Sealed with a kiss!

Sealed with a kiss!
Laura & Chris' Wedding at JCRaulston Arboretum

Thursday, January 27, 2011

We Are So Honored!

Late last summer, Craig Carpenter, a very fine photographer who owns Luster Studios, approached me about doing a photo shoot and article for his blog about local wedding officiants. He and I have worked many weddings together and I am always blown away by his ability to capture unique moments in weddings. Besides, his photos of me are my favorites, and I admit that I am a bit picky about that. I have used them on my blog and website for years. He has also worked with Rev. Robin Renteria and Rev. Barbara Lodge and thought it would be fun to get the three of us together, especially since we are very good friends and colleagues rather than competitors. I immediately jumped on this great opportunity to be photographed by Craig and contacted Barbara and Robin who immediately agreed.
Barbara, Robin and I frequently get together for lunch at P.F. Chang's at Southpoint Mall to share experiences, discuss policies and services, and brainstorm any problems. So, after lunch on November 3rd we met Craig at this picturesque spot nearby behind Doubletree Suites where I have seen other photographers take couples for wedding photos. I just love the waterfall and the backdrop of the trees and the lake. It was a chilly day and the rain was just barely holding back. However, that also makes a wonderful setting for photos as there are no shadows or squinting and the colors are much more saturated. He told us to wear our favorite wedding outfits and bring our ceremony books. Craig is such a wizard in his field. No wonder he is internationally known and travels to photograph weddings all over the world. We were so honored to be his subjects for a couple of hours!
There was this beautiful graphic sunburst design on the patio which Craig took advantage of by posing each of us in the middle. I love purple so for my signature officiant dress, I donned my purple dress and put over it the beautiful purple velvet beaded robe and my matching purple shoes. 
Craig wrote: I’ve had a unique opportunity to work with some fabulous wedding ministers in North Carolina and the three officiants that I encounter most often are Kayelily Middleton, Robin Renteria, and Barbara Lodge. While each wedding officiant takes a slightly different approach to wedding ceremonies, there are a few key similarities that make them some of the best in the area.

Firstly, they are organized and quite thorough with their preparation in the days leading up to the wedding. I’ve often noticed how smoothly everything seems to happen, even during last minute changes. Having a reliable officiant is a no-brainer, but working with someone that is flexible, can think on their feet and has a ton of experience makes all the difference in the world.

Secondly, I’m always amazed at how well they actually know each couple. They don’t simply learn a few facts and fill in the blanks with their own agenda, but rather take the time to create truly unique ceremonies that reflect the couple’s beliefs and feelings about one another. I can tell that they enjoy incorporating a lot of personal details into the ceremony to create a wonderful story about the couple with a perfect blend of traditional or non-traditional elements.

And finally (and I feel most importantly) they simply bring with them a positive energy that is quite palpable throughout the entire ceremony. Honestly, it’s the little things that matter… They speak with a loud crisp voice so wedding guests can hear. They back their words up with powerful emotion and are often caught carrying a light-hearted smile. I can often see the affection, laughter and sentiment that they help create on the faces of wedding guests.

As a wedding photographer, I can’t express enough how important these components are for your wedding ceremony photos. I sometimes find it hard to capture the true emotions that couples, their family and friends have toward each other if they aren’t truly engaged with the moment. Time and time again, I’ve found that these wedding officiants help create the perfect environment to create expressive memories that will last a lifetime.
I am the "elder" of the three of us. I started my wedding ministry back in 1997 after being ordained and put up a website in has grown to 8 ministers who do weddings in 8 different areas of North Carolina. In 2003, I married Barbara's daughter, Becca, and her husband, Ben, at Coker Arboretum in Chapel Hill. When Barbara and her husband, Bill, moved to Chapel Hill a few years later, at Becca's encouragement, she contacted me about the wedding business and we have been good friends ever since. Becca said that she just knew we would click together! She was right. Barbara was no novice in officiating weddings as she had previously done weddings in Hawaii.  Robin, who was ordained in 1994, geared up her wedding ministry business in 2008. I was introduced to her by a mutual friend, Anita Vick--a former wedding planner, who felt that we would really like each other. Right again! Barbara and I quickly assimilated Robin into our circle and we have been friends ever since, even having regular potluck dinners or dinners out including our sweethearts who have also bonded. This month we all celebrated my husband's birthday together and had a blast.
These two wonderful women have graced my life in so many ways. We all work in very similar ways. We send our overflow to each other knowing that the couples will be in good hands! What a treasure to have such great friends and colleagues!
I tell you, getting out on those concrete pallets is fairly precarious! The rushing water was so loud we had a hard time hearing Craig giving us directions on which pallet to stand, which way to face, what to do with our hands, etc. but it was great fun too.

In the fall of 2009, I did what I call a Cinderella wedding at Doubletree Suites. The bride was brought to the ceremony by a white horse and white carriage that started at the waterfall and came around on that path we are walking above, went all around the lake circling to where the guests and wedding party were awaiting her. It was so visually and emotionally stunning and sooooo romantic!
Here we are at the Doubletree Suites terrace that overlooks the lake. You can see the waterfall in the background.
Barbara is also a photographer and has a really good eye for a shot. She suggested this one when she noticed that the sides of the arbor made a perfect picture frame!
So, three women out standing in their waterfall! We felt like fashion models! Thanks so much, Craig.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wedding Planning Opportunity for Brides, Especially DIY Brides!

Rachel Hamm, a wedding planner with Bliss by Sam, is offering a unique class. It is called:


Saturday, Mar 12 2011, 9:30a.m. - 4:00p.m.
The Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, NC

What a great idea! I have had many brides plan their own weddings and little do they know that it is like having another full time job when all is said and done. Many are absolutely frazzled by the time the wedding day arrives. This class is great for all brides because there are many potential unforeseen pitfalls that can come along if you don't have the experience of planning a wedding. It is a grand undertaking and best done with assistance or at least some good preparation! So, go for it!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Raleigh Bridal Fair Sponsored by Your Special Day at The Stockroom!

On Sunday January 23rd, the Raleigh Bridal Fair was held at a new venue in downtown Raleigh called The Stockroom. Shawn Schindler of Your Special Day invited me to come and I was so glad to finally see The Stockroom for myself. It is a wonderful space for ceremonies and receptions in a restored historic building at 230 Fayetteville Street. It has that popular urban industrial feel to it and is a nice open space that can be fashioned into many configurations. It was fun to visit with other vendors I knew and meet new ones.  I invited my friend Diane McDaniels to come with me. Diane is the Event Coordinator for Unity at Long View Center, an elegant church setting wedding venue in downtown Raleigh that has recently reopened. They are hosting an open house for wedding vendors on February 17th. 
After greeting Sarah Morris, the events coordinator for both The Stockroom and All Saint's Chapel, at the door, the first vendor was Priscilla of Boston displaying their gorgeous wedding gowns. Here are two of my favorites: 
This beautiful wedding gown is so soft and flowing and looks a bit retro with the gathered skirt and sash which can be many different colors, depending on what the bride wants.
This dress is covered with beading and is most elegant. Although it looks like it might be heavy, I was told that it was not. It is so pretty. 

Randy Pulley was the DJ for the event. Randy and I worked together at Highgrove this past summer.  I like him a lot and he was most helpful plugging my microphone into his system for the wedding. Good to see you again, Randy! 
Simpsound was also there although this is not Jeff Simpson, the owner. Simpsound is a DJ and Lighting service for weddings and other events. Believe me, he is great in both areas!  I have done many weddings and admire Jeff's abilities in both music and spectacular lighting. I remember one (it is on this blog) where the bride and groom's theme was 1001 Arabian Nights. With uplighting behind the sheer drapes, it really did look like the interior of a large tent.
This is a display for Alter Ego, a salon for hair and make-up. Dana Hunter, owner /stylist was there along with Belle Trachtenberg, make-up artist, and Alecks Blades, stylist and make-up artist.
Quintessentials was displaying their beautiful table setting. They have a retail store in North Hills that I love to peruse. 
Shawn Schindler, a wedding planner who owns Your Special Day, was our hostess. I have worked several weddings through the years with Shawn and she is really good at what she does. She had a wonderful display of her company complete with the video display which it seemed everyone at the show had. That is the state of the art these days.

I also met Shawn's daughter who has joined her mother and was on hand to learn the business.
This beautiful arrangement was by Greg Warren Flowers. It was spectacular! I don't believe I have met Greg before. He was fun to talk to and told me that I was "famous" and known by everyone in the wedding business in our area! What a compliment. Thanks, Greg!
Diane from Long View Center is speaking with Danny who is with Barbour & Hinton who provide music for wedding ceremonies and receptions. 
Ladyfingers Caterers were providing all the guests with delicious food! I had a heart of romaine inner leaf with a dollop of bleu cheese sprinkled with candied pecans. It was soooo good! Tudi Marin is their event coordinator. They are located on Whitaker Mill Road in Raleigh and cater for all occasions.

Amy Ruchte, the owner of Emory Lane Photography, actually organized this bridal show. I met her for the first time there. She had some great photos. The one in the upper right was from a wedding that was shot in Switzerland.
Ashley Cakes provided cupcakes for everyone. You can see that people were picking them off the tiered display and enjoying them.
Ashley does such beautiful cakes. Here are three she had on display. I am sorry that I did not think to get her to get into the picture!
Lindsay and Lisa from The Paper Company showed us their invitations and other paper treats. They are in Holly Springs and have quite a wonderful design talent for brides to have their own unique invitations, save the date cards, place tags, and wedding programs.
Yours truly posing in front of Greg Warren's pretty floral display. You can see The Stockroom from the other end of the room here looking toward the entrance.
Our final stop as we circled around the room was Red Light Chocolates. That was a popular booth as everyone loves chocolate!  Red Light Chocolates is a family owned business specializing in handmade artisan chocolates. They use only fresh, natural ingredients and no preservatives. They can provide their goodies for wedding favors, bridal party gifts, wine and chocolate parties, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers and engagement parties.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bobbie Sue and Brandon, Finally Married After 13 Years!

Bobbie Sue and Brandon have an amazing love story. They met in 1997 when she transferred into his freshman class in high school in Virginia. He was smitten with her and she with him but it took them a long time to realize this (teenagers!) but by the time they were Juniors and Seniors, they were a committed couple. After graduation in 2000, Bobbie Sue went to college out of state and Brandon felt he was holding her back. Although he still loved her dearly, he broke up with her. They lost touch for many years during which Brandon married and joined the military. It was not until his wife died unexpectedly a few years later that they reconnected briefly. They both were in love with each other but Bobbie Sue felt Brandon needed time to heal and did not divulge her feelings for him. She agreed to contact him again in one year. When Bobbie Sue contacted him on Facebook, she found out that Brandon had become involved with someone else and was not available. However, the other relationship did not last and once again Brandon found Bobbie Sue. Finally she revealed her feelings for him after all these years which had kept her from marrying anyone else. They both told me they thought they were crazy to still be holding on to these feelings all these years later. It is obvious that they were meant for each other and destined to be together. Ten years from their break up in 2000, they are finally together again and Brandon is not going to let Bobbie Sue get away again! It was my pleasure to join these two in marriage, finally and forever!
On Saturday January 15, 2011, Marty and I arrived at the Wyndham Hotel in Durham for the wedding. The dining area had been beautifully transformed into the reception area complete with dance floor and DJ.
This very charming wedding cake was provided by Blue Moon Bakery. What pretty colors!
Kelsey Bennett, our harpist, was set up and ready to start. She told me that she used to live in an apartment above Bobbie Sue and Bobbie Sue would hear her practicing the harp. She was thrilled to be playing for her wedding. Our photographer for the wedding was Mario of Mario Watts Photography.
There was a delay in starting the ceremony but it was not the bride's fault! The hairstylist that was supposed to do the girls' hair had emergency gall bladder surgery the night before and the replacement stylist was late arriving to do their hair. We ended up starting 40 minutes late.  Thankfully I did not have another wedding scheduled after this one! Above the groom, best man, two groomsmen, and parents of the groom and I are hanging out in the hallway as the guests enjoyed Kelsey's music. After 30 minutes, I had Kelsey take a break and rest her hands. She was beginning to lose the feeling in her fingers!Her husband, Tim, primarily the "harp transporter," was standing by to warm up her hands.
I am conferring here with Kathleen, a friend of Bobbie Sue and their wedding director, about the delay. Kathleen handled it so very professionally. Thanks, Kathleen!
Finally we are ready to begin. The guys and I went in after the parents were seated. Then the bridesmaids processed in.
Our Father of the Bride had a rough time but was a real champ, having broken his ankle the day before the wedding and missing the rehearsal. After elevating and icing his ankle before the wedding, he put on a smile and escorted his wife Arlene in and then came back for Bobbie Sue. He hardly limped at all but I know he was in pain.He was to have a cast put on the following day.
Well now they are married! Brandon and Bobbie Sue were just beaming and somewhat in disbelief that this was really finally happening. Their dream was becoming a reality. Wow, it was something to behold!
 Bobbie Sue and Brandon, I am so happy that you got back together.I wish you a lifetime of happiness!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bianca and Eduardo Wed at Home!

Bianca called me in mid December about officiating for her and Eduardo on December 23rd. They had already gotten their marriage license and were ready to tie the knot! I sent her a ceremony that was already translated into Spanish since not everyone who was to be present understood English. She and Eduardo chose their own vows from some other material I sent them. The wedding date was later revised to January 2, 2011.
When I arrived, Bianca and I went over the necessary paperwork and then everyone gathered around for the ceremony. Bianca's mother, Lorena, led us all in prayer in Spanish.
Eduardo's father, Omar, read the translation when Bianca's parents presented her. Then for the rest of the ceremony, Bianca's father, Guillermo, read the Spanish translation of what I was saying in English.Bianca's parents are from Peru and Eduardo's parents from Columbia.
Bianca is 18 and Eduardo is 19. They are young but they seemed to know what they wanted and had the support of their parents. I happily made the pronouncement of marriage.
 The newlyweds!
The parents and guests had prepared a wedding feast and this was the sweet wedding cake. The celebration had begun by the time Marty and I departed. Bianca and Eduardo, I wish you much happiness and a long and loving marriage!