People-person and professional NC Wedding Photographer: F8 Photo Studios

Southern Bride & Groom works with some of the best wedding photographers in the Raleigh-Durham area and all across North Carolina. We’re thrilled to feature a North Carolina wedding photographer spotlight series so that you can get to know each of them a little better! Today, we’re sharing a Q&A with light-hearted, people-person and professional NC wedding photographer Cara of f8 Photo Studios.

Cara is a Charleston, SC native and the daughter of two doctors. “I basically grew up in a hospital,” Cara jokes, “This really fueled my creative fire with so much time on my hands!” She is very close with friends and family and loves to travel, eat good food, and enjoy an occasional dirty martini. Love and laughter radiate from Cara’s light-hearted spirit and it shows in her work as well.

Cara attended Clemson University for Graphic Communications, which led to an almost decade-long career in marketing and advertising up North. After moving to Raleigh in 2004 she decided it was time to follow her dreams – since she was a child she wanted to be a professional photographer. She enrolled in some refresher photography courses and took pictures of everything in sight! She shared her passion with everyone she met, and before too long, people began paying her to photograph them. Before getting into weddings, Cara shot commercial architecture and was the featured artist for many gallery shows. Then in 2004, a well-known photographer in the industry, asked her to shoot a wedding with her, after which she was completely hooked!

Learn more about Cara from f8 Photo Studios in her Q&A below!
Wedding photographyWhy do you love photography?
There are so many things I love about photography. The biggest one being the people I photograph. I love making people feel beautiful. I love making them laugh and capturing that. I love having the ability to sooth a super nervous bride with only the tone of my voice, and “snap” I’ve captured her. It is truly an indescribable feeling – someone trusting you with their most intimate moments.Destination weddingsWhere do you draw your artistic inspiration?
I am lucky because photographing people comes easy to me. I have always been good with people and a born nurturer so I have a knack for it. I gain my inspiration from capturing people how they really are. The more I photograph, the more I want to do it. It is really addictive that way because the whole rest of the world falls away when I am in that moment on that day with my client.

How would you describe your photographic style?
I have a mixture of styles, but I really like to think of it as emotive. I know when it is appropriate for me to be a part of the action and when it is better to sit back and capture the moments as they unfold. Sometimes I even need to be the creator of moments. You wouldn’t believe what I can get away with saying from behind the camera, but it generates a natural emotion and I snap away.Raleigh weddingsDo you shoot digital or film, or are you a hybrid photographer? 
I shoot digital all the way…when it comes to weddings, that is. I have several vintage film cameras that I shoot with for fun.

What do you think sets you apart from other photographers?
I truly think that what makes me different from other photographers is the relationships I build with my clients. I see myself as more than an artist or a trusted vendor they hired – I feel like an additional support system there to help their day go as smoothly as possible. I genuinely care about the people who I photograph, and I think that it shows in the images I create.Best NC wedding photographersWhat is your favorite thing or moment to shoot at a wedding?
There are so many things I love shooting on the wedding day! I get super excited about details – I love details! I also truly enjoy shooting the couple’s session after the ceremony. Capturing two people in love right after they have said, “I do” is beautiful.Outdoor wedding photographyPhotos by f8 Photo Studios

Spirited UNC Chapel Hill Wedding at Kenan Football Stadium

It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today, we’re excited to share Alex and Danny’s spirited UNC Chapel Hill Wedding at Kenan Football Stadium’s Blue Zone.

Danny and Alex met through mutual friends while attending UNC – Chapel Hill. Danny was a wide receiver on the football team and Alex was a diver on the varsity swimming & diving team. Danny proposed to Alex on their four-year anniversary after the two had spent a weekend apart with their families. When Alex returned home the morning of their anniversary, expecting an empty house and several hours to get ready for a “casual dinner out” which they had agreed to, she was instead greeted with flowers and candles scattered throughout the house and John Legend’s All of Me playing in the background. Danny nervously got down on one knee, expressed his love and desire to spend the rest of their lives together, and asked Alex to marry him. Through tears, Alex, of course, said yes. Instead of presenting Alex with a ring, Danny handed her plane tickets to San Francisco. Danny explained that he knew San Francisco was her favorite city, where her favorite jewelry store (Derco) was located, so he booked a trip to take her there so she could pick out her dream engagement ring! The week was filled with trolley car riding, Ghirardelli sundaes, and lots of diamonds. It was a girl’s fantasy-come-true!

With two Carolina athletes getting married and seven of the 12 members of the bridal party also UNC alums and athletes, getting married in Kenan Stadium on the UNC campus seemed fitting. It was also a unique way to capture the groom’s personality. Danny’s groom’s cake was even made to look like his old football jersey!

The Blue Zone’s exclusive caterer, Rocky Top Catering, presented delicious bites throughout the evening, such as pan-seared crab cakes and leg of lamb.

The night of Alex and Danny’s wedding happened to be the UNC football team’s “Freak Show” which is a recruiting event for players and their families on the field. This provided great entertainment for the guests and was a fun opportunity for all the old football players in attendance to tell their stories from back when they were a part of the team.

Neil and Beth of Neil Boyd Photography captured every amazing moment from getting ready to breaking it down on the dance floor. “Neil did such a good job capturing everyone’s candid genuine emotions throughout the night,” says Alex. “Looking through the pictures and seeing a lot of the day that I missed was such a treat. Neil doesn’t miss a thing! I relived the day and the full range of emotions all over again when viewing the photos, which I’ll cherish forever.”Neil Boyd wedding photographerChapel Hill BridesmaidsCute bridesmaids picturesChapel Hil groomsmenNorth Carolina wedding photographyChapel Hill weddingUNC Chapel Hill weddingChapel Hill ceremony locationsSilver wedding cakeWedding photo guestbookKenan Stadium Blue Zone Chapel HillUNC theme weddingWedding dessert barNorth Carolina wedding catererRocky Top CateringWhite wedding flowersChapel Hill reception venueCEREMONY VENUE The Franklin Hotel | RECEPTION The Blue Zone at Kenan Stadium | CATERER Rocky Top Catering | REHERSAL DINNER City Kitchen | PHOTOGRAPHER Neil Boyd Photography | GOWN Hayley Paige Emeryn from Hayden Olivia Bridal Boutique in Charlotte | BRIDESMAIDS Ralph Lauren Cocktail Collection from Nordstrom’s | JEWELRY Haute Bride Design, San Jose, CA and Swarovski Bella | FORMALWEAR Savvi Formalwear | HAIR & MAKEUP The Makeup Culture | REVEREND Robin Renteria | FLORIST Kelly Odom Flowers and Interiors Inc. | CAKE Cinda’s Creative Cakes | PHOTOBOOTH TapSnap | MUSIC Joe Bunn DJ Company | RENTALS CE Rentals | TRANSPORTATION Raleigh Dream Limos

Wedding Tabletop and Floral Inspiration from Fresh Affairs

Earlier this summer, Fresh Affairs, a Raleigh florist and wedding design company, held their annual Tabletop Extravaganza to showcase what they can do and to give brides plenty of inspiration for their big day!

As you can see from the images captured by Walters & Walters Photography below, every inch of space was covered in beautiful tabletop displays – everything from pretty in pink to tropical arrangements to glitter and gold and dramatic looks sure to wow at your wedding. Each display was complete with linens and rentals by Party Reflections. Equally as enticing was the food provided by Rocky Top Catering and the gorgeous gowns on display from Alexia’s Bridal.

If you’re still envisioning what type of centerpieces you want at your wedding, or wondering if you should go with creative chair back covers, or if you’re just looking for decor ideas, take a moment to scroll through the images below.Pink and white wedding flowersPink wedding flowersPink wedding inspirationBlush wedding colorsWedding flower inspirationTropical wedding flowersGreen and white wedding flowersSilver wedding decorRaleigh weddingsWedding lightingFresh Affairs Raleigh FloristWedding decor inspirationGold wedding detailsMettalic wedding decorAlexias Bridal wedding gownsWedding tablescapesCrystal wedding chandelierNorth Carolina cateringWedding foodRaleigh wedding catererRaleigh wedding DJRocky Top Catering Raleigh NCBlack and white weddingRaleigh floristsFLOWERS & VENUE Fresh Affairs | PHOTOGRAPHY Walters & Walters | CATERING Rocky Top Catering | RENTALS Party Reflections | GOWNS Alexia’s Bridal | CAKE Ashley Cakes | LIGHTING  Total Productions | DJ Bunn DJ Company | VIDEOGRAPHY Heartstone Films

Gluten-Free Catering Options for Your Wedding

Everyone is eyeing your gorgeous wedding cake and they can’t wait to dig into dinner before hitting the dance floor at your reception – surely you want all of them to be able to enjoy what’s on the menu. Accommodating food restrictions and allergies, such as gluten intolerance, is something to consider when planning your wedding cuisine.

As more people are diagnosed with Celiac Disease (a reaction to gluten: a type of protein found in grains, wheat, barley and rye), and become aware of gluten sensitivity, the trend for gluten-free options at weddings has significantly increased in recent years (along with many other dietary requests), and caterers have taken note.

One of SB&G’s preferred caterers, Catering Works, estimates that prior to 2010, gluten-free options were rarely requested (perhaps 2% of weddings); now, gluten-free demands are on the rise and closer to 10% for their business.

Luckily, a good caterer is highly capable and willing to create custom menus for each couple, tailored to their theme, style, guest needs, as well as the couple’s individual personalities. Every couple is different, therefore, a custom approach is best when planning for a gluten-free affair.Gluten free wedding food“When planning a menu that caters to gluten-free needs, yet also meets the overall objective and pleases several palates, we ensure that many items are free of gluten by nature, such as vegetables, fruits, and protein items that are free of wheat (modified food starch is often a hidden culprit),” explains Lorin Laxton, VP and Marketing Director at Catering Works.

In some cases, the couple may want a special meal just for them. “This works especially well in a plated dinner situation, as in a sense, everyone’s plate is customized to their preference by way of pre-selecting their dinner via the RSVP,” shares Laxton. “In other cases, couples want to incorporate a broad range of flavors that appeal to their gluten-free as well as non-gluten free guests. Other times, the couple may have a smaller wedding planned, such as an intimate family affair, where their close relatives and friends are already accustomed to all gluten-free meals, which also works well.”

Some of Catering Works most popular gluten-free items include cranberry almond stuffed chicken; tilapia tacos; corn cakes with duck confit; dates wrapped in bacon; melon prosciutto champagne shooters; thai chicken skewers; and savory meatloaf “cupcake” with mashed potato.Gluten free cateringEvery recipe has a specific cost associated with it based on the ingredients. Keep in mind that in some cases, additional costs apply for gluten-free items; these typically relate to recipes that substitute more expensive flour substitutes, such as almond flour. Still, many gluten-free items have no additional cost. “We always do our best to guide the bride and groom to choices that meet their budget, whether or not they request gluten free items,” Laxton remarks.

One of the biggest challenges in a gluten-free wedding menu is the cake. While there are many gluten-free cake recipes, they don’t always appeal to every guest. In some instances, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between one made with or without gluten, so brides may choose to just order a gluten-free cake to be on the safe side. Another more customized option would be to make a gluten free tier or some gluten-free cupcakes or other small desserts to accommodate gluten-free guests.

During Catering Works menu consultation process, they make a point to address dietary requests. “That way, in case the couple has not already identified this, they will at least be thinking about it, and perhaps put some feelers out to ensure everyone is covered,” Laxton suggests. They also provide menu cards for each event, detailing basic ingredients and flavors in the recipes and clearly identifying if the item is gluten-free or contains common food allergens.Toast as weddingThe best thing about customizing a catering menu today is that you don’t have to sacrifice taste or quality to please everyone. Just about any recipe can be modified for gluten-free needs, as well as be presented in its regular form. Just be sure to request this in advance as it does require more preparation on the part of your caterer.

Photos: Neil Boyd Photography

Beautiful Brier Creek Country Club Wedding in Raleigh, NC

It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today we’re excited to share Emily and Kennan’s beautiful Brier Creek Country Club Wedding in Raleigh, NC, captured by the ever so talented Renee Sprink Photography.

Kennan and Emily met as undergrads at UNC Chapel Hill. He did Army ROTC and was scheduled to move to Germany for four years shortly after they met. With this inevitable separation looming over them, they vowed not to get into a serious relationship. But, before they knew it, and against their best efforts, they talked every day on the phone and booked multiple transatlantic trips to see each other! Clearly, there was something special between them that was much stronger than the miles keeping them apart. They stayed together through Kennan’s deployment to Afghanistan. After he finished his active duty military service, he moved to northern Virginia where Emily was finishing up PA school, and they moved in together.

After about a year of living together, they began talking about the natural next step of getting engaged, but Emily was convinced Kennan could never surprise her – their shared lives were so regimented that she thought anything out of the ordinary would raise suspicion. Kennan took the challenge to heart, showing up out of the blue the day before Valentine’s Day at her office wearing a suit, carrying two-dozen roses and an engagement ring! He also surprised her with a trip to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor at Four Seasons. It turned out to be more perfect and surprising than Emily had ever imagined.

Kennan and Emily decided to get married in Raleigh, since that’s where both sets of parent’s live and is close to where they met. The biggest challenge was planning the wedding long-distance from Virginia. Emily admits that it had its benefits…helping to prevent them from getting too immersed and stressed out by the planning process, but it was also very difficult logistically to book vendors. They planned one weekend in the spring to go to Raleigh and visit multiple venues with her parents. They looked at about six different sites and, at the end of the day, unanimously agreed that Brier Creek Country Club would be the best place for their wedding. Emily felt very comfortable with Shelly, the event coordinator at BCCC, and comforted knowing that she would do the best job of getting them exactly what they wanted.

Emily and Kennan made sure there were personal touches during the ceremony and reception so that it felt like it was truly their wedding, not just another cookie-cutter wedding. They made personalized thank you cards for each place setting, ordered cocktail napkins with their names and wedding date, and even made home-made take-out boxes of Emily’s favorite sweets and Kennan’s favorite snacks for guests to take with them. It was important for them to let guests know how much they were appreciated – especially after some  had traveled very far, including Emily’s brother and family who came all the way from Australia.

In the images below, Renee Sprink Photography captures the elegance of the setting along with the fun-loving nature of the wedding party.Wedding dress and silver wedding shoesRaleigh Bridesmaidsbridal hair stylesDiamond bridal jewelryRaleigh brideOutdoor wedding ceremony in north carolinaPink bridesmaids and gray groomsmenRenee Sprink wedding photographyPastel wedding colorsBrier Creek Country Club weddingRaleigh wedding photographerFun bride and groom photosFall wedding in NCWhite and gold flowersReception at Brier Creek Country Club in RaleighCountry club reception RaleighRaleigh bride and groomReception dancesCustom wedding favorsDIY wedding favorsSparkler exitVENUE, PLANNER & CATERER Brier Creek Country Club | PHOTOGRAPHER Renee Sprink Photography | REHERSAL DINNER City Club Raleigh | GOWN Bridals by Natalie | BRIDESMAIDS Weddington Way | HAIR & MAKEUP Makeup For Your Day | JEWELRY Nordstrom | BRIDESMAID JEWELRY Kate Spade and The Limited | MEN’S FORMALWEAR J. Crew | FLORIST The Blossom Shop | CAKE Cinda’s Creative Cakes | INVITATIONS The Green Kangaroo | CALLIGRAPHER Linda Rozet | CEREMONY MUSIC Amy Kortus (Harpist) | RECEPTION MUSIC Joe Bunn DJ Company | LIGHTING Island Sound and Video | FAVORS Homemade take-out boxes of snacks and treats | TRANSPORTATION EcoStyle | ACCOMODATIONS Embassy Suites, Raleigh

Creative Wedding Cakes by One Belle Bakery in Wilmington, NC

Some folks call the cake the centerpiece of their reception, which is why we reserve a special spotlight in our magazine each year to show off these edible masterpieces! Southern Bride & Groom’s 2015 cake shoot took place at American Tobacco Campus (ATC), a hub of happening in the heart of downtown Durham.
Sunflower cake by Wilmington bakeryToday, we’re showing off two creative wedding cakes by One Belle Bakery in Wilmington, NC. The first is a cheery standout daisy cake that starts off with a bottom tier of artsy “chalk” drawings, followed by hand-painted diamonds in complementary blue, topped off with bright yellow sugar-crafted daisies! This old-school look would pair perfectly with a blue and yellow sunflower theme, such as that in our floral display by Flowers by Gary.

The setting for this cake shoot, captured by Brian Mullins Photography, is a favorite lunch spot on central American Tobacco Campus and reveals one of the many preserved painted advertisements from its factory days.Chevron wedding cakeThe next cake, pictured above was featured in the 2014 edition of Southern Bride & Groom Magazine and also shows off the fun, playful side of One Belle Bakery. The adorable coral chevron pattern would look right at home for a beach wedding – complete with a coral starfish from Southern Season and coral pillows in the background from ThemeWorks!

CAKES One Belle Bakery | PHOTOGRAPHER Brian Mullins Photography | VENUE (first cake) Outdoor Classroom at American Tobacco Campus; (second cake) ThemeWorks | LINEN (first cake) American Party Rentals | FlOWERS (first cake) The English Garden