Wedding Pros Rooftop Event at The Durham Hotel

Last week, Southern Bride & Groom hosted a networking event for our family of wedding pros on the rooftop of The Durham Hotel – the newest boutique hotel in downtown Durham! This mid-century modern hotel is perfect for parties and wedding guests seeking an upscale experience in the heart of downtown.The Durham HotelThe SB&G family enjoyed an afternoon that was both practical and fun – beginning with an educational talk about branding and marketing and ending with a laid-back networking session on the rooftop patio of The Durham Hotel. The rooftop bar and lounge will be open to the public soon – likely this week, and is currently accepting bookings for semi-private rooftop events. Southern Bride and GroomTo start off the evening, local branding expert Annie Franceschi, Creative Director of Greatest Story Creative, gave an inspiring talk about storytelling; advice on branding, and offered creative tips about how to use a couple’s story to make your wedding services more personal and unique. After decades of studying filmmaking and years working for Disney in LA, Annie moved back to her native North Carolina in 2013, where she founded Greatest Story to help real people better tell their stories. Based in Durham, Annie works with everyone from brides, to ad agencies, to entrepreneurs all over the country. Because story touches every aspect of our lives, Annie does story-centric custom creative, consulting work, and speaking engagements for businesses, weddings, special events, and personal projects. This special presentation was perfect for the SB&G Family of amazingly talented wedding professionals, who each has a fabulous story to share! Annie FranceschiAfter the presentation, the crowd headed up to the rooftop bar to mix and mingle while enjoying gorgeous sweeping views of downtown Durham. Here, the SB&G family had a chance to sample some delicious bites like oysters, shrimp cocktail, and cheese and meats, from The Durham Hotel’s head chef, James Beard Award-Winning Andrea Reusing.

Rooftop at The Durham HotelRooftop bar at the Durham HotelCheese plate
Events at The Durham HotelSouthern Bride and Groom MagazineView of downtown DurhamWe were lucky to have a sunny, warm day to take it all in! The rooftop, which also houses the fabulous penthouse suite, complete with it’s own private patio, is currently open for special events but will soon be open to the public as well.

Riley MacLean Photography joined us for the evening in the dual role as guest and photographer. He captured fantastic shots that showcase the stylish character of the hotel and rooftop and the fun evening we had.
Durham Hotel BarChef Andrea ReusingDowntown DurhamDurham restaurantsDurham NC hotelsModern hotel in DurhamNew hotel in DurhamA special shout-out goes to a few other SB&G vendors who helped make this an evening to remember!

Thanks to American Party Rentals for always having our back when we need last-minute rentals!

TapSnap was on the roof with their digital photo booth, capturing magnificent shots of the view and adding fun and fanciful special effects to some of the photos. TapSnap provides creative entertainment at weddings with digital props and green screen capabilities.Photobooth at Durham eventPhoto booth rentalTapSnap RaleighLoYo on the Go, a local frozen yogurt food truck that specializes in private events, such as weddings, was stationed outside, offering guests a cool treat on the way out – perfect for this hot summer night!LoYo on the Go food truckLocal Yogurt North CarolinaFrozen yogurt Raleigh DurhamWe had a blast catching up with everyone at the event and can’t wait for next time! And to anyone looking for a special Durham NC venue for a wedding related event like a post-rehearsal dinner get together, a small reception, or a shower, consider a rooftop event at The Durham Hotel!

Classic and Fun Wedding Photography by Southern Love 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 classic and fun wedding photography by Southern Love Studios.

2015 marks Southern Love Studios 10th year as a full-time wedding photographer! From backyard weddings to celebrity weddings, Southern Love Studios has captured beautiful memories for couples from the west coast to the east coast; they now residing in Raleigh, NC.

While not having a formal education in the craft, Brandon was lucky to have an amazing mentor, Michael Brannigan who took him under his wing and whom he shadowed for many years. Brannigan told him, “I can’t teach passion, but I can teach you how to use the camera”…and that he did.

Exciting changes are now happening with Southern Love – they recently opened a studio in Wake Forest and welcomed Beth Jarvah to the team as a lead shooter!

Learn more about Southern Love Studios’ style and wedding experience in the Q&A below.Pink and white wedding colorsWhere do you draw your artistic inspiration?
When I look through a magazine, I’m not looking at the clothes or the model, I’m looking at how that picture was photographed: what lens did they use, what lighting techniques did they use, so for me, a lot of inspiration and ideas come from these high end magazines.

How would you describe your style?
I’m classic, traditional first, then fun second. A classic and fun picture will never go out of style!Raleigh Engagement PhotographyWhat sets you apart from other photographers?
My job as a wedding photographer is to get what my clients want, but what makes me different as a “professional” wedding photographer is knowing what my clients will want and need 30 years from now.

Being a part of over 350 weddings, I feel I have a great understanding of them. This comes into play when a bride is 30 minutes late and I have to make up that time somewhere else. That doesn’t fall on anyone else’s shoulders other than the photographer or the coordinators and it’s our job to keep calm and get what is needed. This is where that experience comes in the play.

Taking pretty pictures is only 30% of the job; I would say 70% is how you get along and collaborate with clients. I show up to the bridal suite and give my bride a hug as opposed to saying, “Hi, nice to meet you.”Duke Chapel and Merrimon Wynne House WeddingWhat is your favorite moment to shoot at a wedding?
The favorite thing for me at a wedding is not a specific moment for me to photograph…it’s when I tell the couple to “take two minutes and take in all of this.” The look on their face as they look out and do that is so special.Southern wedding photographyPhotos by Southern Love Studios

Elegant Carolina Country Club Wedding in Raleigh

It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today we’re excited to share Spencer and Kenny’s classy and elegant Carolina Country Club wedding in Raleigh NC this spring.

Spencer and Kenny met during a chance encounter at a bar during a night out with friends. When Kenny asked for her number, Spencer wasn’t sure he’d actually follow through, but sure enough, the next day, he was on the phone to set up their first real date.

When Kenny planned to propose, he chose a place that had deep significance for Spencer. Her parents have a rental home in Salter Path, NC, and she grew up going there, so it holds a special place in her heart. Kenny took Spencer to Beaufort, NC for lunch she instantly picked up on his nerves. When they got back to the house, he suddenly wanted to go for a walk. Once they reached a quiet spot, he got down on one knee; Spencer started crying tears of joy and felt like the happiest girl in the world! Kenny saved a shell and wrote the date on it, so they will always have a piece of their engagement location.

Spencer’s great-great-great grandparents were charter members of First United Methodist Church in Cary, NC, so that was an easy choice for their ceremony location. Generations of her family have been married and christened there. The couple also knew they wanted a reception at the Carolina Country Club in Raleigh, overlooking the scenic view of the golf course.

As for the style, they kept it classy and simple with black bridesmaids dresses, classic black tuxedos, and white flowers with a hint of blush. The black and gold linens paired with gold chiavari chairs added a touch of glam.

Family heirlooms played a large part personalizing the details of the wedding, including bridal jewelry worn by Spencer and toasting flutes given to them by her 86- and 89-year-old grandparents and engraved cake cutters. Cinda’s Creative Cakes recreated the design from Spencer’s bridal belt onto one of the layers of the cake with exquisite sugar flowers.

Spencer’s favorite moment was when the photographers took her and Kenny out on the golf course at sunset for stunning portraits – their first as husband and wife. With the Carolina Country Club backlit against the sun and the chance to enjoy the company of each other alone for the first time that evening, it was a magical.

Spencer’s advice for brides-to-be is to have fun, regardless of the little things that go wrong. On the way to pick her up at the church, her dad backed out of the garage with the trunk door up and smashed the window! Even in moments like this, you have to be able to see the big picture so you can enjoy the rest of the day. The show will go on and everyone is guaranteed to have a blast if you do!Peony bouquetMonogramed bridal robeClassic black bridesmaid dressesSilver and gold wedding bandsWhite wedding flowersWhite wedding bouquetChapel wedding in CaryRaleigh floristsRaleigh NC brideRaleigh NC weddingRaleigh wedding venueMonogramed napkinsClassic white wedding cakePersonalized wedding kooziesReception at The Carolina Country ClubSouthern bride and groomBlack and white wedding photosRaleigh wedding cakePersonalized wedding favorsCarolina Country Club RaleighRaleigh brideCarolina Country Club and golf courseFlower petal exitRaleigh country club weddingRaleigh limo


“The Club Room at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill was a gorgeous setting for my bridesmaids’ luncheon,” says Spencer. “And for the rehearsal dinner, Angus Barn was fabulous, as always. Our rehearsal dinner location was very special, as it was the setting of my parents’ rehearsal dinner 39 years ago!”

The Renaissance Raleigh North Hills was amazing, as we had to add on rooms to the block multiple times and they were very accommodating,” Spencer notes.

CEREMONY VENUE First United Methodist Church in Cary | RECEPTION & CATERING Carolina Country Club | PHOTOGRAPHER Aesthetic Images Photography | FLORIST Kelly Odom | MINISTER Reverend H. William Green | REHERSAL DINNER Angus Barn | BRIDESMAID LUNCHEON The Carolina Inn | GOWN Romona Keveza/Traditions by Anna Bridal Boutique | SHOES Nina Bridal Shoes | BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES Jenny Yoo | MOTHER OF THE BRIDE Monique Lhuillier | MEN’S FORMALWEAR VIP Formal Wear | HAIR Blown Away Blow Dry Bar | MAKEUP Fiquet Bailey | CAKE Cinda’s Creative Cakes | INVITATIONS Reaves Engraving | CEREMONY MUSIC Florian Music | RECEPTION Liquid Pleasure | PARTY RENTAL CE Rental | GUEST ACCOMODATIONS Renaissance Raleigh North Hills; Hampton Inn at Crabtree | FAVORS Personalized sunglasses & koozies | TRANSPORTATION EcoStyle

Hand-Painted Watercolor Wedding Cake from Edible Art Bakery in Raleigh

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.Raleigh Wedding Cake BakeryEdible Art Bakery captured our hearts with its ornate lock and key cake combined with lovely stencil and ruffled artwork (pictured in the in the photo top left). Brides may choose one layer of spice and Kahlua pecan to match the cake’s golden details from Edible Art’s extensive menu of fresh, scratch-made cake flavors.Pink and white wedding cakeThe second cake is a matching hand-painted watercolor wedding cake with gorgeous gold details. The frilly pink wash mixed with the glitter of a Moroccan interlocking pattern is an eclectic and joyous color combination, finished with a gold-brushed sugar flower topper. The real roses placed in the center are from The English Garden, and perfectly compliment the pink and blush color tones of the two cakes.Gold flower cake topperBrian Mullins Photography captured these decadent shots in the boiler room of American Tobacco’s power plant, of all places! The contrast of the concrete industrial backdrop and these soft and feminine cakes makes for a stunning display. The area is actually one of the most popular cocktail and rehearsal party venues at ATC. The building also houses the Full Frame Theater and the Gallery, each available for private events.

CAKES Edible Art Bakery | VENUE The Boiler Room at American Tobacco Campus | FLOWERS The English Garden | LINENS American Party Rentals | Photographer Brian Mullins Photography

Event Lighting and Chandeliers enhance Modern Southern Weddings

The right lighting has the ability to completely transform and improve a space; it helps set the mood and tone of your wedding ceremony and reception. It’s important to choose lighting the suites your taste and your style, but that also works well within the venue you’ve chosen.

Lighting specialists, such as Get Lit Special Event Lighting, work with area brides and grooms to rent the lighting they require, or in many cases, create handmade custom works that are inspired by their vision.

We asked Get Lit about the latest trends and how to use event lighting and chandeliers to enhance modern Southern weddings. They also gave some tips on the most important factors to consider when planning your lighting needs. Get Lit handmade and designed the beautiful chandeliers pictured below.

Trendy Industrial Lighting
You’ve already likely noticed industrial design esthetic finding its way into wedding design. Get Lit fulfills many requests for barn shroud lighting, and the Edison bulb trend continues to be strong. “These items are not readily available in the event rental business, so brides and wedding planners come to specialty lighting businesses like us with an inspiration photo or general description and we create custom fixtures,” shares Terri Watson, co-owner of Get Lit. In addition to fitting traditional chandeliers with Edison bulbs, there is also interest in fixtures that are a combination of wood and metal and Edison bulbs, as brides pull inspiration from popular retailers like Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.

Get Lit also finds the use of traditional chandeliers in combination with other styles of lighting, such as a twinkle light ceiling lights or draping market lights, a popular trend at the moment.
Bay 7 Wedding ReceptionIndustrial Chandleier for NC WeddingPhotos by Robin Lin Photography

An outdoor garden, a modern museum or a church reception hall can all serve as a wonderful background for specialty light fixtures. Some settings truly benefit, dare we say need, the addition of beautiful hanging chandeliers. “Tents, for example, are often not appealing on their own and some brides see them as a necessary evil. The addition of decor elements help soften the look of all the hardware, and a chandelier can be a big part of the transformation in both creating a visual centerpiece for the space, as well as casting a soft romantic light on everything around it,” Watson shares.Custom designed lighting for NC weddingPhoto by Get Lit

Customize to Fit Your Style
Chandeliers are easily customized to a bride’s/groom’s design preference. Begin by choosing the design of the chandelier itself, such as traditional, rustic or modern, which can be further defined by lighting elements.

Get Lit carries traditional crystal chandeliers with white, black and crystal bodies or European brass and black velvet. Traditional style with a whimsical flare can be achieved with its gold leaf and crystal chandelier, which looks right at home in a garden setting or a country club.

A “rustic” look may mean Get Lit creates handmade votive chandeliers with metal wrought oak leaves and rustic beam chandeliers in impressively sized 5-foot octagons topped with pillar candles, or it may be fisherman’s globe pendants.

The “modern” look can be achieved with hundreds of glass balls suspended with invisible filament or cube chandeliers handmade from extruded box steel, which can be painted in gold or other colors. Get Lit also has custom-painted barn shrouds in turquoise to create a modern industrial pendant hanging light. Art deco is modern again – a simple graduated rectangular design fits well in a variety of settings. Fabric and flowers can also be added to customize a look.
Art Deco and Industrial LightingMod Lighting for Raleigh weddingPhotos by Get Lit

Consider This
When planning for your lighting needs, there are a few important factors to take into consideration.

1. What does the event space already provide and how can this be complemented? Or, if you are not in love with the look it has, can it be changed or removed? “Some clients wish to accentuate the existing style of the space, or bring the style of nearby architecture into their reception space,” says Watson. “For example, we were recently asked to add art deco elements to a tent at The Biltmore Estate. In other cases, you can bring elegance into a barn.” 

Keep in mind that lighting can completely change a space. If the venue is right for you in terms of location, budget, and availability, but is somewhat lacking in design, the right lighting elements have the ability to transform the space into your dream venue!

2. Size matters. “A fixture should be proportional to a space so it does not become lost or overwhelm the area,” Watson advises. For this reason, Get Lit has made a number of their chandeliers themselves so that they have fixtures large enough for large spaces. “We’ve taken traditional size and style elements and upsized them to be appropriate for different event venues,” she adds. Combining elements can also help visually enhance a venue in proportion appropriate to the space. Lighting elements should also be considered in context with the other decor elements being use.  

3. Keep cost in mind. According to Get Lit, pricing for chandelier lighting fixtures ranges from $100 – $300, with additional installation/administration fees that vary based on the location of the venue and venue infrastructure. These fees can add anywhere from $200-$500 for a local job (this is not a per fixture rate as it’s rare they are hired to install only one or two chandeliers). “We typically provide additional lighting elements as well,” says Watson.Glass bubble wedding decor NCPhoto by Get Lit

A North Carolina Wedding that Marries Duke and UNC

It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today we’re excited to share Joanna and Shenduo’s stunning North Carolina wedding that marries Duke and UNC – the couple’s alma maters. Joe Payne Photography captured the lovely couple in these two iconic settings.

Shenduo and Joanna met while he was studying at Duke University and she was studying at UNC-Chapel Hill. Their relationship officially began on a starry night in the forest of the Great Smoky Mountains, surrounded by thousands of fireflies – a romantic night Joanna says she will cherish in her memory forever. As two young students in love, they spent a lot of time studying together in almost every library of the two schools.

A year later, Joanna graduated from UNC and moved to New York and their long-distance relationship began. It was on Joanna’s birthday, soon after the move, that Shenduo flew to visit her and showered her with gifts, including two best-seat tickets to one of the most popular Broadway musicals, a lavish dinner at a three-star Michelin restaurant, but the best gift of all was still to come!

After dinner, Shenduo suggested going to Brooklyn Bridge Park to enjoy the night view of the Manhattan skyline. When they arrived at the riverside, he said he had another gift for Joanna – a handmade photo card, on the front of which was a picture taken by him showing the tennis court near his apartment where they used to play tennis together. In the center of the court in the photograph, there were hundreds of tennis balls, which were placed in the shape of “I [heart] Jo.” On the inside of the card was a handwritten love note and some letters in bold red that spelled out, “Marry Me.” It wasn’t until that moment that Joanna realized this night of surprises had all been part of an elaborate proposal! It was the most picturesque scene as Shenduo got down on his knee in front of the sparkling Manhattan skyline.

It’s no surprise these Duke and UNC alumns chose the iconic Duke Chapel in Durham and The Great Room at Top of the Hill restaurant in Chapel Hill as ceremony and reception venues – a tribute to their relationship that bloomed on both campuses. They knew they would be leaving North Carolina after Shenduo graduated, so they wanted to make their last romantic memories there.

Joanna chose pretty pastel colors in shades of pink, worn by her bridesmaids and in the elegant bouquets by Tre Bella Flowers, for her late April wedding. As a nod to Duke and UNC, they chose Duke blue for the groomsmens’ ties and Carolina blue for the reception table linen. Other personal details included a backdrop wall decorated with with gold alphabet letter balloons spelling their names and vintage heart-shape marquee lights. They also ordered a customized cake topper from Etsy and Chinese favor boxes that represented “double happiness,” along with customized M&Ms.

Even though it turned out to be a rainy spring day, photographer Joe Payne captured stunning images, showcasing the tranquility of the day, the closeness of the couple, and the breathtaking beauty of the setting.Durham brideJoe Payne Wedding PhotographyBridal tierraChinese wedding in AmericaDiamond wedding bandsRed wedding shoesRaleigh wedding photographersWhite boutonniereDurham bride at the Duke ChapelRainy day weddingBride and groom at Duke ChapelPink and white bouquetsDurham bride at Duke ChapelRainy day wedding picturesBlack and white wedding photographyMarried at the historic Duke ChapelDuke Chapel CeremonyDuke Chapel wedding photographyDuke and UNC weddingDurham NC wedding venuesCustomized cake topperChapel Hill receptionWhite wedding cakeChinese wedding favorsTop of the Hill reception venueChinese wedding traditionsSparkler exit after receptionSB&G PREFERRED VENDOR TESTIMONIALS

“We were very impressed by Joy Payne’s professionalism, efficiency, humor, and most of all, amazing photos! He has the great ability to capture the important moments without letting you realize he exists. On the wedding day, Joe really devoted the whole day to us. He even came earlier than the time we had asked him to, in order to catch every tiny moment. Joe gave all the photos to us in a very timely manner. You can tell he really put a lot of effort into digital editing – editing each photo individually based on the subject, light, atmosphere, etc., while many other photographers only use one or two pre-settings for all the photos. We really had a great time with Joe, and we felt very lucky to have him as our wedding photographer,” says Joanna.

” We feel blessed to have found The Great Room at Top of the Hill as our reception venue. The staff there are very professional, thoughtful, and experienced. What I liked most about them on our wedding day was that they took care of every detail without us having to worry about anything. We were thrilled when we saw the wall decor they did for us – it was even more adorable than what we could imagine! We also got a lot of compliments about the food and drinks. Thanks to their great work, we were able to fully enjoy every moment of that beautiful night with our guests and it left such an unforgettable memory in everyone’s mind,” Joanna shares.

“We chose Tre Bella Flowers because they were quite responsive and gave us a clear price breakdown quickly when we were doing inquiries. Everything about them is professional and efficient and the price is also very reasonable. I couldn’t have love my bridal bouquet more! I really appreciate their work,” Joanna states.

VENUE Duke Chapel | RECEPTION The Great Room at Top of the Hill Restaurant | PHOTOGRAPHER Joe Payne Photography | BRIDAL SHOES Badgley Mischka & Salvatore Ferragamo | FLORIST Tre Bella Flowers | CAKE Guglhupf | INVITATIONS Grapevine Print & Design | GUEST ACCOMODATIONS Arrowhead Inn Bed & Breakfast | TRANSPORTATION Classy Transportation & Smith Luxury Limousines