The blog post was originally published on 11/6/2018 and updated on 5/20/2020.
You’re in the gown or suit that took weeks (months?) of research and shopping to find. Your hair is the most on point it has ever been. 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 joyful, warm and 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 head to the altar.
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. They're 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 1,000 photo tags as your wedding happens in real-time, you’ll be the master unveiler of your beautiful day!
Making Your Unplugged Wedding a Reality!
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 the photographer 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.
This post was originally published on 8/22/2018 and updated on 5/15/2020.
Weddings. Sigh. They’re magical.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen quite a few couples turn into stressed out project managers during their wedding days, instead of fully enjoying the special kind of wonderment they’ve worked so hard to create and share with their loved ones. Even the small, intimate weddings I love to photograph can sometimes challenge my clients to soak up the love and really live in the moment.
If you are already anticipating that you’re going to need a plan for controlling stress levels or anxiety during your wedding day, let me offer a few thoughts for truly enjoying this time, and ...avoiding potential freakouts!
Before Your Wedding
-Checklists FTW! Stay ahead of the game by giving yourself ample time to think about and plan each of the major components of your wedding day, and then break each of those components down with details. If you aren’t hiring a wedding planner, start a document that holds critical information such as the the vendors, materials, budget, and extra support people required for your ceremony, music, transportation, catering, flowers, makeup, hair, and photography. Having a central document will ease the burden of trying to recall mental notes and will help you think through the logistics of the day. You can even share it with your vendors and support people prior to the event.
-Know yourself! If you're an introvert like me, being the center of attention and chatting with 70+ people in 1 day can be exhausting. Think through what works for your personalities and keep that in mind when making decisions. You want the day to feel fun, not obligatory.
-Communicate! You're hiring professionals to create your wedding day and they're there to help. When you have a concern that falls under catering, chat with your caterer asap to ease your worry.
-Have a backup plan. If you're holding any part of the wedding outdoors, always always have a backup plan in case it rains.
-Plan your heart out, pin pin pin then let it all go on the wedding day so you can enjoy!
On the Day
-Assign roles to family members or your best friends to oversee each of the major components of your wedding. Aunt Jean can welcome the catering crew and Grandpa Joe will love making sure the band is set up on time - this is especially great for those family members who arrive early. Remember, you’re supposed to enjoy this milestone and you can’t be in 5 places at once, so make this a real community event and enlist your nearest and dearest to help get it all done.
-Have a loved one or professional give you a little massage. Even 5 minutes of gentle touch can significantly calm nerves and shift your perspective.
-Don't get wrapped up in pre-planned moments. Maybe you want a specific photo of you and your partner kissing at the end of the aisle but you forgot to do it. Don't worry about it! Isn't it better to live in the moment and just enjoy?
-Leave snacks, supplements, essential oils, headache meds and water in your getting ready room so that you have the space and provisions to restore your blood sugar and take a breather, as needed. You could even have your maid of honor, BFF, sister, or mom (or all of them?) hold a little bag for you to sneak away with for some alone time to recharge for a few minutes.
In Front of the Camera
Some of us are squeamish in front of the camera in the best of times. I have total compassion for my clients who deal with the compounded stress of making sure their wedding runs smoothly in addition to being the subject of a photoshoot. I love being a support for my clients in these highly emotional moments.
Here are some tips for keeping the vibes calm and cool as I capture the day:
-Stay hydrated. You’ll look and feel better. Trust me.
-Loosen up! Wiggle, dance, laugh, get silly. Take deep breaths, relax your shoulders, release the tension in your mouth.
-Limit distractions. I know, easier said than done! It’s OK to say no to an audience, and to delegate tasks while you focus on your partner and how amazing your love is.
Check out this post for more tips!
Choosing to Bask in the Glow (my fave tip!)
Yes, things can (and usually to a small extent, do) go wrong. But still..this is your wedding day. There is a special kind of wonderment intrinsic to weddings. The glow of the community surrounding you and your beloved. The creation of memories. Experiencing a milestone. Celebrating love in all of its forms! Don’t forget to take care of yourself so that you can bask in that magic you’ve created.
The post was originally published on 6/1/2018 and updated on 5/10/2020.
Many engaged couples choose their wedding package based on pricing + their day-of timeline. Hopefully both, not one or the other!
I've got another reason to consider, what moments do you need your photographer to NOT miss?
Is Grandpa secretly a cryer? Do you have a group ready to dance their asses off at the reception? Or maybe it's definitely NOT a dancing group so you know late night won't be necessary. Envision the day and how you see it unfolding to really know what you want photographed!
Let's start with the most common wedding day photo ops:
Getting ready photos
The dress/suit before it's put on
Hanging out with friends + family during the day (I hear mimosa glasses clinking in anticipation)
Details of invitation suite, rings, shoes, florals, etc.
Photos of the venue decor + setting before guests arrive (ceremony + reception)
Wedding party portraits
First dance / Father & daughter / Mother & son / Any version of these
Candid moments of guests enjoying themselves
Let's look at how they each play out based on my experience with small weddings + elopements (for which I offer an hourly rate).
Covers the basics. For my 2 hour couples, we generally fit in a few getting ready or scenic photos + the ceremony + family photos + couples portraits. Boom. Done. If you only need the basics and have a small group in attendance, this may cover your needs. Or maybe it feels too limited...
Covers the basics plus you get time for candids. For my 4 hour couples, we fit in a few getting ready + scenic/venue photos + the ceremony + family photos + couples portraits + candid moments.
Honestly, I'm trying to capture candid moments even if we're together for a 1 hour session. But during a wedding day, things can get hectic. If we're trying to make it all flow smoothly, find the best lighting and are slightly rushed then I won't have the freedom for candids. Candids require some breathing room for the photographer to walk around and find unexpected moments.
For my 6 hour couples, we fit in getting ready + scenic/venue photos + the ceremony + family photos + couples portraits + a touch of reception fun + plenty of candid moments.
This is a great option for a multiple location wedding too! If we're having a ceremony on a mountain top and a reception downtown, it's likely you'll need to add in driving time to the timeline. I consider the 4 and 6 hour options my most popular packages for small weddings.
For my 8 hour couples, we fit in getting ready pics of both partners + scenic/venue photos + the ceremony + family photos + couples portraits + ROARIN' reception fun + plenty of candid moments.
If you're booking me for 8 hours, you likely have a larger wedding and/or you have a full timeline with multiple locations and activities that can't be missed!
I offer packages from 4 hour to 10 hours of photo coverage but I'm happy to customize. I'll always ask for the most important-can't-miss-photos you are dying for + I ask for enough time to get couples portraits + I photograph the sweet details of the day. Those are non negotiable ;)
I'm always available to take a look at your timeline too, happy to throw in my 2 cents.
Before the current season of Stay at Home orders and quarantine, I was working closely with Pillar Rooftop Bar for updated photos on a regularly basis for their social media.
I love ongoing photo sessions (instead of 1 big session) because it allows you to continue to evaluate your needs, keep up with seasonal offers and holiday promotions. They're also easier on time management for a busy business. Instead of setting up a full-day shoot, we set-up 1-2 hour shoots one or two times a month. They feel less intrusive on your business hours and employees.
Another big bonus of repeat sessions together? Discount, baby. I'm happy to offer a discount to all clients who book repeat sessions with me because in building that relationship, we grow stronger together!
For Pillar, they wanted to keep the aesthetic clean, bright and colorful to show off their ingredients and welcoming atmosphere. Spring cocktails are the perfect way to display their vivid menu!
I offer some work out of my home studio space but most of my sessions are on location. I supply lighting, props, surfaces/backdrops as needed based. The entire session is tailored to the client and their brand.
The post was originally published 11/15/2017 and updated on 5/5/2020.
Since I last created a list like this, so many new places have popped up. Couples coming to the mountains for their elopement or small wedding have plenty of options for dinner afterwards! Or maybe you need a spot for you family dinner the night before the wedding, these are all great options!
Asheville is known for its food and drink scene, we've got you covered for any style or cuisine.
Buxton Hall BBQ private event space - The Remingtin Room
Smoked whole hog BBQ is quite fitting for a trip to Western NC. Buxton Hall offers up comfort food in a stylish atmosphere. The restaurant itself is beautiful and The Remingtin Room upstairs brings the same vibe in a cozy space. Head here if you love pulled pork, veggies cooked under the pig and southern desserts.
Rhubarb private event space
Rhubarb is known for its dedication to farm-to-table, a very Asheville mindset! We love our local farms and producers and we love supporting them. Rhubarb is all about seasonal dishes with a southern flair. Not long ago they opened up a private event space with all the charm and romance needed for a wedding reception or special event.
Cucina 24 private event space
Although I've never photographed an event in this space, we often go to Cucina 24 for our date night. The Italian food is impeccable with local + seasonal ingredients and an ever-changing menu. We are never disappointed with atmosphere, service or dinner here.
The Montford Rooftop Bar
Full disclosure, my husband runs The Montford so I may seem bias. But! The views of this space speak for themselves, the small team loves interacting with guests and the food + cocktails are killer. I'll say no more since I'm attached to this establishment in some ways but I will say everything on this list is tried and true!
Sovereign is a beautiful cocktail bar in the heart of downtown Avl. The 2 private dining spaces are ready for you and your guests with an eclectic + laid-back feel and local + seasonal dishes. I've been thrilled to take photos for this team a few times and their commitment to quality ingredients is impressive.
Curate is one of the most popular restaurants in Asheville, it's always a booger to get into so make reservations in advance! The chef, Katie Button, is well known for good reason, the authentic Spanish tapas cuisine is unique in this region and on point. They opened up an intimate private dining space with a cozy feel similar to a wine cellar.
Although this list doesn't cover everywhere available to you in Asheville, it certainly covers my favorites, cheers!
Downtown Asheville, early spring and just before the COVID-19 outbreak became severe. This is when Liz and I came together for headshots to support her new business Stay Gold.
Times have evolved since then to a staggering degree. I have this hint of nostalgia for how unaware I was at this time. I was unaware that I'd be looking at months of little to no work. I was unaware that small businesses everywhere would be shuttering and staff losing jobs. I was unaware we'd all be self-isolating and rationing toilet paper. Things have changed.
For all the small businesses out there, I stand with you! This is a difficult time with no easy resolution and definitely no quick answers. Take care of yourselves and loved ones. Seriously, don't forget to take care of yourself with nourishment, exercise, faux socializing and finding hope in the future.
There will be another side to this and I look forward to connecting then. I look forward to a hug, a handshake and taking your photo to support your dreams.
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.
Kind words from the bride:
"Chelsea is a true gem that helped our wedding be the amazing day it was. Our pictures are absolutely incredible. Everyone that has seen them has been in awe at how beautiful she made every moment look. They are timeless and captured every detail and emotion from our day. Chelsea went above and beyond in not only her talents as a photographer, but she was willing to help me out as a mini wedding planner when asked for her suggestions. Our elopement would not have been the same if Chelsea wasn’t there and our day was perfect. I would hire her again and again. Thank you Chelsea for everything you did! These pictures will help us remember our wedding day forever." - Sam
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 may 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? Grab 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:
Still loving the rental home option?! Now that you're ready to nail down a sweet lil rental for your big day, 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?