Heather & Jason’s picture-perfect day

It started with relaxed elegance

This down-to-earth and easy-going couple did everything right for their downtown Atlanta wedding. They book-ended their day with the elegant, old-world Georgian Terrace Hotel serving as their headquarters for his-and-her wedding day preparations and later as a magnificently decorated backdrop for their plated reception.

Grandeur at the altar

The couple exchanged vows at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus just a few minutes away by twin white stretch limousines. The historic church interior was bannered with with massive US flags, commemorating July 4, an unusual theme that lent an air of pomp that made the sight of Heather’s train and cathedral veil trailing her graceful stroll up the aisle all the more regal. After a full Catholic wedding mass followed by family formals at the Basilica’s altar, the two shared a single limousine back to the Terrace for a big welcome and lots of celebration.

A Classic Celebration

From Heather’s bustled gown to Jason’s traditional black tux and tie, from intricately designed centerpieces to the beautiful scrollwork of the Terrace’s ballroom, this reception was a perfect example of a classic celebration. As with every traditionally executed evening, it began with their introduction and first dance and followed with a delicious plated dinner, cake-cutting, toasts, a dancing free-for-all and sparkler-and-bubble send-off, followed by a slider-fueled after-party in the couple’s Terrace suite.

More photos from their day, in no particular order…

Three Grooms-gift Ideas

Exploring your options about what to give your future husband as a wedding-day gift? Here are some great ideas from our past brides to get your creativity flowing, in no particular order:

  1. A seriously nice watch
  2. A top-shelf bottle of sipping liquor
  3. A photo album featuring you at your best

Super-luxe watch brands with offerings below $5,000

  • Longines. Swiss-made watches between $750 and $16,000, mostly in the $1,000-$5,000 range.
  • Rado. Swiss, priced $500 to $9,000. Most under $3,000.
  • Parmigiani Fleurier. Swiss, priced from $4,800 to (gulp) $104,000.
  • Breitling. Swiss, priced from $500 to (crimony) $123,000.
  • Alpina. Swiss, from $200 to $85,000.
  • Hublot. Swiss, from $2,300 to $311,000.

Rare top shelf liquors

  • Bodegas Torres Jaime 30-year Brandy, $90.
  • Pierre Ferrand La Sélection des Anges Cognac, $185.
  • Teeling 24 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, $290.
  • Reserva de la Familia Serrallés 20 year rum, $1,900.
  • The Last Drop 1971 Blended Scotch Whisky, $3,300.
  • Glenfiddich 50-year-old Rare Collection Whisky, $30,500.

Boudoir photo album

One Soul Boudoir gift albums are always a hit with the grooms. But the experience of creating them is always an empowering, uplifting experience with our brides.  Pricing starts at $295.

Sentimental? Then retrace your courtship with us for creative images of you at venues that were landmarks in your relationship. 

Active lifestyle? So let’s photograph you in what you wear alongside him when you hit the gym, track, trail, sidewalk or street — just in a new, flatteringly sexy way!

Hopeless romantic? Imagine the look on his face as he pages through an elegant boudoir album featuring you lounging in our luxurious boudoir suite in your sensual lingerie!

If you’d like a little reward for yourself, combine a boudoir gift album session with a spa session through our Boudoir Spa Experience. This day-long, $1,395 experience includes champagne, relaxing music, a 90-minute hand- and foot-massage, manicure, pedicure, a 90-minute complete style and makeover with lashes, and a glamorous two- to four-hour photo session in our boudoir suite, featuring yours truly! With you feeling this relaxed and celebrated, can’t you imagine how great the pictures will turn out?

The case for a destination wedding

The number 1 argument for taking your wedding to an exotic location is money: you’ll save so much by not hiring a venue, decorator, cake designer, planner, band, and caterer, you could fly to a beach-side ceremony in St. Lucia, linger for a week-long honeymoon and still have wedding-budget money in the bank.

The Lunsfords and their 30 closest, traveling supporters.

To help you put your wedding budget into perspective:

Of the more than 2 million weddings planned for next year, the average spend will be around $26,000. That includes everything from invitations to the limo at the end. But an average just means half will spend more and half less.

The top 1% — that’s 20,000 weddings — will spend $100,000 or more. So if your wedding is in the top 50%, you’ll be right to have a budget of between $26,000 and something over $100,000.

So let’s compare that to a wedding week in St Lucia for a party of 22, including you and your SO. If you paid for everyone’s travel and two nights’ accommodations, you could do that wedding for $40,000.

  • Dress, veil & shoes: $2,500
  • Tux & shoes: $1,500
  • Airfare for 22: $16,500
  • Two all-inclusive nights for 10 guest couples: $13,000
  • Seven all-inclusive nights for you love-birds: $4,500.
  • Typical resort fee for hosting a wedding: $2,000
Yes, there’s cornhole in Cancun 🙂

If, as is typical with destination weddings, you left air travel up to your guests, and you simply secured a great room rate for attendees, then you could do that destination wedding surrounded by your closest humans for $12,000.

Attending couples would each pony up around $2,500 to cheer your vows and hang with you for a couple of days.

Okay, so now for the number 1 reason for keeping a wedding local. And that is that the bride or groom has a large, tight-knit family with matriarchs and patriarchs who retired their passports and Skymiles memberships long ago, and the wedding absolutely must happen with everyone present.

Andrew with his brother and son on the way to the altar at Finest Playa Mujeres, near Cancun.

Ahh, but take the case of Andrew and Autumn Hewitt in Atlanta. They had their civil wedding cake at the Decatur courthouse — and dinner afterward — with the extended clan and friends, and ate it in Cancun after a beachside ceremony with 30 of their closest, able-to-travel friends and family.

About the photography

So yes. You’re going to want pictures of everything you loved about that amazing blue-water resort. Well, there’s three ways to get them.

  1. Use the resort’s photographer. We’re biased in the other direction, but the facts are that resort photographers typically are resort employees with resort-supplied cameras doing snaps at scenic spots on the property, or they’re local contractors paid a flat rate to do the same. A typical resort photography package includes an hour or two of photo coverage and a disc of unedited images mailed to you. Pricing varies wildly across the Caribbean. What’s consistent is the small amount of skill and effort invested in shooting and delivering your photos. Your family could do as well with cell phones.
  2. Crowd-source. Have your guests shoot away with their phones and message you their pics. This is a grab-bag approach, but you’ll occasionally get that priceless photo — like the one of Aunt Edna with the hoola-hoop and that turned-up bottle of champagne.
  3. Do #2, but back-stop with a professional. Jill and I travel as much as we shoot weddings locally. Our destination prices aren’t much different than what we charge for local weddings, because we love getting those exotic scenes, so we absorb much of our travel costs. And since we’re going to be on the island with nothing to do besides relax and be wedding photographers, you’ll get a lot more time in front of the camera and tons more pictures. Pictures that have been edited. Pictures that were shot by pros who live in the same country as you, and maybe in the same city.

UK Elopement Shoot

Nestled in the rolling countryside of Midlands, UK, is a wonderful turreted estate gatehouse with a textured old-world character perfect for romantic elopements. We were there in early February to capture these beautiful moments with Erica Melargo and Marco Biagioli.

Bouquet by Mark Petford of Hite’s Florist in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, U