Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tim and Cheri at Their New Old Farmhouse

Tim and Cheri wanted to get married at home. And home was their new 'old' farmstead north of Mebane. The way they described it I pictured someplace that really needed work. They said they'd been working on it but it needed so much more ... and that the out buildings were in the shape they were when they bought it. I pictured someplace really rough, kind of like their sign below, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The house had the solid Craftsman construction feel to it that needed a sampler that said 'Home Sweet Home' over the fireplace. It also had a newly renovated kitchen which they did themselves!

Their wedding day, however, had started with unexpected water. Not from a rainstorm, though a storm and 60 mph winds had blown trees down in our yards and lots of shingles off our roof just the night before. Tim and Cheri had a leak in their AC system over their dining room and the ceiling had just about collapsed. And with guests coming only a few hours later, their day had already been full to overflowing. :-)

They are family people, with two sons in their teens. Johnathan and Owen, and daughter 24, Cassie and her husband Ben, and nieces Nadine, Kate and Emily as their flower girls. Parents and siblings were there as much as possible, and Cheri's sister Julie, even sang the processional and recessional acapella with a sweet true voice that shimmered. Tim and Cheri offered their vows to each other from their heart without any written copy to rely on. They had thought them out and then spoke from their heart. I love it when couples give themselves permission to do this, and it's brave. I don't know if I could. I'd be nervous and that nervousness would make me uncomfortable. There is so much you want to say. You can't say it all. I respect the choice that each couple makes to decide what's best for them about saying their vows to each other.

Cheri and Tim also said vows to their children, again off the top of their head. We introduced those vows with these words: "It is the desire of Tim and Cheri to extend their commitments to each other to include their sons and promises they make to them. The gathering of this new family will have a deep influence upon them.It will both complicate and enrich their lives. They will also have much to contribute to this new family. We realize that in order for the home to be a happy one, it’s essential that our sons know our commitment to them and to this family.We offer those words of promise, as powerful as a marriage bond, now to them."

We all loved their kiss, especially Cheri's daughter Cassie there with her husband, Ben.

After getting the license witnessed by each of their fathers, Art and James, I left them all in a tent on their lawn as the food came out and the partying began. I could tell that Cheri and Tim had a group of warm and loving friends and family. It was a delight to see.

I was glad to feel this solid and loving family all around me and glad they have each other.
What a blessing! I can't think of anything more to wish them ... except maybe no more leaks in the AC.

Victorial and Angelo at the JC Raulston Arboretum this Spring

The first time I met Victorial and Angelo was right before their ceremony. Sometime life works that way and I have to thank Life and The Divine for bringing such wonderful people to me.

Victorial and Angelo had a very small wedding - small in numbers of guests but not small in spirit. Victorial's two sisters were there with their partners, and Angelo's mother was there, and delightfully Victorial and Angelo's two children.
They also had Raleigh photographer Tina Loebach who took these wonderful pictures and many many more all over the arboretum.

You can see their beautiful daughter. Their son is an infant in a stroller who was remarkably calm despite the heat of the day. They had wanted a lovely setting that was inexpensive and I was able to suggest the JC Raulston Arboretum which they loved. I'd only had phone conversations with Victorial to plan the ceremony so was surprised by the graceful and beautiful woman I encountered in the parking lot, her dress swirling around her in the spring breeze. Gathering everyone up there, we then made our way to the gazebo. Which if you haven't seen it, is in a small clearing perfect for a small wedding. This was a Friday morning, which was probably why we could find it free on such a great day.

I felt especially fond of Victorial and Angelo because Angelo and his mother communicate in Spanish, and she communicates in Spanish to the children, too. My Sweetheart Ruben was born in Cuba and came to the US when Castro finally and completely closed the border. He and his mother still prefer to speak Spanish to each other. My daughter is bilinqual in Spanish, too. It's such a wonderful gift to give your children, if you can. (Unfortunately, my Spanish stays at a rusty beginner level.)

Victorial and Angelo chose a classic ceremony which fit their style and their busy lives raising two beautiful children.

I wish them all the best and I know their memories and their pictures from this simple yet wonderfully sweet wedding will stay with them forever.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Derek and Nikki from Labor Day Weekend in 2008

It was great to hear from Nikki and Derek. Time goes so quickly that I'd forgotten all about their wonderful wedding and the pictures and thank you they sent to me brought it all back. Nikki told me that they'd had an online picture disaster when combining the nearly 2000 wedding pictures from various picture takers onto one online repository. Somehow the numbers and labels were lost and they had to redo every single picture's label. Yikes! Hence the posting to their wedding blog now.

I loved their wedding. Nikki and Derek are both really loving people and most of all I remember their peaceful and gentle energy. And I remember their beautiful ceremony.

Their wedding took place at Rock Quarry Farm out I-54 just west of Chapel Hill. I've officiated at weddings there in both rain and shine and it shimmers in simple beauty in all occasions. They had their ceremony on the grassy area right next to the barn, and their reception in a tent next to the house. Camille is always there to help, with whatever logistics need support,

Derek and Nikki had a sunny day, and not too hot day. We were all grateful.

They had an especially lovely welcome of their guests. I've written and adapted text so often over the last 15 years to reflect the couple as I know them that they each take on a little different nuance. For Nikki and Derek, we said: 'Each of you has accompanied them in some way on their journey and will continue to embrace and support them as they embark on this newest aspect of their lives. Their new relationship as husband and wife will continue to draw much of its beauty and meaning from their associations with all of you who join with them today. So we invite you to the joyful task and privilege of participating in their ceremony. We’ll pause for a moment for you to arrive, not only in body, but in spirit and love - to hold Derek and Nikki in the matrix of that love as they take this joyful step into their married life.

They also called upon the four directions in a blessing that I won't add here, but you can ask me for at any time.

They evoked the beautiful words of the Song of Songs from the Hebrew Bible, which says: "Bind me as a seal upon thine arm, As a seal upon thine heart; For love is as strong as death, Mightier than the grave. The darts of love are darts of fire, furious flames; Many waters cannot quench love, Nor floods devour it."

The littlest of our two flower girls wanted to be held by her mother. I always love it when that happens. It just shows the wonderful connections we have to each other, and how they trump formalities. Ritual is real and living and is made to honor the profound connections of love and caring we have with each other. Weddings with small children and grandparents and great grandparents apparent and loved show that with so eloquently.
We pronounced their marriage with the words of Shakespeare from “Twelfth Night”: Attested by the holy close of lips, Strength’ned by interchangement of your rings And all the ceremony of this compact Seal’d in my function, by my testimony... we rejoice to recognize you as husband and wife.
Their friend Toni Ruth then offered a prayer for for their marriage.

For a final benediction we all participated. The responses of the guests was written in their program and are the words in parentheses below:

May you, Derek and Nikki, be a blessing and comfort to each other, sharers of each others’ dreams, consoler to each others’ sorrows, helpers to each other in all of life’s vicissitudes. (We wish you blessing and comfort) May you encourage each other in what ever you set out to achieve. (We wish you encouragement) May you trust each other, trust life and be unafraid. (We wish you trust) May you love each other and offer love and support to those around you. (We wish you love) May your way be blessed, may wisdom’s light shine upon you, may your journey bring you peace. (We wish you wisdom and peace.)

Rock Quarry Farm had both the old farm house feel and the modern inn feel. This front of the house was perfect for a family picture. Here is the work in progress with the photographer. (I apologize for not remembering his name.)

And here's the finished product!

This weekend in June 2010 was a stressful one with both weddings needing to be moved inside at the last minute to avoid everyone getting drenched by rain.

It felt like a burst of sunshine to get Nikki and Derek's thanks from so long ago. They wrote: 'Thank you! The service was perfect and so many people from many walks all told us they felt like they took part in something holy. Bless you and thank you.'

I thank you both, too! Your pictures and words bring a smile to my heart!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Josh and Adele at Haywood Hall

On April 17th, Josh and Adele had such a wonderful wedding at Haywood Hall. They had planned it from their home in Savannah, Georgia making the trip up when they had to but relying on wonderful professionals like Beth from The Irregardless Cafe who coordinated the planning and the rehearsal as well as provided the catering and the reception music by Ed Moon and The Stars (the Irregardless house band.)

The photographer Martha Manning took all these wonderful pictures, except the one of the house just above which Beth took during the ceremony from my Droid. (I love my Droid!)

Lindi Wang was the violinist. She was on the balcony above the couple which was a great spot for a single musician in this venue. Once in a Blue Moon provided their cake and Fresh Affairs was their florist.

They chose Raleigh as the central location between Washington, D.C. and Savannah.
Everyone had to travel to be at their ceremony, but no one had to travel really far. I love the Haywood House. Even though the city is busy of any given day. New Bern Avenue is shaded and available. And we did have to content with a busy spring day in Raleigh. Harley Davidson was having a convention so our ceremony was dotted with the roar of motorcycles and the sound of the emcee of their events.

But Josh, Adele, and all of us blocked out the occasional roar and just focused on the beautiful ceremony taking place, and the clear devotion of Adele and Josh to each other and to their moment of wedding.

I loved the way they made the day theirs. It was a delight to celebrate with them. And I felt a special kinship to their honeymoon since they were going to San Francisco, my home for so many years. I heard they had a great time.

They told me later that I had helped to make their ceremony one which was stress free and reflected them. Wonderful words to me because that's just what I had hoped for them.

And I wish them a lifetime of joy!

A May Day Ceremony to Remember for Kelly and Dean

On May 1st, Kelly and Dean were wed at Crenshaw Hall in Wake Forest. They were wise in so many ways in their planning. Somehow they knew it would be hot, so asked guests to wear Hawaiian attire. Everyone was grateful and cool. And I'm so glad for Dean. You don't often see grooms in comfortable attire.

There were also wonderful professionals helping them keep their day as stress free as possible. Kara Zuehlke and Laura Sandwick from A Southern Soiree were wonderful planners, Lynn Harris, their professional photographer, took this great shot. (The rest are my shots of Crenshaw Hall that I got while I wasn't busy marrying Dean and Kelly), their florist was Venetia Genztler, their awesome cake was by Swank Cake Design in Cary, and their DJ was Damien Maass from DJ Joe Bunn DJ,s.

Everyone was set for a good time.

Here's the side yard at Crenshaw Hall set up for their ceremony. We all processed from the house. The only drawback to their location was the road construction nearby. Nothing that affected their day, but it took me about 10 extra minutes to figure out how to find the parking lot.

Here is a photo of the yard on the other side of the house where folks were having cocktails after the ceremony.

Dean and Kelly met at Halloween in 2005 but didn't know it. They were at the same party, but, of course, were in costume. Then they really met the next February and shortly thereafter just knew they were with the right person.

They love to go to amusement parks each year for Dean's birthday so we made a mention of the ups and downs of their relationship in the ceremony, but then added that these were mostly on Dean's birthday on the rides at the parks.

Families mean a lot to both of them. We included that in their ceremony, too describing how they love each others' family, as well as their own and that in itself is wonderful to celebrate in a marriage.

They wanted their wedding and reception to be relaxed, casual, and a wonderful party. And it was. This is a couple who love to play and I'm delighted that they chose this for their wedding, too.

There was an easy elegance to the table settings inside the Hall. And, then there was that wonderful cake!

Here's another shot from Lynn Harris' blog that gives you a feel for the couple and the place.

Dean and Kelly were a couple that wanted a short sweet ceremony. And with well chosen words, we created just that.

I wish them a long sweet marriage with more ups than downs, and the downs only at amusement parks.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wes and Lori's Wedding in Spring Glory at Duke Gardens

Lori and Wes wanted a small, simple, yet tasteful ceremony. There would be under forty people at their ceremony. There would be no attendants, no rehearsal and they would be going to Costa Rica for their honeymoon. They had also just bought a house together and moved so their lives had been full to the brim. I was glad that the Spring weather cooperated and that the pergola at the Sarah P Duke Gardens in Durham was in full bloom. It fades so quickly and Lori and Wes caught the moment exactly right on April 10th.

Wes and I entered from the top steps and walked down the steps until I was one step up and he was at ground level. This created a more intimate ceremony appropriate to the feel they wanted to create. Here Wes and I are watching Lori enter on the arms of both her parents.

In their ceremony we remarked how grateful they are that life, in its mystery, led them to each other and that they got through those first dates to discover the love that was theirs to find.

They had met at a professional group in Raleigh and it took just a bit of time for them to really see all the wonderful facets of each other, and how much they were growing through knowing and appreciating each other. Love does find us in amazing ways and places, especially if we're open to it. They are both people with kind and generous hearts, which meant that hearts were also full to spilling over during the ceremony.

They requested a group picture of everyone right after the ceremony, and with forty people, it was fairly easy to comply. Then their wonderful photographer, Penny Noell, whisked them off for other great photos, like these below, before they went on to the Millennium Hotel in Durham for their reception.

A treat to add is that Lori's mother made their beautiful (and Lori says tasty) wedding cake. As a baker who has made professional wedding cakes before, I was quite amazed. Especially since they're from out of town. Try making this in someone else's kitchen!

In a recent email to me, Lori said: 'Wes and I are, indeed, having a wonderful time. :) I'm thankful every day that he found his way into my life.'

And I'm glad I could be there for such a special moment in their life.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rich and Elle at The Aqueduct Center in Chapel Hill

Rich and Elle are delighted to find each other. You can see that in every interaction they have. And their families and friends are delighted, too. You could see that in the laughter and easy banter at the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony.

And what a ceremony it was. I've never had quite such a musical set of people. We were lucky that April 10th was such a beautiful day for an outdoor wedding at The Aqueduct Conference Center in Chapel Hill. And it was just perfect. I'm especially glad since Rich's friends and family from England were all there in force and our Carolina Blue sky did us proud. Out of town folks stayed at the center, too. Julie Hamilton, the Event Coordinator at The Aqueduct, could not have ordered better weather had she been able to.

The best of these wonderful pictures are taken by their photographer, Michael Moss. My favorites are both the first and final pictures of this blog. He also took the picture of their sand ceremony. That final picture is especially stunning and full of grace. I'm sure Elle and Rich will cherish it forever.

Rich and Elle are both fun, smart, and have the same sense of humor. They love that they can be all the way from silly to serious together without judging each other. And they're both caring and thoughtful people who communicate genuine respect for the others' opinions. I'm glad because I think they really enjoyed their wedding and this foundation bodes well for their marriage.

Elle's mother and sister sang a truly wonderful a capella rendition of 'Amazing Grace' that touched us all. Elle's brothers sang 'I'm Yours' and their friend Alex sang 'Brand New Day.' Musical interludes at a ceremony can feel forced but not this time. These songs were touching, relevant, heart felt, classy, and were beautifully done.
Add to this the wonderful ceremonial processional and recessional music of Twin City Trio of Elegant Ensembles.

Elle's Aunt Annette offered us the poem 'Why marriage' by Mari Nichols-Haining, and Rich's Aunt Janet read that wonderful piece about love from Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres speaking of lasting love being both an art and a fortunate accident.

Elle and Rich wrote their own vows to each other, too. Then they each ended their vows with classic vows that were the same. I love the combination of one's own words followed by the timeless words of love that anchor one in the eternal understanding of love and commitment. Then you have both the personal and the classic in your ceremony.

Rich and Elle shared a sand ceremony which was just right for the mood and the symbolism. We blessed their marriage with these wonderful words of reflection: "Oh how our hearts are filled with great happiness on this day. Richard and Danielle have come together here in love, pledging their lives and hearts to one another. ...Help them to be sweetheart, helpmate, friend, guide and together, may they meet the cares and problems of life more bravely." It's a longer blessing in total, with more wonderful words.

We ended with 'Bless this wedding day and this couple as they go forth together.' I add my blessing to that again. It's been fun that Elle are I are now friends on Facebook. I love hearing their news as they start their married life together.