Sealed with a kiss!

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

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wedding at Second Empire for Alexandra and Chad!

Alexandra and Chad met with me on June 28th to officiate their wedding on July 19th at the Second Empire. Turns out that Alexandra and I both used to work at the same place but never knew each other. Also turns out that Chad, a professor at Wake Forest University, knows Rabbi Andrew Ettin with whom I co-officiate many weddings. A small world!

I do many weddings at the Second Empire, an elegant restaurant in a beautiful historic home. There are several settings within the restaurant for wedding ceremonies including the front steps. Their lovely wedding was in the Capitol Room downstairs which adjoins the Raleigh Room for the reception. Their beautiful cake was by Swank Cake Design. The photographer was Martin with Gina McLean Photography. The Capitol room has one wall of mirrors so the guests actually saw themselves watching the ceremony! The couple and I stood in front of a brick edged niche filled with beautiful etched green glass. I stepped into position when we were ready to begin and the couple processed in down the aisle and gave roses to their mothers then joined me. We had a warm welcome, a prayer, and a tribute to their parents. The bride's sister, Christy, presented a poem titled "Mater Speed" by Robert Frost who wrote the poem for his daughter's wedding. After a few words on love and marriage, they exchanged vows and rings. I made the pronouncement, they kissed, then we closed with a blessing for the couple. Then it was time to celebrate!

This fall Chad will be teaching in at Bridgewater College near Harrisonburg VA where they will live. Alexandra told me she will probably go to graduate school nearby. All the best to you in your new life together, Alexandra and Chad!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Aimee and Jay Marry on their Tenth Anniversary of Being Together!

Aimee and Jay planned their wedding on July 16, 2008, exactly 10 years since their relationship began! They were married in one of my favorite little chapels in Raleigh. St. Mark's Chapel is located on the Mordecai House campus in downtown Raleigh. It was moved there from Chatham County many years ago into the company of several other historic buildings from other locations in NC. It is owned by the City of Raleigh who rent it out for weddings and other occasions. It seats a maximum of 55 people and houses an old pump organ which is rarely played. Violinist (Mary Page Block) and guitarist (Ed Stephenson) of Arioso Strings provided the wedding music which filled the little chapel with heavenly music. The photographer was Aimee's uncle and their reception followed at Caffe Luna, not too far away and a great place to celebrate.

Aimee and Jay put together their wedding ceremony from material I provided them. Her father escorted her in and transferred her hand to Jay followed by a warm welcome to their guests, an opening prayer and an "in memoriam" section which honored their loved ones who have departed from this world. They paid tribute to their beaming parents, then exchanged their vows and rings. I pronounced them husband and wife and after the kiss, there was a closing blessing and presentation of the newlywed couple to their guests amidst applause and upbeat recessional music.

Following a photo session, the couple departed to Caffe Luna in a restored to new condition 1934 Chevy after they figured out how to maneuver the bride and her dress and train into the very small back seat! The wind was blowing her veil around as you can see in the photo. You can also see in another photo that Aimee had on comfortable sneakers under that beautiful dress! It was a great wedding. Best wishes to you, Aimee and Jay!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jacquie and Kawan's Lovely Wedding with an Asian-Island Theme!

Kawan and Jacquie came to meet with me in January about their wedding on July 12th 2008 at Duke Gardens amphitheater. During the course of our meeting we discovered that Kawan and my stepson Glen had been best friends at Enloe High School many years ago! What a small world.

Jacquie and Kawan set out to make their wedding very unique to them and it was truly delightful in every detail. Kawan's family is from Thailand and Jacquie's family is from the Philippines so they definitely added Asian-Island touches to their wedding. The site was a beautiful natural setting in a semi-circle overlooking a tranquil lily pond. Jacquie's dress was custom-made for her in California. It was off-white, short with full skirt and dainty flower appliques prettily dangling from the hem line above her ballerina shoes. Her bridesmaids wore multicolored pastel print dresses with various colored sandals and they all carried different colored parasols instead of bouquets. Their wedding programs were attached to straw fans with raffia to and they provided little envelopes of tissue for their guests with "For your eyes only" written on the envelopes.
Their wedding cake by Simply Cakes was truly unique! It was a small cake, probably the very top layer of a standard wedding cake, very colorfully decorated. At each table were individually iced pieces of wedding cake placed in clear plastic boxes and artfully stacked. Premiere Catering provided the fabulous refreshments and food and drinks. Wes Gullett with 1st Carolina DJ's provided both the ceremony and reception music and the prelude music for the ceremony was not your standard wedding music. It consisted of the couple's favorite music--upbeat contemporary dance music. The Bridesmaids processed in to Only Hope (Mandy Moore) and the Bride entered to She's Got A Way by Billy Joel. The ceremony was only about 10 minutes in length which we were all grateful for as it was quite hot even for 6:00 in the afternoon.

Jacquie and Kawan created their special ceremony from material I provided so that it would fit their beliefs and feelings. They transformed the standard sand-pouring ceremony into a "stone" ceremony in which they each poured colored glass floral pebbles into the central container. Each color had a meaning characteristic of the bride and groom. Then they added stones representing their love for their 2 year old daughter, Kitana, who was definitely NOT paying attention, but quietly playing with her juice box in her grandfather's lap as everyone else was watching and listening to the tinkle of the glass pebbles being poured! I then pronounced Kawan and Jacquie "equal partners, united in matrimony" and they shared their first kiss as husband and wife amidst applause from the guests and attendants. They recessed out to What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

The guests were glad to go inside the Kirby Horton Hall (visitors' center) and cool off with refreshments while we took photographs.
Michael and Marcy of Michael's Memories were the photographers and Michael Cline was the videographer. Many thanks to Gail Stephenson of Weddings by Gail who kept us all organized as she directed the festivities. See photo to right of Gail and me. Photo to the left is Kitana!
All the best to you, Kawan, Jacquie and Kitana!

A Beautiful Wedding at Long View Center for Tara and Andy!

Weddings at Long View Center in downtown Raleigh are always elegant affairs and I love doing weddings there. Long View Center is located in a wonderful renovated historical church building originally built in 1870. Tara and Andy knew it was the perfect place for their July 12th wedding with the reception following next door at Marbles Kids Museum. Corda Entertaiment, a trio of musicians, provided beautiful music for the prelude, processional and recessional. Roger Winstead of Winstead Photography covered the festivities and the couple's friend Fiona did a great job directing the wedding. Their 5 bridesmaids and maid of honor, 5 groomsmen and best man (Andy's father, Steve), one flower girl, and 3 ring bearers all wore black and the bride's attendants carried brilliantly colored bouquets.

Three sets of grandparents began the processional. As the mothers of the bride and groom were escorted in, they lit the candles for the bride and groom. The groom, groomsmen, and I then entered and took our places. The bridesmaids came in followed by the the maid of honor and the flower girl. The little ring bearers made their way down the aisle but the youngest had an episode of stage fright and froze in place and was literally lifted out of the aisle by his father! Children in weddings are always such a delight; you never know what they are going to do! Then everyone stood in honor of the bride as she came in on her father's arm. He answered my question to him: "Who blesses and supports Tara as she comes to join in marriage to Andy?" and transferred Tara's hand into Andy's then we moved up to the top of the altar.
The ceremony began with a warm welcome to the guests and an opening prayer. We remembered those who could not be with us and then a tribute to their parents on behalf of Tara and Andy. Tara's Grandmother Dot read "The Art of Marriage" to us which was followed by the wedding address--words on life, love, and marriage thoughtfully chosen by the couple. They exchanged vows and rings then lit the Unity Candle. I made the pronouncement and they shared their first kiss as husband and wife! Then Andy's sister, one of the bridesmaids, gave a closing blessing then I introduced the newlywed couple to their guests and out they went as the old church bell was rung by the grandparents in their honor. After the guests left for the reception, we reassembled for photos. It was a great wedding! Congratulations, Tara and Andy, and enjoy a relaxing honeymoon!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iona and James chose to have their wedding at Marbles!

Iona and James knew that a lot of children would be attending their wedding, and since they are such a fun-loving couple, they chose a place where kids could play and have fun while the grown-ups celebrated their marriage on July 5th. The perfect setting was Marbles Kids Museum, formerly Exploris, in downtown Raleigh. They had the ceremony in the main corridor downstairs and the "altar" was the top of the steps. They arranged to have a screen at the top of the steps for a backdrop to the ceremony on which they placed a custom painted scene especially created by Iona's mother, Trish. It was beautiful!

James' best friend, Jill, was his "best woman." Iona had seven flower girls she called "the flower girl gang" who entered after the groom and best woman and I entered. The youngest one just barely made it almost all the way down the aisle before she ducked into the row where her mother was sitting. She was so cute. Iona entered solo in her custom made beautiful and one of a kind wedding dress with hot pink shoes and bouquet. When she got to the back of the rows of chairs, to the delight of their families and friends, James started walking toward her and they met in the middle and processed up the steps for the ceremony together. You can see in the pictures that the late afternoon sun was beaming in on the right side of my face and right into the groom's eyes. I could not tell if his tears were from the intense sun or tears of happiness--probably both!

James' sister-in-law, Dana, had memorized the special reading they had chosen for their wedding day and presented the humorous poem "Love is Like Owning a Dog" by Taylor Mali with feeling and flair. This was so appropriate since the couple and their families are dog aficionados! James and Iona knew just what they wanted for their ceremony and they put together words that conveyed who they are and their views on love, life and marriage. It was a pleasure to deliver this service and the guests were very attentive to every word I spoke.

When the ceremony was over and the bride and groom had left for photos with the photographer, Tracey Franks, I invited all the guests to go up to the next level for cocktails and toasts. The downstairs area was set up for a sit-down reception catered by Caffe Luna later on and I was able to chat with Ryan, their catering manager, after the ceremony as she was putting on the final touches to the tables.
Their wedding cake was one of the most spectacular I have ever seen--covered with chocolate covered strawberries. It was tucked away in a utility closet to be moved out after the dinner for the cake cutting. The closet was filled with the rich aroma of the chocolate and I was able to get a good photo by holding my camera directly over the cake. It was prepared by friends of the family who live in Greensboro and brought it all the way to Raleigh. After stopping by for a photo with the couple, Marty (my roadie) and I left a good party that was just beginning! It was a great wedding. Congratulations, Iona and James!

Wedding at St. Mark's Chapel in Raleigh

My weekend of weddings began with the small intimate wedding of Marquis and Ginny the morning of July 5th. Marquis and Ginny grew up in Raleigh and met in high school. They were each other's true love. But, their lives went in different directions for many years. At some point they found each other again and decided it was time to get married and be together!

Although they live in Florida, they wanted to have their wedding in Raleigh where most of their family and old friends live. One of Ginny's sisters flew in from California for this wonderful reunion. St. Mark's Chapel in downtown Raleigh on the Mordecai House campus was the perfect place for their small wedding with about 50 guests. The beautiful wedding music was provided by a couple of my favorite musicians, Greg and Ray. One plays the violin and the other the viola. With a full house, Ginny was escorted in by her brother Camden who "handed her over" to Marquis and they stepped up onto the platform with me and the ceremony began. We had created a special ceremony for them via email which was dear to their hearts and enjoyed by all of their guests. We honored Marquis' parents, Henry and Mary, and lovingly remembered Ginny's parents who are deceased. After the sweet ceremony the couple and guests went to the home of Ginny's brother for the reception. They were so happy to be married to each other at last and it showed! My best wishes to you, Marquis and Ginny!