Archive for October, 2011

Leigh Anne & Patrick chose the right weekend for a trip to Florida! They drove down from Raleigh, NC to finalize plans for their St. Augustine wedding at The White Room next month and the weather couldn’t have been better for their engagement session! This morning, Leigh Anne had a hair and makeup trial with our friend Faythe at A Glamour Bride, and was absolutely radiant! In fact, Patrick couldn’t keep his eyes off her!

Here’s a teaser from the end of their session:


Today was perfect for Tey & Mike’s wedding at Palm Valley Gardens! It was such a beautiful day, picturesque location, fantastic details, gorgeous couple, awesome team of vendors, fun wedding party and family – really, just perfect! And Tey & Mike deserved to have the perfect wedding day. Not only are they cute enough to put on top of a cake, they are also two of the sweetest people ever!

Congratulations Tey & Mike! : )


We love destination weddings, and living in Florida means that we’re within driving distance of some of the most beautiful beaches in the continental US. Perhaps the most beautiful of our beaches are along the Gulf shores of the Florida panhandle. This region is known as the Emerald Coast because of its stunning jewel-toned waters.

Courtney & Brody chose to have their destination wedding in Seaside, FL – one of the most charming beach towns on the Emerald Coast. Earlier this week we found out that their Seaside wedding photos were featured on the Florida Bride Magazine website! We had such a great time at their wedding, and we look forward to meeting up with them again on their next trip to Florida! : )

Seaside wedding photos featured on Florida Bride

Wedding Wednesday is a weekly feature discussing all things wedding-related! To suggest a topic or question, contact Gwen at

The wedding cake is a focal point of the wedding reception. It’s a work of art and it’s a conversation starter. You can really make a statement with what you put on top of the cake! We know that couples put a lot of thought into what to adorn their cake with, so we thought we’d share some cake topper ideas!

Let’s start with the iconic cake topper – a bride and groom! These days, the bride and groom have a modern or humorous twist, but every once in a while we see the classic cake topper. If you truly want to be traditional, use a family heirloom such as your parents’ cake topper like some of these brides did!

There are a lot of novelty cake toppers that take the traditional look and truly make a statement. If you want to set the mood for a fun evening, get your guests giggling with some of these hilarious toppers!

Groom running away cake topper

Groom holding a fishing pole with a ring on the end of it

From the front it looks like a traditional cake topper, but in the back the bride is pinching the groom's butt!

If you want something unique, try a handmade cake topper from Etsy. Alexis & Matt had this adorable custom cake topper made to match their wedding attire and also included their cat!

Your cake topper can also tie into your wedding theme. Check out how these couples showed off their personal style:

Dave is a hockey coach, so Shannon found a cake topper that had the groom holding skates and a hockey stick

Jackie & Zac used a Nightmare Before Christmas figure as their cake topper

Missy & Brian put starfish on the cake for their beach wedding

What becomes of your cake topper AFTER the cake is gone? These couples opted for porcelain cake toppers that could be put on display in their home. This is what Matt & I decided on! Since we did a dove release, we went with a pair of doves (just like Carmen & Kyle’s cake below)!

If you don’t want to save your cake topper, why not eat it? These toppers are not only adorable – they’re edible, too! : )

A simple, yet elegant way to top your cake is with a monogram. You can choose to just have the initial of your new married name or include both the bride and groom’s first initials.

If none of these cake toppers appeal to you, why not decorate your cake with flowers? It ties in to the centerpieces and bouquets, you don’t have to keep it after the wedding, and it may just be the prettiest way to top a cake!

What’s the best cake topper you’ve ever seen? What did you decided to top your cake with, and why?

We are so excited to share that Sammy & Allen’s was recently featured on the California Wedding Wave! We love the way that they presented the images, and it was one of our favorite weddings to shoot! We’re looking forward to shooting another wedding at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Chino Hills next month, and we’ll get to see Sammy & Allen and some of our other California friends at the same time!

Thank you so much to Andie for the feature! : )

Featured on California Wedding Wave

We had such a great time yesterday shooting Erin & Rob’s wedding at St. Mary’s Chapel and reception at the Levine Museum of the New South. We can’t wait to share more of their downtown Charlotte wedding photos when they return from their honeymoon next week, but until then here’s a sneak peek of their big day!


Rachael and David have a vivaciousness and zest for life that is hard to match. They enjoy a lot of outdoor activities, so getting them out into nature for their engagement session was a must! They’re extremely cute and loved laughing at each other as we took their photos.

The sunlight was perfect as we moved around these gorgeous trails and over quiet streams. Rachael and David seemed to merge with their surroundings, enjoying the peacefulness of it all. And I think that’s a defining characteristic of their relationship; a calm and joy of sharing their lives with each other. Quite simply, they’re two people completely in love with each other.

We’re so excited for their wedding this coming January and really enjoyed getting to know them better as a couple during the engagement session. They instantly treated us like close friends and we really look forward to seeing them again.


























Wedding Wednesday is a weekly feature discussing all things wedding-related! To suggest a topic or question, contact Gwen at

After an insane travel schedule in August (where I was gone more days than I was home) I had quite a bit of catching up to do and I’ve been slacking on the Wedding Wednesday posts. And after working with 3 amazing interns at Solutions Bridal, our guest blogger series titled “Dress Talk” has come to an end. But since so many of you have said you miss the Wedding Wednesday posts, we have come up with some new topics (and some fun ideas) to share with you each week!

This week, though, I’m going to get down to business and let you know about our process after the wedding. I started writing out the steps in our post production process for my own benefit, and it’s pretty eye-opening. You see, I’m simultaneously working on several projects and each step in the process is done in pieces, so I never looked at how much time was going into the entire process – just the individual pieces. And on top of all of these tasks I’m managing the business, shooting, going to meetings, networking, planning – sounds like it’s time to start a new list!

Everyone has their own post processing workflow. Here is how we do it:

Part 1: Immediately After The Wedding (2-3 hours)
Upload cards to hard drive in individual file folders (Disc 1, Disc 2, Disc 3, etc.)
Rename files in Bridge (ex: Disc 1_001)
Upload folders to Lightroom
Back up images on external hard drive
Save original discs until everything has been edited and backed up on disc, external hard drive, and Pictage
Choose one image for blog sneak peek – flag and rate 5 stars in Lightroom
Edit in Lightroom and Photoshop and resize/watermark for blog
Create blog post and publish
Email bride and groom to let them know about sneak peek
Link sneak peek on Facebook
Add sneak peek image to “Weddings” folder on Facebook
Go to bed… zzzzzzz…

Part 2: Cull Images (about 2 hours)
Go through all images and flag the ones to be edited

Part 3: Blog Post (up to 10 hours)
Select images for the blog and rate 5 stars
After all blog images have been selected, color correct in Lightroom
Export 5 star images
Edit blog images in Photoshop, resize, watermark and rename in Blog folder
Create file folder for blog images on website and upload via FTP
Write blog post and link images
Publish blog post and send emails
Link on Facebook and upload blog images to Facebook album
(Add up to 3 more hours if slideshow is included in blog post)

Part 4: Lightroom (between 13-18 hours)
Go through all flagged images and apply color/lighting corrections and any necessary straightening or cropping (about 5-10 hours)
Export images to “edits” folder (up to 8 hours)

Part 5: Photoshop (about 5 hours)
Open each image and adjust as necessary to make images ready for print
May do some cloning to remove distracting items (ex: people in the background at the beach)

Part 6: Bridge (about 1 hour)
Move all images to event folder with categories for each part of the wedding day
Open each folder in Bridge and sort images by capture time
Rename images in each folder

Part 7: Back Up Edited Files (about 2 hours)
Back up event folder to external hard drive (keep on computer until project completed)
Create a disc backup of all edited images

Part 8: Pictage (about 20 hours)
Upload all images to Pictage (up to 20 hours)
Submit event and wait for Pictage to release event site (within 24 hours)
Choose main image and double check all settings
Release album to bride and groom and send them an email to explain how to use the Pictage gallery

Part 9: Slideshow (up to 3 hours)
Choose slideshow images and create slideshow
Send link to slideshow to bridge and groom
Upload slideshow to Facebook
(This step is sometimes done with the blog post)

Part 10: Album Design (up to 8 hours)
Pre-design album layout using InDesign
Export full size files and create a low resolution copy for proofing
Upload to proofing site
Send first draft to bride and groom for revisions
Make necessary changes and send to bride and groom for a second review
Make final changes and send to bride and groom for final review before sending to print
Submit files to album vendor to be printed

Part 11: Back Up Album Files
Back up final album pages to external hard drive

Part 12: Create Discs (about 2 hours)
Create disc of images for couple
Create DVD slideshow for couple

Part 13: Delivery of Final Product
Once the album has been received and reviewed for any errors, pack products for mailing or pick up

This is just a brief portion of what I do as a wedding photographer. Over the weekend, a friend of mine said photography was a dream job. And while it truly is an AMAZING job, it is not quite as glamorous as people might believe. Someone posted a link to this article on Facebook after I published this Wedding Wednesday post, so I thought I’d come back in and share it:

I can honestly say that I have worked harder at this job than ANY job I have ever had in my life! But in our 4th year of business, I can tell you I love it even more now than when I first started.

So now you can understand why I love Starbucks so much (and why I add that 4th shot of espresso to my caramel macchiato)! I could outsource a large part of this process, but how an image is handled in post is part of the art of creating a digital image. We have a particular style that we want to achieve, and when we outsourced our work to one of the major editing companies before we were extremely disappointed with the result. And I have to admit, I love going through the images again and again, remembering each moment and watching the story come to life in the blog highlights and the slideshow.

And because every blog post is better with a photo, here’s one of Erin & Rob, who are getting married this weekend in Charlotte!!!


If you remember Sandy & Ralph’s super hot Cuban glamour engagement session, you know they have style! We knew their wedding day was going to be spectacular, and they did not disappoint! Just like their engagement session, they took a queue from the past and brought nostalgia and glamour to their wedding – a classic car, high roller casino players in tuxes, and a performance of Sinatra tunes in a tribute by Bill Stabile.

Ralph is a big poker player, so after getting into his tuxedo, he met up with his guys for a quick poker game. Ralph had some great “Royal Flush” cufflinks to accent his tuxedo. During the game, his best man gave him one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever seen – an old poker chip from one of the original casinos in Cuba. So cool!!

Meanwhile, Sandy was getting dressed at her brother’s house with all her girls. As she got into her wedding dress (a form-fitting stunner which totally showed off her curves) everyone started to get tears in their eyes. Sandy and her parents then got into a classic Rolls Royce dubbed “Sir Gilbert” for the drive to the ceremony at San Juan Del Rio Catholic Church.

Despite the heavy rains, we were able to use some covered areas outside the church for some really amazing couple and group photos. Sandy and Ralph have this natural chemistry that is easy to see. They are, quite simply, one of the cutest couples we have ever seen and they are head over heels in love with each other.

For their reception, Sandy and Ralph chose Maggiano’s in the St John’s Town Center. Maggiano’s has this banquet room in the back with lovely wood paneling, large mirrors, and huge chandeliers. Each table was named for a different Frank Sinatra song. As a gift to their guests, Sandy and Ralph surprised everyone with a Frank Sinatra tribute singer! Bill Stabile had the room rocking to all the classic Sinatra tunes and even pulled Sandy out to help him sing “Pennies from Heaven.” He had the look, the voice, and the mannerisms of Ol’ Blue Eyes! He had everyone singing along!

The rest of the evening was a flat-out party, with smoke machines, disco lights, and tons of dancing and singing. It was tough slowing Sandy and Ralph down long enough to cut the cake and do the garter and bouquet tosses!

The entire day and evening was an incredible collection of warmth and fun, but what really stuck out the most to us was the joining of two families. We could see how much it meant to both Sandy and Ralph to have all these important people in their lives not only come together to support them on their wedding day, but for the rest of their lives. It was a truly special day for everyone involved!

Sandy and Ralph, it’s hard to find words to tell you how much we adore you two! You are two very special people and we are so happy for you. And we are so very honored that you chose us to help capture your wedding day. Sandy, Gwen very rarely lets me take a picture of her, but she just HAD to get a picture with you, so I think that says it all.

Best wishes and thank you so much for making us an honorary part of the Solis-Lugo family! Te amamos!

Ceremony: San Juan Del Rio Catholic Church
Officiant: Father Heriberto Vergara
Reception: Maggiano’s Little Italy
Hair and Makeup: Professional Elegance
Floral Designer: S & A Weddings and Events
Cake Designer: Publix
DJ: Deejai Jai Cee Palacios
Sinatra Tribute: Bill Stabile
Videographer: Brent Nicholaysen



















































We had a very busy weekend packed with mini sessions and wedding consultations, but the highlight was Rachael & David’s engagement session at one of their favorite places in Jacksonville! I am in awe of the beauty of the setting and just how adorable and affectionate this couple was! I’m putting this engagement session up on our list of favorites! We had a great time and can’t wait to share more of Rachael & David later this week! : )