I came to meet Michael + Natalie through a mutual friend who attended a wedding I’d recently photographed. It was like the perfect fit referring additional clients who would be perfect fits. Michael + Natalie fell right into my growing list clients I classify as “good people”. They are achievers, yet down to earth. Humble with high expectations. They value family and friendships. And when it comes to something as important as their wedding day they want everything done well. I could photograph Michael + Natalie over and over again, but as far as Sheraton Raleigh Hotel Weddings go, you only have one crack at it. Let’s just say we all made the best of it!
Sheraton Raleigh Hotel Wedding
Complete with insights from the bride!
Michael + Natalie
January 14, 2017
Sheraton Raleigh Hotel
Share with us how you two met:
Michael and I met at NC State. He and I stayed in the same student apartments and would travel to the gym at the same. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we’d catch the Wolfline from Wolf Village to gym — it was always only the two of us, but both of us were too shy to say anything to the other. Those bashful rides lasted for a full semester before a mutual friend introduced us.
Tell us about your proposal:
Michael and I had always wanted to go hiking in the mountains. One day, Michael randomly said “Let’s go to the mountains this weekend!” I wasn’t too thrilled because I had to cancel my hair appointment, which I had scheduled a month in advance, but I obliged since it was something we both were interested in and he was taking the steps to make it happen.
Our first stop was Pisgah National Forest. It was beautiful. We hiked for a couple miles, saw two waterfalls, and decided to go to a different hiking spot. Next we went to Dupont State Forest. We hiked for a few more miles, until I noticed Michael seemed worried that we weren’t going to run into anymore waterfalls. In the midst of our hike, I wanted hand sanitizer and started to open his bookbag; Michael jumped and said, “I’ll get it for you!” I thought that was odd, but let him hand it to me.
Finally, we came across Hooker Falls and Michael asks a couple in passing if they would take a picture of us with the waterfall in the background. Once they took the picture, he asked for them to take one more, then he starts digging in his bookbag. Now everything becomes clear to me — the reason why he wanted to find another waterfall and why I couldn’t go into the bookbag. Michael got down on one knee, presented the most gorgeous ring, and proposed. I said yes of course! I’m so happy that we were able to capture that memory in a picture.
How about your wedding shoes and jewelry:
I knew I wanted flats so that I could wear them all night long, but wanted them to be just as beautiful as stilettos. It took months for me to find, but I came across the perfect shoe by Badgley Mishcka. It was champagne colored and adorned with bling.
I wanted my jewelry to be subtle, and not compete with my dress and headpiece. So I opted for only small teardrop earrings and a matching bracelet.
Tell us about your flowers:
I’m not a flower-loving girl. I replaced flowers with various forms of bling!
Tell us about your hair & makeup:
My hair was done by Faithe Davis and make up was done by Allyson Hill.
Was there any particular theme or style for your wedding:
There was no particular theme, I just wanted accents of bling anywhere possible.
Describe your wedding dress. What was wedding shopping like for you?
My wedding dress was a dreamy, blinged out, mermaid masterpiece! I found a picture of it online, and visited 3 stores until I found one that a sample dress for me to try on. As soon as I put it on, I knew it was the one.
How / why did you choose your ceremony venue:
We chose the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel because my father had an established relationship with them, hosting his annual Military Ball there for the past number of years.
Any wedding favors:
We decided against traditional wedding favors. Instead, we opted for a photo booth where our guests could take photos and instantly have them printed with our logo on the bottom.
How about the wedding invitations & stationery:
Wedding invitations and stationary were created by Natalie’s aunts, who helped plan our wedding.
Tell us about his groomsmen:
Michael had five in his wedding party. His brother, Maurice, was his best man. Cameron and Kendarius are his Phi Beta Sigma fraternity line brothers, who both attended NC State. Brian attended NC State and also went to high school with Michael. Terrence attended NC State, where he and Michael became great friends. All of these guys are like brothers to Michael.
Tell us about your bridesmaids:
I had five bridesmaids. My sister, Natasha, was the Maid of Honor. Makia is Michael’s sister. Kiara and I attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and NC State together. Brittny attended NC State, and we dance together in one of the school’s dance companies. Jashara attended NC State, and we worked together at Bath and Body Works, while we were in school. I love them all so much!
What songs did you choose for your wedding ceremony and reception, and why:
“When I First Saw You” – Jamie Foxx, Groom entrance song
“A Thousand Years” – Christina Perri, Bride entrance song
We chose these songs as our love songs to each other. Each song talks about the love the person has for the other, from the perspectives of both the woman and the man.
Any bridesmaids / groomsmen gifts?
I gifted my bridesmaids chandelier earrings and clutches from Aldo.
Michael gifted his groomsmen with hand carved wooden boxes, which encased ties, pocket squares, and cuff links.
What’s your favorite image from your wedding day, and why:
We love the photo of just the two of us in the middle of the street, Natalie leaning back staring into Michael’s eyes, with all the lights gleaming in the night sky. With all that’s going on around us, we’re only focusing on each other.
Sheraton Raleigh Hotel Wedding
Tell us about your reception venue
Out of convenience, we wanted to keep our ceremony and reception at the same venue — Sheraton Raleigh Hotel.
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? If yes, tell us more.
My father is from Louisiana, so we incorporated some New Orleans culture. For our entrance to the reception, we did a second line. A second line is a celebratory parade with the accompaniment of brass band music. Everyone is welcome to join the parade to dance, twirl handkerchiefs, or “do whatcha wanna!”
What is your best memory from your wedding?
Our best memory from the wedding is definitely the second line! Everyone got so into it — it really set the atmosphere for the rest of the reception. We were so happy to bring New Orleans flare to North Carolina!
Tell us about your honeymoon:
We spent a week in Cancun at the Riu Cancun all-inclusive resort.
And your cake:
Our cake was created by Cake Couture.
And your decorations:
All decorations were created by Natalie’s aunts, with the exception of the ceiling to floor bling chandeliers provided by the hotel.
Favorite item on the reception menu:
The breaded chicken breast with the fresh lemon squeezed on top was so delicious! We had a plated dinner catered by Jimmy V’s.
Tell us about your wedding photography:
Our photography was done by In His Image. Dajuan and his team are the absolute best!!! He and his team arrived at 11 am and captured everything: details, bridal prep, groom prep, first looks, bridal party formals, ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. He also did our engagement session. I would recommend In His Image for any photography needs one may have.
Tell us about your wedding planner:
Our wedding planners were Natalie’s aunts.
Any advice for future brides:
Do what will make YOU happy, even if it strays off the beaten path.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples?
Don’t sweat the small stuff! Wedding planning can become extremely stressful; if possible, find a wedding planner who can handle those stresses for you. On the day of your wedding, every little thing may not go as planned, but don’t let those trivial matters steal your joy.