Sealed with a kiss!

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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fabulous Interfaith Wedding Ceremony for Reshma and Darren at Maggiano's!

Reshma, Darren and I met last September to plan their wedding for October of 2011 at Maggiano's Little Italy in Southpoint Mall. Due to some health challenges in the family they decided to move their wedding up six months earlier than planned so we set a new wedding date for Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011. Fortunately Maggiano's was able to accommodate the change of date. So we got to work on their ceremony which was a lovely blending of Christian and Hindu wedding customs along with a sweet tribute to their parents and Reshma's daughter, Selena. We rehearsed on Saturday morning to make sure everyone understood their part. At the rehearsal I had the pleasure of meeting Reshma's parents, Babu and Meena. Babu, her father, and I chatted quite a bit. He earned his graduate degree from UNC in the 1970s and they now live outside Augusta, GA. He requested that I include in the prayer the significance of Easter Sunday to balance with the Hindu invocation of prayer to the Lord Ganesh, the God of Wisdom, which opens every auspicious Hindu occasion. 
When Marty and I arrived for the wedding, the reception area was all set for the celebration after the ceremony. Maggiano's has a nice large private room where I have also done several wedding ceremonies as it can be partitioned into two separate rooms. For Reshma and Darren's ceremony, however, we were using the round room with lots of windows to the left of the revolving door entrance.

Reshma was out of sight of the guests getting ready. Here she had not put on her veil. What a beautiful wedding gown!Thanks to Carolyn Scott, our photographer, for sending me these shots and more!
The color for the wedding was a true red and this lovely cake certainly fits right into the color scheme. I believe that the chef of Maggiano's is responsible for this beautiful cake. Reshma, correct me if I am wrong.
Maggiano's was open for business on Easter Sunday and so the wedding guests were mingled with the restaurant guests waiting in the lounge area to be seated and it was hard for me to tell who was a wedding guest and who was a customer waiting to be seated in the dining room! But, we got all the guests seated and started the processional. The first person escorted in was Darren's mother, Kay, escorted in by Darren's brother.
 Above is Reshma's beautiful mother, Meena, escorted in by her son, Sheel.
Reshma asked that I wear red as well and I was most happy to don the red dress I wear for weddings because I don't get to wear it that often, mainly at Christmas! Darren and I prepare to make our entrance followed by his best man, Ben.
This pretty little girl is Selena, the 10 year old daughter of the bride. She was so excited for this wedding and her enthusiasm showed as she walked in sprinkling petals.
Then Teresa, the Matron of Honor, entered. She was supposed to come in before Selena but somehow Selena got ahead of her. It was fine, no big deal!
Here comes the bride escorted in by her father, Babu, and her brother, Sheel. She sure got the attention of the customers waiting in the lounge area! I found out on Facebook that behind the scenes, Denise Hutter of Images by Denise had been doing hair and makeup for Reshma, Selena, Teresa and Meena.
You can see a little of what this room looks like from here. All the guests were standing for the entrance of our beautiful bride. When I arrived, there was a red velvet runner down the aisle but we had to remove it because the doors would not clear it and it would have been a tripping hazard during the ceremony as the bride and groom circled  the fire in the Hindu custom. When I told Reshma after the ceremony, she had not even noticed the absence of the aisle runner!
Our photographer, Carolyn Scott, kneels in the aisle to get some great shots of the bride and groom and wedding party as we begin this wonderful ceremony. She sent me some great photos that I have added to this post. Thanks, Carolyn! This is the first ceremony that we have worked together.
Reshma and Darren were so ready to get married! Their love for each other was evident as they gazed at each other. Reshma had been married before then widowed. I know Darren is so happy that he held out on matrimony until Reshma came into his life.
After the welcome, we had a Christian prayer which included the significance of Easter (everlasting life) and then Reshma's father was to give two Hindu prayers. He told me at the rehearsal that he and Selena were going to surprise Reshma at that point by Selena giving one of the prayers. And she did a great job. Babu, on the other hand, got a bit choked up at that point and Sheel stood up to help him but he recovered and came through. It was such a touching moment!
After remembering loved ones who have passed on, including Darren's father and brother, we had a tribute to Reshma's parents, Darren's mother, and to Selena. 
Then it was time to pour the sand in the Family Unity Sand Ceremony.The couple's story of how they met and fell in love came next. Everyone enjoyed hearing the sweet moments and the humorous moments of their courtship--including their rival football teams, the Steelers for Reshma and the Cowboys for Darren!
In the Christian tradition, we had the lighting of the Unity Candle. These flames then served as the sacred fire of Phere. The Hindu wedding custom of Mangal Phera is for the couple to  walk around the fire four times. At each round, Sheel offered the couple ceremonial rice and rose petals as a gift which they accepted then made the next round.
The first three rounds the bride leads the groom signifying that the bride would be free to take the lead in matters of everyday life.
Darren had to be careful not to step on the bride's train that trailed after her on the three rounds! 
The groom leads the bride for the fourth round signifying that it would be the groom who would lead her through life. Each round had a significance: Dharma, Artha, Karma, and Moksha for which I read the meaning as they made their rounds.
The next tradition was called Saptapati. As the bride and groom walk around the fire taking seven steps, they make certain promises to each other at each step which they repeated after me.
Here Darren is placing the Mangalsutra, a ceremonial wedding necklace, around Reshma's neck. This Hindu custom is the counterpart to the Western tradition of wedding rings.
Now they exchanged rings and repeated their vows to each other after me, line by line.
Finally we come to the closing blessing and the proclamation of marriage!
The KISS!  (Darren remembered that at the rehearsal I told him to be sure and put his hands under the veil rather than on top or he would dislodge it or yank her head backwards!)
Look at that big smile Darren is wearing! I know Reshma was so thrilled. And Selena was ecstatic to have a new daddy! She and Darren have bonded like two peas in a pod!
After Marty and I retrieved my microphone and receiver from our DJ Tim Hazell of TJDJ Music, and my little table which held the rice, petals and necklace, we went outside for photos. I snagged Teresa and got her signature for the marriage license. I had already gotten Ben's signature just before we started the ceremony.
 Reshma had already stepped out of her pretty red high heels and Teresa was pinning up the train.
There was a refreshing breeze as you can see and we were all so thrilled that the ceremony had gone so perfectly. Darren and Reshma, I know you know how fortunate you are to have found one another and I know you are going to have a wonderful marriage and provide a wonderful model of a healthy relationship and nurturing home for Selena! Congratulations!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wonderful Wedding Ceremony for Sarah and Nirav at The Butterfly House!

After the wedding at 4:00 at Duke Gardens on April 23, 2011, Marty and I scooted on over to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. It was a short drive and so we arrived with time to spare for Sarah and Nirav's wedding just outside the Butterfly House. The weather was gorgeous and Marty got so many good pictures it was hard for me to leave any out so this post is really filled with photos not only of the wedding but of the venue as well.
I have done several weddings inside the Butterfly House but the area outside the facility has been recently landscaped creating a beautiful setting for an outdoor wedding. Sarah and Nirav had told me about it when we first met in March of 2010 to plan their ceremony but I just could not picture it.
Here is the view from the tent down the aisle. After the ceremony, the tables will be spread out and the chairs put at the tables.
This is the view from the "altar" area to the tent. 

Through the tent and to the right is the terrace of the Butterfly House in front of the main entrance where the guests will have cocktails after the ceremony. Durham Catering was busy setting up for the reception.
This is the view of the entrance from the hill above the Butterfly House.
Sarah and Nirav are both geneticists and infused the scientific theme by pairing the pretty colorful Gebera daisies with various size beakers and graduates from the lab filled with colored water. How clever and symbolic! Sarah and Nirav did not want a religious ceremony but they did want to include some of the customs of their diverse backgrounds--Hindu and American. So, we set about designing a ceremony to be exactly what they wanted. The result was a very unique ceremony rich in symbolism and meaning for this couple. I'll explain more later when we get to the ceremony part of this post!
Sarah's father, Joe, is a graphic designer and made all these fabulous wedding programs. They are some of the best I have ever seen! You can see that the color scheme was teal and yellow which made a stunning combination.
One of their guests baked their wedding cake. She is with Tier Bella . The colors followed their theme and there was a pair of butterflies on top!  
Lenny Fritts with Touch of Class DJ was on hand at both the rehearsal and the wedding and helped direct the wedding party in for the processional. I love Lenny! He is such a big help for me at weddings. We have done so many together I can't count them all. Thanks, Lenny!
Sarah and Nirav decided to see each other before the ceremony. I am sure they did the "First Look" ritual that is becoming so popular now. The photographer sets it up by having the groom in a private setting facing away from the direction the photographer will then bring in the bride. This way they have their first moments of seeing each other on their wedding day in private and the photographer gets some terrific photos this way. I saw them in one of the Museums electric golf carts going up the hill into the wooded area so I decided to follow a little later after setting up my microphone with Lenny. I discovered a whole new world back there! I felt like I was walking in Jurassic Park or something. I expected a dinosaur to pop his head over the trees at any moment. Thankfully the only ones I saw were inanimate objects!
On down the wooded path was an overlook of a beautiful lake I had no idea was back there. There was a winding wooden walkway going down and around.
Their photographer, Riley MacLean, and his second cameraman, Elliott, were there with the couple taking some amazing photos. I am sure he will get some awards and make some covers of wedding magazines! Can't wait to see them on his blog when he gets them posted.
Riley moved to the Triangle last year from the Reno/Lake Tahoe area where he was a very sought-after wedding photographer. So, why did he leave? Well, his fiance started school in Chapel Hill and he followed her here. We are so fortunate. I met him when he was photographing a wedding of a couple (Danielle and Chris) who are friends of Sarah and Nirav for whom I was officiating last summer at Duke Gardens. I was not surprised that Sarah and Nirav also chose him for their photographer.
Now it is time to begin the processional. Lenny started the music "Bella Notte" and cued us in.
It was Canon in D for the Bride and her parents. That is Kelly Taylor watching in the background. She is the event manager for the Museum. She was so helpful and on the ball making sure everything was going perfectly.
We started the ceremony with a warm welcome to everyone. Then the Mangalsutra, a ceremonial necklace which the groom gives the bride symbolically similar to the wedding ring, was passed among the guests for them to infuse with their blessings.
Then we had a prayer followed by a blessing for the parents of the couple. We also remembered family members who could not be with us.
About this time in the ceremony I recounted the story of how Sarah and Nirav met while at graduate school in Ithaca NY.  There were some funny stories leading to their move to North Carolina to get "real" jobs!
The couple then lit a sacred fire representing the Hindu tradition of Phere. They took their marriage vows while walking around the fire four times. Each round had a specific significance.
 Then they spoke their vows to each other where they were printed in my book facing them.
Nirav retrieved the Mangalsutra and placed it around Sarah's neck. This symbolized the strength of their union: physical, mental and spiritual. Then they exchanged rings in the American tradition.
I don't know what Riley is doing, most likely some sign for Elliott, but I was unaware of him during the ceremony where I have just made the pronouncement of marriage and it is time for the Kiss!
 Here it is!
The newlyweds recessed out to the end of the aisle followed by the wedding party and parents.
Then I asked the guests to turn around and face the back so that Riley could get a group shot. Looks like it worked!
Nirav and Sarah, I loved everything about your wedding! It was fabulous. You did a wonderful job integrating your two traditions into your ceremony and making it uniquely yours. Congratulations and I wish you all the best!