First Look Photos
Nothing is more beautiful than a bride’s smile on her wedding day, and Carrie’s enthusiastic smile shined from her early morning makeup session with Be Pretty Charlotte to the celebratory sparkler exit as she enjoyed every moment of her and Grady’s magical day. Carrie & Grady’s love for one another was undeniable to everyone who gathered to celebrate with them, which is why so many of their friends and family didn’t hesitate to travel from far and wide to take part in their important day.
On a sunny afternoon in downtown Raleigh, The Glass Box provided the perfect backdrop for both the Father-Daughter and the Bride & Groom’s First Look Photos. While the wedding party took pre-ceremony photos with Michelle Elyse Photography among the rooftops, the talented Mother of the Groom completed the finishing touches for the ceremony florals and decor she designed three floors below in The Stockroom at 230.
Following their beautiful, intimate, sunlit ceremony, guests were treated to cocktail and dinner receptions expertly prepared and served by the Empire Eats Catering team. In a unique twist to the traditional wedding party reception introductions, each bridesmaid and groomsman was introduced individually with a personal bio cleverly written by the newlyweds. The smiles and laughter that the personalized intros brought to each wedding party member were not only priceless, but set the tone for the fun, energetic evening that was to follow.
Thank you, Carrie and Brady, for entrusting us with your wedding day, which was so full of love that by the end of the night the entire Chestnut & Vine team felt like we were members of your family, too! May your bright smiles and love for one another continue to radiate throughout your entire lives together.
All Photos Courtesy of Michelle Elyse Photography
Carrie & Grady’s All-Star Vendor Team
Photographer: Michelle Elyse Photography
Venue: The Stockroom at 230
Day-of Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Wedding Logistics Coordinators
Caterer: Empire Eats Catering
Officiant: Mike Bourla
DJ: Steve Duncan
Emcee: Joe Hagan
Florals & Decor: Karen O’Brien
Hair/Makeup: Be Pretty Charlotte
Bridal Suite: The Glass Box
Rentals: CE Rental
As high school sweethearts who went on to become loyal NC State Alumni, Kaitlin and Chris set out to plan a unique wedding day that encompassed their love of family, friends, board games, cards, cornhole and all things Wolfpack, and they more than delivered by treating their guests to a fun-filled Game Night themed wedding reception at the NCSU Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center on the southern shore of Lake Raleigh.
The bride and her attendants began their day next door at The State View Hotel where they had their hair and makeup expertly done by the Wedding Hair By Liz team. Their outdoor ceremony on Park Alumni Center’s beautiful brick plaza was officiated by the Rev. Kayelily Middleton, whose insightful retelling of Kaitlin and Chris’s love story brought both laughter and a few tears to all who listened. Following the ceremony, guests were treated to drinks, delicious appetizers, cornhole, bocce ball, board games and a surprise visit from NC State’s very own Mr. & Mrs. Wuf during the cocktail reception. Prior to the start of dinner, guests were invited to answer trivia questions related to the newlyweds, and the guest who proved they knew them best won a prize! To top off the perfect Game Night themed wedding, Kaitlin and Chris kicked off their dinner reception with a rousing game of “Family Feud: Wedding Party Edition” followed by “Family Feud: Bride’s Family v Groom’s Family.” It can easily be said that a good time was had by all – which is exactly what Kaitlin and Chris wanted!
Congratulations, Kaitlin and Chris! It was an absolute pleasure to help you coordinate such a memorable wedding that was unlike anything we had ever done.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF FAITH TEASLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
Kaitlin & Chris’ All-Star Wedding Team
Photographer: Faith Teasley Photography
Wedding Coordinator: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination
Hotel: The State View Hotel
Florist: The English Garden
Hair/Makeup: Wedding Hair by Liz
Officiant: Rev. Kayelily Middleton
Dessert Bar: Sweet Cherry Bakery
Rentals: CE Rental
Lighting: Simpsound DJ & Lighting
Special Guest Stars: Mr. & Mrs. Wuf
Laura and Steve “Always” dreamed of having a magical wedding day, and on an early December evening, they turned The Cookery in downtown Durham into a romantic winter wonderland, thanks to the talents of renowned DC florist Kevin Canfield of K Aubrey Flowers, a close friend of the Bride & Groom. The delicate wintery whites of their candlelit ceremony were the perfect contrast to the warm navy and gold tones used throughout the cocktail and dinner receptions. Family and friends were treated to delectable appetizers and a savory dinner buffet expertly prepared by Durham Catering. Following a champagne toast and traditional cake cutting ceremony, Laura and Steve danced the night away with their family and friends to the sounds of DJ Damien Maass. The Newlyweds could not have asked for a more perfect beginning to their “Always”.
Laura & Steve’s All-Star Wedding Team
Venue: The Cookery – Durham, NC
Photographer: Brian Mullins Photography
Floral and Decor Design: K Aubrey Flowers
Day-of Wedding Coordinator: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination
Caterer: Durham Catering
Bar Service: The Cookery
Photo Booth: Spark Photo Booth
Rentals: American Party Rental
Officiant: Bob Bennett
Hair & Makeup: 140 Salon & Blow Dry Bar
Chalkboard Artist: Marika Wendelken Calligraphy
Hotel: The Durham Hotel
Transportation: US Coachways
All Photographs Courtesy of Brian Mullins Photography
This week I had the honor of being a guest on the popular Weddings for Real Podcast hosted by Megan Gillikin, owner of A Southern Soiree Wedding & Event Planning. I had so much fun talking with Megan about how Chestnut & Vine came to be and my approach to day-of wedding coordination. I even got to share a bit about my destination wedding to exotic Indiana and the time I had to coordinate 5 different transportation companies for the guests of a single wedding.
You can listen to our conversation here!
Katherine, a native of Wake Forest, NC, wanted her wedding day to be a reflection of her Southern roots with a touch of her and her fiancé Dan’s fun, laid back personalities. The historic Merrimon-Wynne House in Downtown Raleigh, with its quintessential mix of old Southern Charm and modern elegance, was the perfect setting for their Memorial Day Weekend wedding, and the weather was as equally as beautiful as the bride.
Katherine’s favorite wedding moment was having her and Dan’s closest family and friends all in one place to celebrate their marriage, which was poignantly commemorated in a post-ceremony photo taken by the immensely talented Griffin Davis of Griffin Hart Davis Photography. Their guests were treated to a delicious meal expertly prepared by Rocky Top Catering and entertained throughout the evening by Eddie Leonard Productions. It was the Father of the Bride, however, who brought down the house when he shared a hilarious letter written by a 13 year-old Katherine while she was away at summer camp. It was a glimpse into the love and laughter that will undoubtedly be at the core of their lasting relationship.
Congratulations, Katherine and Dan! It was the perfect wedding for a loving couple who could not be more perfect for each other. Thank you for allowing Chestnut & Vine to be a part of it!
Katherine & Dan’s All Star Wedding Team
Ceremony/Reception Venue: Merrimon-Wynne House
Photographer: Griffin Hart Davis Photography
Floral Design: Watkins Flowers of Distinction
Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination
Catering: Rocky Top Catering
Officiant: Ben Poston
Linen/Dinnerware Rentals: CE Rental
Decor Rentals: Homemade Bride
Hair/Makeup: Parlor Blow Dry Bar
Cake Design: Christi Butner
All Photos Taken by Griffin Hart Davis Photography
All Photos Taken by Griffin Hart Davis Photography
When planning their Memorial Day Weekend wedding in Downtown Raleigh, it was important to Christina and Lucas that their guests experience three things: good food, a great bar, and fun music. With the help of their all-star wedding vendor team and a distinct wedding vision, that is exactly what they delivered.
The sun shone brightly as Christina and Lucas’ family and friends gathered in the Courtyard tucked behind Gravy, one of Raleigh’s top Italian Restaurants, to witness the marriage of the Ohio bride to her North Carolina sweetheart. The bridesmaids wore blush dresses that were a perfect compliment to the gentlemen’s navy suits. The stunning blush and white bouquets were all designed by her talented bridesmaid, Valerie, and the Father of the Bride built the ceremony arbor.
It is often the unexpected imperfections that provide some of the biggest smiles on a couple’s wedding day, and so it was when their adorable flower girl got a sudden case of stage fright and made a bee-line for the sidelines. Impressively, her older brother didn’t miss a single beat and successfully carried his Aunt and Uncle’s wedding bands all the way up to the front of the aisle.
After the ceremony, the guests enjoyed risotto balls, antipasto and expertly made cocktails before heading to the reception in The Jiddi Space for a delicious family-style Italian meal. Afterwards they enjoyed an array of delicious desserts prepared especially for them by Gravy’s head chef. Once their guests were properly fed, Christina and Lucas led everyone back out to the Courtyard to complete their celebration with a night of dancing hosted by DJ Scotty Williams. It didn’t take long to realize that Lucas gets his impressive dance skills from his Mom when the two brought down the house with their surprise killer dance routine.
Christina and Lucas worked hard to give their guests an unforgettable evening of fun, and it was a joy to see them relish every second of their wedding day. What impressed me the most about these newlyweds is their innate ability to work as a team and their willingness to keep an open mind to new ideas so that their wedding would be their best day ever.
Congratulations, Christina and Lucas!
All Photos Courtesy of F8 Photo Studios
Christina & Lucas’ All-Star Wedding Team
Ceremony/Reception Venue: Gravy – The Jiddi Space
Photographer: F8 Photo Studios
Floral Design: Valerie Messmer
Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination
Linen Rentals: CE Rental
Hair/Makeup: Cori Lee Style
Transportation: Elevate Transportation
Tent/Dance Floor Rental: Dee-Jay Events
Upon meeting Jenn for the first time, I knew immediately that this was going to be a fun wedding to coordinate, and it did not disappoint. Jenn has an enthusiastic confidence and delightfully personable charm that makes everyone around her feel at ease. So, it is no wonder that the quiet, reserved John wasted no time asking Jenn to be his partner in life, and just as quickly as they got engaged, the couple found themselves on the wedding planning fast track when a cancellation allowed Jenn to have her dream Fall wedding at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, NC.
Jenn and John could not have asked for a more gorgeous October day on which to exchange their vows in front of their closest family and friends. A soft glow of sunshine encircled the Arboretum at Duke Gardens making it the perfect backdrop for the couple’s wedding ceremony. During the prelude, guests found themselves unconsciously humming along with the string quartet before realizing they were listening to the songs of Snow Patrol and other popular modern artists not often associated with either wedding ceremonies or orchestral music. A highlight of the ceremony was when Jenn was walked down the aisle by her parents to a bridal march arranged especially for the couple by Jenn’s sister and Maid of Honor, Amanda.
The evening continued with cocktail and dinner receptions catered by Durham Catering and music provided by All Events DJs, who helped kickstart the fun by inviting the newlyweds to have their first dance as husband and wife – a dance that perfectly captured Jenn & John’s unique personalities and will forever be remembered by their family and friends.
Congratulations, Jenn and John! Thank you for including Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination in your special day! It was one I’ll never forget.
A Special Thank You to RGB Insights for Sharing Their Incredible Photographs with Us
Jenn & John’s Wedding Team
Ceremony/Reception Venue: Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Photographer: RGB Insights
Floral Design: Pine State Flowers
Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination
Catering: Durham Catering Co.
Decor Rentals: American Party Rentals
Officiant: Perfect Ceremonies – Reverend Phran Gacher
Calligraphy/Chalkboard Design: One Fine Morning Lettering & Calligraphy
Hair/Makeup: Blo Salon – Brier Creek
Cake and Cupcake Design: The Cupcake Bar
Ceremony Music: Audrey Cook Quartet
DJ: All Events DJs
Lighting: Get Lit – Special Event Lighting
Transportation: Carolina Livery Services
And a Personal Shout Out to Christa for Introducing Chestnut & Vine to Jenn and John!
As soon as I met Emily and Kyle, I knew that these two were already a strong, supportive team, and when they became husband and wife on October 8, 2016 at The Matthews House in Historic Downtown Cary, NC, it was obvious to all in attendance that these newlyweds have what it takes to weather through any storm that crosses their path. Despite an uninvited wedding guest, who went by the name Hurricane Matthew, Emily and Kyle threw a festive, heartfelt wedding celebration that their family, friends and day-of wedding coordinator will never forget. Not once did the bride and groom let the stormy weather dampen their enthusiasm. Even with a power outage in the main house during cocktail hour and hurricane force winds whipping through the breezeway outside the ceremony and reception hall, never have I seen a bride and groom smile more on their wedding day than Emily and Kyle did. As you will see in their wedding photos below, their smiles and positive attitudes were contagious and felt by every person in the room. Kyle and Emily put together an all-star wedding team that didn’t miss a single beat and made sure that the party inside was just as high energy as the storm outside.
Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Travlos! It was an honor to coordinate your wedding day, and thank you for making my first experience in a hurricane an absolute blast!
All Photos Courtesy of Rachel Linder of Blue Barn Photography
In accordance with an old Southern tradition that wards off rain, the bride’s parents buried a bottle of bourbon on the grounds of The Matthews House one month before Emily & Kyle’s wedding day. While the bourbon might not have kept the rain away, we can thank it for keeping the power on in the reception hall while the rest of Historic Downtown Cary was experiencing a blackout.
Emily’s Bridesmaids get their first look at the gorgeous bride
Kyle & Emily’s Private “First Look”
Emily & her Dad went all out for their Father-Daughter Dance – big, happy smiles run in the family!
Not even Hurricane Matthew could stop these newlyweds from having their Grand Sparkler Exit!
And Emily & Kyle live Happily Ever After…
Emily & Kyle’s All-Star Wedding Team
Ceremony/Reception Venue: The Matthews House – Cary, NC
Photographer: Blue Barn Photography
Floral Design: Tre Bella Florist
Day-of Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination
Catering: Empire Eats Catering
Bartending Service: On the Rocks Bartending
Chalkboard Design: Chalkboards by Julie
Hair & Makeup: Hair & Makeup by Ashley Mooney
Cake Design: Simply Cakes
Officiant: Reverend Rick Edens
Reception Entertainment: Bunn DJ Company – Frank Meldau
Ceremony Music: Carolina Harp – Marilyn Weinand
Transportation: Triangle Car Service
For a bride to have her epic fairy-tale moment, classic literature and romantic comedies tell us that her groom must not see her in her wedding dress until she begins her walk down the aisle, but the emerging popularity of “First Look” photos on Pinterest and online bridal magazines have many couples rethinking this time old tradition. When recalling my own wedding day, I now realize the only thing I would do differently would be for Jason and me to ignore our traditional wedding preconception by having a First Look session of our own.
After watching my clients experience their own First Look Photo moments, I now realize that:
- By seeing each other one last time before becoming husband and wife, the bride and groom are able to share an intimate connection and sense of anticipation that gets lost in front of an audience;
- It is an opportunity for them to relish together the excitement that awaits them before they are launched into an emotional whirlwind of nerves, happiness, wonderment and fulfillment as their months of hard work and planning come to fruition;
- The intimate atmosphere of a First Look photo session allows the photographer to focus on tender glances and affectionate glimpses that result in unbelievably beautiful images; and
- Once the First Look takes place, the bridal party can take photos prior to the ceremony, too, which allows everyone, including the bride and groom, to attend the cocktail hour before the bar closes. And who doesn’t want to get their party started as soon as possible?!
Since we held our ceremony and reception in the same venue, we did not have the luxury of scheduling a 2-3 hour break between the ceremony and reception. Instead, Jason and I had approximately 60 seconds to ourselves after the ceremony before we rushed back out to greet all of our guests and begin the 70 minute dash to get all of our bridal party, family and couple photos completed, including a race in my friend’s minivan to have our wedding photos taken at my university’s most picturesque spot. Now I realize that every time I see the Sample Gates in person or on TV, they would be even more meaningful to me had it been where my soon-to-be husband had first seen me in my wedding dress. Plus, I so wish we had been able to enjoy even a portion of our cocktail reception with the passed hors d’oeuvres that I’m told were delicious and the incredibly talented jazz band that wowed our guests when they realized it was made up of middle school and high school students.
Do you want to experience the emotions of a First Look photo session but still have your mind set on sticking with tradition? Wedding photographers have come up with imaginative First Look settings that allow the bride and groom to share a moment together before their ceremony but still have their traditional walk down the aisle. Among the most popular photos are those of couples holding hands while standing on either side of a door and, like the photo below, of the bride and groom reading the letters they have written to each other.
My personal favorite is this Southern inspired “Romeo & Juliet” photograph taken at The Sutherland by my friends at the Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe.
Ultimately, the most important thing to consider is what best suits your personalities. Will having a First Look session ease your nerves or increase your worry that you’ll stammer your vows? Do you think you’ll miss out on quality time together if you wait for the traditional walk down the aisle, or do you have enough time between your ceremony and reception to fit everything in? Before deciding when you want to first see each other on your wedding day, ask yourselves which scenario will best capture the emotion you want to remember for the rest of your lives, discuss it with your photographer and wedding coordinator, and then go with your heart.
Special Thanks to Melissa Stallman at Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe for providing all of the beautiful First Look photographs featured in this month’s edition of ‘The Corner of Chestnut & Vine.” Please visit her site to view her online photo gallery. www.wakeforestportraits.com / 919.556.7149