Sealed with a kiss!

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

Saturday, March 28, 2009

An Elegant Wedding for Sara and Kevin at the Carolina Inn!

Sara and Kevin planned for their wedding at the Carolina Inn to take place in the Ann Hill Courtyard but the rainy forecast dictated otherwise. So, prudently they opted to have their ceremony in the Hill Ballroom instead. You can never go wrong with a wedding there! It was gorgeous. They hired Kate Foster of Kate Foster Productions for their wedding planner and I know from working with her before, she is on top of every little detail, especially the decor. You see the aisle in the photos? Well, that is not the carpet pattern you see, that is tons of beautiful red, pink, orange and yellow rose petals thickly covering the entire aisle! It was stunning. The guests were escorted in from the sides to prevent the petals from getting scattered before the wedding party processed in.

Chris Ferrer was our very capable photographer and so easy to work with. I have worked with him before and it is always a pleasure. He always asks if I mind flash photography during the ceremony. I don't. Seems that I am so focused on the ceremony I am oblivious to the photographer. It was fairly dark in the ballroom so flash was definitely necessary. He does not mind when Marty steps up with my camera to get a few shots for this blog. Thanks, Chris. A couple of musicians I had never heard of provided wonderful music for the ceremony. These guys, Stephen Murtaugh (guitar, piano) and Brendan Rice (violin), are actually two members of a rock band but on the side, they play for weddings and they are great. They call themselves The Sunday Paper. Marty and I ran into Joe Bunn, DJ, in the Old Well room setting up for the reception. Joe and I work together often and refer weddings to each other. Below is a photo of the two of us today. While we were there we took a look at the huge, beautiful, impressive wedding cake and met Wayne Swank of Swank Cake Design who was setting up the cake with his assistant. He said they baked all day today to get this cake made, delivered, and set up for the reception. I told him I had some of his delicious red velvet cake at a wedding a couple of weeks ago. It was nice to finally meet him.

On with the wedding! Sara's father escorted her in and Sara literally floated down the aisle on top of those petals. Her dress was stunningly beautiful. It was something wonderful. Sara sniffled a few times during the ceremony which Kevin told me later made him nervous and he was afraid she was going to lose it but she was fine! They created a beautiful ceremony that included a contemporary version of First Corinthians. They chose the "I do" style vows so they did not have to worry about speaking too much in front of their guests which numbered close to 200. The rings were exchanged with a few "repeat after me lines" and then we did the sand ceremony. Before the ceremony I had taken a look at the small opening on the central container with funnel nearby and warned Kevin that it would not pour very fast. Someone needs to jiggle the funnel to keep the sand flowing. So wisely they got a little bit of their sand in during the ceremony but did not prolong the ceremony by standing there trying to pour it all in. (After the ceremony we completed the pouring with me jiggling the funnel! That is the photo here which shows the back of Sara's amazing wedding gown. Kate told me later that she should have heeded my warning about getting a container with a large opening!) I pronounced them husband and wife and then invited Kevin to kiss his beautiful wife! We closed with a blessing and introduction of the newlywed couple to their guests--and out we went for photos while the guests proceeded to the reception. The intense part of the whole wedding was over and it was time to party and have fun! Best of everything, Sara and Kevin!

Fernanda and Michael Marry in Kayelily's Wedding Garden!

It's another rainy weekend in Raleigh! I looked at the forecast earlier in the week and thought, not again! Michael and Fernanda drove up from Fayetteville where Michael is in the service to meet with me about a month ago. She is from Mexico and attending college here and they wanted to get married before Michael is deployed. We set the date of March 28 for a small wedding in my wedding garden with about 20 guests. Her family was coming from Mexico for this special occasion. We created a ceremony then Fernanda translated it into Spanish for their friend, Brenda, to alternate reading with me during the ceremony so all present could follow the ceremony. They also wanted to incorporate the sand ceremony to symbolize their union.

The big day arrived and thankfully it was not raining but the forecast was for severe thunderstorms later in the afternoon. Fernanda and her family arrived first and we decided on the colors of sand to use. I had some bags of colored sand and she chose blue for Michael as it is his favorite color and white for herself. We got that all set up and ready to go. You can see that I put out a little green rug for the couple to stand on so the bride would not slowly sink into the soft earth with her high heels! Fernanda is such a beautiful woman and, of course, a gorgeous bride. Her heritage is both Mexican and Chinese. She and her father waited inside the house so Michael could not see her until we began. Michael looked so handsome in his dress blue military uniform.

A few of the guests got lost getting here and so we waited for them. In the meantime, Nicholas, our ring bearer, dropped the groom's ring on my deck and it rolled into one of the cracks and disappeared beneath the deck into the muck and debris trapped between the boards and the concrete pad underneath. We searched with a flashlight but could not see it. Nicholas was quite upset as you can imagine. I felt so sorry for him. So, Michael's dad offered his wedding band to use for the ceremony. When all the guests arrived, we proceeded with the ceremony as rain was threatening. Brenda (in red standing next to me) translated the ceremony paragraph by paragraph and we finished in plenty of time without any drops of rain falling. After the cheering and applause for our bride and groom, now wife and husband, I asked my husband, Dave, to pry up one of the boards on the deck to see if we could find the ring. And we did! So I had Fernanda place the real wedding ring on Michael's finger saying: "With this ring, I thee wed." As you can tell in the photo, Nicholas was a happy little guy! We returned the substitute wedding band to Michael's father and all was well! Whew!

We posed for photographs with all the family members and the happy couple and their families and friends departed to Vivace to celebrate. About 30 minutes later, the soft rain began. Marty and I are off to the next wedding at the Carolina Inn at 6:30. Thankfully, the wedding has been moved inside to the Hill Ballroom so we will be dry and cozy--see my next post.

We bless you this day, Michael and Fernanda!

(A friend of Michael's who is also in the military has arranged for his wedding to be here July 4th, so I hope to see this happy couple again in a few months!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jennifer and Jonathan's Wedding at Second Empire!

Jennifer contacted me in December about officiating a small private wedding for her and Jonathan. She wanted a natural landscape with a pretty view. I suggested many places around the Triangle area but none seemed to fit. I also suggested the Second Empire even though it is right downtown and does not offer a scenic view of the countryside! But, that is what they found to suit them just right. Second Empire is happy to have your ceremony there for no charge other than the food and beverages and reception area which is so special and elegant. Tracy at Second Empire will see to every detail for you. So, they decided on having the ceremony outside on the brick landing with their small number (10) guests standing close by so they could hear the ceremony. I wrote a sweet ceremony for them that they got to edit and approve ahead of time.

The weather was just right on March 21 at 4:30 PM. Jennifer and Jonathan hired Greg Putnam to play the Chapman Stick which is a 13 stringed instrument that combined the guitar and the bass and played like a piano just pressing the strings to make very pretty music. He can be reached at (919) 934-7816. The guests, the groom and I gathered on the landing and awaited Jennifer who was escorted in by her parents. We began with a welcome and a parents' tribute and they gave roses to their mothers. They exchanged their vows and the rings and I pronounced them husband and wife. After the kiss everyone gathered around to congratulate them. We took a few photos and then the guests adjourned to the Capital Room which was set up with a large square table to seat 12. The beautiful wedding cake was made by the pastry chef at Second Empire. We left the happy couple and their families and friends to celebrate! All the best to you, Jennifer and Jonathan!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Family Wedding Ceremony for Michelle and Jason.

Today Marty and I arrived at the home of Jason and Michelle to officiate their small intimate wedding. They wanted a religious ceremony that would include Michelle's two children, William and Samantha, and Jason's two children, Connor and Cecelia, so I suggested the family unity sand ceremony. Michelle told me that the children were very excited and eager to be in the wedding. They called upon their friends, Brian Mullins, a professional photographer, and his wife, Ginger Mullins, a make-up artist, to be a part of the wedding and serve as their two witnesses. They had a pretty little cake with a motorcycle on top, the significance of what, I never learned. Must have been the boys idea!

We had the ceremony in front of the fireplace in their lovely home. The kids were amazing! They are so close in age to each other and already look like brothers and sisters. The little girls, Samantha and Cecelia, were dressed in identical colorful polka-dot dresses with little white shrugs. The boys were in identical shorts and shirts. They stood attentively listening to the ceremony but I could tell they were anxious to get to the sand pouring routine! After the sand ceremony I pronounced Michelle and Jason husband and wife and the whole bunch an official family unit. After the wedding Brian and Ginger signed the license and we got to the task of taking photos to record this special occasion.

Lori and Todd's Fabulous Wedding and Reception!

The rain continued all day but this did not hamper the joy and jubilation of this wedding! I really enjoyed being a part of Lori and Todd's special day and they planned it so well it went seamlessly. Here is how it all came about and I warn you now that this is going to be a lengthy post. In February of 2008 I officiated the wedding of Sandra and Bill Smith (see photo below of Bill, Sandra and me). That was a special wedding too because Bill is a wedding DJ (Magic of Music) with whom I do many weddings. He also works in the agency from which I retired in 2006, so we knew each other in different roles for us both. Anyway, at Bill and Sandra's wedding last year I met her whole family including her 3 sisters, one of which is Lori. Marty, my assistant, and I even attended Bill and Sandra's reception because we knew so many of the guests--namely most of the other wedding DJs in the area! It was a lot of fun.

Well, in July 2008 I got a note from Lori announcing that she and Todd had gotten engaged and wanted to get married in March of 2009 and was I available. I was delighted to tell her that I was available and that I would be honored to officiate for her. They did not have a place yet for the wedding but she was open to suggestions and had been checking out the wedding venues I have on my website. She and Todd fell in love with St. Mark's Chapel in downtown Raleigh--a city owned property. It is an old historic chapel built in the 1800s and moved to Raleigh from Chatham County and it can accommodate 55 guests. (I do many weddings there and did one earlier today. ) I suggested they contact Ryan at Caffe Luna for their reception which they did and booked it along with a trolley to transport the guests from the chapel to Caffe Luna and back. What a great plan!

So, they asked me to write their ceremony for them. They had heard the ceremony I did for Bill and Sandra and trusted me to decide for them. Then I sent my "proposed" ceremony to them for their review and any changes. Originally we had vows which they were going to read to each other from my book but the closer it got to the wedding, the more nervous they thought they would be so they asked me to change them into a format where all they had to say was "I do." And, so I did. We had a final ceremony and waited for the wedding day. Their guests filled up the chapel and everyone was anticipating these two tying the knot. Lori chose her mother, Lorraine, to be her matron of honor so she did not have to choose among her sisters. Todd's son, Ryan, stood up for him. Lori had a beautiful gown that the wedding cake was copied from. Swanks did the cake and it was not only pretty, it tasted great--a red velvet cake.Back to the wedding...Caleb and Chandler, Todd's grandchildren, were the ring bearer and flower girl, respectively. They were so adorable and did their jobs with aplomb! Lori and Todd asked Todd's buddies who are guitarists, Dennis Forbes, Stan Huges, and vocalist, Brian Harbough, to provide music for their wedding. Guitar music was chosen because that was Lori's father's favorite and so it was in his honor since he has passed away and was with us only in spirit. Celeste Parker was their photographer and she had photos to me for this blog by Tuesday following the wedding. Wow, so fast. And the photos are fabulous. All the ones on this blog post with her logo on them were taken by Celeste. The name of her business is Celestial Expressions Photography and you can't go wrong with her as your wedding photographer. Thanks, Celeste!

After the wedding party processed in, it was time for the bride! Lori appeared in the foyer looking absolutely radiant in her beautiful gown as the guests were standing, all eyes on her, including Todd's. They walked toward each other and met in the middle and then joined me on the altar for the ceremony. By this time, the sweat was pouring down Todd's brow so I used my hankie to mop him off. Everyone thought that was so funny so I said "Gettin' married is tough business!" which further incited the guests laughter. When they had calmed down and Todd's brow was dry, I began with a warm welcome to all, then a prayer, a memorial section remembering both Lori's and Todd's fathers, and then family and community blessings. I spoke about Todd and Lori's beliefs about love and marriage. Then I had to mop Todd's face off again! We got through the beautiful vows and they exchanged rings. I pronounced them husband and wife at last and introduced them to their guests after a closing blessing. Then the guests were off to Caffe Luna on the trolley as the wedding party and I remained behind for photos by Celeste.

When Celeste finished taking the photo of me with the couple, Marty and I took off for the reception. We sat with Bill and Sandra and got caught up on their news. The reception was quite festive--this family and their friends know how to have a jolly good time. After delicious antipasta, salad and tasty Italian bread I was just about full and could hardly touch my entree but it was so good. Then we had the cutting of the beautiful cake and champagne toast. We posed for some photos with Lori and her family (see the 3 sisters and their mom) and it was time to leave. See photo of Marty (my assistant), Sandra and me with the champagne. We really had a good time. I usually don't attend receptions for two reasons: 1) I usually know only the bride and groom who don't need to be worrying about the minister having a good time but should be celebrating with their friends and families and 2) I would be a roly poly if I ate that delicious food very often! But, this time was the exception. Thanks Lori and Todd! Who will be the next person in your family to get married?? Let me know. And, thanks so much, Lori, for the glowing review of me you put on Wow, couldn't get any better and I appreciate it! All the best!

Elegant Wedding at The Sutherland in Wake Forest!

Jessica and Mark chose The Sutherland for their wedding venue. It is a wonderful historic estate in Wake Forest that opened last year and this was my first wedding there. I met with Jessica and Mark in November and we hit it off right away. We later realized that I had officiated at the wedding of Mark's sister, Diane and her husband Will, in 2006! Two delightful couples to join in matrimony. So, now it is a family thing!

Jessica and I worked together and came up with their unique ceremony which included having a friend of theirs sing a song during the ceremony that she wrote for them. How special! On the Monday before the wedding I looked at the weather forecast for the wedding day--48 degrees and steady rain all day. I wrote Jessica a note that I was disappinted with the forecast and what was our Plan B. Well, Jessica was right on top of it and told me that she had arranged for a tent for the ceremony in the Walled Garden and another for the reception on the Groom's Terrace. And, it worked out so well. Actually the diffused lighting in the tent made for great photos. The tent was heated and toasty warm. The grass in The Walled Garden courtyard is actually artificial turf that looks so real and the great thing is that when it rains--no mud puddles or water squishing up and wetting your shoes--a great idea for this setting.

Anyway, we had their rehearsal on Friday and I met Jennifer Jones of The Sutherland for the first time who was our director for the wedding. I had previously met Ashlee and her mother, Gayle, of The Sutherland and Gayle was at the rehearsal too. We got it all organized and practiced our parts. It was really good to see Kathy and Paul, Mark's parents, again at the rehearsal and at the wedding. Diane and Will were at the wedding too of course and they looked great and so happy.

So, on the wedding day Marty and I arrived amid steady rain and with the help of Garrett Lamm who was DJ for Touch of Class DJ, I got my wireless mike all hooked in and we did a sound check. The acoustics are a bit tricky in a tent but it sounded good. The Sutherland had a designated "escort" with a huge purple umbrella who walked the guests and wedding party from the side porch of the manor house to the tent in the garden. There were 4 grandmothers who were escorted in and then the parents. Then the groom, best man and groomsman and I entered followed by the matron of honor and the bridesmaid in pretty dark brown dresses. I asked the guests to stand for our beautiful bride and she and her father floated down the aisle to Mark and me. Dad transferred Jessica's hand into Mark's and we stepped up onto the brick patio which made a nice altar area flanked by two gorgeous flower arrangements. (Sorry I did not get the name of the florist to credit them.)

We opened with a welcome to the guests and a prayer for Jessica and Mark. We honored their parents and we had two readings: an excerpt from Gifts From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and "What is Real?" from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. Then Jenn Ryan played the guitar and sang her special song to the couple. The couple made their vows and exchanged rings, were pronounced husband and wife and we closed with a blessing and sent the couple off to marital bliss!

The guests departed to the reception area which is a large beautiful brick patio covered by a huge tent. Marty and I gasped with wonder at the marvelous wedding cakes--many of them, some small, some large and all with different icings and embellishments. We were told that they were brought from Canada by family friends and were made by a cakery there owned and operated by a pastry chef and an artist. You can tell they are spectacular looking and word is that they taste as wonderful as they look! Wow!Bob and Nancy of Pendletons Photography transformed one of the rooms of The Sutherland into a studio setting and we began taking pictures. They got my photo with the couple first as Marty and I had to dash off to the next and last wedding of the day back at St. Mark's Chapel in Raleigh. Yep, it was still raining!

Many congratulations, Jessica and Mark, and many thanks for the wonderful review you gave me on!

Rainy Day Wedding for Shelley and Eric and their Children!

Well, I am way overdue on blogging this week! It is almost the weekend again and I have a small wedding this afternoon so I want to get this done now. So, here goes. Last Saturday March 14th was cold and rainy all day long. But the weddings were wonderful. None of the 3 weddings that day were impeded by the weather. We all gathered at St. Mark's Chapel in downtown Raleigh and were cozy, dry and warm for the wedding of Shelley and Eric who are so much in love. It was heartwarming to work with them. They are both talented writers and wrote their own secret vows to each other to be heard for the first time at the wedding. Well, they were a little bit too prolific and although their words to each other were so sweet, I had to ask both of them to edit them down into a more doable length, and they did. The fewer words were no less sweet though. Their wedding program was quite unique too. Instead of having the standard order of the service and the wedding party names, Shelley chose to write an essay of sorts that gave their backgrounds from childhood to the present, how they felt about each other, their children and their closest friends. It was fun to read. This was a second marriage for both Shelley and Eric and they each had three children from previous marriages. The 6 kids were all present and participating although Shelley's youngest (age 3), Joshua, was pretty overwhelmed and clinging to mom during the photo shoot after the ceremony.We started the wedding by cuing Molly Olah, our talented violinist, to begin the processional music and the wedding party processed in, sans the bride, who was hiding in a corner of the foyer out of the rain so Eric could not see her. (The original plan was for her to wait outside the closed doors of the chapel then fling the doors open and make her grand entrance--but with the pouring rain, waiting outside was definitely not an optioin!) Then with the music change and the guests standing for her entrance, Shelley stepped into the doorway and paused in her beautiful wedding gown. Eric started walking toward her and she toward him. They met in the middle of the aisle and stepped up onto the altar to join me. Nice symbolism, don't you think? They were beaming and glowing with love. We began the ceremony with a welcome to our guests, a reading of First Corinthians, wedding address, the secret vows, ring exchange and then the family unity sand ceremony followed by the pronouncement and THREE kisses! The guests were cheering as I introduced the couple!

I invited the guests to proceed to the reception at the couple's home in Wake Forest while the wedding party stayed behind to get some photos. It was a great wedding, Shelley and Eric. All the best to both of you and your kids who are so lucky to have you for parents!