Craig and Elisa initially invited us to capture photos for their engagement and their wedding day, but goodness are we grateful they decided to have us do video as well! It’s so special for Tim and I to be the creative team documenting our couple’s days together, but when we get to do both photo and video it’s such a unique experience and a fun “end product” for us to deliver. We’ve been holding Craig and Elisa’s photos hostage from the interwebs for far too long, but we felt it was only appropriate to share them together with their wedding film.
There are moments captured in their video that are simply better told through that medium. The exchange between Elisa’s father and her soon-to-be husband as they opened their gifts from her together, way Elisa sighs with a sense of contentment right before she and Craig are announced for the first time, Craig mouthing the words “I love you” to her during their moments alone together before the reception, and the words of Craig and Elisa’s fathers as they share stories and bless the two of them as they begin this next chapter of their story together. The story wouldn’t be as full without these.
And then the photographs share the same story of their day, but from a different vantage point. As you watch the film and look through the photos you’ll see that Elisa’s dad has a deep and beautiful love for his daughter – what a treasure to capture those emotions and particularly the moments he took to pause throughout the day and soak it all in. Craig and Elisa also had the most enthusiastic bridal party we’ve ever had the pleasure of spending a wedding day with – from the way Elisa’s bridesmaids loved on her throughout the morning to the hilarious and spontaneous song Craig’s groomsmen performed for him – this group definitely takes the cake for our most memorable bridal party! And at the end of the night – one of my favorite moments as Craig’s grandmothers looked incredulously upon the dance floor. Everyone’s mad dance moves were truly something to behold.
Overall Craig and Elisa’s day was full of so much joy – not just for the fact that they’ve “found one another,” but a joy that was filled with gratitude to the Lord for His plan over their lives. Although they met in an unexpected way through Instagram, it’s clear their story goes back far beyond a simple app on their phones. The stories told throughout the day consistently point back to the Lord’s hand in every piece of their story – from the way their parents raised each of them to the promises they made this day before Him.
Craig and Elisa, thank you for inviting us into this season of your lives. It was such a pleasure to walk alongside the two of you on your wedding day and to capture the excitement, the happy tears, the emotion, and the celebration for you two to remember and look back on for many years to come.
Venue: The Carolina Inn
Hair/Makeup: Samantha Ray from LULA
Bride’s Belt: Yes Dear & Co
Flowers: Barbara Long
Officiant: Pastor Matt Slate
Cocktail Hour Music: Grant Terry
Catering: The Carolina Inn
Rentals: CE Rental
Cake and Cupcakes: Blue Moon
Photography and Videography: Grain & Compass
This film is a project of ours that we’ve had in the works for about three years now. Courtney and Ryan have become dear friends of ours as we’ve walked alongside them through this season of their story. We originally asked if we might film a bit of their adoption story – we thought it might be a fun and beautiful story for us to tell. Perhaps one that might encourage other families considering adoption or give hope to those going through the frustrating waiting period before being given a referral for a child.
What we didn’t realize at the time was that God has been writing a much bigger story than we could have known or imagined. This story takes place throughout the past five years as Courtney and Ryan decided to pursue adoption, waited nearly three years for their referral, finally were able to bring Nara home, and experienced an incredible transformation in their daughter as she has flourished into a fun, spunky, confident, beautiful young lady.
The past few years have been a wild ride for the Thomas family, but looking back now they can see how the Lord has been preparing the way for them to serve as full-time missionaries with Make Your Mark in Ethiopia. They’ve seen such a beautiful transformation in their own daughter over the past couple years, and now they hope to see that same transformation in the street kids they’ll be working with in Ethiopia. It’s been such a privilege for us to walk alongside these friends and watch this part of their story unfold. Their faith and trust in the Lord is truly extraordinary.
Courtney, Ryan, and Nara are moving to Ethiopia in just a few short weeks, on July 18th, but they’re not entirely funded to go yet. If you wish to join us in supporting them, follow this link and designate your giving in the “Thomas Support” box – bit.ly/thomasMYMsupport. If you want to read more about their story or follow along as they begin their ministry in Ethiopia, you can check out their blog: Our Weapon Is Love.
A few weeks back Danielle and Christian flew down from Chicago for their engagement session. Christian is a pilot and the two of them dated long-distance for a while – flying back and forth to New York City where Danielle was living at the time. It was only appropriate that these jet-setters hopped on a plane for their engagement session as well.
We had the best time showing Danielle and Christian around Charlotte, taking them to a few of our favorite places, and even exploring some new ones together. We picked them up from the airport, enjoyed lunch and coffee at the Seventh Street Public Market, soaked up the sunshine on one of our first truly beautiful spring days, explored the Sleepy Poet antique mall, tried out the delicious gelato at Va Da Vie, and took some photos to round out the day before dropping them back off at the airport in the evening.
We’ve never had a whirlwind engagement session quite like this one, and it was such a joy to spend the whole day with these two. We cannot wait to photograph and film their day in Chicago this fall!
It’s true. These two met on Instagram. But don’t let that fool you. Just saying that Elisa and Craig were “meant to be together” might be true, but it kinda sounds cheesy and it doesn’t actually express the depth of their relationship and their love for one another.
Sometimes when we meet couples we simply know we’re meant to tell their story. Elisa and Craig are two of those people. We Skyped with them one Sunday afternoon – us in dreary NC and them in sunny California. We heard their story and fell comfortably into conversation. The entire next week we couldn’t stop telling people about this amazing couple we’d met – how she attended the Passion conference in Atlanta and started following one of the pastors she’d heard speak over on Instagram, how she got curious when Craig commented on a photo she liked, and she hopped over to his feed and started following him too. How Craig followed her back (who wouldn’t?!) How their Instagram friendship eventually turned to a Facebook friendship, messaging and chatting, eventually exchanging numbers, FaceTiming from opposite sides of the country, and then meeting in person in NYC where Elisa was interning at the time.
“When did you know Elisa was the girl you were supposed to marry?” I asked Craig during their engagement session. “On the second day. We were in Chipotle. I looked across the table at her and I had that feeling people talk about. This is it.” Craig described it as one of those things that’s hard to put into words, and yet he told us one of the most beautiful comparisons I’ve ever heard. If you’re a person of faith, this will make sense to you – it just scratches the surface at explaining what love is. He said realizing Elisa was “the one” was like realizing that God is real. You know He is real. And you feel that He’s real. But explaining that to another person – putting it into words – leaves you feeling extraordinarily inadequate. You know the truth. It’s something you feel and believe, but words just don’t do it justice.
That’s also how I feel trying to sum up Elisa and Craig’s story – words don’t do it justice. When we met up in Durham for their engagement session last fall, Tim and I both felt like we’d been friends with them for years. We are beyond excited to be photographing and filming their day in just a few weeks!
PS – if you like that sweet key Craig is wearing, check out The Giving Keys! Elisa works for them in LA – they do incredible work providing jobs for the homeless and creating products that spark conversations and invite you to share your own story and be a part of someone else’s.
A few weeks after Lee and Meredith’s wedding, they wrote us a sweet note thanking us for photographing their day. We’d only delivered a few “sneak peeks” for them to enjoy, and in the note they reminded us of something they told us about their photos on their wedding day. “Take all the time you need. We’re in no rush. We’ll have them for the rest of our lives.”
This brought me to tears when I read it. These two get it. Those words perfectly sum up Lee and Meredith’s character to me. They are genuine and they love deeply. They’re fully present with and truly care for those around them. They make a point of making each person feel important and loved, although I don’t know if they even realize it’s something they do. It’s simply a part of who they are.
Just to prove my point – Lee and Meredith wrote mini biographies of every single wedding guest that attended their celebration. Every. Single. One. Us included. These tiny bios described each person, their connection to Lee and Meredith, and some fun facts about them. Just take a moment to imagine the time and care that went into that. These biographies were hung on bunting all around their wedding reception, and many of us found ours and took it down to keep at the end of the night. What an incredible way to make your guests feel so loved and appreciated. A thousand times better than any wedding favor. Although Lee and Meredith’s favors were also awesome.
They had a friend create a beautiful logo for their wedding invitations – three crowns to represent Sweden, a place that is extraordinarily special to Meredith, and the place Lee proposed to her. And oars and the ocean waves to remind them of the sea kayaking trip they took right before he proposed. For the wedding they had the logo printed on beer glasses for each of their guests to use for the night and keep afterwards – they were a huge hit. Lee and Meredith met at Half Acre, the Chicago brewery where they both work. So beer glasses were the perfect favor to share with their guests.
This is really just one of those wedding days we look back on and say – seriously?? We got to capture that? Lee and Meredith chose us to capture their day? Man oh man do we love our job. Between the unique venue, the insanely delicious food (that appetizer table!), Lee’s college band – Tim Dennison and the Creepers playing at the ceremony and reception, and the dancing – ALL the dancing, this was a celebration beyond what we could have imagined!
One of my favorite moments of the whole day was toward the end of Lee and Meredith’s first look. Tim and I always like to create a space for our couples to reflect and really soak up the depth and beauty and sacredness of the day. Lee knew Meredith was on “Mission Don’t Cry,” so when he saw sweet tears welling up in her eyes, he did everything he could to keep her from crying. References were made to the Sahara as well as Prohibition, as Lee tried his best to make Meredith laugh instead of cry. If you know Lee, you can hear his distinct voice, “Girl! Your eyes are so dry – it’s like the Sahara Desert up in here!”
It’s truly an honor when dear friends invite us not only to be wedding guests, but to be fully present on their day, capturing it for them to remember for years to come. In the days approaching their wedding, Lee urged Tim and I to not just “work” their whole wedding day, but to truly enjoy the celebration. Did we ever. If these photos can capture just a fraction of the intense joy and the amazing celebration that was Lee and Meredith’s day, then our job is done here.
Grab a beer (a Half Acre one if you’ve got it) and enjoy this sweet sweet day.
Venue: Co-Prosperity Sphere
Hair/Makeup: Hannah Williams, bridesmaid
Flower Crown: Fleur
Officiant: Josh Hiben
Meats & Cheeses Appetizer: Publican Quality Meats
Beer: Half Acre
Pot Pies: Pleasant House Bakery
Pies: Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits
Band: The Creepers