Fun and Elegant New Year’s Eve Wedding

It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today we’re sharing Melody and Mike’s fun and elegant New Year’s Eve wedding at Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel captured by In His Image Photography.

Melody and Mike knew each other for years, growing up near one another, but it wasn’t until Melody spent a year in Greensboro, NC after graduating from Meredith College that their friendship blossomed into something more. Mike proposed to Melody as a surprise on Thanksgiving in Orlando, FL, where both of families had traveled to enjoy the holidays.

The couple planned a special New Years Eve wedding. “We wanted it to be both festive, but still elegant,” says Melody. And they definitely achieved both.

Melody’s matron of honor was her sister and the rest of the bridal party were close friends she grew up with—including Mike’s sister.

Mike’s best man was his seven-year-old energetic son, whom before walking to the altar said, “I got your back daddy.” The other groomsmen were friends from different stages of Mike’s life: college, childhood, Washington D.C., and a brother.

What’s clear by the animated, lively and beautiful photos captured by In His Image Photography, is that this couple, their friends and families sure do know how to have a good time!Fun bridesmaids photograpsh by In His ImageBlack and white nbridal portraitBadgley Mischka wedding shoesBride preparation photographGroom before the weddingFamily tributes in weddingsFun socks for groomsmenFun bridesmaids photo by In His Image PhotographyBride walks down the isle in Mori Lee gownCeremony at Renaissance North Hills RaleighRaleigh Bride and groom say I doDancing during reception at Renaissance Raleigh North Hills HotelFun groomsmens photographsIn His Image photography of wedding partyNorth Carolina couple cuts the cake at Hotel in RaleighCreative bride and groom wedding photo at Renaissance Raleigh North HillsFun and Festive New Years Eve Raleigh WeddingSB&G PREFERRED VENDOR TESTIMONIALS

“Our photographer was Dajuan Jones of In His Image. We could not have asked for a better individual/business to assist in documenting our one and only moment. Dejuan’s service was above and beyond extraordinary!” Melody remarks. “His demeanor and attention to detail is immaculate. Mike and I will forever cherish his work. When looking at the vividness of the pictures it allows us to travel back in time as it if were happening again at that moment.”New Years Eve Bride and Groom at Raleigh wedding venueVenue
“We wanted a location that was convenient to our guests,” Melody explains. “Our ceremony and reception were both held at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel because we did not want anyone to have to travel upon reaching the hotel for the evening. After the reception was over, they could head up stairs and stay the night!”Raleigh wedding venuePHOTOGRAPHER In His Image Photography | WEDDING PLANNER Creative Touch Designs | VENUE and CATERING Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel | DJ DJ Mass Appeal | CAKE/DESSERT BAR Sugar Fetish Cakery | MAKEUP Dollfaces by Lauretta | HAIR Essential Designs

Yellow and Navy Summer Wedding Floral Inspirations

It may be cool and overcast today, but we’re dreaming of summer here at Southern Bride & Groom! Check out this bright and beautiful yellow and navy summer wedding floral display by Flowers by Gary featured in our 2015 magazine, including a cheery collection of sunflowers, yellow roses and craspedia paired with complimentary blue linens all decked out at the President’s Terrace at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. This classic color palette is accented with mixed patterns in the linen, pillows and hand-made flags.

Blue and yellow wedding palette inspirationNavy blue wedding table settingYellow wedding flower inspirations by Flowers by GaryNavy blue and yellow place cardsYellow bride and groom monogramed pillow and yellow bouquetYellow and blue wedding inspirationGary & Michael Corsi-OConnor, co-owners of Flowers by Gary, had some extra romance in their own life this year! They were married on December 8, 2014, at Starbucks on the corner of Horton and Guess Road in Durham. They met at a Starbucks 12 years ago, and after learning the manager of the Starbucks at the Guess Road location was also a minister and was willing to marry them at his location, they felt that was the place for them to share their vows. Michael’s sister Tina and Gary’s sister Maureen were “Best Women.”

Originally, Gary and Michael were researching to get married in Washington DC, but after October 10, 2014, when it was legal for same-sex couples to marry in NC, there was no question they would get married in their own state and in their own town so family and friends could attend. It was a small intimate service followed by a reception at their new home in Durham.

The couple can be found daily at their florist business, Flowers by Gary at 4914 N Roxboro Street, Durham, which they started together nine years ago.Flower by Gary marriage at StarbucksFLORAL DESIGN Flowers by Gary | TABLETOP, STANDS, LINEN & CHAIRS American Party Rentals | BRIDE & GROOM PILLOWS The Go Girl Shoppe  |  MENUS & NAME CARDS Cute Buttons | GOWN Blue Willow by Anne Barge from Tre Bella Bridal | JEWELRY Bailey’s Fine Jewelry | HAIR & MAKEUP Bella Trio Day Spa | VENUE President’s Terrace at The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club | PHOTOGRAPHY Walters & Walters

A Clockwork Wedding: Destination Annapolis

The US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD is known for its age-old traditions. It’s also known for military precision, which even applies to the weddings that take place at the famed Naval Academy Chapel on the Academy grounds.

On any given Saturday during the nicer months of the year, as many as eight back-to-back weddings take place over the course of a day. Like clockwork, the ceremonies are held every hour, on the hour, from as early as 10 a.m. until early evening. Some are small; others have hundreds of guests, but each is expected to begin and end precisely on time.

Every wedding at the Naval Academy Chapel (whether the groom is a graduating Cadet or a retired Admiral on his second or third marriage) is given precisely 40 minutes from beginning to end, and this is how its goes on a typical Saturday until the day’s string of weddings has run its course. This includes the moment the first guests walk through the front door to their pews to that special moment the new couple steps outside through the ceremonial Arch of Swords.
Bride and Groom Naval Academy wedding Pulling this off takes the sort of rigorous discipline for which the Naval Academy is famous, and it usually works because at least one in the couple has to be a Naval Academy grad, which means they have been drilled to be on time, at all times, without exception.

Of course, explains Jane Richman, a former US Navy Protocol Officer, if one wedding runs late, “It’s like a domino effect.” The rest will all be late as well. “But most days the weddings go smoothly,” says Richman, who specializes in planning and managing Naval Academy weddings down to the finest detail.

Arch of SwordsOn a recent Saturday, Southern Bride and Groom visited a wedding that took place at the Naval Academy Chapel and witnessed firsthand the tight precision that goes into this process.

Richman was in charge, and literally every minute, from the time the bride and groom woke up to the departure of the last guest from the chapel, was planned and scheduled.

On this particular day, seven weddings were planned at the Chapel – one every hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The wedding we visited was scheduled for noon. This was the wedding of Timothy, a Naval Academy grad and Marine helicopter pilot, to his long-time love, Elizabeth.

With the precision of a military parade, guests began arriving at 11:40 a.m. on the busses set up by Richman who was there waiting for them, having spent the last hour training the officers who would conduct the wedding’s grand finale Arch of Swords ceremony. By 11:45 guests began entering the chapel. There were well over one-hundred, but somehow, they were all in their pews by 11:52, just in time for the seating of the grandparents. At 11:54 Purcell’s iconic Trumpet Voluntary began. At 11:55 ushers seated the mother of the bride. Right about this time, guests began getting teary-eyed as light streamed though the chapel dome onto the altar.Naval wedding in cathedral in Annapolis
By 12 sharp, the bride was walking the aisle. There was an opening prayer, a first reading, and the exchange of vows and rings, which took place at 12:20 with the Navy Hymn playing in the background. This was followed by a prayer and a final blessing and by 12:26 the newlyweds were trailing back up the aisle to Vivaldi’s Spring Four Seasons. A mere 10 minutes later, they walked through the Arch of Swords to the applause of guests, who then began boarding buses back to the reception just as the 1 p.m. wedding party began to arrive.

Although executed with military precision, it was still the sweetest of ceremonies. Despite the tight compression of time, it all seemed to unfold at a leisurely pace. Weddings here are as beautiful and moving as any wedding anywhere, and perhaps even more so because the chapel itself is actually a magnificent cathedral. At the same time, it is a unique experience, shaped and honed by the traditions of the Academy and the officers trained to protect, honor and serve.Destination wedding in Annapolis

Destination Annapolis
The Naval Academy and its “Cathedral of the Navy” are both breathtakingly beautiful. Adding to the romance of any wedding here is the fact that these weddings are held against the backdrop of Annapolis, MD, an enchanting port town with a history as old as the 13 original colonies. In addition to being home to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis is the sailing capital of the U.S. and is a destination worthy of a honeymoon. The city is known for its Georgian architecture, docks perched on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay and a weekend nightlife that could rival any big city. It’s also an easy walking town with intriguing alleys, a fun downtown, historic hotels, including the Governor Calvert House and Maryland Inn, and has an easy nautical ambiance.

To learn more about Annapolis, MD, visit


Glenna Musante is an award-winning writer who specializes in bridal, fashion, travel and the textile industry. She is a former writer for the Raleigh News & Observer.

Photo credit: Formica Studios

Win Tickets to the Outer Banks Wedding Showcase at Sanderling Resort

Brides-to-be, here’s your chance to WIN tickets to the popular Outer Banks Wedding Showcase at Sanderling Resort in picturesque Duck, NC, next month.

Southern Bride and Groom is giving away two sets of two tickets with an overnight stay at Sanderling Resort to engaged couples to attend the Wedding Showcase on March 14, 2015.

Sanderling Resort is nestled on 13 acres of North Carolina’s Outer Banks offering beach and sound front paradise and offers the true destination beach wedding experience.

To enter, comment on our Instagram post with the following, and we’ll pick a winner on Monday (2/22) by tagging the winners in a comment:

- Tag your fiancé, and, your wedding date (or time frame), AND,

- Tell us why you want to get married in OBX!

Wedding Showcase at Sanderling ResortHere is a look at what the Outer Banks Wedding Showcase has to offer (it’s a lot!):

Guests will find premiere OBX wedding professionals eager to answer questions and provide expertise. Lighting specialists will be on hand to offer design expertise; ceremony officiants will be available to answer questions; videographers and photo booth vendors will showcase their talents, and the most talented Outer Banks wedding photographers will be onsite showcasing their work and style. And, don’t forget the music! This year, the OBX Wedding Showcase will feature a fabulous live band. Six Stylez is a professional wedding band that hails from the Greensboro-Winston Salem area, and will have you jamming as you mix and mingle with the wedding pros and take in the scenery of the Sanderling Resort!

Outdoor Beach Wedding OBXIn the Pavilion, rental companies, transportation services and florists will be gathered, and out on the lawn, brides will enjoy plenty of visual inspiration, including a spectacular display by a floral and event designer, live music, and refreshing gourmet Italian Ice.

Beach Wedding CeremonyJust across the street, the Spa at Sanderling is the perfect place to explore your bridal look, with quality products and advice from experts in the field—ladies, take advantage of this!

Beach Wedding DecorFinally, meet the expert wedding planners of Sanderling Resort in the Beach House Lobby while enjoying decadent handcrafted chocolates. Planners will be available to answer questions about the resort, venues, and the options offered at Sanderling.

Dove ReleaseNo matter what venue you might be considering to host your special day on the Outer Banks, attending this one-of-a-kind experience with the first-rate wedding professionals of the Outer Banks is an essential on your wedding checklist! Don’t miss the Outer Banks Wedding Showcase on Saturday, March 14 from 11- 4pm at Sanderling Resort. Enter now for a chance to win!

Photos: Brooke Mayo and Beach Productions

Intimate Outdoor Wedding at Duke Gardens

It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today we’re excited to share Olivia and Yanbin’s beautiful intimate outdoor wedding at Duke Gardens in Durham, NC, followed by a charming reception at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.

Olivia and Yanbin are both from China, but they met in America where they attend school in Chapel Hill, NC.

When it came time to make wedding plans, Olivia and Yanbin wanted both their Chinese family and American friends to be a part of it, so they planned two! One was a large wedding in China with family, and the other was a smaller intimate wedding at Duke Gardens in Durham for 45 of their closest friends. Olivia discovered Duke Gardens from the SB&G NC Bride-to-Be blog.

Olivia chose and planned every detail of her wedding and reception from matching the wedding colors to the room in The Carolina Inn to decorating the cake to match the crown moulding.

Olivia looked beautiful in a layered tiered Monique Lhuillier gown paired with shining Jimmy Choo shoes in metallic silver. The men’s formalwear is from Dries Van Noten.

Rachel Red Photography, who was SB&G’s featured photographer this month, captured the true essence of Olivia and Yanbin’s special day and the adoration they have for one another.

Rachel was a Boston-based photographer, but is a Southern girl at heart. She missed everything from the sweet tea to the hospitality, so as soon as she was able, she to moved back to her roots and now operates from Charleston, SC, which happens to be the number one wedding destination city in the US. Rachel focuses on weddings in Raleigh, Charleston, Wilmington and Charlotte and is available for travel worldwide.

As a special thanks to SB&G readers, anyone who mentions “Southern Bride and Groom” as their referral when contacting Rachel Red Photography will receive $400 discounted off any wedding photography package if they book before March 1, 2015!
Classic weddding photography by Rachel Red PhotographyBridal portrait at the Carolina InnSilver Jimmy Choo Bridal ShoesChapel Hill Bride wearing Monique Lullier GownBridal portrait by Rachel Red PhotographyBride and grooms first look at the Duke Gardens in Durham NCBride and Groom at Duke Gardens in Durham NCNatural outdoor wedding photography at the Duke GardensOutdoor wedding photo shoot in the Duke Gardens Durham NCWedding in the Japanese Gardens in Duke Gardens DurhamBride and Groom among the flowers at Duke GardensBride walking downt the aisleOutdoor wedding ceremony in the Duke Gardens by Rachel Red PhotographyOutdoor ceremony at the Duke GardensChapel Hill coupel get married in the Duke GardensBridesmaids and groomsmen at the Duke GardensWedding party at the Duke Gardens in Durham North CarolinaBeautiful nature photography for weddings at Durham's Duke GardensGuests take Polaroid for bride and groom during wedding receptionPhoto board for guests at wedding receptionLight blue and white Carolina wedding paletteCute wedding placecards for guestsShrimp cocktail wedding reception appetizersLight blue wedding cake and signature cocktailsWedding reception dancing at the Carolina InnBeautiful ballroom at the Carolina Inn in Chapel HillSparkler exit for bride and groom at the Carolina Inn

VENUE Duke Gardens | RECEPTION Carolina Inn | PHOTOGRAPHER Rachel Red Photography | FLORIST Tre Bella Flowers | CAKE Sugarland | CEREMONY MUSICIANS Amy Kortus | PARTY RENTALS CE Rentals | OFFICIANT Rev Perry Hardison

Romantic Floral Inspiration by Tre Bella Flowers

Southern Bride & Groom is excited to share some of our favorite photos, including many not seen in print, from our floral designers featured in the 2015 magazine. This shoot, featuring soft and romantic floral inspiration by Tre Bella Flowers, is fitting for just after Valentine’s Day – it’s filled with romantic light pink, coral and white roses, accented with hydrangeas, orchids, and queen anne’s lace. The table is set with subtle touches of gold, including gold mercury votives and light grey lanterns. Small bunches of flowers tied to the backs of chairs with ribbon add a touch of whimsy.

Tre Bella Inc. of Durham, N.C. is unique in that it provides gorgeous flower arrangements as well as bridal gowns and accessories. Tre Bella grew quickly from a small boutique florist run out of one of the founder’s homes to two locations and three stores! The design studio on Broad Street in Durham helps brides create the wedding or event flowers of their dreams. The headquarters on Main Street assists with finding the perfect dress, bridesmaids gowns or mother-of-the-bride dress, and the boutique offers salon services and trendy clothing, jewelry and gifts.

The bride in this shoot is wearing a romantic flowing gown with lace cap sleeves by Jenny Packham from Tre Bella Bridal. The gown goes well with the soft pastel shades in her bouquet.

The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club is the perfect setting for a romantic wedding affair. With lush outdoor landscapes and elegant grand ballrooms, such as the President’s Ballroom pictured here.Soft touches of coral and white flowers by Tre BellaJenny Packham wedding gown from Tre BellaTable setting with lanterns and gold accentsCoral and gold accents for wedding tableElegant wedding tablescape with coral white and goldSoft romantic wedding bouquet by Tre Bella FlowersRomantic table setting at the Washington Duke InnFLORAL DESIGN Tre Bella Flowers | TABLETOP, LINEN & CHAIRS CE Rental | PLACE CARDS Calligraphy by Carrie | GOWN Dentelle by Jenny Packham from Tre Bella Bridal | JEWELRY Bailey’s Fine Jewelry | HAIR & MAKEUP Bella Trio Day Spa | VENUE President’s Ballroom at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club | PHOTOGRAPHY Walters & Walters