Sealed with a kiss!

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

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sweet Wedding for Carolina and Kevin Skyped to Costa Rica!

Back in 2003, I officiated the wedding for Debbie and Randy at The Matthews House. Gosh, it has been over 10 years ago! Here we are on the front porch posing for photos after their ceremony.
Out of the blue I got an email from Debbie this past week hoping that I was available sometime on Saturday January 18th to officiate the wedding of her son, Kevin, and his fiancee, Carolina (pronounced "Caroleena"). The couple had planned to go down to the courthouse and get married but Debbie and Randy wanted to do something a bit nicer for them with more guests at their home in Raleigh. I was tickled to do it! So, we set the time and I wrote a ceremony for Kevin and Carolina that would also include Kevin's two year old daughter, Caroline, and a family unity sand ceremony in which she could participate. 
Dave and I arrived and I set up the sand ceremony while Randy and Carolina were working on getting her family on Skype so they could watch and hear the ceremony.
Isn't this the sweetest little wedding cake? 
As you can see, the laptop was on the chair and we positioned ourselves so that they could see us.
 Debbie brought Caroline forward for the children's blessing. 
Caroline was not still for very long and soon was on the run around the house! She was so cute. She has Down's Syndrome but is very high functioning and very active too, as her family can attest to!
 They exchanged vows and then rings. 
We had to "borrow" a ring from one of our guests because Kevin's ring had been ordered but did not arrive in time for the wedding.
 Carolina and Kevin created their two separate layers of sand first. 
 Then Debbie helped Caroline pour her pretty pink sand into the container. 
 Kevin and Carolina then added the rest of their sand on top. 
 Almost time for the kiss! 
 And there it is! 
 Hugs all around with Caroline trying to get herself into the middle of the hug. 
Here is the newlywed couple, their daughter Caroline, Randy, Debbie and me. It was so good to see them again and be part of this family tradition!
Carolina and Kevin, I am so happy that Debbie thought of me and set this up for you! It was much more personal and meaningful than a courthouse wedding would have been. I wish you all the best always and have a great time at your reception in Costa Rica!
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jenna and Matt's Vintage Wedding!

Matt and Jenna are two people who know themselves and what they want. And I must add: Creative! I had no idea about the theme until Marty and I arrived at Trotter Hall in Durham (my first wedding there!) for their wedding on January 11, 2014. They had simply transformed the multi-purpose space into their vision for their wedding and it was all vintage--not any old vintage pieces you could pick up here and there, but genuine keepsakes and heirlooms from their families. It was displayed on tables for both bride and groom's families. 
Groom's family table.
Bride's family table. 
Some pieces served functions like this old suitcase for cards. Each piece had a tag that identified whose it was, the date and where it came from. There was no way for me to keep track of all the information but it was there.
Here is an old ironing board that served as the table for the place cards cleverly made out of corks.
This old table had been made by an ancestor and on it was displayed many other keepsakes. 
 From Jenna's parents' wedding. 
This is Jenna's mom, Nancy, on her wedding day in 1974. Jenna wore this dress sans the sleeves for her wedding. 
Jenna's Dad, Bill, on left, is a founding member of the Unifour Brass Ensemble (founded in 1983) here except since he is the father of the bride he did not play. But he is giving them instructions! They were great!
 Jenna and Matt's photo graced one of the tables in the entrance. 
Each table had old mason jars with battery votives and a table number cleverly placed on a piece of old wood with a handle attached. They also used old Reader's Digest Condensed Books as props.
Trotter Hall (410 W. Geer St.) does not look like much from the outside but it is right in downtown Durham and the interior is well taken care of and quite spacious (6000 sq. ft.). You can see from the sign that it is truly a multi-purpose facility. There is also lots of parking in the back.
 This version of a guest book is about the only thing not vintage but the frame likely is! 
This wonderful variety of many cakes were made from family recipes handed down. How unique! The florist was Jenna's parents' backyard and ideas from Etsy. The photographer was Jason King of King Quality Photography. Q-Shack did the catering. Yummy! Great barbecue and collards! 
The bride was squirreled away in the kitchen and calm as a cucumber whereas Matt was near the front door, nervous and pacing! When it was time, their friend Mackenzie started the processional. First in was Jenna's grandmother escorted in by (I am guessing) her great grandsons. She was followed by the parents of the couple, then Matt, Zeph (Best Man) and I.
Whitney (Best Lady), was supposed to be next but hers and Zeph's little boy, Sawyer, less than 2 years old, got away from her and scampered across the dance floor to Daddy. We were rejoicing that he made it!
 Whitney took her place and I invited the guests to stand for the entrance of the bride and her father. 
Daddy transferred her hand into Matt's and gave her a kiss farewell and was seated. Matt was beginning to tear up at this point! I had my hankie handy!
 And so we began. Sawyer got a little fussy so his grandparents took over his care and we continued. 
 After a warm welcome, Matt's dad, Joe gave the blessing and good wishes. 
We paid tribute to their parents whose marriages have stood the test of time and have served as wonderful examples for this couple.
Everyone listened with rapt attention as I told the story of Jenna and Matt, from their meeting 4 years, 8 months and 3 days ago up to the proposal 4 years later. There were a few real good laughs!
One of Jenna and Matt's favorite stories is The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein. They wanted to share an abridged version with their guests. So, Kate narrated the story as slides appeared on the screen.
As the Missing Piece and the Big O roll every onward from place to place, adventure to adventure, so do Jenna and Matt.
 Time for the vows which they read to each other from my book. 
 Then the ring exchange. 
 The moment they legally become husband and wife.....
And out they danced into their new life as a married couple!  
Matt and Jenna, I am pretty sure your vision of your wedding came true! You did a remarkable job pulling this all together by yourselves, with the help of your loving families and friends. A real tribute to your heritages! I am proud to have joined you in matrimony and wish you the best always!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My First Wedding in 2014 at Caffe Luna for Amber and Noah!

I met with Noah and Amber in May of 2013 to plan their wedding ceremony on January 4, 2014 at Caffe Luna. With the help of family and friends, they planned the whole wedding pretty much themselves. Amber is very focused and on task so I had the first draft of their wedding ceremony by early November. In the meantime, they individually answered a questionnaire for me so that I could put together a synopsis of their story to be incorporated into their ceremony. They gave me lots of good material with some humorous remarks that really reflected their personalities. 
Amber and her two bridesmaids, Emily and Misty, and probably her mother, Nancy, holding it here, helped her make this gorgeous brooch bouquet. Yes, it weighed about 10 pounds but it is a work of art and a legacy. 
They thoughtfully created a "memory" table with candles and signage with the names of their loved ones who have passed on.
They did something a little different here that was very clever! They asked each guest to sign their name on their birthdate on this 2014 calendar in lieu of a guest book. There was a metal tree with clips on which those that brought cards could hang them. 
Noah is a volunteer fireman, hence this cute wedding cake of the fireman climbing up to the damsel! It was baked by a friend, Amy Clifton.
This wedding was at 11:30 AM on a Saturday morning. The restaurant doors were open at 10:30 and I have never been in a wedding where so many guests were there early. Really! I think they were anticipating problems parking but luckily there were no parades or festivals going on this day. It is almost time to begin so we are all huddled in the back of the room to get lined up. I went in first and, at the request of Amber and Noah, made the "unplugged" announcement for the guests to put away their cell phones and cameras and truly be present with the couple during the ceremony. Barbara Gautier, the woman holding the piece of paper, is our very excellent wedding director and referred the couple to me. Thank you, Barbara! On the right you can barely see their DJ, Eric Byrd, getting ready to begin the first processional music.
After the announcement, the processional music began and Clay, father of the groom, escorted in Nancy, grandmother of the bride. Then Clay stepped forward to join me as his son's best man.
Ryan, our Groomsman, escorted in Noah's stepmother, Diane, then joined Clay and me.
Next Noah, our groom, escorted in his mother.  I think he was joking with her all the way down the aisle. Took his mind off being nervous so it was a good thing!
Andre, father of the bride, escorts Nancy, mother of the bride then returned to bring in Amber. 
Amber is a beautiful woman and a stunningly beautiful bride. Her dress was simply elegant and perfect for her. 
And so we begin the ceremony. Noah was calm as a cucumber whereas at the rehearsal the day before, he was soooo fidgety. I've been told that I have a calming presence and it evidently worked. He told me he had not taken any anti-anxiety medicine for fear of it zoning him out. He was fully present!
Their story came after the prayer and tribute to the parents. Although they have known of each other since middle school, they did not connect until 2011 and flirted with each other via texting. It was at a July 4th party that year that the sparks really began to fly and they have been inseparable ever since.
They bought a house together and have worked hard fixing it up, going on dates to dinner and the movies, and spending time with their "dog-ter" Hazel.
"A year after that 4th of July party, Noah proposed while on a trip to the beach. He had the ring in his pocket and spent the day looking for the perfect time and place to pop the question but it was getting late and getting dark so he bent down on one knee of the balcony of their room and said to Amber "Marry me." Her reply was "Shut up!" He asked her again and added "I'm serious. My knee is killing me!" She finally said yes and started planning this wedding!" 
I asked Noah and Amber in confidence what they loved about each other, why they wanted to marry each other and what they were looking forward to in marriage.
I believe this is where I was telling Noah what Amber told me that "she knew she wanted to marry you when you took her camping for the first time in her life.  You were so kind to let her use the only sleeping bag and helped her adapt to 'wild life' living!" 
"Amber, Noah told me that he knew he wanted you in his life forever when you threw that surprise birthday party for him. He was completely surprised and realized how important you are to him."
They said their "I do's" and then it was time to exchange rings. 
"I place this ring on your finger, and my heart in your hand. I have no greater gift." 
"By the love that has brought you here today and by the vows you have exchanged in the presence of your family and friends, it is my honor to now pronounce you husband and wife! May your life be a great adventure! Noah, you may kiss your wife!"
And he did! 
Noah looked over at my book either to see what was next, or to make sure I introduced them as Mr. and Mrs., or I don't know what!
Beginning their new life together! 
In the VIP room in the back of the restaurant where we gathered before and after the ceremony (it was way too cold to hang out outside that day) Amber's bridesmaids and her mother worked for about 15 minutes figuring out how to bustle up her gorgeous dress even though they had practiced it once before. There were little loops and buttons that had to be fastened in just the right order but they finally got it!
Amber and Noah, you're the best! So happy for you! I know you will have a great life together. Do call on me when you have children and we will bless them in another sweet ceremony!
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