Thursday, January 27, 2011

Curt and Jessica Marry at The State Club

Last Saturday, January 22nd, I had the wonderful joy of marrying Curt and Jessica at The State Club on NC State Centennial Campus. Pardon the picture quality you see. All of these are from my little DROID since I generally want to post my blog before the professional pictures are ready. And it takes so long to take the DROID picture that my hand sometimes shakes. Sigh. Thank heaven's for professional photographers! You'll hear more about that below.

In the picture above are Jessica's parents on the left and friends Alyson and Andrew on the right. Alyson is in the attendant's dress color of charcoal gray.

The State Club was a treat so I want you to see some pictures of it. Here's the foyer as you walk into the building. The ceremony was upstairs to the right, the cocktail hour was in this foyer, and the reception is straight back on the ground floor.

Here's that room, through the double glass doors you see in the photo above, set up for their reception with their colors of red, black and white.

Their ceremony was held in this wonderful sunny room. And the arch was wonderful. They got it at Holland Rent All in Raleigh for $50. It was sturdy and has gorgeous lines for all those couples who want a trellis to serve as a focal point for their ceremony. I made sure to put this in the blog because I want to remember it. I love the Japanese lines of the arch and the bronze finish. It was a classy touch.

The State Club is archiecturally elegant and the staff is impeccable in their service and attention to detail. Wendy Dorman, The Banquet Director, pictured below, couldn't have been more helpful and was upbeat and friendly to boot. That makes so much difference in helping all the small details go smoothly. For instance, she knew just how a runner would work on the carpet of the ceremony room. And runners can be tricky. Thanks, Wendy!

North Carolina Strings led by Molly Olah provided the beautiful ceremonial music, Bach's 'Air on the G,' and Purcell's 'Trumpet Voluntary.' Thanks to them for the 'spot on' timing, too.

Jessica and Curt have a delightful story about how they met and fell in love. It was fun to add this playfulness into their ceremony which was rich in heart. And their playfulness continued after the ceremony where they 'high-fived' each other and shared in a celebration beer. Here they are with Paul Stallman, one of their photographers from Wake Forest Portrait Shop. He teams with his wife Melissa in their work. I've worked with Paul and Melissa before. They're great.

Jessica got all those fabulous roses from Theresa at Fallon's Creative Flowers in Raleigh.

Below is the room on the second floor next to the ceremony room where Curt and his attendants waited before the ceremony and where we all went after the ceremony to wait for the guests to go downstairs before returning to the ceremony room for pictures.

As I left I knew everyone was in good hands with Mitch Woodard with joe bunn dj company. I trust they all partied well into the evening.

And of course, they enjoyed cake.... this one by Edible Art Bakery in Cary.

As I write this Jessica and Curt are enjoying themselves in Las Vegas, then they're traveling on to Oahu, Hawaii for another 5 days. I loved being a part of their wedding. As did all of the other professionals I worked with. This is a delightful couple. Openhearted, playful, and considerate. They'll have a great marriage.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thanks to Craig Carpenter of Luster Studios

I met Craig Carpenter of Luster Studios in Raleigh just 2 years ago when he took the pictures for Leah and Mike's ceremony in February, then in May he took the pictures for Leah's brother, Kyle and his fianceé, Adrian's, ceremony. (See a picture from each below.) I officiated both ceremonies. Prior to 2009 I'd officiated ceremonies much more infrequently, concentrating more on a parish and counseling ministry. Now, wanting pictures of weddings for my web site, I began to pay attention.

It's always a treat to not only be a part of a couple's and family's life at this time, but to get to work with other professionals who consider this work a labor of love. Craig does.
As do my two colleagues and friends below, Rev. Barbara Lodge, and Rev. Kayelily Middleton.

All four of us are 'couple centered,' loving what we do, wanting a couple's ceremony to be a joyful celebration of their love. Each of us ministers brings a little different background and personality to our work, as you can see, which Craig captured well taking pictures of each of us in what he called our 'signature garb.'

I'm amazed at the quality of pictures Craig is able to take. The day these pictures were taken was a very cold overcast day. You can't see any signs of the chill except for my warm wool pants peaking out from below my robe. Kudos to my colleagues for braving cold feet. You can't see how Craig had to tease the limited natural light to cooperate. Kudos for Craig for creating fabulous photos that look and feel effortless.

At these and other weddings Craig and I have been a part of, I've seen Craig interact with couples, helping them relax, paying attention to possibilities in the moment. But I never realized how important this is and how much skill and talent it takes until he was generous in offering to take these pictures.

I have never liked having my photo taken. He made it fun. I'm always self conscious about my smile. He helped me forget it. All three of us women expressed the same, very natural reticence and the same delight in the pictures.

Here's a picture of Christine and Tim's wedding in 2010 at Umstead Park in April for which Craig was the photographer.

Here's a picture from Kyle and Adrian's wedding at All Souls Chapel in Raleigh...

And here's one from Leah and Mike's ceremony at their home in Hillsborough.

Pardon what seems like shameless promotion. Those who know me and know my hesitation about my picture taken will understand. This is living proof it can be otherwise. Those who contact me to officiate their wedding that I tell I'm busy now see colleagues to whom I recommend them.

All these shots were taken at an office park green area and pond right just behind the Doubletree Guest Suites in Durham on the Meridian Parkway. Isn't it lovely?

I can't thank Craig enough for this opportunity to finally enjoy having my picture taken and to not feel like I want to shut the photographs in a drawer somewhere. This was just fun. He made it fun. He captured the friendship we three colleagues share, and the results are amazing.

Josh and Stephanie Marry at The Caffe Luna in Downtown Raleigh

On Sunday evening, January 16th, Stephanie and Josh had an intimate wedding at the Caffé Luna in downtown Raleigh. They wanted a simple non-traditional non-religious ceremony that was welcoming and warm, and celebrated their love. They were delighted to find the Caffé Luna where they could have their ceremony in one room and their reception in the room next door, catered by the cafe. Here's the room set up for their ceremony. First - looking to the back of the restaurant...

Now looking to the front of the restaurant...

We held the ceremony on the steps between the rooms, or what would be the front left of the photo.

Guests gathered for hors d'oeuvres at 5:30 and we began the ceremony at 6:00. I simply asked guests to move into the room where the ceremony would be help, then Josh and Stephanie walked through the archway to join me at the steps between the rooms. After the ceremony I told guests that Josh and Stephanie would be greeting guests in a receiving line and then join the couple for dinner in the other room.

The moment held lots of sweetness as they declared their love and commitment before their families and friends.

Their wedding had wonderful personal touches. Stephanie wore a lovely red dress which suited her beautifully and Josh wore a suit and red tie. Their cake, by Ashley Cakes was one of the most delightful and whimsical ones I've seen.

When Ashley was setting it up, she told me that it was her favorite cake of the whole year.

Josh and Stephanie didn't have a photographer and didn't pose for photographic moments so please excuse the quality of my pictures. Luckily the cake was easy to capture.

I officiate so many ceremonies at the Caffé Luna that I especially wanted other couples to see another possibility for a simple no-frills ceremony and reception that was full of personality and love. I wish Stephanie and Josh all the best! They are dear people.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A January Wedding That Was Cozy Warm

On January 8th I drove up to The Berry Hill Estate and Conference Center in S. Boston, VA to marry Jessica and Brandon. We were all grateful that there was no snow and that The Berry Hill Estate created a warm intimate setting for their winter wedding.

Rhonda vad der Schagt of the Berry Hill is wonderful to work with. She had everything well under control and was graceful and pleasant in the doing of it. Of course, she's that way whenever I work with her. It's a pleasure. This time I worked with DJ, Mel Manning whose business Manning2Manning also includes his wife, Cheryl, who is a wedding photographer. They're located in Raleigh NC. Mel was fabulous, getting even those tricky cues perfectly for the ceremony music and he reported to me that the reception went well and that Jessica and Brandon had a fabulous time.

A good thing too since they had to get up at 3am the next day to drive to Richmond to catch a flight to meet their cruise ship for their Caribbean Cruise. And they made it! The last wedding I officiated at The Berry Hill took place on the majestic front steps, and this wedding took place in an inner banquet room ready for the winter, complete with a welcoming fire in the fireplace. So I wanted to show you those pictures. Below is the ceremony site.

Here is our DJ, Mel, all ready just to the right of the ceremony site. He played a wonderful processional called the 'Romantic Wedding March' by Miranda Wong that he found on It was a very unique and lovely rendition.

And this is the same room after the ceremony being set up for the reception while guests are at a cocktail hour.

I had to get a picture of Brandon and Jessica's cake. It seemed studded with seed pearls and, in it's simplicity, was one of the prettiest cakes I've ever seen. I hope you can see how the pearls drape over each layer so elegantly. Jessica and her sister made the cakes. Wow!

Jessica's flowers (you can see them in the first picture) were done by Enchanted Florist in Stafford, VA. Jamie and Richie Staggs of Jagg Photography out of Raleigh did their pictures. I can't wait to see them.

I hope that Brandon and Jessica are still basking in the Caribbean. They have very busy schedules back home and after planning such a wonderful wedding were grateful for the rest. They brought humor, graciousness, and kindness to all of the planning we did together. We ended their ceremony with the blessing.... 'So may this day be an open door through which Brandon and Jessica will go forth to build a happy, harmonious marriage. May the years deal gently with them; walking together, may they find life richer for journeying through it together.'

And may it be so.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Rigmor House, The Highgrove Estate, The Matthews House, and The Rand-Bryan House

Sometimes I get photos of venues that I'm unable to use because I don't get pictures from couples of their wedding. I thought you might like a closer look at four of them - all lovely - all in the Raleigh Durham triangle. I have other blog posts on some of them with more pictures.

The first is the Rigmor House (in the picture above) just off of I-54 going west out of Chapel Hill. I've done several ceremonies here but this is the first time I got pictures. It's a great location for an intimate lodge wedding. It's off the road, quiet, with a large center room and rooms to stay upstairs. It has a big well stocked kitchen, a large veranda and a large lot. While the lot isn't all that scenic it is spacious and easy to use with room for a tent and lots of different possibilities. It also has great parking and a fabulous kitchen. They turn the place over to you and you either cater in or do it yourself.

Their website is a really good one, too. At Christi and William's wedding below, they did the decorations themselves with the help of family and friends and did a fabulous job.
Both grad students at UNC, their families all came up from Mississippi and pitched right in. They've been together 7 years so everyone worked well together to make the place literally sparkle.

The main room at the Rigmor is two stories high and is in wood paneling. The upstairs rooms rim this two story room. There's an inset in the front wall, behind this wall in the entry foyer and the front porch. This inset is a great place for a buffet. Christi and Williams' guests faced this wall. They had a slide show of pictures of them before the ceremony, then this decoration, with the unity candle for the ceremony.

They used silver metallic wide ribbon for the table decorations. Here is the head table set up right after the seating was removed after the ceremony as they're setting up long tables for the reception dinner.

Here's the well stocked kitchen they relied on.

And here is the main room looking toward the back wall while folks are setting up tables for the reception. At this time William and Christi were having pictures taken.

You can see the trellis that Christi and William entered under as they walked down the aisle.
Since their wedding was only two weeks ago I hope to get more pictures to show you of this great couple and their charming hands on wedding. And I'm glad to finally have some pictures of Rigmor House to share with you.

The Highgrove Estate in Fuquay Varina is also a great venue. Their staff is fabulous is helping everything run smoothly. Justin and Kerry married on a busy Saturday in June and I needed to leave right after the wedding. This front porch is a favorite location for pictures.

This is the long hallway where the wedding party gathers before they process straight out to stand on the brick patio facing the lake. The couple and their attendants can dress in the house, but receptions are held in a tent behind the house. As you look out this door the tent is to the right. The website for The Highgrove has great photos of the tent for several different weddings.

This is the room where you can get dressed. Gotta love that mirror. It's a huge room with a private bath of course and it is roomy enough for lots of attendants.

The final picture is the lower patio which is the ceremony site. The upper patio to the left of the outside door is where guests go for the cocktail hour. My only concern ever with this great location is that at 5:30 on a hot summer NC evening the sun is shining directly on the ceremony site. It hits the couple full force. They're facing away from the sun but it's still pretty hot. At The Highgrove Estate we make an effort to keep everyone in the cool of the hallway as long as possible. Yet the site is so lovely that it's a great venue. And many days it's just perfect. And the tent is air conditioned.

The Matthews House in Cary is an elegant house in which to stay and/ or have cocktails, a walled lawn with a trellis that's great for an outdoor ceremony and a side building connected to the house via a covered patio. Both the patio and the side building can be used to suit your needs.

The above pictures is from Ryan and Jenna's wedding in May of 2010.
On October 1st I married Jim and Debbie here. I'd never officiated a wedding in the reception room before so I wanted to show you those possibilities. I got a couple of fun pictures that might help. BTW - the web site for The Matthews House is really spectacular.

In the picture below you see at the right where Brian McGuire set up the DJ equipment for both the ceremony and the reception. He is a consummate professional and lots of fun. It was a delight to work with him again.

Here are the place settings for the reception in keeping with her colors of Hydrangea blue and silver gray. The Matthews House also did the catering.

This is Debbie and Jim's cake made by Miel Bon Bons in Chapel Hill. Their desserts are delicious as well as gorgeous.

This is the where Debbie dressed with Graham Terhune the photographer taking pictures of Debbie dressing. A fun part of being a female wedding minister was getting to visit Debbie while pre-wedding pictures were being taken.

I never got a pictures of Jim and Debbie together after the ceremony. It must have been a busy day. I loved this couple. They exemplify all that falling in love a little later in life can bring. The amazing joy of finding someone just right for you and the playfulness that brings out in you.

Below is a picture from Tim and Kristina's wedding in 2009 at The Matthews House. Another wonderful picture. This one by Diane McKinney Photography.

The Rand-Bryan House is another versatile and lovely venue. Set off the road in Garner it's a restored house with a wonderful openness. Every wedding I do here carries the unique stamp of the couple since the white on white decor and the amazing large picture window. Martha Liles and her husband are gracious hosts, very knowledgeable and very helpful.

They have a big front porch with rocking chairs that's perfect for the cocktail hour. And I've done beautiful weddings on their side lawn, but my favorite room is the one in the picture below which is stunning.

Here it is decorated for Lauren's and Brian's November wedding on a gorgeous day. You can see the lush green side lawn outside the window better from the picture below.

The next picture is taken from that window looking back into the main room. This room would be transformed for reception seating after the ceremony. At the back right is the entrance to the kitchen and there is a door to the back yard from the back right, too.

The large double doors go into a square room that is off the front hall which is a great room for displaying the cake or for smaller weddings for serving hors d'oeuvres.

This couple used only two of these wonderfully creative decorations in the front of their ceremony. It was plenty and lovely.

This couple got their delicious food catered by Whole Foods in Raleigh and served by The Happiest Hostess. They found that this was a much less expensive way to have excellent food catered for their size reception.

These weddings all went smoothly and elegantly - in large part because these venues are so suited to the needs of a wedding and are so well cared for and loved by their staffs. It's a treat to be the minister at a wedding at any of these locations. And I hope you enjoy these pictures.

Joe and Erika and Their Children Celebrate Their Love at Leblon Steakhouse in Greensboro

Erika called me about two weeks before she wanted her wedding. She and Joe had planned to marry at the courthouse in Greensboro, and then have dinner with her family and friends at Leblon Brazilian Steakhouse in Greensboro. But when she and Joe went to the courthouse to get their license, they decided that it wasn't for them. They said it felt like a guy in handcuffs and an orange jump suit would be the essential element of the decoration.

I often get calls from folks who tell me that their local courthouse smells musty, or is right next to the DWI court, or just feels too impersonal, and I sure understand.

I was delighted that I had Friday evening of December 17th open and we could plan a ceremony that suited who she and Joe are.
She apologized for not having time to plan, then told me that she was the mother of two year old twins and a wonderful son from Joe's first marriage named Josh. A busy lady. I love honoring their children in the ceremony so was happy to create a words that included them.

You see all three children in the picture above. The twins both had bad colds. They were unhappy anywhere but in their parent's arms. I sure understand and so did they. So Erika and Joe held the twins and we all knew and could feel how much love they had for those little lives they held, for Josh standing so maturely by, and for each other.

In honor of Erika's Jewish heritage we offered a small blessing over wine, 'May your way be blessed. May wisdom's light shine upon you. May your journey bring you peace.' Then they shared the wine together, and kissed.

Joe also broke the traditional glass and we all yelled 'Mazel Tov.'

Then they turned around to receive hugs from the 20 or so friends and family there, many of whom had driven from Maryland to celebrate with them.

Erika emailed me a few days after their ceremony with these pictures saying, 'Thank you again for everything you did for our wedding. I know it was unconventional, but it was perfect.'

I have to add kudos for Leblon Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse. Their service was impeccable and they did everything possible to help the occasion be joyful and go smoothly. Thank you to them, too.