Cloth Mill Wedding | Hillsborough, NC | Nicole and Shane

There are a couple of weddings a year that are just pure fun.

There are a couple of weddings a year that are just sweet and romantic.

There are a couple of weddings a year that are just all out ragers.

And then there are a couple of weddings a year that just seem to slow down time and hit me very personally.

Nicole and Shane's Cloth Mill wedding in Hillsborough was just one of those.

I have been wrestling with how to write this for a little while (their wedding was my last for 2017 and was in December). I didn't know whether or not to talk about the emotionality or just talk about the story and the fun.

Then I made the decision to go emotional, because when I find myself in the grips of tears for more than half the day, that IS the story. So this is going to be less about the ins and outs of the day and more about the amazing experience that Nicole and Shane and their family and friends gave to me.

I know that situation may seem backwards, but it happens sometimes. So if you don't like mushy feelings, you may want to just go ahead and scroll down to the photos.

Most wedding connections happen at the engagement session (speaking of, check out Nicole and Shane's insanely fun engagement session which ended with a full on Dirty Dancing lift) and the meet ups we do before hand. But not this time. 

No, this all started when I second shot Nicole's brother's wedding at the Mims House a couple of years ago. 

Having shot over a hundred weddings, I have had the pleasure to meet a lot of families and family members. In that time, I have gotten really good at picking out the families that, for lack of a better term, would be good suitors to be my surrogate families. We just simply click.

That's exactly what happened a few years ago - we clicked. Though I hadn't made that emotional leap with them yet. 

Fast forward to this past fall when Nicole's mom, Nicole and I got together at the Cloth Mill to photograph Nicole's bridal session (check out those photos here). I love bridal sessions because of two reasons, I love the relaxed nature of these sessions where we can enjoy some bubbly and snacks while making some awesome photographs, but more so I love getting to see the dynamic between the bride and their mother.

We were about a quarter into the shoot and Nicole was posing by one of the beautiful windows in the Cloth Mill, and I looked over at her mom, Fara, and she was smiling with tears. She quickly wiped them away and kind of laughed about it, but it was intense and wonderful.

I never know exactly what's going on in that moment for the mothers, but to me (as a dad - albeit of 6 and 8 year olds) it's the moment when you realize your kid has become an adult and that all the hard work you put in and they put in over however many years is right before you, this is the fruition on some level, and it's amazingly beautiful.  

A few weeks later, Fara and I spoke over the phone a couple of times and what I learned in those phone calls was just awesome, because the experience I have with my couples is very different from the experience their parents are having leading up to and through the wedding. And while that may seem obvious, until you know what that experience is and the love that those parents are pouring out and experiencing themselves, then you may be missing out on the larger picture.

So I was immensely thankful that Fara gave me that time and opportunity to not just get to know her better, but to get to know her relationship with Nicole better and how she sees Nicole everyday as well as how she sees Shane. But having that conversation made me see and experience the wedding day in way I never would have had I not shared those conversations with her, and that to me was one of my favorite aspects of this wedding - just how personal it became for me.

Then jump ahead to their Cloth Mill wedding day and that's where the emotional wheels come off. 

As I had gotten to know Shane, through the engagement session as well as getting together with he and Nicole and couple of times and of course following him on Instagram, I knew he was a tough dude albeit with a big heart (basically a Teddy bear) for who family was very central. And so when Nicole let me know that since some of Shane's family couldn't make it to the wedding, that she had taken it upon herself to reach out to those people and create a video of wishes and congratulations for both she and Shane, I knew he was going to lose it (no lie, just writing this now gets me welled up).

What I didn't expect though was just the intense emotion when Nicole and Shane did their first look. I always hear bride's joke about wanting their partner to cry when they see them for the first time, but it is super rare for it to actually happen. But Shane was so primed for the moment, and when he first saw her, it was instant tears.

Then when she brought out the computer to show him the video, we all went straight Niagara. You couldn't help it both seeing his reaction, listening to the video as it played and seeing the way Nicole was right there with him - these are the sort of human interactions I dream of because of how real and how vulnerable they are in the moment.

Later Shane asked me how I was able to keep a dry eye during it all, and I told him that he was nuts. I said 'don't let the beard fool you (go here to learn a bit more about me when I'm without the camera), that half of the photographs I made during those ten or fifteen minutes were made nearly blind with tears, I was simply hidden behind a camera.'

The rest of the day was insanely fun.

The toasts were heartfelt and funny. 

Nicole and her dad's first dance was heart warming.

Shane and his mom's first dance and interactions all day were absolutely beautiful, and frankly reminded me of me and my mom.

And these folks did some of the craziest dancing I had seen all year.

But it was the emotion and the connection I felt with Nicole and Shane and their families, and the experience of all that love, support, vulnerability and openness that I will always remember. So while I often have couples thanking me, I really have to thank Nicole, Shane, Joe, Fara, Janet, John and Megan.

Thank you for letting me be a part of it all. I can't think of a better way to have ended the 2017 wedding year, honestly, I can't think of a better way to end a year, period.

But you're probably just wanting to see the photos without further ado. 


A big thanks to all of the vendors who made this wedding awesome: Wedding Venue - The Cloth Mill at The Eno || Bride's Dress - Barbara Kavchok from Tre Bella || Bride's Hair and Makeup - WINK Hair and Makeup || Florals - Blossom Artistry || Music - CWDJ || Catering - Durham Catering || Cake - Simply Cakes || Rentals and Linens - CE Rental || Bar Service - On The Rocks Bartending || Second Photographer - Artemas Photography


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