and have a wonderful family and friend base to boot. We felt totally welcome and part of the family, despite the fact that we sometimes didn’t speak the language. :) Dan is Filipino-American and Janice is Taiwanese-American, so there were lots of different traditions and cultures thrown into the mix during their wedding day, and it was beautiful! Their wedding was held at the Carolina Inn because they met during their freshman year at UNC almost ten years ago. Today, Dan is in his residency to become a neurologist and Janice is a public health research analyst. Now they’re married, and will live happily ever after! :)

Date: June 18, 2011

Ceremony+Reception Venue: The Carolina Inn // Chapel Hill, NC

Officiant: Ms. Jennifer Duffy

Cake: Sweet Memories

Florist: Tre Bella

Coorindator: Bliss by Sam // Sam Dockery

Makeup: Makeupforyourday // Jennifer Parker-Buenviaje

DJ: DJ Island Sound // Peter

Our bride decided a nap was in order. A good nap sets the tone for the day. ;) Janice had two lovely dresses – one traditional American wedding dress, and one Chinese wedding dress! Gotta love a bride with two dresses and two shoes. :)

Our friends at Makeupforyourday did a wonderful job on the hair and makeup! And Tre Bella, the florist, had gorgeous floral arrangements!

We had the pleasure of working with Sam Dockery and her girls from Bliss by Sam for the coordination. :) They were so awesome to have around!

I’m pretty sure this is when they realized I was standing in the shower to get this shot.

Janice and I were discussing the first look while she was getting her hair done. Geoff and I coordinate the first look setup via cell phone, and we had it all planned out. However, someone in Janice’s camp mentioned something about a squirt gun, and Janice decided that ambushing Dan via water pistol was by far the best idea, and I couldn’t have agreed more. Best. First. Look. Ever.

…Dan quickly regained control of the squirt gun. :( Hahahaha.

This middle shot is entitled The Middle School Dance.

I don’t think I could’ve had a lovelier bride. Janice is simply stunning. And just LOOK at her beautiful bridesmaids! Of course, the gentlemen were awfully dashing as well.

Janice and Dan incorporated a few Filipino traditions into their wedding ceremony such as the coin ceremony and the chord and veil.

So let’s talk a little bit about the weather. The weather looked great all week. Even the day of, it looked great. A bit overcast? Maybe. But great. Sun was shining while all the parents were seated. Then somewhere around the middle of the ceremony our skies quickly darkened and the wind picked up like no other. Janice and Dan lit a unity candle, which was quickly extinguished by the wind. ;) At this point, we were becoming a little concerned. :)

The ceremony was finished quickly and we ran inside, just as it started to pour. :) Thankfully, rain is good luck on your wedding day! And also – we did the family portraits and bridal party beforehand, so it was easier to just do two people inside than it would be to do large groups. And I think they turned out great! Thanks to Bliss by Sam for her quick layout knowledge and to the Carolina Inn for having an awesome building inside and out.

Thanks to Sweet Memories for the beautiful cake and for DJ Island Sound for rocking out the evening. :)

The bride and groom went into a secret choreographed first dance!

Congratulations, Janice and Dan! I hope your honeymoon was splendid. We had an amazing time and hope to see you guys again!

i had the great opportunity to photograph a wedding with one of the most beautiful couples (inside and out) in chapel hill on october 2nd. meet melissa and jimmy. :) they met at clemson university and, after a long bout of long distance wedding planning with jimmy stationed in germany, melissa moved there with him. they love it and i could not be happier for them! they’re both genuinely very sweet and nice people… not to mention the total rocking-ness of their bridal party!! this was one of those weddings where i get home and i actually still have energy left because everything was so relaxed and people were so supportive. worked with some great vendors on this one as well!

the girls got their hair done at the aveda institute and went on to the church of st. thomas more to get ready before the ceremony.

st. thomas more catholic church chapel hill, nc bride getting ready st. thomas more catholic church chapel hill, nc

the picture on the left below is just after her bridesmaids had literally lifted her up and set her in her dress, haha. the picture on the right is melissa wrapping her grandfather’s rosary he used as a child around her wrist as a tribute.

bride rosary

i love seeing the expressions from the couples during the walk down the aisle. thanks to geoff for this shot. :)

ceremony groom walking down the aisle wedding ceremony

st. thomas more is a catholic church and they did a full mass wedding, but it wasn’t without the occasional giggles. :)

st. thomas more chapel hill wedding ceremony st. thomas more chapel hill wedding ceremony st. thomas more wedding ceremony

what a lovely group of girls! i love black bridesmaid dresses!

bridesmaids black dresses

and what a good looking group of guys, of course! jimmy had on his uniform and the females in attendance were swooning.

groomsmen dress blues

the wedding reception was held at the carolina inn in chapel hill, nc. we got their formals outside because it’s a beautiful building. the reception room was the old well room and was very near to the UNC game party that was happening, so we had the occasional congratulatory yells from strangers in the building. gotta love it!

carolina inn wedding pictures

one of the bridal party members coined this their zoolander pose, and that’s pretty much accurate.

the carolina inn wedding photographer the carolina inn wedding pictures

this is my favorite of the day. melissa is gorrrrgeous. i’m pretty sure i could put her in some sort of giant pumpkin costume or clown wig and she’d still be just as gorgeous.

bridal portrait chapel hill wedding pictures carolina inn

ahhhh! this kills me. :) melissa and jimmy had this picture taken at his formal before his commissioning in the army and it’s framed in their house. they wanted to recreate it on their wedding day now that he has his new uniform and her dress was a wedding dress this time! the recreation is planned to hang next to it. i think we did a darn good job recreating!

August 08 011

north carolina wedding photographer

they’re both really big clemson tiger fans and had a purple and orange tribute candy bar which was great! so of course the rings had to go in the multi-colored M&Ms.

chapel hill wedding photographer

carolina inn wedding

wedding portraits

first dance

katie cathey of events by la fête rocked out the wedding reception in the old well room! and the cake walk did a fantastic job on their cake.

Events By La Fête

wedding reception carolina inn

carolina inn old well room wedding reception

wedding reception carolina inn old well room

i’m always a sucker for the guys to break out into random group singing in the middle of the reception. my favorite part of any day.

wedding reception carolina inn

the fantastic mark mcnally of the joe bunn dj company threw a fantastic dance party!

joe bunn dj company

carolina inn old well room

melissa used her mother’s garter and was not planning on having a garter toss as she was just generally against it. at some point in the evening we got word that jimmy had negotiated the garter toss…and i’m glad he did because the below picture is adorable.

garter removal

wedding reception

carolina inn wedding reception

i love a good bubble exit.

bubble exit wedding

carolina inn wedding

this wedding was such a joy to work on. thank you to melissa, jimmy, their awesome bridal party and supportive family and friends, katie cathey, mark mcnally, and the carolina inn for being so wonderful! have a GREAT time in germany you guys and keep in touch!