Christine + John | Ballantyne Hotel Wedding


This is a big one.  Grab a cup-of-joe and sit back, relax and enjoy.  Christine shared her heart.  This one is for, “Cubby!”

“I love you beyond words, Christine + John.  Thank you so much for choosing KVP!  WE are the blessed ones!!!”


Our wedding ceremony wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned during our seven months of wedding planning, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  It is exactly the way I want to remember it, my wedding day was magical and perfect to me.  It is a day I will never forget, a day that I will remember and cherish forever.  It was a day filled with God, Love, Family, Friends and Angels.  Rain or shine what more could a girl ask for?  I waited a long time to marry John, but I truly believe that he is my soul mate.

Words cannot begin to express my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to you and Steve for your amazing and God given talent of capturing and preserving memories for a lifetime.  You are truly blessed with the awesome ability of capturing memories through photographs so that the pictures tell a story, a story that you want to relive forever.  You guys are truly the best!

So, I have taken some of the next part from my thank-you note to Alli Hall, but I wanted to share with you as well.
The most important thing to me on my wedding day was having our families and loved ones present and having butterflies released at our ceremony.  I know you knew that the butterfly release was in remembrance of my brother, but I’m not sure if you fully understood why I chose to use butterflies and the importance of the butterflies on my wedding day.

My brother was ten years older than me and he died unexpectedly on June 4, 2003.  He and I were very close, he was like a father figure to me and he was always very protective of me.  I always assumed that he would be there on my wedding day.  I struggled with his death for many years, but truly believe he is now in a much better place.

Not many people know this, but when he died, we had not spoken since the day before my sister’s wedding in September 2002.  He had issues going on in his own life at that time and sadly, we were not fully aware of them until after his death.  Long story short, he was in my sister’s wedding and called the day before her wedding and informed us that he would not be coming for various insignificant reasons that did not make any sense at the time.  This created a lot of sadness and drama in my family at the time.  As the peacekeeper in the family, I thought I could talk to him and make him change his mind; I thought he would listen to me if I told him how hurtful it was to our family and most importantly, how hurtful it was to my sister.  After that didn’t work, I told him, “If you don’t come to her wedding, consider yourself with one less sister.”  I was not successful in convincing him to come to her wedding.

Tears are flowing as I’m typing this; it is something that I try to forget.  Many people don’t know this and it is not something that I am proud of, it’s not one of those learning experiences I can “make right.”  I am so very sorry for the words I said to him and I wish I could take them back or make it right.

After he died, I felt a lot of regret and guilt.  About a week after he died, I started seeing butterflies everywhere.  They would land outside the window on the 21st floor of my office Uptown and would stay there for many hours during the working day.  They would stay on my shoulders while I walked down the street and I could not shoe them away.  It was definitely noticeable and I didn’t understand it at the time.  I Googled “Death and Butterflies” in July 2003 and still have the print-out of my search results.  I read so many articles that said, “The butterfly is the most frequently mentioned After Death Communication sign.  It is a spiritual symbol for life after death because of its metamorphosis, or transformation, from a caterpillar that crawls on the ground to a beautiful, almost ethereal creature that flies through the air.  It has also become a symbol for personal growth and spiritual rebirth.”  

During the grieving process, the butterflies confirmed for me that there is life after death and I think God sent the butterflies as a way to console me.  The butterflies and this concept helped me deal with the guilt and regret for the horrible things I had said to my brother, things I can never take back.

Under the search results, there was a link to “butterfly releases,” I had never heard of these before, but I said at that time that I wanted a butterfly release on my wedding day so that I felt like “Cubby,” our nickname for my brother, was with me on my wedding day.

I promise you that I’m not trying to bore you with the details, but I don’t think you can fully understand the impact of your photographs and what you captured that day, without fully understanding the importance of the butterflies.  It was a healing day for our family.

I fully expected Ballantyne to make a call on the weather on Friday,  and I was definitely aware of the fact that there was a 60% chance of rain & thunderstorms on Saturday.  Instead of making the call on Friday, which would have been the easiest thing for their staff to do, they graciously waited until noon on Saturday to make the decision to do it inside.  I was devastated, but completely understood the reasoning behind their decision.  After I looked at the ceremony site inside, I went back up to my room and cried by myself for a moment.  I wasn’t unhappy with the back-up site; I was devastated that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to feel my brother’s presence through the butterflies during our ceremony and vows on our wedding day.

I went onto the balcony with my sister to get some fresh air; I think Lindsey was out there too.  I didn’t want my sister to know how upset I was inside because I didn’t want my family to feel sad on such a joyous and happy day.  I prayed hard for God to help me find peace with the decision to do it inside.   A few moments later, we spotted two butterflies flying near the Atrium area outside.  I said to my sister, “If they fly up here, I think it’s a sign that we should do it outside.”  On a side note, I wasn’t able to order the butterflies from the NC butterfly farm because I was told they wouldn’t fly until mid-April, at the earliest.  The butterflies flew towards our balcony & I had a few glasses of champagne….

I called Alli, the wedding coordinator at Ballantyne, to tell her that we wanted to do it outside.  This required Ballantyne to juggle two different set-up’s, vendors, lay-outs, etc. all because I wanted butterflies.
Kristin, in light of everything, you kept saying, “Go for it!”  Thank you, I will never forget that.

I am still moved every time I think about our slapstick ceremony – flower girl basket left in the hotel room, my brooch falling and breaking right before the ceremony, rain drops, lightning, dark skies, skipping straight to the vows, our Best Man dropping the rings, saying “I will” instead of “I do,” a happy champagne buzz, the butterfly pooping on my dress, etc… – I wouldn’t want it any other way and I’m so happy that I decided on Alan Daly at the last minute to capture it all too!

On a side note, our neighbors told us the next day that we had golf ball size hail at our house at that time; our house is approximately eight miles away from Ballantyne.

The most memorable part to me was having John and our families and friends truly feel God’s presence through the butterflies at our ceremony.  I have a sense of peace knowing that my brother was right there with me (or ON me) during our ceremony.  One of the butterflies stayed in my hand throughout the whole ceremony, even when we kissed and John dipped me.  After we said our vows, one butterfly flew from my heart to my sister’s shoulder.  I think that God was trying to let us know that we shouldn’t worry about her wedding either – he was there with her too.  I don’t know how else to explain it.

I realize that this is very long and drawn out, but I wanted you to fully understand the impact of the memories that you captured for us.  I am eternally grateful.  You may think about photography as your career, but I see it as your calling!

With Heartfelt Love & Appreciation,
Christine & John


To my wingman, Steve – THANK YOU – Always!

Videography – Crown Alley Films
Flowers – The Place for Flowers
Prelude, Ceremony & Cocktail Hour Music trio – Charlotte Strings for Events
DJ – Split Second Sound (Levar)
Minister – Rev. Rebecca Nagy
Hair & Make-up – LRT (of course:-)
Wedding Coordinator at Ballantyne – Alli Hall
Dress & shoes – J. Majors

Boy…do I know this moment with my very own little nuggets.  Little ones!  They have a mind of their own.  When they’re done, they’re done!

“My friend, Alan, giving amazing direction!”

Drew - Wow! What an incredibly touching story!
So glad you found peace and joy through God’s amazing miracles and blessings, Christine and John!

Best Wishes to both of you!May 1, 2012 – 7:53 pm

Alan - Wow! Very nice of Christine to share such an intimate story! At that ceremony, I think we all knew something was very special and meaningful but now I really know why. Very inspirational for all of us!May 1, 2012 – 9:13 pm

avanti - Thank you so much for sharing this story KV and to Christine for allowing your story to be read by us. I lost my 13 year-old sister to a terrible accident 7/19/11. Your photos embrace all that I know you feel, and through them, I literally could feel your emotions as my own tears fell.
Congratulations on your marriage, I am happy that your brother was with you on your magical day!
Thank you again for sharing your story… it has given me a glimmer of hope for peace in it all.May 1, 2012 – 11:49 pm

Mallory - What beautiful photos to capture the butterfly release. The pictures of the bride, and parents reactions had my tears flowing. Beautiful work and lovely story. Best wishes for a happyily ever after marriage.May 2, 2012 – 10:05 am

Bergen - When I opened this. I paused after the first line that you wrote. So, I ran to the local coffee joint, grabeed a latte, and came back to sit down and read this post. How touching to say the least. I looked through the photos first then went on to read the post. I am so touched and teary eyed. Beautiful capture on the butterfly that stayed right by her. Pure proof that life after death is glorious and a lot of love were certainly right there with them. Rain is a sign of good luck. Congrats to a beautiful couple! Loved reading this. xoMay 2, 2012 – 10:48 am

Rebecca A. Nagy - It was an HONOR to officiate your wedding! I loved working with you in designing your ceremony – and so happy that the rain held out for us to do your dream ceremony outside! Love and blessings to you both!! Rev. NagyMay 2, 2012 – 11:09 am

Christine - Thanks to everyone for your sweet comments. God is great; He works in mysterious ways!

Avanti- I am so very sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. I know you must feel a tremendous amount of loss. I trust whole heartedly that everything is in HIS time, but it takes time to find peace with any loss. I feel blessed to have found peace, but it never makes the pain go away. I wish you lots of love and peace and butterflies. Look around, I know your sister’s angels are all around you. God bless you!!!May 2, 2012 – 3:47 pm

Holley - Christine-who made your bridesmaid’s dress? I love it!May 23, 2012 – 11:02 pm

Christine - Holley – Thanks!! My sister’s dress is Lilly Pulitzer.May 29, 2012 – 2:07 pm

WEDDING DAY MAKEUP + HAIR » Lindsey Regan Thorne - […] is definitely one of those posts where you’ll want to read HER STORY at photog’s KRISTIN VINING’s blog… worth every second and every tear.  Very […]July 10, 2012 – 8:30 am

Dawn {The Alternative Wife} - I have goosebumps reading this! What a story. And what a beautiful memories you captured so perfectly! Just gorgeous! xoxoJuly 10, 2012 – 8:59 am

kristinvining - Thanks so much, Dawn!! xoJuly 10, 2012 – 12:13 pm

Shannon Weatherly - Best story ever!!!July 10, 2012 – 1:17 pm

kristinvining - The greatest ever, Shannon!July 11, 2012 – 12:20 am

JMajor's Bridal Blog » Blog Archive » Feature Friday: Real Brides - […] Vining Photography of Christine’s lovely dress and lovely Summer 2012 wedding….click here for more images on KVP’s […]March 29, 2013 – 10:14 am

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