Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Joseph and AnnMarie Wed at All Saints Chapel in Downtown Raleigh

The first time I talked to AnnMarie on the phone I was charmed by the laugh in her voice. She told me that she and Joe wanted an intimate ceremony focused on their love and their love of their families. They wouldn't be having a traditional wedding party, she said, but wanted to involve families more directly than other ceremonies they'd been to. Almost everyone would be coming from out of town. And since everyone there was important to both them, they didn't want to leave anyone out. These were the people they loved, standing up with them, hearing their vows and supporting them in their love.

I also felt another connection with AnnMarie. She's a middle school language arts teacher. My Sweetheart, Ruben, is a middle school science teacher. I know how hard middle school teachers work. They have to educate both the parents and the kids who, at that age, have much of their being occupied trying to figure what their body is doing to them. Middle school teachers have a calling that I respect big time. Joe's an engineer who has been in the US Air Force. They both have an integrity that shines through them.

When I first met them, I was delighted to know that I'd be the one marrying them.
They'd met each other three years before when they lived in different cities but by Spring of 2010 not only they, but both their families were all settled in North Carolina. What an affirmation of closeness.

This would be a family affair. Even the pianist, Erica, is a good friend, offering her gift of music to their wedding. And her friend Alissa, was their volunteer coordinator, ensuring that the day's events ran smoothly.

Joe and Ann Marie decided to have their ceremony at All Saints Chapel in downtown Raleigh, and it seemed to fit them perfectly. It's such an intimate setting and has simple timeless beauty in each polished beam. Plus the location was perfect. Everyone could walk to the Cafe Luna for the reception.
I offer these pictures of the chapel so you can see too how lovely it is and how it suited them.

All these wonderful pictures were taken by Robert Filcsik of Filcsik Photography. Aren't they wonderful! I'm so glad that Joe and AnnMarie will have these moments captured forever.

Here is looking from the back to the front where I'm standing.

Here is a picture looking to the back of the chapel.

Here is a picture from the balcony. An added bonus for the photographer. At a different wedding I did at this chapel, the photographer took a group shot from the balcony right after the ceremony.

Joseph escorted his mother into the sanctuary followed by his father, and Ann Marie entered with both her parents.
Then we offered a prayer of blessing for AnnMarie and Joe and their new life together asking God for a loving and bountiful blessing on their marriage.

Joe's mother read a beautiful translation of the portion of Paul's 1st Letter to the Corinthians that talks about love. If you decide to have this read at your wedding, I suggest that you compare the translations to find the one you like. They are all lovely but can vary a lot. And isn't this a wonderful hat moment for Joseph's mom. We women don't get near enough hat moments so we have to make them memorable. Hers was great.

The woman who made AnnMarie's wedding dress made the tie that we used for the handfasting from the same material as the dress, with the same appliques. It was perfect. I loved how they drank in each moment in their ceremony, fully present to each other and to the day. With their good friends and families close by, they were surrounded by love and you could feel it tangibly.

Some times couples are so nervous that they aren't able to drink in the love and support that surrounds them. AnnMarie and Joseph could. They showed this too in 'the kiss.' I tell couples not to let it go too quickly or the photographer will miss it. Joe didn't lose his opportunity for a full on smooch with accompanying dip of AnnMarie in classic romantic grandeur. We all loved it, and AnnMarie loved it and was sure surprised.

I sense that this is a part of what they offer to the world in their callings and in the fullness of their love. I imagine that their lives will always have that same exuberance I saw on this day. I wish them much joy.

I never go to the reception, preferring to come home to my Sweetheart, Ruben, but I wanted to honor the other wedding professionals at the reception that helped to make AnnMarie and Joe's wedding just what they wanted it to be. Wedding professionals tend to love what they do. It makes them fun to work with and very good at what they do.

At the reception, the DJ was Patrick Cooke of PC productions, the cake was made by Sweet Memories Bakery in Apex, the florist was Renee Becker from The Flower Cupboard, and AnnMarie's makeup was by Make-up Art by Jenny.

When they got back from their honeymoon I got this great note from AnnMarie:

Thank you so much for all that you have done for us! We feel blessed to have had you with us on our day. I am especially appreciative of your calming and guiding influence. I can't even put into words how reassuring the looks were that you gave us as we went through the ceremony. You really did transform the space into something sacred. It happened like magic. And that kiss! I tried to plan one out, but Joe told me, "No way!" He wanted to surprise me on that day! He sure did! LOL! '

May their lives be full of many such loving surprises. I have a hunch it will be.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Celtic Ceremony for Chris and Tim

On Sunday, April 11th at 1:30 pm, Chris and Tim got married! It was a quiet ceremony but I'm sure even the heavens noticed the great joy of it.

Most of these wonderful photographs are by Craig Carpenter of
Luster Studios. He has a way of capturing fleeting moments that will never occur just the same again and that now will stay in your heart forever. You can see lots more great shots of Tim and Chris's wedding on his blog. There were lots of friends with cameras too, and Tim's uncle, J, Eric Morris, got one of the sweetest, (but then there were many sweet) photos of the day. I've attributed it to him below.

We also thank Tamara Davis of
Cherished Moments for her fabulous planning, and Teri Freeland-Jones of Floral Alternatives (919- 395-9887, for her beautiful floral arrangements and petals. John Schodtler, a very talented bagpiper, at piped the guests into their seats and the bridal party into the ceremony. He lent just the right air of formality to the setting.

Tim and Chris reserved the shelter with a fireplace and a quiet sunny corner balcony overlooking the woods in this secluded corner of Umstead Park at the Reedy Creek entrance. It's a perfect place for a ceremony for perhaps 30 to 40 people. (This is my photo before the wedding. Not a stellar shot but I want you to see how perfect the site is.)Here's Craig taking a picture after the ceremony of Tim and our bagpiper, John. This is inside the shelter (A wonderful backup location and a great place for photographs.)

Tim and Chris chose a beautiful poem called 'A New Beginning' by Gwen Frostic to celebrate the spring of their love in this the most glorious weekend of the spring of the year.

They also chose a wonderful small poem by our prolific author, Anonymous, called 'True Love.' It goes:
' True love is a sacred flame that burns eternally, And none can dim its special glow or change its destiny. True love speaks in tender tones and hears with gentle ear, True love gives with open heart and true love conquers fear. True love makes no harsh demands, it neither rules nor binds, And true love holds with gentle hands the hearts that it entwines.' It was a pleasure to read.

When Chris called me to learn about my services we felt a kinship. Our life paths were similar in that we needed to find the self before we could know, and celebrate finding our true love. Not too long ago I ran across the quote on a bride's Facebook page that I had married:
'The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous.' This applies to Tim and Chris, and it was a joy to celebrate their clear choice and clear hearts.

A special part of their ceremony was the Celtic Handfasting ceremony with a hand-fasting cord made by their good friend. They did the full ceremony with the knots made which bind them as they make their promises.

It's easier as the cord gets shorter. At first, I was trying not to whap them in the heads with my hands. Luckily I didn't.
This is the picture Tim's uncle took and it says 'Happily Bound' under the photo. You can see his blog of the event at,

After the pronouncement, we blessed their marriage with both the Apache Wedding Prayer and the Irish Wedding Blessing, which goes: 'May you always have enough happiness to keep you sweet, Trials to keep you strong, Success to make you eager, Friends to give you comfort, Wealth to meet your needs, Enthusiasm to look for tomorrow, and a growing love to make each day better than the day before.'
Their delight was contagious, and their laughter after the ceremony was full and rich.

The reception was, I'm sure, great fun. I wish them great happiness, more great fun, and the great adventure of a wonderful marriage.

I thank Craig for this wonderful picture of me at Chris and Tim's wedding in my Emerald green stole. I always glow a little from the privilege of celebrating a marriage such as this. The stole added to the glow and Craig added his magic with the camera. Thanks, Craig!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lori and Chirag, The Butterflies and Virtual Guests

It was a small gathering to celebrate Lori and Chirag's wedding on March 21, 2101, if you didn't count the butterflies. And there were plenty of them. Of course we were at the Butterfly House at The Museum of Life and Science. I must thank, Rachel Smith, the Events and Rentals Assistant for the museum, there with us to help us remember how to co-habit with these wonderful creatures as they graced the ceremony.

In this very special wedding we had hoped to have among the guests Chirag's sister Shweta, her husband Amit and their daughter Viya, but visas are complicated nowadays, so we included them virtually. This was my first webcam wedding and I've got to tell you I was delighted. It worked out wonderfully - as you'll see in these pictures. They could hear everything and respond. When we asked if all you loved Chirag and Lori would bless and suppor their union, we could hear Shweta and Amit's voices right along with everyone else's. Chirag's parents were there in person, as were Lori's parents, Lori's sister, Elizabeth, her brother, David, and just a handful of their close friends.

Chirag and Lori set the tone with their choice for Lori's processional of 'What a wonderful world' by Lous Armstrong. And we all felt that way. With many faiths represented, with Lori and Chirag having two different cultural backgrounds, and with their love for the natural world, this felt like a global experience, yet also very intimate.

It's hard to convey how beautiful the ceremony was and how it fit the couple. Perhaps this picture will speak more eloquently.

Their genuine delight in their marriage and each other comes through so much in this picture.

Their love is rich in discovery, humor and adventure. We celebrated that love does find us in unexpected places and the amazing grace of how life so often surprises us by joy if we let it..

I had a fun time after the ceremony. Lori and Chirag went with David, the photographer to shoot pictures in other areas of the Butterfly House. And of course, the only ones who couldn't go along with them without assistance were Shweta and Amit. So I volunteered to become their legs so they could enjoy this facet of the ceremony too. Here I am with Chirag's father, and of course, Shweta and Amit.

Chirag and Lori and their family and friends went to a local Indian restaurant after the pictures to celebrate. And I'm sure Shweta and Amit went with them.

I really appreciated how Chirag and Lori knew what was important for them for their wedding and planned it just that way. That way they didn't get too stressed, and I could see them genuinely having fun and being able to drink in the joy at their wedding. Which is, of course, what I wanted for them.

They told me I was fabulous in their thank you. And I joyfully drink that in. I had a great time, too.
And I wish them many many more adventures in life just as sweet as their wedding. I have no doubt they will make it happen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Susan and Bob Light Up The Rand-Bryan House

Last weekend seemed to be the most glorious weekend of the Spring. But beaming even brighter on Saturday, April 10th, were Susan and Bob. All the way down from Maryland for a wedding among close family and friends, they were radiant in their happiness. I could feel it all around them. Susan's Uncle Joe escorted her down the aisle as they were greeted by cousins, siblings, Bob's grown children and Susan's aunt. Bob's brother-in-law, David, was his Best Man and Susan's cousin Rachel, her Maid or Matron of Honor.

The Rand-Bryan house in Garner is a wonderful location with all it's springtime glory shining in the windows. For a group of thirty guests, there was plenty of room for a seated lunch and enough room to dance to a jazz quartet. All these beautiful pictures were taken by a friend of the family who's also a professional photographer: Gary D. Knight. You can reach him for his services at: 919-661-6566 or For all of us who want our pictures fast, he generously emailed me these photos the very evening of the wedding.

For the words of wisdom to be said upon their marriage, Bob and Susan chose the words from 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran that he wrote on marriage. They're so wonderful as is the whole book. I use Gibran's words on children for Baby Blessings and they're timeless, too.

Few know that Kahlil Gibran was Lebanese-American and Christian and lived in Boston and published his most famous book in 1923. He's considered the most widely read poet in history after Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.
If you don't now his words on marriage, Google them. They're lovely any time you read them. They never age. They certainly seemed to fit Susan and Bob who are wedding in mid-life filled with the grace and delight that love found anew brings out in us.

We did the Celtic Hand-fasting ceremony for their wedding, with a cord woven of three colors by Susan. They are blue, gold and white. It was lovely and just the right size. When you do the ceremony with the knots you must have enough cord. I like about 4 or 5 feet of cord so that I can tie the cord in the shape of infinity on your hands, then tie each knot easily.

These are powerful words of promise and binding, each said with consideration. I understand why this ancient ritual is still used. It holds power.

I got to say a beautiful blessing upon their marriage: "God, bless them with the inner gifts of trust, compassion, forgiveness, and truth that they may live and grow together in love and peace. Amen." It's an honor to even get to say these words.
After the ceremony there was time for pictures, followed by warm and funny toasts. (Who knows you better than your brother-in-law, lunch, and then the jazz combo and dancing.)

I wish I could have stayed to celebrate but a Saturday in April is a busy day for a minister who officiates weddings. So I could only wave good-bye as I dashed to the car to drive to Chapel Hill.

Bob and Susan are off to new adventures now. They promised each other their life together would never be boring. And I don't doubt that at all. I wish them lots of love and many blessings. As peers, we share an appreciation for each day that comes more easily with each passing year.

There's a sweetness to the realization that each moment is a joy to be savored with that special someone you love. I know they'll be doing just that.

Daniel and Chrystalyn Celebrate Their Wedding

On Easter Sunday, April 4th, Daniel and Chrystalyn celebrated their marriage with their family and friends at The Whispering Willow Wedding Chapel on Roxboro Rd. This chapel is all in white which makes a lovely backdrop for a wedding. It's the sanctuary for the First United Metaphysical Chapel which opens up the chapel to outside couples for weddings in addition to having their own minister perform ceremonies.

Their wedding had the wonderful spontaneity of their young son who had energy to burn and wanted to see close up. He was fine in his enthusiasm and everyone relaxes at a ceremony where childrens enthusiasm is included.

An important part of Chrystalyn and Daniel's ceremony was celebrating their children. We wrote a special sand ceremony to include their three sons, each son represented by a different color sand. But since they're all young, Daniel and Chrystalyn poured the sand for them. A wise move!

At the end of their marriage blessing, we wished that at the end of their lives they'd be able to look back and smile upon the life they'd shared together pleased, satisfied, and fulfilled beyond their wildest dreams!

We concluded with the Irish Wedding Blessing.

It was an unseasonal ninety degrees outside so I was grateful that everyone has this cool peaceful setting for the pictures. No squinting into the sun. No people burning up in the heat.

They held their reception in the lower level of the church, complete with kitchen and dressing room for the bride. After the ceremony, I could even see Daniel's and Chrystalyn's mothers getting food ready in the kitchen and I knew they had a wealth of support and love seeing them into marriage.

Many blessing to them!

Wayne and Jennifer at the Carolina Inn

Jennifer and Wayne can celebrate two anniversaries, and I'm delighted for them. They didn't let a legal snafu deter them at all in their celebration. Everything was arranged for their wedding at The Carolina Inn on February 13th but then Wayne's divorce weren't finalized in time. So we just changed the wording of the pronouncement and we let everyone know that as soon as possible, I'd be performing the legal ceremony with two witnesses. Which I did on Friday, April 9th at my home in Hillsborough. And it was joyful, too.

I loved the way that Wayne and Jennifer just went with the flow, which was good since they were busy people right about then. They have a beautiful little boy, Christopher Johnathan, born in late March. I wonder if they're so even keeled because they both work in hospital settings and they have crisis all around them everyday, or if it's just who they are. Either way, they were a delight. And I got to see lots of people celebrate who they are and their love for each other on both their wedding occasions. Amy Kortus was the harpist who set a perfect musical tone to go with the ceremony and the elegant setting at The Carolina Inn. She's always so professional and a joy to work with. She even took these pictures for me during the ceremony for which I was very grateful.

In Jennifer and Wayne's ceremony I got to tell the guests some of the amazing gifts of self that Jennifer and Wayne each bring to their relationship and their love. It's a real pleasure to do this for a couple because so often we fail to see our own gifts when we so easily see the gifts of the ones we love.

And I got to bless their son and the family they are creating, even before their son was born. I love doing that, too.
I believe we are all born blessed and I love putting that to words for a new young life.

And at the end of their ceremony, I blessed their marriage with the words, "Go forth bound together by the love of God. Go forth with hope and joy and a heart full of dreams, knowing that God is always with you. Amen." Since I believe we're a universe based upon love, no matter what name we call it, I love this part of the ceremony, too.

All together a good day for them, and for me. I left them just getting ready to go across the hall to a small banquet room to enjoy and elegant lunch with their family and guests, and this gorgeous cake.

As soon as I find out who made it, I'll let you know.