Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Murat and Kirsten Have An International Wedding

Murat and Kirsten got married in The Cotton Room.  Praise be because it was a hot summer day and we were all inside thoroughly enjoying ourselves.  First, thanks to Courtney Gray of Courtney Gray Photography for these wonderful pictures!

Kirsten's and Murat's wedding was a wedding of 2 cultures and they joyfully expressed both in the ceremony.  Murat is from Turkey but his family was coming from the West Coast and Texas as well as Turkey.   Kirsten family is from Georgia.  Yet they met in Chapel Hill three years ago at Murat's friend's birthday party.  And now they live in Boston.

We wanted to especially honor Murat's Turkish heritage because his mother and his aunt don't speak English.  Murat and Kirsten decided on a Quaker like ceremony in which certain friends would speak during the ceremony of Murat and Kirsten's love for each other.  And that we would Murat's and Kirsten's vows would be said in both Turkish and English.  

We also chose eclectic poetry which spoke of their larger world view.  The first reading was from Joseph Campbell's 'The Power of Myth,' and the second was by a Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet Ran.  It's lovely and I repeat it here:

The most beautiful sea:
hasn't been crossed yet.
The most beautiful child:
hasn't grown up yet.
Our most beautiful days:
we haven't seen yet.
And the most beautiful words I wanted to tell you
I haven't said yet....

Their florist was North Raleigh Florist creating these bouquets that looked so natural.

Cinda of Cinda's Creative Cakes made this beauty which honored both their cultures and their colors.!

Thanks, too, to their wonderful guitarist Chris Bennett.  

Kirsten entered with her father to a Bach fugue for the processional whose delicate sounds played on the guitar echoed richly in this open resonant space.

After the wedding Courtney took photos of Kirsten, Murat and their wedding party and families in front of this restored old Durham building.  It makes a great urban backdrop.  

I love the Cotton Room because there are so many ways to use it.  Kirsten and Murat chose to have their ceremony at the corner of the building.  This feels like the most intimate way to shape the space.  Then cocktails and the reception would be behind them.  This makes wonderful seating of all types for people to visit with each other.  From this vantage point, the ceremony it to the front right.  That's  DJ Jason Lenhardt at the very back of the room in the white shirt.  Triangle Catering also catered their event.  It's always great!

I loved that Murat's and Kirsten's mothers, Tanzer and Debra, both brought gifts for the guests - chocolate and 'evil eye' key rings that bestow protection on your travels.

I believe in world community and that love is the best way to bring it around.  I had the joy many years ago of spending a month in Turkey and everyone there treated with with great hospitality and warmth.  I was traveling with a woman friend so we stayed in small inns all over the western side of the country.  I was happy to celebrate the richness that Murat's and Kirsten's life experience would bring to their marriage.

After they returned to Boston I got this wonderful note:

'Thank you so much for the attentiveness, professionalism and guidance. I cannot say enough how comfortable and at ease you made us feel especially with something that was foreign and very personal for both of us. You had so many options to choose from that we could flush out what we felt in a manner that would be appealing for all as well as ourselves. I've heard MANY comments about how personal and touching the ceremony & wedding was so I'm glad my goal was achieved. Thank you very much for your assistance in this with the ceremony.'

As they create their married life in Boston I wish them all happiness!  They were a joy and a delight in my life!

William and Denise's Night Wedding Thanks to Hurricane Irene

William and Denise's Wedding turned out very differently than they, and we, had planned. And in this, it held a sweetness where simply their love filled the space around us all.  Instead of lots of people at their wedding, they were surrounded only by their children, their parents and kids.  Instead of a backyard mid-day setting, they were married at night.  Instead of sunshine they were married in the rain.  Yet they were radiant.

In fact, they were radiant every time I saw them.  They were first attracted to each other in sixth grade.  Then life intervened and they only reconnected through the internet two years ago.  Yet they feel like kids together in their joy and delight in having found each other.  

Hurricane Irene messed with their plans but not with their love.  And instead of postponing their wedding, they decided to go ahead because they have a trip to China planned in October and it would be too hard to get everyone rounded up again.

Their adult children were fabulous.  I love seeing grown children be joyful for parent's new found romance.  When my father was 80 he married his wife, Virginia and they had five good years together.  And being 62 myself, I know how love can just keep getting sweeter and more precious.  I see the life experience in William and Denise's lives adding to their love and gratitude for each other.  

I loved marrying Denise and William.   While still much younger than me, they had reached that 50 year mark, which says pay attention.  They took the risk for more love in their lives and found it.  I wish them all the love in the world.  Blessed Be. 

Calvin and Pat's Wonderful Wedding

It's especially a treat when you can officiate the ceremony for dear friends.  I've known Pat and her younger daughter, Katie, for, goodness, it must be almost 10 years by now and love them both.  Then in 2009 I had the joy of officiating her daughter, Beth's wedding to Mike on Ocracoke Island.  Another blessing and a great couple.  Then when Pat met Calvin, and Ruben and I got to see their attraction grow into a love that kept maturing and growing, we were delighted.  Besides - they both have wacky senses of geeky humor.  Just our style.

They were married in June at a church where I used to be one of the ministers so it felt, in many ways, like coming home.  The Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist is a lovely church, newly remodeled, filled with light, color and art.  And it has a big fellowship hall for a reception.  And they rent to non-members.  It's all good.

Pat's daughters, Katie and Beth were two of her attendants, as you can see from the Charlie's Angels pose. They inherited their mother's sense of humor.  Hallelujah!

Here is part of what we said to guests in their opening words.  I planted the ideas for these words and they crafted the words. 

....This is a love that grew from friendship and common interests. They met at a Meetup group called RDU Geeks,.... At first, their friendship was based on sharing popcorn at the movies. Their first date was playing Scrabble at Calvin’s favorite hangout, The Open Eye CafĂ©. The fact that Pat was willing to spend an evening playing Scrabble was a good sign for Calvin. On their second date, Calvin proved his ability to sit still at a Durham Bulls game and even learned to keep score. These first two dates cleared the way for even more exciting dates like taking recycleables to the dump. Somewhere along the way, there was a first kiss. The deal was sealed for Pat when he took charge when Pat had pneumonia. The deal was sealed for Calvin when she supported him through his mother’s last days. Today they complete their journey to come together as a family.'

Their ceremony was them, to a sweet and loving 'T,' all the way through to the kiss.

One of their close friends is Tracey who is a baker who used to bake professionally as Sugarpunk, but decided that the professional part had too many restrictions.  Now she just bakes for close friends and you can see how good she is.

If you haven't seen the movie, 'Up' then you won't get the reference.  If you have, you'll be amazed at the likeness.  It's also one of Ruben's and my favorite movies.

Don't forget to notice the dog, Doug, or is it Dug, at the bottom who's best line in the movie is 'I luv you.!'

Tracey also baked the groom's cake.  A surprise for Calvin.  Yes this is the cake.  Both these folks are readers and science fiction fans.  Another amazing cake.  I don't know how she does it!

A close up for even more amazement!

Pat comes from a large family of siblings who really know how to party.  Add Calvin's family, their mutual friends, and DJ Mark McNally of Joe Bunn  DJ Company to the festivities, and they danced well into the night.  I must admit that Ruben and I were really tired that night so left early, and were sleeping blissfully by 11PM.

Thanks to Kerry Bassett, their friend and photographer for these great photos.  Heather at Triangle Catering for their amazing food.  I tasted all of it! And to Linda, at Harris Teeter for their flowers.  Also wonderful. 

It's fun to have Pat and Calvin still in my life.  With so many wonderful couples I know them only for that special moment of their wedding (and the planning of it).  As Candide would say, 'This is the best of all possible worlds.'  Not long after their wedding, Ruben went to see 'Cowboys and Aliens' with them.  Now that's good friends.  I wish them much joy every day.  And I hear they now have 2 new kittens.  New adventures in loving, and parenting.  :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eric and Melanie Do It Their Way at Snipes Farm

I couldn't complete the summer without telling you of this marvelous couple and their truly unique and loving ceremony.  Eric and Melanie approached me to work with them to create a ceremony that fit them.  They very much wanted to honor their commitment to be life partners but didn't want to follow the path of marriage because so many of their lesbian and gay friends did not have this right.  I really respect this and was happy to work with them.

They were full of questions and ideas and over the months as we emailed between Boston and NC  I learned more about them as a couple, and in the learning, my respect for them and my joy in their ceremony grew.  The wonderful pictures of Carolyn Scott of Carolyn Scott Photography tell it all.

In these pictures you'll also see Snipes Farm out 54 West from Chapel Hill, at it's best.

And inside.....

Their flowers were from Bluebird Meadows.

We all walked together to their ceremony site under a huge Oak (?) tree that is near the pond.

We stood in front of their hand made chuppah.  And Melanie's dress was hand made, too.

In fact, each touch was considered by them to represent their love and sense of stewardship of the planet and of all it's peoples.  Melanie wore this small succulent plant in her hair as her flowers.

Their vows were unique, just like the couple. They not only represented their vows to each other in their marriage but their intention and promise to serve a larger integrity and justice in their lives.  At the same time, their vows were playful and warm.  Just like them.

We passed around their rings in this small glass jar so that everyone could add their own silent blessing before Eric and Melanie exchanged their rings and placed them on their hands.

Then we engaged in a playful act of spiritual symbolism.  Melanie's sister made a model volcano for them.  We spoke of how their marriage was creating a new territory in their lives.  Sometimes their lives would be calm and peaceful and at other times it would be full of upheaval.  Sometimes it would hand them rubble and ash that they must integrate into new ways of being in the world.  Then I invited them to engage in this act of symbolically creating the new territory of their commitment.

Here's the uncovering moment so that everyone saw it first at the same time.  It was greeted with much applause.

Here's a closeup, complete with cut out dinosaurs and a cut out of their cat (not in this picture.)

In the picture below they are pouring vinegar and baking soda into the volcano.

And VOILA!  It worked and bubbled forth froth aplenty!  The crowds went wild!  :-)

In the ceremony text  I had noted, 'show of affection' because Mel and Eric felt shy about kissing in front of everyone, but they decided to just go for it.  I'm glad they did.

At the reception, first food made by Vimala of Curry Blossom Cafe, then pie made by Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery in Durham, then.....

Then games and fun...... see more about this part of their celebration on Carolyn Scott's blog entry

Then, when the sun went down, they lit lanterns and released them into the sky.  Look at Carolyn Scott's blog for more pictures of this.  They created a lovely spectacle.

Mel and Eric create joy around them by their willingness to celebrate all of who they are.  They witness to the fact that life holds so much more possibility if we but let ourselves receive it.  They remind me of my favorite quote by Henri Nouwen, 'Life is not a goal to be achieved.  It's a gift to be received.'

It's good to know people like Eric and Mel.  They will keep you young.  I know that they were an incredible blessing in my life this year.  I wish them much joy.

They sent me a wonderful card after their ceremony.  It too was a Snapfish card that they had had made with a wedding picture on the front  with Melanie holding a hand written blackboard that said 'Thank' and Eric holding the partner one that said, 'You.'  In it they said,

'Thank you so much for your helping making our commitment ceremony a reality. When we first contacted you we knew that we wanted to make a statement of our love, but you were instrumental in helping us to craft that statement - ensuring that it had a sense of ritual ceremonial importance, while also being a natural reflection of who we are.  We really enjoyed the process you lead us through, and it really did help us to thin k more deeply and honestly about our life together.  That was a wonderful gift.  Thank you, Eric and Melanie.'

I couldn't ask for anything more!

Anthony and Jessi at the Franklin Hotel in Chapel Hill

Jessi and Tony were such an easy couple to plan with.  They were playful and easygoing in all of their planning.  I knew they'd have a good time at their wedding and they did!  Their neutral colors were elegant at their reception at The Franklin Hotel in downtown Chapel Hill.

Most of these photographs were provided by Mike Phongsa of MP Photography, a fabulous photographer who's relocating to San Francisco in just a few months.  Thanks, Mike!  We'll miss him here but I sure do understand the call there. 

The other amazing thing about Anthony and Jessi's wedding, besides them, was the flowers!
The atrium at The Franklin is a neutral space and this really created a lush resplendent atmosphere.  On my form they put Richard Grille as the florist but not who he's with.  I just have to laud him for an amazing piece of artistry.

Before the ceremony.... looking out from where the DJ, Eric Hodgden, of All Around Raleigh DJ had his equipment. 

And here's Eric.

Jessi was so casual about the music that Eric, Katie and I were deciding on what we thought would be best a half hour before the ceremony.  Thanks to them both, it turned out wonderfully!

These flowers were on the end of each row....

I loved marrying these two.  Jessi has a bubbly high energy personality that infuses everything, and also has the generosity of spirit that makes it infectious.  Anthony is low key in balancing Jessi's ebullience.  

Katie at The Franklin Hotel was the perfect staff member to make sure all went as planned.

The only oddness that happens with weddings in the atrium at The Franklin is that other non-wedding guests may have their hotel room off this space.  That means the during the ceremony someone may be coming back to their hotel room and if they're not really all that thoughtful or set to patiently wait, they will be unlocking and entering their room as the ceremony is happening.  Luckily they rooms are at the back wall so the distraction can be minimal.  It's just an odd feeling.  This happens at The Embassy Suites near Crabtree Valley Mall, too.

This was taken while pictures were being organized.  It was one I took.

And then their reception was elegant in one of the ballrooms on the second floor.

Bonnie with Miel Bon Bons made their cake and their food was catered by Catering Works.  

I love doing ceremonies at The Franklin.  Their staff does a great job and they're right in my neighborhood,.  Just be aware that if it's a football weekend in the fall with a home game, that you have to let your guests know beforehand.  Luckily it wasn't!  I'd just been caught up in that confusion the Fall of 2009.

Mike captured this wonderful photo of Anthony and Jessi after the ceremony.  It fits them to a 'T.'
I wish them all the best for a wonderful life.  I don't doubt they'll have one.