Sealed with a kiss!

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

Meagan and Will's Really Fun Wedding at the Forest Theater!

This is the Forest Theater in Chapel Hill. It is a large stone amphitheater and a very unique wedding venue. I have not done a wedding here in many years and I believe it was closed for a while. Thankfully this landmark and icon of UNC is now under the care of the North Carolina Botanical Garden and open again for weddings. Outdoor drama was first performed on this site in 1916 to celebrate the tercentenary of Shakespeare's death. Meagan and Will wanted a down to earth heartfelt ceremony at the historic Forest Theater with the reception following at the Carolina Inn. From a medieval, earthy site to an elegant classical one! What a cool idea. I knew when I met Meagan and Will and heard their story that we would have a fabulous wedding ceremony that everyone would really enjoy! And, on their wedding day of July 2, 2011 they certainly did. 
This is how the amphitheater looked when Marty and I arrived an hour before the ceremony. The couple had thoughtfully gotten long lengths of white sheeting fabric to cover the stone benches for their guests to sit on instead of renting chairs and was more in keeping with the original use of the site. They also provided hand held fans since this day was particularly a hot one with temps in the mid to high 90s.
Arioso Strings musicians, Laura, Jake and Lisa, got set up and started warming up. They always play so beautifully.
I thought I would show you what my little but powerful sound system looks like. I also brought my battery so that I could power it since there were no power outlets at the amphitheater. This ledge made a great place to set it up on. When there is no elevated place to put it, it has a tripod because the sound is better when the unit is higher. I hook my Shure wireless receiver into the unit then put on my Countryman theater microphone and plug it into the Shure bodypack and do a sound check. Today, since we had readers in the ceremony I also brought the handheld microphone the receiver for which is built into the system. It works so perfectly for my weddings and the sound was perfect today. 
So, when all the guests had arrived, it was time to begin. Sherry, Meagan's stepmother, was at the top of the steps and we signaled each other then I cued the musicians to begin. Then Will and his groomsmen followed me out onto the sand surface stage. The two bridesmaids followed.
From the top of the steps came our "flower ladies" who were the couple's mothers! It was a delight to work with such mature and capable flower girls!
They did a super job! They threw petals on the guests, down the aisle and up onto the stage everywhere and had a great time doing it. The guests loved it too!
Time for Meagan and her father, Rodger, to make their way down the steps. I glanced at Will at this point and saw some big fat tears rolling down his cheeks!
As you can see, those steps are not easy! The intermediate steps were actually made by a father of the bride many years ago and have since been painted and incorporated into the structure. If they were not there, the bride would have to enter down the steps on either side of the theater.
At the bottom of the steps there is a wooden platform where the transfer of hands took place. Then the couple ascended the steps, symbolic of taking their relationship to a new and higher level.
I welcomed the guests, thanked them for being there, and told them how important they were to Meagan and Will. A beautiful prayer by Rumi came next followed by a sweet blessing of their parents.
Another role the couple gave their mothers was to do the readings. Here Donna, Will's mother, reads a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She put lots of feeling into it and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Then she passed the microphone to Judy, Meagan's mother, who read a passage by Naomi Shahib Nye.
It is time to wipe their tear-streaked faces and Will's forehead which was beaded with sweat. I was glad I had a hankie for Meagan and a larger napkin for Will in my book! 
Then came the story of how they met in Brooklyn right after Meagan graduated from college and moved to NY to join her sister, Erin, our Maid of Honor who was one of the matchmakers. Another one, Leah, was one of the guests and right here in this photo above I am asking Leah to raise her hand so we can see her!
Their ceremony is my latest favorite ceremony. They gave me lots of good touching and humorous material from which to formulate their story including how Meagan tucked a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich in her jacket pocket on their first date, just in case Will turned out to be a jerk!  And that Meagan loves him for his efforts to propose to her on a surprise trip to Iceland and thanks him for forgiving her for losing her passport! The guests just loved every minute of it and we laughed a lot. You know, marriage is serious business but who says the ceremony has to be stoic, stiff and somber! I love the combination of humor and sincerity in the ceremony that makes it so unique to the couple.
More mopping of the forehead and the eyes here!
Now we come to the vows they read to each other from my book where they were printed facing the couple. Of course they wrote their own vows which were extremely meaningful for them and included a touch of humor like when Will promised to "always help you find your keys, wallet and phone and to support your art, creativity, and need for goats, horses, and unforeseen farm creatures." Meagan's vows included "I promise to watch and care about the Phillies, to try to learn the difference between a 3-wood and a 3-iron, and to stand by your side and bring you coffee as you navigate the next thousand years of medical school and residency!"
Then the exchange of rings with some special words they found about the significance of the rings and their hands.
 Finally the big pronouncement of marriage as husband and wife, equal partners, joined in matrimony!
A really good kiss! I always tell them at rehearsal to make sure they make the kiss long enough for the photographer to get a good photo and they remembered my words!
And away they go to the top of the amphitheater!
It was a long ascent! Their parents and attendants followed while the guests went to the Carolina Inn to cool off and wait for the couple to arrive after some picture taking. Our photographer for the wedding was Kate Osborne. I know she got some fantastic photos and I look forward to seeing them!
Oh my, Will and Meagan, that was the BEST wedding! I loved how responsive your guests were and I received so many compliments on the ceremony and how it was the best they had ever heard--a tribute to the two of you, too. Will, I wish you great success in medical school in Virginia. Meagan, I know he couldn't do it without you! I know you will have a wonderful marriage and great success in all you endeavor to do!

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