Molly and Ira and I bonded immediately over their work in tackling social justice issues, and working in the emergency room here in Durham, N.C. Their Spruce Pine Lodge wedding in Bahama was simple but totally them. The lodge has quickly become one of my favorite venues for it’s intimacy and piney charm. Clients beware: getting married inside the lodge presents it’s own challenges since the brown wood swallows much of the bright window light. Plan accordingly, like Molly and Ira did! Looking forward to some campfires and bourbon with these two soon.


1. What was most important to you in planning your wedding?

For us the most important aspect of our wedding planning was to find ways to create an experience that was truly personal to us and that felt genuine to who we are as a couple. We were adamant that we didn’t want our wedding to feel like we had simply gone to Party City and purchased items off the shelf, or picked pieces out of a catalog. We wanted our wedding to feel as special and unique as we are as a couple and to share that feeling with our guests.

2. What did you learn about yourselves and your relationship in the process of planning the wedding?

We learned, or maybe confirmed, that Molly struggles to do anything “simply”. Our vision was to have a “simple, low key wedding”, and in some respects it was However, Molly’s attention to detail and the level of organization resulted in a beautiful, heartfelt, meticulously organized and presented event, that basically took over our lives for several months. We learned that we have very different planning and organizational styles, which typically helps create balance between us. however, in a big event with so many moving parts, our styles clashed at times instead of supporting us.

3. What was the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge was keeping up with all of the details and coordinating all of the moving parts of the wedding. We did everything ourselves, including making the wedding favors and all of the decorations, so it was a lot to manage. Thankfully, we had an amazing team who totally knocked it out of the park in the days leading up to the wedding and on our wedding day.

4. What advise do you have for other couples?

Include an aspect of your wedding that is uniquely special and that you plan, develop or create together.  For example, we wrote letters to one another before our wedding describing why we love one another and what our love means to us. We placed those letters in a box during the wedding ceremony. Every 5 years we will read the letters and write new letters to one another. It is a tradition that we created for ourselves. 

5. What was your favorite moment of the day?

Molly- Our wedding ceremony was very special to us. We put a lot of heart and intention into the words we chose to say to one another in front of our family and friends. Standing in front of everyone, saying the words we chose together was very moving.

Ira- I have two favorite parts: One was seeing all of our friends and loved ones being there together for our marriage was a wonderful thing as a “What a Wonderful World” (preprocessional music) started playing it was an emotional and beautiful moment.

The second was when I saw my wife walking down the aisle to the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow, I was so happy and she was so beautiful, it was the most joyful moment of my life.

6. What factors other than photos went into your decision on a wedding photographer? Why did you decide to pick me? What reaffirmed that as the right decision on your wedding day?

 We were initially drawn to your photo-journalistic style of photography and loved the intimacy of your photos. Then, when we met you, we realized we were not hiring just a photographer, rather we were meeting a like-minded Durhamite who we really loved to hang out with! Having good rapport and camaraderie helped us trust your process to work your magic to capture the spirit of our special day. We had as much fun talking about non-photography related topics in our planning sessions than prepping for our wedding photos! Also, the fact that you had experience taking photographs at our specific wedding venue and had several helpful suggestions to consider for getting the best photography was reassuring. We like to say that we hired a photographer, and we made a friend. (Note: YES, I AGREE!!)


I photographed Garrett and Zach’s Carolina Inn wedding back in 2013, so when I got an email from them inquiring about a newborn session with their twins, I did a cartwheel in the parking lot of The Mothership where I work. The concept was simple: shoot some cute baby photos, but also recreate some of their favorite moments from their wedding photos around UNC Chapel Hill’s campus. So that’s what we did. We made some images Garrett’s dad’s house, and then we wandered the inn and campus, and ended where they got engaged — The Pit. It was fun to work with everyone again, and to meet Elizabeth Jean and Clark, and your baby nurse, Alma!

Enjoy the then/now mashup photos woven through this blog post!


Jessie and Justin had a low-key wedding at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in downtown Durham. And they had a lot to say about the planning process in this interview, so take it away J and J! Thanks Allie Mullin for the great assisting!


1. What was most important to you in planning your wedding?

For us, it was all about the people. Our number one priority was to design an event that allowed us to spend as much time with our guests as possible. Never again in our lives will we have all of our favorites in one place, so we wanted to make sure that we were present and really able to soak it all in. Also, we wanted good food and drink. That was important, too.

2. What did you learn about yourself and your relationship in the process of planning the wedding?

We make a pretty damn good team. I am a planner, and the hubs is really good at getting stuff done in the most efficient way possible.

Also, wedding-planning made us practice that whole “stay true to yourself” adage. There’s a lot of outside noise and pressure surrounding weddings these days, so we worked really hard to  keep the wedding process (and one another) in check.

3. What was the biggest challenge?

Balancing priorities: mine, his, and our families’.

4. What advice do you have for other couples out there?

Relationship advice? Be kind. Wedding advice? No one’s going to remember the color of the corsages or what brand of Pinot you decided to serve. So don’t sweat the small stuff. Seriously. All the things just don’t matter in the long run.

5. What was your favorite moment from the day?

Me: There were so many amazing moments. The actual getting married part is definitely up there. Also I loved watching the hubs’s face during the surprise toast from his BFF.

Him: “Marrying her.”

6. What factors other than photos went into your decision on a wedding photographer? Why did you decide to pick me?

We wanted to choose someone local so we could support a fellow Durhamite. I was drawn to Justin because of his social justice work in the area.

7. From booking to delivery of images and seeing the results, what in your mind made it the right choice for us to collaborate? Did anything surprise you?

After we had an intro meeting, it was very clear that we would have fun working with Justin. That was really important to us. Justin was competent, responsive, helpful, and friendly throughout the process. I was also confident that Justin had an eye for the types of images that we really wanted.

We wanted photos that make you feel something when you look at them…that capture the little something extra going on. I liked how Justin documents activity and facial expressions in his photos- he captures feelings in an image.

I had no idea how wonderful our photos would be. I was sure they would be great, but Justin did a phenomenal job of highlighting the most important moments (and not necessarily the “big” moments). I was (and still am) blown away, and am so grateful that he decided to work with us.

8. What’s next for you as a couple?

Settling back into normal. 🙂

Natalie and Graham got married at the Cookery in Durham. I could go on and on about how fun it was, but anything I say will take away from this funny interview. I’ll leave it at this: Thanks, you two for the fun day. And thanks, Alex, for the great second shooting!


1. What was most important to you in planning your wedding?

G: I really just wanted a big-ass party. If we could’ve had the ceremony consist of a couple of nods, I would’ve been okay with it. [N:Nods and a high five. C’mon, man] Yeah, not really into the formalities. Really just a declaration of our love… party. As for why split the festivities across two days, convenience of scheduling. With the exception of a handful of friends and family, everyone was from forever away.

N: Agreed. We wanted a love-party vibe, not a formal or traditional vibe. Also open bar. We chose Durham since, as Graham noted, most of our guest list was form out of town, so we chose a city near to us with fairly easy access to the airport and lots to do downtown. We also wanted a venue close to the hotels/downtown, which could accommodate both ceremony and reception.

2. What did you learn about yourself and your relationship in the process of planning the wedding?

G: Oh, jeez. Now I’m on the spot to answer this right before Natalie…  I learned that all the fun and stress of planning a wedding should be focused on the things you and your partner find important, not what may or may not offend/affect others. Once the ceremony is over (hopefully) it’s just you and your friends sharing in the best day of your life. So who cares if the napkins weren’t blue enough. As for myself, I learned nothing. I have been told numerous times that I know it all.

N: Sigh. I’ll actually answer this question. I think Graham and I learned a lot about our different styles of planning/organization (I can plan and be organized, Graham cannot) and we learned to communicate more effectively over the months leading up to the Big Day. For instance, we had a giant miscommunication about the basic color palette which affected wardrobe for the wedding party etc, like a month before the date, and I about lost my shit. We sorted it out eventually, but Graham is right, you can’t dwell on details or you’ll go insane. I was so convinced I was going to be a Super Chill Bride but NO ONE can maintain their chill completely so just accept it [G: …I did.]. Wedding planning is for making sure you wanna get married to this chump – so find solutions or get out!

3. What was the biggest challenge?

G: Dealing with the photographer. …kidding. For me the biggest challenge was planning the bachelor party. Turns out that all my friends are aggressively introverted, and only a couple had even met prior to the party. I didn’t want to plan my own party, because, I dunno it’s like planning your own surprise birthday party. It all worked out, but I think it would have been easier to just acknowledge the shortcoming and adjust accordingly. For the record, the party itself was excellent.

N: Trying to not murder certain family members…. But I succeeded!

4. What advice do you have for other couples out there?

N: Graham will say he told me so, but hiring a planner would have helped. [G: <cough>] Alas, I am a penny-pinching control freak, so we didn’t. And I assumed that once all the vendors were paid and had a basic timeline of events, The Day would just run smoothly on its own, but my MoH got somehow designated as the go-to person for the caterers to ask questions, etc, and that shouldn’t have been her job. We should have hired a day-of planner at least. Other than that, we managed to cut a lot of corners, budget-wise, to be able to afford the things that were priorities. We didn’t hire a florist, we didn’t have a cake, we made our own playlist instead of hiring a DJ, we took an Uber from the venue back to the hotel, etc. Also….


G: Elope.

Seriously though, know that even if you are the bestest couple out there, this is a huge undertaking that will strain your hearts and wallets. It’s easy to lose perspective on what’s important as you defend karoke and buffet over live bands and gastro pubs. So make sure that any ground your giving up, or refusing to yield is worth it, and explain why. Make sure you say “I’m still marrying the shit out of you” at least once a day, and make sure you mean it.

5. What factors other than photos went into your decision on a wedding photographer? Why did you decide to pick me?

G+N: We were looking for a “chill vibe”. You’d be surprised (maybe not) how many photographers out there have a distinct “No Gays” or “Jesus guides my camera” vibe on their website/blogs.  We also wanted someone who wouldn’t be annoyed by us. Hope we weren’t too annoying! [Photographer’s note: You were not annoying!]

6. From booking to delivery of images and seeing the results, what in your mind made it the right choice for us to collaborate? Did anything surprise you?

G: We had an awesome time planning with Justin. As things were getting crazier and crazier the closer we got to the day, it was nice to know that we didn’t have to worry about the photographer. It was always clear how things would go down with him. Looking back, Justin being supportive of what we did and did not want for the day, and executing that was phenomenal. He clearly knows what he’s doing, and wasn’t afraid to say things like “maybe take pictures of food”. Never felt like there was a memory missed.

N: Filling out the initial questionnaire was helpful in guiding our plans for how the day’s schedule would go from the photography perspective. We wanted awesome photos, and we wanted to make that process easy for everyone, so the guidance was helpful. Plus, we had so much fun with some of the group shots and fun couple photos. I’ve been in weddings where that process was such a drag, but everyone had a lot of fun.

7. What’s next for you as a couple? 

G: Unfortunately the wedding was the high watermark of our relationship. Now as the days pass, knowing that there is only sweet oblivion to anticipate, we politely smile at each other’s repetitious annoyances, as we slowly fade from time and reason. Or we’ll make a kid, I dunno.

N: Truly, we have peaked and have nothing left to offer one another. We will stare at our wedding photos for hours on end, knowing that was as good as it will ever be. But for real, we will be snuggling every night and probably bickering until we die over things like whether or not to get another dog and what project to do next on the house.