Sealed with a kiss!

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Classy Wedding for Libby and Ethem at The Mahler Fine Arts Gallery!

Libby and Ethem met in an interior design class three years ago. Both are very talented individuals and they gravitated towards each other being just classmates at first, then friends, then a couple. At some point they decided to marry and set their wedding date for October 28, 2012. Libby had a rather precise vision of what she wanted her wedding day to be like. With the help of her wedding planner, Gina Myers of La Cosa Bella Events, they put it together. It is one thing to have a vision and another to give birth to it! What a classy wedding in a very upscale art gallery in the middle of downtown Raleigh with the reception following at the lovely Cardinal Club. Ethem's vision was to support Libby in her vision so that worked out very well!
The Mahler Fine Art Gallery is located at 228 Fayetteville Road. Our rehearsal was on Saturday morning which was chilly and windy thanks to Hurricane Sandy who was slowly churning off the NC coast. I brought my cell phone with me and snapped a few photos of the rehearsal.
We are waiting to get into the gallery and getting blown around a bit.
This young lady is Aspen, our 4 year old flower girl, niece of the bride.
The inside of the gallery looking from back to the front door. Gina, our wedding planner/director, is walking toward me.
The wedding party and bride's parents are in place for the ceremony. We are missing one groomsman. There was an arch for the ceremony area, as you will see below, constructed by the groom's family. They are from Turkey and this was their first experience of an American wedding. The music for the ceremony was by iPod with the gallery sound system. We actually practiced with the music to get the timing right. I loved all of Libby's selections. Shea, Gina's assistant, manned the sound system on the wedding day.
Sunday dawned overcast and windy but no rain. We were all amazed--and grateful! The gallery with this many chairs does not leave much room and so the entire wedding party entered from the street. Gina arranged with the Big Easy, an eating place a few doors down, for us to wait there until summoned for the processional. Marty snapped these photos of our adorable ring bearer, Ashton, age 5, nephew of the bride.
Libby and Ethem met Heba Salama at a bridal show, hired her to photograph their wedding, and she referred them to me. Thanks, Heba! I married Heba and Ed at the Rose Hill Plantation 6 or 7 years ago and will never forget them! First of all they are a delightful couple that I got to know well, extremely dedicated to each other and to becoming the best people they can be. Second, they were winners of the TV reality show, Biggest Loser!  Since then, Heba has given up her former career as a pharmaceutical sales rep and followed her heart by setting up her photography business. Ed gave up his career as a chef and now loves teaching at a culinary arts school in Durham and serves as second shooter for Heba. They are quite the team and it was so good to see them again at this wedding! They already have photos from this wedding up on Heba's Blog.
 The guests are arriving. 
When it was time to begin, I entered first to a very beautiful arrangement of "What the World Needs Now." The parents of the groom then entered and took their seats. The bride's mother was escorted in by her son, Gideon, who stepped up into place as a groomsman. Then Ethem and the rest of the groomsmen entered.
The music changed to "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life" and the bridesmaids entered one by one.
The bride and bridesmaids had been waiting in a limo parked in front. When they got out, the wind whipped their hair around. When Aysegul got down front, a piece of her hair was shooting out and the best man whispered to me "it looks like she has a unicorn horn!" This wedding did present a few instances which made me have to decide whether to break decorum and step out of the minister role or let things be! I decided to step out and went over to Aysegul and tucked the errant strand of hair back where it should be.
My next challenge was our precious flower girl, Aspen, who totally forgot to throw even one petal! Guests kept gesturing to her but she was like a deer in the headlights, despite having rehearsed. This is typical for little children--fill the room up with adults and then expect them to remember what to do? Usually does not happen but she did make it all the way down the aisle. So, once more I stepped out of my role, walked over to Aspen, reached into her little basket, grabbed the biggest bunch of petals in my hand and tossed them as far down the aisle that I could! I was thinking that Libby would be disappointed if she did not see petals in the aisle!
My assistant Marty, armed with my camera, was over in a corner trying to shoot over and in between guests to get the processional hence the blurriness but she got Libby and her dad, Pat, coming down the aisle!  When Libby and Ethem and I met on October 2nd, I suggested that they use the version of The Bridal March by Jonathan Cain of Journeys. It is simply magical. I was delighted that they did and since it is only 1:53 long, it worked perfectly at the gallery!
 And so we begin......
Challenge #3: as the bride and groom and wedding party and I looked out at the guests, we saw a sea of cell phones and cameras instead of faces! Should I say something or keep my mouth shut?
I decided that since some of the family members were holding the cell phones, I would say nothing lest I embarrass them. It is not uncommon to see this at weddings these days though. I plan to start discussing this ahead of time with the couple so I know what they want. After all and at great expense, they hired a professional photographer to record the event and not only do the guests holding up cell phones and tablets obstruct the professional's photographs, the guests are viewing the wedding indirectly through the lens instead of being present in the moment.
We remember those not with us and paid tribute to their parents, then I told their story.
They had given me some good material for the ceremony as to why they loved each other and wanted to marry--mostly serious but a few funny things!
Heba and Ed at work--you can see that they did not have much space to maneuver in.
 After making their vows to each other, they exchanged rings.
 The pronouncement of marriage.......and here comes the kiss!  
 It is done and it is time to celebrate! 
After the ceremony, I was surprised when Sibel and Metin, a couple I married on July 3, 2010 walked up to greet me. Here is their wedding post on it. I should have suspected they would be here since Metin is from Turkey and Sibel's father is Turkish. It was so good to see them and I told them that their videographer had recently contacted me wanting to know if I knew how to reach them so he could tell them to come get their wedding video! They are expecting their first child so I might be doing a baby blessing ceremony for them next year!
The guests have all gone to the Cardinal Club and it is time to come back in and take some pictures.
Gina Myers is an absolute dream to work with. She contacted me on behalf of the couple to see if I was available. I am so happy that I was. She kept me apprised of everything and developed a detailed timeline. Her business is La Cosa Bella Events. Thanks, Gina!
That wedding gown is spectacular! Libby is such a beauty and Ethem has that tall, dark and handsome thing going on! What a good-looking couple! By the way, the beautiful florals were done by Fleuressence.
Libby and Ethem, I hope you are basking in wedding bliss, relaxed and contented! It was my pleasure to officiate for you and thank you for giving me the honor of being part of your wonderful wedding!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Surprise Wedding for Amy and Jerry!

Amy and Jerry wanted a small intimate ceremony surrounded by their closest family members. They had both been married before and had no interest in going through extended wedding planning and all that entails, much less all the fanfare and hoopla.  So, they invited their guests to their "engagement party" at Rey's Restaurant on October 27, 2012. Little did their guests know they were actually coming to their wedding! They hired Michelle Gunton to photograph the event and she called me on the 18th to see if I was available to officiate for them. Fortunately I was and so Amy and Jerry and I connected and started on the ceremony. Thanks, Michelle! After officiating a wedding at Caffe Luna at 6:30, Marty and I rushed to Rey's where Michelle and Jerry met us while Amy was changing into her wedding dress.
After meeting the couple for the first time, I collected the marriage license and the rings, and pinned the boutonniere on Jerry.
The next step was for me to enter the private dining room and surprise the guests with the announcement that they were actually guests at Amy and Jerry's wedding that evening. They were all surprised and grinning widely. We all gathered down in front of the fireplace; the bride and groom entered and the ceremony began.
I don't know how Marty got this picture with "special effects," and she probably could never duplicate it, but I love the expression on Amy's face and the blurriness of the colors.
Amy works for an oil company and Jerry owns an oil transport company. They met when Amy walked into his office in Michigan to learn about DEF (diesel exhaust fluid). Jerry was smitten but Amy was headquartered in North Carolina.
It was several months before Jerry could get to NC for their first date but when he did, they both knew they were meant to be together. From that point on they became almost inseparable despite constant traveling on the job for Amy, starting new divisions and weathering storms in the corporate office!
What a kiss! Jerry was just about to dip her! 
Look at this cake by Sweet Memories Bakery! Although it serves as their wedding cake, it could not look like a wedding cake or it would have given away their surprise. There is even a little German Shepherd like their own Inga!
Marty and I don't usually get to see the cake cutting and the bride and groom feeding each other! It had been a long day so after I got the marriage license signed, Marty and I said our good-byes.
Amy and Jerry, this is THE one! I know you are so happy and will have a wonderful and enduring marriage! I wish you all the best ever!

Alyssa and Larry's Wedding--Another Fabulous Wedding at Caffe Luna!

Back last November Alyssa and Larry and I met to discuss their wedding scheduled for October 27, 2012 at Caffe Luna--one of my favorite spots for weddings. They had met almost 3 years prior to their wedding date on October 24, 2009 not knowing at the time how the events of that evening would alter their lives forever. They were both drawn to each other from the beginning and, although neither disclosed it to the other, they were already smitten! A few months later on a trip to California on a guided tour of San Diego which, unbeknownst to them when they signed up to go was an event for senior citizens, they both realized that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. Exactly one year from the day they met, Larry proposed at the very same spot they had done cartwheels and handstands the night they had met. And so the wedding planning commenced all while Larry finished undergrad school, went through the tedious process of applying to and starting law school, with Alyssa by his side encouraging him through all the difficult times and stresses.

We had our rehearsal on Friday 10/26 and went through all the logistics. Jaclyn, a good friend of Alyssa, was our wedding director. In the meantime, a Halloween event called "Walk of the Living Dead" was slated for downtown Raleigh during the time of this wedding with people dressed up in their perception of Zombies!  We thought we might see some of the parade come down Hargett Street during the wedding but if they did, none of the guests were paying attention to anything going on outside. The seating for the wedding was quite flexible and although we envisioned guests sitting at the long tables arranged on either side of the aisle, that did not happen! Most of the guests congregated at the tables in the adjoining room then stood in that area to watch the ceremony crowding in on the side.
When Marty and I arrived at 5:30 for the wedding at 6:30, the weather was overcast and windy as Hurricane Sandy was brewing over the NC coastline. But, there was no rain! We saw a lot of Zombies rushing to be in the parade--what a sight! Inside Caffe Luna our musicians, Ben and Amaree Davis, were tuning up for the ceremony. They were excellent and I enjoyed their music a lot. They did a wonderful rendition of Canon in D for the processional. It was good to meet them and I would love to see them at future weddings!
Normally I would not need amplification for a wedding in this room. But with the majority of guests spreading out into the adjoining room and noting the noisiness of everyone chatting with each other, I thought I had better use my microphone. Our DJ, Sami Lamir, was most accommodating. He has been a club DJ for years but wishes to do more weddings. I really liked working with Sami! Their photographer, David, from Storyphotographers was there to document the occasion. I have worked with them many times. Their florist was Tracey Huntley with Springwell Gardens.
Larry's parents, Veronica and Lawrence, are standing by to be the first to enter in the processional. They live in Garner. Alyssa's family came down for the wedding from Iowa.
Ready for the bridesmaids to enter. I am turning on my microphone bodypack in my pocket. The mother of the bride, Christine, is sitting at the table in front.
Bridesmaid Ashley is ready to enter. That is Jaclyn behind cuing everyone when to walk. She was not only cute but a take charge person. Thanks, Jaclyn! (And I really like your hair!)
 Here comes the bride with her father, Stephen. 
The reality of the moment is sinking in for Alyssa which brings forth a few tears of happiness!
I invited all those at tables to sit down and we began the ceremony.
Of course I told their love story and what they loved about each other to the guests who thoroughly enjoyed every moment according to many of them who told me they loved the ceremony as I was leaving to go to the next wedding.

"In the spirit of joy, we welcome you to the unparalleled promise that is marriage. We celebrate with you and we are incredibly happy that your lives include each other..." 
May I present the newlyweds? 
Congratulations, Alyssa and Larry! Loved working with you and officiating your wonderful wedding. May your cup of life overrun with love, joy and peace!