Sealed with a kiss!

Sealed with a kiss!
Adam and Conley's Wedding at The Pavilion Photo by Katherine Miles Jones

Friday, February 25, 2011

Professional Wedding Guild Luncheon at Hilton Garden Inn!

Once a month, except in December, Gail Galloway of the Perfect Wedding Guide hosts the Professional Wedding Guild luncheons in the Triangle and in the Triad areas of North Carolina. I have been enjoying these luncheons for years. These luncheons are such great opportunities to meet and get to know my colleagues in the wedding industry at a non-wedding setting. The luncheons are held in different venues each month. The latest luncheon was on February 23, 2011 at the Hilton Garden Inn at Triangle Town Center in Raleigh.
This was my first time at this site. It is a lovely setting for a small wedding and reception and/or rehearsal dinner. They have a fully equipped restaurant and the food was delicious!
Our vendors contributing to the luncheon are announced on a card on each table. My friend, Reverend Robin Renteria, had a great idea for the three of us ministers--herself, myself and Reverend Barbara Lodge--to contribute a large box of Godiva chocolates for a door prize. Get it? "God"-iva? And there is the word "diva" as well! How clever she is. Thanks, Robin!
The two women on the right represented the Hilton Garden Inn. On the left is their colleague from the Holiday Inn. Apparently both hotels are owned by the same owner. Thank you for posing for me, ladies.
Amanda Scott with A Swanky Affair (wedding planner) and Monica Bishop with Bedford Blooms exchange business cards.
Kate Mejaski with This Little Light Photography is talking with Lisa Jacobs, wedding planner.
In the foreground Bradley Junell, DJ, speaks with Barbara Lodge, wedding officiant. In the background, Amanda Scott and Lisa Dupree find out about each other's business. Lisa is a cruise and vacation specialist with Expedia Cruise Ship Centers.
Lisa and Monica with Bedford Blooms exchange their business cards. 
 Brian McGuire of McSound Productions was our DJ and sound man for the luncheon. Thanks, Brian.
Gail Galloway, our hostess, tries unsuccessfully to hide behind Randal Quantas whose DJ name is Qfocus. Randal is with K2 Productions.
Diane McDaniel with Unity at Long View Center chats with Karen Bishop of Bedford Blooms.
Our honored speaker for the event, and a delightful person to chat with, is Tammy Elliott, President/CEO of  the Perfect Wedding Guide national. Her talk was on the 7 Habits of Highly Profitable Wedding Professionals. Her talk was inspiring and quite engaging. Thanks, Tammy, it was an honor to meet you!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ten Tips for Walking Down the Aisle!

I just looked at my Facebook page and saw that my friend and wedding colleague, Craig Carpenter of Luster Studios, has posted a few tips on looking your best walking down the aisle. They are great and I thought I would add some more from my 12 years of experience watching brides walk down the aisle toward me. (All the photos are from my weddings in 2010 and have their own posts of the complete wedding on this blog.)
1.  Who walks the bride down the aisle? Some brides tell me that they do not want their father or mother or anyone else walking them down the aisle because they are independent women and fully capable of walking themselves in. I agree with all that but it stills looks kind of lonesome when the bride walks down the aisle all by herself. I suggest to the bride and groom that the bride walk about halfway down the aisle or from the entrance to the back of the rows of chairs alone while her bridegroom starts walking from his spot next to me toward her. They meet in the middle and come to their positions in front of me together. They just love that idea and the symbolism of them coming together to be married.  Christy and Charles above decided that is what they wanted to do. Wedding was at The Umstead.
Shelley was counting on her father walking her down the aisle--and she needed his help getting up those stairs with that gorgeously full wedding gown!This wedding was at Haywood Hall in Raleigh.
Danielle wanted her mother to walk with her down the aisle at Duke Gardens.
Lia chose to have her mother and her grandfather escort her down the aisle at Barclay Villa.
Krystal makes sure she does not fall behind her parents as they walk down the aisle. This photo is courtesy of Amy Turner. The wedding was at Brier Creek Country Club.

If both parents are escorting you in, it is really important that it does not look like they are "dragging" you down the aisle, so step a little ahead of them rather than lagging a little behind.

2. Make sure your wedding dress is not too long.  I can't tell you  how many times I have seen brides stumble and almost trip on the front of their dresses! Take into account the shoes you will be wearing and if you will be walking on carpeting or grass as it will make the front of your dress drag making it too easy to step on the front hem. If that happens while you are walking down the aisle, the only alternative at that point is to gently kick the front of your dress forward as you walk! Remember, you will not have an extra hand to lift the front of your dress because you will be holding your bouquet in your left hand and your right hand will be on your father's arm.

3. Beware aisle runners! The vision of a beautiful white aisle is tempting but the only suitable aisle runner is a strip of carpet or heavy fabric that has been affixed to the surface underneath it. The runners that are sold to brides in bridal shops or on line that are on a cardboard roll with ropes at each end are really paper or paper-like and will not lay straight on carpet, grass or wooden floors (unless taped down). They will catch on the attendants' heels, fly up if there is the least bit of a breeze, twist and wrinkle and become hazardous. A pretty option for aisles is to sprinkle or line them with flower petals. See my prior post about runners here
These bridesmaids are entering a wedding at the new NC Museum of Art on Blue Ridge Road. 
 Janice and Luke at Duke Gardens pergola, photo courtesy of Melissa Kay Photography.
This is a wedding at Caffe Luna. The girls are holding their bouquets just right! 
Wedding at The Umstead. Ami Wheeler has the bridesmaids all lined up and cues them one at a time.

4. Bouquets should be held at belly-button height. I like Craig's suggestion of making a diamond shape with your arms. Clever! And this goes for the bridesmaids as well.

5. Dad's job as the escort: At rehearsals I tell fathers escorting their daughters in that they have two important jobs:
    a. Keep the bride from galloping down the aisle so she can "float" down the aisle smiling and making eye contact with him, the guests standing in her honor, and her waiting groom.
    b. Look down after he has transferred the bride's hand into the groom's hand so he won't trip on the bride's train on the way to his seat.Yep, it happened once. Thankfully the father did not fall down and the bride's train did not rip. It was a scary and embarrassing moment though!
Laura is escorted by her father at Anderson Point Park
Our Maid of Honor enters the altar area created at Solas for Jonell and Scott's wedding.

6. What's the hurry! Bridesmaids tend to hurry down the aisle but should "float" down the aisle as well, taking their time and walking in time with the music of the processional.
Here is another one at Duke Gardens pergola. Danielle's mother transfers Danielle's hand into Chris' hand before they ascend the steps to the top.
Another bride at Duke Gardens pergola escorted in by her mother. Janice is handing off her bouquet to the Maid of Honor who has come down the steps to get it.
A kiss for Mom, then she is seated as Janice and Luke go to the top of the steps to join me for the ceremony.
Jessica is escorted down the aisle by her very proud papa at The Umstead
Carolyn and her father made the very long walk from the pavilion to the lakeside terrace for her wedding ceremony at the Pavilions at Angus Barn.

7. It is customary for the father of the bride to escort the bride in on his left side which is nearest to his heart. Once the bride and her father have arrived at the end of the aisle, the bride hands her bouquet off to the Maid of Honor who hands it down to the next bridesmaid so she can fluff the bride's dress when she turns to face the groom. When the music fades, the officiant asks the father the question of the bride's choice (i.e. "Who blesses and support this woman as she comes to be joined in marriage with this man?") and he answers. Or there is no question asked. Then the father transfers the bride's right hand into the groom's left hand, bride gives Dad a little kiss, he turns and goes to his seat while the guests are seated and the bride and groom turn and face each other holding both hands, centered in front of the officiant. Maid of Honor fluffs bride's dress if needed then retrieves the bride's bouquet from the next bridesmaid.
At the Grand Marquis Ballroom, Patty was escorted in by her dad while Steve waited at the foot of the steps for them and the transfer of hands. See the bridesmaid on the left who walked over and took the bride's bouquet so that the bride will have a free hand to lift up her dress as she goes up the steps.

This is a wedding in Long View Center taken in 2008. This beautiful venue is now open again and booking weddings. Call Diane McDaniel there at (919) 832-8324 or email her if you are looking for a gorgeous church setting for your wedding.

8. How to handle steps: At the pergola at Duke Gardens or Long View Center or the Grand Marquis Ballroom or any other venue where there are steps to get up to the "altar" where the bride, groom and I will stand for the ceremony, I like to have the father transfer the bride to the groom at the bottom of the steps. There are several reasons why. First of all it saves the father (who may not be very agile or may be really nervous) from having to go up and down the steps. Second, the ascent from the ground level to the top of the steps is symbolic of the couple taking their relationship to a higher level. So, logistically, here is how we do it: When the bride and her father or escort begin walking down the aisle, the groom then steps down to the ground level to await the bride. When father and bride reach the bottom of the steps, the bride hands off her bouquet to the nearest bridesmaid who passes it to the Maid of Honor. The father transfers the bride's hand to the groom's right hand. Then the groom places his left hand on the small of the bride's back to help support her up the steps as she uses her left hand to lift the front of her dress. Once up and in place, the Maid of Honor fluffs the bride's dress.

9. Walk naturally and leisurely.  Please, please,  please, do not do the "two step" down the aisle. Know what I mean? Take a step, stop, then take another step. This looks so stilted and especially awkward because Dad has to do it with you. I remember doing a wedding about 4 years ago when the bride did the two step all the way around the swimming pool. Her poor brother who was escorting her had to do it too and it was really silly looking--and it took forever! This goes for the bridesmaids too.

10. SMILE! This is your wedding day! Relax and look around and make eye contact with your friends and loved ones who are honoring you this day. Needless to say, this goes for the bridesmaids too!

Happy Wedding!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Wedding Minister Welcomes Reverend Kathy Jennings to Asheville!

For those of you who may not know the history of my wedding ministry, I thought I would share how it all got started. In 1996 to 1997 I attended New Thought Theological Seminary on the weekends. I was  a single parent and working full time. I earned a Masters of Divinity in Spiritual Psychology to support my therapy practice called PsychoMiracles which I did in addition to my full time work. At the end of my studies, I was given the opportunity for lifetime ordination and although I had no idea at the time that I would ever use that designation, it felt right. I did my first wedding in July of 1997 but still had no idea a wedding ministry would become my full time career later on in my life after retiring from my 9 to 5 job in 2006. You can find out more about my ministry by going to Raleigh North Carolina Wedding Minister webpages and this blog, of course!

Dave and I married in April of 1999 with a ceremony we  had written officiated by our good friend and colleague, Reverend Penelope Morningstar. Later that year, Penelope, who had moved from Raleigh to Charlotte in 1996, informed me that she was frequently being asked to officiate weddings and had discovered that there were many couples in North Carolina getting married who needed an officiant who did not require they be members of a church, or recognized by a church, or they were interfaith, or did not want a religious ceremony, or their minister was busy on their day or could not travel to their site, etc. In NC, the law requires that a wedding ceremony be "solemnized" by either a magistrate (an attorney/judge appointed by the County to solemnize marriages usually taking place in the county courthouse) or a person affiliated with a religious group such as a priest, minister, rabbi, chaplain or person otherwise authorized to perform weddings for that religious group. There are no Justices of the Peace in NC. After considering this information, Penelope and I decided to put up a website announcing our wedding services and see what happened. 

Our wedding website ( was launched in 1999, the first website in North Carolina for wedding ministers. We are grateful to my husband, Dave Davenport, who has been our webmaster all these years. At first we only had ministers in Charlotte (Penelope) and the Triangle area (me). We have eventually added 6 more ministers in other sections of the state. We are now a collective of 8 non-denominational ministers and it just so happens that we are all women, not intentionally, but that is just how it turned out. There is one exception--Rev. Beth Curtis' husband, Charlie, who is also ordained and takes Beth's overflow. We love what we do and we offer many years experience and expertise to our couples. Each of us has our own way of doing things and are not bound by any group requirements other than our territorial areas which are exclusive.
A few years after we started our wedding ministry, Penelope relocated to the Wilmington area. She loves doing weddings on the beach and the majority of her weddings are destination weddings. She is well known in the area for her lovely ceremonies and versatility.  She provides a custom ceremony and also has sound equipment that will enable the guests to hear the ceremony--a must at the beach where there is extraneous noise and wind. Her information can be found at Wilmington and North Carolina Beach Weddings link.
After a few years in Wilmington, Penelope's popularity grew such that she was too busy to traverse the distance from Wilmington to do weddings on the southernmost beaches of NC and the Myrtle Beach, SC area. So, her daughter, LeeAnn Politis, decided she would love to do what her mother was doing and became ordained and joined our website. She now handles the weddings south of Wilmington and in the Myrtle Beach area. LeeAnn is a wonderful officiant and can also help her couples with their wedding planning, especially those couples eloping to the beach or planning their wedding from afar. Here is a link to her Southern NC Beach Wedding Minister webpages.
Up the coast to the Crystal Coast Beaches around Beaufort, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, and Morehead City, Reverend Beth Curtis joined the website early on. She is a Unity minister and was the presiding minister of Crystal Coast Unity Church in Morehead City until she retired a few years ago.
Eventually her husband, Charlie, who is also ordained, decided to help her out with weddings. When Beth is officiating, Charlie is usually on paparazzi duty. But there are days when they go their separate ways to do weddings that happen at the same time on different beaches. It is such a fun and rewarding job! Go here to see Morehead City and Crystal Coast North Carolina Wedding Minister pages.
For years I got tons of requests to officiate weddings in Fayetteville. There are a lot of weddings there as it is the home of Ft. Bragg. I did one there but decided it was just too far to travel. I could do two weddings in Raleigh in the space of time it took to do one in Fayetteville. I searched high and low for a suitable minister there and had one who then retired to take care of her elderly mother. Reverend Darlene Liedig contacted me about that time and joined our website. Darlene handles the Fayetteville, Lumberton, Sanford, Southern Pines and Pinehurst area (the Sandhills) for us. I was able to help Darlene set up her wedding ministry and provide her with wedding ceremony material. We are so happy to have her to provide wedding services to couples in the Sandhills! See her information at Fayetteville North Carolina Wedding Minister pages.
Reverend Jane Burnette is one of our original ministers. She lives in High Point and handles weddings in the Triad area for our collection of ministers. She is just delightful and so much fun to work with. She is very flexible and open to all faiths and beliefs--as we all are. We are so fortunate to have her as part of our wedding network. See Triad Area North Carolina Wedding Minister for more information.
After Penelope relocated to Wilmington, the Charlotte area was available. Reverend Julie Wilkinson, decided to join our collective of wedding ministers. Julie is the head minister at Unity Center for Spiritual Living in Charlotte. She is a compassionate, enthusiastic person and delightful for me to get to know. Before I retired from my full time job, I used to go on business trips to Charlotte and Julie and I would get together for lunch and  have fun just talking about things. I miss those lunches! Julie and her husband, Gene, just returned from Egypt---just in time! BTW, Julie also bakes awesome wedding cakes. She is also an avid rescuer of dogs and cats. See more about Julie at Charlotte North Carolina Wedding Minister pages.
This brings us to our newest member, Reverend Kathy Jennings, in Asheville. She is replacing Reverend Victoria Hutchins who was with us for many years. Kathy, her husband Mark, and her daughter, Ariana, recently relocated to Asheville from Minnesota where she officiated weddings for the past 8 years. So, she is no newcomer or novice when it comes to weddings. You can read more about her at Asheville North Carolina Wedding Minister website pages.
Dave and I met Kathy this past Thursday when she was in Chapel Hill doing some volunteer work. We rendezvoused at Starbucks and spent a couple of hours talking about weddings and specifically weddings in NC. The marriage laws are different in every state and a minister needs to know.
Kathy is vivacious, very personable and I feel like I have known her for years! She is very knowledgeable and insightful. She attended New Seminary in NYC just like Penelope but about 7 years apart. Writing her own wedding ceremony inspired her to become an interfaith minister and now she is living her bliss! I know she is going to love the Asheville area and be of real service to couples there. She will be taking the same training for premarital counseling that I did and can offer those services as well.

So that is the "rest of the story!" If your wedding is in any of our areas, please contact the corresponding minister via our collective website, We would love to have ministers in the Roanoke Rapids area, the Elizabeth City area, Outer Banks, and the Statesville/Hickory area in case you know any non-denominational ministers who would be interested. All they need to do is contact me.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy, Rainy, Facebook Wedding for Tracey and Chris!

Tracey called me a few weeks ago to see if I could officiate her wedding to Chris on February 4, 2011 at St. Mark's Chapel. I was available and so we got started planning their ceremony. We did not meet until the wedding day which turned out to be a rainy one.
Tracey's parents had come all the way from the UK to be with her on her wedding day. I was so impressed with Jean's outfit and especially that lovely hat! I did a wedding this past summer for a groom who was from England and his mother also wore a lovely hat similar to this one. Must be an English thing!
When we were ready to begin, Tracey and her father came around from the building where she got dressed through the softly falling rain.
Richard escorted her down the aisle and transferred her hand into Chris' hand and they stepped up onto the platform to join me.
St. Mark's is the sweetest little chapel. It holds 55 people maximum and was built in 1847 in another county but later moved onto the Mordecai campus to be among several other historic buildings making up a sort of village. It is owned by the City of Raleigh and is a great place for a small intimate wedding.  Thankfully, it is heated and air-conditioned! The acoustics of the rounded ceiling are amazing and no sound system is needed.
Tracey and Chris found each other online but not through any matching service. Tracey lived in England and Chris in the US. They were playing the same game on Facebook and met each other and struck up a conversation. From there they got to know each other by email and phone which led to Tracey coming to the United States for a visit last June. A few months later they decided that they were perfectly matched and decided to marry. It was a second marriage for both.  Tracey has two sons and Chris has four. During the ceremony we honored their parents and their children.
I think I look sort of like a peacock here with large flowered tail feather fanned out behind my head! Gregg Kennedy of Brides and Bouquets provided this lovely floral arrangement.
They exchanged their rings and said their vows to each other.
Then it was time for the pronouncement of marriage which rendered them legally united in matrimony.
You know what comes next.......the kiss! It was a sweet one too.
The couple is presented to their family and friends as newlyweds.
Normally the couple would proceed down the steps and out of the chapel onto the walkway to receive their guests but, it was still raining. So they stopped and came back to the altar for photo opportunities.
Marty got the customary photo of the couple with the officiant and then it was time for all the family to get in the picture. In the meantime, Marty and I grabbed our umbrellas and headed out leaving the couple and their family to celebrate in style! Tracey and Chris, many blessings and congratulations to you both! I love your love story!