To Have and To Hold (Laura & Michael)

Rémy Thurston Photography

“Laura and Mike are the rare example of two people that can love out loud despite both being mild mannered,” says Rémy Thurston of Rémy Thurston Photography. “The bashful way he looks at her, and the constant amused smile she can’t hide when she’s near him are proof of that. What an opportunity to be able to capture such a connection.”

Laura Houston and Michael Graff owe their love story to pancakes. They met at a charity breakfast event at The Fig Tree Restaurant. Michael, 38, attended the breakfast with his coworker, while Laura, 31, was working the event. The meeting was quick, but the two started messaging the next day and went on a date a little over a month later.

“We just seemed to fit, from the very beginning,” Laura says.

After they met up for drinks and ended up talking for three hours, Michael invited her to a concert for a band called Shovels & Rope in Charleston. Both Michael and Laura loved their opening song, “St. Anne’s Parade,” instantly connecting with the line “this life may be too good to survive.”

Michael proposed during a weekend trip to Pinehurst in April 2017. One morning, Laura woke up before him and went to grab some food, unintentionally messing up Michael’s proposal.

“I’d planned room service, and Laura was off getting breakfast before it could even get there,” Michael says. But he ordered pancakes anyway, reminiscent of the time they first met. When breakfast was delivered, Michael told Laura to close her eyes as he arranged the ring on the tray.

“I just didn’t want to spill the tray of pancakes on her as I tried to take a knee,” Michael says.

When Laura opened her eyes, she was shocked. Her first reaction, besides gasping, laughing, and crying, was to ask “Now?” She knew they would get married, but had no idea that Michael had been planning to propose at that time. Nonetheless, she couldn’t have been happier.

They got married at the Mint Museum Randolph in Charlotte with an elegant, simple ceremony. It was only after she chose the dress that they decided to add in some vintage details. With vases and votives at the reception, the copper frame that held the floral focal point for the ceremony, and the classy location of the Mint Museum, it was Laura’s dream wedding.

“I don’t think I ever stopped smiling,” Laura says. “I often wish that we could do it again.”

At the start of the ceremony, a stand of flowers blocked Michael’s view of his bride as she walked down the aisle. He was desperate to catch a glimpse.

“When I finally saw her, I knew why they make you wait. Her big brown eyes balanced the world like they always do, and her hair was pulled back like I’d never seen,” Michael says.

Their first dance was to that same song from Shovels & Rope that brought them together on that first date.

“That’s what we danced to,” Michael says. “That’s what we continue to dance to. That’s what we’ll dance to as long as we can dance.”

Today, Michael is a freelance writer and the former editor of Charlotte Magazine and Laura is an account executive with a public relations firm.

Vendors: Wedding and reception venue: Mint Museum Randolph / Caterers: Flipside Catering / Cake: Samantha Allen, pastry chef of The Fig Tree Restaurant / Wentworth & Fenn / Flowers: Nectar Floral Boutique / Hairstylist: Jeffre Scott Apothecary / Makeup artist: Charlton Alicea, Jeffre Scott Apothecary / Gown: Hayden Olivia / Gown designer: Hayley Paige / Headpiece: Etsy / Headpiece designer: Twigs & Honey by Myra Callan / Bride’s shoes: Dillard’s / Shoe designer: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaid dresses: Bella Bridesmaids / Bridesmaid dresses’ designer: Nouvelle Amsale / Tuxedos: New York Bride & Groom / Tuxedo designer: Michael Kors / Engagement and wedding rings: Diamonds Direct  / Invitations, stationery: Olive Paper / Music, entertainment, booking agency: Time Sawyer Band / Rental providers: Party Reflections / Clergy: Rev. James Ford / Rehearsal dinner: Patio of Reid’s Fine Foods SouthPark / Wedding night hotel: Westin Charlotte / Bridal registry: Crate & Barrel, Macy’s

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