Sealed with a kiss!

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

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Brooke and Jake's Leap Year Wedding at The Bridge Club!

Brooke and Jake are such a fun-loving couple and they made sure their wedding reflected that. I loved working with them to make their ceremony a reflection of their personalities, their beliefs, love and commitment. Their wedding date was February 29, 2020, that rare leap year date that only comes around every 4 years. They chose the Bridge Club in downtown Raleigh for their venue.
When I arrived I went upstairs to find the bride and groom, parents and wedding party. 
The long tables were all set and ready for the reception to follow cocktail hour. 
Little framed notations about locations and events in their journey together were placed along the place settings. 
Back downstairs to the ceremony and cocktail hour area to get my witnesses to sign the marriage license and do a sound check with the DJ--Mike Steffan with High Impact Entertainment--before the guests were seated. This is a photo of the quiz and advice cards for the entertainment of the guests and feedback to the couple. Fun!
Our photographer--Kelley Deal, Kelley Deal Photography--was busy getting her settings right and scoping the area for good angles. Thanks to Kelley for sharing her photos with me which are designated in this blog. Other photos were taken with my iPhone 8+ by my sweet husband, Dave.
The "altar" area was a copper arbor by the couple who did their own florals. 
When the guests were all seated, the time was right and the wedding party and parents lined up, I entered first and made the unplugged announcement asking the guests to put away their phones and cameras. Then the processional of the parents and wedding party began.
When everyone but the bride was in place, I invited the guests to stand in honor of the bride. 
The bride and her father made their way down the aisle. 
Brooke's father answered my question and placed her hand in Jake's and everyone was seated. 
The ceremony opened with a warm welcome to everyone who had come from near and far for this wedding. 
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Deal)
Next came an opening prayer. 
Then I stepped out to address their parents in a surprise tribute to their love and support of our couple. 
Then the really fun part of the ceremony was telling the story of how Brooke and Jake met and their journey to their wedding day. (Photo courtesy of Kelley Deal)
They each answered questionnaires for me so the story reflected both points of view of what attracted them to each other and how they felt.
Brooke and Jake supplied me with great information to work with to create a very amusing story! 
There was lots and lots of laughter during the story and especially about the proposal that Jake planned and how it played out. (Photo courtesy of Kelley Deal)
Then Brooke got to hear what Jake told me he loves about her and what he is looking forward to in marriage. Then Jake got to hear what Brooke told me about her love for him. 
Jake was having so much fun, he was sweating. I took my hankie and reached up to wipe his forehead.
At this point I said "Getting married is hard work, isn't it, Jake?" Laughter! 
Then it was time for them to exchange their vows and rings. We included the Celtic tradition of handfasting as I bound their hands together with a handfasting cord. 
After wrapping the cord around their hands, a blessing of their hands followed.
They read their vows to each other from my book while their hands were bound.
Brooke says her vows to Jake.
I removed the cord which was symbolically replaced by their rings. 
A closing blessing then I pronounced them married and invited them to share their first kiss as husband and wife.
Finally happily married! 
The "after-kiss" moment when the reality sinks in that they are married!
The maid of honor handed the bride her bouquet and I presented the newlyweds to their guests!
And out they go into the next chapter of their lives together--marriage! 
(Photo courtesy of Kelley Deal)
(Photo courtesy of Kelley Deal) 
Brooke and Jake! What a great wedding! I loved working with you two and your wonderful sense of humor. You are so great together and I am honored you chose me to join you in marriage. Blessings to you now and always! I also thank you for the wonderful review you gave me on Weddingwire:

Cecil Jake Saunders , married on 02/29/2020 
 5.0 
If you are having anxiety over how to pick an officiant, know that you can't go wrong with this choice. 
Reverend Kayelily Middleton was the officiant for our leap day 2020 wedding, and we could not recommend her more highly. She listened to all of our concerns and then helped us design a customized ceremony for our wedding that shared our story with our loved ones. We have gotten so many compliments about the ceremony, including how entertaining Kayelily was, and how she must be an old family friend because it seemed like she’s known us for years. She is amazing at her job, probably because she has married thousands of couples! She guided us through the logistics of getting the marriage license, knew exactly what to do in the rehearsal, and will help design a ceremony just for you.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Leigh and Jared Get Married at the Doris Duke Center at Duke Gardens!

Leigh and Jared were so fabulous to work with and so dedicated to each other. They knew exactly what they wanted for their wedding and together we made it happen. Their wedding was at the Doris Duke Visitor Center on December 28th, 2019. I met with them on June 28th to begin working on the ceremony. Jared came from New Jersey and Leigh from Winston-Salem to meet with me. 
December 28th turned out to be a very nice day. Balmy and bright. When Dave and I arrived, the chairs were in position and the arbor by Bowerbird Flowers was ready. There was a tent with clear walls over the outer half of the terrace.
After getting the witnesses signatures on the license, I sat down to review the ceremony script. 
The arbor framing the "altar" was on the walk to the amphitheater and White Garden. It was too risky to plan for an outdoor wedding in December, but as it turned out, it would have been possible.
Ronnie was our DJ from The Pros. His assistant is there to help too. 
Inside the Center the tables are all set for the reception. The Catering Company of Chapel Hill catered.
Many guests have arrived and they are at the other end where the bar was serving drinks. 
Happily, Leigh and Jared hired Emily Thomas with Emily Katherine Events as their wedding coordinator at my suggestion. Neither of them lived locally so it was good to have Emily be the local go-to person.
The DJ announced that it was time to for the guests to take their seats for the ceremony. 
After the seating of the parents, on cue, Jared and our groomsmen and I processed in from the side door. 
The groomsmen are Alex and Derek (Jared's sons).
Lauren and Cameron  (Leigh's daughters) processed in side by side. 
Leigh was escorted in by her father Hank and son Ryan who stopped at the first row where the parents were standing. After the music faded I said: "I ask you, their parents and their children, will you bless Leigh and Jared in their marriage? Will you celebrate them in their times of joy, and support them and their marriage in times of hardship?" Of course they all answered "We will." 
Leigh handed off her bouquet, she and Jared faced each other and so the ceremony began. 
First there was a welcome to all who were there. Then a prayer. 
Then I stepped forth and addressed their parents and paid tribute to them for their love and support of Leigh and Jared. I then addressed their siblings thanking them for their love and support too.
The next part of the ceremony was to recognize the couple's children and tell them how important they are in this marriage we celebrate today.
And then it was time to tell the story of Leigh and Jared and their journey to this wedding day! My favorite part!
Leigh and Jared met at Duke University when they were both freshmen there in 1987. They were smitten with each other and dated for about 3 years and then parted ways for some reason neither of them can now remember. They lived their separate lives, developed their careers and raised their families for the next 20 or so years. As fate would have it, they eventually found themselves single after all these years and the memories of their earlier love of each other flooded back. They got in touch and  decided to  get re-acquainted by phone and email. It was almost a year before they saw each other and it looked worthwhile to continue this long distance relationship to see what might happen. And despite nearly universal skepticism that this relationship would survive, they are pleased  that they have beat the odds!  According to Jared, he's won the lottery! Jared proposed on a trip to Galapagos Island in 2018 with all their kids and everyone celebrated and the wedding planning began.
Now Leigh gets to hear what Jared told me he in confidence loves about her, why he wants to marry her and what he is looking forward to in marriage.
Then Jared gets to hear what Leigh told me about him. 
These two have a great sense of humor so there was lots of laughter! 
Our guests were having fun hearing all this. Their guests came from all the many areas of their lives past and present including some who were with them in college.
Then I asked them their vows and they exchanged rings. 
Jared told me after the wedding that he had been a nervous wreck and was trying really hard not to break down into tears. Awww!
After a closing blessing, I had the great privilege of pronouncing these two married!
Their first kiss as husband and wife--at long last! Oh happy days! 
Jared and Leigh! So wonderful to work with you and make your ceremony be every thing you dreamed of. I loved your wedding and wish you all the best forever!

Thank you for these wonderful words about me: "Jared and I want to thank Kayelily for an incredible wedding ceremony. We cannot tell you how many people told us how beautiful it was, and many said it was the most special they had ever seen - So personal and lovely... And so well-delivered, with the perfect combination of sentiment and humor. We were laughing through tears. So many thanks for her talents and efforts on our behalf! "