Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mike and Jen at The Caffé Luna in Raleigh

On Sunday afternoon, October 18th, I had a wonderful time celebrating the marriage of Michael and Jennifer at the Caffé Luna in downtown Raleigh. Jim Colman of Jim Colman Photography provided me with all the wonderful pictures you see here.

Caffé Luna set up their front room for the ceremony, then guests gathered in the back room for the reception. The café's golden walls and Tuscan flair was the room a warm elegant tone on the gray day. Jen and Mike's only disappointment was that their puppy, Callie, couldn't be with them. At the same time, we all shuddered to think of the trouble he could have gotten into had he been there.

They had wisely asked a friend Laura to be their unofficial wedding coordinator for the day and it was a blessing to have her there for all the last minute coordination that was needed even with a small wedding party.

And with the room set up the way it was, with the chairs out to each side, Jim Colman had a perfect place from which to get great pictures throughout the ceremony. Notice the wonderful picture later in the blog of their first kiss as a married couple.

Randy Bennett
of joe bunn dj company was also great and a joy to work with. I appreciated that he managed the sound just right for this intimate setting, including my microphone, so that the couple had some privacy while guests could hear the ceremony clearly.

Jen's sister was her Bride's Maid, and Mike's brother was his Best Man.

They had been together three and a half years and this next step into marriage felt natural and organic.
They had such an easiness about them that day. It was easy to see how they team together well, support each other and find such enjoyment in being together.

They had a great story of Mike's search to get the perfect engagement ring and 'the stars' aligning to make that happen. So we included the Engagement Ring Ceremony as part of their wedding.

The Caffé Luna, not only provides wonderful service and great food, but is also a great photo backdrop. If you have less than one hundred guests, and want to keep everything in one location, this is a wonderful place to consider.

I was delighted to be a part of their wedding and to get to meet their families and friends.

At the end of the ceremony, we all stood and welcomed them into marriage with the words 'May their love remind us of the importance of love in our own lives. May it inspire our hearts to continually appreciate each other as family and as friends.'

I wish them much happiness.

Erin and David at Snipes Farm

On Labor Day weekend, we gathered to marry David and Erin at Snipes Farm Retreat. Tucked back at the end of Jo Mac Road just west of Chapel Hill off Highway 54 is this wonderful place to have a wedding and reception. They don't have a web page but they stay busy with weddings and parties. I felt a special connection to this couple because they graduated from the same department at UNC as my Sweetheart, Ruben as well as the many other ways our lives crossed paths that remind me that 6 degrees of separation is way too many in the NC Triangle.

The day was gorgeous and David and Erin decided to marry right under the huge tree on the lawn which slopes down to the pond on the farm. With the large expanse of sloping lawn, Roger Snipe makes it easy for wedding goers by offering to take people who can't walk the distance down in his golf cart. It's a real help.

Erin and David had a wedding with special friends and family. They have known each other eight years and been a couple for three and a half. Through this time they supported each other through graduate school and all those hydrology tests and poster sessions.

They are both close to their families and wanted family participation in the ceremony. Her four sisters were her attendants, and Dave's brother was his Best Man. They did the ceremony of the unity candle to signify the uniting of their families. Their mother's lit the candles before the ceremony. And they lit the unity candle as a symbol of their married life which begins this day. We said, 'As you joined to light this candle, so you will join in the rewards and challenges of married life.'

We said these words of blessing upon their marriage: 'Dave and Erin, believe in what is yours, believe in who you are, believe in the richness and the power of what lies in the depths you share. And go now in great happiness.'

They had this group shot of their families taken after the ceremony. The photographer perched on a ladder to get this fabulous picture.

The wedding photographs were taken by their friend Chip Hammond. Thank you!

They also had a wonderful reception which included the seven piece band with brass, They Are Timeless, which had a great repertoire and a big band sound.

Their catering for the occasion was done by Thrills From The Grill, and it was a perfect day for it. Erin and Dave's friends and family give them the gift of doing their flowers and their cake.
It was a wonderful way to begin their marriage.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Richard and Caroline at The Old Well at UNC

At 7:45 am on the drizzly Tuesday morning of September 22nd, Richard, and their friends and I gathered at the Old Well on UNC campus to await Caroline's arrival at 8 am when we would begin their wedding ceremony. The sun kept moving in and out of the clouds so we were hoping hard for no rain. Everyone was generous of spirit as we waited and I felt lucky to be their officiant.

Caroline is studying at the School of Pharmacy at UNC, having just arrived a few months before from Singapore. With her came Richard, her fiancé, a chef hoping to find a position in one of the wonderful restaurants in Chapel Hill. Our timing was critical. The next day Richard would be flying back to Singapore to get his visa renewed.

At this gathering were their friends from the School of Pharmacy and from the small UNC contingent of Singaporeans. It was a small and very close group. This was to be their American wedding and when they return home to Singapore, they would have another wedding with their families and friends there.

They wrote their own vows and exchanged rings with the words, 'I give you this ring as a token of the loving covenant made this day between us." They had memorized their vows and the words of the exchange of rings. I was simply holding my book up in case they needed it. And they didn't!

Their local reception would be held that night at the Top of the Hill restaurant in Chapel Hill so we wanted their ceremony and short time after the ceremony (folks had to get to class by 9:30) to include their wedding cake and a toast. To accomplish this I created a special symbolic ceremony within the wedding ceremony to include the cutting of the cake, and them feeding each other cake, with these words:

"A tradition in this country is for the couple to share wedding cake at their wedding celebration. We bring that tradition into the ceremony today. The cake represents the sweetness of your days together. It represents that from this moment on you will be called to nurture each other, in body and spirit, often in unexpected and spontaneous ways. You will sit at the same table and eat and drink together. So eat now. And may your lives be sweet with love, romance, and adventure. And from this time forward may you find life's joys doubly gladdening, its bitterness sweetened, and all things made more delightful by the sweetness of your love for each other."

After the ceremony, the signing of the license, and many pictures, .....

The whole group accompanied Caroline and Richard to the car their friends were lending them for the day. It was decorated Singapore style. I congratulated them that this custom was more attractive that most of the ways we decorate cars in this country.

We were all hoping that Richard could get back to NC and his new wife quickly. And he's on his way as I write this blog. Welcome back, Richard. And Congratulations again to you both!

And may your first autumn in NC bring wonderful new experiences for you to relish and share!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Harry and Alex at J. C. Raulston Arboretum

In planning a wedding we can all too easily forget how it's possible to have a small wedding with all of the special ingredients of a larger one. At 10am on Wednesday morning, October 7th, Harry and Alex were married at the White Garden trellis in the J. C. Raulston Arboretum, in the company of just a few close family and friends. I know. I was there and got to perform the ceremony.

Harry and Alex are full time students at North Carolina State. Harry had recently gotten out of the military and wanted to make sure, on their limited budget, that they had a traditional wedding.

Close friends and family are what made that happen. And of course, Mara Kurtz, our wonderful photographer who is also an NC State student and a photographer for the university newspaper.

Alex's uncle walked her into the ceremony, and Harry's sister Anita was her Maid of Honor, who also drove Alex to the ceremony. Two friends of Harry's were in attendance and we began.

It was a sweet way to start the day. They kept the tradition of throwing the bouquet and of Harry taking off the garter from Alex's leg..... to the delight of all.

The festivities were short for some of us because most of us had commmittments right after the ceremony..... after all, it was still a school day. But for Alex and Harry, it was a life changing day.

They will have a wedding day to remember. And we are all glad.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Andy and Farrah at The Barn at Valhalla in Carrboro, NC

On August 15th I had the privilege of marrying Farrah and Andy. I had been involved in their planning more than with most other couples, encouraging them to check our The Barn at Valhalla (just outside of Chapel Hill off highway 54 west) when they were looking for sites that might not already be booked already for their desired Saturday. And they were delighted with The Barn which seemed perfect for their needs.

There's a large sloping lawn, ......

A large paneled lodge house with bedrooms upstairs that look like it could be a NC version of an Aspen ski lodge and a lovely large deck for cocktails.

The day was warm so the guests were provided with those wonderful fans that show up at summer weddings. I'm a fan of them (Oh, bad pun!) but they do make the difference between warm and hot.

Farrah and Andy met in Thailand and grew their love on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. It was great that her father and sister could be here for her wedding. She had a simple bouquet of summer wild flowers which beautifully offset her elegant dress. The wildflowers came from Andy's parent's yard and the yard of their friends, Bob and Brenda Vance. Bob and Brenda also arranged the bouquets.

Grace was their flower girl. She and her family are special friends of Farrah's. And our ring bearer was carrying a special pillow made from Thai silk, fashioned by Andy's mother. It's a good thing he wasn't carrying the real rings!

During the ceremony their friends read poetry of their own choosing which was light spirited about how they imagined each one of them would be in marriage.

Then after their exchange of vows and rings we had a special ceremony that was part of the tradition of her part of northeastern Thailand, called ' Isaan.' The ceremony is called 'pook khan.' (phonetically in English that is), and it symbolizes the welcoming of the new member of the family. It signifies congratulations and the unity of the new family being created.

It's performed by tying a cotton thread around Andy's and Farrah's wrists. The thread came from Farrah's home town of Khon Kaen and was brought by her father just for this purpose. We invited each of the members of Andy's and Farrah's families to come forward and each tie a thread around both their wrists and when doing so, offer them either a silent or verbal blessing. It was a softly spoken ceremony full of joy accompanied by delightful fiddle music provided by family friends, Jani and Buddy. (You can see the simple cotton thread bracelets in this picture from their reception.)

Their recessional music was ragtime. It seemed wonderfully upbeat and fitting for their day. All their ceremonial music was provided by Melissa, Andy's aunt who is a professional musician in Ohio with Bella Musica Columbus. She played the electric keyboard, which worked with the help of a looooong cord.

I was amazed at this picture and hoped that the wedding party didn't need to do this often. But by the men wearing suits they were much more comfortable than in formal wear, which doesn't breathe at all in the heat. Somehow I think this one was before, not after the one above.

The wonderful pictures were all taken by Andy's friend, Rand Harcz. He's also a professional photographer. We thank him!

The General Store in Pittsboro did the wonderful catering and the cake for the reception, and Jorgie Brown from The General Store was the wedding organizer for the day. She was a huge help in so many ways.

It was good to recently hear that Farrah's paperwork to stay in this country is going well. I wish them both a wonderful life.