Mary and Zeke | Intimate Family Wedding | Burlington, NC

bride and groom share kiss in front of intricate stained glass windows in St. Athanasius Church, Burlington, NC

I met Mary and her daughter while shooting a feature for Muscle and Fitness Magazine. If you think that wasn’t an intimidating shoot, you’re wrong! But as it turned out, I loved both of these physically AND emotionally strong women. About a year later, Mary got engaged to another fellow body builder, Zeke, and I was thrilled when she called me to shoot her wedding.

Mark and Zeke dated for about 3 ½ years and are totally smitten with each other. Zeke has embraced Mary’s children as they have embraced him. Their wedding was more than a union of two people. It was the beginning of a family.

Traci: What do you love most about your beloved?
Mary: Zeke has an old soul and a genuine heart. There are no agendas. He understands love and is a Godly man. He sends me love songs all the time, opens the car door, surprises me with his heart, gives the best hugs, says he loves me at least three times a day. It is love in the purest form. I cannot wait to be his wife!
Traci: What is the best gift ever given to you by your beloved?
Zeke: Her saying yes to my proposal.

Mary and Zeke got married in Burlington, North Carolina at St. Athanasius Church. Built in 1845, this gorgeous church was full of natural light and stained glass.  I felt like I had literally stepped back in time. It now tops the charts as one of my favorite churches that I have ever photographed for a wedding.

Mary looked so beautiful that I almost cried when I saw her. Her dress fit her like a glove. And Stephanie Sevilla from The Makeup Culture did a fantastic job on her makeup. Zeke was tall, handsome and gentle. The entire family was so kind to me. Everything about the day was perfect.

Mary and Zeke decided on a smaller, intimate wedding and they made photography their number one priority – aside from getting married. Bonus from this photography-heavy couple? After the ceremony was finished, Mary and Zeke actually came back to the church and we did a group shot to include every guest at the wedding. These kinds of shots take planning and intention, but to document everyone who was there to support you is truly a gift.

The reception took place at a friend’s home with tents attached, creating an open air space for the party to fold into for dinner and dancing. And let me tell you something…these people danced! It was so, so fun!

Traci: Besides getting married, what part of your wedding are you most looking forward to?
Mary: Family and friends coming together and sharing our day with us – and the photos! No joke here…I am a total photo girl! They are the only thing that STOPS time.

My favorite, favorite picture from their wedding is the image where Mary, Zeke and her daughter embrace each other but you can only see Mary’s face. Their guard is completely down and the rawness of the moment takes center stage in the photograph. I love it when my clients aren’t afraid to let down their guard, to get real, heck, even to cry! When you look back at your wedding album years down the road, those real photos of those raw moments will be the images that you treasure the most. They freeze the feeling, not just the moment.

Mary and Zeke, you are beautiful and kind and it was truly a pleasure to be part of your day.


Traci Arney

I am an overly passionate, slightly obsessive fine art photographer who just happened to fall in love with photographing weddings. Recently I was named one of the top 50 wedding photographers in the United States. I love telling stories so I dig pretty deep into your personal story. We have a blast together and you will be blown away by my images, your prints, and your album!

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