There are some things in life that are just better together. (I'm stopping myself from using childhood metaphors related to foods...ahem...Peanut butter & Jelly. Cheese & Crackers! Peas & Carrots!!!) Seriously, though. Katie and Ryan are one of those couples that I believe it will always be said of them that they complete each other.
Katie with her vibrancy and waves of laughter. Ryan with his quiet, firm resolve. When you bring them together, you truly get to witness a remarkable picture of compatibility.
Their celebration really began at the rehearsal dinner which was to scale with a full reception. The groom's family held the dinner at Benvenue Country Club in Rocky Mount. The place was decked out in a southern golfing theme which fit the night perfectly. There was a live band from Roanoke, and both families danced the night away. I was able to see how much each family loved life, dancing and just being together at the rehearsal.
They held their wedding and reception at one of my all time favorite venues -- Rose Hill Plantation in Nashville, NC. If you're considering an historic venue in eastern North Carolina, Rose Hill Plantation should be at the top of your list. It dates back to 1762, and the grounds of the plantation, the Manor House and Nathan Hall hold true to their historic roots. When you drive down Rose Hill Lane, it really feels like you are stepping back in time. It's old south charm at its finest.
There were four bridesmaids and four groomsmen. The guys were funny and brought a great sense of ease to the day. All of the bridesmaids teared up when they saw Katie in her dress. They were so happy to be with Katie which is a testament to who she is as a person.
Katie's mom, who is a very quiet, thoughtful mother, gave a touching toast to Katie before the First Look, and all the girls in the room started crying. It was very clear that Katie and her mom are best friends. I could also see that they had a great time planning this wedding together.
Katie chose navy and coral as her theme colors, and it was gorgeous. The floral arrangements were stunning. Katie’s bouquet was mostly white with light coral/pink accent flowers, with a couple of green sprigs. The rest of the flowers were beautiful coral and pink tones all mixed in together. Katie even added some handmade touches of her own to the reception. Everything fit perfectly with the rich, stately feel of the plantation.
This is actually a funny side story, but I have to give some attention to Groom and Mom, too! Ryan spent the night at his parents' house - to his mom's utter delight - and woke up to a ball of nerves. He asked his mom for a Xanax to calm him down, but she thought he said Zantac...to help with indigestion. A little while later, he commented on how the Xanax wasn't helping at all, and it was then that she realized the mistake. He ended up being grateful that she didn't give him Xanax, and we all had a good laugh over it. It will be one of those treasured memories that resurfaces occasionally at family get-togethers to bring back some of the joy this day held.
If I had to choose one favorite moment it would be during the First Look when everything came to a beautiful crescendo once Katie and Ryan saw each other in the Pecan Grove. I could see a calmness come over Ryan once he laid eyes on his bride. Katie was radiant, giggling with laughter, and so sweet to Ryan. It was here at the First Look that she actually said they really are “better together”. They were so happy and relaxed it was easy for me to see how true that is.
Each wedding I photograph gives me an opportunity to see a unique expression of love. In each new couple, I get to watch a love unfold that is unlike any I’ve seen before, because every couple brings with them their individual expressions in their relationships.
Every detail planned into a wedding day (and many that weren’t planned), give us a hint of what is truly important to a couple. Meredith and Bill gave me many of these beautiful little nuggets during their day.
Meredith could probably win an award for most-relaxed-bride-before-her-wedding. Seriously. Her only bridesmaid was her sister, and they spent the entire morning just lounging on the bed watching tv together. When it was time to start the more formal aspects of getting ready, she moved into them with the same ease she had while relaxing with her sister. Not once did Meredith seem anxious or overwhelmed. She took the entire day with grace and laughter.
Bill, on the other hand, seemed more like a ball of nerves while getting ready. But, there was a moment when time seemed to stand still for Bill. Meredith had written him a letter which he read by the stained glass windows in the chapel. He cried as he read her words. After that, it felt like the nerves were completely settled. It was like she had somehow found a way to impart her ease and grace to him.
They held a candlelight ceremony at All Saints Chapel in downtown Raleigh, NC. It’s a beautifully quaint chapel with dark wood ceiling beams and dark wood floors joined by bright, white walls. It was in this chapel that I witnessed one of the most remarkable demonstrations of love I have ever seen. They had given each guest a candle to hold. After Meredith and Bill lit the unity candle, they walked together to light their parents’ candles. Then, each person passed the flame to the next person. Eventually, the whole room was glowing from the flames of Meredith and Bill’s candle. It was a powerful representation of how their love influences the next person, and how contagious and luminous love really is.
Their reception was fun and full of life! They had a live band which always charges the atmosphere. A favorite among wedding guests was the photobooth Meredith and Bill had set up. Meredith’s sister, Mary Elizabeth, gave a touching speech. She choked up in the middle of it, and everyone was able to peer into their sisterly bond.
The entire day was filled with lovely expressions of Meredith and Bill’s special commitment for each other. And, I’m certain everyone in attendance was as blessed by their love as I was.
I won’t lie...a Tuscan wedding is definitely in my top-dream-weddings-to-photograph list. I mean, can you imagine?
Well, I haven’t photographed a wedding in Tuscany (yet!), but Carley and Ryan seriously gave me the next best thing right here in North Carolina. Hidden away in the Yadkin Valley’s rolling foothills is a hidden jewel owned by an Italian family who traces their ancestry back to 1348 Mantua, Italy where their family still lives today.
Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery practically transports you to their roots in Italy with their hand-crafted fine Italian wines and Tuscan-style villa. The wide-open rolling hills overlooking sprawling vineyards with picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains created a breathtaking setting for Carley and Ryan’s wedding.
Small and intimate, their wedding party consisted only of Carley’s sister as her bridesmaid and Ryan’s brother as his groomsman which really fit their personalities perfectly. Ryan and Carley are such a tightly knit pair...practically joined at the hip. It felt so easy and natural to see them pledge to join together as one. The reality of pledging her life to Ryan seemed to fully sink in as Carley slipped on her dress. During the ceremony, the officiant mispronounced Carley’s last name, and I’m telling you she must have giggled for a straight five minutes. Any jitters or butterflies she was feeling were lost in her laughter. That’s going down in history as one of my favorite wedding day highlights!
Another favorite moment was when I was able to photograph them alone in the golden light of sunset. They were both so thankful and happy to have some time to just be alone together. It was so clear how much they truly cherish one another.
The Raffaldini family and staff did an amazing job decorating and hosting. There were wine barrels situated around the property with lush arrangements of hydrangeas and other loose flowers. They were very kind and extremely knowledgable of their wines. The reception was held on the same patio as the ceremony which gave the entire event a warm, intimate feeling. During the reception, we danced under the stars. As you stepped away from the lights of the villa, you could see layers and layers of stars filling up the night sky. Absolutely breathtaking.