Sealed with a kiss!

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Leslie and Rich Get Married at The Umstead

The wedding of Leslie and Rich on June 1st, 2018 at The Umstead Hotel is particularly sentimental and emotional for me. Leslie's mother, Cynthia, was a dear friend of mine who passed away from Alzheimer's about 2 years ago. It was my honor to join Leslie and Rich in matrimony and include their amazing life journey in the ceremony.
Leslie's son, Dylan, needed his boutonniere secured, so I got that done while the bridal party waited out of sight for the guests to arrive.
Frank Mauldin with Bunn DJ Company was our DJ for the wedding. Here Stefan with the hotel is setting up the house system which Frank will operate.
After doing a sound check, I sat down to review the script. 
Our wedding director, Kelly Ann Ward, on the right is ready to direct the processional. She is with A Southern Soiree. The woman on the left was the caretaker for Leslie's mother and so happy for Leslie.
Everyone but Leslie and Dylan are assembled in the lobby outside the garden. I got Rich's beautiful daughters Kelly and Quinn to sign the marriage license for me then.
Rich and I processed in first. 
Then Kelly......
Then Quinn....
Then Leslie's lovely daughter, Nia, took her walk down the aisle. 
The ring bearer, Jonah, and the flower girl, Marin, entered next. So sweet! 
Dylan proudly escorts his beautiful mother down the aisle. 
The guests are standing in her honor. 
And so we began with a welcome to all and a tribute to their parents, all deceased. I mentioned to the guests how sweet it was for me to officiate this wedding. Leslie's mother and I sang in our church choir together and had many good times together. She was such an elegant and dignified woman and it was so sad for us and especially for Leslie who took care of her to watch her decline. We all know she is in a better place now. And so now Leslie's life moves on.
And then a blessing for their children: Kelly and Quinn, Dylan and Nia. 
And now for their wonderful love story. 
Leslie and Rich met 30 years ago in medical school. They fell madly in love and dated for about a year then split up and went their separate ways.
They married other people and had their wonderful children. No regrets whatsoever. Their lives were like stepping stones, all necessary to get them back together.
About 5 years ago, Rich emailed Leslie--she is so thankful she never changed her AOL email address! They found out that they were both single again and quickly reunited. This time they resolved to stay together for good!
There were many humorous moments in the ceremony as I told the story of how they fell in love all over again. Their children were also enjoying this exquisite moment.
They had each told me what they love about each other and so I am revealing that to them during the ceremony. 
They chose to use the lyrics of a Bruce Springsteen song "If I Should Fall Behind" for their vows. 
Rich read the first verse from my book.
Then Leslie the second verse. Then they read the chorus together.
It is time to put the rings on the fingers! 
First I had to do a little "housekeeping" with my hankie! 
Then the rings went on the fingers! This photo is by our professional photographer Cara. 
Following a closing blessing, I pronounced them finally and forever, husband and wife. 
The guests were invited to enjoy cocktail hour while the couple and their families were taking photos.
Cara Galati Powell (also a bride of mine) with f8 Photo Studio was our wonderful photographer. Here she is in action!
Cara captured this sweet image of Leslie with her kids, Nia and Dylan.
Photo by Cara of mother and daughter.
Photo by Cara of Rich with Kelly and Quinn
The new siblings by Cara!
 Cara's photo of the new family born today.
Together again for good. Photo by Cara f8. 
A hug together in celebration! 
Leslie and Rich! I am SOOO happy for you for finding one another again and rekindling that long-ago love. You are perfect for each other. I love your attitudes and your devotion to your children. And I know that Cynthia is celebrating for you somewhere in another realm! May you love and live with wild abandon and have a happy, satisfying and enduring marriage!

Sabrina & Rob's Beautiful Wedding at the Wild Flora Farm!

Sabrina and Rob live in Seattle but they met 8 years ago when they were both students at UNC. So they chose to have their wedding in Chapel Hill at the Wild Flora Farm also known as The Barn of Chapel Hill.  It is a newer wedding venue that opened last year. They also grow their own flowers for weddings. Rob and Sabrina contacted me last August to officiate for them on May 6th 2018 and we met by Skype and planned the ceremony by email. We met for the first time in person at their rehearsal the day before the wedding.
The venue isf located off Hwy 54 in Chapel Hill and easy to miss if you aren't careful! 
The terrace in front of the barn was ready for the ceremony. 
Their wedding team was headed up by C&D Events. Dana and I here are trying to decide what to do. The doppler shows rain coming just at ceremony start time but expected to last only 8 minutes. So, we decided to delay the start time and wait for the rain to come and then go.
The plan was to send the guests to the back porch to wait while it rained, dry off the chairs and then start the wedding. The back porch area is the Plan B location for the ceremony for inclement weather too.
Meanwhile inside the barn is this lovely cake by Detail Cake Design.
My fellow NC Wedding Ring colleague, Eric Hodgden with All Around Raleigh DJ, has gotten all set up and is ready for the ceremony and the reception. I got my mic hooked into his body pack and we did a sound check at both ceremony locations.
Being a flower farm, the owners of the venue are also beekeepers. They have installed a bee hive in the wall of the barn with a plexiglass cover so one can view the bees at work inside the hive from inside the barn. There is a small hole on the outside from which the bees come and go. Such smart little critters!
This 100+-year-old two-story barn originally stood in the fields of upstate New York. It was carefully dismantled and shipped to North Carolina where it was meticulously assembled back together. It is quite impressive. This photo was taken from the loft area at the back end of the barn. I toured this venue March 2017 before it opened and got to see it being finished HERE.
The bar is set up below the loft. Rocky Top Catering is the caterer and bartender.
Sweetheart table is set up directly across the dance floor from the DJ.
Here you can see the loft area with the steps leading up to the spacious suite for the bridal party to get ready in and hold out there before the processional starts.
The couple's parents are enjoying some time together before the ceremony. Notice that the barn doors are closed. The bride and her father will enter from the barn doors.
The shuttle has arrived and the guests are shown to the back porch before it rains. 
The pocket of rain has now passed as accurately predicted and Dana, Courtney, Alyssa and staff of the barn are busy drying off the chairs for the guests to be seated.
Grabbed a quick photo with Kara, the owner of the venue. 
The table assignments......The guests will be having cocktail hour on the back porch after the ceremony.
Okay! All the guests are seated now and we can begin the ceremony. 
Our photographers, Ally & Bobby are ready! 
Scott, father of the groom, escorts Barbara, mother of the groom, to their front row seats.
Jake, brother of the bride, escorts their mother, Pam, to her seat then he circles back to come in with the groomsmen.
Now it is time for Rob and me to enter and take our places up front.
The sun had reappeared by this time and was shining right on Rob and me. No complaints though! 
The bridesmaids and groomsmen processed in as couples and took their places up front.
The barn doors were opened and I invited everyone to stand for our bride escorted by her stepfather, Bob. 
Sabrina is so happy for this day and for the break in the weather to have this beautiful ceremony outdoors as they had envisioned.
Everyone was welcomed to this once-in-a-lifetime gathering of the unique and cherished people who have touched the lives of Sabrina and Rob.
Sabrina and Rob chose to honor their parents and thank them for all their love and support through the years. This is a surprise for the parents and usually evokes a few tears.
Telling the story of how Rob and Sabrina met when they were students at UNC.
After Rob graduated he worked at Princeton while Sabrina worked in DC. Then Rob went to grad school in Philadelphia where Sabrina eventually joined him and they adopted their beloved 4-legged pal, Teddy. It was there that Rob proposed with an elaborate picnic (Rob is an excellent cook!) at Boathouse Row documented by a friend with a camera hiding out nearby. After finishing school, Rob got an exciting job offer in Seattle and so they and Teddy traversed the 3000 miles west, settled in, and began planning this wedding.
Then they heard what their partner had told me in confidence about what they love about each other and are looking forward to in marriage.
        The vows and ring exchange followed as they each read their vows to each other from my book. 
Sabrina makes her vows to Rob and places the ring on his finger. 
After a closing blessing, it was my honor to pronounce them husband and wife and invite them to share their first kiss as a married couple!
That sweet "after-kiss" moment when reality is setting in!
After the maid of honor returned the bouquet to Sabrina, I introduced them to their guests and invited the guests to stand and join me in congratulating the newlywed couple!
What a happy couple! 
The parents exited after the wedding party, ready to celebrate! 
The wedding party sequestered back inside the barn to decompress after the ceremony while the guests enjoyed cocktail hour.
They guys were remarking how much they enjoyed the ceremony. Always love hearing that. 
Sabrina and Rob! Congratulations on your marriage! What a gorgeous wedding. You did an amazing job planning this wedding from the West Coast. I am so happy we could dodge the rain and fulfill your vision for your wedding day. Thank you for choosing me to join you in marriage. I wish you all the best.