Sealed with a kiss!

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


The day was overcast and quite muggy but typical for an August wedding. Casey and Matt choose the beautiful historic Highgrove Estates for their venue. They are not much for fanfare and fussy details and so Highgrove appealed to them because they offer a nice all inclusive package to make wedding planning easier. 
Casey made this lovely wreath for the front door. 
The decor inside Highgrove is elegant and soothing. This room is where the wedding party gathers before and after the ceremony.
In the dining room are all the awards and badges Highgrove has received. I love doing weddings there and appreciate being on the preferred vendor list of officiants. I've been officiating weddings there since they opened in 2003.
Receptions are held in the garden ballroom off the terrace.   The sweetheart table is quite reflective of Casey and Matt who are both book nerds! How clever that they collected books for the centerpieces of each table. 
Sweet Memories baked this simple elegant wedding cake.
Our florist was Flowers on Broad
 Angela, our wedding director with the venue gets the wedding party and parents all lined up to enter. 
Matt's grandfather, was not going to miss this wedding! Behind him is Matt's stepmother, Matt's mother, Casey's mother, and Matt's father on the right.
 Angela Wright is our director for this wedding at Highgrove and also one of the owners. 
Our professional photographer was Rebecca Ames. She and her second shooter in the black dress are ready for the processional as the guests are taking their seats.
 His grandfather was escorted in by his son, Matt's dad, and Matt's stepmother. 
 Then the mothers of the couple entered together. 
 My turn was next.
 Now Matt enters! He was followed by the groomsmen, groomswomen and bridesmaids. 
 Casey and her father make their walk down the aisle to join us. 
And so we began with a warm welcome to everyone then remembered Casey's sister who had recently died and was truly missed. It was a sad moment that brought tears to everyone's eyes.
 A tribute to the parents to lift the mood and stir in a little laughter! 
I had so much fun telling the story of how Casey and Matt met and fell in love. Matt was a server in a restaurant that Casey frequented and they flirted with each other whenever Matt was her server. Matt made a bold move one night and Casey took the bait and invited him to join her and her friends after work. And that was all it took to get them together.
They are both quick witted and super sharp and have a way of playing off each other that is fun. (Matt has such a way with words I told him he should be a writer and Casey agreed.) They eventually decided they liked being together more than being apart. Although Matt was ready to marry long before Casey made up her mind, he waited patiently and it paid off!
 The guests were on the edge of their seats enjoying every moment and the wedding party too! 
Wrapping up the story now. 
 Now to reveal what they had each told me in confidence about what they love about each other. 
 Taking a moment to mop the sweat dripping off Matt's face!
 I consider this part the funniest moment in the wedding. Matt has a habit of making up pet names for Casey and through the years she has written them down and so we surprised him by including them in her paragraph to Matt and, that as of this day, she was adding "wife" to the list!
 It was a long list! 
 Still laughing! 
 Now to the more serious business--their vows to each other.  
 Then the ring exchange.
 Now they become husband and wife!
 Sealed with a kiss! 
 The newlyweds!
 And out they go!
 Yay! We did it! 
 Matt's sister, Katie, is so happy for him! 
Matt and Casey, you planned a great wedding and despite the unexpected events that intervened, you made it happen. I enjoyed getting to know you, working with you to create your very special ceremony, and getting you two married. Congratulations!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Sara and Jeff met online in Raleigh during a snowstorm when they were both snowbound. They had been matched up and the attraction was instant. A few days later they met in person and the attraction continued. It was not long before they were inseparable. A job offer took Jeff (a golf pro) to Boston where he is from and the relationship became long distance until Sara finished her term as a school teacher and could join him. On a return trip to Raleigh to be with their friends, Jeff surprised Sara with a proposal and of course she said yes! The wedding planning began in earnest. They chose Market Hall, a venue in City Market, downtown Raleigh. It was perfect for them. The date was July 22, 2017 and the weather was hot. Everyone was thankful they had chosen to have in indoor wedding! (I am so grateful to my friend and professional wedding photographer Kevin Seifert who came with me and took all these beautiful professional photographs!)
This brick building has had many lives--brewery, restaurant, meeting hall, you name it. Great place for a wedding and reception with plenty of parking and downtown scenes for pictures.
 The welcome table with guest book and programs. The color scheme is navy and coral. 
 The program is very original and creative with lots of humor--so reflective of Sara and Jeff!
The center of the area is cleared for the ceremony. After the ceremony, it becomes a dance floor surrounded by the tables and chairs.
The tables are flanking the sides, already set and ready to be moved after the ceremony. The couple and their families did all the florals themselves.
 Doing a sound check with our DJ.
Victor, on the right, and his assistant, Chance, learning the ropes on the left. Victor is the owner of All Events DJ and we do a lot of weddings together. It is so nice to work with the same vendors. Victor and his fiancé and DJ partner, Nina, are getting married soon but they have decided to elope to Jamaica and so they don't have to choose between friends in the wedding industry!
 Our Maid of Honor and sister of the bride, Jennifer signs as a witness on the marriage license. 
 Then it is Jeff's brother, Rob, our best man who signs next. 
This is our little flower dog, Lexi. She is adorable. So sweet and so friendly and calm, cool and collected!  
We are upstairs in an enclosed loft area overlooking the ceremony and reception area. This is where the wedding party hangs out before the ceremony.
 "Sara, I will see you at the end of the aisle!"
I sat down for a few minutes to review the ceremony script while the guests are hanging out in the back of the room.
A few words with David, the caterer with The Farmers' Table Restaurant Group. We did a wedding together Memorial Day weekend when Quentin was in charge. The food is exceptional. I was looking to see if I could see the strawberry shortcake in mason jars that Sara and Jeff chose to have instead of a wedding cake. But they were in the refrigerated truck outside.
Jessica with Happily Ever After Events got the guests seated, brought the wedding party and parents down the stairs to the sidewalk where we got lined up. Some of the groomsmen's boutonnieres were wobbly so I secured them with some extra pins I had in my book.
 And here we go! 
We had 4 groomsmen and a groomswoman, Juliana, on Jeff's side. They each had a special handshake for Jeff!
Nick--with Walker and Juliana looking on. 
 Colby had a handy towel to mop Jeff's face! 
 And then the bridesmaids processed in with Lexi and Jennifer last. Look at that little dress on Lexi! 
 A sniff of my hand and she took her place at the end of the row of bridesmaids where her bed awaited her. 
 Here comes the bride!
 Sara's father (also Jeff) answered my question and transferred Sara's hand into Jeff's then took his seat. 
 A warm welcome to everyone and remembrance of those who could not be with us. 
 Their professional photographer was Annie Watts and her second shooter. 
 I stepped out and asked their parents to stand. 
 On behalf of Sara and Jeff, I thanked them for their love and support all their lives. A tearful moment.
 And then it was time for their story. A good one too with lots of humor. 
 They are such a good match for each other! 
 Then they got to hear what they had each told me in confidence that they love about each other. 
 They exchanged their vows.
 Then their rings.
 Jeff says the words after me to Sara as he places the ring on her finger. 
 Then it is Sara's turn....
A closing blessing, the pronouncement of marriage then I invited them to share their first kiss as husband and wife.

 What a kiss, Jeff!!!
 Invitation for the guests to stand and join me in congratulating our newlyweds! 
 Good job, Lexi! 
Well, Jeff and Sara! You did it! Great wedding--a perfect reflection of the two of you. Thank you for choosing me to join you in marriage! I am honored. I wish you the best forever!!