Sealed with a kiss!

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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fabulous Wedding for Katherine and Jeff on May 30, 2009!

When Katherine called me the end of March of this year to see if I was available to officiate their wedding at the Matthews House in Cary a couple of months later on May 30, 2009 at 5:00, I checked my calendar and told her I already had a wedding at the same time and the same place that day! How could that be? We got on a 3-way conversation with Nina Davis of the Matthews House to find out what was going on! She told us that the couple I had on my calendar had canceled their wedding there the day before! They had not notified me and so I did not know what was going on with them--had they split up, postponed or just broken our contract? I got in touch with them and found out that due to some economic circumstances they had canceled their contract with the Matthews House but hoped to find another place for the same date and time. At that late date (April 4th), I was pretty sure they would not be able to do that and would have to pick another date. So, I met with Katherine and Jeff and they booked me for their wedding that date. A few days later the other couple notified me that they had decided to use a family farm in Chapel Hill for their wedding site and wanted to find out if I was available for a date in October. Thankfully I was, so all was well!

Katherine and Jeff and I worked fast to get their ceremony written and finalized. They were busy booking all their vendors and getting ready for the big day. They went first class! They hired Ferdy Neubauer for their photographer, Reta and Meredith Kohari--a mother/daughter wedding planning team known as French 75, Sweet Memories for their wedding cake, Arioso Strings for the ceremony music and Jerry Thompson of Joe Bunn DJ for the reception. What a fabulous team they put together! Unfortunately I did not find out who did the flowers but they were very pretty.

We had their rehearsal the afternoon before the big day and got all the logistics of the processional, ceremony and recessional worked out. Katherine and Jeff had their hearts set on the Unity Candle ceremony even though their wedding was outdoors and keeping candles lit can be a challenge if there is any wind. The weather looked good for the wedding day and they had extra candles in votives to use if there was any wind. They sure were thorough and thought of everything. We even had two long-handled butane lighters stashed nearby just in case and when Katherine processed in, she was carrying a small Bic lighter nestled next to her bouquet. I discovered that she was holding it all that time when they were about to exchange rings and I relieved her of it and stuck it in my pocket! Amazingly, their candles stayed lit the whole ceremony--there is even a photo here of the candles still burning after the ceremony to prove it. I think this is a very good sign for the success of their future together!

Anyway the big wedding day arrived with spectacular weather. Maybe a little warm to the guys in jackets but nothing like a blazing hot summer day! Marty and I set up my sound system and did a sound check and we were ready. Jeff was a bit nervous so I tried to calm him down and he read over his vows in my book. If the bride and groom aren't a bit nervous, I get worried! Being nervous on your wedding day is natural and to be expected. So is being emotional and that is why I always tuck a hankie in my ceremony book to whip out if needed during the ceremony. But, nervousness aside, they both were very happy to be marrying surrounded by their families and friends.

Katherine was beaming as she and her father, Tom, floated down the aisle--and Jeff was beaming back at her. The wedding ceremony went without a glitch, thanks to Reta and Meredith. Katherine and Jeff were married and it was time to celebrate. They went off for a few moments for some private time and Marty snapped a great photo of them. Their guests gathered with the wedding party for a group photo under the balcony at the front of the house then went inside for refreshments. Marty got a photo of me with the couple and their photographer who is usually behind the camera. Gotcha, Ferdy!

After three weddings that day, Marty and I were ready to head back home to unload, pick up my husband, Dave, and get some dinner! Katherine and Jeff wanted us to stay for the reception and eat there but as I told them--if I went to all the receptions, I would weigh 400 pounds by now! So we packed up and scooted back to N. Raleigh.

Katherine and Jeff, all the best to you! I know you are so happy! You are a great couple and I really enjoyed working with you to make your dream wedding come true!

Erica and John's Wedding at Umstead Park on May 30, 2009!

Erica and John are very resourceful and creative! They proved that you can have a lovely wedding without breaking the bank! They chose to have their wedding at Shelter 2 at Umstead Park off Harrison Ave and I-40 surrounded by nature. It is a fairly secluded shelter in a wooded area with a winding walkway which served as the entrance for the bridal party. The weather was spectacular!

They decorated with white feather wreaths and had white chairs for the guests facing the stone fireplace. The picnic tables that come with the shelter were pushed to the rear. I brought my little green table for them to use for their sand ceremony. They had the prettiest programs that were coordinated with the aqua ("pool") color scheme of their wedding. Bubble blowing containers were passed out to the guests before the ceremony. Rose petals were strewn on either side of the aisle. Shane Snider was our capable photographer and Ed Stephenson was the guitarist providing lovely music for this occasion. He also plays with Arioso Strings and was headed off after this one to play with them for another wedding. I have worked with both Shane and Ed before and it was good to work with them again. (A little disclaimer: the photos on this post--and all posts unless otherwise noted--were taken by my assistant, Marty, with my little digital camera. Check Shane's blog for the "real" wedding photos!)

Erica and her sisters, Rachel and Kaitlyn, who served as her maid and matron of honor, arrived and after I got the marriage license in hand and the boutonnieres pinned on the men in the wedding party, we were ready to begin. Erica's father escorted in her mother then returned to bring Erica in. The groom and his best man, John, and I entered from the side then Rachel and Kaitlyn processed in. The guests stood as Erica and her father made their way down the winding walkway and down the aisle. The ceremony was simple but elegant and included the unity sand ceremony. They exchanged the vows they had written to each other and sealed them with the rings. The pronouncement was made and I introduced the newlywed couple to their guests. It was a happy day for everyone. Marty and I got some photos of the couple and we headed down the road for the next wedding at the Matthews House not too far away.

Many congratulations to you, Erica and John!

Kelly and Aaron's Wedding at Raleigh Rose Garden on May 30, 2009!

Kelly and Aaron fell in love with the Raleigh Rose Garden and knew that would be the perfect place for their wedding. It is so beautiful with all the roses and the fish pool and the stone arches flanked by huge trees that reach way up into the sky. When I look at the stone archways and look up at the trees and the sky, I feel like I could be anywhere in the world!

Saturday was a gorgeous day for a wedding and Aaron and Kelly were so thrilled. They planned their wedding carefully and we rehearsed the day before. Their friends Michelle and Paul were in town from Wisconsin to assist them. I married Paul and Michelle in 2007 and it was so good to see them again! So, Michelle was our "director" for the wedding. Marty and I set up my sound system with battery power and we were set to go. Molly Olah on violin and her associate on the cello provided heavenly music. Melissa Kay was our photographer. She has a blog too so photos of this wedding will probably be there soon.

Kelly did the flowers herself; aren't they pretty? She also made their attractive programs. She told me she hand stamped the green floral designs on each one. She is so creative!

The wedding party was small and Kelly and Aaron wanted to walk in together rather than the tradition of the bride being escorted in. It was a wonderful scene to watch them making the picturesque walk up the grassy aisle flanked by the roses and their guests. Aaron's father, Max, was his best man and Kelly's sister, Brittany, was her maid of honor. She wore a lovely shade of watermelon pink. Kelly and Aaron loved the handfasting ritual with the rich symbolism so during the ceremony I wrapped their joined hands with the traditional red cord for the exchange of their vows. I told them that I had recently read that the more loops around their hands, the stronger the bond so Aaron made sure that every bit of the cord was around their hands! Then they exchanged rings which symbolically take the place of the cord.

Tears of happiness were shed during the ceremony and many guests came up to me afterwards to thank me for the warm and touching ceremony. Of course I tell them that the couple gets to choose exactly what they want for their special day so that it fits them. It was a wonderful wedding for Kelly and Aaron and after the photos they departed to join their guests at Caffe Luna--another great place in Raleigh for a wedding and was our "plan b" if the weather had not cooperated.

Many blessings to you, Kelly and Aaron!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Lovely Wedding for Colleen and Mario!

Colleen and Mario came to see me in March to officiate their wedding on May 24th at the Radisson Inn in Durham. They wanted their ceremony to be in the restaurant dining room. I have done many weddings in the ballroom and meeting rooms of that hotel but could not remember ever seeing the restaurant. When I arrived for their rehearsal on Saturday morning I could see how the dining room could be set up for a very nice wedding venue and it was! There is a little stage type of area at the far end that serves as an altar decorated with flowers and the guests sat on the floor level and everyone had a great view of the wedding. We did a make-shift rehearsal in a guest suite since the dining room was in use that morning.

When Marty and I arrived at the wedding on Sunday the place had been transformed into an elegant wedding hall! The tray ceiling really gave it depth and light. Their colors were coral and white and everything, including the wedding cake, was coordinated. They did the sand ceremony with Colleen's color being coral and Mario's being black and as wedding favors they had taken little bottles and poured alternating colors of the sand in each one topped with a cork and ribbon! How clever! As I was standing near the guest book as the guests arrived, I looked up and saw Megan and Trevor, a couple I married in June of 2005! Turns out that Megan had been a long time close friend of Mario. Small world. I won't ever forget Megan and Trevor's wedding because he took Megan's maiden name and the guests thought I had made a mistake when I introduced them at the end of the ceremony! I found out that they now have a 4 month old son, Corvin, and this day was the first time they had left him with a babysitter who happened to be Trevor's parents. It was a delightful surprise to see them. Here is a photo of them on their wedding day.

It was time to begin and Mario cued the DJ to start the music. Mario is a musician and brought his own sound set up and had a friend at the controls. The three groomsmen and I processed in. Then the mother of the bride was escorted in by another groomsman and he took his place with us. Then Mario came in and lit a candle in his mother's honor and stood with me. The three bridesmaids and the maid of honor came in one by one. I had the guests stand as Colleen's father escorted her down the aisle. She looked stunning! When the transfer of hands was made everyone was seated and the ceremony began. The couple included a blessing for their parents, a reading of the poem "To my Friend" by Roy Croft, the vows they wrote for each other and the pouring of the sand. After the pronouncement, closing blessing and presentation of the newlywed couple, they scampered outside for photos before joining their guests in celebration of their marriage. Terrific! A great wedding! Congratulations and best wishes forever, Colleen and Mario!

James and Myra Make Their Vows to Each Other!

James and Myra were are a delightful couple to work with and I was honored to officiate their wedding on May 24th at the White Garden of JC Raulston Arboretum. They did not want a rehearsal as James told me, they preferred to "wing it!" They wanted no sound equipment or music, no frills. Both of them had been married before and they knew they wanted their wedding ceremony to be very special surrounded by their closest friends and family. They had specific ideas for what they wanted. Although they had all my ceremony material at hand, they chose to write more than 50% of the words themselves. It was a beautiful ceremony and they each wrote secret vows to each other to hear for the first time on their wedding day. They are both excellent writers and I would say that James leans more toward poetry. They had a lot to say in their ceremony about their love for each other and the attributes each possessed that the other cherished. It was a very "from the heart" ceremony. James' vows to Myra were over 300 words in length and although I urged him to edit them down, he would not budge! He did get slightly choked up with emotion while saying them to Myra but he made it through!

Myra wrote me a note the the evening of their wedding and she said: "Thank you for everything. We had a lovely day, and we appreciate the part you played in helping make this day memorable. The ceremony was exactly what we wanted and we appreciate your working with us on it. From James, thank you for suffering through 303 words. We would be happy to recommend you if that would ever be of help to you."

They wanted to include James' son 10 year old son, Noah, so he escorted Myra from a hidden spot onto the garden terrace where James appeared from his hidden spot and the three of them processed in together. Noah also served as his father's best man. He looked so happy! Their wedding was both elegant and casual at the same time. Myra was beautiful in her lovely ivory satin gown and shawl with a pretty white flower in her hair. James was coordinated in a cream colored jacket--and so tall! They brought a picnic spread with them and had their reception after the wedding in the same area. It was great weather and the food looked yummy. Marty and I each treated ourselves to a chocolate chip cookie and headed on to the next and final wedding of this busy weekend.

James and Myra, congratulations and I wish you great happiness and contentment!

Kristen and Chris's Wedding at Highgrove!

I met Kristen and Chris in June of 2008 to plan for their wedding ceremony on May 23, 2009 and they knew exactly what they wanted for their wedding--simple but elegant! They worked diligently to have a wedding that expressed the two of them. They wanted a short ceremony and that's what they put together from my ceremony material. They wrote secret vows to each other that they heard for the first time on their wedding day.

Neither Chris nor Kristen is a slave to tradition! Kristen did not want her bridesmaids to have to buy special dresses for her wedding and so she had them each get a dress of their choosing in some shade of green. She was delighted when her good friend, Sana, selected a print dress. Sana read a popular poem by ee cummings during the ceremony. By far, she was the best reader at a wedding that I have ever experienced. She really put feeling into her voice, paused at just the right places, and had everyone's rapt attention. Thank you, Sana! Back to the bridesmaids dresses: I was really taken with the maid of honor, Nadia's, dress so here is a photo of it. It was so unique and looked like it had a beautiful green blossom on it. I took a good look at it after the wedding to see how it was made. The groomsmen all wore their own suits but they all had the green striped ties. Chris wore comfortable canvas shoes with rubber soles! The wedding cake was simple but elegant--no frills! I don't know who made the wedding cake though because I forgot to ask.

Their DJ was Bethany of All the Right Grooves out of Charlotte. I have worked with Bethany before and she is really really good and so accommodating and helpful. I plugged my receiver and microphone into her system and the sound was perfect. Angela of Highgrove was our director. She has done so many weddings that everything goes like clockwork and I really appreciate that. Highgrove in Fuquay Varina is a picturesque setting for a wedding and one of my favorite venues. Christobal Perez of Azul Photography was there to record this wonderful wedding and it was a pleasure to work with Chris again. Kristen and Chris decided to see each other before the ceremony so all the photos of them together were done before the ceremony started. I will be visiting his blog to view his photos of this wedding. His pictures are always great. Kristen is a beautiful woman and as a bride she was drop-dead gorgeous. Ginger Mulliins did her hair and make up. Ginger's expertise as a make-up artist and hair stylist is unrivaled and Kristen's hair for the wedding was incredible.

With the guests all seated and waiting and the bride and groom anxious to get the ceremony over with, Angela got the wedding party and parents lined up and cued us in. Chris was escorted in by his parents. Kristen was escorted in by her mother and stepfather. The ceremony began with a warm welcome to all and remembrance of those loved ones who could not be with us. We had a tribute to their parents then Sana read "I Carry Your Heart With Me." The couple made their heartfelt vows to each other and exchanged rings. I made the pronouncement of marriage, they kissed and out they went and it was over in probably less than 15 minutes--just what they wanted. They were ready to relax and have a fun time with their guests. Kristen and Chris--you did it! Congratulations!

Zola and Michael Wed at the White Garden!

The next wedding of the weekend was Saturday May23rd for Zola and Michael in the White Garden of JC Raulston Arboretum. Again the weather was wonderful and all their hard work paid off in a beautiful wedding. I met with Zola and Michael last August to find out their dreams for their wedding. (I was embarrassed that I did not recognize them when I got to their rehearsal because we had met so many months ago!) They loved putting together their own ceremony and made it very special with readings by Zola's two sisters, Yana and Rose, and her good friend, Denise. They all did a fabulous job. This wedding was unique in many ways. Zola did not want to be escorted in and "presented" so after the wedding party and I had processed in, Michael waited on the terrace for Zola to appear from a hidden spot nearby and they processed in together as their guests stood in their honor. They also wrote their own vows which they read to each other from my book.

The lovely music was provided by the Everbloom Quartet. Their friend and professional photographer, Burcu Atakturk of Aries Photography, was documenting this wonderful event. The aisle was lined with beautiful potted flowers. The three bridesmaids, Yana, Rose, and Nadia were dressed in colorful dresses of turquoise, orange and purple, made for them especially for this wedding by the bride's mother, Leah. Zola's wedding gown was exquisite. It looked vintage but was new with beautiful lace and beading. Zola's Aunt Anita, Leah's sister, was our capable director drafted into service at the rehearsal. Anita, you did a great job getting everyone lined up, cued in, and seated in the right seats! (That is Anita in the hat and sunglasses doing her job.) Michael and his groomsmen were so tall I felt like a midget! See us gathered together before the ceremony. Michael is so tall that even with me standing on the step during the ceremony I had to look way up to make eye contact with him! The wedding ceremony ended with the kiss and introduction of the newlywed couple to their guests who cheered them on and then departed to 111 Place in Cary for their reception while we took some pictures. It was a delightful wedding and I am honored to have been a part of it. All the best to you, Zola and Michael!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wonderful Wedding for Elizabeth and Daniel!

Wow! I am so behind on blogging! I officiated 5 weddings this past weekend. Memorial Day weekend is always a popular time for couples to marry. Did you know that May and October are the two most popular months of the year for weddings in NC? In addition I had rehearsals for these weddings and squeezed in consultations during the weekend including Monday with couples for their upcoming weddings. I also traded vehicles on Monday--something I had not planned to do. I had almost 200K miles on my car that had served me so well for the past 5 years but it was time to get a car with less miles on it. The perfect car for me was apparently just waiting for me to buy it and so, I did! That then required all the necessary things like getting the insurance transferred, setting up a car loan, and unloading my stuff from the old car to the new one--what a job! In the midst of doing that, my sister from California came to Raleigh unexpectedly to visit our mother who is in a nursing home here so I wanted to get together with her while she was in town. Now it is late Wednesday night and I am just now getting down to blogging! Blogging is very time consuming, especially sorting through all the photos that Marty takes with my camera for this blog.

Elizabeth and Dan's wedding was on Friday May 22nd at the Matthews House in Cary. This is a wonderful setting for a wedding and I have enjoyed going there and seeing all the latest developments on the site. Nina, the proprietor, has just added a full kitchen to the reception hall which makes it even better for weddings and other events there. We had the rehearsal on Thursday and Lauren (their friend serving as wedding director) and I ran everyone in the wedding party and parents through the logistics for the ceremony.

When Marty (my assistant) and I arrived on Friday to get the sound set up Ryan Pflumm of Island Sounds DJs was waiting for us. He plugged my trusty wireless microphone into his system and the sound was perfect! (see photo of Ryan and Nina on this post) The weather was so pleasant and comfortable. The guests started arriving and we were ready to begin the ceremony. The wedding went just as we rehearsed for which I am always grateful. Thank you, Lauren, for doing a great job directing! Note also that Dan had his good friend, Sheena, for his Best Woman in place of a Best Man! We honored their parents and Elizabeth and Daniel read the vows from my book that they had written to each other. They exchanged rings and I concluded the ceremony with the pronouncement followed by the kiss! The newlyweds recessed down the aisle and the guests were directed to go to the front lawn for a huge group photograph by Robin Lin who was up on the balcony. Then they went into the house for refreshments and the wedding party and I reassembled at the ceremony site for the posed photos.

Daniel told me he used to manage a Harris-Teeter store before he returned to graduate school and now works there only part time. He and Elizabeth got their wedding cupcakes and their flowers from Harris-Teeter and they were terrific. Daniel told me he knew all the right people to get this done for them!This was a great way to save on expenses and yet have all the trimmings.

Congratulations, Elizabeth and Dan! I know you are happy to be married to each other and now that the wedding is behind you, Dan can get back to a "normal" life!