May the Fourth be with you at this Star Wars Wedding! Nerdy weddings FTW!
Hi!!!! We (Elyssa & John Kivus) are nerdy photographers who love magic moments and dramatic portraits and everything in between. We call Raleigh home, but have traveled to every edge of the Old North State. I’m Elyssa, and I’ve got a background in photojournalism. I’m the one who will do something ridiculous for a great photo. John is in charge of technology and making sure I don’t hurt myself while getting the shot. He also takes great photos though! Our goal is to make you cry and/or go “damn we look amazing!” when you’re looking through your wedding photos.
Serving All of North Carolina
On brain tumors and life
I was a divorce attorney. Now I’m a wedding photographer.
Why the change? Brain surgery. Literally.
In 2014, I was a baby lawyer who was miserable practicing family law. Occasionally, I got to do something amazing like help a couple adopt a kid, but far more often, I was dealing with angry, hurt people in a really terrible phase of their lives. Some people are cut out for that work (and seriously thank goodness for them!), but I was miserable.
And I missed photography. I had gone to school for photojournalism and worked for newspapers before becoming an attorney. Photography had been my creative outlet since I was a kid, but all of a sudden I was practicing law and didn’t have any time or energy for photos. I was miserable, but I kept my head down and trusted in the long-term plan.
Everything came to a screeching halt when I had a seizure out of nowhere. Scans showed a tumor just hanging out in my brain like that weird uninvited old guy at a college party, and I was scheduled for surgery. Two months before my own wedding, my incredible neurosurgeon removed that tumor and I woke up knowing I couldn’t continue working in a career that made me miserable.
Having my skull cracked open really re-set my priorities. I had always been focused on the long-term, the 10 and 20 year plans, the traditional beliefs about what success looks like, working as hard as you can until retirement, etc. Then, when I wasn’t sure if I’d even have 1 year left, all of that suddenly seemed ridiculous. I went from dutiful over-working lawyer to: Live in the moment! YOLO! etc. etc. Cliche’s are such because they are true y’all.
So now, I’m several years down the road. I’ve successfully quit law and returned to photography. I’m HAPPY. I love photographing couples in love. I’ve found a sustainable balance too. I still have long-term goals and I save for the future, but I also know more deeply in my soul than most 20 and 30 somethings how valuable our time is. And not just from a productivity/hustle-culture perspective. I feel it from a ‘this might be my last chance to make a difference’ perspective.
Because life is fucking short y’all. So it should be magical and you should embrace every emotional moment you have and marry your person and love the hell out of them. And yes, you should work hard at what you do (and probably save for retirement), but you shouldn’t be miserable. You should be making joyful memories. And you should have incredible photographs to help you relive those treasured moments, because memories can be short too.
A: The feeling of calm that often only happens for like 10 minutes, if that, on a “full” wedding day makes up the entire vibe of elopements. I love how calm and chill elopements are. There’s also more time to create amazing, impactful, and emotional portraits, which is nourishment for my creative heart.
A: Elyssa – Owner/Chief Button Pusher
Q: Is there a wedding detail on your bucket list?
A: I love fashion from just about any time period, so I live for unique outfits! And I would like to photograph dragons, but really any wedding detail that shows off something the couple is enthusiastic about is my favorite wedding detail
Q: What’s a fun fact about yourself?
A: I believe that ASOIAF is the best book series ever written, regardless of whether or not George RR Martin ever finishes it. Does that count as a fun fact? It’s mostly just the most petty hill I’m willing to die on.
Q: Tell us about your favorite elopement!
A: Every wedding is my favorite wedding. I genuinely mean that. I love traditions and I love bucking traditions. The most important thing is that when you look at the big picture as a couple, you say “that was so perfect for us”.
“Elyssa and John are such a joy to work with! Elyssa is high energy while being incredibly well organized. They both provided tips and tricks to get my husband and I laughing and looking way less nervous in our engagement session and wedding session. Within 30 minutes they felt like part of our family. I cry tears of joy every time I look at our photos! Our family dog Gus also gives her 5 out of 5 paws!”
– Megan & Taylor, 2020
Shu & Jamie were surprised with fireworks upon their wedding exit!