Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Rand-Bryan House in Garner Decorated for the Holidays

On December 19th I had the joy of performing the marriage ceremony of Kristin and Adam at the Rand-Bryan House in Garner. In my next post I'll show you pictures of their ceremony.

But I wanted you to see the beautiful Rand-Bryan house on its own. It was the childhood home of Martha Liles and she and her daughter, Audrey were wonderful hosts for the wedding, ensuring that all went smoothly.

It's an elegant and open space, warmed with holiday decorations, and perfect for a small wedding.

The broad expanse of windows and the simple architectural elements maximize the light and the natural beauty, making you feel as if you're outdoors when you're much more comfortable inside.

As you enter into the front door, the stairs are in front of you to the left. The room to your left is the room that you can dress in. As you can see it has lots of room for all the stuff needed for the day.

It was a chilly day so we stayed inside. But I imagine it's even nicer when the day is warm and sunny and you can take advantage of that wonderful front porch and the wide expanse of lawn. Oh, and they have lots of parking.

Enjoy these pictures and see if it's the right place for you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thomas and Jessica, best friends for ten years

November 14th is the day Jessica and Thomas got married. From the time they were fourteen, they had known that theirs would be a forever friendship. At that time they'd gone to two different schools, but even then they'd had known that what they had was special. Everyone thought they were too young and a little crazy. But over the last ten years they've grown up, and grown their love, even through the difficulties of a long distance relationship while she was in college and he learned the family business.

To their friends they're an inspiring example of a good relationship. And while their friends said, 'It's about time!' when they announced their engagement, to Jessica and Thomas, it was just the right time. On November 14th, with all their friends and family gathered at Bay 7 of the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham, they honored their special love.

Jessica's friend, Angela, was the honorary wedding director. She was fabulous and essential to the day. She kidded that she could apply her skills as a medical student to this occasion. But kidding aside, she gave a special gift to her friend in the grace and attention she brought to coordinating the many logistics of the day.

Thomas and Jessica come from two different faiths, and in their ceremony we honored both traditions.
Melissa Cherry, a photo journalist from Greensboro took all the wonderful pictures you see here catching the occasion beautifully. Many thanks to her!

After Thomas and I entered the ceremonial space,
four attendants carried at huppah created just for the occasion. (These four friends remarked to me after the ceremony that they had loved being able to see Thomas and Jessica's faces so clearly during the ceremony.) The huppah, in Jewish faith, represents the promise of the home they'll create together. Its sides are open, symbolizing the importance of community, participation in each others lives and what is beyond ourselves.

Jessica entered with both her parents to the Canon in D by Pachelbel played on a great sound system by Jill Phillips of All The Right Grooves. She was fabulous. This is a large, wide-open and difficult place to get the sound just right, but she managed it.

Thomas and Jessica used the architecture of the setting well, too, holding the ceremony on a landing of the stairs with a backdrop of silver tile, which created a wonderful platform and effect by which everyone could see more easily.

Thomas and Jessica's exchange of rings had special meaning. Thomas proposed on New Year's Eve at mid-night in Asheville, NC on the grounds of the Grove Park Inn. It was a symbol of the forever commitment they'd both grown toward all these years. Now they were formally declaring this commitment in the eyes of all who love them.

During the ceremony they shared a glass of wine as part of the 7 Jewish Wedding Blessings Jessica's brother Jacob recited for them. The first is 'We praise you God, ruler of the universe, creator of the fruit of the vine.' The next six are just as lovely.

They also thoroughly enjoyed their kiss, taking the time to savor the moment. Yay!

Thomas broke the glass and everyone yelled 'Mazel Tov' at the end of the ceremony to wish them congratulations and good luck. It's not really hard to break the glass if you step on it right and then of course you have to remember to have it in a white cloth napkin so that shards don't go flying. It's a wonderful way to signify with a good shout that everyone is with them in spirit and that the ceremony is completed. Traditionally this ritual holds the prayer that says 'may your bond of love be as difficult to break as it would be to put together the pieces of this glass together again.'

I call the final moment before the Recessional the Basking Moment. It's the time when a couple is reentering their community for the first time as a married couple, seeing everyone who is there because they love them and wish them all the happiness in the world. It's a time to relish and drink in all this love and support.

So often couples seem to run out down the aisle. I say, 'Relax and enjoy all those faces turned to you in love.'

Jessica and Thomas had a special tradition for their wedding cake. Jessica's grandmother and mother had both had these same Kewpie doll's on top of their wedding cakes. And now so did Thomas and Jessica. The picture on the table is Jessica's parents cutting their wedding cake almost thirty years ago with the same small dolls on top of it. This beautiful cake was made by Ashely Lattier of Ashley Cakes.

Cydney Davis-English from The English Garden in Raleigh was responsible for Jessica's beautiful bouquet and the Cala lilies for her bride's maids.

I didn't stay but Jessica reports that they had to kick people out at eleven because they were still going strong on the dance floor. Durham Catering Company must have been a hit with the dinner, too. Thanks to Tom Ferguson.

I appreciate it so much when a couple lets me know that their ceremony has been what they wanted. Jessica send me the following note, which I'll treasure: "We are back home from our honeymoon now and starting to settle into our life as a married couple. We wanted to write and thank you for doing such an amazing job at our wedding last week. The ceremony was so heartfelt and honest - it touched both of our hearts and was able to transcend to reach all of our friends and family in attendance as well. Standing on that stage, listening to you deliver the words we worked so hard to choose, everything else truly faded away.

We really appreciate everything you did to make our wedding day so wonderful. You took so much care to craft the exact ceremony we wanted and we could never thank you enough for being part of the most important day of our lives. ... Thank you again! We are so glad we were able to share the day with you. Meeting you and having you officiate our ceremony was truly a blessing for both of us.'

It's a blessing for me, too. Jessica and Thomas were very clear in their appreciation and affection for each other and their family and friends. I felt privileged to be a part of it with the special role I had in their wedding.

Jessica and Thomas story was written up in the Harold Sun. It's wonderful. Click here to go the the Herald Sun site and the story.

Helping them honor a generous and inclusive love such as theirs is why I love what I do.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Melanie and David, with family and closest friends

I've always loved a December wedding. My parents were married on Christmas Eve in 1937. So for all my life, Christmas and weddings have been intertwined.

It was a treat to see the festive white Holiday lights surrounding the Celebrity Dairy in Siler City as I drove down the long driveway on the already dark Saturday evening of December 12th.

I've officiated lots of summer weddings at Celebrity Dairy over the years. I've always loved the cats rubbing your ankles, even during the ceremony, and the contented clucking of chickens in the background. But this evening, it was all about the warmth inside.

After having worked together for over seventeen years, and after each had each gone through a divorce in the last few years, David and Melanie's friendship caught fire.

For their wedding David and Melanie wanted to emphasize the future and to unite their families: Melanie has two daughters and David has two sons, and the four were their attendants.

Here David and Melanie and their children are looking up to the balcony while their professional photographer, Wendy of Wendy Savage Studio snaps a shot from above.

These are just my photographs taken by my Droid. Pardon their quality as I get used to its eccentricities.

This is the small room off the main dining room where the ceremony was held for about 12 close family members and friends. It was just the right size for this group so that the wedding felt intimate and close, but not crowded.

Melanie and David chose to include their children in their vows. I'd never done this before and it was lovely and powerful. The first words of their vows were: 'I love you and choose to share my life with you and your children.' I enjoyed meeting the children to whom these words applied, and they were all great!

David and Melanie's reception dinner was held in the big dining room and was catered by Celebrity Dairy staff while their cake was created by Once in a Blue Moon Bakery in Cary. Celebrity Dairy has wonderful art work all over its walls and with the added Christmas decorations it sparkled.

Melanie and her daughter's bouquets were created by Blossom in Pittsboro.

I left as family and friends were being called to the table for dinner to drive back to my home and my Sweetheart, Ruben. As I did, I delighted that these two people and these two families were now joined.

I've always believed that you can never have too many people in your life who love you. And that the blessing of divorce and remarriage, if we can remember that love takes many forms, is the power of new bonds being formed and the possibility of new love arising.

I wish this new family all the best, and a Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Maggie and Kevin Light Up The Doubletree

Kevin and Maggie met in college when they lived across from each other in their sophomore year and began dating in their senior year. That was almost four years ago. During all this time their love has grown. They came to see me because they wanted a relaxing, 'not too serious' wedding that was family oriented and joyful since they're both very close to their families, and love that about each other. They're the first two to be married in either family so everyone was delighted to be invited to help them celebrate.

They thanked their friends and family on their wedding ceremony program and added these words just for their parents: 'We both admire and aspire to have the marriage that you have and hope that we can live up to all that you have taught us to be. We love you!'

Amy Acosta at The Doubletree Inn in Durham was masterful in making the adjustments needed to move the wedding indoors. She's always great to work with.
And Thanks to florist Lyn Graves from
Fresh Affairs for his beautiful offerings.

Mitch Woodard of
joe bunn dj company was great, attending to the careful timing and volume needed for this enclosed room Maggie and Kevin chose the Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin for their Bridal Processional and the Wedding March by The O'Neill Brothers for their Recessional. Couples have been asking me lately for suggestions of music so I'm paying more attention to make a note of what is played. I love how I'm surprised by the really lovely choices that I would never have thought of.

Kevin entered with his father, Gary, and with two brothers and a good friend standing up with him, there were hugs happening all through the ceremony, which was wonderful to see. Here Kevin is hugging Maggie's father after he escorted her down the aisle.

We'd planned for their wedding to be outside, but with the rain on October 24th it had to be moved indoors. But even inside, their smiles and joy lit up the room. We have Stacy Borelli from Swank Photo Studio to thank for these great pictures. She had a difficult job in this room, filled with guests, to get just the right pictures. These wonderful photos show that she skillfully accomplished it!

Kevin and Maggie chose the poem 'Love' by Roy Croft, read by Maggie's brother Andrew as part of the ceremony, which begins: 'I love you, not only for what you are but for what I am when I am with you.'

Right after they exchanged rings, they shared in the wonderful custom of Celtic Handfasting. They even invited their guests to participate in this custom with them in their own way. "If you're here today with your beloved or a dear friend or family member, please hold their hand now and know that these timeless words are also true for you. If those most special to you are not here today, please bring in to your mind and heart the love you share with them. They they too will be with us in spirit."

The power of the moment brought tears to many eyes.

Maggie and Kevin really savored their first kiss as husband and wife. I'm glad. Sometimes a couple kisses so briefly that the photographer doesn't have time to get a picture. I know that it's unusual to kiss in front of family and friends, but the day is celebrating your wonderful affection.

I very rarely go to a reception, preferring to come home and be with my own Sweetie, but I decided to investigate a little further about Maggie and Kevin's cake since it was made by Cinda Putnam, of Cinda's Creative Cakes, and she also did the fabulous cake for another couple I married this fall.

Sure enough, it was beautiful and topped, symbolically of course, by Maggie and Kevin's puppy Jacey. I know they wanted her to be a part of the wedding and here she is.

After Kevin and Maggie got back from their honeymoon, I received a wonderful note from her with these words, 'I am sure you noticed - but everything really "hit" me as I walked down the isle. I hadn't cried once all day but when the ceremony actually started - I was overwhelmed to say the least. I will never forget how calm and warm your smile was and it was you that let me know it was okay. I really can't thank you enough for that - and for the tissues :)

Many of our guests stopped me during our reception and commented on what a wonderful ceremony it was and how wonderful you were. it seemed to me that the ceremony was short but even then you definitely made a lasting impression on our guests and our families and I am so thankful to you for that.

Thank you so much for all of your help and guidance over the last many months in putting our ceremony together. I think it is truly amazing how you can guide a couple through the process and the result is something they put their hearts in to - which makes everything that much more meaningful and special on your wedding day.

Thank you again Robin for all of your help and support. You were a huge part in making our wedding day so special and we cannot thank you enough for that. Please keep in touch and if there is anything I can ever do for you - please just let me know."

It was a joy to be a part of Kevin and Maggie's wedding. They have a generosity of spirit that shines brightly, even on the rainiest of days.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christine and Christopher October 17th at Jones Chapel on Meredith Campus

I love it when a couple makes their wedding truly their own. And Christine and Christopher did just that. From our first meeting in January until their wedding date on October 17th, it was a delight to work with them. (Thanks first to Wake Forest Portraits for these wonderful pictures. It was a joy working with them.)

They had a very modern romance, meeting while living on two different coasts of the US, having long conversations on the phone and racking up the frequent flier miles as they determined that this was the person they each wanted to spend their life with. Then, joyfully, two years on the same coast as they deepened their love to this day of wedding.

Christine's father, Donald, walked her down the aisle, but only after a a formal entrance of very happy parents, wedding party and their flower girl and ring bearer (brother and sister), all in ivory and red with black formal attire for the men and the one Groom's Woman. Christine carried a beautiful antique prayer book holder in her hand containing a book of prayer and a copy of the Old Testament, accomplishing her 'something old' as well as something meaningful and memorable.

Jones Chapel on Meredith Campus is elegant and stunningly beautiful. Janet Cherry, a professor at Meredith College played 'The Forrest Gump Suite' on the piano as special guests, the groom, and I entered. Then she played 'Benediction' on the organ as the wedding party entered. 'Benediction,' written by John Stevens, was arranged especially for Christopher and Christine by Christopher's brother, Cameron. Christine and her father entered to Pachelbel's 'Canon in D,' wonderfully sonorous on that beautiful pipe organ.

Christopher's father, Mark was his Best Man, and Christine's mother, Catherine, was her Matron of Honor. At the beginning of the ceremony, one family member from each family lit a red candle in honor of the family members who could not be with them this day, but who were still with us in spirit and love. Then Christopher's mother Reneé read 'The Art of a Good Marriage" by Wilferd Arlan Peterson.

Christopher and Christine included a Celtic Handfasting as part of their ceremony. The sash they used was from Christine's family tartan of the clan McLeod from her mother's side. We tied it in the shape of infinity binding their hands together, and blessing their marriage forever as we spoke the beautiful and timeless words of the handfasting.

I then removed the sash acknowledging that while it's impossible for them to be physically tied together all their lives, they will wear rings to symbolically honor the physical and spiritual ties they made this day.

I had the wonderful privilege of offering the blessing, 'Go now to walk the ways of the world together, and may your days be good and long upon the earth' after which they recessed to the wonderful Hogwarts Hymn from the Harry Potter movies - a shared favorite, and part of what brought them together.

They added some playful touches as they began their celebrating. Vern Bullock of Classy Transportation drove them to the reception in this beautiful ivory Excalibur, perfect for this beautiful fall day. And since Christopher and Christine had their wedding at 11 am, they had the whole day to celebrate.

They held their reception at the wonderful 1705 Prime in Raleigh. This picture shows Christine's mother and Matron of Honor making her toast to the couple. I love 1705 Prime because it's intimate and has a wonderful oval dance floor, bordered on one arc by a beautiful gray stone wall.

It also has room for cake, this one created by Cinda's Creative Cakes. The cake decoration is modeled after Christopher and Christine's invitation, bearing their monogram and copying its delicate scroll work.

I could go on and on about the fullness of love on this day for Christine and Christopher. I'm delighted that in their careful planning they created a spaciousness for their love to flow and breathe and be celebrated by all who touched their day. I was grateful to be a part of it.

And it was wonderful to hear from Christine after they returned from their honeymoon and got their pictures back with this thank you: "First I wanted to thank you so much for the wonderful job you did with our ceremony. It was absolutely perfect. It was so nice to feel relaxed up there and really feel the intimacy with Christopher. You took your time and really let us enjoy it all. We got several compliments from guests on what a wonderful job you did. You were so nice, made it easy from the beginning to put together such an important ceremony and were a great help at the rehearsal and day of. Thank you so much. I will treasure our ceremony always."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Joe and Liz at Rock Quarry Farms

September 26th was a rainy day. There was no denying it. It would be a rainy day - all day.

But a tent for the reception, and the lovely overhang on a rustic barn for the ceremony was all that was needed to provide shelter for the sweet wedding of Joe and Liz.

The setting was Rock Quarry Farm off Highway 54 just west of Chapel Hill right across the American Gravel Company- hence the name.
Rock Quarry Farm is a small and lovely B and B just tucked off the road enough to have that rural yet accessible feel. And the tent on the lawn was perfect for their 75 guests.

There was much that was delightful about Joe and Liz's wedding. Liz made her own beautiful dress. Lily, Joe's daughter, was one of the flower girls. They had a solo violinist to usher them in, and they introduced me to a beautiful quote that fit them perfectly and other couples have since come to love, too.

It is from 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' by Louis de Berniéres written in 1993.
"Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness it is not excitement, it s not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. ... Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident."

They adapted the words of blessing from the rest of that particular quote - "May your roots always grow towards one another and when all the blossoms have fallen from your branches, may you find that you are one tree and not two."

I understand that this novel has more wonderful words to say about love. I have a feeling that Liz and Joe, in their love and the love of the family they have created with Lily, will be joyfully exploring those words for a long time. Many blessings to them!

Kelly and Todd and a Rose Filled Wedding

October 17th was a chilly day, and it had rained for several days before that, making an outdoor wedding not a guaranteed success. But it was important that Kelly and Todd be married in the Raleigh Rose Garden and it was only after the ceremony that I totally understood why. Roses speak to this couple.

And the heavens conspired to make the day magical. It was overcast up to the very moment before Kelly entered the ceremony. Then the sun shone, but only until the end of the ceremony when it tucked back behind a cloud. But during the ceremony it lit up the sky, Kelly's and Todd's faces, and the roses.

We can thank Meg Daniels of
The Photography of Meg Daniels for these wonderful pictures, and for capturing the day so beautifully.

And a special thanks to Gina Beatty Martinez of the
Raleigh Little Theater Rose Garden for all the logistics of ensuring the garden was ready for Kelly and Todd and their wedding.

Todd and Kelly met at the MBA program at NC-State three years ago and they both felt the touch of fate or the Divine in the meeting. They wanted to stress their appreciation of each other in their ceremony and the joy in their shared love. They described it as a positive loop of energy and appreciation. Roses were an excellent symbol of that feeling of being gifted by our Beloved in our life.

They had a guest offer a reading called 'Dedication to My Wife' by T. S. Eliot that ends with ' No peevish winter wind shall chill, No sullen tropic sun shall wither, The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only', they exchanged roses as the first gift upon their marriage, and they gave the roses to their mothers after the ceremony.

Kelly's bouquet of roses was made by the florist Fallon's Flowers on Wake Forest and they were a lush bouquet of, you guessed it, roses. The continuity of the theme was lovely and seamless.

Arioso Strings provided the elegant music safely ensconced in the gazebo again the cold and damp. The bride entered to the Air from Suite #3 by Bach, and the couple recessed to the Largo from Xerxes by Handel.

They left in a white stretch limousine provided by A Formal Affair, LLC and driven by Paul Copplestone (1-888-753-6653) for their reception and much celebrating.

Many years ago I presided at a wedding at Ayr Mount in Hillsborough for which the groom's Aunt Peggy wrote a special poem, 'Marriage Grove.' I kept this poem with Aunt Peggy's permission and Todd and Kelly chose it for their ceremony:

you played at love
wildly growing into separateness
but not today

today you step into this
someday grove
of saplings sprung beside the founding tree
an array of your life hopes and dreams
with God wielding influence as a spade
separating your want from weed
while with passionate interest
you water each seed

this is the challenge
for weather changes

give yourself to shade the other
or warm each other
become deeply rooted
urging toward what unknown Sun
unafraid of growth
sustained by its apportioned Grace
embracing this rocky
dynamic place.

I wish Kelly and Todd much joy as they cultivate the garden of their marriage.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grace and Alex at Valhalla

Alex and Grace got married at Valhalla, seemingly right out of Norse legend. But that's its official name of The Barn at Valhalla, just off Highway 54 west of Chapel Hill. On October 10th it fulfilled its promise to become a glorious spot for Alex and Grace to marry. And it was a joyful occasion.

The weather was iffy all that week. We were all checking the Doppler images daily. But it cleared up just in time to be a gorgeous early fall afternoon. Maybe it was because Alex and Grace were beaming so broadly that they created sunshine themselves. In the leafy canopy and crisp air, it felt like we were in a magical glade.

All the fabulous photographs you see here were taken by Robin Lin of Robin Lin Photography. You'll see more pictures by her on several other of my blog entries (Tim and Caroline, Kate and Jay), and on my home page of my web-site. She is always a joy to work with, captures all those moments you don't want to forget, and has the most amazing eye for color and composition. I can't recommend her highly enough. But then her work speaks for her better than any words.

Grace and Alex provided lots of small touches for others to smile at, too. Besides the ceremony they had snapshots of their dog, from various angles, on each table for the reception. These pictures also included the number for each table. They wanted their puppy with them on their wedding day and this was the best way, given his exuberance, to manage it. They also had Wedding Mad Libs at each place setting for an ice breaker (ask Robin about these, she has a copy), and a photo booth replete with funny hats and boas for some especially camp moments. And of course great dancing DJed by 1st Carolina DJs.

But everyone delighted first in the ceremony. Emily, their three year old flower girl captured everyone's heart while she was entering to 'Melloncollie and The Infinite Sadness' by Smashing Pumpkins.

Then everyone rose as Grace entered with her mother, Barbara, to the strains of 'Glasgow Love Theme.' This is the advantage of recorded music. You can really tailor it just to you.

The stunning flowers carried by Grace and her Bride's Maids were created by Tre Bella Florist in Durham, just matching her colors of brown and red.

Grace and Alex had a Quaker-like ceremony that included words of love and affirmation from several friends and family members, each one speaking from the heart. One also read the wonderful poem, 'Oh, The Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss, which was wonderfully appropriate for a wedding, and especially their wedding.

They spoke vows in their own words to each other that captured their personalities and their joy in their love for each other..

They exchanged rings with the words: 'With this ring, I join my life with yours. I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine.' Then I got to say, with gusto, 'You may now smooch your bride' and Alex did - to much applause.

This heartfelt ceremony was made more so by the loving words of dear friends and family and the complete delight that Alex and Grace were taking in the occasion. Notice that the Hindu God, Ganesha, and Grace's grandparents both looked down upon them from the stone mantle of the fireplace. Many blessings were showered upon them this day from many directions.

They left the ceremony to the song, 'Feeling Good' by Nina Simone. And we were all feeling good for them.

It's always a good sign for a marriage when a couple knows how to claim the joy in their lives and in the love of their family and friends. I'm happy for them!