Sealed with a kiss!

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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jenn and Sean's Wonderful Wedding at The Sutherland--Revisited!

Jenn and Sean had a beautiful and heartfelt wedding at The Sutherland on September 25th. Jenn's parents live in Franklinton NC so they had their wedding here. They came all the way from Bothell WA and their guests came from all over the country. There is a post earlier on this wedding. Since then I have received some photos from their photographer, Brian Mullins, and a thank you note from the couple that I wanted to add to the blog.

Jenn wrote: "Dear Rev. Middleton, Sean and I wanted to thank you for presiding over our wedding. We truly enjoyed working with you and appreciate all the love, guidance, and support that you gave to us. My guests couldn't say enough nice things about you and your beautiful ceremony. Thank you for being a special part of our day. Love, Jenn."

Brian Mullins is an exceptional photographer. I have admired his work through the years. You can go read his wonderful reviews on here.

Here Sean is saying his ring vows and slipping the ring on Jenn's finger.

At the rehearsal I always tell the couple that their kiss needs to be long enough for their photographer to get a good photo and assign them "kissing homework" the night before the wedding to practice, practice, practice! Jenn and Sean took that to heart and what a great picture Brian got!

Post wedding photos. It was raining as all afternoon and so we had to move the ceremony under the big tent in the Groom's terrace. When the ceremony was over, the rain had stopped and we got some great photos outside. This one is in front of the front steps of the manor house.

This photo was taken in the Walled Garden area where we would have had the ceremony had it not been raining. The Sutherland's grounds and gardens are just gorgeous!

Thanks for sending me these photos, Brian! You do such great work and are so much fun to work with!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Grand Marquise Ballroom is Open!

The Grand Marquise Ballroom in Garner opened this month, October 2009. It is an elegant new venue for weddings, receptions and other events. It is conveniently located about 10 minutes off I-40 and in a quiet neighborhood. I had the great good fortune of attending a Professional Wedding Guild (PWG) vendor networking luncheon there today, 10/28/09. The photographer for the event was Dajuan Jones and he has posted much better photos of this venue on his blog. Go take a look. Thanks, Dajuan!

The owners of Anfesa's Jewelers who built this lovely venue thought of everything. It will accommodate up to 500 guests and has parking for over 300 people.

This is the view when you walk into the ballroom from the spacious arched foyer. The grand staircase makes a great backdrop for a wedding ceremony and a great entrance for the wedding party into the ballroom for the reception.

This is the view of the ballroom from the side of the stairway.

This beautiful monogram projected onto the dance floor can be customized for each wedding couple.

There are gorgeous chandeliers on the ceiling and mood lighting as well. Notice the different colors of the room when the lights are changed. The doors lead into the beautiful foyer entrance where wedding guests can assemble for cocktails after the wedding ceremony while the ballroom is being turned for the reception.

Let me tell you, the bathrooms are equally well appointed. The mosaic above is in the ladies room as well as huge mirrors and chandeliers in each compartment.

This is the ceiling above the grand staircase.

Meredith Matthews, one of the owners, was gracious in giving us a tour of the ballroom. There is a fully equipped kitchen for caterers for events. There are no dedicated caterers at this venue so brides can bring their own choice of caterer.

This lovely peacock mural is in the bridal suite which is upstairs. The furnishings are really plush and elegant.

Three way mirrors and all the amenities.

A sweet swan lamp graces the spacious vanity area.

I had to show you the fancy "throne" for the bride!

And the matching sink! Note the pretty mural on the wall.

This is Rev. Robin Renteria who is our speaker for today's luncheon. She spoke on "hot buttons" -- how they get triggered and what to do about them. It was a great talk! Thanks, Robin.

Two of my favorite DJ's, Ross Merle on the left, and Lenny Fritts on the right, flank our PWG hostess, Gail Galloway!

Gail again. I like this photo of you, Gail!

This is Joy Edwards of A Joyful Occasion, wedding planning, special events and travel.

Two popular photographers I enjoy working with: Jennifer Kidd on the left and Jennifer Aanerud on the right.

Catherine and Kyle help out at the registration desk.

Marilyn Wienand graces us with her heavenly harp music. Marilyn is terrific on the organ too.

We-Cook-4U catered our luncheon today. It was delicious, Alvin! Ashley Cakes provided the cupcake desserts and brought this beautiful cake to display.

Craig Carpenter's Great Photos of Melinda and Jeff's Wedding.

Last night I got a notice from Facebook that I had been tagged by Craig Carpenter in a photo so I went to look at it and found all these great shots. (There is an earlier post on this blog of Jeff and Melinda's Wedding which took place on October 10th at the Washington-Duke Inn that tells you more about the actual wedding. It took place in the round with a very creative processional.) So, I thought I would post them here. Craig also has them on his fabulous blog plus many more of this wedding which I urge you to go take a look at. The name of Craig's business is Luster Studios. Here is a link to his blog where you can see the behind the scenes details of the wedding and the reception as well.

I'm on my way in for the ceremony! It was an overcast day which meant great conditions for photographs. No squinting, no shadows. (I must admit, I really like this photo of me!)

Melinda may be saying her vows to Jeff in this picture.

Jeff's cousin, Winn, on the left with his back to us, is reading Taylor Mali's hilarious poem "Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog." This was the most popular poem in weddings I did in 2008.

Here we are celebrating that Jeff just smashed the glass! Mahzel Tov!

And out they process followed by their wedding party. It was beginning to sprinkle a little rain. It was a good thing Melinda and Jeff decided to see each other before the wedding ceremony and take most of their pictures then in a custom that is catching fire called First Look or First Glance.

Here is a photo of Craig from a wedding we did together 8/22/09 at The Sutherland. Be sure to see Craig's photos of the bride and groom and read about and see the photos of their great reception. Thanks, Craig! I love to see your wedding photos because they are always so good and you catch the great moments so beautifully. See you at the next wedding!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lisa and Jason's Wedding at The Umstead!

Lisa and Jason were married on Sunday October 25, 2009 at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary. They wanted a small wedding with just close family and friends. Lisa and Jason chose to have no bridesmaids or groomsmen. When I arrived from my 4:00 wedding, everyone was gathered. I got my microphone hooked into Jeff Simpson's DJ system which was combined with the house system. We did a sound check and were ready to go.

Jason's parents entered first and then Lisa's mother, Judith, was escorted in by her sons, Stuart and Daniel--can you tell they are twins?

Then it was time for Jason and me to start down the aisle.

Lisa with Ami, The Umstead's Social Catering Manager, standing by for Lisa's cue to begin walking down the aisle. She did not want to be escorted in. She chose to walk about half-way where Jason met her and they walked up to me together. She handed her bouquet off to her mother on the way in.

I don't remember what was happening here but Lisa thought it was funny.

Brian Mullins was our photographer. He really rocks! He sent me some photos before I got around to posting this wedding--in fact he sent them to me the evening of the wedding which was phenomenal. This photo above and the one below by Brian show a wonderful contrast of photos by a talented professional photographer with professional equipment vs my simple point and shoot digital Olympus camera!

The pronouncement. Note the fabulous feathers in Lisa's hair. I will explain more about her dress below.

They're married now! They scooted inside the hotel while the guests assembled then came out and joined them for the group photo. Brian zoomed up onto the balcony for the aerial shot.

My cameraman, Dave, scooted up there too for this shot. Not too shabby for a 6.0 megapixel camera if I do say so myself!

Another great photo from Brian. Lisa and Jason, what a great wedding you planned and accomplished! Congratulations on your marriage and I wish for you all the happiness in the world!

Lisa made her own bouquet and the boutonnieres for the guys. The bouquet was made from many varieties of basil and it was so fragrant I could almost taste it. What a unique idea. Lisa is so creative. She told me the wedding dress and decor all started with her shoes. She fell in love with them and had to have them although standing in them on her wedding day brought about the discovery that they were not as comfortable as they looked! But she persevered. I bet they came off early on during the reception!

She designed her dress around the shoes and had it made. It was very unusual and certainly not traditional--much like Lisa herself. It is my preference to wear an outfit for the wedding that blends or matches the wedding colors. When Lisa told me that the colors of her dress were red, orange and brown, I decided that the best colors for me to wear were black with a red prayer stole. The weather was on the cool side so I opted for a black pantsuit rather than a dress. With Jason's red tie, we all looked quite color coordinated!

About our vendors:

The Umstead is one of the most elegant and prestigious wedding venues in North Carolina and I love doing weddings here. Guests are treated like royalty and Ami Wheeler, Social Catering Manager, makes sure the weddings run smoothly with every attention to detail. Thanks once again for your skill and service, Ami!

Brian Mullins is one of the finest wedding photographers around. He has a blog too. Go check it out for more photos of this wedding and more!

Jeff Simpson of Simpsound DJ and Lighting is always a pleasure to work with. He was in the reception room when I checked in and when I left so I did not actually get to speak to him but we waved at each other! Thanks, Jeff.

Sweet Memories did the wedding cake but Dave and I did not venture in to see it. I don't need to see one of Donna's cakes to know it was beautiful.

Kathy Watkins did Lisa's hair and make-up and she sure looked stunning!

Unforgettable Cinderella Wedding for Kristie and Mike at Doubletree!

When Kristie and Mike came to see me last June, Kristie told me that it was her dream to arrive at her wedding in a horse-drawn carriage. She had seen it done at Doubletree Suites and was planning on it for her wedding. Finally the big day arrived--Sunday October 25, 2009. The day was cool and overcast and the trees had begun to change to their beautiful fall colors. Little did I suspect the tremendous visual and emotional impact this wedding would have on me!

The guests have all arrived and our director, Susan Ashley, cued the DJ, Bob Perry, to begin the music for the entrance of the wedding party and parents. Mike and I started off to the terrace followed by groomsman, Fred, and then Mike's parents, Larry and Cindy. Larry would join us as his son's best man after seating Cindy. Next came Samir, a good friend of the bride's who served as a "bridesman" and his son Kabir as our ring bearer. Then Mike's sister, Sandra, entered as the Maid of Honor. Kristie's mother is unfortunately not living but her father was standing proudly by for the arrival of the bride.

And then it was time for the bride's grand entrance. The expansive music began. I turned all the way around and looked behind me and saw the horse and carriage coming from the waterfall area. It was absolutely spectacular with the beautiful green grass, the trees in green and colors, and the reflection in the lake. Just like in the movies! I tapped Mike on the shoulder and whispered for him to turn around and look. What a picture. I was hoping that my husband, Dave, who was standing in as my roadie, was getting some shots of this incredible scene with my camera and thankfully he got some great ones for this blog post.

Coming on around the lake as all the guests watch. What a breathtaking sight it was.

I blew this photo up so you could see more detail. I think I see the bride looking around at us.

This is just before the carriage had to go behind a little footbridge and they disappeared for a few moments. We were holding our breaths that they did not get stuck in the soggy ground because it had rained the night before. Of course the driver had checked it all out beforehand to make sure it would not get stuck.

By this time my heart was in my throat and the tears in my eyes! It was just all so dreamy and surreal! I think every little girl who has read the Cinderella story dreams of this day and Kristie made her dreams come true.
What a handsome horse and the driver was all dressed up in proper attire for the wedding. I don't have photos of Kristie getting out of the carriage but it was not an easy task with her wedding dress and train.

Her sweet father then escorted her down the aisle to transfer her hand into Mike's as the guests were all standing in her honor. I cleared the tears from my throat and my eyes (It has been a long time since I have been moved to tears at a wedding. I guess I was getting a little jaded!) and began the ceremony with a warm welcome to the guests.

See Kristie's beautiful gown--she looks like a princess in a fairy tale! They wanted to have the Celtic handfasting ritual in their wedding so here I am looping it around their joined hands. While bound together they said their vows. I then removed the cord which was symbolically replaced by their rings.

After the exchange of vows and rings, they poured their sand together. Her sand was red and his was green. On the right, you can see our videographer, Mark, getting very good footage of this.

Nice kiss! I could tell they had been practicing!

It's back up the aisle and before getting into the carriage, a group shot with all the guests.

I think everyone was still starstruck with the storybook aspect of this wonderful wedding. Her father's eyes were filled with tears. Now for the task of getting the bride and her dress back up into the carriage and joined by her new husband!

I bade farewell to the newlyweds at this point because I had to get to another wedding at The Umstead. They went back around the lake to the waterfall for photos with their wedding party. Kristie and Mike, kudos to you for making your dream wedding happen. If your marriage reflects the same dreams and determination I know you will have a bright future and great life together.

Off they go! There is a sign on the back of the carriage that says "Just Married!"

Our Vendors who made this all happen:

First of all, let me give a bunch of credit to Amy Acosta of Doubletree Suites who knew exactly how to pull this all together for Kristie and Mike and get the timing just right for the bride's entrance. It took a lot of skill and effort to accomplish this and she has it! Thanks so much, Amy, for making this couple's dream come true. Here is a photo of the reception decor. It was fabulous in red and white. Actually, it looked a lot like Valentine's Day!

Cinda's Creative Cakes made this fabulous cake! It is certainly unique and in keeping with the wedding colors.

I thank Bull City Carriage for providing this wonderful horse and carriage, the driver and the assistant who kept the horse from getting spooked by the setting and the crowd!

Susan Ashley, of It's Your Day to Enjoy, was our wedding coordinator and director. She really paid attention to detail and was very organized. Susan, it was a pleasure working with you.

Our photographer was Michael of Michael's Memories.

Our videographer was Mark Holland of Ron K. Smith Productions. Mark is so much fun to work with. Good to see you again, Mark.

Our DJ was Bob Perry with DJ Professionals & Video. Bob did a great job. He told me that the couple asked him to find the right music for the entrance of the bride. He chose the perfect music from William Shakespeare In Love by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra from the scene where Romeo first sees Juliet. The music was expansive and sweeping--just perfect! Thanks, Bob!