Monthly Archives: January 2014

For Bride’s Friday: My Favorite Charlotte Wedding Venues

So you’re engaged!  What’s the first thought that pops into your head?  The dress?  Okay… we’ll get to that later… but you HAVE to get a date first!  When is this big event going to take place?  Well… that’s all dependent upon what SEASON you want to get married in, and what dates your venue has available in that season.  So you start looking online, but really… there are so many choices and options.  You’re only inviting your closest 50 family members and friends, well there are some venues that will swallow that number of guests and leave you with more open space than you want to fill.  You’re have a 200 person guest list and want to get married at a historical house?  Well, unless you want people on top of each other you need to find the RIGHT house… and with all the options in Charlotte, I wanted to lay out my favorites.  Disclaimer: This list is not all inclusive!  There are so many amazing venues and people that I haven’t had the opportunity to work with… YET.  But I do know that every venue on this list treats their couples with a high priority, and are some of the BEST people in the business.  So here we go…

1.  The Duke Mansion

Okay, really… is there anything more Southern than a perfect garden wedding at this amazing historical home?  I think not.  From the iconic black and white checked floor, to the pristine gardens and lawn this place is the place you need to check out if you want to host a medium sized wedding with elegant food and the perfect garden ambiance.  However, the Duke only takes 25 weddings a year and they book up quickly, so if this is the kind of atmosphere you’re wanting to create you will need to book with them like yesterday.  They handle all of their own catering (you WILL NOT be disappointed) and liquor.  The bonus is that if you choose to have your wedding or reception take place at the Duke Mansion, you can have your bridal session there without a location fee (a $250 value).  This location can provide enough room for a ceremony, cocktail hour, rehearsal dinner and reception… as well as enough rooms to host your immediate family and bridal party during the weekend.

2. The Mint Museum Uptown

The Mint Museum is probably my favorite location in Charlotte to shoot at.  The Mint is close to The Westin, numerous restaurants and churches and makes for one of the most convenient places to have your ceremony, reception and cocktail hour.  At night your are accosted by views of Uptown Charlotte, and have access to their balconies to create a one of a kind experience for your guests.  Many couples have chosen to make the balconies a dance floor, lounge area or place where the guys can play a couple games of cornhole while enjoying a cigar.  The Mint can host 2 weddings a day, depending on what rooms and space is available for your particular day.  The Mint is perfect in hosting a small to medium sized wedding, and is very accommodating in their referrals and vendor choices.  While you are limited in the caterers on the 1st floor, the 5th floor has a list of 10 you can choose from – which is honestly more than enough!  As a couple who has chosen the Mint as your wedding location you can wander into the galleries after hours to have your photos taken near some of the best works of art the city has to offer, as well as have your bridal and/or engagement session taken on the grounds – an exclusive perk to having your wedding at the Mint.

3. The Ballantyne Hotel

This hotel is so much more than just a hotel.  If it speaks to the level of their quality of service, let’s just say that the President stayed there during the DNC… so, yeah… they know what they’re doing.  The Ballantyne Hotel is perfect to accommodate any size wedding you have.  Whether it be 50 people or 500 people they can make sure your guests are well taken care of.  Like the Duke, they also provide all of their own catering as well as enough locations to hold everything in house – ceremony, reception, cocktail hour and rehearsal dinner.  This location can hold up to 4 weddings on one day, so the risk that they will not have your date available is very low.  The great thing about the Ballantyne is that when you book your wedding with them they will also provide you with a list of vendors to ensure your day goes smoothly. While you’re not required to use their vendors it is highly recommended, as those are the vendors that frequent the location and will ensure your day goes smoothly.  The Ballantyne Hotel also provides a full service spa (a perfect place to get your gals dolled up as well as grab a couple’s massage), and enough rooms to house your guests to keep them safe after a night of celebration.

4. Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens (DSBG)

I have to say that DSBG is probably one of my favorite locations on this list.  The staff there takes great pride in the maintenance of the garden, and with an abundance of beauty you really can’t take a bad picture.  Daniel Stowe is the perfect location for a medium sized wedding of around 125 guests.  Normally brides will host their wedding in one of the gardens and have their reception on the back lawn or inside the ballroom.  Now, I will preface this by saying that DSBG is NOT located directly in Charlotte, but is within 20 miles.  DSBG also has a preferred vendors list, and while some of the vendors are required, they do allow leniency is areas like photographers and cake designers.  In booking your wedding at DSBG you are also allowed access to the grounds for an engagement & bridal shoot free of charge ($250+ value).  DSBG is also another all inclusive site that can house your ceremony, reception and cocktail hour.

5. The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

As soon as The Ritz was completed it instantly became one of the premiere locations in Charlotte to get married.  Their extensive ballrooms and Urban Garden made it one of the best wedding venues in the city if you wanted an upscale, uptown event.  The Ritz can host up to 3 weddings on one day, depending on the size and availability of the rooms reserved; and can host as large as an event as you can possibly dream of.  They handle all of their own catering and cakes, which can be a relief as it’s one less thing on your list that you have to worry about.  As with DSBG and The Duke, in booking your wedding at The Ritz you are also allowed access to the grounds for your engagement and bridal shoot; a definite perk, as you cannot have an engagement session or bridal session at this location without a wedding being booked here.  They also have enough rooms to provide you with an elegant space to get ready, accommodations for your guests and family.

brett & mindy get [engaged]

remember last week when I was in uptown and needed a lunch buddy?  the second person I called was Mindy… that’s how amazing this couple is. I think we spent most of our initial meeting laughing and throwing sarcastic comments at each other! when I walked away I knew I was going to be heartbroken if they didn’t want to move forward… luckily that heartbreak never happened.

Brett and Mindy met at a work Christmas party in New York.  she came from the Chicago office, he was based in New York… they danced the night away at the party, and didn’t want to part ways.  when the time came, instead of moving to the Midwest or New York, an office opened up in Charlotte… and brought them together.  I can’t tell you how ECSTATIC I am about photographing their Biltmore wedding this May!  and hopefully Mindy will be available for lunch the next time I’m uptown. HA!


matt & sarah get [married]!

I love photographing weddings at the beach… I understand that it’s a 3+ hour drive from Charlotte… but I seriously love it.  there’s something so magical about having a couple by the water at sunset… truly nothing replaces it.

I actually met Sarah a few years ago… she was Ryan and I’s waitress on Valentine’s Day at Carrabbas (our second favorite local haunt).  we started talking about life, and she asked for my card… I never thought in a million years that she would actually call me after she and Matt were engaged. just goes to show… you never know.

Sarah and Matt were married on Bald Head Island at the Shoal’s Club.  It was an absolutely beautiful May day, and if you know anything about the island… it was perfectly serene.  I knew all the details were going to be awesome, as Sarah has her own planning company, and her nautical theme was gorgeous against the backdrop of the ocean.

I want to thank Jessica Keener for coming out to Bald Head to shoot with me, and Charlotte Wedding Magazine for featuring this amazing couple!

my favorite images are below… I just think the one on the right is reminiscent of the Pride and Prejudice scene were Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth meet in the field at dawn…

Venue:  The Shoals Club
Dress: Allure
Bridesmaids: David’s Bridal
Groom’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse
Cupcakes: Cakes by the Norwoods
Flowers: Verzaal’s Florist and Events