Duke Chapel Weddings

Duke Chapel Weddings - Couple in Silhouette of Chapel with Dramatic Sky by Joe Payne

Duke University Chapel Wedding Photography

Without a shadow of a doubt, one of my favourite places to photograph weddings is Duke University Chapel. The chapel is the most emblematic building at Duke University and, dominating the skyline for miles around, it is the focal point of the campus itself. Duke Chapel was built between 1930 and 1935, but with its Gothic architecture has the look and feel of the churches from the Tudor period that I grew up surrounded by back home in England. Probably for this reason, this is one of the North Carolina wedding venues that I feel most at home in. It has a character and soul in its arches, arcades and vaults that just lends itself to beautiful photography and I just love working there.

As a preferred vendor, I have photographed tens of weddings at Duke Chapel, yet I never get tired of seeking out and finding new ways to capture its majesty. Take a look through the gallery below and you’ll notice my eye for composition and light dovetails with the exquisite Gothic architecture of Duke Chapel. As always, I strive to make sure every client’s wedding story is told in a unique style that blends photojournalism with fine art portrait photography. No matter the time of day or the season of the year, My intimate knowledge of the photographic opportunities at Duke Chapel will ensure you have stunning photographs to look back on and remember your day.

Dramatic B&W Bridal Portrait with Veil in Duke Chapel Arcades by Joe Payne

Duke Chapel is also a great venue for bridal portrait sessions or post-wedding sessions. It’s always a lot of fun to take our time and make some images without the time constraints of the wedding day timeline itself. You can see some more photos from one of my Duke Chapel bridal sessions here.

Colourful Christmas Wedding Ceremony with Bride & Groom, Wedding Party, Red Poinsettias & Stained Glass Window at Duke Chapel

A Christmas wedding at Duke Chapel always looks amazing. The front of the altar area is decorated with scarlet poinsettias and the choir stalls are bedecked with wreathes. It really does look beautifully festive.

B&W Photo of First Look in Arcades at Duke Chapel Wedding by Joe Payne Photography

First looks are a really nice way to ensure you and your groom have ample time to get the photos you need at the chapel with the time slot you are given. I love the sheer happiness on the bride’s face in this photo.

Duke Chapel Wedding Photo - Couple's Rainy First Look at Duke Gardens by Joe Payne.

This couple decided to do a first look at Duke Gardens. We prepared accordingly and it made for some beautifully romantic images.

Raleigh Durham Wedding Photographer | Duke Chapel Wedding Portrait Bride & Groom B&W by Joe Payne Photography

Although I shoot at Duke Chapel a lot, I am always looks for new ways to utilise its striking architecture and lighting in my photos. With the image above, we arrived at the Chapel to find the altar had been pushed back way further than it is normally. The gave us the space to take some photos facing back into the sanctuary with the couple framed by the organ and hanging lights.

Beautiful Bride in B&W Duke Chapel Bridal Session Image by Joe Payne Photography

This is another one of my favourite photos from a bridal session at Duke Chapel. This was an evening session in July and a summer storm had just blown through. The light turned beautifully soft and we got this photo as were finishing up at the chapel. I used a telephoto lens to compress the background and pull in the chapel doorway to frame the bride.

Duke Chapel Weddings - Ceative Reflection Image Ceremony in Color by Joe Payne

During the ceremony, I move around discretely to look for unique angles and ways to capture the beauty of the Chapel. There is so much to take in at this beautiful place of worship.

B&W Duke Chapel Wedding Ceremony Photo by Joe Payne showcasing Duke Chapel's amazing gothic architecture.

I always prefer to work Duke Chapel weddings with a second photographer. This allows me the freedom to allow my second stay up close to the altar to get images like this…

Duke Chapel Wedding Photo of Newlywed Bride & Groom Celebrating by Joe Payne Photography

… whilst I am at the back of the church to capture images like these. Once you have been pronounced husband and wife, there are always lovely moments to look out for and capture. The image below tells two great stories of the relief that is felt when the ceremony is done…

Duke Chapel Wedding Photographer - B&W couple laughing during recessional by Joe Payne

and you finally have that ring on your finger…

duke chapel & carolina inn weddings – angel & Jeff recessional looking at ring by Joe Payne

… whilst I am at the back of the church to capture images like this. Once you have been pronounced husband and wife, there are always lovely moments to look out for and capture. The image below tells a great story of the relief that is felt when the ceremony is done and you finally have that ring on your finger.

Here are just a few more of my favourite photos from some of my Duke Chapel weddings:

Duke Chapel Wedding - Bride Getting Ready to Walk Down Aisle B&W by Joe Payne Photography

The bride with her mum waiting to walk down the aisle with Duke Chapel staff making final adjustments to her dress and veil. I use a variety of lenses to capture the feel of the unique moments of the day:

B&W Duke Chapel Wedding Photo by Joe Payne of flower girl fixing dress

A flower girl fixes the dress after the bride has stepped up onto the altar. I’m always looking out for little moments like these.

Of course, we will spend some time ahead of the ceremony getting some bridal photos and group photos with your friends and loved ones in the arcades. Here’s a candid image of the bride and her bridesmaids walking to the arcades to start taking these shots…

duke chapel & cotton room wedding photographer – hannah & andrew

If it is raining, we walk through the chapel’s basement to get those images and I love using the spiral staircase to capture images like these…

Duke Chapel Wedding Photo - Bride on Spiral Staircase by Joe Payne in B&W

Once you get there, we will generally take some family photos first. I like to keep things nice and relaxed as you can see by the natural smiles in the photo below:

duke chapel wedding photos – sara & ross family photos

Color Duke Chapel Wedding Photo of Bride in Arcades on her wedding day by Joe Payne

The bridal image was taken on a January evening right before the 6am wedding service. It was already starting to get dark, but I love the mood of the arcades at this time of day too. It was pretty windy, so the bride was a trooper given the cold temperatures. The whipping wind allowed us to get some dramatic images of her dress and its gorgeous train.

Duke Chapel wedding Photo - Beautiful Bride & Bridesmaids in Arcades by Joe Payne

Conversely, this image was taken before the 6pm service in July. I love how the light changes throughout the year. My experience shooting at Duke Chapel in all seasons means I know exactly how to make the most of the light to get the most beautiful images.

Duke Chapel Wedding - Creative B&W Photo of Silhouette of Couple in Stained Glass Window by Joe Payne

After the first look, this couple took some time with me inside the chapel to get some unique photos. These images are never really planned, but come together organically from a combination of the light on the day, the mood of each couple and how much time we have for portraits within the timeline.

Duke Chapel Wedding Photography - Bride waits in Narthex B&W by Joe Payne
The bride waits for her father to walk her down the aisle. I love the mood and the sense of anticipation in this photo.

Duke Chapel Wedding Photo Silhouette Couple outside Chapel

Wedding Portfolio

Duke Chapel Wedding Portfolio - Beautiful Asian Bride Bridal Photo in Arcades by Joe Payne

duke chapel wedding photo - bridal party on steps outside chapel

Duke Chapel Wedding Photo - B&W Bridal Photo Outside Duke Chapel's Ornamental Doors by Joe Payne

Bridal Portfolio

Beautiful Color Duke Chapel Bridal Session Photo of Bride in Arcades by Joe Payne

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401 Chapel Drive, Durham, NC 27708


If you’d like to get a better idea of how a full Duke Chapel wedding album might look, you can see some more photos from my past Duke Chapel weddings here. These will give you a more rounded vision of how a typical wedding day coverage will look.

If you’re interested in me photographing your wedding, please drop me a line here. I love photographing weddings at Duke Chapel and I’d love to talk with you about your plans!