Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Libby and Michael at Merry Oaks, NC

On August 15th, Michael and Libby were married in the little town of Merry Oaks, NC.

Merry Oaks seems like just a sweet name of a highway sign to passers-by. But just off the freeway, tucked around a corner is a wonderful funky old bed and breakfast that called to Libby and Michael for their wedding. I couldn't even find its contact information on Google, so if you want to know how to reach it, contact me and I'll ask Michael and Libby.

It used to be a farm house with an old post office and train station. The artist Ann Hill used to live there. It's decorated with old hub caps, and today its history continues to grow, rich with laughter and life.

In renting the whole place Libby and Michael had a casual country place with a lawn and garden that was perfect for their gathering of about fifty close friends and family. They wanted someplace casual and enjoyable. And they wanted their wedding to be that way, too.

Friends provided the cupcakes and the wonderful jazz music, QShack completed the food offerings with delicious bar-be-cue (which you don't see because I needed to leave before that time to travel to Carrboro for another ceremony), and .........

Libby's sister was her Matron of Honor and Michael's brother was his Best Man.

And there would be room for their dachsund, Lulu to be a part of the festivities.

They have one of those amazing stories that speak of fate lending a hand. They had met briefly long ago but had moved to different cities. Then later in Detroit, they lived in the same apartment building, but Michael moved in just as Libby was moving out. Then Michael started getting Libby's mail and they ran into each other at a drug store when both of them were dating other people.

Finally getting the message the universe seemed to be telling them, they began seeing each other, which led, after three years to their wedding day, August 15th.

All the photos you'll see in this blog entry were provided by Lacey Gadwill who has a wonderful casual touch.

Michael and Libby had moved down from Detroit not too long ago and have a close set of friends and family.

They had a special part in their ceremony which spoke to this closeness.

"Dear Friends and Family, Without you, we aren't possible. You raised us, befriended us, brought us together physically, mentally, and spiritually, fought with us for freedom and justice in a world often lacking both. And today you have given us the great gift of being present at our marriage. In all this, all of you prepared us for this day, with unity with each other today, before you, before each other, before God and before creation. Thank you!

Our sons and daughters grow older, become independent, fall in love and marry. But marriage is not the end of their previous relationships to family and friends. Rather it's a process which requires constant care and attention. In this process Michael and Libby will need the help, support, love, and care of all of you who have been so important in their relationship so far.

Do all of you gathered here today, who have nurtured Michael and Libby so long, bestow your blessings on their union? If so, answer, 'We do!'"

This is a group shot of everyone who said, 'We do!' There were no dissenters.

Friends came from Seattle, New York, New Orleans, and Detroit to be with them.

Michael and Libby found a moment to share a cupcake during the reception.

hope all their life will be sweet with these memories of their wedding day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stefan and Kate At The Sarah Duke Center in Durham

On August 29th, I had the honor of performing Stefan and Kate's marriage ceremony at the wonderful Sarah P. Duke Center in Duke Gardens, in Durham, NC.

We were all nervous about rain that weekend, but a storm roared through Durham about an hour after the rehearsal on Friday evening and we were blessedly left with the cooler weather brought in by the front. The water lilies were blooming and a blue heron graced us with its presence on the pond during the whole of the rehearsal. We all considered it nature's blessing on the occasion. Kate and Stefan both love the natural world. So much so that their ceremony began with these words:

"We are here today to celebrate the marriage between Stefan and Kate. The life this couple has created together is imbued with much love. They share not only a deep romantic love, rooted in sincere friendship, but also a love of life and its offerings. They share a passion for exploration of and protection of the natural world, and a respect for all cultures of the earth. The interest and values that brought them together in the beginning continue to unite and inspire them."

The Sarah Duke Center has amphitheater seating which faces the pond and which is perfect for this size group of about 120 people. You can see the Sarah Duke Center behind, where the reception was held. It has a large lawn and a walkway where the wedding party gathered to enter the amphitheater. The cocktail hour, was held on the covered porch (you can see its roof in this photo.)

Allison Davis of Sandfoot Photography took all of these fabulous pictures and you can see more on her web site. Ken Holmes of DJ Bunn Co. was the DJ for the music for the ceremony and the reception. He found the perfect spot for a good view, unobstructed but also discreet.

Both Kate's parents walked her down the aisle, which at the Sarah P. Duke Center is wide enough to do gracefully. She entered to a Celtic harp version of the traditional Bridal March.

Christy White of A Designing Mind, event floral designer combined cymbidium orchids, jade roses, South American line hydrangeas, Sahara roses, bells of Ireland and Yoko Ono green button poms for the beautiful floral bouquets.

Stefan and Kate each chose different vows to speak to the other. While most couple do not choose to do this, it's always a treat for me when I know that both people have taken the opportunity to say vows that uniquely fit their love for the other.

Kate has an Irish heritage so wanted the family's Irish wedding bell to be in the ceremony. We created a ceremony for the bell where they ring the bell on their wedding day and promise to ring it whenever they need to be reminded of their love for each other as it is on this day.

We then had the delicious moment in the ceremony when we were told that the clapper of the bell had come off and they said 'ring ring ring' for the sound of the bell. It was a fun and unforgettable moment that they'll probably remember much more powerfully that what was planned. And with more humor. Which is always good for a marriage.

The Catering Company smoothly handled all the arrangements for the cocktail hour and the reception in the ballroom which is also graced with a life sized statue of a blue heron. And the dance floor was occupies for the rest of the evening.

I wish them great happiness as they begin this new adventure together.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tonya and Frank at The Fearrington

Tonya and Frank show it's possible to have the most romantic wedding with just two people in a setting that most people think of as only suitable for larger gatherings.

On Sunday evening July 26th, with three guests in attendance Tonya and Frank were married in the landscaped garden at The Fearrington. The only others present were Jerry Dillard, their professional photographer, friend and owner of Dillard Studios, who provided all the excellent pictures here,

Ruby Prescott, owner of Blue Sands Music and a wonderful and versatile violinist, three friends, and me.

After the ceremony, the signing of the license,
and many thank you's and hugs,
we wished them well and
Tonya and Frank had dinner
at The Inn at The Fearrington.

When the wedding party is so small and makes such a small footprint on a setting, many locations charge little or nothing. I've walked with couples and their friends into Duke Gardens, Yates Mill Pond, gardens in downtown Hillsborough, the botannical gardens in Chapel Hill, and lots of other locations to officiate at small ceremonies. We meet in a parking lot and find a beautiful spot, most often chosen by the couple beforehand.

The only drawback is that you can't ensure privacy because the space isn't reserved. But with a typical ceremony lasting only about 20 minutes (especially if there are few formalities), this is seldom a problem.

Frank and Tonya had just the wedding they wanted,
celebrating their love in the words and setting that meant most to them.

And all of us in attendance relished our time with them.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jenna and Tim at The Highgrove Estate on July 18th

The Highgrove Estate is a beautiful restored home just south of Fuquay-Varina and about 20 minutes drive south of Raleigh. It's perfect for a summer evening wedding. The vista from the ceremony site overlooks Laurel Lake, the patio catches any breeze that is possible, the house has a classic winding staircase that's perfect for pictures and ...

the estate has multiple wonderful settings for perfect photographs.

Stacy Borelli from Swank Photo and Studio took all the pictures you'll see in this posting. Jenna's parents came all the way from Tampa, Florida and Tim's were luckier to come the short distance from Zebulon, NC. In all, over 150 guests joined them on this special day.

Jenna and Tim were surrounded by family and close friends with 6 bridal attendants, 2 honorary bridal attendants, 2 flower girls and 7 groom's attendants in attendance. But the wide patio accommodated everyone beautifully. We even had room for a unity candle table and a small bottle of water stashed behind it just in case on this particularly hot day. (TIP: Noticing where the sun will be in the sky for your ceremony is especially helpful for North Carolina summer weddings.)

After making sure that the right person had the rings and the mother's knew how to light the candles for the unity candle ceremony, we were ready to begin. Angela, from The Highgrove, was great in helping make sure every logistical detail was taken care of. We were also glad for the last moments of air conditioning as we lined up in the house before we entered into the hot sunshine.
Aware of this possibility, Tim and Jenna chose ceremonial words that were rich in spirit and full of heart and warmth, and weren't long. They wanted a ceremony that was beautiful, romantic, elegant and family oriented. And this tone came through in their ceremony and in every aspect of the evening.

Music for the ceremony and for the reception was expertly provided by Ryan from Island Sound DJs and Video. He also provided a lapel microphone for me, which always makes it easier to be heard in outdoor settings.

I left while guests were enjoying cocktails at the many outdoor groupings on the patio, and the wedding party were having pictures taken - just before everyone entered into the elegant air-conditioned tent for the rest of the festivities.
Everyone had a great time.