My Outer Banks Wedding Story – The Big Day

Finally, after months of preparation, a move from NC from PA, and dozens of meetings with vendors, our big day was on the way!

Our Outer Banks wedding week arrived much faster than we knew it.  Family was pouring in from across the country to be nestled in with us on the beach for the week.  Almost 100 of our closest friends and family made the trip for our special day.  I was headquartered at “Groom Central”, and Nina tucked away in the “Bride-to-be Castle.”

The days leading up to the wedding were very hazy in my mind.  I was so busy with last minute preparations that it was hard to savor all the company around me and loved ones pouring into town.  My nerves were in such a tight bundle.  Nina and I waited until this wedding week to reflect on our love for each other, and write our vows and promises that we would each read aloud on our day.  We would be apart in two separate houses to clear our minds and allow us to think deeply.  The twist: we constructed them like letters to one another… sure to cause the world’s most intense outpouring of emotions!



Friday, September 13th, 2013 came faster than I ever could have imagined.  Forecasts were calling for a chance of rain, but I had no doubt the day would be perfect… no matter what.  I remember waking up, and feeling numb.  From the top of my head to the tips of my toes, everything felt empty of any kind of pain or negativity.  I got up from my bed and walked up to the top floor living area (one of the best memory making routines to perform in a beach house).  I remember seeing my mother, who was always up before me, and noticing the same calmed emotions, tied tightly within her as well.

thanks-for-breakfastI didn’t have much of an appetite that morning.  My sister was gracious enough to prepare me a nice bowl of fruit so that something could reside in my stomach and give me fuel for the “butterflies.”  My other relatives staying in the home slowly started to wake up and greet me out on the deck (with coffee of course).  I was still Bob that morning… but the aura that hung in the air in the hours leading up to the wedding was something I will never ever forget.  It was an equal blend of excitement, nervousness, awareness, and legacy.  It truly was the “first day” of the rest of my life.

“Getting ready” time came before I knew it as well (boy, I sound unprepared).  Suits and outfits had all been wrangled up from Norfolk the day before, and my groomsmen were on their way to our house.  Before the official strip down of our casual clothes, I gave all my “soldiers of the day” a heartfelt gift (consisting mostly of Kraken Rum themed paraphernalia).  We started getting ready.  Our photographer and videographer arrived during this time but I had almost no clue when.  I think a bus filled with nitroglycerin could have ran into a telephone pole outside and I wouldn’t have processed it.  After a last minute, touch-up, shave job and correcting some wardrobe malfunctions, it was time to go.  It was all happening so fast!



calming-my-nervesWe drove to Jennette’s Pier, all stuffed in my black turbo charged beauty.  We snagged a great parking spot, emptied out of the car, and performed one of the best “cool-guy” walks since the last Calvin Klein fashion show.  The girls were on the way, and I needed to be quarantined as to not spoil first sight of my bride.  The children’s classroom in the pier served well as my temporary chambers.  All the while my men were on standby;  guarding door windows and monitoring for Nina’s arrival.  Nina arrived, as planned, and the lockdown room emptied to all but me and my best man / best friend / brother Adam.  The other groomsmen were needed to perform welcoming and ushering.  There were some sentimental and emotional words exchanged, calming reassurances, and eventually a pirate fight with some toys in the room (that’s how we Kissells do).

I was called to action by our day-of coordinator, and placed into one last waiting area before lining up for our processional.  I was now on the top floor of the pier, and I found myself transfixed and gazing out through the windows at the beach outside.  It was so comforting.  I had been this nervous only one other time in my life, and I found solace viewing the sun, sand, and waves outside.  It was a beautiful day.  I knew this would be the case.  This day had been made for two special people, and I could see it looking out.  All those “flashbacks” people talk about having before a life changing event… I definitely had them, and recounted from first glance through my entire relationship with Nina in a matter of seconds while looking out that window.



Window gazing time was done.  I was now moving to get into line with our officiant, Jay.  This was my first small glance of all the people in attendance.  My first glance of all the decorations.  It was glorious.  My time to walk came, again, sooner than expected.  I saw the bridesmaids on one side and my groomsmen on the other.  They were there for me, for us, things were getting very, very real now!  Jay leaned over to me once I was fixed in my spot and whispered “This is it!”  A command order was issued from my brain to my spine: “Initiate tingle sequence.”  We then started walking.  I knew people were looking at me.  I knew I could take time to try to find their eyes and acknowledge them…. but, I could not.  I was like a deer caught in high-beaming headlights.  We reached our spot and everything paused.  My eyes were fixed at the doors I just walked out of, knowing full well that my everything was about to take her steps out.  This was it.  I’ve always dreamt of it.  It was happening… right now.

The music started.  My spine was already primed for the tingling to come.  Everyone stood.  I found my viewing lane… and there she was.



I looked at her, she looked at me.  We both knew the joyful gravity of the day.  Our eyes swelled with it.  I’d never seen such a beautiful being before.

Nina was handed off under blessing from both of her parents, I exchanged hugs and my promises to them, and then it was just the two of us together.  I didn’t manage to process some of Jay’s initial introductions… but I did catch “..enjoy this moment… get lost in it..”.  We really got lost in it…. and will never get out of it.

The ceremony proceeded with readings from Nina’s brother, Michael and my sister, Sara… both of who performed eloquently and created even more shivers and goose bumps.  Before I knew it, it was time for us to read our vows to each other.  I had volunteered to read Nina’s words for me first.  I’ve never babbled so much in my life.  Five years prior I had passed my semester’s public speaking course after only 2 weeks, yet now I had issue articulating even the smallest details.  My emotions were fully engaged.  I managed to finish, but required a tissue immediately after.

Nina took her turn right after.  She started off smooth initially, but the memories, feelings, and promises entwined and scribed onto that sheet of notepaper made things equally as aquatic on her end.

We had made our promises to each other, then performed traditional vows as well.  We placed our rings on each other, were pronounced “Husband and Wife”, and then savored the best kiss ever and the first of our new life together!

It was time to celebrate!

We carefully planned out a cocktail hour to entertain our guests while we took a majority of our photos with family and the bridal party on the beach.  Blackened scallops, crab dip, and traditional Italian bruschetta stood no chance against hungry, emotional wedding guests.

We returned in and lined up for our official introduction!  The crowd certainly wasn’t ready for our walk-out song, but it charged the two of us up just as we wanted.  We also broke out into a dubstep routine immediately after our first dance.

The next hour was spent attempting to eat some of our food that was brought to us.  Although the feast of medium rare steak loin, garlic mashed red skin potatoes, mahi-mahi fish tacos, and oyster stew were tempting… neither of us managed to have any time to eat!



I will never, ever forget the speeches given that day.  My brother’s and sister in-law’s were both so personal yet relatable, and it really kept the blubbering going.  A long-time family friend, Pastor Charlie Reber told everyone a story that truly gives me an emotional rollercoaster ride.  He said that when the old Jennette’s Pier was torn down after storm damage and the new one built, so many of the old-timers were asking dozens of questions and wondering why the Good Lord would make it so a grand establishment was built instead of a plain ol’ fishing pier.  He turned and looked directly at me and said “Well, now I know…. he built it for you Bobby.”



We danced, we played games; it seemed like everybody in attendance was really having a blast!  We also had a photobooth in the equation that made an awesome area for total embarrassment and entertainment when needed!  The photobooth pictures are absolutely hysterical… you have to get one of those for your wedding guests to make complete fools of themselves. (more of our photos here)

The day was fantastic.  When you hear people say that their wedding day was the best day of their life, they aren’t lying.  That day was the best day of my life.  The day was perfect from start to finish, and we were so incredibly blessed by the family and friends that traveled near and far to be with us that day.  Marrying the person I love most in this world was such a feeling.  It’s hard to explain.

The entire day I felt no negativity, no pain, no worries… all was going to be as it should, then and forever.

Wedding videography by Crystal Blue Productions
Wedding photography by Terry & Sarah Photography
Wedding officiating by Rev. Jay Bowman

5 Romantic Beach Proposal Ideas

So you’re thinking about proposing at the beach, who can blame you?  It’s one of the most beautiful settings and a place where so many couples have spent countless romantic times together.  If you’re in a little bit of a rut for creative ways to propose on the beach, I’ve got a couple for you.  They range in degrees of difficulty, complexity, and originality, but nonetheless they should give you inspiration for a romantic beach proposal that will never be forgotten!

Sunrise at the Beach Proposal



Depending on what beach you are at, the sun may be rising or setting over the ocean… but here on the Outer Banks, there is no finer scene on the beach than the morning sunrise peeking over the Atlantic Ocean.  Surprise your special someone with a romantic beach proposal during the sun’s first kisses of the morning.  You could start things off with a cup of coffee on the deck, or head straight to the beach for a stroll.

There are fewer people up when the sun is rising and this makes for a more secluded and private moment for the both of you.  Rehearse your thoughts the night before and eat a little bit of food before you head out to ease your nerves.  Doing this proposal in the morning will keep you from being anxious all day and you can spend more time celebrating!

Airplane Banner Message Aerial Proposal



Dozens of airplanes fly over the beaches everyday in the summer; most of which carry some sort of advertising banner.  How cool would it be for one of the messages to be made specifically for the love of your life?  The time and location of the flyby would be coordinated by you and the advertisers, and the two of you could be splashing around in the waves or relaxing the day away in a beach chair.  She’ll be so caught off guard by the text on the banner that the first thing she sees when she looks back down is you and a shiny token of your forever love proposal.

Don’t be afraid to get creative!  Use her special nickname or see if they can run images along with your text.  The whole beach will be buzzing about how awesome your proposal was.  Free drinks are on the way!  This is also one of the better ideas if you’d like family/friends around, as well as someone to photograph the moment.

Hidden Ring Proposal


Man and woman, couple, enjoying the romantic sunset on a beach by the ocean in their vacation, they searching shells

Feeling gutsy?  Why not hide the engagement ring under a really neat shell on the beach?  The two of you can go on a romantic walk on the oceanside, perusing the sand and wash for treasures.  Little will she know that the shell she can’t resist contains a ring from the person she can’t resist!  You could also just use messaging on an object for her to find as well.  This way you can keep the ring with you and present it traditionally.

Make sure your target is noticeable!  Don’t go too over the top where it’s obviously something out of its environment… but the perfect looking shell or large piece of seaglass would make irresistible targets and will guarantee to surprise!  If you’re thinking about placing it close to the wash, take a look at the tide charts and try to go about an hour before low tide.  This way you’re planning won’t be swept right away and you’ll still sweep her off her feet!

Beach Sand Writing Proposal



A classic!  Imagine your sweetheart finding a proposal spelled out to her in the sand on the beach… oh the emotions that will pour out!  You could try huge letters outside of your oceanfront vacation rental home so that the first thing she sees in the morning is your loved, spelled out on the beach.  You may need some assistance on this one and make sure to look at the tides and aim for a receding tide morning.  You could also do a classic, smaller message that the two of you stumble upon on a walk.

Bust out a piece of driftwood and use it to scribe out exactly what works best.  There’s nothing wrong with putting a BIG heart around it either!  Early in the morning or late afternoon are your best times for this.  Too late in the evening and unsuspecting beach goers could accidentally tramp on your creation.  You could also try using some shells to decorate it in an effort for people (including your sweetie) not to miss it!

Message In a Bottle Proposal

Message with letter inside the bottle on a beach in sunset


This one worked for me fellas!  For this message in a bottle proposal idea, you’re going to need some authentic looking merchandise.  Most gift shops at the beach may have some message in a bottle kits, but you should “go for the gold” and try an antique store first.  Get authenticity points by using parchment paper or at the very least lightly burning the edges of the paper before writing on it.  Do this with the edge of paper you’re working on straight up, lightly burn then blow out, small inch-by-inch, and rotate and repeat till it’s done.  You can start beforehand by tearing bits off the four edges.  Remember, she’ll want to keep this bottle forever so take your time personalizing it all!

Once you have your message set and corked inside you have a couple of ways to go about it.  I made it so my wife found it on the beach while we were walking and she legitimately thought it was real!  You should separate yourself temporarily from her to toss it or have someone place it on the beach beforehand for you.  Again, early morning and late afternoon are probably best.  This way no stranger end up finding your bottle as well as the two of you will have a little more intimate setting.

more-obx-beach-wedding-posts book-an-outer-banks-rental-home

Southern Shores Realty wants all of your vacations to be perfect… especially the one where you propose on the beach!  We represent over 600 Outer Banks rentals spanning Corolla, NC to Nags Head, NC.  That’s plenty of places to profess your love to your lucky lady!



The Outer Banks is one of the most beautiful places in the world… the most beautiful in my opinion.  If you haven’t considered it for your beach proposal you absolutely must.  We have nearly 100 oceanfront obx rentals that would make for the perfect beach morning proposal, a selection of wonderful soundfront rental homes for perfect sunsets all week, and hundreds of other rental homes that can be found using our advanced search.

Thanks for taking the time to read this list of beach proposal ideas.  It’s not complete, but it’s a great starter guide to get your creativity going.  Feel free to drop us a line in the comments below or call us at 800.334.1000 for any questions you may have regarding beach weddings on the Outer Banks and our wedding rental homes.  Don’t forget to share this to someone in need!

My Outer Banks Wedding Story – Planning Part 2

The preaching is done – I was just looking out for you! My fiance and I are very excited about our plans thus far!  Like I said earlier, we are at the 8 months out mark so a majority of work has already been accomplished; including our visit to the Outer Banks Wedding Expo. Our vendors booked thus far include:

  • Venue: Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head
  • Officiant: Jay Bowman
  • Photography: Terry & Sarah Photography
  • Florals & Coordination: The Embellishers
  • DJ: Music Masters – Matt Cooper
  • Caterer: TBD
  • Cake: TBD

The priority for us was the venue; we booked Jennette’s pier about a year and a half out from our date.  The officiant was another big choice for us as you really want to connect well with the person who will be officially connecting you!  Photography, florals, etc., have all been falling into place.  For example, we started our photography search in June 2012 and finally booked in the Fall of 2012.  As I mentioned in the tips, you will have your own personal priorities but do keep in mind venues, caterers, and photographers typically are booked earliest on the Outer Banks. Catering and a cake have been the focus of current, and were our targets at the OBXWA Wedding Expo this year.  I can honestly say I am not proud at the amount of food I ingested as we perused the isle ways of the show.  I do however, give high marks in sample portions to High Cotton BBQ and 1587 Restaurant, who respectively, served a pound plate-full of awesome BBQ and medium rare sliders topped with calorie loaded goodness.  Unfortunately, they are not in our top runnings but they really know how to please the male population at wedding shows!

Striper's Bar & Grille has an amazing view!
Striper’s Bar & Grille has an amazing view!
Our catering “top 2” have been narrowed down to Stripers, a famously delicious seafood restaurant overlooking the Pamlico sound in Manteo, and Red Sky Cafe in Duck; home of “eat with your eyes” fantastic tappas dishes.  Both of these caterers made the cut as they put on a really nice display and samplings during the expo, and my fiance and I are fans to begin with of both.  Stripers and Red Sky are appealing to us in the fact that they are consciously and obviously working hard to earn our business and they both cordially hosted us to AMAZING personalized tastings that were out of this world!  Ultimately, like in many wedding decisions, the two of us will have to choose between these great options.  However, we are very lucky to be in this position given the fact they are both working with us so well to make the cut! Cake, on the other hand, has been a challenge for us.  We have been through several cake tastings with the vendors here – only to ingest dry slices of spongy material with a whipped buttery sugar spread on top.  Bob does not enjoy dry or tasteless matter, and he does not take kindly the idea of serving such porous matter for the greatest celebration of his life!  Third person talking aside, we have landed on a baker or two who actually make tasty moist cakes AND yummy cream cheese icing that we would love to serve to our guests! Stay tuned for the next installment – which shall cover our search for unique wedding invitations, catering decision, and will include some cool DYI wedding tips for those willing to get creative!

My Outer Banks Wedding Story – Planning

newlywed-coupleHello everyone!  Welcome to another edition of MY Outer Banks Wedding Story! This edition is to recap on our planning and hopefully will offer great pointers to ANYONE else who may be planning a similar destination wedding.  My fiance and I are now inside of 8 months for our wedding and planning is finishing quite nicely! The past couple of weeks have really been nose to the grindstone with planning, etc. but I will track back a little bit to fill the gap between engagement and planning complete. First and foremost, I have built a Wedding Timeline & Planner for newly engaged couples to take advantage of!  Check it out, save it, share it, etc., because it is a GREAT guide to not forgetting anything and keeping you planning straight!  My fiance has really taken the lead since our engagement and I think most guys will find this out and be quite content with it.  I have been very proactive with the planning process to make sure I have a hand in everything but, there are some things that it’s best to let the ladies handle! I would like to drop out some pointers before going into my personal details just yet.  I think these are great tips for the newly engaged to remember:

  • You are Planning a Once in a Lifetime Day & PARTY!

    Too often times newly engaged couples can lose sight of the fact that they are planning an awesome day for the two of them!  Even my fiance and I would get a little stressed from time-to-time.  This is normal when big decisions, money, families, and long range plans get mixed together.  You just have to remember that the planning process should be (and really can be) just as much fun as the day itself.  Trust me, if your engagement is going to be longer than 6 months, planning may become stressful once in a while and your best best is to always remember WHY you are planning this!
  • Set Your Shared Priorities FIRST!

    There is a lot of literature (including that which I produced) that will suggest when to plan for and book certain aspects of your wedding (photographers, venues, etc.).  The two of you probably already have great communication with each other about your dreams and visions so you should have a “dream wedding” idea in the back of your minds.  For my fiance and myself, our dream was a fabulous wedding at the beach we loved so much.  Therefore, before worrying about the pictures, flowers, food, etc., we really put our minds together picking the perfect spot TO BE married!  For many on the Outer Banks, this is the beach itself.  We decided on the beautiful facility inside of the new Jennette’s pier as it has a wonderful view of the beach and ocean without worrying about weather and the public.  The moral of this bullet point is to make sure you two stay “the boss” and remember to plan based on YOUR priorities, and not what anyone else tells you.
  • Your Day – You’re THE BOSS!

    I’m not trying to knock on the Outer Banks, but during our wedding planning, we have had some contact and experiences with vendors who forget some fundamental business philosophy.  Some vendors need reminded that money talks and the customer is always right.  Don’t take this the wrong way, there are many bridezillas who can abuse a business relationship and there are plenty of born hagglers who can scare away industry professionals who don’t settle for anything less than top dollar for their services.  HOWEVER, you and your lucky fiance do not need to be treated like a commodity by people who should be wooing you to EARN your business.  There is a mentality amongst some wedding vendors that with the sheer number of weddings the odds are that they will have steady business.  I can proudly say that my fiance and I have turned away from many vendors who have their heads far up their ….. places where they can’t see the light of day, and we may get into the industry ourselves to differentiate based on stellar service! You want and deserve to deal with vendors who are honestly concerned with your satisfaction and will do everything (within reason) to make you feel like the star of the day and that their business depends on people like you!  Don’t let the caterer’s food be all that speaks for them; make sure you have a good feel for the catering manager and you feel confident that they will perform flawlessly with your reception and that they will work hard to make you happy.  Don’t book the photographer who has the biggest price tag and the personality of a broom – book the photographer who you would be happy to invite to your wedding as they will be a prominent guest at yours for the entire time!  I’ll stop this rant at that, but you better bet I’m not donating a penny to anybody who doesn’t treat my fiance and I with minimal respect and some bare basic communication skills.


My Outer Banks Wedding Story – Introduction

shesaidyes-150x150_1Hello, everybody.  I wanted to (under co-worker suggestion) start a new blog series chronicling my Outer Banks Wedding story that is currently underway. I know that many people love the Outer Banks and decide to get engaged here, married here, or even live here, and I think I will be able to add lots of good advice if you find yourself in any of these categories.  My story, in fact, involves all three of these!  For those of you not familiar with my background, I promise to be brief.

bobby-beach-200x300_1I am a Pennsylvania native who has been vacationing to the Outer Banks with my family for as long as I have been alive.  My father started coming here in his early teens and it has turned into a second home for my family.  Typically, my family vacations for one week, twice a year (Summer and Fall).  I really pride myself on having a diversified view of the Outer Banks, as I have been all over the beach here; north and south.  My parents have also made sure to educate myself, my brother, and sister about the area’s history, culture, and people.  Through my many years of visiting here, I have made many family friends in local businesses and industries, and feel privileged to have made these connections. As someone who has been so entwined in the Outer Banks for so long, it was only natural that I would hold it very close to my heart.  I started dating my beautiful girlfriend in 2008 and through strong coercion, negotiated the ability to start bringing her on our family vacations (I tended to emotionally “zone out” on family vacations being 500 miles away from where my mind was at).

Anywho, after several vacations with us, my fiance started to see the charm and beauty that is the Outer Banks, much like my family and I have known for years.  I realized then, that it was only appropriate to ask the love of my life to marry me at the most beautiful place on earth. It was a cold morning on November 21, 2011, and my family and sweetheart were on our Thanksgiving vacation in Salvo, NC.  It was only one day into our week’s vacation, but I knew the week would be better spent celebrating the growth of our family versus me being a nervous wreck all week, waiting for the perfect time to pop the question.  Unbeknownst to my girlfriend, I had spent a lot of time finalizing in my mind the way I would propose to her.  I had the idea to pull off a “message in a bottle” proposal to her while we walked on the beach.  For the bottle, I scoured several antique stores back in PA and eventually had my “ah ha!” moment when I came across a vintage ship ballast bottle.  It was a beautiful green hue and would work perfectly for me to it dress up!  I spent many hours with an old fishnet, hemp, and several add-ons to craft an authentic looking maritime bottle.  The last step in my prep was to write an awesome mushy-gushy love letter to her on parchment and snazzy it up with some burnt edges.  Dang, I’m good!

message-in-a-bottle-romantic-proposals-150x300_1The day of reckoning came, and I decided to ask her to go for a morning walk with me while my family was still getting ready for the day.  It honestly had to be around 7:30am in the morning, but the sun was out and the shells were calling!  I had to be very careful to dress appropriately as I considered how she was to discover my bottle I had made.  I ruled out the idea of having any third party involvement, so I needed to bring the bottle AND the ring with me undetected.  All I can say is thank goodness for cargo shorts and hoodie pockets! We started our walk together, hand in hand, and perusing for shells in the wash.  We were certainly isolated and alone (especially in Salvo in November), but I had a mental blackout on how to pull it off perfectly.  I decided I had to act rather fast as we would not be walking much longer after we turned around.  Well, we did turn around and start heading towards the house again, and that’s when I decided to improvise and create temporary separation from the lover’s handholding taking place prior.  I told her that I wanted to take a look in some of the small sand dunes on the beach to see if any good shells had washed up to there.  She seemed alright with the idea so I had to act fast, yet casual to plant the bottle. When I noticed her bending down to pick up a shell of her own, I struck.  It was a well-placed bottle-toss that nestled my love-inspired creation neatly by some sea oats and grass/sand.  The next step was getting her to the vicinity and playing off like nothing happened.  I shouted and informed her that there were some nice shells up where I was walking and that she should come help me find more!  I started to head backward as to make her walk in my direction; the direction of the bottle.

Words can’t describe the butterflies in my stomach during those few minutes.  I don’t think I have ever been so nervous in my life.  Not nervous because I did not know what she would answer, but nervous because I only planned on doing this once in my life and I wanted everything to be absolutely perfect. I can still remember exactly the way she exclaimed when she found the bottle.  I had 1,000 mental pats on my back because when she walked up to it, she was 100% convinced that it was a legitimate message in a bottle that had washed to shore!  Her eyes already told me how excited she was to open it and see the long lost words that lay inside the antique capsule.  She managed to uncork the bottle without issue and unscrolled the paper much faster than I imagined.  I intently watched her and her eyes start to read the words on the parchment.  She leaned over to me and exclaimed: “this is your writing!”  I gently nodded, and she continued reading.  After she made it through the outpouring of my heart’s penmanship, the letter prompted her to let me see her “diamond eyes” (I thought this to be appropriate wording).  By the time she had turned to me, I was already on one knee. The Salvo sun could not have hit that rock any better.  It was like a sunburst hit a disco ball, and my world paused for a glorious eternity.  I remember how I asked her to marry me, but that’s between the two of us. 😉

love-of-my-life1-225x300_1When we returned from our walk, the rest of my family was awake.  Mom and sister were watching a morning movie, and my Dad was out on the deck with the binoculars taking in the natural beauty of the beach.  My fiance walked up into the living room and was asked how our walk together went.  Without a second thought, she coolly extended her hand down to them; what happened next made me fear for every window in the house.  My mother and sister rocketed into the air with enthralled screams as if they had won 100 PowerBall jackpots!  I’ll never forget that either.  I think everybody was in joyful tears that day.  One of the coolest things was hearing my fiance tell the story of my proposal to her.  I’d rather hear that version anytime! The rest of the day and week for that matter were a grand celebration!  The first thing we decided on, was that everybody needed a good breakfast!  The whole crew packed up and headed to Kill Devil Hills to our favorite breakfast joint; The Jolly Roger.  Need I say more?  The owner, Carol Ann honored our day by not only providing us with great service and food but 2 Jolly Roger coffee mugs and a sweet engagement treat at the end of our meal! That week’s vacation will always be one to remember.  I mentioned above that my story involves engagement, marriage, and living here.  I would love to spend more time telling my Outer Banks Wedding Story but you will have to return for more again!  We are still engaged and are to be wed 9/13/13 in the beautiful Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, NC.  I intend to publish an entry at least once every two weeks so STAY POSTED! Feel free to post ANY questions you may have for someone that: got engaged here, is getting married here, works here, lives here, or anything else!

2013 Wedding Shows, Expos, & Tips

Outer Banks Wedding Association


The wedding expo hosted by the Outer Banks Wedding Association is by far the best and biggest on the beach.  You’ll see more of what the Outer Banks has to offer here over any other place.

Saturday, January 19th from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM.
Sunday, January 20th from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM.
Tickets online are $20. At the door they are $25. Tickets give you access to both days.

Visit the Outer Banks Wedding Association‘s expo page for further updates.’s wedding expo is hosted at the Sanderling and takes place on April 27th.  It is usually a much smaller wedding show, but still worth attending. Details are not yet revealed, but you can follow updates on their wedding expo page.

Wedding Expo Planning Tips

  1. Know what is important to you before you come.
  2. Bring someone with you who shares your passion for your wedding and they understand what you’re looking for.  Encountering over 200 vendors can be daunting.  Having someone there to help you sort through the details can save you time and help you focus your energy.
  3. Research your vendors before you arrive.  Don’t expect to figure out which wedding photographer you want at the expo because there will be too many to sort through.  Know ahead of time at least your top 5 and research the facts on them.
  4. Schedule meetings, tastings, fittings, etc. with the vendors that have caught your eye.
  5. After you have spoken with everyone you planned on speaking with then take time to explore, especially if after visiting your top picks you still haven’t found the one you love.  Use the vendors you do plan on hiring for advice of who you should speak to next.  Also, if you spot other vendors that grab your attention hang on to their business card so you can do more research on them. Don’t hang on to everyone’s business card because you won’t remember which grabbed your attention and which ones did not.
  6. Be prepared to take notes.  You’ll learn more about a vendor from a face to face conversation than you would from their website.
  7. Bring a credit card or check book.  A lot of vendors offer specials for booking them at the expo, which requires a deposit.  Don’t miss out!
  8. Expect good vendors to interview you as much as you are interviewing them.  This means a lot of lengthy conversations.
  9. If you came wanting to get ideas for your wedding be sure to bring a camera with you.
  10. Lastly, you may be approached at some shows by people walking around passing out their business cards in a subtle manner. You may be handed a flyer or card by someone standing outside the venue. You may have a bridal show “special” on your windshield when you get back to your car. All of these people have skirted the rules and requirements for participating as an official vendor of the show. In most cases, they may be unlicensed or out to make a quick buck. Be cautious about these.

Wedding Planner Timeline & Bride-to-be Checklist

Complete 12 Month Wedding Planning Timeline



So you just got engaged… Now What!!?  We are here to HELP!  Made by an Outer Banks Groom-to-be, Brides-to-be can completely manage their wedding checklist in this easy to use wedding guide and make sure they don’t miss any of our helpful tips and steps to planning the perfect wedding! Make sure you check out our Outer Banks Vacation Planner; especially if you are planning a trip to the Outer Banks for your wedding or honeymoon.  Also take advantage of our entire wedding blog category for related tips, tricks, and valuable insight into making the most out of your special day!

Wedding Shot List

Photo by Mary Basnight Photography
Photo by Mary Basnight Photography

What is the point of a wedding photography list? Let me preface this with a not so good reason to create a wedding shot list. If you want an exhaustive list of every possible shot you can imagine, because you don’t want your wedding photographer to miss something, then your wedding photos will end up missing out on something more important than getting “all the shots”. What a wedding photographer does is incredibly creative and nothing kills creativity like an exhaustive “to do” list.  You want your wedding photography focused on getting the best, not just getting it all done.  Great wedding

Photo by Mary Basnight Photography
Photo by Mary Basnight Photography

photographers are graded on their creativity, not the completion of a list. Now, of course, your photographer shouldn’t be missing “the kiss” and other important shots, but all of these shots are obvious to a seasoned wedding photographer.  If a photographer is overwhelmed with trying to get in every shot on a list then you’ll be missing out on the most valuable asset you paid for, that which makes professional wedding photographers so good: their creative ability to capture moments.  After all, this is what makes one photographer stand out over another, their creative choices. All photographers are driven and motivated by their creativity and passion, be cautious to not put out that flame of creativity.  It’s important to examine the results a wedding photographer had with past weddings in order to understand how he/she captures every important moment.  And then, trust them to capture your wedding with the same love, attention, creativity, and passion.  Trusting your photographer should be one of the reasons you decided to hire your wedding photographer over others.

Photo by Mary Basnight Photography
Photo by Mary Basnight Photography

So what is the use of a wedding shot list?  It has its uses when planning out your day.  Our wedding tip to you is to use a wedding photography list to help you plan for the “complete” picture and to help you with the timing of your wedding day. There is nothing worse than making the mistake of having a beach wedding, having incredible decorations, only to discover that the backdrop of your photos as you walk down the isle is going to be a beach access parking lot.  An experienced wedding photographer can help you think through and planning these details.  You, or your wedding coordinator, are going to be talking with other vendors to prepare for what the day will look like, and a conversation with your wedding photographer can help you prepare for those conversations.  A photographer is not only thinking about what will be at your wedding, but also what your wedding will look like in pictures. As for the timing of a wedding, this may require a more lengthy conversation with your wedding photographer.  You don’t want to make the mistake of allowing 30 minutes for wedding party photos when the kind of pictures you’re hoping for

Outer Banks Wedding PhotographyPhoto by Mary Basnight Photography

and the size of your group ended up taking twice as long.  Don’t leave the timing of your wedding pictures up to guessing or the opinion of a non-photographer.  Hopefully you and your photographer will have conversations that will allow for a good evaluation of how long the photography moments you value the most will take. One final important note, as you think through photos that include people other than you, a helpful list to share with your photographer is what family members need to be in the shots.  But even then get someone else to handling this list, who knows all of those family members and can spot them in a crowd and corral them.  The photographer should also be made aware, ahead of time, of any family dynamics that could complicate photos. We hope this helps you make the best decisions for your wedding photography.

All photos courtesy of Mary Basnight Photography.

2012 Wedding Trends

Here’s a really interesting info graphic put together by Invitations by Dawn with useful stats from various wedding experts on wedding trends.  According to The Knot, 18% of all weddings are destination weddings.  This seems to be an increasing trend!  And we already know that the Outer Banks is ranked #3 of those destinations. Some of the top stats includes weddings having a more rustic look and feel.  Tangerine Tango is a very popular color.  Most still prefer the traditional tiered wedding cake as their choice of dessert.  Brides who create a registry have a tendency to invite more people.  The amount spent on a wedding dress has significantly increased. Looking over these wedding trends, how does your wedding line up?  In ways does it not?

Info-graphic used with permission from Invitations by Dawn.
Info-graphic used with permission from Invitations by Dawn.

What To Ask Your Wedding Photographer, Part Two

This list is continued from Part One of “Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer”.

Photo by Coleman Shots LLC
Photo by Coleman Shots LLC

Your Artistic Preferences

  • Why are you a photographer?
    You’re looking to hear something about his or her passion and love for their work.
  • Can you help me plan out how much time I need to devote to certain shots during the day?
    Any photographer should be able to walk you through this and it’s important to let your photographer know which shots are most important to you so that the right amount of time is dedicated to those shots.
  • How would you describe your photography style? Do you prefer to pose all of your shots or do you prefer to capture people as they do things naturally?
    Some photographers stage and pose every shot, some photographers make every effort to capture the natural moments, and, many would argue the best photographers are those that do both well. The answer should help you determine whether this is a photographer who blends into the background and shoots what unfolds naturally, or creates a more visible presence by taking charge and choreographing shots. It requires a talented photographer to pose a bride and groom properly and in that same instant capture a real moment of laughter and love between them. Here’s the biggest tip! No matter what the photographer says their style should be consistent and visible in their portfolio. You should be able to tell whether or not they need to pose all of their shots in order to take a good picture.
  • What distinguishes you from other photographers?
    You should hear from the photographer things they take pride in and things they believe they do well. They may not consider themselves better than other professionals, yet can still speak to what makes them unique.
Photo by Coleman Shots LLC
Photo by Coleman Shots LLC

Sealing the deal

    • When will I receive a written contract?
      WARNING: Don’t book a photographer, or any vendor, who won’t provide a written contract.
    • Is there anything in the contract that limits me or provides expectations of me?
      Many contracts require you to feed the photographer and give them a break. Many photographers have a “Sole Photographer” clause which I’ve seen in the form of the photographer not being responsible for your guests and family members who act like a professional photographer, getting in the way of the real professional, and using up the valuable time you’ve paid for.
    • Can I provide you list of specifics shots I want?
      Most photographers will make every effort to work with you in making your list of shots happen, but what you really hope to get from a question like this is whether or not the photographer is going to make every effort to capture what is valuable to you. Shots are missed, it happens, and your list of photographs might have missing shots, but will they try.
    • Is there any information I need to provide you before the wedding day?
    • If my wedding lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?
      Most photographers have an hourly rate if you decide at the last second you want to keep your photographer around longer.
    • Will you give me the negatives or the digital images, and is there a fee for that?
      Nearly every high end photographer only provides low-resolution proofs from which you can order your prints, but many offer a price for a copy of your high-resolution images. In fact, it’s becoming more common for photographers to offer you a high resolution disk with the price already factored into the package.
  • How many photos will I receive?
    This varies highly between photographers. Some will hand you thousands of photos and some will hand you a couple hundred. Here is a case where more isn’t more. Most of the highest paid photographers only give close to 200 photos for an entire wedding because they did the hard work of sorting through the photos and are giving you the best photos, spending a long, tiring, amount of time on each picture.
  • How long after the wedding will I get the proofs? Will they be viewable online? On a CD?
    Many turnaround times are between 2 to 4 months, which is considered normal. If a quick turnaround is important to you make sure you talk with the photographer about this and see if you can get it shorted.
  • What is the ordering process? How long after I order my photos/album will I get them?
  • What type of album designs do you offer? Do you provide any assistance in creating an album?
  • How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan?
    You should expect to pay 50% of your total as a deposit, although some photographers require more.
  • What is your refund/cancellation policy?
    Things happen! And most of the time it is things you can’t plan on. You need to know what your options are.
  • Is gratuity included in the price?
    Yes, photographers should be tipped as well. Many photographers go out of their way, far beyond what should be expected, to make your special day go smoothly. This is a service and level of professionalism that you can’t put a price on.
Photo by Coleman Shots LLC
Photo by Coleman Shots LLC

Questions to Ask Yourself

Sometime you get tired of all the searching and all the effort, and then settle on a photographer instead of it being the one you really want. Ask yourself a few more questions before you make your final decision; it will be worth it in the end.

  • Do I like the photographer as a person? Are our personalities a good match?
    If you can already tell the photographer’s personality is going to clash with yours then that should be a sign to keep searching. When you have a photographer that is going to be following you around on such an important day, and be around you more than your family will be, you want to like the person so you can be yourself around them, because that is what you want to be captured in your images. Also keep in mind that you will have a long term relationship with your photographer, probably expanding to two or more years.
  • Do I love the photographers photos?
    Every photographer is a very unique person with their own unique artistry, and they should be viewed as such. One of the most important things for you to consider is “what do I want my wedding photos to look like”. Nearly every professional out there has a “look” and this “look” comes from both the kind of editing the photographer does and how they approach shooting.