Tying the Knot, Tar Heel-Style

Chapel Hill Photographer Heba Salama Captured This Tar Heel Wedding at The Carolina Inn

Chris and Ashley’s relationship began, as many Chapel Hill love stories do, on UNC’s campus. Chris, a Charlotte native, asked Ashley the evening before the first day of classes if he could walk her to a journalism course they were both enrolled in. In the following months they attended fraternity and sorority events together, and made their relationship official.

Several years later, Chris proposed while they were celebrating Independence Day with family at Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina, on July 3, 2019. The pair felt like it would only be right to host get married in Tar Heel territory. They hired Chapel Hill wedding photographer Heba Salama Photography to capture every minute of their Tar Heel wedding, from group photos at the Old Well to Carolina blue details.

A Tar Heel Wedding in Chapel Hill

After celebrating eight years together as a couple and postponing their original wedding date in July 2020 due to the pandemic, Ashley and Chris got married on March 13, 2021, at Newman Center Catholic Church, with a reception at The Carolina Inn. Despite the wait, they still got to share their first kiss as husband and wife just a few blocks away from where they first met. There really couldn’t be better way to tie the knot as a Tar Heel!

Ashley and Chris had their hearts set on celebrating at The Carolina Inn from the very start of their wedding planning process. The pandemic required the couple to toss their original plan for a summer wedding in 2020. Still, they were happy to be able to get married the following spring, albeit with a smaller guest list, and dance the night away on the Inn’s lawn.

“The Carolina Inn was always our dream reception venue and we couldn’t have imagined a more perfect celebration. The team was so helpful along the way through our many changes and helped us host a safe, fun and beautiful reception that we will remember forever,” Ashley says. The Inn’s black-and-white tiled halls certainly made for some gorgeous photos.

Chapel Hill Wedding Photographer Heba Salama

“Heba was amazing to work with and captured our day perfectly,” Ashley says. “She came to Nashville in late 2019 to shoot our engagement photos, and we knew from that moment that we’d found the perfect photographer. She gave great advice leading up to the wedding day and was a calming presence through the entire process.” 

Unique Wedding Portraits by Heba Salama Photography

Heba’s skill at shooting one-of-a-kind portraits clearly resulted in stunning photographs of the bride and groom. Chris’s white suit jacket pops in black and white photos, and Heba used UNC campus landmarks as an impactful backdrop for group shots of the wedding party.

“[Heba] got through all of our photos efficiently, and the finished products are stunning!” Ashley adds.

Celebrating a Chapel Hill Wedding at The Carolina Inn

Ashley and Chris originally wanted to have their reception in one of the Inn’s six traditional ballrooms. But, they opted for a tented outdoor reception instead. Chandeliers, a black-and-white tiled dance floor and string lighting added the elegant elements of a ballroom to the open-air tent.

“Luckily, we found a date that worked for all of our existing vendors. Our planning team and our families were incredibly helpful as we navigated all of the changes and shifted from a ballroom reception to a tented celebration on the Inn’s front lawn,” Ashley says.

The Inn also provided catering in-house, which helped to minimize stress on the day. “From the cocktail hour appetizers to the dinner itself, the food was spectacular! Our guests loved the menu and The Carolina Inn made everything simple for us,” Ashley says.

Carolina Blue

The couple incorporated Carolina blue accents to their light gray, white and silver decor. Only fitting for a Tar Heel wedding in Chapel Hill! To carry the color scheme throughout the wedding day, bridesmaids’ bouquets included blue hydrangeas – Ashley’s favorite flower. For the reception, simple yet elegant dishes, linens and decor from CE Rental let floral centerpieces stand out. Guglhupf Bakery provided a classic two-tier cake.

“I think all of our friends and families will attest that UNC and our time there is so important to both of us,” Ashley says. “So having our dream Chapel Hill wedding was very reflective of that.” Celebrating their marriage in the town where they’d met made every minute even more special.

After almost a yearlong delay, the couple wouldn’t change a thing. “Our team of vendors took care of everything in the days leading up and day-of, so Chris and I could just relax, and that made all the difference.” 

During the reception, party band Spare Change kept guests dancing all night while ZimZoom Photo Booth added to the fun. Of course, Ashley and Chris ended the night with a lively Carolina blue pom-pom sendoff!

When looking back it’s not hard for Ashley to pick out her favorite moment. She loved watching her guests take to the dance floor. She says it was amazing to see friends and family celebrate after such a long planning process.

“It was our first time seeing live music and gathering with people in a year,” she says. “And it was so special to be surrounded by people who love us and wanted to celebrate our love story!” Ashley advice for engaged readers? “Enjoy the process as much as you can and work with vendors you trust!”

If you love Chapel Hill photographer Heba Salama’s work, click here to see more.

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