Cynthia Viola Photography

Banner Elk

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




The Farr Family in Banner Elk

Family PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Where there is love there is life
— Ghandi
Extended family photos in the mountains

I must say I am loving this new family tradition. Last year Stephanie told me her side of the family was renting a cabin in the mountains for the holidays and wanted some extended family photos. We all had so much fun on top of Beech Mountain as we adventured through the woods around the cabin, they decided they wanted to do it again this year. Except this time, with Matt's side of the family!

Leslie managed to find the cabin at the very top of the tallest peak in Banner Elk; the road to get there was an adventure in itself! It's crazy to me that I grew up and lived in the mountains for 23 years and never discovered either of the hidden roads they found for these adventures. The mountains are just full of surprises!

Little Milo was *slightly attached to mom and dad all morning, but everyone jumped in and did their best to bring distractions and treats and snuggles. That's what family is all about after all, helping each other out when we're struggling. I had so much fun with you guys! I hope you enjoy these memories from the day!

Extended family photos in the mountains
Extended family photos in the mountains
Extended family photos in the mountains

I'm pretty sure Captain wins the "best dog of the year" award, so well behaved and not to mention extra soft and fluffy! 

Extended family photos in the mountains
Extended family photos in the mountains

Vendor Series - The Whole Shebang Events

Vendors, Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Eseeola Lodge Wedding

Meris and I have quite a long history. She and Paul were the third wedding AJ and I ever shot in our first year - a decade ago. Both so young at the time we had no idea what the wedding world had in store for us. She has since become an incredible wedding coordinator with an excellent team and I adore working with her! 

All of the vendors I've highlighted in this series so far have been in the Raleigh area, but since I shoot so many weddings in the High Country as well, I thought it'd be fun to highlight a few favorites up there as well. 

I asked Meris to talk about a few of the pitfalls new couples come across as they are planning for their big day and how she can help:

Why is it important for a couple to work with a planner for their wedding?

First and foremost, a wedding planner can introduce you to the right team of vendors for the your style, personality and budget and tell you the ones to steer clear of. 

Second, if it's in the budget to have more than just a "month of" coordinator, the planner will shoulder some stress during the planning process and help keep the team on the same page, minimizing the constant back and fourth... which can be exhausting.

As far as the wedding day itself goes, even if your wedding day is planned to perfection, there are still 100 different things that you never thought of that will happen on the wedding day. It's important to have someone that knows you well enough to be the point person for all of those situations that come up so that you can breathe easy knowing that everything is being handled according to your wishes.

The Whole Shebang Events

What are some of the biggest hurdles couples come across when planning their big day?

Balancing the guest list can be a really emotional thing for everyone involved. I think also just managing the general stress the month of the wedding is a lot. It's impossible to not feel pulled in a million directions and overwhelmed even if you have a perfect team of vendors and a Full Service planner.

How do you manage to keep up with so many unique details at a wedding? Especially when you have multiple events in the same month? 

I could geek out on this subject forever but basically we have systems in place that I've put together over the years from how we organize emails and online folders t spreadsheets and forms that we've built. I'd say it's pretty bulletproof at this point through constant trial and error. I've tried different wedding software but none of it seems to fit exactly how I want things laid out. 

How do you work with bad weather?

Weather is a biggie and it's unavoidable. There's just so many big "game day decisions" to be made any time you have to enact a plan B or plan C. It can be really stressful for the couple to make the decision by themselves. Weather can also bring up thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses whether you're having to rent extra indoor space or tent sidewalls and gutters, heaters and flooring. It can also be hard to know when to pull the trigger on these decisions. We do the best we can to go with the couple's wishes while still maintaining a realistic plan regarding all the moving parts. 

What parts of the planning and/or day of to-dos do you do yourself and what do you delegate to your team?

The main thing is making sure that I bring along enough staff so that I can stay focused on the big picture. Typically there are 3 or 4 of us working on a wedding day. I really don't have hard fast rules for what I do vs what my staff does. Some days I'm setting up chairs and covering tables along with everyone else but I do tend to spend more time with the wedding party and leave a lot of the "set up" to everyone else so that I can make sure that things are flowing well.

What is the difference between a day of coordinator and a full-service wedding planner? 

We hear this question quite a bit. We offer Month of, Partial and Full Service packages. The Month of is exactly like the Partial, you just have access to us from the time you book up until the wedding where as with the Month of we step in at 30 days out and pull everything together.

The difference between the Full Service and these two is that the responsibility is on u to make sure everything is done start to finish where with the other two packages, you're driving the car and we're the navigator. The Full Service Package also looks different for different couples. We do our best to work within the expectations of each different client. Some of our Full Service couples want to be involved in all steps of the process and just want us to be there too. Other couples let us know their overall preferences and then give us free reign to choose the vendors and details that we think are best for them. Things that are helpful to some people aren't always helpful to others so it's important to really get to know your clients in the beginning and figure out how to best serve them. 

What is your favorite part of planning a wedding for a couple?

I love love love the early stages of the planning process. Getting to know the couple and their families and then matching them up with the perfect team of vendors is one of my very favorite things. I enjoy joining together all of the intricate details into one seamless event.

Of course there are favorite moments on the wedding day as well. One of my favorites the sweet moment that the bride and her father share right before they walk down the aisle. I tear up every time! I also can't get enough of the stories that the family and friends tell you about loved ones past and present. 

It's an honor just to be a part of the biggest day of someone's life. Other than that, I really just love people and people working together towards a common goal and seeing something beautiful come to life from start to finish. Having a job where the end result of every work day is a lifelong memory is pretty great.


Maggie and Richard's wedding is one of mine and A.J.'s favorites to date. It was very large and full of incredible details as well different buildings across Eseeola's huge grounds. It could NOT have been accomplished without Meris' incredible team at The Whole Shebang. So grateful for any chance I get to work with them. If you don't have a coordinator yet, you must give her a call!