Sealed with a kiss!

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Spectacular Wedding for James and Jhon at Rose Hill Plantation!

I knew that Jhon and James' wedding would be extraordinary when their Wedding Planner, Chad Biggs, called me to see if I was available for their wedding June 18th, 2016 at Rose Hill Plantation. I am so happy that I was because it was truly a delight to officiate their wedding. Chad, of course, had assembled an amazing team of vendors: Brandon with Southern Love Studios, Expressions of Love Florist, Island Sound DJ and his own staff.  
Pablo with Island Sound brought along Island Sound "tekkie" Shawn who can solve any problem that might arise.
A friend of the couple, Chris Shayne, set up his gorgeous harp inside the gazebo. 
My dear colleague and bilingual wedding minister, Rev. Ana Quintana Bird, arrived to get wired up to do the translation. On pondering how to solve the problem that many of Jhon's guests from Colombia, South America spoke only Spanish, I remembered from a cruise that I had been on that the tour guide wore a headset with a microphone and her voice was transmitted to those of us on the tour via battery-powered receivers we hung around our neck and plugged in ear buds. A system like that would allow me to speak the ceremony in English while Ana spoke the words in Spanish simultaneously from the script. Cool. Now to find the equipment. Our innovative and persistent director, Chad, set about scouring the universe for this equipment and found it could be rented. He got twenty sets which worked perfectly. Thank you, Chad. To have alternated the English and Spanish would have doubled the length of the ceremony.
View from the gazebo up the aisle decorated by beautiful flowers by Expressions of Love Florist. 
This is Nathan Hall where the reception was being set up. 
Pablo and Shawn had the DJ set up and uplighting done. This gorgeous table for the wedding party is luscious! 
The rest of the room is taking shape. Almost time to remove that step ladder! 
View from Nathan Hall to the Manor House where the guests are assembled on the back porch out of the sun.
Looks like everything is ready!
Chad meets Ana for the first time.
The guests have been seated and now time for the processional.
Such a pretty sight!
Our flower girl, Diana, makes her way down the aisle sprinkling a few flower petals.
Our best men stride right on down!
James and Jhon each came from a different side of the house and met in the middle and started down the aisle together! 
The guests are standing in their honor!
And so we began the ceremony. 
                                   Welcome to all who have come from very far and very near too. 
Then a sweet prayer followed by acknowledgement of the love of their families. 
We remember the loved ones who could not be with us. 
As I finished speaking a section, I would glance at Ana and when her mouth stopped moving, I would begin the next section so we would be together. So cool! 
Then I got to tell their story which was really about destiny and these two souls who are meant to be together. Jhon grew up in Colombia. James grew up in the US and was living in Atlanta. They met on a chat site on line in 2011.  James was on the site to meet people and Jhon was on the site to practice his English. Jhon saw James' photo and could not resist sending him a virtual wink. He was pleasantly surprised that James winked back at him. Chatting led to Skyping. This went on and off for 3 years and they gradually developed a good friendship not knowing where this relationship was going.
In 2014, Jhon had the opportunity to travel to the US and cleverly arranged to come to North Carolina to meet James just in time for his birthday. There were a few glitches in the plans along the way but IT HAPPENED! When they met, they just stood there in pure amazement just gazing at each other, then hugs, then the world stood still!
Two months later they were engaged, long before marriage equality came about in the US. But they both agreed that although many obstacles stood in their paths, they were going to push through them and get married!
After jumping through many legal hoops, Jhon was finally granted permission in 2015 to move to the US and they embarked on planning their amazing wedding. They definitely had a vision and hired Chad to bring it into reality which he did!
Then they got to hear what the other had told me in confidence about what they love about their partner, why they want to marry and what they are looking forward to in marriage.
Chad is keeping an eye and ear on the ceremony! 
They exchanged their vows and sealed them with their rings. 
After a closing prayer, I pronounced them spouses for life and invited them to kiss--and they did! 
It was my privilege and delight to present to the guests for the very first time as a married couple: James and Jhon! 
They round the corner to go to the front of the house while the guests were directed to the porch of Nathan Hall for cocktails.
James and Jhon, what can I say? This was one of the most amazing weddings I have had the privilege of officiating. You are two amazing people who love each other so much and that love simply radiates  all around you touching the lives of so many. Thank you for choosing me to officiate. I loved every minute of it!!

Victoria and Beau's Fabulous Wedding at All Saints Chapel!

Victoria and Beau were a great couple to work with. Victoria is especially organized, creative and a woman with a vision. She definitely gave the ceremony her own signature by expanding on the circle of flowers ceremony as you will see. Their wedding was June 11, 2016 and the historic All Saints Chapel was decorated simply yet elegantly.
This is the view from the back of the chapel facing the altar. Beau's mother was the florist. 
This is the view of the chapel from the altar looking at the doors and loft where the house sound board is set up and operated from. Their music was on an iPod and operated by a friend. Victoria had chosen very beautiful music for everyone to enter to: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra -- "Somewhere Only We Know." The words of the song have special meaning for Victoria and Beau and so it was very fitting that this be part of their wedding. 

This is the table with the different elements for the circle of love ceremony.

I headed up the processional followed by Beau and his mother, Victoria's mother and the wedding party. 
Now we are all in place and it is time for the bride to enter. 
Victoria was escorted in by her stepfather, Thomas. 
At the first row, Victoria's mother, Laura joined us. Bridesmaid Emily (a former bride of mine!) took Victoria's bouquet. Then I asked "Who presents this woman to be married to this man?" Both parents answered "We do" and took their seats as the couple stepped together up onto the altar.
After the Welcome, Prayer, and In Memoriam, I stepped out to address their parents to thank them on Victoria and Beau's behalf for all their love and support all their lives.
Then I launched into the story of how them met and fell in love. I began "It all began back in the fall of 2010 when Beau was taking advantage of his educational benefit from the Army and Victoria was getting her masters in Public History at NC State. He was in his first semester and she was beginning her second year in grad school. Victoria’s life revolved around getting her degree and rarely went out at night. But destiny had it that they would end up in the same American History 1 class. He was one of 300 students in the class and she was one of four teaching assistants. Was it stupid luck or fate that Beau ended up in the group of students assigned to Victoria? I’d say it was pure destiny!" They have a great story and we had a lot of good laughs in the telling of it!
After the story and before the vows, we had the Circle of Love ceremony. "Before our bride and groom make their vows and promises to each other, their families will form a Circle of Love by placing flowers or spices around them.  This Circle of Love will form the altar, the sacred space, where Beau and Victoria will be joined together in marriage."  There were containers of sage, juniper, gladiolas, alstroemeria, rosemary and white rose petals. The wedding party and parents were invited in groups to sprinkle the flower petals and herbs and spices in layers around the couple as I explained the meaning for each one. It was quite lovely and unique.  

While standing in the Circle of Love, Beau and Victoria exchanged their vows and rings.
A closing blessing......
I pronounced them married and invited them to share their first kiss as husband and wife!
And so they did! 
Beau made sure that the photographer got a good shot of the kiss!!
Presentation of the newlywed couple! 
And the married bliss begins! 
One more kiss for the photographer, CSaul Photography
Alexandra Hughes with the chapel and her assistant were on hand after the wedding for a photo with me. Great job, Ladies!
The get-away car! Just their style!!
Victoria and Beau, much gratitude for giving me the honor of joining you in marriage!