Old South Studios bio picture

    We are a team of professional wedding photographers solely devoted to "happily ever afters". Our commercial studio is based in Charlotte, NC and we capture weddings in the Carolinas and beyond. We believe in family, love and the power of storytelling through our photography. The ladies of Old South would love to capture your big day!

I LOVE a good challenge!!

I was introduced to this sweet couple by our friends at Chancey Charm Wedding Planners.

Theresa and Brendan have a substantial height difference so I knew our posing techniques would be critical at their engagement session.  We met in the studio first to discuss the shoot and considered a few locations uptown but decided to use their home instead.  It was the perfect location for this sleek, cool (and occasionally goofy!) couple.  Using furniture, their staircase and creative posing, I think their 22 inch height difference (that is nearly 2 feet, y’all- a record for this photographer!!)  is hardly noticeable.  Your eyes go straight to that hot tamale in the RED DRESS!!

I am thrilled to work with them again this summer at their uptown, modern wedding.  I got a peek at Theresa’s unbelievable gown and her former NBA star groom’s jaw will literally drop!

We are the lucky ones who get to capture it all. Thank you again for a great day together and trusting Old South to tell your story.  Bring it on, August!

Fabulous hair/makeup by the always amazing Sabrina with Be Pretty.

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Wedding Wednesday! We discuss a different topic regarding wedding planning or wedding photography each week AND even discuss the topic LIVE at noon on our Instagram account HERE.  If you can’t join us live, the replay is available on our story for 24 hours so be sure to catch it!

Today, I wanted to discuss destination weddings.  Why people choose them? Recommendations on resorts? Bringing your own US vendors? We KNOW you have questions and we have the answers!

What exactly IS a destination wedding?  Well, I have a bride finishing her residency in TX, the mother of the bride living in FL and they are planning a wedding in the NC mountains.  That makes their big day a destination wedding.  The venue is not home to either the bride or groom and guests will be potentially using the wedding weekend as a travel opportunity.  Oftentimes these are Caribbean island resorts or sunny spots in Mexico but, the Carolinas host countless destination weddings too on our own beaches and in our gorgeous mountains.  Travel is a huge component and planning these wedding weekends is trickier than a local wedding for sure!

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Why do brides choose a destination wedding?  Lots of reasons!

1.It will drastically reduce the guest count. Back in 2011, I had a bride from a well known family in NC.  Her father owned a very large company and they had an extensive social network of family friends.  The bride knew that hosting the wedding in Charlotte would equal a guest count of 400 people and that was not the wedding she dreamed of. So, she decided to get married in New York and make the weekend a true adventure for all of their guests.  She knew that adding the travel component would eliminate any “I-don’t-really-know-you-but-my-parents-felt-obligated-to-invite-you” guests from coming.  I mean, the family’s CPA probably would have rolled up at Quail Hollow Club but he wasn’t jumping on a plane to NYC! So, the guest count became a modest 100 and the bride was much happier with a more intimate setting.

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2. The couple is adventurous.  In 2014, Danielle and Joe wanted to host a FUN weekend.  Not just an 8 hour shindig but a throw-down, party like a rockstar EXPERIENCE!!! There was a welcome party, pool party, wedding, reception, pool days and beach time all rolled int 4 days.  The bride and groom got to enjoy the company of their friends for several days instead of just one and they made so many amazing memories that weekend in the Dominican Republic.



3. The total cost is often cheaper overseas than locally. That might shock you but all-inclusive resorts are often cheaper than local ballrooms dripping with chandeliers.  Many resorts offer “off season” specials and deals to attract more tourists.  You might be shocked at the affordability of tropical destinations if you take the time to compare them to local venues.  One of our Mexico brides from 2016 first priced Charlotte venues and come up with her total wedding budget. Then, by opting for a destination wedding instead, she spent about 40% less than she would have in her home town.



4. They want a truly unique wedding.  I’ve had brides that are 3rd and 4th generation Charlotte natives. Between their older sisters weddings, their neighbors, their high school friends, etc., they have been to every known church and country club as a wedding guest.  Sometimes, touring those same venues strikes them as “familiar” and they would rather have a wedding that is uniquely their own.  Breaking the mold and opting for a tropical resort or cozy NC mountain lodge feels more personal and special to them than repeating all the same weddings they have already attended.

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5.  The couple plans to honeymoon nearby. Lia and Aled chose the island of Viques (off the coast of Puerto Rico) for their 2016 destination wedding.  They wanted a smaller, more intimate guest count (see #1 above), they love to travel and wanted more experiences with their friends/family (see #2 above) and they wanted to see a few different islands on their honeymoon.  So, they stayed at the wedding location for a few nights then moved on to another small island nearby.



6.  The location is centralized to where guests are coming from.  The biggest wedding our team has ever captured was in 2015 under the direction of David Tutera’s NY planning group.  The bride was from the Northeast and the groom’s family lived all over the country (Colorado, FL, TX).  Charlotte has a large airport with direct flights to nearly all of the major cities guests would be arriving from.  They choose to work with the talented team at Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge because they could provide a full weekend of events for guests (golf course, day spa, pools, restaurants, several event locations).  So, Charlotte, NC became the destination wedding location out of convenience and proximity. ( And it was FABULOUS by the way!)

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Do these brides bring their own vendors? The answer is both yes and no.  Every bride has her own set of priorities.  Some don’t mind gambling on local vendors in a foreign country to provide their cake, florals, photography and videography (most resorts will encourage this type of package). BUT, Old South brides typically place photography as their #1 priority when wedding planning.  They care too much about memories to take any chances so they bring our team along.  They provide all travel (airfare, meals, cabs, etc.) for us to attend the event on top of our typical Wedding Collection fees.  That way, we can also capture their engagement photos (in CLT), her bridal portraits (in CLT) and be trusted to capture the most amazing day of their lives (in a foreign country).  We have captured weddings for Charlotte brides in St. Martin, the Dominican Republic, several locations in Mexico and Puerto Rico.  We have also worked with Atlanta and Chicago brides getting married in the NC mountains or SC low country.  We have had some of those brides also bring Charlotte wedding planners, hair/makeup teams and videographers but they will typically use at least some local vendors along the way.

Have cameras….will travel!!

Please join us again next Wednesday for a new topic.  We so appreciate you following Old South on our blog, Instagram and Facebook.  We LOVE happily ever afters!!

Oh I have learned so much more from failure than success.

It is in the hard times where I have grown both personally and professionally- not at the top of a mountain but more often in the valley.

When I began Old South Studios, I was a very fit, 30 something wife and Mama.  On my best days, I would load up my 2 little girls and head towards my favorite YMCA.  I was front row every single day that Zumba was offered in the 9-10 a.m. time slot.  Dancing is truly my first love and that type of exercise NEVER felt like work to me.  So, after an hour of sweaty dance class, we (my crew of fellow fit Mamas) would often hit the weight room together or the track to add a little more time to our routines (we maxed out that YMCA 2 hour childcare policy on the daily!).  It was a combination of physical gain and mental release to carve out 2 hours every morning for exercise.  I made some of my dearest friends in that building and we are still very close to this day.

But, as life does, things changed.  My “part-time hobby” of photography began to take over more and more of my time.  Between 2010 and 2012, my 5-6 hours/week hobby became a full-time, 40 hour/week job.  Time was my most limited resource and slowly but surely, my YMCA perfect attendance record was broken.

My goals shifted from looking fit in a bikini towards growing my company.  I just couldn’t be everything to everyone and to remain the wife and Mom I wanted to be, I had to let “fit Julie” die a little…..for at least a season.

2012-2107 were amazing in so many ways.  I had somewhat accidentally launched a company with no business education or experience.  It was a thrill to listen to podcasts and read business books and watch the fruits of my labor bloom.  Happy client after happy client meant we were doing something right.  Hiring more employees and moving into larger space was thrilling in so many ways.  Every goal we would set was realized (by God’s grace!) with enough determination, strategy and good ol-fashioned HUSTLE.  My 30s took a turn I never dreamed they would and it fulfilled me in so many ways.

Until it was time to walk into my closet.

That’s when I could no longer avoid the ugly truth.  I’ve said it a thousand times over….”as working Moms, we CAN have it all, but NOT all at the same time”.  In my opinion, *balance* is a unicorn.  It doesn’t really exist.  During some seasons the pendulum swings more in the direction of work, some seasons in the direction of marriage/family and some seasons in the direction of your EVER GROWING REAR END:)

So, after some soul-searching, I decided to push the pendulum back in my own direction.  Old South is alive and well and I am not interested in adding to our company’s size anytime soon so….2018 will be the year I bring “fit Julie” out of retirement.

I know her well.  She takes that same relentless hustle she applied to growing a company and applies it to fitness and nutrition.

My science degree is actually in nutrition and I worked as a Diabetes Educator/Registered Dietitian fresh out of graduate school.  I’ve trained for a marathon (ran all 26.2 miles!!),taught dance classes, became AAFA certified to teach fitness classes, competed in a Spartan Race and trained for professional dance auditions.  When the pendulum swung in this direction in the past, I knew how to RISE up.

But here are my big takeaways after **starting and stopping** a few times unsuccessfully in the past 2-3 years.  There are SO many things to be done in order to ensure fitness success.  It must be goal-oriented, incorporated into daily life and be achieved in a way that is sustainable over time.  I’d go hard-core strict on a nutrition program (Isagenix, keto diet, etc.) only to lose weight then gain it all back after I realized it was not a long-term solution.  OR, I’d become a Crossfit fanatic lifting crazy weight and crawl home from exhaustion only to quit when my battered hands had trouble even holding my camera on a wedding day.

Failure has taught me so much!

So, I’m taking the notes I scribed from seasons of failure and applying them to a formula for success in 2018.

  1.  HABITS are everything!! Our brains are wired to seek pattern- good or bad.  It takes time to re-program our brains but after about 21 days, new habits begin to stick.  Neuropathways will form around new habits but consistency is key.  Since early 2018, I’ve focused on changing some basic habits and heading into week 4, I can tell such a difference.  Now, instead of my workouts and meal prep feeling overwhelming, I am excited by the challenge AND the changes they are making in my body (and mind).  I am a firm believer in “early to bed, early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy and wise”.  BUT, my morning routine technically hinges on the evening routine I do to set myself up for success.  I MUST clean my kitchen, set my coffee pot for 6:00 a.m., get 7 hours of sleep and lay out my workout clothes AT NIGHT.  If any one of those items is left undone, excuses not to workout in the morning begin to rise up.  To keep them at bay, I must keep that evening routine SOLID.  Then, my morning routine of coffee/journal/bible reading from 6:15-6:55 a.m. and 7:00-7:30 a.m. workout are MUCH more likely to happen.
  2. I will lose weight slowly and steadily.  While it can be sooooo tempting to jump on a fad diet that shows rapid results, I’ve learned I cannot live that way long term.  I MUST lose weight in a way that I can live.  A nutrition plan that can survive and even thrive when birthday parties offer cake, celebrations offer wine and sick days lead to less workouts.  I’m committing to eating clean 80% of the time with a few free meals here and there.  My body responds best to 5 smaller meals/day than 2-3 large meals.  It took me 3 years to add this extra weight and will likely take me 1 year to lose it.  It is truly a marathon and not a sprint so I’m prepared for slow and steady results.
  3. The scale is NOT my barometer of success. So, I still weigh in weekly to track progress or redirect my efforts, but it is not my ONE barometer of success.  There are a million other ways to celebrate success! Yesterday, my jeans felt looser and I bought a shirt one size smaller than what I wore in December.  Also, my mindset is 100% more positive now that my habits are changing.  I have more patience with my kids and kinder words to speak to my hubby.  I’ve written down and achieved more goals at work too.  Getting my personal health in check is like a ripple in a pond with positive ripples in every area of my life.  I refuse to believe a few numbers can summarize all the progress I am making.
  4. I am in a community of support.  Just like the old days with my YMCA buddies, I’m a part of an on-line group of fellow Beachbody ladies.  We share meal prep tips, recipes, workouts, successes and failures.  Knowing I am among co-strivers on a daily basis adds accountability to the mix and I *need* that.
  5. I workout at home. I cannot overstate my former love for classes.  Teaching dance and taking Zumba classes brought me more joy than any other type of exercise.  BUT, now that I am running a business, attending 10:30 a.m or 12:15 p.m. classes really cuts into my work days.  I would plan to go day after day but as soon as my e-mail inbox began filling up at 8:00 a.m., my initiative to go would wane.  I had to accept that for this season, that type of fitness plan wouldn’t be sustainable.  BUT, no one needs me from 7-7:45 a.m. every day.  My husband has gone to work, my oldest is off to school and my youngest is busy getting ready upstairs.  I bought the inexpensive membership to Beachbody On Demand which has hundreds of home-based workouts that fit my life.  Some require weights or bands, but there are DOZENS and DOZENS that don’t require any equipment.  It doesn’t matter what I wear or what I look like….I CAN do these workouts every morning.  (see #1 for the importance of routines AND #2 because these are workouts I could do at age 45 OR 65 too!)
  6. I take photos to see my progress. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d rather put hot pokers in my eyeballs than take an unflattering BEFORE picture, but I know how important it is.  I took them today since I’m beginning the 21 Day Fix Program.  I will take them again in 21 days to see the results my diligence, sweat and commitment are making.  It is a gift to my future self to see how far I have come.
  7. I fuel my mind with positivity. A part of my 6:15-7:00 a.m. routine is fueling my mind with positivity.  I read my Bible (HE always believes in me and redemption stories ARE the message of the gospel!), I write down and read inspiring quotes in my notecard box, I write how I am feeling in my journal and I plan my day in my planner.  A “can-do-attitude” takes practice too and it is the first order of business for me every day (with coffee in hand of course).  Thoughtout the day too, when I’m working at my desk (editing, etc.), folding laundry or driving to a meeting, I listen to podcasts.  I subscribe to about 15 different programs so there is always something inspiring to listen to.  I LOVE stories of how fellow entrepreneurs built their businesses/raised them from the ashes, how fellow Moms run their households successfully, favorite ministers preaching about God’s love and grace, etc.  CHOOSE what enters your mind and your life WILL reflect what fills your heart.
  8. I will forgive myself for hiccups and remember I’m only one decision away from getting back on track.  Remember #2 where I said I wanted to lose weight in a way I could truly live? What I mean is that I must anticipate times when junk food or fast food will inevitably overtake my willpower.  I am human after all and mmmm….cheesecake is so delish…..BUT, if I chose to eat something off-plan or skip a workout, I will remind myself that I’m only one decision away from getting back on track.  Stick to my habits/routines and all will be well.  Life will go on but I will not slash all 4 of my tires should one go flat!!
  9. You can’t out-exercise poor nutrition.  It takes planning to eat well.  It take 2 grocery trips/week for my family.  My big trip is Sunday but a smaller one for produce/milk on Wednesday is in the plan too.  I decide on at least 3 healthy meals to cook each week (and take leftovers for lunch) and always have healthy snacks prepped and ready.  Driving through Chick-fil-A is not my go-to anymore.  I am capable of providing healthy meals for my family if I plan.  PLUS, we are saving money and feeling better because of the nutrition I can provide at home.  I do plan to eat out 1-2 times on the weekends but overall, our choices are improving every single week.  And nights on the couch with wine in hand….well….those are dying a slow death too:)
  10. Self-confidence is about making promises to yourself and keeping them. One of the most rewarding feelings is writing out my to-do list in my planner and getting to check off the majority of them at the day’s end.  My morning routine sets me up for physical and mental success and every area of my life is improving.  I have more energy at work and renewed passion for my job.  I’m putting my oxygen mask on first so I can actually help others.  It feels so good to commit to becoming the best version of myself- in every area of my life.

So, if you are interested in my journey, I’m updating daily on my Instagram account @wholeheartedentrepreneur.  I fully expect this process to take a full year for me.  It took 3 years to gain the weight and the journey back to fit Julie will be a long one.  But, I’m committed to finding the joy in the journey and I’d love for you to join me.  Life is better lived in community- both business and personal- and there is always room for more friends at my table.