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.

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