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Talk about serendipity! I had been wanting to fly over Charleston in a helicopter for well over a year. This random wish was a result of reading about award-winning combat photographer Stacy Pearsall offering a course to do just this. Throw in my fondness for Gray Malin’s colorful aerial shots of seascapes around the world, my preference for window seats and my love of the Lowcountry’s green marsh mazes, and I knew I had to make it happen. I asked some friends if they wanted to come along and share the fun and expense, but no one would bite. I even suggested a tour to my hubby as a nifty birthday gift idea, but he was worried about my safety.  (This, from a man who welds in our garage.) So when Forrest at Lowcountry Helicopters contacted me about shooting two surprise proposals with him a couple of weeks ago, I was giddy. When he filled me in on the details of the highly orchestrated second ride, I was even more fired up!

Colorful aerial view of downtown Charleston along the Battery and White Point Gardens. © Carolina Photosmith



Get this: Andrew was returning to Charleston on leave from being stationed in Arizona. He wanted to propose to Ashley on a helicopter and colluded with his family to put a bug in her ear that he’d always wanted to ride on a helicopter. Per his plan, she arranged a tour over Charleston as a surprise to her returning soldier. Keep reading below for the full story.

helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith003helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith004helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith005helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith006A quick wave through the glass to Ashley’s office, California Dreaming.


As we were flying around taking in the scenery, we approached Folly Beach. Assembled on the sand below were a group of Ashley’s friends with a banner announcing Andrew’s intentions. She was gobsmacked and tearful and so happy! After some weeping and wondering how he managed to surprise her instead, we landed at the airport and she was getting her thoughts together. As the couple exited the aircraft, they were surprised (again!) by family approaching them to share in the celebration. How awesome is that? Sure cuts down all those phone calls you need to make to share the great news. And it definitely made for a special homecoming.


One last surprise: some of their family members were waiting at the airport to celebrate with them!

helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith036helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith037helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith038helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith039helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith040helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith041helicopter_proposal_Charleston_CarolinaPhotosmith042Head in the clouds back on the ground after Charleston helicopter proposal. © Carolina Photosmith

None of this spectacular scheming would have come together without our stealthy, skilled and personable pilot, Forrest. And selfishly, my only concern about the possibility of feeling ill was a non-issue. It was a smooth ride even without a door on my side (the open air prevented me from having to deal with glare from shooting through it). I happily cruised about under the guise of snapping scenic shots until I turned to capture the proposal. It was such a privilege to witness Andrew’s proposal, Ashley’s tears and the diamond that belonged to a grandmother being gifted to a happy girl. Enjoy the ride, y’all!

Autumn marsh smiles at helicopter riders over Charleston, SC. © Carolina PhotosmithI can’t wait to fly around some more. It’s such a great way to see the textures and colors of watery Charleston. I’ll be going back — next time with lots of puffy clouds, cotton candy skies at dusk and when the marsh grass turns a fresh lime green as summer approaches. Marshes make me smile. I hope you’ll share this post and recommend Carolina Photosmith if you or your friends need engagement or wedding photography in 2015. Cheers!


  • Nancy - Gobsmacked indeed. Fantastic!! And lucky you, Jen!ReplyCancel

  • Linda Puig - Love these marsh shots and views of Charleston Jen!! Check out your photos from time to time…Awesome.Linda PuigReplyCancel

    • admin - Thank you, Linda! It was such a wonderful afternoon to cruise over Charleston and hear the proposal over headsets.ReplyCancel

  • Evan Guthrie - Great photos.ReplyCancel

  • Tanya - Wow. So beautiful. What a wonderfully romantic gesture. Great photos too!ReplyCancel

  • Albert Palmer - Wow – what a way to pop the question! Beautiful work CarolinaReplyCancel

  • Alyssa - Aww… I love this! So many emotions captured to cherish. What a beautiful view too! This must have been such a fun experience.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - So darn cute!ReplyCancel

  • Heather J - Amazing! Looks like Ashley has a real romantic on her hands!ReplyCancel

  • Aaron - A wonderful unique experience – and you completely made the most of it! Those landscapes are stunning! Beautiful photography and perfect processing – a job well doneReplyCancel

  • rahul khona - amazing story, really well documented!ReplyCancel

  • Anton Chia - Wow so amazing!ReplyCancel

It’s that time of year again! If you happen to be shopping or soaking up merriment in historic Charleston during the month of December, make sure you print out a free parking voucher and take it along each time you need to park your sleigh. The number of participating garages seems smaller this year, so be sure heed Santa’s advice, and check that list twice! Voucher is good for up to two hours of free time, so put that extra change toward a cuppa joe, share it with a stranger or drop it in a Salvation Army bucket.

When I was downtown yesterday, I thought I would make a quick loop in search of festive decor. Surprisingly, I didn’t find much, but I did catch St. Philip’s in the fog, a few wreaths and some jaunty red rooftops. Enjoy!

Church street as fog lifts © Carolina PhotosmithMagnolia wreaths on Charleston005003001One. Singular Sensation. Or Charleston address. © Carolina Photosmith

Be sure to keep me in mind for wedding photography, engagement sessions, and fun outdoor portraits. Thanks, and happy 70-degree December!


What better time to share a warm sunset than the day after Mount Pleasant had its first record-breaking freeze of the season? On a seems-like-ages-ago October day, I headed up Highway 17 to Georgetown and spent a relaxed afternoon with Shelley, Andrew and Winy (sounds like Winnie, short for the bay she was named for, Winyah). We started their DeBordieu engagement session by the woods, then headed to the edge of the island where Andrew proposed (he cleverly hid a video camera in palm fronds to document that day!) and wrapped up with a sunset cruise with a million birds and no other humans. Pure bliss. Even as a third wheel.

I’m so excited for these two! Shelley grew up at DeBordieu and Andrew’s family vacationed there many summers. They love the place, and it’s easy to see why. It’s extra special because I had the pleasure of photographing Andrew’s siblings’ weddings. Liz and Andrew wed at DeBordieu, and Michael and Sonia married in Charleston. As an added bonus, I will soon have enough photos of Andrew’s mom at various celebrations that we can whip up her own In Style 10 Best Looks spread. It’s an honor to document another big day for their family and for Shelley’s. Meanwhile, maybe these photos will help you defrost.


Oh, typically, the first few frames are to test exposure and help the subjects warm up to my big camera pointing their way. Never mind that the first image is off-center; it’s just so charming I had to include it.


If you like Lion King sunsets or know someone getting engaged, please “like” this post and spread the word. To see a recent DeBordieu wedding, check out McNeill and Patrick’s day.

  • Liz - BEAUTIFUL photos! :)ReplyCancel

    • admin - Thanks for the note! Such a lovely afternoon with your brother and his bride-to-be.ReplyCancel

What a delight it is to revisit images from Lily and John’s magnificent fall wedding! Purple and green is one of my favorite color combinations, and this historic venue is a top choice, too. The Governor Thomas Bennett House, c. 1825, offers spacious sun-drenched rooms for getting ready, cozy fireplaces on chilly days, breezy porches, an amazing staircase and plentiful detailed molding that looks like a wedding cake.

Lily and John, along with their wonderful families, made use of the whole property with a garden ceremony, cocktail hour on the house’s main floor and an elegant tented reception with a fantastic band, led by local Quiana Parler, a familiar face to American Idol fans. One unique touch was that Lily gave each bridesmaid a vintage brooch, which they wore on their gray lace dresses and can use for years! Sha Sha at Loluma and her staff did a fantastic job with all the event design and gorgeous florals. (Full vendor list and links follow at the end of the post.) It was a picture-perfect October day chock full of lovely colors, but I also love their black and white images because they really show off all the fantastic textures: birdcage veil, lace, mossy oaks, garden foliage, architectural trim, the succulents and velvety flowers. Just wonderful!

The reception was great fun and started with a hilarious wigged Beatles number by Lily’s father, which morphed into a tear-inducing toast with props from her childhood. The dance floor was packed, partially thanks to a charming father-son duo that should hire themselves out for keeping dance cards full.


ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith001ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith002ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith003ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith004ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith005ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith043Cards of Humanity for bride and her girls before Thomas Bennett House wedding. © Carolina PhotosmithThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith006ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith007ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith019ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith008ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith009ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith010ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith002ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith011ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith012ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith013ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith014ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith015ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith016ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith017ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith018ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith020ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith021ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith022ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith023ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith024ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith025ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith026ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith027ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith028ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith029ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith030ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith031ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith032ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith033ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith034ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith035ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith036ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith037ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith038ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith039ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith040ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith003ThomasBennett_CarolinaPhotosmith042ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith004ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith005ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith006ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith007ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith008ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith009ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith010ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith011ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith012ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith013ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith014ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith015ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith016ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith017ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith018ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith019ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith020ThomasBennettHouse_CarolinaPhotosmith021

Making it all happen:
Venue | Governor Thomas Bennett House
Event design and coordination | Loluma
Lily’s gown | Annasul Y, purchased at Wedding Angels in Roswell, Georgia
Lily’s minty kicks | Hey Lady at BHLDN
Hair and Makeup | Stuart Lawrence Salon
John’s suit | Joseph Abboud at Nordstrom
AV | CC Lighting and Sound
Cake | Elaine’s Events
Catering | Hamby’s
Bar | Spike/Snyder
Ceremony Ensemble | Classical Charleston
Cocktail Hour Pianist | Jim Pearce
Reception Band | Quiana Parler and Friends

If you have fun friends planning a wedding in historic Charleston, I hope you’ll recommend me. Thanks a bunch!


  • Adonye Jaja - this is beautifully photographed, I love the tones. well done!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Schilling - Wow, this is such a gorgeous wedding! I love the colors, the venue, the succulent bouquets. It’s all amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Albert Palmer - Epic shot the dress from behind!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Oh my goodness I love the ladies in their fancy furs! Too cute, this is a beautiful wedding!ReplyCancel

    • admin - Thanks, Sarah. I had to include those chic ladies! Especially since we don’t have many fur-worthy days around here :-)ReplyCancel

  • Darren Gair - Beautiful coverage CarolinaReplyCancel

  • Teresa K - So full of color and joy! What a fantastic wedding…you killed it!ReplyCancel

  • Anton Chia - Beautiful and elegant and I like it very much.ReplyCancel

  • Elissa - This is a gorgeous wedding… I love the whole styling of it, from the succulent bouquet to the mint-green shoes! The joy in their send-off shot is fantastic!ReplyCancel

    • admin - Thanks, Elissa! They were so full of joy the entire day! So much fun, and yes, lovely and lush, too.ReplyCancel

What a wonderful September Sunday! It was such a pleasure to document a wedding day for a friend and former co-worker. Heather left her South Carolina home years ago in search of adventure on the left coast. She and Brian became friends in San Francisco, and after some When-Harry-Met-Sally years of figuring out whether they should venture beyond friendship, they wed in front of a happy group of people who are so glad they chose each other!

The weather, as is often the case in September, was a bit dicey, but we were thankful for a bit of sun during the couple’s first look photos. The clouds set in shortly afterward, and thanks to the catlike reflexes of MOD Events, plans for the outdoor ceremony were abandoned just before the showers started. The indoor space was cozy and accommodated all the guests with an even better view of the vow exchange. After the Rice Mill wedding, everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner followed by lots of fun on the dance floor. Congratulations, y’all!

ricemill_charlestonwedding001ricemill_charlestonwedding002ricemill_charlestonwedding003ricemill_charlestonwedding004ricemill_charlestonwedding005ricemill_charlestonwedding006ricemill_charlestonwedding007Giddy Charleston bride preps in carriage house prior to her Rice Mill wedding. © Carolina Photosmithricemill_charlestonwedding009ricemill_charlestonwedding010ricemill_charlestonwedding011ricemill_charlestonwedding012ricemill_charlestonwedding013ricemill_charlestonwedding014ricemill_charlestonwedding015ricemill_charlestonwedding016ricemill_charlestonwedding017ricemill_charlestonwedding018ricemill_charlestonwedding019ricemill_charlestonwedding020ricemill_charlestonwedding021ricemill_charlestonwedding022ricemill_charlestonwedding023ricemill_charlestonwedding024ricemill_charlestonwedding025ricemill_charlestonwedding026ricemill_charlestonwedding027ricemill_charlestonwedding028ricemill_charlestonwedding029ricemill_charlestonwedding030ricemill_charlestonwedding031ricemill_charlestonwedding032ricemill_charlestonwedding033ricemill_charlestonwedding034ricemill_charlestonwedding035ricemill_charlestonwedding036ricemill_charlestonwedding037ricemill_charlestonwedding038ricemill_charlestonwedding039ricemill_charlestonwedding040ricemill_charlestonwedding041ricemill_charlestonwedding042ricemill_charlestonwedding043ricemill_charlestonwedding044ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_001ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_002ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_004ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_005ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_006ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_008ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_007ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_003ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_009ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_010ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_011ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_012ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_013ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_014ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_015ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_016ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_017ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_019ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_018ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_020ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_021ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_022ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_023Classic wedding party at Historic Rice Mill in Charleston © Carolina PhotosmithNewlywed portraits on a misty night at Charlestonricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_024ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_034ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_025ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_026ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_027ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_028ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_029ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_030California newlyweds at their Charleston, SC reception. Waterfront wedding at Rice Mill. © Carolina Photosmithricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_031ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_032ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_033ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_035ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_036ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_037ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_038ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_039ricemill_charlestonwedding_carolinaphotosmith_040

Gown by Augusta Jones from Haute Bride in Los Gatos, CA
Shoes by Badgley Mischka
Bridesmaid dresses by J. Crew
Tuxes by Kenneth Cole
Hair and makeup by Paper Dolls
Bouquets and ceremony florals by Charleston Flower Market
Tabletop floral arrangements by MOD Events
Event coordination by MOD Events
Catering by Good Food
Cakes by Sugar Bake Shop (and Coca Cola cake by Jestine’s)
Ceremony musician: Grayson Little
DJ: Nick Zareski, Lowcountry Entertainment

  • Alyssa Schroeder - I love the shot of her dress outside. The bricks and greenery are so fantastic for their portraits too! Beautiful wedding.ReplyCancel

  • JC Page - Gorgeous work – you really captured the love and joy of the day!!!ReplyCancel

  • Adonye Jaja - super well done, you captured so many wonderful moments!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Schilling - This is gorgeous! I love their venue, the portraits are stunning, and the reception looks like so much fun!ReplyCancel

  • tobiah - lovely shots! love the first look and the photos with their little daughterReplyCancel

  • Sarah - So pretty! I especially love the first look, they look so sweet together!ReplyCancel

  • /mariahedengren - Such a nice wedding! I especially like the colors, and the portraits are lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Gavin Farrington - The laughter between the poses during the portraits is spectacular. Great work.ReplyCancel

  • Heather Kanillopoolos - Ahhh that first shot of the three of them together is so adorable!!ReplyCancel

  • Earl - Just LOVE these color tones! Beautifully captured.ReplyCancel

  • Elissa - This wedding is gorgeous. I loooove the shot of the bride walking towards the columns, and then the first look shots are perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Teresa K - What a lovely wedding!! That little girl is completely adorable! Excellent work Carolina!ReplyCancel