Destination Wedding Contest WINNER announcement!

July 12, 2012  •  4 Comments

I'm happy to announce that we have a winner for the destination wedding photography contest I hosted last month. Thank you to the 7 couples that entered and my apologies to the 3 of you who's dates I'm unavailable for. After a long and heated debate with several of my peers and a consult with my attorney I've decided to forgo public voting and choose the winner myself. There was only 1 couple that followed all of the rules and included everything I asked for. One entry wasn't even for a destination wedding but I've got to give them credit for trying. Yes, I am giving it away, free, but that doesn't discount the huge commitment of both time and expense that I'll be investing in my winner. I wanted the winning couple to be people who would truly value the prize I was offering. The way I look at it, if you aren't to be bothered to tell me your story, share details about what you're planning, include a picture and tell me why you think you should win then I'm less likely to believe you'll appreciate the considerable energy, time and commitment I will be giving you. In the words of Lara at Photo Mint; My commitment when I book a date isn't "I’ll shoot your wedding as long as nothing better comes along” It’s a “I’ll shoot your wedding even if my mom’s in a coma in the hospital” commitment. I don't mean to harp on the subject but seriously, do you only half fill out a job application and fully expect to be called back? No, me neither. That said, there was one couple that stood out to me in sincerity and originality, oh, and yes, they put in the energy to fully enter the contest. So without further ado........... The winners are…………………….... Drum roll please...................

Chris Hagen and Amandalyn Jones of Chicago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!     They are having their destination wedding in Charleston, South Carolina.    Destination Wedding photography contest winners


This was Chris’s, yes, Chris’s, submission:  (It's been edited down a little bit because Chris really put his heart out there and after speaking with him he felt like if I published the entire submission he'd be left feeling as if he was standing naked in Times Square. Well, I certainly don't want to punish someone for being honest and putting it all on the line or discourage others from doing it too so this is the official public version.)

Hi Mary,
I saw your destination wedding contest and wanted to enter it - if we were somehow lucky enough to win, my fiancee would be so surprised and absolutely thrilled! Here are all of our details and background on us and our wedding; please let me know if I am missing anything. Apologies if this is too long - it's just something I'm so excited about that I could go on and on... Thanks so much!

Date: November 16, 2013

Location: Charleston, SC
Venue: Hibernian Hall, downtown
Church: Cathedral, downtown
We want the wedding to be relaxed and fun, but didn't want to have a "theme" per se. We just want it to be very Charleston, which is one of our favorite places and somewhere that we want to share with all of our friends and family. More than just a wedding, we want it to be a memorable vacation/experience for everyone who comes, especially those who haven't been to Charleston before.
We're from very different parts of the country, and met completely by chance through a mutual friend in New York while I was starting a training program for a new job. The rest, as they say, is history. Despite the fact that I literally got on a plane the next day to go to Australia for more training, we stayed in pretty much constant contact from that point on - talking on the phone, writing each other letters, and finding plenty of excuses to visit each other's respective home cities. She eventually moved to Chicago, where I had been living, and we've been here for the past ~2 years.
For several reasons (we're from completely different places, our families are scattered across the country, and we live in a different city than either of us grew up in), having a "destination wedding" just made sense, and we decided Charleston was the perfect place. She went to college there and fell in love with it, and through visiting it with her I have come to love it just as much as she does. We also got engaged there. Charleston is a very cool and unique city - it has tons of history, great bars/restaurants and shopping, has a very cool look and feel to it which is equal parts cosmopolitan southern city and beach town, and is incredibly laid back. It's also very walkable - in short, it's a great place to visit.
We're still a ways out from the actual wedding, but have locked down the location and have a pretty good idea of what we want it to end up looking like. The venue is a beautiful old Southern mansion in the heart of downtown, which also happens to be a National Historic Landmark. Although it's early in the planning process, we'd like to have plenty of southern touches - bow ties, drinks served in mason jars, local food, etc. We want it to be fun, and hopefully a bit unique, especially for our non-southern friends and family - we just want everyone to have a great time.
I think we should win first and foremost because my fiancee is amazing, and deserves a perfect wedding. More generally, we just want to give everyone a fun party but also a new and unique experience - most people who come to the wedding will never have been to Charleston before, and we think it's a place everyone should see and experience once in their life. We're not going for the stereotypical excuse-to-take-an-extended-weekend-trip-to-a-tropical-paradise destination wedding (nothing against those of course, just not what we're going for!), and it will hopefully be a more unique experience for everyone because of it.


Now wasn’t that one of the sweetest things you've ever read?  My goodness guys, I can’t tell you how happy and excited I am for the two of you! Congratulations on both your engagement and winning the contest!!  I’m honored to be your wedding photographer and look forward to telling your wedding story with visual artistry!   :)               Now go book that live band! 


Can't visualize it? Its ok, here's some pretty pictures Amandalyn has pinned over on  I'm not showing you any of the pictures of gowns she has up because I don't want to ruin the surprise.  You'll see it next November! Image by Mario Testino via Vogue Image by Mario Testino via Vogue Wedding cake for destination wedding Destination Wedding custom drink ideas Photo by Charles Walton IV

The first 3 photos are by Mario Testino via Vogue. I couldn't find a photo credit for the hair piece but you can find it on Etsy in a shop owned by Amanda Judge called Untamed Petals. The first drink photo had no photo credit and the last one, the drink shot, is by Charles Walton IV. Although I'd love to claim these beautiful images as my own work, they are not and I'm a stickler for giving credit where credit is due. :D 

Comments, ideas, suggestions??????   Don't be shy, congratulate this obviously oh so in love couple! 


PS- There were 92 likes on the blog post that held the contest information. One of you is the reason Chris heard about the contest and that means one of you won the contest within the contest!  So, if it was you, please step forward!  (We'll verify you're his friend or a friend of a friend and then the prize is yours! 

PPS- Thank you to everyone who "liked" and or "shared" the information on the contest!  Stay tuned, I've got more in the works!!!  :D




Key West Wedding Photographer I Mary Veal Photography
Thank you soooo very much for your comments Ashley, Denise and Jessica! VERY much appreciated!!! I feel the same about you guys too, its not as if you're my friend, I feel you truly are. :D
Ashley Kuk(non-registered)
Wow!! Congratulations on winning Mary as your photographer!! As a former client I can tell you that you will walk away feeling as if you made a new friend! Mary makes you feel comfortable and as if you are friends, doesn't feel like a business and that she is doing you a favor. Mary loves what she does and you can tell by her photographs, I can not thank her enough for the time and effort that she spent with us on our wedding day, she made sure she got every picture that we wanted even though it was WAY over the time!! Mary was patient and understanding, even dealing with my difficult 3 year old. I can't tell you how lucky you are to have Mary as your photographer and I think you will be just as pleased as my husband and I are of our wedding pictures! Best of luck to the lucky couple!
This is most amazing !! You are such a wonderful and talented artist that this couple are going to know how lucky they are to have you create the story for which they want to express in photos for everyone to see. I'm glad they won as their story is unigue and beautiful as I hope their wedding day will be.
Good luck to the happy couple and I look foward to seeing the finished product.
Jessica Guizzo(non-registered)
Such an amazing entry!!! They seem like a great couple--totally adorable story. I absolutely, without a doubt, cannot wait to see this wedding come to life.
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