Choosing the Most Ideal Time of Day for Your Wedding Ceremony

Once your wedding date has been set, you’ll want to decide what time you will get married.  Clients often approach us to ask what the most optimal window of time is for pictures on their wedding day.  Engaged couples tend to lean towards an emphasis on photography when deciding what time their wedding ceremony should take place.  Photography of your wedding day should absolutely be one of your top 3 priorities.  Once you’ve exchanged vows, performed your first dance, and tossed the bouquet, the images documenting these memories are one of the few mementos you will have to reflect back on your big day for years to come.  While we understand the importance of photography on your wedding day, we also feel your event should not be a photo shoot.  There are multiple factors to consider when selecting the most ideal time to proceed down the aisle.  Our advice is to place the following vendor services in order of priority and base your decision on the most important one to you for your celebration.

Photography – The most optimal opportunity for photography is later in the afternoon approximately an hour and ½ to 2 hours prior to sunset.  The reason for this is due to weather and conditions in the sky if you plan to take pictures outdoors or will be saying “I do” in the walled garden.  By this point in the day, the sun has dropped lower in the sky behind the trees.  The best weather conditions for pictures are an overcast sky with plenty of cloud coverage.  These conditions allow your guests to watch you say your vows and smile for pictures without squinting.  Finding shaded areas under trees with back lighting also creates an ideal backdrop for pictures.  There are many locations to choose from under Oak and Magnolia trees on The Sutherland’s 6-acre Estate.  With this timeframe, the photographer will have about 30 minutes to capture your processional, ceremony, and recessional.  Once the ceremony concludes, family portraits will take about 30 minutes once everyone is in place and posed appropriately.  The photographer should have an additional 30 minutes to capture shots of your wedding party and moments with just the two of you right before the sun goes down.

First Look – Do you plan to have a first look and have most of your pictures taken prior to the start of the ceremony?  If you are planning to see each other and get a head start on your photos beforehand, you can have your ceremony closer to sunset such an hour to an hour ½ or hour before dusk.  Once your ceremony has completed, you’ll have about 30 minutes to take any additional pictures the photographer still needs to capture.  Afterwards, you can move forward with taking advantage of the extra time you’ll have during your cocktail hour to spend alone or join your guests.

Dinner Service – If you have many small children or older guests in attendance you may want to opt to have an earlier ceremony.  Typically, your wedding meal will be served about an hour and ½ after the ceremony concludes.  This allots enough time for cocktail hour, introductions and your first dance to take place prior to start of catering service.  If you are having an evening event and feel serving dinner at 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm may be a little too late for these guests, you should consider a ceremony time of 5:30 pm or earlier.

Entertainment – We do have neighbors within close proximity to The Sutherland property and want to ensure we are courteous to those around us.  We require all events to conclude no later than 11:30 pm.  With an 11:30 pm end time, the latest you can schedule your ceremony is at 6:00 pm for a standard 5-hour event.

It is a good idea to consult with a few vendors who provide different services when deciding on the best time of day to have your event.  Photographers, caterers, and entertainment providers may have different points of view based on the services they each provide.  We feel it is always a good idea to take multiple vendor’s opinions into account prior to choosing the timing of your event.  Good luck and happy planning!


Newly Improved Event Pavilion

slide-home-at-nightThe Sutherland Estate and Gardens recently completed renovations to the property’s event pavilion to provide a comfortable experience for all guests attending events at the property year-round.  With glass doors installed around the perimeter of the 4,800-sq. ft. pavilion, the facility now provides an enclosed space to seat up to 320 people.  For events with bar service and live entertainment, the pavilion has enough room to provide seating for 275 guests while reserving an area for dancing.

In addition to the new enclosure, the pavilion is now equipped with HVAC to provide a temperature controlled environment.  The Sutherland can now accommodate clients who wish to book events in the colder months of the year.  The new improvements also provide a safe and dry space in the chance of inclement weather.  If it’s windy, raining, or cold outside, guests will be able to enjoy attending events in the comfort of being in an indoor, temperature controlled venue.  The doors are glass which will allow event attendees to appreciate the view of the beautiful 6-acre estate while having the feeling of being outdoors and being protected from the elements at the same time!

On days with ideal weather conditions, clients have the option of hosting an open-air event by requesting to have the doors of the pavilion pushed back.  Each set of doors is on their own track to provide versatility in opening just a single side or all sides of the pavilion.  The doors are designed to open in an accordion style and sit tucked away against the brick columns for guests who choose this option for their event.

The Sutherland is an ideal venue to host conferences, seminars, board meetings, trade shows, team building events, business dinners, networking events, company picnics, fundraising events, charity balls, galas, product launches, workshops, award ceremonies, annual company parties, and holiday celebrations.

The beautiful venue can also host social events such as weddings, anniversaries, family reunions, debutante balls, quinceañeras, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, graduation parties, high school reunions, sorority formals, themed parties, and birthday parties.

Here are some compliments provided by clients who recently held their events in the pavilion at The Sutherland Estate and Gardens:

“It’s a beautiful venue with all the right accommodations.”

“Our daughter had her wedding ceremony and reception at the Sutherland it was absolutely wonderful. Everyone remarked of how beautiful the venue looked.”

“This venue is amazing! The entire property is absolutely breathtaking. It rained on our wedding day, but it wasn’t a problem thanks to the pavilion.”

“It was the perfect backdrop for our wedding day and the pavilion is a wonderful addition!”

“The pavilion is stunning… It is a dream venue for any bride looking for a unique outdoor space. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything!”

We are now booking for Fall 2016 through Spring 2017!  To schedule a tour of the property please contact The Sutherland by calling (919) 556-0140 or filling out an inquiry form on our contact page here.

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Jessica & Brian

When you place two people together in love, combined with faith, family and friends you find a beautiful occasion.  Oak City Films captures this joyful day of Jessica and Brian exchanging their personally written vows and a celebrating with all those who love them.


Best of The Best Event/Banquet Facility

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MODWedding Features Kaitlyn + Tim 10.16.15

Congratulations to our Sutherland couple who was recently featured in MODWedding.  Photo credit to A.J. Dunlap Photography

Vendors include:

Florist: Simply Elegant Floral Designs
DJ: Joe Bunn DJ Company
Linens/tableware: CE Rentals
Plates/dance floor: Classic Party Rentals
Hair and Makeup: Salon Blu at North Hills
Catering: Rocky Top Catering
Ceremony Officiant: Reverend Michael Mullins
Cake: Susan Ellis


Kailey and Billy Godley, September 12, 2015

When you have a bride who was a former wedding planner at A Southern Soiree (who also helped plan her wedding of course!), you know her wedding is going to be something uniquely hers. That was Kailey and Billy Godley’s wedding on Saturday at The Sutherland.


Although the weather threatened to rain on the couple’s parade (literally), nothing could stop these two from having the perfect ceremony.


The atmosphere of the reception was matched by the cloudy skies and soft winds billowing through the sheer white fabric hanging from the ceiling of the pavilion, the same fabric that was featured in the alter accompanying florals by Watered Garden Florist.

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A family style dinner left guests cozying up to one another as the rain came down outside, and some comfort food from Rocky Top Catering such as chicken and waffles and mac ‘n cheese served as some serious energy food for the dancing that was to come.


Brides shouldn’t be afraid to skip some of the more traditional parts of the reception if it’s what they want; Kailey was more interested in having ample dance time than devoting precious time to a bouquet or garter toss. As always, we at The Sutherland believe that the bride is always right!


And don’t forget to display engagement session photos or bridal portraits. Guests love to ooh and aah over them, and you want them to be seen!




Maggie and Daniel Sims, August 22, 2015

One of the most important things about any wedding day is with whom you share it. Whether you’re planning a tightknit ceremony on the beach or a reception bash for everyone you know, the guest list is equally as important.


Maggie and Daniel Sims decided on the latter. Their reception was filled with reminders of who was important in their lives, not to mention most of those people were there to share in the celebration. Check out this photo by Nieto Photography of Maggie and her clan of bridesmaids! (click to enlarge)


Even the food at cocktail hour was reminiscent of family, featuring Maggie’s grandmother’s famous pickles, served alongside North Carolina hoop cheese and Hatcher crackers.

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Water-laden florals adorned reception tables giving the reception an upscale, ethereal feel. However, the grapevine balls (handmade by the mother of the bride!) made the party a little more rustic, not to mention the charming bluegrass band stationed alongside the dance floor.


What every bride should remember is that, no matter your guest list, being surrounded by people who want you to have the most love in your new life is key. After all, signing the marriage certificate and being introduced is only the beginning of a couple’s life together. As always, we appreciate Maggie and Daniel’s decision to start their new life at The Sutherland.


Southeastern Emergency Equipment, August 18, 2015

When Southeastern Emergency Equipment hosts a party for its vendors from across the country, they don’t mess around. The wine-themed party boasted not only an over-the-top gorgeous hanging centerpiece mixing florals and wine bottles by English Gardens, but also a cigar rolling station and a s’mores bar.

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Though this may have seemed like a grown-up affair, children enjoyed themselves almost as much as their parents. In a fierce game of tag pitting the boys against the girls, they used the historic buildings of The Sutherland to shield themselves from opponents.

The main event of the party was undoubtedly the grape stomping competition. Though it took some coaxing at first to gather enough teams to make five heats, once the stomping began, some seemed surprised by their own competitiveness.

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Participants soon learned that four minutes in grape stomping time is a lifetime. Something that they envisioned required little effort left a couple stompers laying on the floor after their time was up.

Stomping grapes was not only challenging and downright fun but also an exercise in teambuilding and gaining trust with your partner. One person had to stomp their heart out, but the scraper couldn’t give up on clearing the pathway for the juice either. Both team members were equally as important.



As SEE showed their vendors this week, each member of the team is equally as important as the one sitting next to you, smoking a cigar, drinking some wine, or eating a s’more.


Kelsey and Tyler Sigman, August 8, 2015

It’s the personal touches that make a wedding your day, not just any other day, something that Kelsey and Tyler Sigman understood fully when planning their special day.


Their ceremony was none other than a southern soiree in which the bride shone with a crown of vines tucked into her sleek updo. Lanterns with florals by The Wedding Woman were featured both at the ceremony and as centerpieces on the reception tables giving an air of summer sophistication to the festivities.

From the friends and family involved in the ceremony, Kelsey and Tyler took communion with their parents after exchanging rings to bless their marriage, to the guests’ willingness to dance the night away, this was a night to remember for everyone in attendance.

For favors, guests were allowed to select their very own succulent plant to take home with them and watch it grow as Kelsey and Tyler’s love for one another would. Succulents are not only Kelsey’s favorite plant but also have a reputation for being drought resistant. After witnessing the celebration of love on Saturday, it is clear this new couple’s love will never go through a dry spell!

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Matt + Elizabeth

Words simply can’t describe the love of these two or the day they shared their vows.  See the magic, the love and all the memories created at The Sutherland.  Here’s the link to see their video from Twenty-One Films.


The Sutherland Pavilion Unveiled

The Sutherland unveiled the 9,000 SQ FT Pavilion… Here’s the story from Triangle Business Journal.



Andrea and Nate featured on The Black Tie Bride

We’re so excited to be a part of Andrea and Nate’s featured wedding on The Black Tie Bride!

October 5th went down in The Sutherland’s history as one to always remember.  Andrea and Nate exchanged vows, became husband and wife, and shared this elegant day with those closest to them.

The most touching was the moment was between Andrea and her father prior to him walking her down the aisle, and AJ Dunlap caught that moment just right!  (Grab a tissue).

The details of this affair were traditional, classic and so elegant.  Andrea chose soft peach for the peonies in her bouquet as well as the linens for their reception.  Her arrangements were exceptional and the band, Empty Pocket, was to-die-for!

This day was truly magical and carefully put together.  The success of this affair is due to the expertise of the areas top vendors:

Caterer: Rocky Top Catering   //Photography: AJ Dunlap //Ceremony: Sacred Heart //Reception: The Sutherland //Rentals: Classic Party Rentals  //Videographer: Twenty One Films  //Flowers: Fresh Affairs //Band: Empty Pocket // Hair: Makeup For Your Day  //Makeup: Primp Salon //Dress: Traditions by Anna  //Cake: Ambrosia Cake Creations



Our Pavilion…

Since our opening in 2008, we have had a series of changes on the property to make it into what is now The Sutherland Estate & Gardens.  This by far is the biggest change yet, our new Pavilion, scheduled to open late March 2014.

Even though we’re in the preliminary stages of it, we wanted you to be the first to see it.

Once we start construction, we’ll update our blog with pictures, so be sure to check back periodically.  You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter @TheSutherlandNC.



A September Affair

To view Martha and Tyler’s day visit:

The day was one they’ll remember forever.  Martha & Tyler’s love is evident.  After making a commitment to one another at Wake Forest Baptist Church, they followed it up with dinner and dancing with some of the best wedding vendors around!

The food was catered to perfection by Mitchell’s Catering and followed up with a night full of great dancing and entertainment from Sleeping Booty Band.

Martha didn’t skip on elegance with her beautiful lace gown from Alexia’s Bridal Boutique and her explosive center pieces from Kelly Odom Flowers and Interiors, Inc.

We wish this lovely pair the best as they embark on their life as a married couple.


Our Awesome Vendors are Featured…! featured some of The Sutherland’s best vendors in this Gallery & Inspiration Blog.

We love how the dainty pink table linen is accented with the edgy bold strips of a black and white sash.  And who doesn’t get a little light-hearted viewing this picturesque gown in the window.

To view more of this photo shoot and the work of A Southern Soiree and Robyn Van Dyke Photography click here …



Allie & Alex say “I do” – June 1, 2013

What a beautiful couple.  Allie and Alex have shared many things over many years and didn’t even know it till they met!  This day they also shared a beautiful day together as they committed their lives to one another in front of all their friends and family.

The attention to details, plated Surf-n-Turf Dinner and gorgeous florals made this the day absolutely perfect.

The peonies and hydrangeas were stunning from Fresh Affairs.

The guests found their seats on this cute display with “luggage tags” attached to burlap that surrounded rustic suitcases, books and more floral arrangements.

We were pleased to have worked with the following Wedding professionals: Classic Party Rentals, Swank Photo Studio, Rocky Top Catering and Fresh Affairs.



Bridal Showcase Tickets – On Sale Now…


Have a cocktail and book all your wedding vendors in one night.

All the fabulous vendors are set for The Sutherland Bridal Showcase Friday, March 8, from 6:00pm until 9:00pm.  We have been busy talking and meeting with the area’s premiere wedding vendors so you can choose from the best for your BIG day.

Taste and savor delicious cuisine from a variety of our preferred caterers and cake bakers. Inhale the sweet smell of decadent florals from the most talented florists around town.  Ooh and Aah at most incredible photography work from only the best photographers in the area.  …And you can’t forget the the music!  We work with only the best DJ’s at The Sutherland!

Tickets are available on-line and are $10 per person.  All 2013/2014 booked Sutherland Brides are FREE.  Proceeds from ticket sales benefit InterAct of Wake County.

For more information or to make a donation to InterAct of Wake County visit their website at

Click here to purchase your ticket.


The Sutherland Bridal Showcase

Tickets go on sale this weekend for The Sutherland Bridal Showcase scheduled for Friday, March 8 from 6pm-9pm.  It will be a night of cocktails, candlelight, and giveaways.

The most elegant display of vendors will be there.  It will include the area’s best Caterers, Rentals, Bakers, Planners, DJ’s, Florists and Photographers in the industry.

Feel, taste, experience and take a glimpse into your wedding day. Get ideas. Talk with our premiere vendors. All together, at one time, all for you.

Tickets are $10/ per person and FREE of charge for all 2013/2014 Booked Sutherland Brides.  Proceeds from ticket sales benefit InterAct of Wake County.

For more information or to make a donation to InterAct visit their website at Interactof .

Check back for details…


The Sutherland Bridal Showcase

We’re so excited to announce The Sutherland Bridal Showcase!  Mark your calendar for Friday, March 8 from 6pm-9pm, for a night of cocktails, candlelight, and giveaways.

The key to having the perfect wedding and reception is finding the right wedding venue along with the right vendors.  We will present the most elegant display of vendors at The Sutherland Bridal Showcase.  These include the area’s best Caterers, Rentals, Bakers, Planners, DJ’s, Florists and Photographers in the industry.

Feel, taste and experience a glimpse into your wedding day.  Get ideas.  Talk with our premiere vendors.  All together, at one time, all for you.

Make it a date!

For more details, please check back…


Karin and Jon — October 13, 2012

Every wedding that happens on The Sutherland’s grounds is extremely special, but seeing our close friends Karin and Jon tie the knot on the property held a very close place in our hearts.


We must say, the country chic theme wears well on The Sutherland’s historic grounds! As always, The Purple Poppy Florist found the perfect way to tie all of this together with these stunning burlap-wrapped florals hanging from chairs down the aisle.

Lanterns and framed chalkboards served as the perfect centerpieces, adding a touch of country charm to every table. The look was completed, of course, with mason jars for all and natural wooden spheres hanging from the top of the tent. A special thanks to Rocky Top Catering for filling these tables with amazing eats for the guests!

If you have any kind of sweet tooth like some of us at The Sutherland, you would’ve fallen head over heels (or loafers) for this to-die-for cupcake display. The ‘cupcake cake’ made for a grand statement piece at the Chmelo’s wedding and we can affirm that attendees enjoyed gobbling this display right up!

We’re so happy you spent your big day with us, Karin and Jon! We can’t wait to see what’s next for the both of you; we know you have an amazing and successful future ahead!

Oh, and we couldn’t resist throwing in some of Ashley Perry Blevins’ photos from throughout the couple’s special day. What gorgeous, gorgeous images! Thanks Ashley!





Rachel and Brooks — October 7, 2012

We’re so glad the newly-married Rachel and Brooks Adamo chose The Sutherland for their October 7 wedding. It was one filled with family, friends, a lot of love, and a lot of fun!

Neil Boyd spent the day with us as well, snapping away at the happy duo and their guests. He also captured what’s sure to be some amazing shots of the warm and natural hues ribboned throughout our grounds. The colors were perfectly themed for the beautiful fall day!

Who wouldn’t love this beer and wine bar!? We know Rachel, Brooks, and their guests did! It helped contribute to an amazingly fun time as many danced throughout the end of the evening to tunes by Anything Music DJs.

Rachel and Brooks were so creative; each table number also doubled as a message envelope for the guests to drop cards of advice into for the newlyweds’ future anniversaries!

Catering Works was also to thank for a job well-done on providing delicious snacks and entrees to the Adamos and all of their guests.

We’re so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience another amazing couple say ‘I do’ on our property. Enjoy the unlimited happy years ahead, Rachel and Brooks!


Mallory and Alan — October 6, 2012

Fall has finally fell upon us here at The Sutherland, making the weather cooler, the hues warmer, and the scenery possibly even more beautiful. Take the backdrop for Mallory and Alan’s Oct. 6 wedding, for example. We think you may just love the beautiful setup as much as we did!

The Tomzykowskus filled their big day with an abundance of rustic, natural elements, which made the perfect pairing to the changing fall colors that surrounded their outdoor event.

We adored the autumn-inspired deep red, orange, and yellow florals that The Purple Poppy put together for the couple. And, of course, the arrangements were beautifully displayed thanks to additional furniture, linens and other décor provided by Classic Party Rentals of Raleigh and CE Rentals.


Between chowing down on a spread by Mitchell’s Catering, Mallory and Alan’s guests partied the night away with entertaining games, a custom cigar bar, and music from the unforgettable DJ Randy Pulley. Attendees (along with us, of course) celebrated the happy newlyweds on the dance floor all night long with the assistance of lighting from Peelman Productions.

We loved playing host to Mallory and Alan’s gorgeous rustic wedding! Cheers to the new Mr. and Mrs. Tomzykowsku!


Fredda and Alex — September 2, 2012

The reception we hosted for Mr. and Mrs. Alex Church last Sunday was nothing short of a blast! The perfectly-pink party began at 5 p.m., with Jason from Island Sound DJ bringing the beats to a close at 11 p.m.

Tracy Adams of Adams & Events Planning pulled together an amazing celebration that included catering by Rocky Top and floral arrangements by Fleurtations. Fredda and Alex chose the talented Neil Boyd to photograph their reception, and we know the images from the big day will help us all relive the fun, exciting night!

Congratulations, Alex and Fredda! You are more than welcome to come back and party with us any time!


Corrie and Chris — August 25, 2012

Bride Corrie Fair, groom Chris Nelson, and all of their wonderful guests joined us at The Sutherland on August 25 for an evening full of celebrations out on our lawn and patio. The festivities kicked off with the couples’ ceremony at 6 p.m.

Rocky Top Hospitality joined us to cater Corrie and Chris’ outdoor reception, and Fresh Affairs also helped put the finishing touches on the couples’ setup with a charming mix of florals in lavender, light blue, ivory, and yellow.

Here’s a sneak peak of one of many memorable moments caught by Graham Terhune Photography! We can’t wait to see the rest of the gorgeous shots!


It was a beautiful summer night for Corrie and Chris’ ceremony and reception, complete with fabulous vendors, charming guests, and a stunning setup. Thank you for choosing us, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson! Best wishes!


Morgan and Dane — August 18, 2012

On August 18, we watched as the beautiful couple Morgan and Dane became “The Griffins.” But we must admit, the couple wasn’t the only beautiful thing at this wedding. Two hundred and forty guests arrived at The Sutherland to show their support for the two, with a ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m.

This view of the reception is stunning and clean, but the area came to life as the guests rolled in and dined on a scrumptious selection of food from Unforgettable Food Affairs.

A wonderful job by Kelly Odom on all of the floral arrangements; these statement-making centerpieces were truly one-of-a-kind.

These rocking chairs and old photographs created an endearing, personalized area where Morgan and Dane could relax and take photographs.

Why have one cake when you can have three? The vintage suitcase cake stand and custom-made toasting glasses added even more charm to this already-enticing table of sweets.

Between enjoying servings of cake, the Griffin party danced the night away to music provided by Brian Pate Entertainment.

Cheers to a happy and bright future, Morgan and Dane! We couldn’t be happier for the two of you!


Mandy and Ray — June 23, 2012

Ray and Mandy’s day of nuptials was truly exciting, filled with cherishing moments and sweet surprises. The couple worked with the lovely Megan of A Southern Soirée to tie together a sweet theme of blue and freshly-pink florals from The English Garden Florist.

Michael Moss captured the day on camera, while Heart Stone Films captured it on video. We can’t wait to see the final results!

During the couple’s reception, Ray surprised his new bride  with a puppy she’d fallen in love with. We love Little Beau and were happy to have him on the property for the day!

The Wow Factor Cakes created a unique and adorable custom monogram for Ray and Mandy’s cake, which was finished off with matching florals and silver accents. The rest of Ray and Mandy’s food was provided by Rocky Top Hospitality.

Ray, Mandy, and Little Bear- we were over the moon to share your special day with you!


Heather and Nick Salvatore — June 8, 2012

One of our favorite parts about hosting weddings here at The Sutherland is all the wonderful people we get to meet along the way. We felt no different about Mr. and (now) Mrs. Salvatore and their wedding party and guests. We hosted the couple’s ceremony at the walled garden at 5:30 p.m., followed by cocktail hour on the Grooms Terrace and a reception on The Oaks Patio.

Heather Lauffer blew everyone out of the water with all of her stunning shots, capturing each and every personality that this celebration had to offer.

A few of our favorites? These shots of Nick meeting his bride at the altar.

But, of course, we couldn’t fail to mention these perfectly-captured moments either. As you can see, we had a blast with this wedding party! We especially adored this mother-and-son dance … perhaps the newest trend?

Best wishes, Heather and Nick! We truly loved worked with you and sharing your special day!


Ashley and John Riddick — June 2, 2012

Gorgeous weather and stunning decor in shades of ivory and green surrounded Ashley and John’s big day. Guests dined on delectables from Mitchell’s Catering under a fabric-draped tent, and the party didn’t stop there, as our friends from Joe Bunn DJ Company closed out the exciting night.


Their five-tier ivory cake stole the show, wowing not only guests, but us as well! And, a special thanks goes out to Shawn Schindler, wedding director for John and Ashley’s special day.

Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Riddick! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the two of you!