Sealed with a kiss!

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

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Jessica and Neil's Beautiful Wedding at Duke Garden's Angle Amphitheater!

Such a pretty place for a wedding! The Angle Amphitheater at Duke Gardens has undergone several transformations and each year it just gets more and more beautiful. The first weddings I did here when it was just built in 2001, were surrounded by trees and the area where the wedding party stood was just grass. Now that area is paved with stones but the trees are gone due to a bad winter that damaged them. Sadly they had to be removed but then the gardens and the stonework added since are very beautiful enhancements. 
The the addition of the cathedral shaped pergola in 2012 is a gorgeous structure which has weathered and now has vines climbing it. It is the perfect place for the bridal party to hang out in before the wedding, then process from there. I've even done an elopement ceremony under the pergola.
Notice the center aisle and the stone steps between the tiers? Did not used to be that way. The summer of 2010 the gardens had to close the fish pool and they moved one of my couple's wedding here to the amphitheater where there was no center aisle at all--no steps, just the deep tiers. Everyone had to enter from the side. The Bride really wanted a center aisle so they built wooden steps in between the tiers for her wedding and since it was such a great idea, they eventually installed the stone steps--much more stable and attractive. There are 34 weddings at Duke Gardens on this blog dating back to 2008. You can go here to see them. Just click on the bottom of each page Older Posts to see earlier ones.
 The lush foliage has filled in all the beds. 
  These beautiful urn planters flank the walk to the pergola. 
Back at the reception area in the visitor's center are all the sweet touches this couple arranged for their guests. 
They had designed some beautiful wedding programs and had note paper for their guests to sign along with their blessings and/or advice!
Meanwhile all the vendors were finishing up in the reception hall. These pretty natural wooden chairs are new and go so well with the beams and woodwork and are expected to darken and yellow with age to be a match to the beams. Jeff Brown the DJ was all ready. Jennifer, wedding director with Jennifer V. Event Planning, and her sister Catherine, take a spin through to see that all is well.
Get Lit was there doing the dramatic up-lighting. A very popular trend these days. I see them at almost all weddings! 
This gorgeous wedding cake was provided by their caterer, CateringWorks. Joseph Barnes, the florist  with CateringWorks, is putting the flowers on.
 A fully stocked bar for the guests following the ceremony is ready!
Our sweet little flower girl, Alice, is having a little chat with her mom, Nicole, before the ceremony. Her dad is the Best Man--Matt.
 The drinks and programs and sign are all in place for the guests to start taking their seats.  
Valerie Wood graced us with beautiful piano music. She was Jessica's piano teacher for many years so it was really special to have her play for the wedding. Notice the umbrellas nearby in case of raindrops!
It had been threatening rain all day on Saturday September 5th, 2015. We had a tent for a back-up plan but thankfully we did not have to move the ceremony from the amphitheater.
Right before the ceremony began, the sky revealed this spectacular "sun dog." (I called it a piece of the rainbow at the end of the ceremony then later one of the guests who happened to be a professor of physics gently corrected me on the terminology!) I looked it up later: Sun Dogs are a member of a large family of halos, created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere. If there is any superstition surrounding these natural phenomena, I've never heard any but we hope it is a sign of blessing and good fortune for Jessica and Neil.
 So the guys and I are standing under the tent waiting for our cue from Jennifer to get lined up. 
 It is time to start walking in once the parents and grandmother were seated!
 The bridesmaids entered one by one down the center aisle. 
 Alice did a wonderful job. The stone steps were a bit high for her little legs but she hung onto that bouquet! 
 I invited the guests to stand for our beautiful bride and her parents. 
 Jennifer and her mother, Valerie, and father, Howard, began the walk from the pergola. 
"Who supports and blesses Jessica as she comes to join in marriage to Neil?" Her parents answered in unison "We do." Then Howard placed Jessica's hand in Neil's as Jessica gave them each a little kiss.
And so we begin this beautiful wedding. Note over to the left is Kyle, one of our wedding photographers with Sarah Fitzgibbons Photography. Andrew Kennedy with AKFocus was videoing the wedding. My husband, Dave, was taking the pictures for this blog with my camera.
 A warm welcome to all our guests......
  Then remembering those who have passed from this earth, especially the couple's grandparents. 
Their only living grandparent, Neil's grandmother, Lillie, was with us for this occasion. They asked her to present The Irish Wedding Blessing in honor of all their grandparents.
 Then it was time to honor their parents for all their love and support through the years. 
Then I got to tell their story! They met when they were both students at UNC Wilmington in 2009. Jessica and Emily, our maid of honor, encountered Neil one evening in the common room and talked him into watching a movie with them rather than a sports program! Neil could not turn down these two pretty girls! And a friendship was born.
They were friends the rest of their freshman year until Neil confessed his feelings of love for Jessica to Emily who promptly told Jessica (well of course!). Fortunately the feelings were mutual and they dated the rest of their college years, moved to Raleigh together and got jobs. 4½ years later, just when Jessica was wondering if Neil would ever propose, Neil popped the question. Of course she said yes!
After the story, they heard what the other had told me in confidence about what they love about each other, why the want to marry each other and what they are each looking forward to in marriage. A very touching moment that frequently brings forth a few tears!
 Neil gets to hear how much Jessica loves him!
 It is not often I get to wipe the sweat off the face of a police officer! 
 And now for the vows and exchange of rings. They each read their words to each other from my book.
 Jessica's turn...
And so it is! To make the marriage legal, I formally pronounced them husband and wife and invited Neil to kiss his beautiful wife!
 I got out of the way just in time! 
 Introduction of the Newlyweds to their guests who were cheering! 
 That is Sarah getting a great shot of the new Mr. and Mrs.! 
The couple had done a First Look and gotten photos of the wedding party so the bridesmaids and the groomsmen went on to the reception. The bride and groom and parents hung out in the pergola while the guests went to the reception. What is going on here is the bustling of the bride's train. It is NOT an easy task. Finally the seamstress who installed the hooks on the dress, thankfully one of our guests, was fetched and she got it done. In the meantime, the staff of CateringWorks sent out drinks and hors d'oeuvres which were quickly devoured!
A quick snapshot of Jennifer and her sister, Catherine, who was in town and got drafted! 
Neil and Jessica, a superb wedding!! What can I say? It went so perfectly. The overcast weather was the most perfect lighting for photographs and there were no glitches (or at least none I was aware of!). Thanks for your diligence and hard work on creating the ceremony that was exactly what you wanted. I loved officiating for you and delivering the beautiful words. I wish you all the best! And Neil, if you see my car (license plate KAYELILY), please look the other way if I am going a little bit faster than the speed limit!! Kidding, of course!
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