Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Few of My June and July Weddings

I only have pictures for a few of the couples I married in June and July (so far), so more will come!

On June 6th I married Rebecca and Gilbert at her parent's home in Durham.

They chose a small quiet ceremony to celebrate their love. Rebecca and Gilbert each had one attendant and Rebecca's daughter was the flower girl.

They introduced me to a new poem that day for their ceremony. It is 'I Saw Two Clouds at Morning' by John Gardener Brainard:

"I saw two clouds at morning,
Tinged with the rising sun,
And in the dawn they floated on,
And mingled into one;

I thought that morning cloud was blest,
it moved so sweetly to the west.

I saw two summer currents
Flow smoothly to their meeting,
And join their course,
with silent force,
In peace each other greeting:
Calm was their course through banks of green,
While dimpling eddies played between.

Such be your gentle motion,
Till life's last pulse shall beat;
Like summer's beam, and summer's stream,
Float on, in joy, to meet
A Calmer sea, where storms shall cease -
A purer sky, where all is peace."

Their wedding day spoke of the poem. It was blue, sunny, and not too hot, especially because the couple chose 10 am for their wedding time. Rebecca also chose red Gerber Daisies to provide color and the lush foliage did the rest.

I hadn't met Rebecca or Gilbert before their wedding. We did all the planning by email and phone since they chose my 'just us' ceremony option with keeps things simple.

It was a delight to meet them and their families, who comfortably sat on the back porch during the ceremony.

On Sunday, June 14th, I married Tim and Kristina at The Matthews House in Cary. Their photographer was Gillian Carlin of Diane McKinney Photography.

Tim and Kristina chose to have a small huppah in their ceremony. In the Jewish faith, it's a symbolic representation of the home they will create. For Tim and Kristina, it also ensured that they would have shade for their ceremony on the sunny day.

Tim and Kristina are friends of my nephew and niece-in-law, who I had married three years before, so for me, the day felt like being with family.

To get pictures of Kristina coming down the aisle, Gillian found a spot behind the huppah where she had a perfect view without being seen by the guests.

The enclosed garden of The Matthews House provided privacy and created an intimate space for the ceremony. You can notice the brick wall behind Kristina and her father.

The Matthews House gave the whole day the touch of elegance the couple wanted which wonderfully complemented their playful exuberance and delight in their day.

Tim and Kristina chose the words of the Celtic Handfasting Ceremony as part of their wedding. They left out the use of the handfasting cord, but included the powerful symbolism of acknowledging the hands of your beloved that will be there to comfort you in times of trial and grief, there to hold your children as they grow, and there to hold you as you go through life together. There were some teary moments in this heartwarming ceremony.

I also loved how Tim was comfortable on this warm day in the classic way of the Southern gentleman, with a linen suit.

Tamara Hedgepeth was their wedding director and she was wonderful. With 5 attendants on each side, 3 flower girls, and a ring bearer there were lots of people for her to wrangle, help relax, and get to the right place at the right time. Thank heavens for her easy grace and patient manner.

The music for the ceremony and the reception was provided by DJ John Williford of Carolina Productions. He had a great line of sight from the porch of the Matthews House so coordination was easy and the sound was great. Then he only had to move about 20 feet to be ready for the reception.

It was great to work with so many wonderful professionals.

On July 4th I married Angela and Matt at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary. They chose that date because they loved the idea of having fireworks every year on their anniversary and from the start their wedding had its own flair and pizazz.

Matt is a chef, so he and each of his attendants wore a boutonniére of herbs instead of flowers. They vowed they would eat them by the end of the evening.

Angela's attendants wore red with black Converse high-tops, and Matt and his attendants wore black formal wear with red vests and red Converse high-tops. As you can see, the bride also had a touch of red on her gown.

I loved the way the Angela's attendants strode down the aisle with a saucy step sure of their footing. With so many outdoor wedding venues, women sink into the ground when they wear high heels, making it definitely precarious to walk gracefully.

Amy, at The Umstead, ensured that the timing was perfect and greeted the newly weds with a champagne toast right after the ceremony as we waited for the guests to go to the cocktail hour before we went to the wedding site for post-wedding pictures. The Umstead also has a very experienced 'sound' man and microphone system so that everyone could hear every word of the ceremony.

Summer Gibbs of Summer Gibbs Photography was the wonderful photographer. Angela and Matt's friends uploaded these images to Summer's images will come soon.

We successfully bubbled the couple and the wedding party and they recessed to the music of the Darth Vadar theme from Star Wars. Can you tell that the couple are science fiction fans?

On July 9th I was on Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks to marry the daughter of my dear friend, Pat. Liz (as her friends call her), or Bess (as her family knows her) and her fiancé Mike decided that, even though they now live in New York City, they wanted to be married on the beach where Mike proposed. After the ceremony we all went to a local seafood restaurant called The Back Porch, for dinner.

Ocracoke is a very small town on a very small island. It feels like small friendly neighborhood. Bess and Mike's families rented beach houses for the week before the ceremony and they and the wedding party relaxed and ate good food at each others' houses. We arrived a day early to have the rehearsal which was essential in such a wide open setting.

Bess and Mike had only about 40 people at their wedding but had a reception in Durham on the next Saturday night for all their friends from high school and college days.

In the wedding, Bess and Mike's dog Dinali was ritually walked down the aisle as part of the processional by one of her attendants. Then Dinali was handed off to a willing friend. It worked well in this casual setting. In the ceremony we spoke of the powerful symbol of the ocean in their lives and it's meaning to their marriage. Here is a part of the ritual I wrote for them:

"Water is the elemental force of nature on this our water planet. It sustains all life. And it is only here at the ocean that we can truly understand the magnitude of its depth, breath, and power. So too is the power of love. It defies containment, definition and comprehension. It moves us with its mystery and its majesty. We realized that we are just a drop in its totality. marriage moves u closer to experiencing this with wonder. Through marriage, we come closer to the larger flow of life and love that are beyond our control. We experience how we must both surrender to the tides of life and love within us, and to learn to navigate their currents, to understand that we stand always at the edge of what we do not know."

I loved seeing the long hug shared by Pat and her daughter after the ceremony. That's me in the background in the black and white dress. I chose that dress first because Bess told me to wear what was comfortable. Then I chose it to provide a strong visual focal point for the ceremony against the long expanses of sky, sea, and beach.

We had to navigate some strong winds during the wedding but all went well. In fact it was a cloudy cool day until about an hour before the ceremony when the sun came out. We were all amazed by Mike and Bess's luck.

Their cake at the reception in Durham was by Tracey of SugarPunk, Confections with Conviction. It honored the couple's love of Ocracoke, the beach and the lighthouse which is the most famous sight on the island.

The reception was held at The Four Points Durham near Southpoint Mall and the fabulous dinner was catered by Foster's Market in Durham. Both were excellent! And the dance floor got lots of action that evening.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

May 2009 Weddings Continued

Here's more about Mandy and Josh's ceremony on May 23rd at Haywood Hall in Raleigh.

They spoke the following words of the giving and receiving of rings with great tenderness: With this ring, I marry you. May it encircle your finger as my love does your heart

Mandy and Josh chose a beautiful pronouncement for their marriage which included a blessing: May the blessing of life, the joy of love, the peace of truth, the wisdom and strength of spirit, and the grace of God be your constant companions now and always. With the joy and blessing of all present here, I now pronounce you husband and wife.

All their planning and hard work had come to fruition. They were married!

Everybody sighed and relaxed into the celebration ahead. Thanks again to Tom Edwards of New Image Studio.

On May 23rd I also had the privilege of performing the marriage ceremony between Keith and Petra at noon at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh right near Meredith Campus. What a lovely couple and what a stunning location. They chose a small open glade with a gazebo that was just the right size for their about 35 friends and family.

Petra comes from Eastern Europe so has not seen many American weddings. It was a treat to help her find what she felt would express her and Keith's love in all the ceremony offerings I've gathered over the years.

She and Keith met three years ago and have a very romantic relationship so they wanted a ceremony which honored the delight and surprise of finding each other. They felt that the description of love as 'friendship caught fire' suited them.

The day was a warm one. We planned the ceremony as best we
could to keep them in the shade during the ceremony so that they could concentrate on each other. After the ceremony they got a much needed vacation in Miami. Then upon returning I got this wonderful email message.

"We would like to thank you for the emotional and beautiful ceremony, the unforgettable moments you gave us and the romantic words you created for us. We enjoyed it so much! Thank you!"
May stayed busy and ended with another beautiful note. Ashley and Giovanna declared their wedding vows at her parents home in Bahama on May 31st at 7:00 PM

They planted a rosemary bush as part of their ceremony to symbolize the growing of their love. They had the dirt, the pot, the rosemary and even wet wash cloths to wipe their hands after they were finished. We had walked them down to this lovely side lawn with an accordion and mandolin sounding just like a Florentine serenade. Then after the ceremony we greeted them with bubbles (you can see them in the picture!) before we walked back to the house.

It was in the cool of the evening and a beautiful and fitting ceremony for them. I love it when couples ask for what they want in their ceremony. Then I can help make it happen!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

First Posting - Spring Weddings

May and June have been busy months for me. May and October compete for the busiest wedding months in the year in the NC Triangle and Triad. These months are beautiful, but in this area that also means a little anxiety about weather. There are some glorious days, some wet days and some days where we need creative ways to plan for the heat.

In this first blog entry I'll describe the April and May weddings that I have photos for. I'm still figuring out how to get pictures more quickly. The pictures will tell most of the story. I'm also available for questions. Simply check out my web site at or call me at 919-818-6362.

On April 18th, Bethany and Jesse were married at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill. It was stunning. They were in the Bryan Courtyard which is serene and protected. Their staff is incredibly professional and goes out of its way to help their couples.

During the ceremony the couple participated in the sand ceremony. Two smaller dishes of colored sand and one larger empty vase were located on a small table behind them. We were careful to take our time and make sure that Bethany didn't trip on her train as she navigated turning in her dress.

They chose to have no attendants standing with them. This simple elegant ceremony was perfect for this couple who spoke of their love for exploring life together in travel, studying wines, and especially in the challenges of raising their new puppy. Rachel, the wedding planner, from Bliss by Sam was an incredible help in ensuring that all the details were handled so that the couple could relax and enjoy their ceremony.

These are the times I cherish. Jesse and Bethany had completed their ceremony and felt that it went just the way they wanted. Their marriage began with blessing and beauty. Their photographs were taken by a dear friend, Titus Heagins.

On April 25th I had the honor of performing a small ceremony for Corey and Kimberley at Clemmons Educational State Forest in Clayton, NC. They wanted to formalize the love they'd been sharing for many years with their children and their families. The forest has a small amphitheater tucked into the woods, just perfect for such an occasion. They had gotten one of the shelters for their reception. It was a beautiful day and still a little cool. They planned wisely to have the ceremony at 11 AM to provide some natural air conditioning. They chose the Celtic hand-fasting as part of their ceremony and their two children were their attendants. Their friends helped create the picnic which was a wonderful culmination to a day that celebrated their years of dedication and commitment to their relationship and their children.

I had never met this couple before their wedding day. Kimberley and I had several rich conversations in which I got to know them just a little bit and respect them a lot. Conversations and email make long distance planning not only possible but successful.

On April 25th, I also officiated at another small family ceremony in Hillsborough, NC for Julie and Sean. It was held at the home of a friend of Julie's, chosen for her generosity of spirit and her beautiful front yard. Julie and Sean, Julie's son Tristan, Sean's brother, their much loved dog, and two friends (one of whom was the photographer) were in attendance. Everyone was excited to have the day arrive.

Their dog's collar was beaded and elastic and he left it alone. Mostly. He was a wonderful spirit during the ceremony, keeping it lighthearted and playful.

On May 2nd, I performed the marriage ceremony for Kate and John at Bass Lake in Holly Spring, NC. They were right on the water feeling the breeze and the sparkle. Robin Lin Photography created wonderful images of the day. There's one on my web site! Elissa Keno of Elissa Keno Weddings was the planner and decorator extraordinaire who transformed the Visitor's Center Conference Room at Bass Lake which looks over the water into an elegant reception site.

Jay and Kate did all their planning long distance from Arizona! But with so many able professionals it went off without a hitch.

As a part of their ceremony they chose the Unity Candle Ceremony. One note, the breeze off the lake was fairly intense so we had to modify the ceremony so that candles blowing out was not an issue. I recommend to all couples who choose this ceremony to make sure there is hurricane glass around the candles so that the symbolism isn't lost in the wind.

You can see below how just a little decoration really makes the setting spectacular.
They also had the benefit of shade, especially important for the men whose suits don't breathe. I have said for years that anyone who invents men's formal wear that breathes will make a fortune. As the old Yiddish saying goes, 'From my lips to God's ear.'

May was a flurry with multiple weddings every weekend. Gratefully, every single one went smoothly in every aspect. With this first, and catch-up, blog, I'll highlight just two more. Then do more over the weekend.

As I blog regularly, I'll provide more pictures, tips, and recommendations. Officiating at ceremonies is a real joy. I was a parish minister for twelve years and doing strictly weddings, premarital counseling, and other rites of passage allows me to concentrate on each couple or family, giving them all my experience and my blessings as we pass through each others lives.

On May 16th I performed the marriage ceremony for Kyle and Adrian at All Saint's Chapel in Raleigh.

It's a classic setting with incredible lighting just the right size for a mid-size wedding. Misty Ash, their staff member coordinating for the day was very helpful. The refurbished dressing rooms below were spacious and cool on this hot day. We could really have used a wedding planner to help everyone line up in the small foyer. But, with a little extra attention during the rehearsal we planned for the whole wedding party in this tight space. Just a note to remember if you choose this great setting.

Adrian and Kyle live in Charlotte and wanted a simple elegant ceremony. They held their reception at The North Carolina Museum of Art. I've provided a link below to their gallery of photos. For their photos after the ceremony, Kyle and Adrian used the picturesque cemetery across the street from the chapel. It is the oldest cemetery in Raleigh.

Here is a classic photo that maximizes the benefit of the great lighting at this location.

Adrian and Kyle had Craig take a picture from the balcony of this wonderful renovated chapel to get a picture of all their guests. I made an announcement right after the couple recessed to tell everyone to gather for a quick photo before they went to the reception and the wedding party and their families went across the street for other photos.

All these great photos were taken by Craig Carpenter at You can find more on the
photo gallery at their web site or on his blog.

Adrian and Kyle wanted to celebrate their closeness to their families and friends in this ceremony.

If there was a theme for this day it was sharing the amazing grace of Kyle and Adrian's love for each other

On May 23rd Mandy and Josh were married at the Haywood Hall in Raleigh at 5 PM in the evening. It's an historic house that is located on a cul de sac and has a large brick paved side patio that is perfect for the reception.

Mandy and Josh met at a student mixer at Western Lanes Bowling Alley between lanes 1 and 2 and their courtship began there. They've both since completed their MBAs and created new careers but the delight they share as best friends is still strong. Tom Edwards of New Image Studio took the following marvelous photos.

They had about 100 people at the ceremony which was in the downtown section of Raleigh with parks and restored homes. It was shady and cool. The DJ was Frank with Joe Bunn Co. which provided music for the ceremony by just pointing the speakers toward the front. They were simply turned around for the reception. There's more to show for this beautiful wedding, but I need to publish this right now. These photos are big and I believe I've maxed out of space!