The ceremony gazebo at Alexander Homestead

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A Hidden Gem in Charlotte

Alexander Homestead is a pristine and beautiful wedding venue located right in the heart of Charlotte! It’s truly a hidden gem in the middle of a busy city. I had the honor of an interview with Mallory from the Alexander Homestead. Daniel & I will be returning to there later this year to shoot a beautiful wedding! I’ve already got so many wonderful ideas and I can’t wait to see it with all of the beautiful fall colors.

For now tho, here are a few photos I took and Mallory’s interview so you can see all this amazing venue has to offer!

An Interview with Alexander Homestead

– What’s the history of such a beautiful venue?

Hezekiah Alexander was one of the founding fathers of Charlotte and the main homestead house belonged to his grandson. It was built in 1903 and sat abandoned for 30 years. There was a lot of restorative construction to bring the house back to it’s current condition. The current owners have a background in historical restoration and opened it as a bed and breakfast. After a lot of prayer they decided to open Alexander Homestead as a wedding venue and built the gorgeous barn that now provides a beautiful reception space. Their first year in business they prayed for 30 weddings and ended up with 60! Now they average anywhere from 100-130 events a year!

– What’s the inspiration behind Alexander Homestead?

They wanted to restore the historical integrity of the house and also offer a centrally located barn to the community of Charlotte. Most barn wedding venues are located at least an hour out side of Charlotte and having one in the city would provide couples with a closer option.

– When did Alexander Homestead become a wedding venue?

They officially opened as a wedding venue in 2011.

– How would your ideal bride decorate your venue?

Any kind of natural element goes very well with the barn. The greens & colors pop nicely against all of the wood. Old farm tables, lanterns, and thick wood slices all go well with the barn especially!

– How many guests can you accommodate?

225

– How many weddings do you host a weekend?

We can do one every day of the week and 4 in a weekend. 1 on Friday, 2 on Saturday, and 1 on Sunday.

– Do you offer rentals of any kind?

We are an all inclusive wedding venue. Christi West is our events manager and she will work with the preferred vendor list to create one contract through the Homestead so it’s easy and effortless for our couples. That includes florist, baker, DJ, officiant, caterer, and rentals. We have chairs, tables, linens, and many more options to create your custom wedding design! We also have a full staff to take care of setup and tear down.

– What is your favorite aspect of Alexander Homestead?

The doors open on the barn! We try to create little moments through out the day to keep the guests interested and excited. We have a beautiful moment during the reception where we slide the doors open and reveal the grounds. Most people don’t even know they open!

– What’s the best way to get in touch with Alexander Homestead?

Website: Alexanderhomesteadweddings.com
Email: Mallory@ahweddings.net
Phone: (704) 737-1023 
Instagram: @AlexanderHomestead
Facebook: Alexander Homestead

The gates as your enter Alexander Homestead

The gates that lead into Alexander Homestead

 

The main houseThe main house of Alexander HomesteadThe front doors at Alexander Homestead in Charlotte, NCFront porch at Alexander Homesteady in CharlotteCute bench with sign at the Alexander Homestead

 

 

The main entrance to Alexander Homestead in Charlotte

The bridal suite

The bridal suite building and main house at the Alexander HomesteadThe bridal cottage suite at the Alexander Homestead in Charlotte NCThe front porch at Alexander Homestead's bridal suiteThe bridal suite at Alexander Homestead is for girls onlyMain entrance to the bridal suite loft at Alexander HomesteadThe entry way and stairs to the bridal suite at Alexander HomesteadAlexander Homestead has lots of love reminders all over their bridal suiteThe main living area at the Bridal suite at Alexander HomesteadAnother angle of the main living space at Alexander Homestead's bridal suiteThe breakfast nook in the bridal suite at Alexander HomesteadThe bridal suite bathroom at the Alexander HomsteadAnother view of the batheroom in the bridal suite at the Alexander Homestead

The ceremony gazebo

View of the gazebo from the front porch of the bridal suite at the Alexander HomesteadThe ceremony gazebo at Alexander HomesteadThe cafe lights leading to the gazebo at Alexander Homesteadbeautiful flowers in the gardens at Alexander Homestead

 

The reception barnA view of the barn & gazebo at the Alexander HomesteadA view of the creek & barn at Alexander HomesteadThe reception barn at Alexander HomesteadAnother view of the reception barn at Alexander HomesteadThe entrance to the reception barn at Alexander Homestead

The fire pit

The fire pit at Alexander homesteadA wide view of the beautiful reception barn at Alexander Homestead

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Alexander Homestead Charlotte, NC | Friday Feature

Tips for Brides

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The DIY Guide to Taking Christmas Family Photos

I’m a really terrible Christmas card photo planner. Every year I intend to have one of my amazing photographer friends capture a few shots of Daniel and I, but life always gets in the way. 2 weeks before Christmas I scramble to take a few shots myself so we can put out a Christmas card or at least a Christmas Facebook post! Thankfully, there are a few tricks that I’ve learned over the years of doing this that allow Daniel and to have gotten some pretty spectacular shots. All of these photos I’ve taken with a camera & tripod (except the last one. Thanks Mom!). Some utilized a little extra gear too, but you can recreate most of these types of shots with the following tips in the DIY Guide to Taking Christmas Family Photos!

couple poses for a ugly sweater Christmas card with their cat in Charlotte, NC

(2016 Christmas Ugly Sweater Party)

Tip #1 – Put your device on timer mode

No matter what device you use, whether it be a professional DSLR or your iphone, all cameras come now with a timer option. 10 seconds is just enough time for you to set it and get your booty into the shot! Mom is no longer missing! If you want to add even more flexibility to your shots you can add on a remote trigger to your setup. They’re super cheap and reduce the running back and forth to your camera. You can get a bluetooth trigger for most phones now too! Just click a button and the photo is taken!

Couple kisses on top of Grandfather mountain in the fall (First Anniversary at Grandfather Mountain)

Tip #2 – Get a tripod

Stabilizing your camera or phone helps SO much! It allows you to have a stable shot without stacking a tower of books just to set it up (been there done that). It also makes you hands free so you’re able to snuggle up with your family or hold your cat! Adding a more personal element. There are so many cheap tripods out there these days. Amazon has 5 million options alone for both cameras and your phones. I would recommend getting one that extends to eye level at least, some are misleading and you’ll still have to stack books to make it work.

Family poses for a group shot at Thanksgiving in Charlotte, NC

(The Ludke Clan Thanksgiving 2017)

Tip #3 – Use natural light

Now this may or may not help reduce the blinking issue, but it’s a lot easier for your eyes to bear than a bright flash over and over again. Place the family facing a window or go outside. It’s easy to find a few snowy trees or some Christmas lights to stand in front of and sneak a festive shot. This allows for a nice even light source and less shock to the system.

Couple throws snow into the air making silly faces in Charlotte, NC

(2017 snowpocolyps)

Tip #4 – Have fun!

No need to stand there awkwardly wondering “what to do I do with my hands?” Use this opportunity to give snuggily hugs, throw snow, or make silly faces. It’s fun moments like these that truly make a photo stand out!

 

Capturing moments in time are so incredibly important. I hope these few tips will help you snag the perfect Christmas shot this year and for many years to come. If this all sounds like too much work, then I would highly recommend hiring your favorite photographer to help create some gorgeous memories for you. It’s even more fun when all you have to do is focus on being a family!

And without further ado here is our 2017 Christmas Card to you! Merry Christmas!

Love,
Mabyn & Daniel

Couple blows breath into a cold snowy night in Charlotte, NC

The DIY Guide to Taking Christmas Family Photos

Tips for Brides

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How to create a wedding timeline

How to create a wedding timeline by Mabyn Ludke Photography
Creating your wedding timeline can be extremely stressful. Especially if you have to do it all on your own. Here are a few tips on how to create a wedding timeline that kicks butt!

A Traditional Wedding Timeline:

A traditional wedding timeline looks like this:
  • Getting ready time
  • Ceremony
  • Cocktail hour/ Formal photos
  • Reception
 
There are a lot of little spots in there to add subcategories, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The first thing you’ll want to look at is how your priorities fit into the basic timeline. I’ll use Daniel & my wedding as an example (photos not from our wedding day). When we got married our over arching priorities were guest experience, photography, & honeymoon. The honeymoon doesn’t apply here so we’ll remove that and focus on the others. Photography & guest experience both played a big roll in how we scheduled our day. I’m pretty biased when it comes to photography, so we centered our schedule around the best times for photographs!
We hired our photographer for these strengths: moments, artistry, & use of light (especially golden hour). She excels at all three and we wanted to capitalize on those strengths.
 
On the flip side of that, I also wanted to get married at sunset. There was something so romantic about saying “I do” as the sun set behind the mountains! Here in lies the problem with a traditional timeline. Had we kept the timeline above, we would have missed out on our photographer’s keen golden hour skills. We found that a traditional wedding timeline just didn’t work for us.
 Charlotte Photography Mabyn Ludke shows you how to create a wedding timeline
 

A Non Traditional Wedding Timeline:

Our non traditional timeline looked something like this:
  • Getting Ready
  • First Look
  • Cocktail Hour/ Formal Photos
  • Ceremony
  • Reception
 
There are a few unique things here, we chose to see each other before the wedding at the First Look. We also chose to have all of our formal portraits done ahead of the ceremony. This required our guests to arrive at the venue 2 hours prior to the ceremony! We didn’t want to compromise our guest experience, so we opted to position our cocktail hour before the ceremony as well. This insured our guests were well fed and had a good time while Daniel & I were off with our fabulous photographer!

 

A dramatic photo on the topic of how to create a wedding timeline by Mabyn Ludke Photography

Micro-Events:

Once you get the big events sorted, you’ll want to look at the micro events. These events are things like your unity candle, first dance, cake cutting, etc… Scheduling these events is mostly preference.
With a majority of these events take place during the reception there are 2 schools of thought. Get them all done at once OR spread them out through the night.
 
Again, think about your priorities and how they align. With guest experience in mind, we chose to have all of our events together.
We didn’t start our “party” until after the main events (i.e. formal dances & cake) were done. This allowed our guests to leave early if they didn’t want to drive down the mountain roads in the dark.
 
However, in some situations everyone is close by or staying at the venue so it would make sense to pace out your events for a long evening of fun!

Buffer Time:

There are a few places you’ll want to add in a little bit of “buffer time” in case things run late. Three big places to add in extra time is for hair & makeup, if you’re traveling for photographs, or you expect long winded toasts.

 

A hilarious wedding exit at this Charlotte, NC barn wedding captured by Mabyn Ludke Photography
Now that wasn’t so bad was it? You’ve got the tools, now go have fun & create a kick butt wedding timeline!
 
XOXOXO,
Mabyn

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How to Plan a Wedding Timeline

Wedding

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Middle Fork Barn, Meadowview VA

I love that every story we get to tell is so unique! One weekend we’ll be at an upscale hotel shooting an elegant back tie affair. Then next we’ll be in a backyard for an intimate casual event.
For this wedding we traveled up to the Middle Fork Barn in Meadowview VA for a country wedding!
Middle Fork is an incredible wedding venue. It’s nestled in the Appalachian mountains with acres and acres of rolling hills to see.
It was my lucky day because thunderstorms were passing by and gave us some seriously epic clouds! We all know how much I love clouds and mountains and here they are in one gorgeous wedding day!

Keeping it authentic!

Hillary & Will are so authentic and down to earth as is their families. Will loves to keep everyone laughing with his jokes and Hillary’s warmth is incredibly inviting. They make a perfect pair! We were immediately welcomed into the fold as family which we just love! It was a DIY affair and all hands were on deck. Family and friends scurried around all afternoon setting everything up. I loved all the rustic details that Hillary & her family had made themselves. It added a beautiful personal touch to the entire day.
 
When Hillary & Will were ready we got them together for their first look and I was trying hard not to cry! All the anticipation that had been building up burst from both Hillary & Will in tears of joy! What an emotional and beautiful moment.
 
From then on family & friends started to flood in through the gates to get ready for their ceremony. While they said their vows, cows even moseyed over to watch their union! It was literally picture perfect with the clouds, mountains, and joyful moments. I couldn’t stop snapping away! As Hillary & Will exited their ceremony, they gave one last epic kiss before running away to the barn! A signal to start the party!
 
The rest of the evening was filled with home made BBQ, soda pop, and LOTS of laughter. It was truly a joy to witness! Thank you Hillary & Will for allowing us to capture your beautiful country wedding day! We loved every moment!
 
XOXOXO,
Mabyn

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Middle Fork Barn Wedding in Meadowview, VA