The beauty of a winter elopement in Asheville is that there's few people around. We began at The Foundry hotel with getting ready + anticipation photos. Then the bride and I met her groom at Antidote bar for the ceremony followed by beers at Burial brewery, a local favorite.
One of my favorite bouquets by local florists The Freckled Petal, hair + makeup by Anarie Brides and dress from Wildflower Bridal.
Air B&B weddings are popping up all over in Asheville and since I've photographed quite a few, I'm familiar with some great spots!
Below I list + link wedding-worthy homes for you to browse but, first, let's talk about what you should look for when choosing a rental home for your Asheville wedding!
Part 1 - Is a rental home right for my wedding?
Now's the time to look for things that a traditional event venue would offer and decide if those are necessary for you. These decisions may be based on your guest list - is it just you 2 eloping to the mountains? Just immediate families with no special needs? Make your guest list to reference then go through the list below.
A traditional wedding/event venue will offer these things and a rental home likely won't:
So you're good with not having all of the above. You're ready to nail down a sweet lil rental for your big day. Once you start browsing, what should you be looking for?
What to look for in the rental home to ensure a smooth wedding:
If you have to move this party indoors... It's likely you're planning part of the event to be outside but what if you need to move the whole event indoors? Every rental home is different but 2 things the can make a world of difference to capturing beautiful images indoors: window light and a nice style.
Part 2 - Where are the best rental houses in the Asheville area?
On to the good stuff. Below are a few of my favorite Asheville area rental proprieties for your wedding or elopement!
Hart House - Beautiful side yard for a private wedding ceremony + sweet little covered porch for cocktail hour. Southern manor feel on the outside. The photos on this blog post are from Hart House!
Pine Hollow - Multiple outdoor location options for a ceremony and reception! There's gorgeous trees, a lush yard and even little pond.
Cabin Heaven - Cute cabin and some of the best mountain views I've seen from the sprawling lawn!
River's Ridge Lodge - Spacious yet cozy cabin creekside with a killer deck and gazebo. And wedding-hosting experience too!
Stecoah House - An incredible modern rental home for a stylish couple wanting the cabin vibes.
Laughing Waters - Plenty of mountain views in WNC but we have a few spots for the water lovers too, like this one!
Laurel Falls - Multiple cabins, rustic yet modern. Mountain views and plenty of photo spots!
SKI Quaint Farm Barn Loft - This is such a cute option for an elopement for 2 - a modern charmer!
Big Butte Retreat - Multiple cabins, very rustic, perfect for a giant sleepover with your closest family and friends in the mountains. Mountain views, a small pond and plenty of photo op spots!
Weaver House - More of an event venue than an Air B&B but it is a house-like setting and since it's new - a hidden gem in WNC!
Continue your search on VRBO, Air B&B or HomeAway - these have been helpful for my past clients.
Don't forget to check out local Inns and Bed & Breakfasts in the area too. The owners are often excited to help coordinate the event with you and they provide great insight. And some have stunning settings, check out the gorgeous tree at Mountain Magnolia Inn for your ceremony backdrop or the mountain views at Wildberry Lodge!
Part 3 - Found the place! Now what?
You've chosen your rental home and you're ready to plan this party!
Can you do a walk-through? Ask your vendors if you need to scout anything for them - such as...
More planning tips:
I've shot many Air B&B weddings and they always turn out wonderful. I've never been to the same rental house twice for a wedding and I've experienced rained out weddings and all kinds of hiccups - it always turns out awesome. You've got this, happy planning!
Letting Loose After Your Wedding in Asheville
A rain plan for small weddings
Which Wedding Package to Choose
Congratulations on your first little one, Emily and Dan! Cheering you on for a a safe and happy delivery.
After our shoot, Emily mentioned to me that these images would be heirlooms passed down generation to generation. I never fail to embrace how important photography is to each client. These are your memories, the moments of your life.
I loved how classic Emily and Dan dressed for the session, it brought a certain sophistication to the photos that I adore. I always recommend dressing in clothing that are flattering and true to yourselves, I send tips in advance and help answer all the questions about what to wear - in the end it's up to you to pick the outfit and feel 100% about it! Need a 2nd opinion? Don't be shy and ask! Open communication is pretty much always the answer to a successful photo session.
I recently had the pleasure of working with The 1899 Wright Inn to refresh their image gallery. It was important to the owners to show what the Inn looks like in person and to show how cozy it is! We kept the branding warm and inviting. And we showed off the beautiful charm of their space so guests can feel it through their website.
When working with interior designers, bed & breakfasts and any other interior photography work, it's important to me to show the space as you see it in person. For that reason, I avoid the crazy wide angle (commonly called fish eye) lenses because those are trying to fit the entire space into 1 image at the sacrifice of showing true proportions.
If you're a local Asheville B&B, I highly recommend scheduling landscaping work, a window cleaning and a photographer walk-thru prior to the photo session.
Sharing a few favorites below!
This quick list will help you find someone with professional experience who is ready to give you the best images no matter the circumstances - my personal definition of a killer wedding photographer.
That being said, just because a photographer can't check off everything on your list doesn't mean they're a bad match. You likely have a gut feeling, go with it! A checklist is guidance, you still know the big picture and can make the best decision for you and your sweetie.
1. Look for people on their website who look like you!
Some photographers work a lot with models for campaigns and commercial work so they may not have experience working with people who aren't as comfortable in front of the camera. It's literally a model's job to pose well for the camera, their job! Non-models can't compete with that unless you happen to be effortlessly confident ;) Find examples you can identify with so you know you're in good hands.
2. Look for photos of venues similar to yours!
If they only have photos of mountain top elopements at golden hour and you're getting married inside a cabin at night, wouldn't you want to see how that setting would be photographed?
Photographers are masters of lighting. Foggy morning light, bright midday sunlight, warm golden hour, cool-toned dusk, flash lighting, lamp lighting, kitchen lighting... I won't go on but I think you can already understand how different every single lighting situation is! Seeing something similar to your setup is a great way to get a glimpse of what your day could look like in images.
3. Not seeing what you want to see on their website or Instagram? Want to see a full wedding gallery? Ask!
Couples have asked for full galleries and I'm happy to send examples to show what I can offer. The more info from the couple the better too, do you want to see family photos? An elopement? Something in a cabin? Something at Craggy? This will help me select a gallery to share!
4. Think about how you want the wedding day to feel when you're in the middle of all the fun.
The best way to get this conversation started is to simply ask "what's your approach and why?". Your photographer will be excited to share this with you!
Weddings often involve some compromise because it's not a day setup just for photography (like a commercial shoot would be). Weddings are setup based on emotion + location + weather + budget + style + family requests and much more. Do you value your experience in the moment or the photos later? Do you prioritize photography and are willing to go off the timeline to get *the shot* of you and your partner? Or do you prefer your photographer let you enjoy time with your family and friends and they can get candids instead?
One more consideration:
As photographers are getting started, they may not have experience in the exact same scenario you're planning and that doesn't mean they can't rock out your wedding! The opportunity to photograph an elopement at a local brewery on a Sunday morning maybe hasn't crossed their path yet! I've had my business open for 5 years and I just photographed my first maternity shoot - it went beautifully and I'm thrilled they trusted me to capture those memories for them!
Happy photog-finding! Wishing you all the best with your wedding day, I hope you enjoy every moment and look back on your photos often.
You're nervous, I get it! Very few people are amped to get their photo taken (< awkward blog post alert).
But let's talk through a session to relieve some anxiety over getting the best pics ever!
First things first, I delete the stinkers.
Take comfort in knowing that even if I deliver an image that you don't LOVE how you look in it, I did love it. I did love how you looked. Isn't that kind of amazing? Others see you in a new light. Let the fact that someone else sees you differently be a gift! You never know what photograph will speak to you today or in 5 years, cherish them all for the memories.
And communicate if you want something specific hidden - before the shoot and maybe even before booking!
So you see, we're looking out for you! When you're getting your photo taken, remember that we're on the same team and I'm aiming to get the very best results just as much as you are! And if there's one last piece of advice I can offer, find a photographer who makes you feel at ease. Talk on the phone, meet for a beer, FaceTime with some tea and chat to feel out their vibe. If you don't mesh, don't fret and go find a better fit.
Here's to hot summer afternoons in the backyard. It's the time of year to catch ladybugs, play your favorite games, climb on the jungle gym and swing until the sun sets. Summer is coming to an end and although we all love the fall, it's sad to say goodbye to those long days of sunshine.
I've enjoyed working with Nicole for small business photos and family sessions over the past couple of years. We're all eager to compare this year's session to our family shoot 2 year ago to see how the kids have grown. Plus, now there's a kitty in the mix!
I always think family photos speak for themselves. There's nothing for me to add here except that I absolutely love catching these sweet moments. The love is in the details. The memories are in the details. Lifestyle family sessions curate the story.
My favorite tip for family lifestyle sessions? Plan multiple activities for the kids to keep them engaged and having fun. When they're over one game, you'll have another to offer right away!
Miranda Wildman and I have been working together for many months now since she is one of my Seasonal Package clients. We get together 4x throughout the year for photos sessions that last up to 3 hours each. The best part of this package is you get to update your image collection with 4 different sessions so you constantly have photos to choose from for social media, marketing and your website!
For Miranda, we focused on portraits and highlighting the custom artwork that she sells. We chose a location based on ease, aesthetic and logistics. For this session, we landed at The Foundry in downtown Asheville, a new hotel full of charm.
We highlighted Miranda's paintings, the transfer of her work onto pillows for sale and many portraits! Miranda included 4 outfit changes. Variety is one of my favorite things to focus on in a session and I love that we fit so much in within 3 hours.
Miranda also had a one-of-a-kind mobile art piece that we included in the shoot. This piece isn't for sale but it speaks to Miranda's spirited, colorful and creative personality, see below! Personal touches such as this really connect you with your audience and give you a story to share.
Letting yourself have fun during a shoot is one of the best things you can do, the images show your vibe and excitement! Miranda and I discussed preparation several times before the shoot so she could just let it all go and have fun with the day actually arrived.
How could a session like this help you and your business?
How can photos like this help tell your story and share your brand?
Rome is a city full of personality.
You should only order espresso in the AM hours, religious notes are mixed in with sex sex sex and the graffiti tangles with creeping vines in the most charming corners. Personality.
It's loud except in the early morning where you don't even notice commuters. Is there a rush hour here? There are people everywhere as the afternoon rolls around and the city is everyone's backyard for gatherings, dog walks and cocktail hour.
I'm visiting with my husband, my bff Alicia and her fiancé Ryan. Rome is Alicia and Ryan's favorite city and they're here to get married!
I've known Alicia for many many years. We became close in college then life + jobs took us in different directions (geographically speaking). We haven't lived near each other in almost 10 years but we remain close friends and it was a joy to watch her marry Ryan in a private ceremony created just for them.
As soon as she told me her plans, I invited myself along because duh.
Alicia picked out flowers at the daily market below our Air B&B. The lady running the shop was kind enough to arrange and bundle them beautifully for her.
The windows are open as Alicia gets her hair and makeup done and Ryan irons his shirt. We can hear everyone below buying fruits, vegetables and juices.
We head to a beautiful park where the officiant awaits. The park is pretty empty and I'm relieved to avoid onlookers.
Did you know Americans can legally get married in Italy? It's not just symbolic unless you want it to be!
We walk the park then into a favorite neighborhood for a mix of settings. There's no bad place to take a photo, my mind is on overdrive narrowing down options for lighting, posing and setting. I offer light direction then let them be as they are, doing what they want. Documentary is my favorite approach.
Watching Ryan guide Alicia, it looks like a movie still. The black and white images from this wedding top my list of favorites.
Are you even a wedding photographer if you don't make your couple get into a flower bush?
When planning your wedding timeline and noting your favorite photo ops, make sure there’s enough time for your photographer to get candids of your guest enjoying themselves!
All these folks dressed up, bought gifts, possibly travelled and are excited to support you, you'll want to look back and remember how much fun they had!
If you have 1 photographer and they’re taking couple portraits with you during cocktail hour, there won't be anyone to snap pics of your guests enjoying themselves after the ceremony. That may or may not be a big deal to you but it’s something to consider as you’re planning out the day!
You have the option to tailor your timeline to your preferences (such as the candids during cocktail hour) or discuss second shooter options with your photographer. Most of us are comfortable covering the day on our own as long as we can find time to bounce around throughout the day to capture everything. If we feel we need to be in 2 places at once, a second shooter could be awesome!
Second shooters shoot with the main photographer on the wedding day. The main photographer (who you hired) will edit all the images together so the collection is still cohesive.
Are candids of your guests important to you? It's one of my most requested type of images for my couples! And it takes the right kind of photographer to capture those fleeting moments before they're gone. It requires patience, discretion and speed!
Your guests are pretty cute, let's include them in the story of your wedding.
Whether it’s the whole family flying in to celebrate or just the 2 of you, my doors are open for 2020 weddings and I’m now welcoming weddings of all sizes!
For the first years of CLP, I focused on small weddings and elopements. These inmate ceremonies will always hold a special place in my heart, I eloped after all! Yet, it’s time to expand and open up my world to new couples.
A little about my wedding photography approach:
I capture artful wedding images for the laid back couple planning a fun day. My couples are doing their own thing, skipping trends that don’t suit them and, instead, creating a tailored wedding based on their personalities.
My couples aren’t looking for photos that look like a filter was slapped on or cheesy posing - they want natural images that show the beauty found in unexpected places.
Email me any time to chat more!
I've been hitched for over 5 years now but I still reflect on our wedding experience (elopement) and our wedding photography often because I'm always trying to put myself in my client's shoes. Honestly, it's hard! Social media + culture + technology + wedding options have changed quite a bit in the last 5 years so decisions my couples are facing today can be both wildly different and surprisingly similar to what we navigated.
Considering the questions that I get asked as a wedding photographer, my own perspective and modern times, I've gathered 3 questions I'd ask if meeting with my potential wedding photographer today.
1. Consider what is VERY important to you when it comes to your wedding photography and chat with your photographer about those things. Don't dismiss this because it seems obvious, check out the examples below to explore what you relate to before that consultation!
Appearance? And be honest with yourself, none of us want to be vain but in today's society, most care about how we look in photos. Maybe you want to invest in a photographer who will use every trick in the book, including Photoshop, to make you look A+. Maybe you're getting hair and makeup done so you want some glamour shots of how hawt you are on the big day. There are so many types of photographers these days and some offer 0 Photoshopping and don't care about flattering angles, they care about candid laughter even if that includes a double chin. There's no right or wrong, it's just a topic to bring up to understand their approach.
Emotion? Speaking of belly laughs that can lead to double chins, maybe those moments are what's precious to you. You're not in it for a glamour shoot, you want to enjoy the day and have memories to look back on that make you cry and laugh all over again. Most photographers are looking for great emotion too so you're likely guaranteed that. But you could be investing in a pricey photog who captures emotion AND spends a lot of TIME on the wedding day posing you juuuust right so the angle is flattering and who charges you more because of the amount of editing they do - if spending more time on posing and paying for the photog's time to edit out double chins doesn't sound good to you then maybe it's not a match!
Timeline? Speaking of spending time posing for the "perfect" angle, many couples have a strong opinion on the timeline of the wedding day. Do you want to build in an hour to get epic photos of you 2 on a mountain alone or would you rather spend the majority of time with your guests? Do you want to spend an hour on family formals bc that's what everyone loves to print or do you prefer more time devoted to candids? Again, no right or wrong but definitely something to chat about with your photog.
There are many other examples, start jotting down a list of what's (specifically) important to you, and bring it up in the consultation to learn their approach! You do you.
2. What you love most about the photographer's work. This isn't a suggestion to be complimentary (although, how nice!), it's about hearing the photographer describe their work in real life scenarios.
Maybe you love how colorful and cheerful their work is, they may tell you some of the best venues for that style or how they'll need space for flash in order to create that vibe in a dark cabin.
Maybe you love their dreamy couple portraits, they may tell you that to catch that kind of lighting, you need to schedule in 1 hour at sunset for couple photos or you won't get the same result.
Maybe you love how they setup family formals bc they never look stuffy, they may tell you that they'll need to scout the location the day before and to have access to furniture for those photos.
Speak up about what you love in their work so you can all make it happen logistically. Happy accidents are few and far between, most photographers know what preparation goes into getting the shot.
3. And lastly, how does the photographer communicate on the wedding day? Mother-in-laws, family formals, divorced parents, timeline delays, rain preventing any outdoor photos... you want to know how your photog will handle the slight chaos of a wedding day while getting every shot you hired them for.
I always tell my clients that I like to be a fly on the wall most of the day but I'm comfortable directing family formals to get them done efficiently. I can handle mother-in-laws of all types and I'm ready for all the personalities - it doesn't bother me or stress me out because I used to work in hospitality and as a wedding coordinator. I can offer direction as needed throughout the day or I can let your wedding planner take the lead. I'm flexible yet prepared.
That's my approach and my guess is every photographer has their own. Chat about it!
You are lucky!
If you're eloping with a simple ceremony, you have a LOT less to think about than the couple planning + packing for a traditional wedding.
But, there is still some thought to be put into this. After all, you want to create special memories just as the same, right? Right!
This is unlikely your first hike so any other items you deem important to take on your other adventures, bring these along for your elopement too, at least in the car! “Follow your heart but bring your brain with you.”
Is your pup joining? Check out this list to prepare for them too!
Pre-wedding + pre-hike thoughts: sunscreen and bug spray aren't your usual wedding day accessories but they're important, consider adding them into your getting ready plans.
Here’s what I’ll bring:
Hiking on the wedding day is nothing to fear or get nervous about, it adds to the fun and romance of your day! Throw everything you need in the car or in a backpack (depends on how long the hike is) and let's go!
Your wedding suite is the first impression of your wedding day that you're sending to your guests, let's give them an idea of what to expect!
Will the ceremony be short and sweet? A full day party with all the wedding traditions? A quiet elopement with only family? A backyard gathering on a Sunday morning? Outdoors in nature highlighting your favorite season? No matter the vision, there's an invitation to match that vibe. I've stumbled upon the prettiest wedding stationery online and rounded up my favorites, I hope you can find a suite that represents you 2 as a couple below!
First up we have the Venamour and Paperless Post collaboration. These are so sweet, simple and modern. I love the color combos and know anyone who received one of these via email would be impressed! Can you believe how cool digital options have become?! Email invites are modern, very 'green', easy for RSVPs and also easy to sync to a busy guest's calendar!
Bonus: Venamour also has the best e-flyers that are perfect e-vites for a save the date, rehearsal dinner or after-wedding brunch! They're festive and full of personality (AKA add in your fave GIF).
Next up we have Artifact Uprising!
Given Artifact Uprising is a well-known and well-loved online print shop for your photo memories, these invitations are photo-centric. These are perfect for the couples who want to show off their engagement pics or those cute family photos from when you 2 were kiddos! The style is chic and clean, the focus is on the feeling. I'm loving the fonts on these too. If you like the style but don't want images on your invites, still check out their options because a few are photo-free!
Bonus: Venamour also did a collaboration with Artifact Uprising and they created the sweetest floral invitation suite - perfect for a spring or summer ceremony!
If you're looking for something more exclusive, head to Ephermora for their limited edition invitations. These invites offer up charm and a certification by the Rainforest Alliance.
I love how unique these wedding invitation suites are (below are only 2 examples!). Ephermora makes the process clear and easy - order a bundle that represents your personalities! Their blog is also handy to walk you through the how-to's.
And I especially love spending my money with a responsible company who gives back.
And here we have Bojack Studios. They offer customizable wedding invite suites! You can pick your favorite collection (floral, graphic, monogram, abstract) then customize the rest. Mix and match your way to save-the-dates and RSVP cards that feel just like you want the wedding to feel.
Honestly, it'd be hard to narrow down your decision, everything is beautiful. Take your time and play around with combos until you've got the best fit.
These invitation makers are also friendly to all couples, an important aspect of any vendor I would recommend to you. Remember, your wedding save the date or invite is the first impression your guests have of your wedding day, make it a good one!
I recently got photos taken with my husband for our 5 year wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful experience, our photographer is a good friend and it was worth every penny. That being said, I'm still a human, still a female in 2019 who thinks about how she looks in photos. And I realized a few things based on how I viewed the photo gallery.
I had a first reaction, a second reaction, a third reaction and I assume I’ll have a fresh point of view years from now when we look back on these. Spoiler alert, I'm very excited to keep looking back on these!
1. First look at the gallery: I did a precursory of the collection to find a few faves and I was simultaneously very aware of how I looked in a few non-fave photos ("my nose looks big there, my chin is 2 chins there, is that how I look when I laugh?"). And these thoughts are coming from me, a photographer!
2. Upon a second look, I loosened up a little and started looking at the entire photo. I enjoyed seeing Philip and I make each other laugh and play. I liked thinking about my sweet friend Amelia taking the photos and giving us fun directions. I remember being so happy I asked her to photograph us because the experience was laid back and fun, something I hope to provide to all of my clients.
3. And on my third look I loosened up even more and saw the beauty in every image. I saw why my talented photographer grabbed this image and how each of them stood alone as a special memory. Those memories are worth so much more than how I look in the photo. I envisioned myself in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years looking back on these and I smiled thinking I'll say "damn, I was a babe".
I'd like to wrap this up with a quick tip on picking your photographer.
Understand your photographer's approach. Some photographers aim for a natural and organic feel so they won't be photoshopping away every little thing (this is my approach and same for Amelia, who took these images of us) and some photographers specialize in a beauty transformation with hair, makeup, special lighting and a bit more retouching (a glam portrait session). Consider which is better for your use of the photos and what's important to you!
And then trust your photographer. You may not LOVE every single image delivered but if you trust them and their perspective, you'll see there's more to that image than what first appears.
Still hesitant? I've got some tips on the ol "but I'm so awkward" battle cry in this blog post!
“I want to look good in my wedding/engagement/professional pics but I’m so awkward!!”
Or "We’ve never had our photos professionally taken."
Or "We don't like having our photos taken but we want to make the most of the experience."
This is what I hear before almost every single shoot. You're in good company!
1. Take comfort in the fact that I swiftly delete any photos where I think either of you don’t look great. I don't require you to look like a supermodel but I also never want you to cringe looking at an image of yourself! My goal is to shoot and edit in a flattering manner, always.
That being said, how I see you will be different than how you see you, how your mom sees you or how your new spouse sees you. We all have different points of view and I think that’s such a gift.
If I see a profesh image of myself (I walk you through my actual reactions to my anniversary pics here) and I’m not thrilled with it but I know my photog would never have sent me an image where he or she thinks I look bad, it means that they see something positive where I see something negative. It means that there is beauty in flaws. It means that if I walk out of my house with a bad hair day, I’m likely the only one to notice. It means that when I feel a lil frumpy, others don’t care. We are our own worst critics, wouldn’t it be nice if we gave ourselves more grace and ignored the flyaway or the extra 5lbs of Thanksgiving weight? Wouldn’t it be nice if we looked at a photo of ourselves and saw the joy our the smile instead of the size of our arm?
2. Part of my job is to guide you as needed (when the light is bad, we switch angles / when my angle is unflattering, I adjust my viewpoint). I will guide you! Listen to the guidance because there are likely at least 3-5 reasons the photographer is giving that instruction.
3. What about when guidance isn’t an option? I'll also capture candid moments and special details where guidance would ruin the magic. So I still shoot shoot shoot and if I find later the shot isn’t salvageable, I’ll delete it. If the photo needs tweaking then I manage that in my editing process. I cannot treat a wedding day like a photo shoot, it just doesn't work that way! And that's why we get so many beautiful candid images. So guidance is great but realness is too - I'll adjust accordingly!
4. I have yet to meet a couple who hasn’t claimed to be awkward, uncomfortable, nervous or downright unexcited about getting their pics taken. Seriously, none! So if you like the images you see that I share on my website, please know that they all felt the same way you do. You’re in good company because I’ve worked with some really fun, sweet and often introverted couples who feel nervous and we always make it work.
5. I’m shooting for you! I'm not taking photos to fill a quota, to improve my Instagram or to practice my skills. I'm taking photos to fulfill your photo needs and I’m thinking of you the entire time. So share how you’re feeling, tell me what could help and let me know if you only want photos of your left side 😉
We got this, don't stress.
Thinking of including your dog in your wedding?
Full disclosure: dogs are my fave. I love 'em all. Troublemakers, seniors, small, huge, furry, cuddly, mutts, pure-breds, you name it. So, I'm all for it! A little prep work and consideration is required but you can handle it.
Here are my tips!
Best part of bringing your dog along for the day? They'll be so sleepy by the time it's over!
A little late to posting this cuteness but now it's time to share!
MOTHER Magazine and the East Fork family invited me along for an afternoon of matching PJs, art on the porch and a stroll in the neighborhood. Connie gave an inspiring (an overused adjective but still applicable) interview for all the parents out there doing the hard work.
In Asheville, we’re fortunate to live in a caring community, one whose members trend toward being proactive citizens. Ashevillians care about the well-being of their environment and fellow citizens, and make an effort to support locally owned businesses and causes.
As a local business owner, I don’t take this culture of caring for granted, and neither should you. Being an engaged, responsible small business owner is just part of the job. In order to create relevant and meaningful relationships with our customers, we as business owners must show our community that we care, just like they do. Here are a few fulfilling ways to put your values into action...
1. Choose causes aligned with your values or company mission. Let’s pretend that you're a graphic designer who consumes a fair amount of printed paper products. Maybe you align with Dogwood Alliance and become more environmentally friendly!
You may need to tap into your personal journey to find the perfect cause. For example, if you’re a clothes designer who started your own company because you could never fit into commonly offered sizes, you might support organizations that boost confidence and self esteem in young ladies.
2. Go out on the front lines for your cause. There are many ways, beyond monetarily, to show up for your chosen cause. Donate time, skills, and energy. Most, if not all, of the nonprofit organizations in Western North Carolina are in need of volunteers to fulfill their missions and to offer critical services. Volunteering comes in many forms. You might walk dogs or clean kennels for a local animal rescue group. Perhaps you can become a coach or mentor with the local YWCA’s youth programs, work in the gardens at Green Opportunities, or clean the French Broad with RiverLink.
3. Make your partnership visible.
Talk it up on your website, shout about it on social media, start a fundraiser or donations-drive, have a money box on your checkout counter or option to donate during checkout, and put a sticker in your window! Let your customers know what you care about and what you’re doing about it! You’ll give them a reason to ask why and get involved. Promoting your support and community partnership surely benefits your cause. A secondary but super positive effect of your philanthropy is the trust and admiration you will cultivate in your customers.
Most business owners and consumers in Asheville think beyond bottom lines and profit margins. It’s common practice and has come to be expected for local businesses to invest in their community in meaningful ways. While helping others is a deeply fulfilling and leads to personal betterment, it’s also a critical way to showcase your company’s values and commitments.
So, go spread the love and find a cause to promote. You’ll be glad you did.
Fall is Asheville’s quintessential season, and there’s nothing quite as romantic as a wedding in the autumn air right here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The leaves are vibrant, the air is chilly, and there’s a palpable energy.
Are you dreaming of an intimate fall wedding? I’ve had the pleasure of capturing gorgeous nuptials in this season, and would like to offer some of the area’s most enchanting local spots to tie the knot…
1. An airbnb of your choosing / that allows small gatherings. Look for a rental with an attractive interior in case of rain and everything needs to be shifted inside. You’ll also want to find a spot with ample parking... or consider a shuttle option! Think through the timeline and make sure you'll have what you need on-site, as most rental homes aren't event-ready as-is and will require some planning.
2. The Swag is perfect for very small gatherings. They're new to hosting weddings and have limited availability. The striking mountain views make for an exceptional outdoor venue, and they offer a great dining experience for small groups. If you’re looking for high-end mountain getaway and traditional cabin vibes, look no further!
3. Highland Brewery offers an industrial chic feeling and rooftop views- perfect for peeping the treetops during peak leaf season! Things are likely to run very smooth at Highland. The staff here are absolute pros at setup and provide seamless event management.
4. Vineyard at Betty's Creek in Sylva is a luxurious venue on stunning grounds with impressive views, vineyards and wildlife. This spot might just be my personal fave, because it features several unique elements: a gorgeously designed open-air reception space, and the outdoor chimney near one of the ceremony spots. It’s one of the more exceptional fall venues in the WNC mountains.
5. A mountain top elopement! I highly suggest picking your favorite hiking destination or mountain vista, such as Max Patch or Black Balsam, for an elopement. Be sure to check the Blue Ridge Parkway website for rules. Also consider if your guests can easily hike to location. You’ll want to have Plan B ready in the event of rainy fall weather, and you’ll also want to scheme up a fun dinner party location to celebrate after your dreamy mountain top ceremony.
Asheville and the surrounding towns of Western North Carolina are unquestionably the perfect destination for intimate fall weddings. You’re likely to score dramatic views-- the perfect backdrop for photos-- and really enjoy yourself in this beautiful, fleeting season. If you have any questions about designing your perfect autumn wedding, please be in touch- let’s plan something magical!
You’re in the gown or suit that took months of research and shopping to discover. Your hair is the most on point it has ever been. You’ve actually never felt more elegant in your life. The venue you’ve selected with your life partner is perfectly curated with floral arrangements and personal accents. Everyone you love has gathered to celebrate your milestone. This moment is profound. It’s intentional.
...and unfortunately, the professional photographer you’ve hired to artfully capture this moment is dodging Aunt Marla’s camera flash that keeps going off and side stepping your roomie from college who’s half way in the aisle with his iPhone.
It’s literally impossible to capture the important moments because your guests are hovering in the aisle and snapping photos of you with their iphones as you saunter up to the altar.
Power Down Tech to Turn Up the Moment
This scenario has inspired the fairly recent trend of unplugged weddings, nuptials in which the happy couple requests no photo or video documentation of the day’s events.
Everyone wants to remember the special moments of your wedding, and while intentions may be pure, there are a few problems in allowing your adoring wedding guests the ability to capture the details with photos and videos.
It goes without saying that your photos will be of much higher quality if your designated photographer isn’t dodging friends and family to do her job. The less obvious but super powerful benefit of going the unplugged route is that everyone attending is fully present, there to witness, and engage with their eyes and hearts, rather than with their technology. Eye contact will replace staring into screens if you’ve asked for full participation, rather than documentation.
Another bonus: you will be in charge of telling your wedding’s story on social media. Instead of finding yourself bombarded with 10,000 photo tags as your wedding happens in real-time, you’ll be the master unveiler of your beautiful day!
Laying the Foundation for Your Unplugged Wedding
So, now that we’ve unpacked the logic of asking your guests to power down their devices, let’s talk about how you prepare your guests for your policy.
Most people understand that I was hired to complete a job, and it’s never anyone’s intention to hinder that. It’s always best to make special arrangements like this before the wedding ceremony begins, never during! With a little advanced prep, everyone wins.
Since you're hanging out on this blog, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you love small businesses, you want to shop local and you enjoy supporting entrepreneurs + artists. Me too, friend!
I also wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's not always an easy option to do so. Pricing may be higher, supplies may be limited, custom orders may take a moment longer. Small businesses are multifaceted powerhouses in a small package with, yes, some limitations compared to Wal-Mart.
So how can you show love when you're not ready to click "Confirm" on that online shopping cart?
Leave a review for any place you've shopped or any service you've received in the recent past. Maybe you splurged on a tarot reading session this summer and you know you won’t be able to get another session for a while. For now, leave them a review on Facebook, Google or spread the word on Instagram about them. Word-of-mouth is everything. I just left a review for my dentist because the service was so great!
Maybe you can’t afford to buy that $300 dress a local artist handmade but maybe your best friend can + when she’s looking for a new outfit, you can send her to that maker. Friends love referrals, it takes away all that time Googling things, you're giving them a shortcut - yessss.
Follow + engage!
Just because you’re not a current customer doesn’t mean that you haven’t been or that you won’t be in the future. Encouragement and support can fuel someone to keep working, keep improving and keep providing their best work. Your support goes a long way to a small business owner.
If you inquire with someone about their services and you find that they’re simply out of your price range or the scheduling won't work, don’t be afraid to let them know that. I’m not saying that they owe you a discount or that they'll be able to open their schedule but all feedback is helpful to small business owners. Maybe they'll let you know that a sale is coming up, maybe they'll let you know about a local discount or maybe they'll collect that feedback and realize a pattern they can fix. If done with care and good intention, all feedback is useful, don't be shy!
Cheers to buying, browsing, reviewing and supporting small businesses no matter what!
We love wedding day hair and makeup. It's that simple.
Choosing a wedding day beauty look can be overwhelming, we understand! We love helping navigate by incorporating the overall vibe and theme of the day! We keep choosing your wedding day beauty looks personal and individual.
We understand how important it is to look in a mirror and see yourself. To love how you look and feel!
We customize each experience and truly get to know our brides and clients. We tote our beauty thrones with our fully professional hair and makeup kits, and when you're in the chairs, your vision matters to us. We listen so we can enhance your natural beauty, your way. We love to be the calming force in the room. Each team member always goes above and beyond with providing service and care when it can feel chaotic before leaving for the big event.
Let's talk about getting wedding day ready.
Get ready for the big day:
1. Drink lots of water! We always recommend upping hydration intake around any special day. It does wonders for your skin, hair, and overall health!
2. Start a gentle cleansing skincare routine and be very consistent with it two times a day! Once in the morning and once at night. It will help keep your skin balanced and prevent stress breakouts around the big day. Please feel free to always reach out if you have a concern before the wedding day. We are here to help!
3. Ask questions! Are you thinking about extensions? Please ask us for recommendations! Are you thinking about buying a specific lip color to keep in your clutch? Let us know. We love beauty products and we love helping our brides find what will work best for them! We love to answer questions and offer a peace of mind.
4. If you see a dreaded break-out, do not pop it! We can help with some gentle skincare advice or make sure any nerves are calmed by letting you know it can be covered easily. We recommend staying away from facials or waxing for at least a week before the wedding, we don't want any skin reactions. However, we have definitely covered up some breakouts for brides and their bridal parties!
5. Book trial runs with us! We love getting to know our brides and their love stories! Trial run appointments are a great way for us to meet and perfect your wedding day hair and makeup. Our hairstylists and makeup artists work together on a regular basis and it's great to be styled before the big day to see the whole look!
We love weddings! We so enjoy walking into a room and helping the bride feel her absolute best before walking down the aisle.
Whether she's surrounded by family and a bridal party, or there by herself for quiet moments before her elopement, AnaRie is committed to providing an excellent experience to help keep the day calm and magical, even before that first glance to her future partner in life. Check out more of our work via links below!
-Ali, Andrea, Erika + the entire AnaRie team
The Knot: www.theknot.com/marketplace/anarie-brevard-nc-1087349
Ever journey through the interwebs in search of something specific, only to land on a company’s website with images of awkwardly posed models who are very clearly not the employees of said company? Perhaps you’ve come across a perfectly captured high five between (fake) colleagues or hell, even a bemused professional carrying a handful of balloons and a briefcase, enjoying the breeze.
Of course, not all generic stock images are as bewildering as the ones above.
In fact, most are bland.
Entrepreneurs and business owners who choose to use generic stock photography in their online marketing are playing a game of “what fits best,” rather than acting intentionally and strategically to form relationships with their intended audiences. It’s hard to evoke curiosity or loyalty in potential customers using cold and corny images that are likely replicated all over the internet. So, what’s the answer?
Custom stock photography. Sounds like an oxymoron, right?
Why Are Brands Using “Custom Stock Photography”?
Custom stock photography tends to have the opposite effect of generic stock photography. Brand-specific, custom stock photos differentiate businesses from their competitors. When used consistently, custom stock photos will convey a brand’s personality and values, enhancing a brand’s ability to genuinely connect with their customers. Custom stock images bring clarity to a company’s expertise, services, and the intended customer experience.
Capturing Images with Intention
A typical custom stock photography shoot may include environmental shots (your office or workspace), product shots, and shots of the company's team engaging with others, serving clients, and generally doing the things they do best.
Let’s dive into the benefits of custom stock photography, using my lovely client Caroline Sanney as an example.
Using her own home office as the setting of this shoot, Caroline conveyed competence, organization, and expertise without saying a word. She has the necessary tools for the job, a functional pragmatism, and a clean aesthetic. The information conveyed in these images builds a relationship with her potential clients before she’s even approached by them.
Actually showing Caroline immersed in her work and smiling warmly creates a genuine first impression; rather than randomly styled models pretending to have the best business meeting of their lives, she offers her own face, furthering the notion that she is a real professional and that she can back up the claims she makes about the services she offers. Her personality shines through in her decor and the way she carries herself. It’s clear that she's calm, intelligent, and careful in her work - keywords to describe her brand.
Ultimately, investing in custom stock photography is about harnessing the power of intentional imagery and cashing in on your authenticity. It’s about being crystal clear in your communications to customers and future clients.
And, it’s about standing out and being memorable in a sea of cheesy handshakes.
After the party, it’s the after party… and when you’re celebrating a love like yours with an intimate wedding here in Asheville or the surrounding mountains, there are plenty of interesting spots to turn up in the wee hours. After a vibrant and exhilarating nuptials, it’s time to let your hair down and keep the good vibes flowing. Is your crew looking for some late night fun?
Check out this list of my favorite after hours spots:
Ben’s Tune-Up - Open until 2AM, this craft sake brewery embodies South Slope grit and Asheville foodie culture. Enjoy the menu of delicious snacks made with locally-sourced ingredients, and a creative, intentionally curated cocktail, wine, and beer bar. Cozy up in the meandering courtyard or one of the many nooks throughout this venue. The pineapple jalapeno sake comes highly recommended.
Sovereign Remedies - For the dreamiest farm to table late night menu, with perhaps the most ambitious and hyped up craft cocktails in town, make your way to Sovereign Remedies! It’s in the middle of downtown, on a quaint cobblestone road, and offers perhaps the most authentic gourmet Asheville experience!
The Walk - For those looking to get a little wild in West Asheville, there are several places that come to mind, but in order to satisfy hunger pangs AND enjoy some festive dranks, your first late night WAVL joint should probably be The Walk! With a pool table, room to dance, and array of eats, you will definitely keep the party goin’ with a visit to The Walk.
Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro - Another downtown bar and restaurant open until 2AM, Storm is classy, so if you’re after slightly fancy party vibes, Storm is a great fit for you! You could also book Storm for an event, if you’d like your after party to be a private, planned affair!
MG Road Bar & Lounge - Cocktails and Indian food on Wall Street, in the heart of downtown? Need I say more? This may be one of the most festive joints in Asheville, with a year-round glittering display of Christmas lights on the ceiling. The drinks are as delicious as the aesthetic and atmosphere is cozy. This is another rentable establishment, if you’re pre-planning after party shenanigans!
The Double Crown - If you are looking for a funky bar with live music, you must put the Double Crown on your post-wedding reception list. This spot is graffiti-ed up, full of characters, and certainly emits that I don’t give an F, “are we in Brooklyn?” anything goes type feeling. Don’t expect craft cocktails with locally sourced ingredients; this is an unapologetic dive! Come to this spot for an adventurous post-wedding experience!
Ole Shakey’s Getaway - Sometimes, you just wanna party in an uber-local, kinda secret, been-here-forever kinda spot. Well, this is it. With a rare French Broad River location, Ole Shakey's is a THE place to get a little crazy. With pool, darts, live entertainment, an open mic, live bands, and karaoke, you’ll be entertained and inspired to keep the energy high and the good times rolling...
With small + intimate weddings, it is often the case that the ceremony and reception venues are not booked out for an entire weekend block. Because this type of nuptials in Asheville is my speciality, I know that couples and their besties are often looking for a place to keep making memories, long after the reception venue closes. I hope you’ll be inspired to make your way downtown and enjoy a spontaneous night on the town-- the perfect ending one of the best days of your life!
Don't forget to Uber or Lyft your way home!