Mari + Phil | Durham, NC Wedding Photographer

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of second shooting at Mari & Phil’s wedding! It was definitely a fun day! I got to hang with the boys (and a couple of their ladies) at the hotel prior to the ceremony. I don’t think that I have ever seen such a calm groom! If he hadn’t been wearing a tux, I never would have known Phil was getting married! After all of the groomsmen had congregated, we headed down to the lobby of the hotel where we met up with all of the out of town guests catch buses to Duke Gardens for the ceremony. And when I say buses, I don’t mean those wimpy party buses, I mean two HUGE commercial buses, you know the ones you used to take on the LONG field trips back in school with the bathroom in the back? Yeah those! It was quite the trip!

Raleigh Sheraton wedding party

Bus Wedding Party Photography

When we arrived at Duke Gardens, we were greeted with beautiful scenery and a WHOLE LOT of heat! I felt so bad for all of the groomsmen in their jackets! It’s a good thing that they chose tropical flowers for all of the bouquets and boutonnières! They are used to the hot and humid! 🙂 Speaking of the gorgeous flowers… the ladies over at The English Garden really rocked this one out! The flowers were STUNNING!

Duke Gardens wedding

When we got to the ceremony area, the best man promptly checked out the scene to make sure everything was ready…


Phil was looking all business prior to the ceremony…

grooms portrait Duke Gardens photography

Because I had been with the boys all morning, the first time I saw Mari was when she was walking down the aisle. Can we say STUNNING? Her dress was absolutely beautiful paired with a gorgeous blue bouquet! Every little girl dreams of how they will look on their wedding day walking down the aisle towards the love of their life, and I am pretty sure that Mari’s dream must have come true on her wedding day!

Durham NC wedding photography

Duke Gardens bridal portrait

I am pretty sure that Phil’s dream came true as well judging by the look on his face as he greeted his bride walking down the aisle! That is a look of pure joy on his face isn’t it? You can just tell that at that moment, there was no one else in the world besides the two of them! (The groom’s mom’s reaction to the left of Mari was pure emotion as well! 😉 )

NC Wedding Photography

Wedding Photographer Durham NC

Mari and Phil had the coolest tradition at their wedding ceremony, one I had not scene before. Before the wedding, both Mari and Phil wrote a letter to one another telling the other everything that they loved about them and all the hopes and dreams they have for the future together. They then sealed the letters in envelopes and brought them to the wedding. During the ceremony, Mari and Phil put their letters in a box along with a bottle of whiskey. If they are ever to have a period in their marriage where things are rough, they are to get the box out, open and read the letters together and share the bottle of whiskey and remember all the things that they loved about one another when they got married. If they never have to open the box, on their 20th wedding anniversary, they are supposed to open them up and drink the whiskey. How cool is that?! What a sweet thing to have!

Wedding ceremonies at Duke Gardens

wedding photography durham nc

Mari and Phil are big UNC fans, who  happened to chose Duke Gardens for their wedding ceremony. Mari made a special request for me to grab a shot of her dribbling her UNC basketball on the Duke grounds just to show her true loyalties. Mari was a trip! She was so exuberant and full of life and often you found Phil just watching adoringly her as she entertained the masses with her bubbly personality!

Carolina Wedding Photography

Weddings at Duke Gardens

Duke Garden weddings

Mari & Phil

How cute are they?!

wedding services at Duke Gardens

The reception was held at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco District in Durham, NC. WHAT A COOL VENUE!! I have to say, that anywhere with brick walls and hardwood floors gets my vote! After Mari and Phil were introduced, they pranced out onto the dance floor for a upbeat and “islandy” feeling first dance. Their excitement was contagious!


Bay 7 Weddings

Bay 7 Durham NC

After all of the food, toasts, and cake cutting was over, it was time to tear that dance floor up! Good-NESS could Mari D.A.N.C.E!!!! I don’t think that she stopped the entire night! The D.J. was AWESOME and played great music all night long. At moments I wished that I could drop the camera and jump in too! 🙂

Bay 7 Wedding Receptions

It was an amazing day with beautiful and happy people! I feel so thankful to get to be a part of the most amazing day of people’s lives and I feel especially grateful to be a part of this one! Thanks Mari and Phil and best of wishes!

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  • Stacy Borelli - June 8, 2010 - 11:18 am

    Hey Tara!
    Nice pics, chica!

  • Jules - June 11, 2010 - 12:24 am

    these are awesome! that reflection is awesome! love how much joy you captured … what a fun couple!

  • Kia Gregory - June 25, 2010 - 2:34 am

    How fun, Tara! I love the image of the bride and groom kissing and the wedding party out of focus in the back! Super fun!

  • Mari - July 30, 2012 - 9:21 pm

    As I was putting my name into google to find an article I wrote in college, I came across this website. What memories! Thank you for assisting in providing us with the most amazing photos that our memory will cherish forever 🙂 Our guests could not stop (and still have not stopped) mentioning how our photos were the best they’ve ever seen.

    Again, thank you for all that you did to capture all the special moments in the day and for all the kind words.

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