Heidi + Patrick tied the knot on May 28, 2016 in a beautiful outdoor ceremony at Duke Gardens. I had been looking forward to this spontaneous couple's wedding ever since shooting their fun engagement photos in Durham earlier this year, and they did not disappoint! Their unconventional celebration included surprise wedding crashers during the ceremony, a giant flash mob on the dance floor, and several dazzling trombone performances by Heidi's dad during the reception.
Read the Q&A with this spirited couple, featured below, to learn more about their wedding inspiration and photography experience! To view all of the photos from their wedding and order prints, please visit their gallery on my online print shop!
1. What are some of your favorite things about your partner? How were these attributes expressed during or leading up to your wedding?
Patrick: Two qualities that I love about Heidi is that she is extremely thoughtful and very meticulous. These two qualities were especially relevant during our wedding planning. Heidi did an amazing job planning every event of the weekend down to the minute and she left no detail unconsidered. This made for a very successful event. However, what made the wedding truly special was how Heidi considered our guest’s wants and feelings throughout the planning process. Heidi always had her friends and family (and me of course) on her mind when she was envisioning the weekend and everyone seemed to have a valuable role. She even had the idea of setting up a “wish you were here table” for the friends/family that had passed away before our wedding. Weddings are times when brides are typically expected to put themselves first but Heidi used this opportunity to celebrate everyone. I truly love her for that.
Heidi: I love that Patrick is a “go with the flow” type of person, a very good match for me who had strong opinions about everything to do with our wedding! When it came to making the 1,000 decisions involved in wedding planning, Patrick and I were virtually always on the same page - mostly because he’s so agreeable. He was very supportive of the vision I had for our big day and worked with me to make it happen. Also, Patrick has a kick-ass sense of humor, which he peppered throughout our ceremony. During our ceremony, one of my bridesmaids read the quirky story Patrick wrote of how we met and our guests couldn’t get enough of it. He had the idea to have our friends read cheesy song lyrics about love as if they were serious words of wisdom, it added the perfect humorous touch. He also included such a hilarious line in his otherwise beautiful vows that the roar of the laughter drowned out the last part of the message. Patrick is a sweet, loving, goofy guy – I’m so lucky to have gone through this process with him – and now be married to him!
2. What was most important to you in planning your wedding?
While planning our wedding we wrote down our top 3 priorities and compared them with each other. They were essentially the same:
- Make it fun – we especially wanted an epic dance party. We live in North Carolina and that’s where we had our wedding, but most of our family and friends live in states near and far around the US. Therefore, because most people were spending a lot of time and money to come to our wedding, we wanted to make it worth their while. The band selection was especially important – we went with The Royal Suits who got everyone on the dance floor, and we surprised the crowd by passing out with light-up sunglasses and wands, and doing a flash-mob.
- Fill the day with love - have people feel connected to each other and to us. Our families met for the first time during our wedding week (though we’d been dating for 3.5 years) so we wanted everyone to have a nice environment to mingle and get to know each other. It was also important to us that we were accessible to people and that we didn’t seem like royalty. For example, during dinner we opted out of a “head” table and instead sat with our guests, switching tables each course.
- Make it unique – we wanted the weekend to reflect our personalities and our relationship. The two of us are uber goofy and fun-loving, and we wanted that to shine through in our wedding. We wanted our wedding to be beautiful and classy, yet down to earth, inclusive, and full of laughter.
3. Are there any details or moments from your wedding that are particularly special to you?
Patrick: The entire wedding ceremony was very special and our officiators (Bob and Helen) ran it beautifully. However, the thing I will remember most about our ceremony was Heidi reading her vows. In particular, it was so sweet that Heidi teared up before she read them and had a hard time getting started. Also, as part of her vows, Heidi read a passage she had written about us after only a few months of dating. It so nice to hear how positive she was about ‘us’ from so early on and it was amazing to hear how prophetic she was about our great relationship to come.
The other moment that stands out was Heidi’s excellent execution of her flash mob during our reception. It is no easy task to control a mob, much less a flash mob. She worked extremely hard to pull off such a complicated feat and it was great to see it performed so successfully.
Heidi: The morning of our wedding my sister Robyn (the Maid of Honor) came over as a surprise when I was waking up and we had a lovely morning together before the other bridesmaids arrived. At one point Patrick and I decided to practice our “first dance” one last time in our hotel room and Robyn recorded it – it was a particularly special moment for me. Another special element was our ceremony – having all the people who love and support us in one place to witness such an important event in our lives is something I’ll never forget! Our ceremony was officiated by my great Aunt and Uncle, Helen and Bob, who have been married for 69 years and are now in their 90s. They have always been my role models for a successful relationship and they’re just simply wonderful people. They each wrote a piece for Patrick and I about marriage and love and read them as part of our ceremony. Their words were beautiful, meaningful, clever, and at times funny - the perfect way to start Patrick and my marriage adventure.
And of course I must mention my dad’s toast. My dad knew about the secret flash mob I had planned for our reception, but little did I know HE was planning to surprise ME with a spontaneous performance of his own!! He began his toast by saying that he was going to give some marriage advice, but realized that everyone might be skeptical since he’s divorced so to keep in mind that this wasn’t written by him. He then broke into song singing Accentuate the Positive while the band supported him on stage. In between verses he would stop and add in personal touches such as “You should never let a physics professor get on stage!” By the end he had the whole room singing along and it all ended in a standing ovation. It was simply incredible. Furthermore, apparently he had asked the band to join him only seconds earlier and they didn’t know the song, so they just followed along – but it fooled the rest of us since it sounded so put together! He spent months planning and practicing his performance. It will forever be a truly special wedding moment for me.
4. Your wedding photography package included an engagement session. What was it like to work with me prior to the wedding? How did this shape your expectations for the wedding day itself?
Courtney was so fabulous to work with! We both felt at ease around her during our engagement session, so we interacted naturally with each other during the shoot and it shows in our beautiful pictures. She’s super easy to get along with and very organized and responsive. She goes above and beyond – for example she drove a long way to check out our ceremony location with us before the wedding to get a sense of the lighting on the big day. Because we had the pleasure of working with Courtney for our engagement session, it was comforting to know that we already knew and trusted the person who would photograph our wedding – and that she would take stellar photos (which she DID!) We also love that she and her assistants encouraged us to be goofy and creative during the photo shoot – but also took time shooting us being candidly sincere and in love. After our friends hired Courtney as their wedding photographer they highly recommended her for our wedding - and now I’m highly recommending her to you!!
5. Now that you’ve tied the knot (and survived!), what advice would you give to other folks planning their wedding?
My first piece of advice is to realize that all the “little things” take LOTS of time. We had booked our major vendors and made most of the big decisions early on and at that time we felt like wedding planning was mostly over. But how wrong we were! All the little details such as making the signs for the wedding, deciding what will hold up your table numbers on the dinner tables (we ended up using picture frames), making sure we got the measurements of all the groomsmen for their suits in time, making little gift bags etc. etc. etc. added up to take SO much time. We funneled almost all our free time into wedding planning for months preceding the wedding and there were still things we were finishing up last-minute.
My second piece of advice is that in order to add more sanity into your life and to make your guests feel included, you MUST delegate tasks. People love you and want to help you! I really wish someone had told me this as I was planning my wedding. I didn’t delegate tasks until late in the process because I didn’t want to “bother” people. But what I didn’t understand is that by helping you on a project for the wedding, be it to do research, book a vendor, or make something by hand, your guests become a central “part” of the wedding and feel more included in the celebration. I wasn’t good about asking family and friends to help me with wedding tasks and crafts until about 6 weeks before the wedding, but when I did it made my life much easier and they felt privileged to be included in a special way.
6. What is the first thing you want to do with the images? Wallpaper the hallway? Internet fame?
Patrick’s mom bought us the most adorable frame with our wedding date engraved in it – we put the cream of the crop photo in there. Once we move out of our teeny tiny apartment we’ll have a lot more wall space and can surround ourselves with wedding memories. Until then – we’re creating a wedding album with all the rest! (And will of course be plastering them all over Facebook.)
7. What is next for you as a couple? Any big plans?
Patrick will finish his PhD in November, and in December we’re moving to California! I’m from San Jose, California and work remotely for a company in the Bay Area, and Patrick just scored his dream job as a climate science post-doc at Stanford also in the Bay Area. By complete coincidence Patrick did his masters in San Jose (where I’m from) but we didn’t meet until we were both in North Carolina. Even before we met we had each planned to move back to the Bay, so we feel so lucky that things have fallen into place quite nicely!
Heidi + Patrick, thank you for being so authentic and fun throughout this whole process. Your celebration was a thoughtful, creative reflection of your love for each other and your communities, and I enjoyed every minute. I hope you cherish these photos for years to come!
Second Photographer: Alex Lassiter
Venue: Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Coordinator: Aneesa Glines
Videographer: Wedding Mix
Bride's Dress: Bridal Image
Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo
Groom's Clothing: Bernard's Formalwear
Groomsmen Clothing: Bernard's Formalwear
Ties: Bernard's Formalwear
Florist: Tre Bella
Catering: Angus Barn