Advice from a Groom

ECP_Chelsea&Andrew-1169.jpg

Hello there everyone, let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Andrew and my beautiful wife Chelsea is really the reason why you are all here. I am a teacher, a proud dog parent, an avid reader, a novice movie critic, a video game player, and overall huge nerd. Chelsea asked me to write a blog post about the wedding planning process from my perspective. At first I thought she was crazy because I still feel like I know nothing about wedding planning. But she assured me that many people are like me, unaware of the majority of wedding traditions and protocols, and might enjoy my viewpoint. Chelsea is in the industry and has been steeped in Southern wedding culture her entire life, while I was pretty clueless. So here goes…

One of the things that annoyed me the most during the planning process was when people would say things like: “well the wedding day is all about the Bride” or “now that you’ve gotten her to say yes, you don’t have to do anything else for the wedding” or “just let the Bride do whatever she wants, it’s more important for her”. All of these types of comments really got under my skin because a) it should be about both of us and b) I want my opinions to be listened to and valued. The big problem is that.I have no idea how colors work. Like no idea what colors match or combine to craft a welcoming “warm” space vs a “cold” space. My big idea for our wedding was to take all of the things I loved, which includes: video games, books, maps, etc. and all of the things Chelsea loved, which includes: pixar, succulents, the color gold and put all of those items in the room. Bam! That would create a space that is both myself and Chelsea and boom we are done. If that statement made you hurt just reading it you understand how Chelsea felt. Chelsea is wonderful at taking the concepts and “feelings” and somehow translating that into a consistent theme, I blame her creative side for that. Both Chelsea and I were approaching this planning process from radically different viewpoints with very different priorities. As you can guess this led to a lot of frustration and quite a few fights. The thing that confused me so much was WHY Chelsea would care so much about *fill in the blank*, or why *fill in the blank* wouldn’t work for our day. It was maddening!

ECP_Chelsea&Andrew-349.jpg

What eventually helped us make a major breakthrough in our wedding planning process was actually pretty simple. We sat down, and talked about our priorities and took turns explaining why things were important to us. It helped me understand Chelsea’s vision and it gave her the opportunity to explain her rationale for many of the wedding planning choices she was making. It also helped me do the same for my own vision and rationale. This simple act really turned our wedding planning process into a fun thing that I actually looked forward to. Both of us were able to be on the same page and to really understand what aspects of the day really mattered to each of us. Chelsea has taken this idea and created a “Priorities Checklist” that she shares with all of her clients and you can find it here

After doing this together we found that there were really 3 things that I cared about for our big day. 1) Food 2) Drinks and 3) lodging for my family and friends. The first two are pretty obvious but the third needs a little bit of explanation. I moved around a lot growing up and my family is pretty spread out. I also went to college up in Massachusetts so many of my friends, including groomsmen, are also spread out. This meant that I wanted a venue that could be both our ceremony and reception area or that the two were in walking distance that way people didn’t have to be so worried about driving around a new location or worry about parking. When it came to selecting a venue Chelsea really only cared that it would allow us to take beautiful photos. Now that we both knew what we valued in a venue it made the selection process easy and was why the Vineyards at Betty’s Creek was such a great fit! This priorities talk also helped me not only care but actually be useful in aspects in the wedding other than my big three. Because even if I didn’t care a lot about the flowers or the plates, not only did I know Chelsea cared I knew WHY she cared. This was so important for me to be able to give good opinions and to fit into the overall vision for the day.

ECP_Chelsea&Andrew-67.jpg

Figuring out your own priorities as a person and as a couple is so important and surprisingly hard to do because the entire wedding industry is telling you what is “important” to have on your big day. I would advise you to avoid websites like “The Knot”, pinterest, and major wedding magazines when trying to figure out your priorities. Websites like these typically tell you the “10 things every wedding needs” and other such articles that will make you think that certain things are “essential” for your wedding day. Not only do you have the entire wedding industry trying to tell you what you “must” have but you will most likely have family and friends telling you other things you “must” have. Try to block out a lot of this noise until you can sit with your partner and figure out your own priorities first. This made me a better partner because even though I still didn’t know too much about the way weddings are “supposed” to happen I knew how we wanted our day to happen. After that we could safely go to family, friends, and the internet to find ways to make our vision a reality rather than being dictated by outside forces.

I know I’ve been harping on the priorities talk a lot and this isn’t to say that after our one talk everything about wedding planning was easy. There were still plenty of frustrations and teary eyed planning session; but this discussion put us on the same team with the same goals, and a list we could come back to and tweak as needed.

ECP_Chelsea&Andrew-1235.jpg

Well that’s all for my article, hopefully you enjoyed my perspective on things and thanks for being part of the CMP family. My wife pours her heart and soul into this business and is so thankful for all of you who have supported her and let her be part of your stories. Thank you for all you do to make my wife’s passion a reality!

All photos were taking by Emily Chidester Photography at our wedding in September 17, 2016

Jen & Jared

Asset 16.jpg

By the time this is posted Jen and Jared will already have a little baby girl! Bah! That is exciting and crazy, I cannot believe she is almost a month old. Andrew and I went down to Charleston for this mini adventure, and had the joy of capture these two right before little Eleanor arrived. Fun facts about Charleston: I've never been there when it's cold, so that was a new, frigid experience for me and I feel slightly guilty about how much I love Spanish moss especially since it's really bad for trees. But anyways, I would go back in a heartbeat. It's the most magical place ever to take photos even when everything is dreary and gray. We explored an old Naval neighborhood together that the city was converting into a park, but we had it pretty much to ourselves. Andrew and I got to ask these two some good questions as they prepared their hearts and their minds for their new baby girl which made for the best photos of them laughing together. I'm so excited for Jen & Jared and their new family member that is about to take them on a wonderful adventure. Little Eleanor you are so very loved, I hope you know that to the fullest extent.

Getting to Know Me

I know there's a huge About Me section on this web page (you should read it, it's pretty great) that you could read and learn everything you would want to know about me, but I figured in the new year, with new people coming to my page I wanted to take some time to tell a little bit more about me. Might be some random facts that you never wanted to know but I'm trying to open up and show you how important it is to have a true relationship with your photographer who you feel 100% comfortable around. If you're a little shy I'll start...

 doing poses i make my clients do sometimes...

doing poses i make my clients do sometimes...

Real life things...

  • I’m not allergic to cilantro, but it tastes like soap to me. Therefore, I hate it.

  • I once won a photo contest for news station and got free Chick-fil-A for a year. Be jealous.

  • My favorite movie of all time will probably be While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock.

  • I absolutely love giving gifts, but when it comes to wrapping presents I suck at it.

  • I have gotten to the age where I want kitchen gadgets more than anything else. The rapid egg boiler is my favorite -- buy it, if you know what's good for you.

  • Andrew and I adopted a three-legged dog named Phoebe less than a year ago

 Our first born - Chewie

Our first born - Chewie

  • I played volleyball on a year-round team for a majority of my young life.
  • My mom tells me that she knew I was going to be some sort of artist when I grew up when I was merely in elementary school.

  • I graduated with a degree in graphic design and am very thankful that I did.

  • I've known Andrew since I was 17 years old yet we didn't start dating till I was turning 23.

  • Andrew has opened my eyes to the good board games in the world. I'm not talking about Monopoly or Life, I'm talking about ones that are actually enjoyable to play.

  • I have dreamed of going to New Zealand for so many years I'm really hoping someday I get to go either on vacation or on a work adventure.

  • I won a ribbon in preschool for being the best hugger and I feel like that might still be true to this day.

  • One of my oddest things I love to do is track mail/packages. I had a pair of shoes once that went on a wild ride when I order them online. They finally came to my door gently place on top of a completely demolished box. It’s like they survived their crazy adventure.

Now, some photography related things...

  • I think one of my favorite moments to capture in a wedding is right after people walk up the aisle and are alone for the first time after becoming husband and wife. You can't fake that kind of emotion.

  • I think my least favorite part of weddings is the garter and bouquet toss. Those are two traditions I have never really understood.

  • I believe the most important thing for a photographer to bring to a wedding, besides their camera equippment, is Advil and a good pair of shoes.

  • I still absolutely love going to weddings. Even when it's my job to be at weddings most weekends, attending a wedding is still super fun.

cmp-ellen-dylan-42.jpg
  • My 35mm 1.4 lens is my favorite by far.

  • One of my random passion projects is photographing people's homes. I love decorating and creating a space that reflects the people that live in it so I'm always on the lookout for people who will let me catch them in their unique space.

  • During family sessions, if your kids are old enough, I will let them tackle, tickle, and chase their parents. It's probably my favorite part of family sessions.

  • I still get nervous before sessions and weddings because I want you to have a great time.

  • I really love editing photos. Sure, it can be a lot when you have many weddings in your queue, but I actually got into editing photos before I started taking them professionally.

  • Seeing people print out my photos is probably the biggest compliment I could get. the fact that you would want them displayed in your home means that I have done my job well.

 My shirt says "put queso in my faceo" and it's one of my favorite shirts

So there's more information about me than you probably ever wanted to know. I hope you learn some things about what makes me, me. I would love to get to know you so please send me a quick note or comment on one of my Instagram photos so we can start a conversation. I would love to get to know you.

Apartment Therapy Feature

Stephanie-01.jpg

I know I have talked about this so much already, but I had to post about Stephanie's amazing duplex that I had the honor of capturing last year. If you guys don't already know, Stephanie and I are dear friends and we are pretty much the same person, especially when it comes to home decorating. So I suggested to her to let me capture her home. She agreed and we decided we wanted to get it published somewhere online to show off her amazing decorating skills. We were very fortunate that Apartment Therapy featured it not once but twice, upgrading it to a Full House Tour. You can check out the whole feature here. If you want to know where Stephanie got any of her furniture, make sure you check it out because she had to list out every single piece of furniture for them. *Spoiler alert: Stephanie is a huge Target & Craigslist shopper*.

 apartmenttherapy.com

apartmenttherapy.com

I wanted to finally do my own blog post about it because I’m freaking proud of this. It was so much fun getting to work with her and capture the place that she has put so much love into. I'm telling you guys, this is a weird passion project that I started because to me home is where the heart is and Stephanie has made this her home. So make sure you check it out here, on apartmenttherapy.com and also start following Stephanie at @duplexdreaming on Instagram because she's simply fantastic :)

Thanks for sharing your beautiful home with me, Stephanie! 

Time Together | Giveaway

CMP-van-deth-043.jpg

The first giveaway of the year! The best way to kick off a new year is to give away things that I'm really excited about and believe in, so here we go. I am giving away time to capture memories. I want to give a photo shoot away to a couple who has lived life through marriage. I think it's such a shame that photography is such a huge ordeal for the day you say “I do” but after that, it becomes less important even though you actually start a marriage and a life together after the wedding dress is put away, the guests have left, and thank you notes have been written. I feel like there needs to be a dedicated time two people can come back together and celebrate their marriage, where it currently is, and reflect on the people they have grown to be together. Wedding days are structured to be very happy days, but marriage is a journey with highs and lows and absolutely everything in between. Marriage is a life together, and it’s continually deciding to choose that person for the rest of ever. I think that's worth documenting.

Let’s take the terrible excuse that you are too busy away and let me give this to you as a gift or a date, so when you're old and gray you will have photos to look through to remember this time with great joy. You said I do, you continue to say I do, and I want to celebrate you as a couple. Skip the fancy anniversary dinner this year, and capture memories that will last a lifetime. 

CMP-Baughmans-69.jpg

 Details for the session:

  • 1-hour session
  • Hi-Resolution, edited photos
  • Online Gallery
  • Free travel in the NC area*

*Any travel outside NC will have to be settled in payment for gas/airfare, food, and hotel.

Rules for session apply below:

  • You have to be past your 1 year wedding anniversary.
  • This session is to focus on you and your partner, so this session will not include pets or children.
  • The session has to take place sometime in 2018, and does not have to be on your actual anniversary.
CMP-Colby-Amy-299.jpg

All you have to do is fill out this form below and you will be entered to win. The giveaway will end January 25th, and be announced on different social media platforms on January 26. If you win, I will personally email you. Hint, if you sign up for my newsletter and let me know in the entry form, it doubles your chance of winning. You can sign up for my newsletter right here. Good luck, and I cannot wait to capture your memories!

2017 Year in Review

You guys, we made it! 2018 is officially here. It came so quickly and I'm not sure if I was a hundred percent ready for it, but ready of not, we are diving in face first. I feel like as I get older the years seem to fly by so fast and in my attempt to try and slow it down, I'm going to reflect on 2017 in my first post of the new year. I was part of some really amazing memories this past year,  and I feel like it would be wrong not to give some of those wonderful moments their time in the sun. On top of that, it's a new year and I have some big plans  for Chelsea Morgan Photography in 2018. I continue to explore my true intentions of running my business, and find ways to light the passion I found 5 years ago. Slowly, I feel like it has become so much more than just photography and that's why It makes me so excited to see where it continues to go. So cheers to 2018, an adventurous new year, before we get there, here's 2017 and all its glory.

If you recently got engaged, or have another story you would like captured I would love to start a conversation with you! It would be great to have you be part of the CMP family in 2018. Say hello by simply sending me an email at chelsea@chelseamorganphotos. Cannot wait to hear from you!

Top 10 North Carolina Venues

Let's talk wedding venues!! The number of wedding venues that exist is crazy. When I was looking for a wedding venue, I had driven myself so crazy, I started searching by county....Yep. I had a map of NC and was googling county by county what venues were there because some wedding websites you would just drown in recommendations. Now my craziness paid off as we found our venue through this search, but it wasn’t the most efficient way to spend my time. So I have made a list of my top 10 venues across the beautiful NC to hopefully jump start your search. Now, these venues picks are based solely due to my preferred aesthetics and are in no particular order. But as a photographer, through experience and research, I know these venues would be great backdrops to your day like I talked about in my previous blog post you can check out here. Hoping this is a helpful starting point becauseI love these places and know you can’t really go wrong with any of them.

1. Morning Glory Farm | Monroe

Another elegant rustic venue with endless options of places to have your wedding ceremony. Plenty of outdoor space, but it definitely has more of an upscale feel. With a lake, gardens and a blueberry cove It makes things feel so peaceful, especially when it's right outside busy Charlotte.

2. All Saint chapels | Raleigh

All Saint Chapel is the best place in Raleigh to get married if you still really want to get married in a church. It has beautiful windows that let in so much light, while keeping a simple aesthetic so the focus can be on the bride and groom. It's the perfect option if you want a ceremony one place and your reception in downtown Raleigh. It is so unexpected, but a lovely place to have a wedding.

 emily chidester photography | Andrew & My Wedding

emily chidester photography | Andrew & My Wedding

3. The Vineyards at Betty's Creek | Sylva

I LOVE THIS VENUE! If you checked out my post two weeks ago, you will see photos of Andrew and I said I do at this very special place. But besides that, it has everything you need. Snuggled in the mountains town of Sylva, this venue has acres of land that will never disappoint. The lodge where you are allowed to get ready is enough to take your breath away, while the new open air pavilion looks over the mountains is the most stunning view. There so many options at the venue for creating a day that matches your need, it is the perfect place if you want a type of destination wedding.

4. Bradford | Chatham County

The Bradford is such an unexpected gem. I have never had a wedding here myself, but I have been a second shooter for a friend and I was not prepared for its simplicity and lovely elegance. The house itself is a blank slate for you to bring your creative ideas into, but it is really accommodating with outdoor options and indoor reception options. The sun sets directly behind the woods of this house, and some magical light makes this place something truly beautiful.

5. Fletcher Park | Raleigh

This is a well-known park in Raleigh, North Carolina and surprisingly makes a perfect place for a smaller to medium size wedding. The space you are allowed to use inside again is a blank canvas, but I would encourage users to be outside as much as you can as the natural park setting make the perfect back drop. I shot a wedding here, and the couple had their whole reception outside without a tent. It was kind of a risky move, but it paid off as the sunset lighting made for the most spectacular photos.

6. Atrium | Wilmington

Such a cool approach to a beach town wedding. I have passed this before in downtown Wilmington, and it literally looking into an open garden room. Ivy covers the walls, and the hanging light adds an intimate flair. I love the open airiness to this venue, and how you can also explore the beautiful parts of Wilmington on your special day.

7. Haw River Ballroom | Saxapahaw

This venue has the best industrial feel you could ask for. Huge loft windows and exposed brick leave a very cool retro feel within the space. The light in the space is incredible and if you are looking to escape to some nature, the Haw River is right behind it where you can spend some time taking pictures. Normally this space is music and restaurant venue, but it can quickly be transformed to a very romantic, modern wedding space.

8. Claxton Farm | Buncombe County

Oh, this place is one of my dream places to shoot. The pictures I see from this venue are nothing but stunning. It looks like it's a little establishment in the middle of a mountain range, just completely surrounded by mountains. There are llamas to entertain your guest, and this venue is well known of taking care of your whole wedding event. Such a perfect getaway for your special day.

9. Sawyer family farmstead | Glenville

I think this is the venue that made me fall in love with mountain weddings. A Christmas tree farm, with the most incredible ceremony view I have ever seen. It is so unique and nothing you would ever find in a city. It has so much charm and really can be as elegant or as rustic as you want it to be. It is perfect place for an intimate wedding and has so many grounds to roam and explore

10. Overlook Barn | Banner Elk

Ok, you guys, this is a new find, and I would love to shoot a wedding there! Apparently, this venue is a newbie, but it looks like it has amazing potential. What a rare thing to find in the mountains. It seems to have to perfect blend of the rustic modern feel with an awesome view. I don’t have many details past that, but from the looks of it, I am in love!

Again, I hope this helped! So many venues out there, but only a few gems! Strive for the gems! If you find a venue you really love, or one you think I should look into please leave in the comments! I would love to hear what you have to say.

Fall Mini Sessions

2017-Chamberlains-054.jpg

So excited to be doing Fall Mini Sessions this year. Hoping with all my heart this becomes a trend. These types of sessions are the PERFECT thing right before the holiday season, or if you just need to capture a little life update.

What you need to know

  • Date: October 21
  • Time: 20-minute session
  • Photos: 15 hi-res, edited images
  • Delivery: Password protected online gallery
  • Price: $225 (tax included)

You will also receive either two 11 x 14 prints, or one 16 x 20 print of your favorite image from our time together for FREE! These spots will go fast, so reserve your spot today by clicking here. Cannot wait to capture your memories!

Our Wedding

Evening writing this blog has me teeming with happiness. Andrew and I are celebrating our first married anniversary in a couple days, and I wanted to relive the day with you with showing some of our FANTASTIC wedding photos taken by the talented Emily Chidester. We were even fortunate enough to be featured on Junebug Wedding's website for our special day. When you get a second, hop over there to check it out. It is such a complete honor to be able to share our day with so many people :) It makes that memory just that sweeter. 

On September 17th, 2016, Andrew and I got married :) We chose a charming venue up in Sylva, North Carolina called the Vineyards of Betty’s Creek where we fell in love with the stunning lodge, and pavilion with a killer view. It was so awesome how our families could stay on the property for the weekend so we could have time together before the festivities. To look back on this day warms my heart. It was everything we had hoped it to be, plus more. These photos are such a wonderful glimpse into such a happy occasion, it was when I promised forever to my best friend. From getting ready to our first look reading our vows out loud, to saying our “I dos” and dancing the night away, it was one hell of a celebration, and the beginning of the best adventure yet. 

Now, of course, the day of was perfect, but the marriage has been so better. It has been hard, messy, and imperfect of course, but it has been filled with more laughter, love, goofiness, and more selflessness than I have ever known before.  Andrew, thank you for loving me, and for choosing me every day. You are my best friend and a wonderful husband. Thanks for doing life with me, and making me laugh. I love you dear friend, and I cannot wait to continue on this adventure -- it has been a wonderful one so far.

Before, during, and after baby!

I will leave you all will fresh happy tears and true sappiness as I watch our wedding video done by Jon Clark Weddings over and over again. Happy September 17th, it will forever be one of my favorite days :)

Colby & Amy

Engagement sessions like this are my favorite. Casually walking around, watching Wally the Scottie dog just follow behind and get in all sorts of trouble. Sessions like this are never meant to be stiff or stressful, they are actually supposed to be fun. And when a couple tells me “That was really easy” at the end of a session, then I have done my job successfully. Colby, Amy and I had fun chasing the sun and finding ways to make Amy laugh. The light that day was probably the prettiest I have ever seen, and it was just so easy for them to be themselves with each other. I cannot wait till their wedding in September where we get to do this all over again and they officially become husband & wife!

Advice from a wedding photographer

I have been wanting to write something like this ever since I became serious about photography. Now, most people might be thinking, why would I care what my photographer thinks? Isn’t it my day? And yes, 100% yes, it is, but as a photographer, it is always so interesting for me to see possible clients love my work, and then want to get married in a hotel with no windows and musty carpet. I am curious of thought process from that aesthetic to my photographs. Because as a natural light photographer, that is not where I shine. Don’t get me wrong, I do agree that your day should be a decision between you and your future spouse, whatever that might be, but I hope you would think of me as a visual consultant too. Any talented photographer can make any space/venue work, but given the right foundation, they can blow your freakin mind. I want to share with you the 5 things I LOVE in a wedding as a photographer in hopes to help you understand what elements can really help enhance the photos you will receive from your wedding day.

 

1. ALLOW YOUR VENUE TO BE THE PERFECT PHOTO BACKDROP 

I know this probably sounds like a duh thing to say, but it is 100% true. Andrew and I fell in love with our venue for various reasons, but one big reason was we probably could have done absolutely nothing to it and it would have been just as beautiful. That is HUGE!  When looking at your venue, don’t only look at the space where people will eat dinner, but look at the grounds around it. 80% of pictures of the bride and groom normally don’t take place in the reception hall. So when you are looking at venues and your response is, well we could always just stay inside, then move on to the next one. There is a better one out there. This applies to any style of wedding, or couple, but just know your venue will become the backdrop for all your photos and it is important to think outside the box/building and look at the potential a venue has from all angles.

 

2. THE LESS "VENUES" YOU HAVE THE BETTER

Now, I feel like this might be the point where people disagree with me the most, but I am a full supporter of one venue weddings. Whenever a wedding is in one area, it not only makes things simpler for everyone involved but trust me when I say you will have more time to enjoy your day. Just think about it. Now, I grew up in the south and understand this might not always be the case, but my biggest advice for you if are having a second location for your ceremony or reception is to plan out a timeline with your photographer. Make sure you talk about it beforehand, build time into your timeline to travel, get settled, and take photos. Set up expectations ahead of time and discuss the possible location of photos opportunity with your photographer so you can both remain on the same page. Overall though my biggest piece of advice is to avoid getting ready some place different than your ceremony and/or reception. Adding a third place usually adds more travel, and most likely won’t fit into the aesthetics of the rest of your day. Keep things like transportation simpler on the day of so it will be more about your spouse and less about complicated transitions.

 

3. GOOD LIGHTING WILL ALWAYS BE IMPORTANT 

Lighting will forever be important in my line of work because different types of lighting affect how your photos will look, feel and represent your day. I don’t believe you should know everything about lighting, that should absolutely be your photographer's job, but there are few basic rules you should know, to help you make a wiser decision while choosing your wedding space.

  • Know what time the sun sets on the day you having your wedding. This will be essential in planning your day out.
  • Consult a photographer if you have questions about what time is the best time to have your ceremony based on the season. When the sun sets at 9 PM in the summer, is very different from when it sets at 5 PM in the winter.
  • If you are getting married outside prepare to have a later ceremony time, or have your ceremony space covered with some amount of shade.
  • If you are getting married inside, try to book a venue with large windows. Fun fact: Window light is still considered natural light.
  • Turn off the overhead light where you are getting ready ( once you are ready for pictures). You won’t need it! Trust me. 
  • If your venue doesn’t have good lighting ( yellow florescence, spot lights, or anything that make it look like a department store) , make time to go outside and take pictures, or pick a place nearby to capture some memories in the natural light goodness.
  • Cloud coverage can provide excellent even lighting options, so don’t get down if the weather looks a little cloudy.
  • Golden hour is a lovely time for photos, but so is twilight (the time the sun has just gone down).
  • Don’t have a completely dark reception. Even with external flashes, it is really hard for a camera to focus in dark lighting. Dance with the lights slightly on, or have the DJ provide extra lighting for the dance floor.
  • Don’t exit at night with something that does not illuminate you. If there is no external lighting on your venue get creative, but bubbles are never a good idea at night. They just aren’t.

 

4.DETAILS MATTER

Personal touches on wedding days will always be special! No matter your budget, make your days yours. It will help tell your love story and show your guest and the world more about you as newly weds. This doesn’t mean you have to buy all the flowers or have the fanciest dress, or table layouts that would be in a magazine. Just make sure every decision is intentional and reflects who you guys are as a couple. If that breaks a “tradition”, then it breaks a “tradition”. Be inspired by how things have been done, and change it up a little. This way, your photo album, and memories will be special and unique.

5. THINK LESS ABOUT THE POSING AND MORE ABOUT THE MOMENTS

More than anything as a photographer I want to capture every feeling that happens on the wedding day. This is not saying "looking at the camera" pictures are bad, or family pictures are bad, but as an artist, I rather produce photos where you will look back and feel the feels rather than simply staring at posed smiling faces. Kill the shot list the wedding industry has told you to create and start thinking of it in a new way. My best advice is to tell your photographer the people and other traditions that are special to you. Have conversations about the sentimental things and focus on the love, happiness, and gratitude you are feeling on your wedding. Then go spend as much time as you can with your spouse, take advantage of any alone time and know that time will be worth it. Try to get your brain out of the Pinterest world and BE with your best friend. Enjoy every moment with family and friends, talk, laugh, and cry, and don’t feel bad about any of it for a second. Those are the moments you will want to remember 20 years from now. I promise. 

I will give you a personal example from Andrew and my wedding. We agree that after our first look we were going to read our vows to each other. We wanted to do this privately, with just our photographer and videographer because we wanted it to be intimate. I didn’t want to be afraid of stumbling on words in front of a crowd at the altar. I wanted time alone with my best friend, so I could speak from the heart. This was my favorite part of our day by far. We both cried, and said words that became beautiful promises and those pictures/video moments I will cherish forever.

So rather than stalking Pinterest for the poses, think of the essence of the day, and feel the joy and love there! This is literally the best ingredient to a great photo.

cc-020.jpg

I hope these tips were helpful! When planning your wedding, or on the journey to pick a photographer remember all these things so you can capture all the beautiful moments that your special day will hold and memories to hold to for the a lifetime. 

Lauren & Wes

It is always such an honor to receive requests to capture memories from people you met at the age of 3. Lauren and I have known each other since preschool. I feel when you grow up and live in Raleigh you have those people in your life where you follow the same path for a while and they become part of your story. We went to the same church growing up, the same preschool, the same elementary school, and to the same middle school. Also countless birthday parties, and endless sleepovers caused us to be great childhood friends. 

When I got an email from Lauren, I couldn’t believe after all these years of life after middle school, I was a person that she wanted to capture her special day. So I met her lovely Wes and we walked through downtown Raleigh in the frigid air. It was so much fun catching up, and seeing them together was so natural and good. Thankful for a windy afternoon, good light, the need for cuddles. So thrilled for these two and the new journey that lies ahead, and the opportunity to rekindle an old friendship ( I actually found they are practically our neighbors, because things go full circle, and it's a small world after all ).

Meet the Killmers

When I was planning on writing the blog post, I was hoping to just tell you how we got engaged, but now since it has almost been a year since we got married I think it might be better for you to meet the Killmers.

This is Andrew. My husband, and favorite person in the world. This is Chewie (our first born) attacking Andrew with kisses.

This is normally how we act when we are around each other. We are complete goof balls and I hope that never changes.

I cannot believe it has almost been 10 years since I met this guy. 10 years ago I was hanging out with my future husband, just casually, not having any idea what God had in store for us. To tell the short story, Andrew and I met when we were in high school. We were both going to Belize on a mission trip where we became fast friends. He ended up going to college in Boston, and I stayed down here, but we remained pretty close for the first two years of college. We would talk every night, and I would see him when he would come home, but we never talked about us as a couple, or dating, or anything romantic at all. We were simply friends, even though I know I liked him at some point, and Andrew tells me now he has pretty much liked me since day one (oh how timing is everything). Junior year of college is when we really began to lose touch, and life just continued on as he was teaching up North and I was starting my business and doing graphic design work down here in North Carolina. It wasn’t until almost a year after we graduated college that we both were invited to a mutual friend's wedding. I had no idea he was going to be there since he had been living in New York at the time and had just recently moved back down to the Triangle,  so when he came in I was so happily surprised. We ended up dancing the whole night, and I told him to call me so we could catch up. I ended up getting a text, call, and facebook message from him the next day (haha he gets slightly embarrassed by that) and we just went out to dinner to catch up.

It didn’t take long for us to realize, after we had started to officially date, that we were both all in. To simply put it, he stuck around through so much more than I ever thought he ever would. I have terrible anxiety, and when I would run into doubt in our relationship I would just blurt it out. I would carry my loaded “what ifs” and talk about every crazy scenario that my fears and worries would trick me into thinking. He would simply smile, take his time to answer all my questions, kiss me, and we would move on. I felt safe with him. He was confident in us and eased my panic so easily. I couldn’t believe the patience he had with me. I never thought someone could handle my flaws so beautifully, but he did, and did so often. And when he told me, he wanted to marry me, I couldn’t believe how easily I could answer yes. He first told me that he was "sold" about a year before we actually got engaged, so we still had our time to grow, ask questions, pray, and fall more in love, but both knew we were all in.

After being friends since high school and dating almost two years, when we got engaged, we were both very ready to be married. Being the planner I am, I thought it would be fun to make our engagement 15 months....worst idea ever. Sure it’s great for planning, but it was the longest year and a half I have ever had to wait. If you know me well, I was not gifted with patience and I was SO ready to marry my man. Then it finally came. September 17th, 2016, our wedding day. Or as I describe it, BEST. DAY. EVER. According to us it will be a day that will go down in history. More on that later, but seriously, it was great.

After the wedding was done, and we got back from our honeymoon, real life followed. It was so weird finally living in the same space and starting our new life together. It was hard. It was tricky. It was fun. It was a easy. It was all these things at once. Just like any average human, we had our good days and our bad days, but if I sit here right now and tell you the truth, marriage has been the biggest joy I have ever known. I have had my fair shares of anger and frustrations, but they are always easily forgotten with forgiveness, laughter, and more love. In our first year we have settled into our house, we took a financial class to get out of debt and officially will be by September (talk about adulting), we have traveled to new places together and apart, have figured out I will fall asleep instantly if Andrew wraps me in a blanket burrito, learned how to take care of our lawn, adopted our tripod dog Phoebe, been through countless Netflix shows, found we both really like cooking together, and so much more.

The biggest struggle we are working on constantly is our communication. Our communication about what is important to us, how we feel on certain subjects, and how we need to feel loved by the other person. We sometimes CRUSH IT, but other times we fall flat on our faces. Andrew and I have different vocabularies, so when we talk, some things get lost in translation. Then our expectations we have in our heads don’t match up with reality, which ends up leaving us frustrated. But we are growing in this, and learning to talk in ways so we understand how to set expectations correctly so neither one of us gets hurt. It’s a process, but we are learning, and we are getting better. Why am I telling you this, because we aren’t perfect.  My worst fear would be for you to think that we are. As much as I want to just celebrate the good times, I also want to reveal the not so great times as well. I want to be transparent in our growth, and celebrate our progress in hopes to encourage others that life and marriage aren't always perfect, and that’s OK. We both know we are in it for the long haul, and this journey so far has been my favorite adventure yet. I love Andrew more now than I did when we said our “I DOs” and I know with confidence he feels the same way.

As a photographer, I am always hoping that my clients will share the good, the bad, and the ugly with me. So when I stand with them on their wedding day I can capture the most precious moments of two people promising to work hard together andto stay together. For better and for worst, you know. It won’t be easy at times, but it is always worth fighting for! Andrew and I are going to continue to work on our short comings, and relax in the grace of it all. Thanks for letting us share our lives with you, I will forever be grateful for this journey.

Photos taken by our dear friend Jordan Maunder. All photos were taken before we had the Phoebster (our second dog), just to make that 100% clear!

Priority Exercise

So... you are engaged!?!?!?! Ahhhh! Yay! How exciting! Congrats!! Woooo! I AM SOOO HAPPY FOR YOU! Sorry if that is a little strong from a perfect stranger, but I truly believe that marriage is one of the greatest gifts you can enjoy. Finding your person and being able to go through life together is one of the most amazing experiences ever! You get to marry your best friend and you get to merge two lives into one, which is as great and as messy as it sounds! I am sure that there are a lot of thoughts and emotions running through you right now in this time and I am sure your phones and social media pages are blowing up with congratulations already.

CMP-Colby-Amy-080.jpg

 If you haven’t been asked already be ready to be asked “when is the date?” and “what are you doing for blank?”. Those “blanks” are going to start piling up, trust me. Chances are you have no idea how to plan a wedding, for many of you reading this, this is your first time planning one of these things after all. The wedding industry is HUGE and the rabbit hole (or pinterest hole) is endless. As soon as people hear that you are engaged they will give you all of the things that a wedding “must have”, both sides of the family are going to give you their thoughts, and the internet if full of billions of websites to “help” guide you through the process. All of these voices, visions, and thoughts can quickly become impossible to manage.

 I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom, I am so excited for you and I hope that I can help! I want to help relieve some of that stress and to make sure that your big day is one that you will absolutely love. So, how can I help? As a wedding photographer I have seen my fair share of weddings, and I have been a bride myself so I have first hand experience. Yet even for someone like me that is in the industry and thought she had the whole wedding day idea figured out this process was a not always easy! It turns out that in all of my planning and dreams I had forgotten one key element: my future husband. A couple days after we got engaged, I was ready to jump right into planning; my fiance, Andrew, was not. My creative mind was moving a mile per minute. And from my point of view, Andrew and I had talked casually about our day, so we were going to be on the exact same page once the planning started. But let me be honest here, that was pretty far from the truth. What we discovered was that both Andrew and I had different expectations when it came to putting together a wedding. First piece of advice, Andrew and I both strongly believe that a wedding day should be created by the couple. It isn’t just the bride, and it isn’t just the groom’s responsibility. It’s a celebration about the couple & God’s wonderful union of marriage, and therefore, the couple should have a huge influence on what the day looks like, feels like, and how it is celebrated. Now of course there are always hiccups and snags, with rules that are in place by vendors, or expectations of family members, but we are here to encourage you to tailor your day to you as couple. If you love the normal traditions ( I grew up in the South, so I mean southern traditions) then great! If you don’t, don’t be afraid to try something new, or say no to something that doesn’t work for you. How cool would it be if you thought of a new unique way to celebrate your love on your wedding day, and it became a tradition of your very own.  Both you and your significant other are going to have hopes, dreams, and obligations for the wedding day that may be unknown to the other and these need to be brought up early in the process to avoid as many headaches and stress as possible.

 In order to do this, I recommend doing the Priority Exercise. What is the Priority Exercise? Well before you start talking about your wedding day with others, go get coffee, drinks, or be comfy at home with your new fiancé and do this little exercise. Be warned, this might spark some long conversations, so be prepared to talk. Also, if you don’t get it all figured out right away, don’t worry. Just recognize the areas where you need to talk before anything is reserved with a deposit.

Now that you are both comfy: first, write down these 10 categories on a piece of paper, then sit opposite your future spouse so you cannot see their paper. Now, write a number 1 through 10 next to each category based on what you personally think is the most important on your wedding day when it comes to solely planning party details. 1 being the most important, 10 being the least. When I say “most important” I want you to ask yourself these three questions to answer your priorities.

  • How much happiness will it bring you?
  • How much money are you willing to be spent on it?
  • How much of your time will it take to plan/find this category?

 Try your best to give a number to each category, and understand in wedding planning, things and priorities will change, and that's ok. You just need to understand where you are now. Are you ready? Ok, ready, set, go….

When you are done, scoot closer to each other and reveal your papers to each other. Go through the list, and see where the other person put their 1 through 10. Does it surprise you? Is it what you expected?

 Now don’t panic, if your numbers don’t align! It actually would be weird if you were perfect across the board. When we started out, Andrew and my list would have probably looked completely different.  But let this be the place where the conversation begins. Star your top two, and explain to your partner why those things are important to you and why you see them as a priority. If you could make a new list right now, could your top two, and your fiancé top two be the biggest priorities on your day? If not, you just might need to talk a little more. If so, you are well on your way! The goal is to be able to create one priority list that you both agree on, and feel good about as you march into wedding planning. Hold your heads high, you got this!

Megan_Andrew_100.jpg

Now a huge thing for you guys to understand, this list might not correlate to the timeline of when you should book things for your wedding. It will just help you know if your venue is number 7 on your list, then it shouldn’t be the most expensive thing you purchase. I would consult other sources for when to book, or hire a wedding planner.   

 Also, my biggest hope is that this list will become a powerful tool in other conversations as well. If parents, family members, or friends are going to be heavily involved in your day, then make them do this activity with you and your spouse-to-be. You and your fiance can have your established list, and once again see where expectations match up, and where they fall flat. Getting everything out on the table early on will help set expectations correctly, and make the whole planning process much smoother for everybody.

Overall I am so excited for the both of you, I know this is going to be a season, but you can do it and CONGRATS again! 

Hold your heads high, you got this!

CMP - Brand Relaunch

Stacked-final.png

You guys! It's finally arrived that I am able to reveal my new website and brand with you all. I am so thrilled!  Want to give you a little bit of the backstory so you are all up to date what I have been doing for the past 4 months.

I kind of took a leap of faith with this, as I was not happy with the issues my old website had ( from behind the scenes), so I told myself next time I updated everything I would switch my brand to another web host. With that, came some sacrifice, as I lost some of my old work in the cross over of when I started back in the day. After the initial panic, I took a deep breath and realize I am actually 100% ok with that. My brand and overall style of photography has evolved greatly since my very first wedding in 2012, and to me, it's MOST important for my clientele, viewers, or just photography enthusiast to see the latest and greatest of CMP. To see the work I am the proudest of rather than things I was into when I started this company almost 5 years ago. So the blog archive might not be as long, but the work is recent, fresh, and really reflects what I am hoping my brand is shaping to be.

When thinking about my brand this time around, I spent much more time writing drafts of mission statements, vision statements, the feels I want people to feel when they interact with me and what they can truly expect from Chelsea Morgan Photography. I feel like such a grown-up. I hoping to evoke a brand that is filled with more genuine conversations and emotional-filled art. I want more than anything to be more than a photographer to my clients, but an educator, explaining the creative process further so they understand how beautiful photographs get created. I want my business to be a loud supporter of intentional marriages, and capture wedding days that are simply the beginning of that journey. And for those who don't know this, this brand I'm building will not all exist all in my logo, or in how my website is laid out. It shouldn't, it wouldn't, it possibly couldn't! I am hoping it goes far beyond that and the rest will live in how I talk, how I promote myself, the experiences my clients go through, and the photos I produce. CMP should be the whole package, don't ya think :) It should reflect everything I love and am passionate about, along with photography. 

So yes, here it is! The new logo, new web page, passionate attitude, let's do this! Hope you like it, because I like it, therefore you should like it too.

My beautiful logo was designed by the talented Meera Patel, check out her awesome work

 

Brett & Paige

Paige & Brett have known each other for a very long, long time. They met, and started dating in school, and have literally been together ever since.  Their wedding day couldn't have come soon enough, as most of their family and friends have been waiting for this day as well. I drove down to South Carolina and captured a day of pure family. Their day took place is a rustic outdoor pavilion, where the weather couldn't have been more perfect. Brett was a box of nerves when it came to their first look and was like "I have been waiting for this, for 10 years." When he finally saw her, it couldn't get over how beautiful she looked.  It was just such an intimate celebration, and lighting off the lanterns at the end of the night ( which we never could do this in NC, so cool!) was the best way to see them off, now as husband and wife. 

Meg & Drew

Oh gosh. If I could have dreamed up the perfect clients for me, I think Meg and Drew would have been it. Everything they did on there wedding day was BEAUTIFUL. So quirky, and whimsical. So much hard work to create a space of color, and activities for everyone. Meg even made custom napkins for each of her guest! No bridesmaid wore the same, Meg walked down the aisle to Lord of the Rings, and there were gold temporary tattoos guests could apply to themselves at the reception. It was just fun. They were just fun. The light was perfect, and their friends where so thrilled to celebrate them. My heart relives these images and this wedding often. So thankful I got to be a part of this, and the wonderful day that it was. 

Sarahbeth & Swaroop

Swaroop and Sarahbeth's wedding was filled with so much love. It was one of my first multi-culture weddings I had ever had the honor to photograph, and I absolutely loved how Sarahbeth and Swaroop wanted to celebrate both sides of their families throughout their day. This also came with a wonderful wardrobe change halfway through the day and so many photos of the best group of wedding attendees I have ever seen. We were so lucky that even on a pretty cloudy day, the sun decided to peek out right before it went down in the evening allowing Swaroop, Sarahbeth, and I to scoot off to the lake at Morning Glory Farm and get some sun filled shots. Some much kindness and beauty coming from these two :) Wishing them all the happiness in the world.  

After the ceremony Sarahbeth and Swaroop changed outfits! Sarahbeth bought a stunning pink dress from BHLDN.

Gretchen & Isaac

How many times in your photography career are you going to have a couple would come up to you and is like...

  • We want to have our wedding reception in a park
  • We want a small wedding, with closest friends and family
  • We want to serve tacos and margaritas
  • The bride wants to wear a black wedding dress
  • All the furnishings are going to be provided by the Greenhouse Picker Sisters

I almost fainted. It was a dream come true when Gretchen and Issac asked me to be part of their day. It was so intentional and they didn't shy away from anything they dreamed their special day would be. One of the best things was Andrew got his first-second shooting gig! I had taken him through some serious camera training, and he knocked it out of the park! Gretchen and Issac's whole celebration was so awesome, and the evening was simply beautiful. I will let the photos talk for themselves, but know if you ever have an idea to have a wedding in park, sign me up. I'm your girl. 

Drew & Meg

Drew and Meg were some of the best clients to interact with. They were totally themselves, and it was so great to see them fall into that place of comfort when we started to get in the rhythm of our shoot. It was like goofy magic. It was a glorious fall day, and we actually explored the area behind the Haw River venue where they will be getting married in May. The brought their pooches, Christmas sweaters, and enough plaid to make my heart smile. It was a great day, nothing more to say. 

We had some extra time and got the chance to snap some Christmas photos of the whole family. Probably my favorite I will ever do. Christmas sweater for everyone! Including the pups!