Lauren is one of those impossibly beautiful gals, with the sweetest personality to match. She's the kind of girl you want to hate because she's so pretty.... but you can't because she will kill you with her kindness (and so will her entire family and her new hubby, Brett!)
Lauren and her mom asked for and took every piece of advice I could possibly give them. They were little sponges soaking up all the knowledge... my favorite kind of clients. When it came time for Lauren's bridal portrait, they wanted a beautiful, traditional location. I gave them a short list of spots around Charlotte that fit the bill... but ultimately, they knew someone who knew someone, who pulled some strings.... and we shot her bridal portrait at the Kannapolis Research Station's Murdock Labratory. I had never been inside, but Googling told me this place would be beautiful, and Google wasn't wrong. I arrived to a rotunda style building covered in white marble. It was incredible, and Lauren looked like she was right at home in her wedding gown there. Her mom informed me they'd never had anyone do bridals here before. I honestly don't know if this is something they'll offer in the future, but we were very respectful of the space, so I hope they will!
The image below on the right is the one they chose to print and frame. It was stunning!
I'll be the first to tell you, one of my biggest wedding regrets was skipping the bridal session. You see, I wore my mothers wedding dress that I'd had altered (to be strapless instead of long sleeve) and on our wedding day, things were so crazy, rushed that I don't think I really got to enjoy wearing it. It had a simple zipper that got zipped in 0.2 seconds.... no big ceremonial moment of "getting into the dress" for me. I was also busy micro managing 10000 other pieces of my wedding, that I could have delegated out (like tying ribbon on bouquets, and moving lamps... yes, for real).
*All images from Emily's bridal session at The Mayton Inn in Cary, North Carolina, dress from Gilded Bridal and bouquet from Blooming Branch Creative
"So glad I did this! It was such a great day and I was so thankful to see small changes I wanted to make to my dress prior to our wedding day."
SO! Here are six reasons you should absolutely NOT skip a bridal portrait.
1. See how your dress wears.
I remember just after I got married, I had a friend get married. She got dressed and started down the aisle with her dad, only to realize her dress was never hemmed!!! She had to wrangle holding it up the rest of the day to avoid tripping over it... such a nightmare!
2. Test your hair and makeup style
Most times if you are working with a reputable hair and makeup artist, they will include a trial run in their fee to work your wedding anyway. Now, some will tell you that this is not really an opportunity to do bridals because you may try many different styles and makeup looks, but you'll want to talk with them about that. However, it will be a good indicator of how your hair and makeup process will go, and how it will photograph! You might think you are caked with makeup, but photos may tell a different story. Of course photos aren't everything, so you want to make sure you look how you want in person, too.
3. Decide on jewelry
You may have several bracelets, necklaces and multiple pairs of earrings you've set aside. This is a great chance to try them and see which you prefer!
4. Test out your florist
Like hair and makeup artists, this might be something they include in their fee to do your wedding. You'll get to see how the colors, textures and size of your bouquet work with your dress. You may decide you want more of a certain flower, or less greenery. On the note of YOUR bouquet, have one made that you love. Spend extra to have your favorite flower, pretty silk ribbon, etc. Why? Because IT WILL BE IN ALL YOUR PHOTOS! You can skimp on the bridesmaids and centerpieces.... but please don't skimp on yours!! Also, I ask for it to be delivered to the bridal suite so I can photograph it with your other details... so it will be used in many different capacities.
5. Decide on undergarments
You'd be shocked how many times brides decide after their bridal portrait to take their dress to have cups and or boning sewn into their dress because trying to keep a strapless bra up and comfortable for 8+ hours sounds like a nightmare after only 2 for their bridal portrait. You'll also know what undies work and don't work under your skirt. I've watched so many gals go through different cuts, Spanx, commando, etc. trying to make sure their rear end looks flawless on their wedding day!
6. It's all about you
Let's face it, your wedding day is too.... but it's just different. The time flies on wedding days, and it's usually more about sticking to a schedule than getting to be doted on by you mama, sister or best friend. Having someone help you walk, hold your dress, fluff your train and slip your shoes on does not happen for more than five minutes on your wedding day, but on portrait days... it's like a full 2 hours of fanning you with palm fronds, and who doesn't love that!?
Since I have been photographing weddings on the coast more and more, I thought I'd share some tips to have a successful beach wedding. Note... a LOT of photographers hate shooting on the beach. I do not. I love it. Here we go!
1. Consider your the time of year you want to get married.
Summer is great and all.... but NO one wants to attend or be in a wedding party when it's 90 degrees. You're just asking too much of your makeup artist, hair stylist and guests. #rant (clearly I'm talking about the south... if you live in Maine and want a beach wedding... by all means, do you. And bring me... I've always wanted to go to Maine!)
If you MUST get married in summer on the beach, consider a sunrise ceremony. Yes, this will mean an early call time, but not melting... and being done with the whole shindig before lunch is dreamy. I've had one sunrise wedding and it was GLORIOUS. The beach was virtually empty, the temperature was delightful and I was back in bed by like 10AM. They served breakfast and mimosas, and then hit the beach for the rest of the day!
Erica and Jesse were married mid day at Shell Island Resort at Wrightsville Beach
Sun behind us, it was late afternoon.
2. Consider the direction your beach faces.
OK, this sounds extreme and probably silly to the average bride and groom... but here's why it's important.... the sun. The sun rises in the east, and sets in the west. If you are getting married on an island that runs north-south, that means the sun will rise over the ocean, and set over the land (we are talking east coast), if your island runs east-west, the sun will rise over one end of the island and set over the other... here's a visual. This is the southern end of North Carolina. The beaches east of the Cape Fear River, run north-south (Carolina Beach, Kure, etc.) while the islands west of the Cape Fear River run east-west (Bald Head Island, Oak Island, Holden, Ocean Isle, Sunset, etc.). If you elect to get married on a N-S island you're more likely to have harsh sunlight in front or behind your ceremony. So either your guests will be staring into the sun (before noon) or you will be lit with full sun in the evening (sun behind your guests, shining on you). If you select a E-W island, the sun will rise to the left, and set to the right in the case of the islands shown/listed. It will offer a little more directional light, and honestly... make pretty photos (just my opinion!) Of course there's exceptions to these rules, like if you get married at the end of an island... it will change your direction, and thus the sun placement will be different.
3. Consider the time of day to get married.
This is a 2 part-er.... A. Normally, there's not a lick of shade on the beach, and if it's a sunny day, that can cause harsh shadows across your face. This means, the lower the sun is in the sky, the less harsh the shadows can be. Now... film shooters often love bright sun, I do... so this doesn't matter so much to me. Just know it will be hotter and brighter.
B. Bikinis.... warmer, brighter weather brings bikinis.... and no one wants Prince(ss) Consuela Banana Hammock in the background of all their photos. We attended a wedding of some friends of ours on Emerald Isle years ago, on an unseasonably warm Saturday for the fall. This jerk with his rainbow colored umbrella was literally camped out behind the alter! Thankfully he finally moved just before Kristine walked down the aisle!
Luma and Aaron got married at Sunrise on Carolina Beach at the Marriott. 4. Holidays
The weekends surrounding the three major summer holidays will give you a little more of a headache. The weekend of Memorial Day, Labor Day and the 2 surrounding 4th of July are going to be INSANE. Your guests will have a hard time finding lodging if they haven't booked it way in advance and rates will likely be higher. You may even run into surge pricing for vendors, too.
Alan and Ashley at Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica (yes, they hired us... you DO NOT have to use the resort photographer, and I would highly encourage you NOT to!)
5. Seaside location
To go along with time of day, also be mindful of your nuptial location. If you decide to get married in front of a bunch of high rises, you'll most likely have unwanted spectators at your private event. I recommend either A. a strip of beach that is just home to private houses or B. the far ends of the island. Typically the ends are less inhabited, yielding less unwanted on-lookers. C. a secluded resort-style area (like Shoals Club at Bald Head Island)
Catherine and Brooks (shot for Julia Wade) at Bald Head Island Shoals Club6. Your hair
I love a gal who can rock perfectly undone beach waves, but if that isn't your style, spring for an updo that won't move! The beach is breezy... and down right windy some days, and if you want your hair to stay looking sleek, have it done with all 758 bobby pins!
So, there you have my 6 tips to planning a wonderful seaside wedding!
I've linked the locations pictured, but I also LOVE 30A on the panhandle of Florida, and would really like to add an Amelia Island wedding to our roster! We stopped by Amelia Island on our way home from the Gator Bowl and fell in love. Send those my way!
Jessica and Ryan were married on Friday, August 17 at the stunning Wrightsville Manor in Wilmington, NC. I met Jessica almost exactly 2 years ago, when I photographed her brother's wedding at sunrise on Carolina Beach. They currently reside near Dallas, Texas and decided that since most everyone would be traveling anyway for their wedding, why not travel somewhere beautiful, and make it a destination wedding. Before I photographed her brother getting married, I photographed him and his then fiance here, at the brand new Wrightsville Manor.... and thus the connection was made for Jessica and Ryan to know about this spot and book their wedding here!
They trekked 18+ hours in the car to NC for their big day, with puppy, Lainey in tow. She was an instant star when she showed up and donned her white collar and dog of honor bandana!
Vendors: Coordination : Bubbly Events Flowers: Beautiful Flowers by June DJ: Active DJ Entertainment Dress: Mori Lee Marissa from Bliss Bridal Salon Catering: Thyme Savor Cake: One Belle Bakery Rentals: L&L Rentals
To view the entire gallery, click here!