Downtown Durham New Years Eve Wedding

It is with great pleasure to share with you this wedding. I have had the privilege of getting to know not only both Stacy and Alex, but their families, as well. Being able to collaborate and dream with them has been one of the best perks about this wedding, and it was just an all around good time. Stacy and Alex tied the knot on New Years Eve and threw a massive party for all of their guests to enjoy. Guests flew and drove from all over the country for this, and that just tells me that these two were extremely loved from the beginning.

Stacy and Alex met while working in DC. From what I heard via the reception speeches, this came out of the blue and there were sparks of instant attraction. Stacy and Alex moved back to this area shortly before their wedding— Alex is originally from the triangle, and Stacy is from Florida. I quite enjoyed getting to know them a bit more and where they were from. Surprisingly, Alex grew up literally right down the street from my husband in Carrboro. I found out Stacy had an adorning love for all things agriculture, which you all know is my sweet spot. She stole my heart, too.

Stacy and her bridesmaids got dressed and ready at the quirky hotel 21c in downtown Durham. They started the day out here drinking mimosas and having hair and makeup done by Bella Trio. Right across the square, Alex and his groomsmen were getting ready at the Marriott Hotel. This was perfect because later for their first look all they had to do was walk outside and meet in the middle of the square.

We ended up doing their first look photos right in front of Pour which was great because of the fun twinkle lights that surrounded the small trees in front. Take a look at some of those images because they may be some of my all time favorites. I love the ones that Samantha took of the full group (bridesmaids and groomsmen). Seriously, they make me smile some kinda big when I look at them.

The ceremony took place at the beautiful Asbury United Methodist Church and they were married by Pastor Wes Neal. I enjoyed the ceremony and the ambiance of the church, but the best part was being able to see Alex’s face when Stacy and her dad walked down the aisle to him. It’s the little things that get me, and this is just the best part of the whole day. This one part. Yall, the little moments matter. It was a site to see, especially with all of the couples bridal party standing right next to them in this packed full of guests church. All of their friends and family in one place to witness.

The reception took place at one of my favorite Durham venues (not even kidding!)— The Rickhouse! This night could not get any better, but it did. The spirit of all of the guests made this night one to remember. The food, the dancing, the laughter—it was just the place to be for New Years. I loved the small details meant for guests, like flip flops for dancing on the dance floor, or even beaded necklaces and fun glasses to indulge in for the big NYE ball drop. I don’t know what was the best thing about the reception—all of these little things or the fact that they had late night snacks come out when the party needed it.

Obviously, this was our last wedding of the year—and we went out with a bang! I so enjoyed getting to know these two and being a part of their celebration. I do meet some incredible couples, but mine have to be some of the best people around. Stacy and Alex, congratulations on your marriage! I wish you so many years of love and happiness—you two deserve it!

Special thanks to all of these vendors!
Hotel and Accommodations 21c Museum Hotel & Marriott
Hair and Makeup Bella Trio Salon
Bridal Gown Coastal Knot
Florals Fallon’s Flowers
Ceremony Asbury United Methodist Church
Transportation Carolina Livery Transportation
Rentals American Party Rentals
Catering Southern Harvest
Reception Venue The Rickhouse
Photography Fancy This Photography

An Inside Look at Why You Need a Travel Agent for Business and Pleasure
Photo taken by Kevin Glaser Photography

Photo taken by Kevin Glaser Photography

This post is for all you dreamers out there. Yep, if you dream of photographing couples on the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean, this may be the blog post to get your foot in the door. If you are a bride who is feeling overwhelmed by the thought of having a local wedding and would like to just be whisked away to some tropical island and tie the knot on a beautiful pier overlooking windex colored water—this is the blog for you. If you are just thoroughly interested in the life of a travel agent, wanting to know more about what they do and how they can help you plan that dream vacation or honeymoon…this blog is for you.

Debbie, which might I add was our travel agent for our destination wedding, has shared some valuable information that I think could not only help our client readers, but also help photographers who are needing more information on the honeymoon/destination wedding process. I feel as though there are some solid tips shared about the travel industry, but also about business in general.

As a side note, if you are thinking about traveling to the Caribbean, reach out to Debbie. I know destination weddings are not for everyone, but if you are planning on doing what my husband and I did (we tied the knot in the Bahamas), Debbie was our saving grace throughout the process. I will chat more on that later, but this lady is a rockstar at her job. Not only did she help my husband and I with out travel needs, she did so with my sister and her husband, and about 5 other couples and families that we have referred to her. She’s amazing at what she does, and I am not saying that lightly.

P.S. Some of the images that you will see in this blog post are not my images. Please see the verbiage written under each image to see which wonderful photographers shot which image.

P.P.S. Indulge in some of our wedding portraits!!! Thanks, Kevin Glaser!!

Photo by Lindsay Aikman Photography

Photo by Lindsay Aikman Photography

N : Tell me what a travel agent does. How long have you been in business?

D: A travel agent in the simplest of terms helps clients find the perfect trip for the clients specific needs. A travel agent does not charge a fee, however, we do receive a commission from places that we do refer. This does not come out of the clients pocket so its a completely free service. We ask specific questions so that we can see which resorts might fit your needs. We take care of all of the details for the clients, including bookings. We can book all of the flights, deal with communication between the resort and the client, and really serve as the liaison for a smooth experience. BluPrint Travel has been in the business for over 5 years now! However, I have been in this business for 35 years working with other brick and mortar travel agencies.

N: What are the top resorts that you work with? Do you ever help plan vacations that are not on resorts?

D: I mainly work with all inclusive resorts. These include the Sandals and Beaches Resorts along with the Excellence Resorts and AM Resorts. These can be found in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica.... And other Caribbean islands. Some specific ones are Excellence Resorts, which are adult only and with AM Resorts there is Secrets, Breathless, Zoetry which are adult only and Dreams, NOW and Sunscape which are for everyone. . How I normally tell people what I book is “Fun in the Sun” travel types--so really anything in the Caribbean, Hawaii, all cruises, Mexico, South Pacific, etc.  As far as your question is concerned, I can help clients even if they do not want to go to these fun in the sun type of places, however, I know you would be served better with someone who is well versed in whichever place you want to go. Take for instance, Paris. I could plan a nice trip to Paris for you, but I know there are other people in the industry who mainly do Paris. I specialize in my Caribbean style travel, and I want all couples to receive the best for their travel experiences. I am part of DWHSA--which stands for Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Specialist Association. I can easily reach in to this pool of Specialists who I can guarantee  are qualified and refer them to said client. I want to know that these couples will get as good of service if not better if I refer them out. Just as a side note, if someone says that they can do everything, I would be a bit worried. It takes alot of time and maturity, but eventually you learn what you like and are good at. Once you know what you are good at, there is no need to do other things. You have got to do the parts that you love, because if you dont, you get burned out.

N : I know you work with weddings and honeymoons--I'd like to ask you a few questions about the wedding side. Do you ever suggest the bride book the resort photographer? If you are getting married on a resort, are there any rules about photography or photographers?
D : Most destination weddings that I work with have already chosen a wedding photographer that they want to bring with them. Alot of resorts used to not allow this. Resorts have been more flexible the last couple of years with this, but I think the resorts have realized that they actually make more money this way when a traveling wedding photographer stays as a guest. For instance, if a couple decides to get married in Jamaica, but they do not want the resort photographer and have decided to book a Jamaican photographer instead. This photographer would have to pay a fee to be on the resort for the day. However, if you decide to fly your photographer in from wherever, the resorts are more willing to house said photographer because they would be on the resort for more days. This flown in photographer is considered an invited guest and the resorts are starting to become okay with this idea. As far as the resort photographers go--some clients are okay with them. If its a super small wedding, maybe just the couple themselves, then more than likely they choose the resort photographer. However, if its a bigger wedding, they are more than likely to choose a photographer to travel with them to the destination.

Photo taken by Kevin Glaser Photography

Photo taken by Kevin Glaser Photography

N : Why is it helpful to have a travel agent for a destination wedding or honeymoon?

D: Simple. I help you find a venue. The couple gives me their invite list to send them all of the information. If any of the guests have any questions, they come right to me and not the couple. It’s a seamless process. For a honeymoon-- I help find things that fit in to the couples budget. Sometimes they don’t know about the costs of things, so it’s my job to educate the client. People honestly just dont know what the cost of things are because they’ve never been married before.

N : What type of bride/client do you typically book for your services?

D : 25-35 year olds. These brides tend to have discretionary income. They are more well traveled. They have a knowledge of what travel expenses generally cost. They are college educated, and definitely considered to be in the Millennial generation. The main thing about Millennials is learning how they prefer to do things. I used to find it upsetting and think that some clients were checking up on me--like my resources, etc. But, I realized, Millennials arent checking up on you--they just want to be part of the process. Once I realized this, the whole game changed. I love working with Millennials.

N: Since you work in the destination industry, what advice would you give wedding photographers who are looking to market to destination brides?

D : Reach out to travel agents as we work with quite a bit of destination couples. If you are looking to have more beach themed weddings--then photograph more beach things. You are what you put out there, so make it look like you travel alot. Make it look like you do destination work.


You may find more information at BluPrint Travel

The Details Matter and Here's Why You Need to Photograph Them

Yall, get ready to indulge in all things custom made! I had the privilege of chatting with Danielle with Mason Dixon Designs, and you guys, she is not a force to reckon with. I wanted to get her input on a few topics and questions in regards to details on a clients wedding day. She, out of any other vendor, can truly customize a wedding in some of the most creative ways possible. Coming from a photographers stand-point, I wanted to see how we can not only elevate our mutual clients wedding, but also help in making a mutually beneficial relationship top priority. See below our interview together and make sure to read my thoughts on the interview after.

P.S. The images that you will see in this blog post are not my images. Please see the verbiage written under each image to see which wonderful photographers shot which image.

Photo taken by Mikkel Paige Photography

Photo taken by Mikkel Paige Photography

Photo taken by Krystal Kast Photography

Photo taken by Krystal Kast Photography

N: How did Mason Dixon Designs come in to light? How long have you been in business and what brought you into the wedding industry?
D: I have been in restaurants my entire life. With this in mind, there was always a “Specials” board or a menu that I could design. I mean, honestly, I would much rather do that than to roll silverware. Later, I found myself working at TOPO in Chapel Hill. It was here that I got into events. Everything was in house, clients had a pretty moderate budget, we always pushed our in-house coordinator (which was myself) due to the clients budget. This is where I started to really dive deep in to the wedding industry. In 2014 my best friend got married at the Biltmore in Asheville. Since she was getting married at the Biltmore (which in itself was a high penny) she needed a calligrapher for her signage. She came to me because why spend money elsewhere when your best friend can do this?! Ironically, a few months after her wedding I receive a phone call from said friend stating that their wedding was going to be published in Style Me Pretty (swoon) and that in order for the vendors to get credited, they all needed a website, etc. So...I made a website that day and decided to call the business Mason Dixon Designs! As of January 1st, 2018 I went full time. In the past I had been working at other venues and with other planners around Raleigh, which helped me understand and expand to that market.

Photo taken by AJ Dunlap Photography

Photo taken by AJ Dunlap Photography

N: What does your business specialize in? Why is this important to couples?
We specialize in unique design details. We do it all-- signs, save the dates, bags, watercolor maps, seating chats. We can use any material. We really hone in on bringing personalized items to your wedding. We never do the same thing twice. It’s truly about the couple. We think, if youre going to spend the money, it might as well speak to you.

N: Are there any trends that you see coming in to play in 2019? Have there been any trends that have sort of died since you began your business? Any that you are glad that have since passed? Ha!
In the past 5 years or so wedding handwriting has been exploding. People are seeing tangible options for their wedding now. When I started there was this sort of pressure to do a traditional calligraphy type style. As a traditionalist, I appreciated this, but it’s important to stand out. If you are comfortable, try something else out. Listen to your gut and make tweeks. I am much more comfortable with being creative and showing thoughtfulness. Some trends that I see that are making its way in to the scene deal with textures, acrylic, things that help make acrylic stand out at a wedding, velvet (ohh velvet), handmade paper, fabrics, and alot more edgy weddings. I feel like within the next year or two we will be seeing impressions on velvet. I am excited to see all of the new ideas.

Photo taken by AJ Dunlap Photography

Photo taken by AJ Dunlap Photography

N: I noticed on your website that when someone inquires on your contact page--you ask them who their photographer is. Why do you require this and why is it important to know who the photographer is?
Tracking photos down is really hard work. There are a handful of photographers who send out the images. I have it placed on my contact page because later on, after their wedding, I don’t have to bother the client for it. I can just go straight to the source for imagery. It just saves a step. The photographer matters--if you are a photographer that I am familiar with--I will definitely text you and ask you for specifics. There are some that I trust with details over the others. This is so important to me. If there is a photographer that I know is going to get those key detail shots for me, I am a little more motivated to spend an extra 30 minutes at the set up to make sure things are EXTRA perfect and even throw in a few extra things.

N: When you receive images from a wedding or styled shoot, what are the images that stand out to you? What are some that you typically do not use. Is there any advice from a calligraphers standpoint on what a photographer could do to help show your work in the best light?
Styled shoots are great for me. I don’t have a problem with them at all. I can be a bit more creative and show off some nice ideas and play with new mediums. Wedding days are normally a little bit hectic, but these are the things that my clients paid for, so I want them documented. If a group of vendors are submitting a wedding for an editorial piece--they don’t want to see the pretty photos of the bride and groom...they want to see the details. So, why not take multiple shots especially of these tiny things that mean so much to our paying clients? We spent a lot of time talking about everything from ink color to font type, so it is frustrating when that work isn’t captured, even from a candid photographer.

Photo taken by Caroline Lima Photography

Photo taken by Caroline Lima Photography

N: Have you ever received images from a wedding and you were just not that impressed? If so, why were you not impressed, or what was some thing that you wish the photographer could have improved on?
There are just some situations that I know I wont get photos. I take extra shots on my iphone--to me, atleast I will have something. I would rather have 5 cell phone pictures of the setup than none. Everyone has a camera!  We know good lighting and good angles.  Pictures that come back and are dim, or details are out of focus are almost becoming inexcusable. Flat lay styling SO important!! If you can’t do it, I enjoy when photographers ask designers or myself to come style small details post-wedding to give us time and style it as it was envisioned.

N: In our line of work styled shoots are a good way to meet other vendors, come up with a great idea, and get some beautiful images that all of the vendors could potentially use for marketing for the year. With this in mind, do you ever ask the photographer for certain images to make sure your line of work is seen properly? What are some things that just make you hella happy to see when the final images are distributed?
Wedding day is more worrisome than styled shoots, because styled shoot purposes are for details.  Styled shoot should emphasize multiple set-ups. An invite suite just shouldn’t be styled one time with a few shots from the same angle.  I should get up close of the rsvp, stamp detail, lettering work, maybe a different backdrop or two.I have different happy levels. I have a low happy level which consists of little to no detail images of my work. I then have a high level of happy which consists of atleast one picture of everything I did. On my end, the only thing that I, personally, have to showcase with after the wedding is pictures, so if you look out for me it just means the world. As far as my dream gallery goes? I love a gallery that shows different angles. It’s very selfish, but it makes me happy. Think about it--a pulled back image that showcases the seating chart from head to toe in its cool little environment, then a closer one that shows off the calligraphy, even one that shows what the mirror looks like. All of these things work because I could make a collage or post multiples from the same wedding to show off all sides of an item. This is the stuff that makes me uber happy when I see it.

Photo taken by Kayla Coleman Photography

Photo taken by Kayla Coleman Photography

So, I have to admit, some of the things that Danielle told me have really made me go back and look at how I have been serving my couples. It is always first priority to showcase my clients wedding day in the best light—as in, make sure to get those true moments and emotions. But, at the same time, it is also my job to photograph all of the details because…yeah, my clients paid for those details. Now, I typically do this (and I make sure even my second shooters are aware to photograph these certain items, as well), but, from what Danielle is saying—she would appreciate more angles of her work. I like that she mentioned to do a far away photo, along with a few close ups. This would give her more freedom to showcase what it would look like in a certain space.

Before speaking with Danielle I just KNEW that she would mention that she wished more photographers were well versed in light so that when photographing special elements (like paper goods) she could see the details clearly. But, yall, this was never even brought up. As a photographer on the wedding day I am constantly going through lighting and figuring out how to document certain things to showcase perfect detail, etc., but Danielle mentioned that she doesnt even think of that. She just wants pictures so that she can share with other clients and potential clients. No perfection needed, she just needs these images to showcase her work. DUH Nikki! Just get out of your head—no one even knows if a photo is technically right.—just take the damn picture.

Now, I will say that I am a bit shocked that she mentioned she sometimes does not receive images from the photographer. I see this alot with newer wedding photographers where they just are not aware of the power of sharing. As a vendor, to not ever see the gallery at all has to be a bit disconcerting. I feel that in order to have a truly great vendor relationship, we must all work together and shed light to each others business. Let’s be honest, as photographers we would not have all of the pretty things to photograph if it werent for these amazing vendors who do what they do.

Now, I am not saying to give all of the images to all of the vendors with full printing rights and yada yada yada — all of the copyright law stuff, blah, but, I am saying that maybe it would be beneficial to share the work that these vendors have worked so hard on, even just for website and social media purposes. It’s something to think about, along with how you conduct your wedding day and capturing these special moments and details—like the details your clients have paid for. Be kind to your fellow vendors, they are in this to make their client over the moon happy, too.

You can find more of Danielle’s work on her website MASON DIXON DESIGNS.

Julia & Kurt and their cat named Carlos | A Raleigh Engagement

This session was a fun one, and I don’t say that too lightly. Whenever I do an engagement session my number one priority is to get to know the couple—and not just the day of. Julia and Kurt wanted their engagement session to be a reflection of them, what they do in their life, and maybe even incorporate where they had their first date—Mecca.

When Julia sent me photos of her house my jaw almost dropped. This lady has the best vintage retro eye and styled their home so perfectly! You guys know that I love mustard yellow, and yall, their couch was this exact color! Oh, and they have a cat named Carlos who was equally as retro and just super sweet. Fun fact, if you have a cat present at your engagement session I will automatically fall in love and make the cat pose with you in any and all photos.

I don’t always do in-home sessions, but I feel like I should offer more. There is just something so nice about them—think about it, when your 20 years older and maybe living in a different house, and you can see how much you’ve grown, the happiness you felt, and see memories from the beginning years of your life together. This is something that I think goes unnoticed while youre in the moment, but will bring back some wonderful and dear memories later on in life when you may need them the most. I say the more in-home sessions the merrier—it’s a part of your story, and your story matters.