Cynthia Viola Photography

Wedding Photography

Love for my LGBTQ Friends

Portraits, Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Creativity is born of risk and refined from failure... This is the courage of the artisan - to know ourselves and be true to that knowledge. The artisan rejects all that makes us false and takes the huge risk of being true... There is no riskier way of life than the artisan way. Anything less is just existing
— Erwin McManus
Lesbian Wedding with flower girl

At the beginning of the year, as I was moving to Florida, I posted a blog about things I'd learned living in North Carolina. One of those things was the beauty of the LGBTQ community.

They'd taught me so much through the years and I'd wanted to give back. I vowed to give away a portrait session, or $500 off a booked wedding to one couple every month in 2018. I've posted several of them here already and some I'm sorry to say I was unable to post due to job constraints and some still having to live in fear of persecution. That said, I thought it would be fun to recap as best I could in a final post, to show the love that flows through us all equally. I'm so incredibly grateful for so many new friends. 

And yes I realize there are more than 12 couples here, so sue me ;)

In January, I met up with Joshua and Daniel on a trip back to NC, they met me downtown in the brightest colors I've ever seen and we had an absolute blast. 

Gay Couple Shoot in Downtown Raleigh

In February I attended a Rainbow Wedding Expo in St. Augustine where I was able to meet several new couples, fueling the following months, but I headed back to NC again in the cold and rain to capture Becca and Katie at their home with little Vivi. They made me breakfast and we talked for hours. I adore them. 

Photo shoot with Lesbian couple and daughter

As a bonus, I got to spend some time with them again in the fall after they moved to their new home in Charlotte!

LGBTQ Family of 3

Two different March couples fell through multiple times, so I planned to catch back up with them later in the year. April involved a couple I love and have known for years, we'll call them Steve and Dave; they came to St. Augustine to visit and stayed with us for a night, taking us to dinner and everything, it was so great to catch up. Unfortunately, Steve's job is yet unaware of his orientation and he would likely be let go. Ergo I won't be posting them here. Suffice it to say, that they are both incredible human beings who have done immense good in the world. 

May's shoot actually fell through as well, as Florida went through several torrential downpours, one actually resulting in massive hail damage and a neighbor's house catching fire from a lightening strike! So the May one will show up shortly as well. May did consist of Tiffany and Carlie's 5 year anniversary, that was not actually a part of the giveaway, but you should definitely go see all their cuteness anyway.  

June introduced me to Sam and Jess, who met up with me at the St. Augustine Pier, then afterwards took me to breakfast where we discussed relationships and faith and change. It was beautiful. 

LGBTQ Engagement Session

In June I was also able to make up for one of the earlier reschedules in one of the most fun photo shoots of my life. I had shot Anse and Allie's proposal, engagement and wedding last year and for their anniversary they thought it would be fun to go camping and capture all the fun in that setting. I was SO excited! We met up at a Roan Mountain State Park campsite, and I just captured everything from building the fire to roasting s'mores to snuggling in a hammock. It was glorious. 

Camping photo shoot

In July I drove up to Myrtle Beach, SC to capture the birthday party of an old friend and while there had the pleasure of capturing Sherry and Becky again! I'd shot their courthouse wedding three years ago and it was just a couple weeks shy of their anniversary! 

As and added bonus at the birthday weekend, I got to meet so many new friends and capture their beautiful relationships as well. :) This is Lisa and Jeannie, Tomi and Angie, who were all about adventuring with me on the beach for some portraits.

In August, while I was in Asheville to race the Spartan Super, I met up with Cindy and Marianne, who run the Rainbow Wedding Expo. We were able to get some fun anniversary and family photos in the Botanical Gardens. 

Asheville Botanical Gardens LGBTQ photo shoot

Fun fact: they both planned a secret proposal to each other years earlier on the same day! They knew it was meant to be when they both showed up with a ring! They were on a bridge together and wanted to recreate the moment at the shoot. So fun!

 In September I was busy moving back to NC and Hiking the Appalachian Trail, but I more than made up for it in the fall.

October is wedding month and as such, I was able to shoot Christy and Tina's big day as well as Jeff and Jeff’s. They had a fun-filled days surrounded by so many of their beautiful friends (who I’ve also included, because I can) ;)

LGBTQ farm wedding
LGBTQ wedding
LGBTQ couples

Additionally, while shooting Jessica and Jeff’s wedding this summer, I met and fell in love with the adorable relationship between Ryan and Henry. I loved they way they danced and generally interacted with each other and everyone around them. We caught up on Facebook afterward and I asked if they’d be interested in a shoot. Their 5 year anniversary was coming up so they were all for it. They even took me out for tacos and tequila after! So much fun!

LGBTQ couple downtown raleigh

In November Sandra and Caitlin married in Saint Augustine and I was able to capture them afterwards at Washington Oaks Garden with their little Mari who stole my heart instantly. She loved them both so much and loved helping me find the best spots to pose them.

LGBTQ wedding at washington oaks garden

When April, one of my former students contacted me to say she was interested in a shoot, I was of course, all about it, but when she said she needed to clarify and make sure it was ok that it was an engagement shoot…with another woman, I was simply heartbroken. That she had to clarify with me tells me I have a lot of work to do still, and that she had to clarify at all means we all have a lot of work to do. If people are not free to be themselves 100% of the time the rest of us suffer because of it. The world needs people who think outside the box as well as those comfortable inside it. We need every race, every gender, every background, every experience, every story.

April and Reese were supposed to meet up with me in Asheville this weekend but it didn’t work out, so I’ll have to share their story next year, in the meantime, here’s a few other couples along the way at family gatherings and paid shoots and weddings who I can’t help but thrown into the mix, if for no other reason than to show just how many unique and beautiful people there are in the world and that love knows no bounds.

LGBTQ couple portraits

I received a bit of push back from my own family and former clients who did not approve of this endeavor in the beginning. I lost a few relationships, and a few clients but what I've gained is immeasurable love and acceptance from a community I adore with my whole heart. I wouldn't change the decision for anything in the world. I hope that this small offering can help others take off blinders and see only love.

I am grateful to everyone who has been patient with my own journey through the years and who has helped formed my current world view. May we all continue to grow in love and welcome people different from ourselves into our lives. Allowing our hearts to love bigger, deeper, stronger and wider will never shrink who we are or pull us into darkness. It will serve instead to propel us forward into the light where we all see our mutual flaws and idiosyncrasies and stand united on common ground.

To dare - is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare - is to lose oneself
— Soren Kierkegaard

Palm Coast Wedding | Kristin and Emerson

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
We are still kids, but we’re so in love
Fighting against all odds
I know we’ll be alright this time
Darling, just hold my hand
Be my girl, I’ll be your man
I see my future in your eyes
— Ed Sheeran
Backyard Wedding

I must say, this weekend’s wedding was one for the books! When Kristin told me their idea to invite all their friends to their beautiful new home and then surprise them with a wedding, I was allllll about it. And it’s such a Kristin and Emerson thing to do to begin their marriage by thinking of what they could do to serve their friends and make the experience more fun and enjoyable for them. The first time I really had the chance to get to know them they were helping to set up and tear down Amber and Tony’s wedding. They worked tirelessly the entire time and asked for nothing in return. They are such incredible individuals, and together even more so.

It feels like just yesterday we were wandering around Ravine Gardens State Park for their engagement session and they were wowing me with their incredible dance skills, and then they blew me away further still at their reception; I could have watched them for hours. They know each other so well they made it look effortless, as if they were the same person in two bodies. Simply beautiful.

Backyard Wedding

When they made the surprise announcement the whole backyard erupted into cheers. Everyone was so happy for them!

Backyard Wedding

They quickly ran inside to change their clothes while friends and family pulled out the chairs from hiding and set up the ceremony space.

Backyard Wedding

They were both in tears at the sight of each other and in the excitement of being surrounded by their favorite people at their beautiful new home.

Backyard Wedding
Backyard Wedding
Backyard Wedding

Everyone followed them to reception venue just down the street and the celebrating and dancing commenced. It was such a fun night!

Palm Coast Arts Foundation Wedding Reception
Palm Coast Arts Foundation Wedding Reception
Palm Coast Arts Foundation Wedding Reception

Thank you for inviting me to participate you guys! I had so much fun!

The Vendors who made the day possible:

Photography: Cynthia Viola

Hair Stylist: Holly Poulos

Make Up Artist: Amber Viola

Officiant: Donna Banks

Photobooth: Photo Booth St Augustine

Reception Venue: Palm Coast Arts Foundation

Venue Coordinator: Nancy Crouch

Caterer: Dahlia's Mexican Kitchen

DJ: LTH

Cupcakes: Marie Gammero

Rentals: Andy's Taylor Rentals

Angus Barn Wedding | Marianne and Brian

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
The best thing to hold onto in life is each other
— Audrey Hepburn
Pavillions at Angus Barn Fall Wedding

Watching two people like Marianne and Brian commit to loving one another for the rest of their lives is such a beautiful thing. They have been together for years, and of course, known for years they would be together, 2018 just seemed like the right time to make it “official.” Their families could not have been more thrilled. I loved hearing them talk about how excited they were that this day was finally here! During speeches they were not “welcomed to the family” because they already were family and the comfort in the room was palpable. It’s rare to find couples whose families are an absolute perfect fit for each other, their moms were laughing and giggling together the whole morning and both families were dancing together and intermingling at tables during the reception. It was beautiful. These two will be starting their own beautiful legacy now, and I have no doubt it’s because of the example their families set, their love is strong and genuine.

Pavillions at Angus Barn Fall Wedding

Each wedding leaves me with a favorite detail, and this one had to be Marianne’s grandmother’s dress. She had a small piece of it sewn into her dress, a reminder that just a short time ago, white was not the norm for wedding dress colors, and her grandmother wore a gorgeous blush dress. As for traditions her dress was new, her earrings and veil were borrowed from her sister and she had bright blue polish on her toes.

Grandma's dress detail
Pavilions at Angus Barn Fall Wedding
Pavilions at Angus Barn Fall Wedding
Pavilions at Angus Barn Fall Wedding
Pavilions at Angus Barn Fall Wedding
Pavilions at Angus Barn Fall Wedding
Pavilions at Angus Barn Fall Wedding
Pavilions at Angus Barn Wedding Ceremony
Pavilions at Angus Barn Fall Wedding
Pavilions at Angus Barn Wedding Reception
Pavilions at Angus Barn Wedding Reception

During toasts, Marianne’s sister Sara told a funny story about shrimp that was long running in their family. The final word being that Marianne, while a lover of life and laughter and a good joke… is incredibly kind and considerate of the feelings of those around her. Brian saw that too when he first met her, as his best man, Justin recounted; she makes every day brighter. It is very clear that their love for the other people in their lives is deeply reciprocated by their friends.

Pavilions at Angus Barn Wedding Reception
Pavilions at Angus Barn Wedding Reception

This weekend could not have been any more beautiful and we were so grateful to be a part of it!

The vendors who made this day possible:

Photographers: Cynthia Viola with Guillermo Delgado

Venue and Catering: The Angus Barn

Coordinator: Sarah Leach

The Dress: Allure

The Suit: Custom made Men’s Warehouse

Maid of honor’s Dress -Alfred Sung

Groomsmen’s Attire: Custom made Men’s Warehouse

Her Ring: Custom made using his grandmas diamond - setting by Stonehaven Jewelry, Cary NC

His Ring: David Yurman

Perfume: St. Kitts, Tommy Bahama

Cologne: Polo Ralph Lauren- Black

Hair and Make Up: Margo Williams with Belloviso

Florist: Kelley Kennedy with Teacup Florist

Officiant: Reverend Barbara Lodge

DJ: Frank with Joe Bunn Entertainment

Napkins and Chargers: DeeJay Rentals

Invitations: Papersource

Favors: Chad's Popcorn via Angus Barn

Signs: Fastsigns

Honeymoon: Ritz Carlton Maui, hawaii

Seed Mill Barn Wedding | Christy and Tina

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Love her but leave her wild.
— Atticus
LGBTQ Wedding in North Carolina

I met these two lovelies when I captured Anse and Allie's wedding last year. Christy was in the wedding party and we became instant friends, she was just so helpful with every aspect of their day. Then we relived it all over again as Allie and Anse and dozens of their other friends jumped in to provide support both in the form of laugher and hugs as well as manual labor and borrowed details. From private conversations with the wedding party in the bridal suites to the grand toasts during the reception, their friends and family showered them with praises for their kindness and and adoration for their love.

Christy and Tina said they ran in the same circles for a couple of years before they started dating, they got along great especially since both have more than one motorcycle each. For our pre-meet we met in a biker bar in Charlotte, which was so fun to see that side of their personality shine. They both have played many sports together like kickball and dodgeball and Christy has done a Spartan Race before, so of course we were practically besties by the end of our conversation. We all realized right off the bat also that none of us are fond of the most traditional aspects of weddings and I couldn't wait to see how they would make this day their own. 

LGBTQ Wedding in North Carolina

They chose to do a first look, but wanted to make sure they didn’t see each other before that moment. This presented a slight challenge as their suites were right next door to each other, but everyone chipped in to watch out for them and I thought it was adorable that even though they couldn’t see each other, they simply spoke loudly through the doors so that they could still talk with each other, excitement growing with each passing conversation.

LGBTQ Wedding in North Carolina

When Christy couldn’t find the exact jewelry she was looking for, her friend Brandis made it for her. (In addition to the box that held it all) They have so many different talented friends, it was awesome seeing it all come together.

LGBTQ Wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina
LGBTQ wedding in North Carolina

Tina proposed inside a castle in Ireland while they were on a vacation and they will be going to Hawaii for the honeymoon; a lifetime of adventures has already begun. I’m so excited for you both!

 

The vendors who made the day possible:

Photography: Cynthia Viola with Brittany Sloan

Venue: Seed Mill Barn

Wedding Party Attire: The Tuxedo Shoppe

 Hair Stylist: Kate Duffy

Florist: Flower Diva 

Officiant: Darrell Materi

DJ: Brian Smith

Catering: City BBQ

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy this 5 year Anniversary or this Barn of Chapel Hill Wedding

 

Barclay Villa Wedding | Jessica and Tyler

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Love has nothing to do with what you’re expecting to get – only what you’re expecting to give – which is everything
— Katharine Hepburn
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC

There’s something moving about capturing a family’s memories from the time their kids are in high school until they start walking down the aisle. I feel like I’ve been a part of Jessica’s family forever. It’s been nearly ten years since her aunt Colleen’s wedding, then with senior portraits for all three sisters, holiday parties and working with them on Help Portrait events, I’ve watched them all grow up and go off on their adventures and come back with tons of stories.

This story, will be their best yet though. Tyler and Jessica have been inseparable for years and already traveled the world together, this fairy tale wedding was the perfect portrait of their journey together. Barclay Villa set the castle backdrop and in addition to her gorgeous wedding rings, Jessica wore a custom ring with her mom's first engagement diamond and blue topaz that her parents bought for her when they were on vacation 20 years ago. The 3 stones represent the three sisters and all of them plan to wear it on their wedding days. Between that, her mother’s veil lace wrapped around her bouquet and Tyler’s confirmation candles being used for the unity candle, the whole day was wrapped in history and the love of their families.

Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Bridal Portraits at Barclay Villa in Angier NC

I couldn’t wait to finally show some of Jessica’s bridal portraits from a few weeks ago! She is so stunning.

Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC

Between grandpa’s in tuxedos and grandmas who can seriously boogie on the dance floor, I’m pretty sure they win the award for most adorable grandparents.

Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC
Wedding at Barclay Villa in Angier NC

This weekend was pure magic you guys! Thank you so much for including us in your fairy tale! 

 

The Big Day was made possible by these Vendors:

Photographers - Cynthia Viola with Brittany Sloan

Coordinator -Jaclyn @ Party Designs By Jax

Venue - Barclay Villa

Wedding Dress - Classic Bride - Cornelius, NC

Bridesmaid's Dresses - Azazie

Rings - Malak Jewelers - Charlotte, NC

Custom Ring - Custom Jewelry Lab - Charlotte, NC

Hair and Make-Up - Wedded Kiss - Raleigh, NC

Florist - Dragonfly Florist

Officiant - Kevin Holland

Violinist - Udeshi Hargett

Live Painter - Tesh Parekh

Band - Lucky Pocket

Videographer - Milestone Media Group

Catering - Jeff @ Rocky Top Catering

Cake Baker - Publix

Bus Rentals - White Glove Transportation

Invitations - Minted

 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy viewing, this Barclay Villa Wedding or this Raleigh Wedding.

 

 

 

The Oaks at Salem Wedding | Ann and Stephen

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
When you’re a kid, you assume your parents are soulmates. My kids are gonna be right about that.
— Pam - The Office
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding

When I met Ann and Stephen I knew I’d found a couple that was meant to be together. Just the way they glance at each other and laugh at each other jokes and flirt is truly endearing. Then I really got to see their love shine as we explored the UNC campus for their Engagement session in February.

You know you’re loved when people will come from all over the country to celebrate with you. Almost everyone there, including the bride and groom were from somewhere else: DC, New York, Michigan, Denver, Seattle, and it’s easy to see why, these two are very lovable from the moment you meet them, both individually and as a couple. Everyone just wants to see them succeed and I loved being a part of it.

So lovable in fact, they rival Jim and Pam from “The Office.” You see, just before Ann put her dress on she noticed a tear in the fabric right on the very front of the dress, it wasn’t super noticeable, but still pretty devastating. She immediately sent Stephen a message telling him the news and, sensing how upset she was, said, “It’s just like Pam, you want me to cut my tie like Jim?” Cue ALLLLLL the tears from all of us! Oh my goodness he could not have said a more perfect thing. In their vows later she mentioned how he always knew how to say exactly the right thing at the right time to make her laugh. They are truly perfect for each other.

Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding Ceremony
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding
Oaks at Salem navy and burgandy Wedding
Oaks at Salem navy and burgandy Wedding
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding Reception
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding Reception
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding Reception
Oaks at Salem Fall Wedding Reception

Thank you so much for letting us participate in your most perfect day you guys!!

The Vendors who Made the Day Possible:

Photographers: Cynthia Viola with Brittany Sloan

Venue: The Oaks at Salem

Coordinator: Becky Chapman with Lily Rose Events

Bride's Dress: Global Bridal Gallery

Bridesmaids' Dresses: The Dessy Group

Groom and Groomsmens' Attire: Men's Warehouse

The Rings: Custom designed with family heirlooms at Ascot Diamonds

Hair and Make Up: Tiffany Mentrak

Florist: Petals on the Go

Officiant: Libby Mayock

DJ: Damien Maass

Caterer: Rocky Top Catering

Cake Baker: Cinda's Creative Cakes

Linen Services: CE Rental

Shuttle Bus: Ecostyle

Invitations: Minted

Rehearsal Dinner: Lake Johnson Waterfront Center


If you liked these, you might also like this Oaks at Salem Wedding, or this one.

Our Lady of Lourdes Wedding | Evelyn and Lawrence

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.
— Aristotle
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding

You just never know where you’re going to find your next favorite couple. Evelyn sent me a message after having seen a comment I’d made on the Blind Barbour’s Instagram Page. We both share an affinity for the place and of course Joey and Michelle who own it. After a quick conversation we decided to meet up at The NC Museum of Art where she and Lawrence had shared their first date and I knew right away we’d be a perfect fit.

Evelyn wasn’t a typical bride; she made it very clear, while this day was about both of them, of course, she wanted me to focus my attention on her groom. “I want him to feel loved and adored,” she said. Such a refreshing concept. While the day in general moved pretty quick, I know they’ll be talking about it for years to come.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Wedding

Every one of the guests couldn’t stop talking about just how happy they were for them. When Lawrence crooned “I can’t help falling in love with you,” to his new bride the whole room was in tears and we all loved them that much more.

The Vendors who made the day possible:

Photographer: Cynthia Viola

Venue: Our Lady Of Lordes Catholic Church

Florist: Flowers on Broad

Officiant: Father Garneau

Catering: Neomande

Cake Baker: Raleigh French Bakery

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like this Brewery Reception or this Raleigh Wedding.

Highgrove Estate Wedding | Jessica and Jeff

Wedding PhotographyCynthia Viola1 Comment
Just in case you ever foolishly forget; I’m never not thinking of you
— Virginia Woolf
Outdoor Ceremony Highgrove Estate

Every part of Jeff and Jessica's wedding weekend felt like a family reunion to me. Not just the fact that there were several other couples and families there I've had the privilege of shooting in the past, or the fact that I've shot at Highgrove before and worked with several of other other vendors before, but more for the fact that everyone was just so welcoming and friendly. From the bartenders and servers at their rehearsal dinner to their super helpful wedding party to everyone who pitched in to make sure the chairs got wiped down after the sudden downpour just before the ceremony started. 

These two have surrounded themselves with people who adore them and wish nothing more than to see them succeed in life and in their relationship. They even invited Jessica's family to participate in their engagement session which was so much fun! I love that they feel comfortable doing all their fun stuff together. You can view those images here, but it was great seeing everyone again and trying to recreate a few of the images throughout the day. 

Highgrove Estate Wedding Details
Highgrove Estate Wedding Details
Highgrove Estate Wedding Details

Jessica has the honor of having two fathers in her life so she was able to share a first look with each of them separately. There were plenty of tears to go around, I assure you :)

Highgrove Estate father daughter first look
Highgrove Estate Wedding Party
Highgrove Estate Wedding Party

I absolutely love working with Highgrove Estate! They truly go all out when it comes to client experience and making sure you have everything you need every step of the way. As I mentioned, the sky opened up just 30 minutes before the ceremony was to start but Jessica had her heart set on having the ceremony outside so Britnie worked her magic and held the guests inside just long enough to let the rain finish then they rushed in to wipe the chairs and saw to it that the show would go on as planned. 

Highgrove Estate Outdoor Wedding Ceremony
Highgrove Estate Outdoor Wedding Ceremony
Highgrove Estate Wedding Party
Highgrove Estate Bride and Groom Portraits

We seriously had so much fun capturing portraits for these two. Jessica and I were doing everything we could to get her groom to blush as we spoke of the upcoming honeymoon. So cute. 

Highgrove Estate Bride and Groom Portraits
Highgrove Estate Bride and Groom Portraits
Highgrove Estate Bride and Groom Portraits
Highgrove Estate Ballroom Reception
Highgrove Estate Ballroom Reception
Highgrove Estate Ballroom Reception
Highgrove Estate Ballroom Reception

Near the end of the evening a T-Rex and a Hippo showed up, I'm still not sure where they came from but there were definitely the life of the party, dancing with the bride and grandma and tons of other guests! So much fun!

Highgrove Estate Ballroom Reception

You guys I cannot thank you enough for letting us be a part of your day! We had an absolute blast! 

 

The Vendors who made the day possible:

Photographers: Cynthia Viola with Brittany Sloan

Coordinator: Britnie Jaynes

Venue & Catering: Highgrove Estate

Bride's Gown: Curvaceous Couture

Bridesmaid's Gowns: Azazie

Bride's Perfume: Tease - Victoria's Secret

Groom and Groomsmen's Attire: Executive's Cutting Edge

Rings: Diamonds Direct

Hair and Makeup: Taylor Downs

Etsy Earrings or whatever: Mkedesignwedding

Officiant: Rob Perry

Florist: Ruth Payne/ Norma Talley

Videographer: John Defino

Bakery: Donna @ Sweet Memories Bakery

DJ: Eddie Leonard Productions

Linen Services: CE Rental

Invitations: Etsy- ArtePapery

Rehearsal Dinner: Nina's Ristorante

 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy viewing, this Highgrove Estate Wedding, or this Raleigh Wedding

 

Banner Elk, North Carolina Wedding | Becca and Clay

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses
— Ann Landers
Mountain Wedding

Wow, I have so many things to say. I feel like I helped raise Becca (and her sister Hannah) in a way. Really, we grew up together. I spent a few hours every week with them at their home discussing life, faith, movies and future dreams. Their incredible mother Robin made a huge dinner every time, entirely from scratch and almost entirely from their massive garden. Little did she know that she inspired the gardener in me; when I moved to Raleigh it was because of her I started my own little back porch box garden and now have quite a collection of vegetables in our back yard now. They lived the type of life that stops to have a good conversation and works long hard hours because that's what makes you feel good at the end of the day. 

The girls expanded my appreciation for literature and classic movies and challenged my beliefs every time we met. I felt truly like a sister, and a part of the family. Now seeing Becca married this weekend brought me back to those wonderful, slower days and made me grateful for the journey of life and all the different places it can take you.

Clay came into Becca's life about 10 years ago and I remember him being a part of our conversations off and on and now here they are, a decade of friendship behind them and a lifetime of love and laughter in front of them. They were truly meant to be.

The entire county was flooded with torrential downpours the week leading up to the wedding; several landslides made the roads questionable and all our nerves were on a rollercoaster ride as we watched the radar. It held off just long enough to capture every single pre-ceremony portrait they wanted, however, poured during the ceremony again, and lifted one last time after the ceremony to allow for family portraits outdoors. The bright greens that came after the storm only made the photos that much more beautiful. Quite the silver lining. Always grateful for unexpected beauty .

Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding

Becca decided to wear her mother's incredibly gorgeous veil and I was super excited about it. There's just something so classic about a long veil, and it adds so many more portrait options. 

Bridal Portraits
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding

Becca and her girls got together the night before and created all their bouquets as well as the ceremony and reception arrangements. DIY bouquets have never looked more beautiful. 

Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding
Banner Elk Christian Fellowship Wedding

Clay knew the right things to say every single time to make his bride light up with smiles and laughter. I absolutely love it when couples know how to tease each other well and have a good time. 

Mountain Wedding
Mountain Wedding

You guys I couldn't be happier for you! Thank you for including me in your big day, I wish you all the happiness in the world!

 

 

The vendors who made the day possible:

Photography: Cynthia Viola

Venue: Banner Elk Christian Fellowship

Bride's Gown: David's Bridal

Groom's Attire: Men's Warehouse

Perfume: Clinique Happy Heart

Bride's Rings: Skattles Jewelers & Zales

Groom's Ring: Stonebrook Jewelers

Hair Stylist: Hannah McCormick

Officiant: Carl Clawson

Cake Baker: Stick Boy Bread Co.

Invitations: Jaime Johnson Photography

 

 

 

Ocean Isle Beach Wedding | Alexa and Landon

Wedding PhotographyCynthia Viola6 Comments
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman
Trash the Dress photography

These two have been on quite the adventure from the moment they met. With a love of traveling and jobs that encourage it, they have lived and traveled all across the country and beyond. When they told me the wedding was going to be on Cinco de Mayo, I knew an epic party was about to happen. 

They rented a house in Ocean Isle and invited their closest family and friends to stay the weekend, celebrate life, love and new adventures. We've never had so much fun! From the second we arrived on Thursday we threw our stuff in our rooms and made our way to the beach to share stories and take in the moment. Everyone adores Landon and Alexa so much it was effortless to come together to celebrate them. 

OIB wedding photography
OIB wedding photography
Beach wedding details
Beach wedding details
Beach wedding details
OIB wedding photography
father daughter first look
beach groom details

While they were getting ready they couldn't resist telling everyone how excited they were and as everything built toward the first look they were practically dancing with anticipation. You'd never know there were hundreds of people on the beach watching them, they only had eyes for each other. 

pier first look
pier first look
pier first look
pier first look
pier first look

Have you ever seen a more joyful bride?!? You just can't resist loving Alexa from the very first moment you meet her and Landon is, of course full of his own charms. 

pier first look

All Alexa wanted for her ceremony was to be surrounded by as much color as possible. Their guests did not disappoint. 

beach wedding ceremony
beach wedding ceremony
beach wedding

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know Trash the Dress sessions are my favorite... I usually tend to shoot them on anniversaries or some time down the road from the wedding day, but Alexa had another dress ready to go for the reception and couldn't wait to jump in the ocean! A true mermaid.

beach trash the dress
beach wedding reception food truck
beach wedding reception
beach wedding reception
beach wedding cake cutting
beach wedding reception
beach wedding reception
beach trash the dress
beach trash the dress

You guys I could not be happier for you! I loved every single minute of this weekend and cannot wait to come visit in Cali soon!! Love you!!

 

The Vendors who made the Day Possible:

Photographer: Cynthia Viola

Videographer: Jerry Moore Luminous Event Films

Venue: Southern Comfort

Bridal Gown: Maggie Sottero from Dar Lynns Bridal

Groom's Attire: Men's Warehouse

Bride's Ring: Simon G Engagement

Perfume: Lancome la Vie est Belle

Cologne: Gucci Guilty

Hair Stylist: Brandi from Coral Tree Salon

Make Up Artist: Sabrina from Coral Tree Salon

Florist: Dave Bryant Designer

Officiant: Terrence Richards

Catering: Catch the Food Truck and Art Catering

Cake Baker: Cakes by the Sea

Linen/Chair/Tent Services: Art Catering

Light and Sound- Michael Pirozzolo Event Excellence

 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Jenelle and Billy's Trash the Dress Session or Heather and Kyle's Beach Engagement

Oaks at Salem Wedding | Lindsay and Matt

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories
— George Eliot
Bride and Groom with Classic Car

Lindsay and Matt know how to go big on a party. From the classic cocktails, to the incredible DJs to knife fighting among the groom's party before the ceremony and Spice Girls jam sessions in the Bride's suite; they and their wedding party are there to have a good time. We had so much fun capturing the big day.

The Oaks at Salem was, of course, the perfect backdrop, and no one could have ordered a better weather forecast. It was like a fairy tale. 

When Lindsay's mom and dad shared advice for her during the first look, we all got a little teary eyed and everyone in the bride's party spoke from the heart as they recalled fun stories and shared what they admired about their friend. 

The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex

Lindsay and Matt wrote a special note to little Eva to carry with her in the flower basket, and to one day use for her "something blue" if she wishes. She promptly dropped it on the ground which made everyone laugh, but we all knew how very special it was, and she will too some day. :)

The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Ceremony
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex
The Oaks at Salem Apex

The Oaks really does have an incredible backdrop for portraits, any time of the day. Such a beautiful venue.

The Oaks at Salem Apex

I'm pretty sure I ate three entire bowls of m&ms by myself during the reception, it's now officially my favorite wedding favor. :)

The Oaks at Salem Reception
The Oaks at Salem Reception

The choreographed dances had everyone smiling, nothing beats a solid dip...except maybe dad throwing money at the bride :)

The Oaks at Salem Reception
The Oaks at Salem Reception
The Oaks at Salem Reception
The Oaks at Salem Reception

Thank you guys for letting us be a part of your day!! We had an incredible time!!

Hope you enjoy Saint Lucia!! 

 

The Vendors who made the day Possible

Photography: Cynthia & A.J. Viola

Venue: The Oaks at Salem

Coordinators: Becky and Ashley at the Oaks

Bridal Gown: Lillian West from Maggi Bridal in Raleigh

Bridesmaids Dresses: Revelry

Groom's Tux and Groomsmen's Suits: The Black Tux

Bride and Groom's Rings: Bailey's

Hair and Make Up: Cori Lee Style

Florist: MEWS Designs

Officiant: Tim Tharrington, "With This Ring"

DJ: All Events DJs

Videographer: The Bride's Brother, Ryan

Photobooth: All Events DJs

Catering: Cook Shack Catering

Cake and Donuts: Edible Art & Rise Biscuits and Donuts

Linen Services: Party Reflections

Invitations: Minted

If you enjoyed these images you might also enjoy this Oaks at Salem Wedding  

Mooresville, North Carolina Wedding | Susan and Ron

Wedding PhotographyCynthia Viola1 Comment
Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
Lake Norman Wedding

When you get to watch a relationship bloom from the very first date until they say, "I Do," it gives you a whole new appreciation for love. Through the life transitions, disagreements, home repairs and wedding planning Susie and Ron have only grown more and more in love. I feel like we just did their engagement session yesterday and here we are a house brimming to the top with friends and family and every one of us ready to celebrate. 

I adore meeting and spending time with all the extended family members of my couples, but these guys hold and extra special place in my heart. My brothers, of course, at the center, but also half-step brothers, adopted cousins and feisty grandmas, neighbors who've become friends and the very best celebration anyone could ask for. Guests traveled from all over the country to celebrate with Susie and Ron (and of course for Betsy's 95th birthday). 

Everyone had so many wonderful things to say about them both, as they are one of the most welcoming, gracious hosts you could ask for. I heard story after story of how individually and as a couple they've been there to support their loved ones; they take care of so many people and live life to the fullest every day. It has been such an honor and a blessing to become a small part of this huge and incredible group of people. 

Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding

I asked Susie what Ron has to do to make up if he makes her mad, "He just has to make me laugh," she said. (and he promptly whispered something to her causing a huge belly laugh) ;) Susie loves to laugh and no one is better at it than Ron. 

Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more
— Christina Perri
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding
Lake Norman Wedding

I love all of you SO MUCH! Thank you for an incredible weekend, an incredible life. 

 

 

The Vendors who made this day Possible:

Photography: Cynthia Viola

Venue and Catering: Hilton Gardens Inn, Mooresville

Bridal Gown: David's Bridal

Groomsmen Attire: JC Penny

Rings: Brownlee Jewelers

Hair Stylist: Leanna VanWasssenhove

Florist: Lowe's Foods

Officiant: Gino Cassano

Cake: CynTucci's Bakery

DJ: Roland Tate

Dance Floor: Jump Start Events

Invitations: Ann's Bridal

 

If you enjoyed these photos, you might also enjoy this Mooresville Family session or this

Rose Garden Wedding.

 

Oak Bridge Club Stylized Wedding with Lauren and Nathan

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
You wear white and I’ll wear out the words ‘I love you,’ and ‘you’re beautiful’
— Train
Braid Bar Sta Lauren Burks

I must say, in ten years of weddings, I've never participated in a stylized wedding session, but we had SO much fun. Having the freedom of no timeline and a couple who's been together for years with no jitters or wedding stress holding them back was a dream. 

We actually had the added bonus of a precious little flower girl and ring barer to join us while we walked around the grounds, Lauren and Nathan's cute kiddos couldn't help but jump in once they saw how much fun we were having. 

Working with and around other vendors at every weeding is a fun part of the job, but it was so unique to be able to partner with them in the actual planning process for this one. Let me tell you, they didn't shy away, these vendors pulled out all the stops and made the whole process a blast!

Braid Bar Sta Lauren Burks

First of all, our gorgeous bride owns Braid Bar of St. Augustine and therefore styled her own incredible hair, not once but twice, to give two different looks for the shoot. She's braided my hair into a mohawk before which was to die for! If your looking for braids or twists of any kind, she's the bomb. 

Rachel Ashley styled her Make Up perfectly while we chatted in Oak Bridge's beautiful lounge area. She knew exactly what Lauren needed and made sure she had touch up supplies throughout the shoot. 

Lori with Lori Parker Floral Studios in Ponte Vedra had a vision for the boho style and included the most unique florals in the bouquet, boutonniere and ceremony arbor. I honestly didn't hire a florist for my own wedding because I'm not much of a flower person but working with someone who loves what they do makes you change your mind. Lori loves her work so much it she actually made me excited about these flowers throughout the entire process. 

Daria at Adagio Weddings built the incredible arbor and set it to stand against some significant winds that whipped through the fairway. There were multiple times I just knew it was going to collapse as we chased other materials across the green, but it was strong and resilient. She really knows what she's doing. Additionally, she provided the beautiful violin accompaniment for their ceremony and first dance. She has a whole team of skilled musicians to provide for your ceremony or event, she's been playing herself since she was five years old!

Adagio Weddings Violinist Daria
Adagio Weddings Violinist Daria

Oksana at Dress to Impress saved the day when our lovely model's original dress plans fell through and provided the most lovely gowns to choose from at the last second. We were SO hoping to use one but didn't have quite enough time to altar one to fit our bride just right. We went with a trusty back up from her closet but we were SO grateful to Oksana for her willingness to come to the rescue!

ABC Beverage Concierge Services for Ponte Vedra Beach district provided the champagne toast as they are promoting their new hospitality division and were excited to help in any way.

Kelli with KROMA Printing and Design made the beautiful invitations and has vast array to choose from. She was even able to get engraved champagne glasses for the toast!

Of course the Oak Bridge Club is pulling out all the stops to make it a premier wedding destination at an incredibly affordable price. Under new management they're upgrading all the main buildings and golf course areas to better accommodate weddings and events this year, go check them out! Mariel is amazing to work with and a gracious host, she'd love to show you around. 

Lori Parker Floral Studios
ABC Fine Wine and Spirits St Augustine
Adagio Weddings Arch
Kelli Taylor Kroma Printing
Braid Bar Sta Lauren Burks
Lori Parker Floral Studios
Adagio Weddings Arch
Lori Parker Floral Studios
Oak Bridge Golf Club

I couldn't be more grateful to everyone who made this day a success! This truely is the best job on the planet. I work with the most incredible people who also love what they do and love working together as a team to make couples' dreams come true. Thank you everyone! Can't wait to work with you again soon!! 

 

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy this Golf Club Wedding in Raleigh, or this Golf Club Family Session in Charlotte. 

What about Grooms and their Party?

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
If you have crazy friends, you’ll have everything you’ll ever need
— Anonymous
Groomsmen Inspiration

Helping various family members plan their weddings this year has me answering questions I don't typically need to answer as a photographer, but as they've come up I figured it'd wouldn't hurt to share them here in case you find them helpful as well. 

Groomsmen Inspiration

I must implore you though from the very beginning: there is no correct answer. This is your day, make whatever choices make you happy, invite all your favorite people and just celebrate life and love. However, if you're interested in a few tips or just need a little inspiration, this is a good place to start. 

Groomsmen Inspiration

Suit, Tux or Jeans and a Button Up?

I generally lean toward the casual side of life and love the idea of just being yourself always. Therefore jeans and button up makes sense if that's what you love... however... no one has ever looked bad in a tuxedo. If you wear jeans and tee shirts every other day of your life, why not take one day just to go all out and knock the socks off your future spouse? People often focus on wow factor of brides and expect  to be blown away by them, when grooms put their best foot forward, I've seen several crowds stand with their jaws dropped at how outstanding a groom looked. 

Groomsmen Inspiration

Suspenders, Vest, bowtie or Tie?

If you go with the tux, you'll likely choose a bowtie, but with a suit, vest or button up, you have a few other options. Here's a few images to give you some ideas, but it'll just depend what look you're going for. 

Groomsmen Inspiration
Groomsmen Inspiration

Boutineers

I have seen them all, and my recommendation is to keep them small. Any different flower you like works well, pieces of wood, herbs, hops and berries tie in a nice masculine touch, or even specially designed pieces to add a little flare. They don't need to be huge though, especially if you're not wearing a jacket. Loose button ups and suspenders have their own classy look, but they cannot handle a rowdy bunch of guys for 8 hours. 

Groomsmen Inspiration

Cufflinks, Socks and Flasks

I am certainly no expert on men's accessories, but I've seen lots of great options. Many grooms love to give flasks and specific fun socks or cufflinks at the rehearsal to thank their friends for being such a big part of their big day. I am a huge fan of buying flasks along with your guys' favorite drink, it just shows you pay attention. A good toast right before you walk down the aisle is a great way to boost your confidence before stepping in front of a few hundred people. Figure out what is important to you and your tribe and just go with it. 

Groomsmen Inspiration

Ladies in the party

Tons of wedding parties these days have women, men and transgendered friends alike. Feel free to dress them all to match exactly, or switch it up by having one party in one color and the other in another, so ladies can wear a dress and still be connected to the groom

Groomsmen Inspiration

No matter what decisions you make or what details fall apart at the last second, at the end of the day, you're marrying the love of you life surrounded by all your favorite people and the rest will simply slip into one big happy memory. Hopefully these ideas give you something to work with, but in the meantime I hope you enjoy the process and savor these memories while they last! 

Groomsmen Inspiration
Groomsmen Inspiration

Ideal Wedding Planning Timeline

Wedding Photography, VendorsCynthia ViolaComment
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou
What to do before the wedding day

I will be shooting the weddings of five close friends and family members this year and as such, I've been a bit more involved in the planning of their big days. Along with that, I've found the same question keeps presenting itself in different ways:

"If I send my save the dates now, how long do I wait to send my official invites?"

"When should I expect people to RSVP by?"

"How early do I need to order..."

"When is the best time to..."

"At what point do I need to...."

"Is it too late to...."

Now, I'm certainly no expert here, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND hiring a wedding coordinator to help you with these questions, but hopefully this will give you some ideas for what might work for you. Particularly as it relates to your photography. :)

Please do not feel like you need to follow this exaclty...or at all, but if you're just looking for a place to start, hopefully you'll find this helpful. I am basing it off of a 12 month timeline. If your big day is in 6 months, cut the times in half, 18 months, you have a little leeway etc...

what to do 12 months before wedding

12-18 Months:

  • Start a binder to keep everything together (vendor info, price comparisons, receipts)  
  • Sit down with with your future spouse and any parents who might be helping with the cost and determine not only an overall budget but how much of it you'd like to designate to each area. 
  • Start a guest list, it will need to be adjusted as you go along (most likely cut due to costs) but go ahead and get a ballpark idea of how many you'd have there if everyone you loved came, this will help you choose your venue as some only hold a certain amount. 
  • Hire a planner.  (In St. Augustine, I love Heidi) This will save you SOOOO much stress. They are naturally good at details (that's why they're planners) and they know a ton about the industry and what vendors and details will suit you best.
  • Choose a season you'd like to be married in, and even a month, just don't set your heart on a specific date until you know your venue and other main vendors are available. 
  • Choose your Venue(s). Popular ceremony and reception venues book up sometimes two years in advance. Once you know your venue is available for the date you want, you'll be able to choose your other vendors accordingly and send out save the dates. Check to make sure they don't host multiple weddings in one day, that can make it stressful if you're trying to get in and out at very specific times.
  • If you like, Throw an Engagement Party! We will always take ANY reason to celebrate with the people we love. Just don't feel like you have to... especially if you'd rather save your budget for better options on the wedding day.
what to do 9 months before your wedding

9-11 Months:

  • Determine which vendors are most important to you and secure them for the date asap in order of importance. This will also deplete the budget the fastest, so if you know you can't live without a specific DJ, book them first and you can get a second choice caterer if the budget gets tight.  I personally think photography is most important because it's the only thing you get to keep after the big day besides your spouse, but definitely figure out what is most important to you and your future spouse.  
  • Register for gifts at various stores, most you can do online these days, Wedding Wire also helps streamline this process.  
  • Say yes to a dress. (or two for two brides both wearing dresses, double the fun!) It's fine if you're borrowing it, just know where it's coming from and whether or not it will need to be altered. This tends to take a couple months. 
  • Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out of town guests at 2-3 different hotels at different price points near the venue. 
  • Schedule your engagement session with your photographer. If you plan to use these photos for save the dates, you'll need to be closer to 11 months out, if not, I've shot them as late as the day before the wedding. :)
  • Launch a wedding website if you'd like, through a free service such as Weddingwire.com. This will be helpful for guests needing info leading up to the big day. (It's also fun to put it together, and you can show off photos from your engagement session if you choose to have one) 
what to do 7 months before wedding

7-8 Months:

  • Choose your wedding party. If you know for sure that, say, siblings will be in the party, feel free to let them know asap. But we chose ours while still in college a year and a half before the big day with friends changing constantly and by the time our day rolled around we weren't even sure a couple of them would show up! ALSO, don't feel like it has to be all women or all men based on your gender. If you want your brother AND sister standing by your side, do it. 
  • If you're choosing specific dresses for any ladies in your party to wear, get them ordered now, it often takes as much as six months for them to arrive, then you need to consider alterations. It's also common practice today to just choose a color and length and allow the girls to choose their dress, this way price point and body type for each one can be considered. 
  • Start planning your honeymoon. Do you need passports or shots?
  • Choose wedding shoes and begin your alterations, make sure to bring the shoes with you to each fitting. (It usually takes about 3 fittings) 
what to do 6 months before wedding

5-6 Months:

  • Meet with your officiant and decide if you'll want to do pre-marital counseling. I HIGHLY recommend this, regardless of your religious affiliation. Having a couple sessions to talk through some of the big things you can expect in your marriage will help you get through those tuff times so much better. 
  • Reserve your structural necessities. If an outdoor wedding, you might need a tent, portable toilets, extra chairs etc, it will depend on your venue, just make sure you check in with them. 
  • Florists can come a little later due to the fact that they can usually book multiple weddings in one day, but if you have your heart set on one, make sure you lean closer to 6 months. 
  • Arrange any transportation you might need for yourselves, your wedding party or the entire guest list if there will be heavy drinking at the reception. Consider trolleys, limos, busses and pre-paid uber passes. 
  • Finalize your menu with the caterer. 
  • Choose your cake or other desserts if your caterer does not provide them. Doughnuts, cupcakes, truffles and ice cream bars are all popular options as well. 
what to do 3 months before wedding

3-4 Months:

  • Schedule hair and/or make up artists and decide if you'll also be providing them for your girls/moms/sisters etc... It's a great idea to have them do your trial run the day of your engagement or bridal session so you'll know what to expect on the big day and whether or not you like the way you look in photos. 
  • Order favors for guests if you so desire, or welcome baskets for out of town guests. You can also plan gifts for those who helped out, like parents and wedding party etc. 
  • Purchase the wedding bands now in case you need any resizing.  
  • Nail down your guest list and send invitations. Feel free to get fancy with a calligrapher or keep it super simple with social media, either way, make sure everyone you want to be there has it in their calendar. RSVP cutoff is usually about 2-3 weeks prior to the wedding so you can inform your caterer of exact food amounts. 
  • If you're choosing to have a bridal session, now is the time to get it done if you'd like to have any images printed to canvas and displayed at the reception. Keep in mind you will also need to bump up the time your wedding gown is completed. (If you don't plan to have prints at the reception you can just make sure to set aside enough time for your photographer to take bridal portraits on the morning of the big day)
  • Rent or buy the attire for the groom (or grooms) as well as any men in the wedding party (or ladies wearing suits).
what to do 2 months before wedding

 1-2 Months:

  • Create a day-of timeline. This is best done WITH your coordinator and photographer to make sure you're on the same page with how long certain pieces take. They have experienced hundreds of weddings and can guide you. It is also good to send this to your other vendors to make sure they don't see any red flags. (If you accidentally only planned 5 minutes to hand deliver 300 plated meals, your caterer will catch that)
  • Book rehearsal dinner, day after brunch and any other venues for special meals before and after the big day for out of town and special guests. 
  • Make sure your DJ or band know what music you want played and more importantly, what you don't. Guests will inevitably make requests, if there's something specific you don't want to hear on your happy day, make sure they know to kindly tell your guests, "no."
  • Make sure you inform those you'd like to make a toast well in advance so they have time to prepare. Some will still "shoot from the hip" on the day of, but others appreciate having lots of time to write the perfect speech. 
  • Sometimes it's easier on planning to hold bachelor and bachelorette parties a month or two in advance, especially if you plan to travel somewhere like Vegas, but if all your friends are from out of town, it can be easiest to schedule it the night BEFORE the rehearsal so you have time to recover. :)
what to do 1 month before wedding

Month of:

  • Finalize the ceremony timeline as well as any readings, songs, or special moments. Make sure you are on the same page with the officiant and anyone else you'd like to participate.  Marriage licenses take about a week, so give yourselves some leeway. 
  • Confirm arrival times for all vendors and make sure you've exchanged answers to any final questions. 
  • Send out as many final vendor payments as you can so you do not have to worry about it at the reception while you're trying to dance. 
  • If any guests have not RSVPd by the cut off, it's a good idea to call them or check in via social media one last time to make sure. 
  • If you will be assigning seating for the reception, do this after your final RSVP date so you know exactly what you're working with. It can also be a good idea to plan a "did not rsvp" table if your caterer allows the flexibility. It's also wise to consider your vendors here, do you want your photographer,  officiant or band sitting with the guests and a plated meal, or will you ask the caterer to provide a vendor meal in the back. 
  • Write your vows if necessary, or letters to exchange with each other on the morning of. 
what to do 1 week before wedding

Week of:

  • Delegate small tasks like bustling the dress, paying and tipping vendors, giving out party gifts, bringing snacks to the getting ready suites, creating a getting ready playlist or anything else you don't want to have to fret about on the morning of. 
  • Send a timeline to the wedding party and answer any questions. 
  • Pick up your dress(es) and tux(es)
  • If you're doing a mani or pedi make sure it's booked for the morning of the rehearsal, or even the day before. A stress-relieving couple's massage is always a good idea as well. It will help you both destress. 
  • Pack for the honeymoon. 

Night Before:

  • At rehearsal confirm any readings, answer any questions for the family and wedding party and make sure everyone know where they need to be and when. (It's a good idea to tell them 30-60 minutes earlier than necessary if they tend to run late)
  • Pass out any gifts for the party or parents (especially if you expect them to wear them the next day). 
  • Bring anything to the ceremony site that you're allowed to leave (candles, programs etc)
  • Give marriage license to the officiant
what to do the day of your wedding

Day of:

  • Have all items you want photographed delivered to one of your getting ready suites so that your photographer can capture it all together (before you give the rings to the best man etc...)
  • Just take it all in. It will go by SO fast. Things are not going to go quite as planned and that is JUST FINE. As long as you both say, "I do" all the other details will work themselves out. Relax and enjoy watching all your hard work play out before your eyes. You're almost MARRIED!

Please do NOT feel like this is comprehensive or that you need to follow all or any of it. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to not stress about the big day but enjoy the process and love each other through all the decisions. 

No matter what decisions you make, who's opinions you heed to or kindly turn down - the way you treat your future spouse and all those trying to help you make good decisions will FAR outweigh what final decisions were actually made. No one will care that you had the most beautiful flowers if you yelled at them for not holding them the right way, they won't care how good you looked in your gown if you yelled at them for stepping on the train, they won't remember that your food was amazing if you told them their ideas for food were terrible.

Treat your people with kindness above all and everyone will remember what an incredible couple you both are and how you had the most beautiful wedding they've ever seen. 

 

Guest Post! A History of the Wedding Dress by Heidi Stouder

Vendors, Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Heidi Stouder at Endless Possibilities

You guys! I have been having TOO much fun these past couple weeks getting acquainted with St. Augustine and all it's beautiful people. I've been meeting lots of kind people, like sweet Mrs. Smith at the coffee shop who let me go first in line because she could tell I was there for a meeting and she "didn't have anywhere important to be." How sweet is that?!? I feel like I'm back in Boone all over again!

Well, one of my favorite new people, Heidi, was gracious enough to give me the run down of the wedding industry down here and we had a blast this afternoon as I took a few quick head shots for her in the parking lot of her new office space at Endless Possibilities!

When I was checking out her website the other day I discovered this blog she wrote recently and knew immediately I HAD to have it! I realized immediately I didn't know the answer to the question of why we wear white wedding dresses and her discovery fascinated me. It's not been around for thousands of years like I'd supposed, the answer might surprise you too! Check it out below!

History of the white wedding dress

I just had the opportunity to experience the grand adventure of trying on wedding gowns.

It sparked my curiosity on "when did the wedding dress fad even start?" "Have brides always wanted to wear white, or was that even an option for most?"

So I brewed some coffee and stat down to read any information I could find on the subject.

I wasn't surprised to read that there is little to no information on the subject. What you can find out, is wedding dress colors and styles pertaining to what culture you were raised in.

Like how most Eastern cultures wore red, a symbol of favored fortune.

Wedding dresses have changed drastically throughout history, but the earliest information on Western culture, dates back to the Middle ages. Brides were expected to dress in the manner that befitted their social status.

Wealthy families wore rich colors, exclusive fabrics, furs, velvet and silks. The poorest brides wore their best church dress they had.  But when did the white wedding dress become the fashion?

The first documented white wedding gown was worn by Philippa of England, in 1406.  She sported a white silk tunic with a cloak trimmed in grey squirrel fur.  Defiantly not PETA approved.

History of the white wedding dress

Then the next bride we find out about is Mary Queen of Scots.  She wore white in 1559, at the time the French style, was to wear white if you were in mourning. It just so happened that Mary Queen of Scots was marrying Francis II of France.  Kinda makes you think is was a subtle way of stating how she felt about the union.

The white wedding gown didn't come into fashion till the Victorian era when Queen Victoria wore white in 1840.   Wearing white had a rough start.  White was a very hard color to come by and to keep clean.  White was a sign of social status and still only used by the wealthy from 1840's through the 1920's.  Due to the depression, WWI and WWII, wedding dresses again became what the bride had on hand, such as church clothes or borrowed dresses from a family member or friend.  After WWII the white wedding gown's, like we see today, made its smashing hit and come back with Grace Kelly in 1956.

History of the white wedding dress

Wedding dresses truly reflect a bride's personality as well as the theme of the wedding.  More and more you will see brides are incorporating color back into the wedding dress. However, I feel that the white/Ivory gown will stand the test of time and remain the most sought after gown color for years to come.

History of the white wedding dress
History of the white wedding dress

Thank you so much Heidi for sharing your findings!! Cannot wait to work with you on our first wedding this spring!! 


If you liked this post, you will probably also like: The Vendor Series or How to Choose Bridesmaids Dresses

Jenelle and Billy Trash the Dress at Vilano Beach

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
You don’t have time to be timid. You must be bold and daring!
— Lumière, Beauty and the Beast
Beach Trash the dress

Oh my goodness! Where in the world do I begin! There simply was not a better way for Jenelle and Billy to top off their fairy tale wedding than a trip to Disney and an EPIC trash the dress session on their way home!  

I seriously cannot express how much I adore these sessions. I wish I was clever enough to come up with a different title for it because it frequently scares people away, but they are THE MOST FUN SESSIONS EVER! Maybe that's what I'll call it from now on. :)

Beach Trash the dress

You cannot look at the smiles on their faces and think it was boring in any way. We all were laughing til our sides were hurting! One of my favorite moments was when I was taking a shot of Jenelle with my back to the ocean and apparently a giant wave was about to take out all our stuff and Billy dived to "save the photographer's stuff" and neglected his own shoes (which were holding his phone). We had to give him a hard time because I had all the important stuff in my backpack, he just saved my step stool and towel. Totally heroic effort though Billy! Love you!

Beach Trash the dress

The schnanigans were in full swing as we didn't have to worry about their clothes (or mine), we basically just had to keep the camera out of the water. These two ran, danced, jumped and played their way down the coast line as we chased the sunset.

This might be my favorite set of outtakes ever... I'll let you decide who started it and who won ;) 

Beach Trash the dress

(The answer is BOTH of them. Both started it, and both won. They are the perfect match through and through). 

Now for the romance...

Beach Trash the dress
Beach Trash the dress
Beach Trash the dress
Beach Trash the dress
Beach Trash the dress
Beach Trash the dress
Beach Trash the dress
Beach Trash the dress

Jenelle and Billy you two are ROCKSTARS! Thank you so much for coming to Viola's for lunch with us and just being SO freaking fun! If California keeps acquiring our favorite people, a move may be in store...just sayin... Congratulations on the rest of forever! 

Barclay Villa Wedding | Jenelle + Billy

Wedding PhotographyCynthia Viola2 Comments
Take my hand, take a breath
Pull me close and take one step
— Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens
Barclay Villa, Angier NC

You guys! This was a fairytale wedding for the history books, complete with Princess and Castle! Billy even proposed to Jenelle in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, CA!

When we first met, Jenelle shared some stories about their relationship and how she really loves all things Disney. She said she used to keep the High School Musical Soundtrack in her car and whenever Billy would drive it, he would cue the CD to play "Can I have this Dance" for the next time she got in because it was her favorite. How sweet is that?!?! Oh my goodness what a keeper!! 

Disney Princess Themed Wedding

Also, Billy told Jenelle that the song that played in his head when he was getting up the nerve to kiss her for the first time was "Kiss the Girl" from the Little Mermaid. First of all, that a song was even playing in his head is adorable, but that it was a disney song to match her style just gives me ALLL the feels! I love that he just steps right into her fairytale and owns his role as Prince Charming! Jenelle actually surprised HIM by having the DJ play the song during the ceremony's first kiss as well! SO fun! 

 During the ceremony they did a "hand-fastening ceremony" and the mother of the bride made the intricate cord that was wrapped around their hands while they "tied the knot," she also helped put together the bouquets! Everyone was so gracious and welcoming all weekend. So many guests flew in from California and other places across the country, and all of them had stories to tell and so much love to give to Jenelle and Billy. Everyone was laughing and crying as the beautiful toasts were shared and completely in awe as they floated across the dance floor in complete Beauty and the Beast flair!

It was such an honor to be a part of your big day you guys! I loved every little detail and especially the way you interacted together! Never more than a few steps away from each other and always with a smile on your face! I hope you enjoy reliving it through the images!

Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding

Billy had a note waiting for her when she entered the bridal suite titled "To the love of my life." Such a charmer!

Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Wedding Rings
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding

Barclay Villa has a beautiful balcony above the ceremony garden where the bride can present herself like a princess before coming down the aisle. You could hear everyone's breath catch as Jenelle stepped out, just like Cinderella at the ball. 

Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding

Right after she smashed cake in Billy's face, she said she'd been waiting to do that for ten years! Haha! 

Disney Princess Themed Wedding
Disney Princess Themed Wedding

They were having so much fun they *might have ran through the sparklers twice! Love it! What an incredible day you guys! And a beautiful start to your life together :)

Disney Princess Themed Wedding

 

The Vendors who made the day possible:

Photography: Cynthia Viola

Venue: Barclay Villa

Wedding Coordinator & Florist: In Your Dreams by Drema

Bride's Gown: David's Bridal

Groom's Attire: Men's Warehouse

Bride's Ring: Verragio

Groom's Ring: Christian Bauer

Bride's Perfume: Sephora Disney Collection "So This Is Love"

Groom's Cologne: Giorgio Armani- Acqua Di Gio

Hair & Make-up: Katie Winslow

Officiant: Tyler Koch

DJ: JD with Anything Music 

Ballroom Dancing Lessons: Fred Astaire Dance Studio

Videographer: Nathan Head

Catering: Unforgettable Food Affairs

Cake Baker: Sweet Traditions

Linen/Chair/Tent Services: CE Rental

Getaway Car: All About U Limousine Service

Invitations: Indian Wedding Cards

River Ridge Golf Club Wedding | Anna + Anthony

Wedding PhotographyCynthia Viola2 Comments
Happiness, not in another place, but this place. Not for another hour, but this hour
— Walt Whitman
Golf Course Wedding

I'm not sure I've ever met a couple with more adorable smiles. These two are both always so happy and then when they see each other they light up just that much more, it's absolutely precious. I knew today was going to be a great day the moment I saw them interact together at their engagement session. Once one of them would start giggling then the other would start and the smiles never left their faces. 

We got rained out of their engagements a couple times and we were hoping that would mean the universe got it out of it's system so that the big day would be beautiful and we were not disappointed! Would you just look at those Carolina skies! The day was perfect!

River Ridge Golf Wedding
Golf Course Wedding Rehearsal
Golf Course Wedding

Unfortunately Anna's dear grandfather passed just a short time before the wedding even though he was trying very hard to make it, so they honored him by placing a piece of his flannel shirt right next to her heart. Her sister Sarah embroidered it for her. 

Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding details
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding bridesmaids
Golf Course Wedding groomsmen
Golf Course Wedding bridesmaids
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding bridesmaids
Golf Course Wedding

I absolutely love the unique traditions that I get to experience at every celebration. Anna's bouquet was fastened to grandmother's bible that she had carried in her wedding and also Anna's mother had carried at her wedding. When she showed it to her grandmother she said it took her right back to her own wedding day. So special.

Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding ceremony
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding ceremony
Golf Course Wedding ceremony
Golf Course Wedding ceremony
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding party
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding party
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding
Also, if you plan to use any of these images for your facebook profiles and whatnot, please download them from here (rather than taking a screen shot either here or on the blog).
Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding

They chose Old Fashioneds and Gin Tonics as their 'his and her' drinks for the evening which everyone loved!  

Golf Course Wedding
Golf Course Wedding Reception
Golf Course Wedding Reception

Everyone had a blast, dancing and singing the night away. Huge smiles on everyone's faces, especially the new Mr. and Mrs. Noone could out-dance Anna on the dance floor though. One after another everyone took turns spinning her around and singing at the top of their lungs. It was such a fun party! Thank you guys for letting us participate in your perfect day!!  

Golf Course Wedding Reception
Golf Course Wedding Reception

 

 

The Vendors who made the day possible:

Photographers - Cynthia and A.J. Viola with assistance from Brittany Sloan

Ceremony and Reception Venue - River Ridge Golf and Country Club

Coordinator - Miranda Day

Wedding Dress - Savvi Formal Wear

Bridesmaid Dresses - David's Bridal

Groom's Attire - Jos. A. Bank

Bride's Ring - Diamonds Direct

Groom's Ring - Zales

Hair and Make Up - Kristi Martinson @ WINK

Florist -Lou Ann Wollett @ Southern Petals

Officiant - Tom Latimer

Musician - Justin Morehead

DJ - Erick Berrones with PC Productions

Videographer - Kayla Spivey with Blue Sparrow Productions

Catering - The Q Shack

Cake - Publix

Linen/Chair/Tent Services - CE Rental

Get Away Car - Carolina Car Service

Invitations - David's Bridal

Arbor - Homemade Bride

Oaks at Salem Wedding | Katrin + Ryan

Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Love doesn’t make the world go ‘round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile
— Franklin P. Jones
Oaks at Salem Wedding

Katrin and Ryan’s wedding was such a peaceful, laid back day! I love it when couples just go with the flow and don't let details overwhelm them. They knew they had a great team at the Oaks making everything happen so they took everything in stride and were that much more excited when they finally go to see each other!

The day started with an enchanting fog over the pond and ended in the most beautiful glowy light imaginable! Two of my favorite details from the day: the lace sown onto Katrin's dress from her mother's dress and the engraving Ryan had put into her wedding band, a phrase they say to each other often... I love ya, "to the moon and back." 

I think one of my favorite parts of the day was getting to watch Katrin interact with her sister Marissa. They are so similar and yet so different at the same time! They picked on each other, and Marissa definitely picked on Ryan, as she had been the entire engagement, but when it came to her reception speech, she poured on the love for them both. I also loved Katrin's dad’s reaction when he saw her for the first time. I could tear up just thinking about it. There were so many sweet moments that happened throughout the day!

Watching two people like Katrin and Ryan commit to loving one another for the rest of their lives is such a beautiful thing. I hope you love these two and their beautiful Oaks of Salem wedding as much as I do! Enjoy!

Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Bloomworks wedding bouquet
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding

They didn't want to see each other before the ceremony, but they did like the idea of just holding hands and being able to say "hey" and check on each other before hand. We found a perfect doorway to make that happen and they both eased each other's nerves perfectly. They were all smiles the rest of the day just knowing that the other was just as excited as they were!

Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Bloomworks wedding bouquet
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding groom
Oaks of Salem Wedding groomsmen
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding ceremony
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding bridesmaids
Oaks of Salem Wedding party
Oaks of Salem Wedding groomsmen

Oh my goodness, these guys cracked me up so much! Love it when the wedding party jumps right in and decides to play and just have fun celebrating the couple!

Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks of Salem Wedding
Oaks at Salem Wedding
Oaks at Salem Wedding
Oaks at Salem Wedding
Oaks at Salem Wedding
Oaks at Salem Wedding
Oaks at Salem Wedding
Oaks at Salem Wedding
Oaks at Salem Wedding first dance
Oaks at Salem Wedding reception
Oaks at Salem Wedding reception
Oaks at Salem Wedding reception
Oaks at Salem Wedding reception
Oaks at Salem Wedding reception
Oaks at Salem Wedding reception
Oaks at Salem Wedding reception

 

The Vendors who made the day possible:

Photography: Cynthia & A.J. Viola with assistance from Brittany Sloan

Venue/Coordinator: Veni @ The Oaks at Salem, Apex

Bride's Gown: Lana Addison Bridal

Bridesmaids Gowns: Bella Bridesmaids

Groom's Attire: The Black Tux

Florist: Bloomworks

Officiant: Jody Welker

DJ: All Events DJs

Catering: Catering Works

Cake Baker: Clarke, a bridesmaid :)

Linen/Chair Services: Party Reflections

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas