Duke Forest Wedding | Durham, NC | Andrea and Jose

We are rapidly approaching summer at this point. My neighbors are mowing their lawns. Daylight saving time is back. And while all of this makes me somewhat sad, as I am a lover of winter and our winter this year in North Carolina has just been shit - let’s be honest. Though if there is one thing that can bring me out of my summer doldrums, it’s good people, tacos, tequila, and weddings - especially weddings in the woods! So without further ado, let’s rap about Andrea and Jose’s Duke Forest wedding.

One of the fun things about being a wedding photographer is getting to see the interactions between my couples and their parents. It’s usually the one thing I don’t get to see much or any of before the wedding day. I get little stories about mom, or dad, or a brother/sister, or crazy grandmother; but I rarely get to meet them before the wedding day. Andrea and Jose’s wedding was no different.

When I arrived at the Washington Duke Inn I got to meet Andrea’s mom, Karren, as Andrea was getting ready. She was so welcoming and was just going with the flow of things - which is not always the norm when it comes to wedding days and being mother of the bride. I have to imagine there is a real sense of change and growth and most definitely nerves. But Karren was so relaxed, it was easy to see where Andrea got her easy sense of being. Then shortly after getting ready, I got to meet Andrea’s father, Ricky. Both he and Andrea nearly went into tears, but a celebratory whiskey shot kept everyone focused and tears to a minimum. But what I loved so much was that Andrea’s parents were so selfless in all of this, which if you have divorced parents (I do), you know that this isn’t often the case. Some parents can’t be in the same room as one another, but this was wonderfully different.

Family as a whole was a clear centerpiece in their wedding and in their lives. Seeing that priority already fixed in their lives was enough to know that these two have at least half of marriage figured out.

Now I have lived in North Carolina now for seven years, and until last year I had never heard of Duke Forest. Duke Forest is 7000 acres of forest and open fields set in Durham, Alamance and Orange counties. That’s a lot of land, but still I had no idea how it was going to pan out as a wedding venue. But it was clear from their Eno River Park engagement that the outdoors was hugely important to them - and Duke Forest delivers in droves.

As I mentioned above, there are a few things that get me out in the summer time, and tacos is one of them. Andrea and Jose swore to me that the taco truck they had coming to their wedding was the best. After living in San Diego for ten years, I am hesitant to hear anyone’s praises on local food trucks - especially taco trucks. But damn! The tacos these folks made were so good. I rarely take the time to enjoy the food at weddings. But I found a downed tree to sit on and just sat back, ate my tacos and just enjoyed the view of this beautiful wedding. People coming from all over the country, an amazing mariachi band, happy and full smiles, cornhole games, kids running around. Part of this reminded me of some of the summer family picnics my aunt and uncle used to throw; just good times all around.

Definitely one of those days that I am so thankful for what I get to do, because at times like this I feel like the work I do isn’t work at all. Big thanks to Andrea and Jose for the love, hospitality and the trust (but I still don’t like cats ;)

WIth that being said, let’s get to the part you wanted to see from the beginning!


Are you planning your wedding? Do these photos resonate with you? Reach out and let’s see if I am the right fit for you and your day.

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