Thomas + Mandy: Serene NC Wedding

Mandy and Thomas met three years ago through mutual friends at their cross fit box in Kernersville, North Carolina. From there, it did not take long for their love story to begin to unfold and find out that they were perfect for each other. After a few dates, they knew this was something special.

Thomas proposed at the Christmas tree farm that they visit every year in the mountains with a few friends of theirs. Mandy says “it was so sweet and definitely adds an additional reason to look forward to visiting each year.”

Their wedding took place on a cool October evening, the white wedding commenced at Bonamanzee: a unique, but serene wedding venue in the small town of Madison, North Carolina. Once you pull down the winding path into the venue, their gorgeous, yet rustic log cabin peaks around the trees. The bridal quarters sit right off the main home in another smaller log cabin with plenty of room for the bride and her girls to get themselves all dolled up for the big day, along with a full-size bathroom.

Bonamanzee features a beautiful ceremony site under a canopy of trees and easily customizable for every couple’s desires. What makes the venue even more unique is the reception area. Nothing can compare to the bulb lights over the open dance floor a couple steps away from the dining area. With this setup, everyone has their space to enjoy their food, but not be too far from the dance floor action. Down a paved stone pathway, you will come upon a large outdoor fireplace with Adirondack chairs to circle around the smaller fire pit in the centre for those cool wedding nights. A perfect reception extra for a s’more station.

On top of all the other amazing features, Bonamanzee has a covered outdoor bar. But for Mandy and Thomas, personal touch was necessary. Thomas and one of his best friends built their own DIY personalised bar tap for the guests to enjoy, and for their enjoyment throughout the rest of their marriage.

Mandy describes herself as being “a huge plant nerd, so it was somewhat ironic that we had fairly minimal florals. I had plans for using more, but our ceremony and reception were outdoors and the setting was so lovely we thought that an abundance of floral decor might get lost in the background. My bouquet was probably one of my favourite items from my wedding… I LOVE king proteas, and Green Bee incorporated them along with some beautiful garden roses and greenery. We also used greenery for the centrepieces and the arbour.”

The elegance of Mandy and Thomas’s style was shown in every aspect of their wedding day. Every flower, every centrepiece, every detail was its very own masterpiece. 

Bridal Portraits: Reasons Every Bride Must

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This stunning piece of artwork will hang in the bride's parents' home for a lifetime.  The groom will wake up every morning, see that face, and be reminded of the beautiful love he committed to on the day he said "I do".  It is more than a portrait.  It is the beginning of an heirloom.

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Your wedding day is fully dedicated to family, friends, and the celebration of your new life- two becoming one.  You will be fully engaged and involved in all the hype and rush that comes along with being the bride.  It makes it hard to concentrate solely on yourself.

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A Bridal Portrait Session is a day prior to the wedding all about you and no one else.  No rush, no last minute fixes, no wedding attendees trying to sneak in a pre ceremony visit.  Just solely about you and your desires.  The hair, the makeup, the dress, the bouquet.  The whole morning or afternoon is dedicated to helping you feel your absolute best in your role as a bride.

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Most brides do not spend the day on the couch wearing their wedding dress and watching movies like Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe on Friends.  The dress finds you in the boutique and takes your breath away.  Your dress goes through alterations and is tailored to fit you perfectly.  After that, the next time the dress is on would be wedding day.  There is no way to truly get comfortable in your dress, know how it moves with you, and to test the flexibility of it without wearing it for a good bit of time.  This is where bridal portraits step in to save the day!  You will be in the dress a good 1-2 hours, walking, sitting, & posing in all types of positions to give the dress the true test.  This makes wedding day not such a surprise!

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The time dedicated to bridal portraits allows for all the details to be captured.  The lace in the dress, the jewels in the veil, the pops of color in the bouquet that make it stunning.  These are all things that time is not allotted for on wedding day.  Speaking from my own personal experience, I wish I would have had a bridal portrait session before my wedding day to capture all of this.  These details are not present in my wedding day collection due to the brief period of time we had to snap a few photographs of me by myself before guests began to arrive.  And these little details can all be added in to your wedding album or even a stunning bridal portrait album.

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And we cannot forget the portrait.  The portrait is a staple at every traditional wedding reception.  The bride has made her appearance at the ceremony for all the guests and the groom's surprise.  But as the guests all head to the reception, they cannot wait to see you again and how beautiful you are.  You are the star of the room.  While they are waiting on you and your bridal party to finish up quick end of ceremony photographs, they will be walking around your reception hall or barn or wherever it may be, mingling.  Give them the chance to study your amazing dress by having a bridal portrait- or two- to view at the reception.  Guests truly love to be awe struck by your portrait and get another good look at you to hold them over until you arrive!

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The portrait is also a beautiful heirloom for your family. Most parents of the bride will purchase a portrait for the reception and then display it in their homes forever.  My grandparents have all three of their daughter's bridal portraits in their dining room.  Bridal portraits are timeless.  Most brides will have a portrait printed and framed for their home, as well.  It is a beautiful reminder of the day you and your groom publically committed to your never ending love.  

Bridal portraits are passed on for generations. Those 1-2 hours of photographing and creating beautiful portraits will become something that lasts a lifetime.  It tells a tale that your children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren will be delighted to hear.

Hinnant Farms Vineyard & Winery April Wedding

April 28th, 2018: a beautifully warm North Carolina day for a wedding.  The sun shining, a mild breeze blowing, & the vines green.  It was finally Leigha & Steve's wedding day!  But the story leading up to the big day made it all the better.

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Leigha had joined an online dating website, but had not had any luck finding her prince charming.  She decided she was going to cancel her membership, but she was then offered one free month before cancelling.  Luckily, she went with it.

In that free month, Steve (who also had a membership) did find his princess.  Steve reached out to Leigha, and they did decide to meet in person at a point later down the line.  While on a lunch break from nursing school, Leigha headed to Ted's Charcoal Grill in Clinton, where Steve was ready to meet her for their first "date".  They instantly hit it off.  

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Steve learned about Leigha's beautiful daughter named Olivia, and he gladly took her in as his own, teaching her all about cars & their mechanics (which she loves!).  

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The day arrived when Steve was ready to propose.  Olivia, Leigha, and her parents went to eat with Steve back at Ted's Charcoal Grill, where they first met.  Right there at the table, Steve turned to Leigha and proposed, where of course she said yes!

This all leads us up to the big day at Hinnant Farms Vineyard & Winery.  This North Carolina vineyard is nothing short of perfect for a wedding.  Leigha & Steve's wedding fit right in to this location in Pine Level, NC.  

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There was not one person at the wedding that did not have a smile & a hug to give out to such a sweet couple.  Leigha made a glowing bride, and Steve was a dapper groom.  The suspenders and bowties with striped socks for the guys went perfect with the girls turquoise dresses and updos.

 It is always so wonderful when you just know a couple who is getting married is truly in love and marrying for the right reasons.  We are so glad to have been part of such a spectacular day for Leigha & Steve.  Congratulations! 

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Rachel & Cody's Engagement Session

When I sat down with Rachel for her consultation, it was beyond obvious how happy she is in her engagement with Cody.  She was beaming ear to ear when going over wedding details and did not spare a detail when I asked how they met, yet it was so captivating!  

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These two met in one of the best ways: by a Momma's recommendation!  If you can get past the future mother in law before you even meet the boyfriend, you must be doing something right!  Rachel's radiant personality would easily be the explanation for this.  And I don't think it took Cody long after meeting Rachel to find out she was the girl for him.   

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During Cody & Rachel's engagement session, the two gave me a quick run through on some of their best date nights-including the classic "Netflix & Chill" (hot pockets included!).  One of the best stories from the evening was Cody explaining his "aha" moment.  Rachel & Cody had gone out on a couple of dates already.  Getting more comfortable with each other, she decided to swing by the grocery store and pick up one of those BIG bags of dog food for her pup.  The break your back kind of bags.  Cody offered to tote it for her, but Rachel pretty much said "I got this", threw it over her shoulder, and walked right to check out.  I believe his exact words to me were, "That's when I knew she was the one!".  

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The vibes between these two throughout their whole session were just so powerful, yet easy.  And even when Rachel walked away for a minute, Cody had nothing to say but good things about her and how lucky he was to be marrying this woman.  In today's time, it seems all to easy to talk down on the people you are closest to, but this couple is the exception.  Symbolic of her Rachel's parents relationship while they were dating, we took a few photos in front of her father's old truck which with he courted Rachel's mom..  Such a perfect way to wrap up our farm shoot.  

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Finishing our session at the fire department, Rachel rocked a fire engine red and a beautiful smile while Cody enjoyed his element.  I'm beyond blessed to work with this special couple through such an amazing time in their lives.  One of my favorite sessions to date. 

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Sophia & Rehman's Nikkah

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I had the absolute honor of photographing my first Nikkah this January.  For those of you who don't know what that means, it is an Islamic wedding, full of family & friends, yummy food, and deep love.

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Sophia & Rehman have a beautiful love that was encapsulated through their Nikkah on January 27th.  This was a small version of what is to come as far as their wedding celebrations, but it was an evening packed with so much faith.

Sophia has had a rough few months with a loss in her immediate family and other family health issues.  For that very reason, this day held that much more meaning.

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This evening was nothing short of a fairy tale wedding, dressed with a beautiful stage, luminous lighting, and gorgeous attire.  And you can't forget the henna!  The time and detail put into Sophia's henna work was absolutely amazing!   I could not imagine that job, but it shows how truly patient some people are to create something so beautiful. 

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Sophia's hair & makeup were both done by Sanam Mahtani, a woman who has been in her life for years.  This was such intricate, well thought work.

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Now, let's not forget the food!  The Pakistani food ensemble was absolutely delicious.  I've never had the opportunity to try it  before, but I am so glad I did.  It is so awesome to venture out into new culture and try new things in this life.  And the traditional yet original cake from Maxie B's of Greensboro was a showstopper! 

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Most everyone's favorite part of a wedding- besides the major "I Do" & ring exchange- is the dancing!  This crew knew how to start a party!  A great selection of Middle-Eastern music kept the crowd up and moving.  It made it hard for me to leave such a fun time!

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I am so honored to have been a part of such a special day in the life of Sophia & Rehman.  I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the newly married couple and to be by their side to capture the moments.

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Let Me See Your Beautiful

This blog post is going to be a little different.  Actually, a lot different..

Instead of me telling you guys about something in my life, I am going to ask you to participate!

I love to hear from every one of ya'll about your family & your adventures.  It actually builds on our relationship as client & photographer when I know a little more about you.  It makes our sessions easier, more relaxed, and more natural.  This is why I love to meet with all my clients prior to their first session with me.  Just to break the ice!

So, my challenge is this: 

Visit my Facebook page, "Caitlin Gregory Photography", and leave a picture with a small post on something fun you've done with your family this January!  Or leave a comment right here on the blog if you don't have Facebook =) !

I cannot wait for the responses on this post- so exciting!!!

-Caitlin

In the Moment

It's Christmas morning!  Our daughter is ready to burst into the living room and see her stocking overflowing and presents covering the floor from the moment her big blue eyes pop open.  But I now find myself doing the torturous thing my mother did to my sister & me growing up.  I make her wait.  I know what you are thinking.  How terrible could I be?  But it's a routine that I have acquired-a tradition, you could say.  

Turn on Christmas Music.

Brush Hair.

And let Mommy get the camera.

The camera: the technology that captures all those special moments so they can be printed out on paper, put into a photo book, hung on the walls, or shared on social media to be relived as often as you would like with as many people as you'd like.

The funny thing is, when I am behind the camera, I put on my game face.  Searching for the perfect lighting.  Getting my settings on point so the pictures will be clear and crisp.  Moving the clutter out of shot.  All this is a great sign of my work ethic, but am I really enjoying that Christmas morning glow on my daughter's face with a camera in front of mine?

This Christmas morning I found myself in the living room floor telling my daughter she couldn't leave her bedroom until my camera was ready.  I took a picture, checked it, and it wasn't bright enough.  Did another, still not perfect.  I then looked at my husband & said, "I'm not doing this."  I was spending the first ten minutes of Christmas morning working (which I don't like to call it).  I put my camera down and released the burden.  Our daughter came busting out of her room with the biggest smile on her face and her cute Christmas pajamas from Christmas Eve.  I was there & present in the moment.  I saw her face with my own two eyes, not from the preview button on my camera.  I watched her in real time open each and every present with the most joy on her face.  Sure, we snapped a few photos on our iPhones, but nothing that required me to feel pressured.  They are perfect for the group text to grandparents and small prints.  But they required such little time and effort in such a special moment.

From this moment on, I have decided to put my camera away during family functions.  I want to be in the moment & see the happiness on my daughter's face when she opens her favorite gift.  Watch her score that basket with nothing obstructing my view.  See her sing on stage at her talent show without checking my ISO.

From my perspective, it is better to feel in the moment than feel pressured to take the perfect photograph with your own family.

That's what your photographer is for.. ;-)

 

 

Is That Your Final Answer?

The moment arrives.  It is time to make a huge decision that can change your business as you know it.   For the good.  For the bad.  It is inevitable to avoid one of the two.

You start to second guess yourself.  Maybe you should use a lifeline, like Regis offered on "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire".  Let's phone a friend.  ...A?  She chooses A?  Not being totally satisfied with her answer, let's ask the audience.  That's a broader group with a wider range of perspective.  Their answer isn't exactly what you wanted their answer to be.  Majority chose C, and the other 40% chose B.  B has has been your choice since the moment you saw it on the answer board.  You feel stuck and lost!  Do you go with the majority's choice?  Or do you go with that inkling in your gut telling you to choose that slightly less popular answer B?  

I say choose B.  Dare to go against the grain.  Choose what feels right to you.  And this piece of advice carries into each part of your life.  From a young school age child feeling the pressure at school to wear their clothes a certain way to an adult making decisions on watermarks for your company, only you know you best.  Do what makes you feel confident, strong, and happy.

I appreciate the outpouring of thoughts, opinions, and advice on my new watermark for Caitlin Gregory Photography.  The amount of Facebook comments honestly was way more than I thought I was going to receive.  To hear back from so many people and get a wide range of perspective truly made my heart warm and fuzzy!  It was just a verification that people do care about other people in today's society!  To receive such a positive outreach on my new logo before I even picked it, now that's reassurance at it's finest.  

I realize that some people picked 'bottom right' for the new logo, classy and beautiful.  But we all have our own sense of style and instant visual gratification.  To me, the logo on 'top' is what grabbed me, pulled me in, and said PICK ME from the the first time I laid eyes on it.  I had to make the executive decision for my business on which logo made me smile when I looked and saw it on my website.  Which logo made me feel confident in my published photos.  Which logo made me glow with pride.  And that, my friends, would be the top.  Modern and sleek in design.

Final Answer, Regis.

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