Cynthia Viola Photography


Vendor Series - The Venue - The Oaks at Salem

Wedding Photography, VendorsCynthia ViolaComment
Too much of a good thing can be wonderful
— Mae West
The Oaks at Salem

As a way to better serve our couples, over the next few months I will be highlighting and interviewing a few of our favorite wedding vendors as well as others in the community who directly impact the new life of the young couple. I want to ask them why they love what they do, some tips for couples navigating this new territory and pitfalls that can be avoided. 

This week I'd like to highlight The Oaks at Salem in Apex. Oh my goodness. I have worked with so many venues in the area, and I am telling you, no one has it all together quite like The Oaks. We are talking a GORGEOUS white house, beautiful lake, dreamy barn complete with giant oak trees and a plethora of other hidden gems on their 11 acre estate. Additionally they provide both the ceremony and reception space so your guests don't have to drive around, indoor and outdoor options depending on the weather, valet parking so guests don't have to hike up to their car in the field, full on-site coordination (which I'll get into in a second), and the most perfect getting ready spaces you've ever seen.

The Oaks at Salem

Now, I've seen other beautiful venues, but April has intentionally laid everything out with your memories in mind. Not just the beautiful backdrops, but very intentional natural window light in the bridal suite, neutral walls, and private areas both indoor and out for the first look and bridal party photos. These details make such a big difference in your final images, as well as the flow of photography on the big day.  

The Oaks at Salem Apex

If the grounds themselves weren't enough, they have THE BEST on-site coordinators around. Veni, Joslin, Tina and Katie go out of their way to make sure the day is flawless. They even hold vendor meetings with the couple and/or parents a month before the wedding to ensure everyone is on the same page and working as a team to make the couples' dreams a reality. They are so good at what they do. Vendors working together as a team to make sure the couple is taken care of makes me SO happy. (You'd be surprised how often it's not the case)

The Oaks at Salem Coordinators
The Oaks at Salem Coordinators

Here's a few questions we discussed to help you navigate the venue world:

How many weddings have been hosted at the Oaks? 

We have hosted over 300 successful weddings. 

Why is it important for a couple to choose a venue with everything in one location? 

Our venue provides a seamless experience for couples looking to host both ceremony and reception with us, or for couples looking to have their ceremony off-site.  Our Oaks Coordinators create comprehensive timelines that cover all the moving parts!

What are some of the biggest hurdles couples face when choosing a venue? 

Couples face hurdles deciding between their top choice venues, and often focus only on aesthetics. In choosing a venue, couples should compare the venues apples to apples. This includes factoring in their inclusions, weather contingency plans, organization, and the overall flow of the space. We strive to educate potential couples and provide them with all the information they need to make a well informed decision.

How does your team manage to keep up with so many unique details at each wedding, especially when you have multiple events in the same month? 

Our team has a very organized system in place so that we can keep up with all the details! Upon booking, clients are assigned a lead coordinator that they correspond with via email.  Using email for communication is very convenient for the client, generates a fast response from us, and helps us keep all of the planning details documented in one place. The lead coordinator organizes an on-site meeting with the client and their vendors before the wedding to create a timeline and layout for the big day.  Every wedding is unique and these meetings allow us to discuss and account for all of those fine details. In addition to an on-site lead coordinator, every couple is also assigned an assistant coordinator for the day of the wedding.  The timeline and layout are a life source for us and all of the vendors on the day of the wedding, they include reminders and detailed notes down to the minute! 

What brings your team the most joy at a wedding and makes you want to host them week after week? 

We love to see the life-long memories being made and the abundance of love and happiness. It is a pleasure to be a part of these momentous occasions!

As you can see, The Oaks at Salem is a premier wedding venue that is capable of covering everything you could need. Trust me, you won't regret choosing them to make your day happen exactly as you envision it! To see my most recent wedding there, check out Alaria and Drew's blog post. 

The Oaks at Salem
The Oaks at Salem Apex

Why You Shouldn't Anticipate Their Reaction

Wedding Photography, Engagement PortraitsCynthia 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

It's not uncommon for a mom or perhaps a bridesmaid, even an officiant to pull me aside before the ceremony or first look begins and say, "Now make sure you get his reaction, I just know he is going to lose it!" I, of course, assure them I will do my best and that the moment is just going to be perfect. 

While this sentiment is meant as excitement for the couple, and nerves just make people say things because they've heard others say them; I've found in practice that it sets up both the couple and those who love them for failure or disappointment. 

If you expect your love to cry and they don't, or drop to their knees and they don't, or do a happy dance and they don't, it immediately makes you wonder if maybe you're not dazzling enough. Maybe he doesn't like the dress you chose, or she thinks your hair looks funny. Maybe they're just ready to get this part over with so they can get to the party. Maybe they're getting cold feet. In reality, maybe your love is just not a crier. Maybe instead you've rendered them speechless and all they can do is take you in. 

Might I suggest instead to have no expectations, only love.

Rather than worrying about how they're going to respond to you, focus instead on taking them in, fully. Notice the way her curls fall across her face (her stylist put in a lot of work to make that happen you know), notice that he put on your favorite cologne and breath in deeply, notice the shy look on her face as she twirls (she's a little nervous you won't like her dress), notice how he fidgets with his watch and sways back and forth (he's a nervous too, this feels like a first date after all).

When you commit to just living fully in the moment and allowing your love and your family and friends do the same, I promise the day will be more fulfilling, more surprising, more memorable. You be you and let them be them.

Live in the present and let me capture the memories. 

Annnnnnnnd the same theory applies to the proposal of course... 

And one more...can't resist. :)