Friday, May 18, 2012

Matt and Beth Celebrate Their Love in A Sweet Ceremony at The Carolina Inn

It's a treat to be able to celebrate Matt and Beth's Ceremony on March 31st in the Bryan Courtyard at The Carolina Inn again with you now.  I've been doing ceremonies at the inn for 17 years and the staff there always does a great job.  I especially like that, in these later years, they have required a wedding planner to work with the couple if the couple is having their ceremony at the inn.  It helps ensure that every detail is well taken care of.  And they always have the best folks.  For Beth's and Matt's wedding Erin McLean of Erin McLean Events handled all the details.  She was a joy to work with.

Thanks, too, to Robin Lin of Robin Lin Photography, for these radiant photographs.  To see more go to Robin's blog at   Her photos are always great.

A string trio from Save The Date Music provided the music for the ceremony and A Watered Garden created their wedding bouquets.  I love color and when I asked Beth what color she wanted me to wear and she told me any shade of blue I was curious.  Seeing her attendants dresses in all those lovely shades of blue was striking.  And I especially loved Beth's dotted Swiss dress.  How often do you see dotted Swiss these days! 
Matt and Beth have a dog named Egg.  It was fun to mention him in their ceremony and it accented the elegant occasion with the note of humor and their personalities that brought out the twinkle in their eyes.  But they had been twinkling quite a bit that day.

They also chose a reading I love but I don't see couples choosing often.  It is from excerpts from letters of Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo.  Like Van Gogh's art, they are vibrant and alive and full of love for all of life.

Beth and Matt had their first look before the ceremony.  I find that this often relaxes couples so am glad when it works for them.  And Robin Lin got great pictures of them with the classic Southern architectural features of the Carolina Inn that are so lovely.

I love that the couples I marry are creating lives of meaning and passion in so many ways.  Beth shot me a quick note after I followed up with her about getting copies of their license (which I send to all couples) with a quick note, "Everything was awesome!  Sorry for the delay in response- I have an immunology mid-term today that I've been studying for - my test is in 1.5 hours!'

I trust that the exam went well and with the semester now over, they can celebrate some more.  I wish them many blessings and a long and wonderful life together!

Nelson and Wendy Light Up All Saint's Chapel

Wendy and Nelson had a wonderful wedding at All Saints Chapel this spring as you can tell by these clear and vibrant pictures by Carolyn Scott and her partner Geoff of Carolyn Scott Photography.

I have often officiated at All Saints but have never before seen a reception in the sanctuary and it was lovely.  The catering staff turned the space over quickly and efficiently.  It was amazing to watch.  Sarah, the All Saints Coordinator was calm and efficient as always.  And Nelson and Wendy's florist was Mel Ray from Dogwood Tree Floral Designs
their cake was by  Melinda from Edible Art Bakery, 

and their catering was done by April of Unforgettable Food Affairs,

Wendy and Nelson and I planned their wedding ceremony totally by phone and email so it was a treat to meet them at their rehearsal.  Wendy is as bubbly as her voice and Nelson is a calm and steady a presence as she described him.

Wendy's son Ashton, nicknamed Ash, was a particular joy.  He is eleven years old and he walked his mother down the aisle and lit their unity candle all very formally with great decorum.  He was not quite tall enough to reach the candelabra so we removed the unity candle for him to light it and then placed it back in the stand.

When I entered I lit 9 remembrance votive candles and the individual unity candles.  Each remembrance candle was for a specific person.  The altar was radiant in their light under that gorgeous stained glass window.

The Ringbearers, Sam and James, carried the rings into the ceremony in beautiful ceramic eggs.  They then handed one to the Best Man and one to the Maid of Honor.  
Then Evee, their Flower Girl entered.  I bet Carolyn's blog has a shot of her.  She was a cutie.

We closed their ceremony with this blessing:  'So may this day be an open door through which Nelson and Wendy will go forth to build the dearest of all relationship - a happy, harmonious marriage.  May the years deal gently with them; walking together, may they find far more in life than either would have found alone.'  And there was no better an more lovely door could they have walked through than All Saints Chapel.
I got a Thank You phone call from them on the Monday right after their wedding.  What a thoughtful gesture.  I imagined them off celebrating and relaxing and they were giving thanks to all those who had made their wedding special for them.  They are a kind and considerate couple.  It was a privilege to have had them grace my life.  I wish them many many blessings!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

An Easter Morning Wedding for Teresa and Glen

Teresa and Glen wanted a small family wedding in their home on Easter morning.  And since I wasn't serving a congregation I was delighted to celebrate their love with them.  After all, this day is about the renewal of love.  And I was so glad I did.  I'd never met Glen and Tersesa before.  Teresa and I had planned totally on the phone.  I felt I knew Teresa though since she has such a friendly engaging way.  And when I arrived they made me feel right at home.
Tyler, Teresa's 11 year old son, was their ring bearer and he is the only really important person not in these pictures.  They and their friends were easy going, playful and sweet.  And they had baskets for and Easter Egg Hunt after the ceremony for the children in attendance. 

We used this wonderful edited quote from 'Corelli's Mandolin' in their ceremony:  '“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.  Because this is what love is.  Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. … Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident… "

I had a lovely time and felt blessed to be with them and their family and friends of Easter.
I send them much love.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Chandler and Heather Marry in Burlington With A Sweet Declaration of Love

 I met Chandler and Heather through their wedding planner, Chelsey Morrison of Gather Together Events.  I'm so glad she contacted me.  She was wonderful to work with and Heather and Chandler are a delight.  They married on December 31st of 2011 at a small intimate ceremony at the restaurant '121 W Front St', in Burlington, NC.  I loved the venue because it was transformed into a really warm intimate celebration space.  And the side room was excellent for a small but separate ceremony site.  

Heather and Chelsey are expecting.  Perhaps little Langston Everette is already here!  So we were celebrating both in their ceremony.  And it was hard for all of us not to tear up a little.  Chandler and Heather feel so blessed in their love, the love of their families and friends, and in the new life they are creating together.

Big thanks to Big Star Studios for their photographs of Heather, Chandler and me. 

Their cake made by Buy Me Cake, says it all.  You have to notice Heather's bouquet, in the photo above, too.  It was created by English Garden Florist.  It was so lovely and unique.
 I took the shots of the restaurant.  I was just so impressed by how they created such a warm space.

It was no surprise to any of us that Chandler teared up a little with his vows.  He's a man with a big heart who shows it easily.  I so appreciate that.  And then their vows were so lovely.  

Here is what they each said to each other:

           In reaffirming the relationship we have been building together
And in the presence of our family and friends,
These things I promise to you on our wedding day.
I promise you above all, my love!
My unending trust and respect,
And gentle understanding and support.
I promise to strive for balance in our life and relationship,
And to place you above all others.
I promise to keep an open heart and mind in times of change and growth,
And to find compromise when we face conflict.
I take you to be my wife (of course she said, 'husband'),
The companion of my days,
From this day forward
For the rest of our years.

Heather put Chandler's ring on his finger with these words, 'Chandler, with this ring, I thee wed and join my life to yours.  May it remind you that I am with you in spirit wherever you may go.'
After their ceremony I got this delightful note from Heather, '....and of course we gave you a great review because you did, well, great!  We loved the ceremony & loved working with you! Thank you so much for everything!'  They also promised that I would be in the loop for pictures of Langston Everette.  I can't wait.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rich and Dallas Marry Texas and Thai at The Second Empire

Dallas and Rich are a delightful couple and this blog about their ceremony on Love Toast Blog was so wonderful I wanted to share it as is.  Thanks to their photographer,  Kate Connolly, for her great pictures. 

Rich is from Thailand and Dallas is from, you guessed it, Texas and this was a wedding not to be missed.  We combined Thai tradition with very much their own style for their delightful wedding at The Second Empire in Raleigh.  I loved how they truly claimed the ceremony as theirs and expressed their love with tenderness and fun.

At the beginning of the ceremony we had a Thai ceremony called 'rod nam sang' in which guests poured holy water from a conch shell over the couple's hand and offered them a blessing upon their marriage.  'Rod nam' means soak with water and 'sang' is the name for the Conch Shell that is used in the ceremony.

You'll also see pictures of another special part of their wedding.  The bride and groom wear garlands round their neck and kneel and while a senior elder in the bride's or groom's family says a few words and anoints them on the forehead.

Another Thai ceremony at their wedding is when the couple kneel ‘wai’ as a specially prepared white thread, ‘sai monkhon’, is looped and used to link together the bride’s and the groom’s heads. It is symbolic that the thread forms two circles which whilst linked, also remain independent. This indicates that the couple’s destinies are linked, but individual identity is retained. The circle is also symbolic because of its continuity and the fact that merit can be carried around in the circle.  The thread is then torn on the side until it breaks and whoever has the longest piece is supposed to be the one whose love is deepest.

Then we continued with the more traditional elements of the ceremony.  We all loved how Rich would tear up and Dallas would whisper funny things to him to balance those very tender emotions of the moment.  And there was much hooting and hollering of congratulations at the end.

They had so much fun at their wedding and everyone else did, too.  It was small and intimate so no one hesitated held back with tears, laughter or blessings.
You'll enjoy reading about it, too!  They're a wonderful couple.  I send them many blessings!

Nathan and Stacy Marry at The Barn At Valhalla

At the end of March I officiated Nathan and Stacy's wedding at The Barn at Valhalla.  We had one of those wonderful moments where we were between rain storms on that weekend, and the skies were clear and the rains held off until everyone was safely inside at the reception.  We all breathed a sigh of relief!  It's a wonderful venue and we could have had the ceremony under the covered area on the deck of the barn but it was nice that we didn't have to.

Thank you to Adam Mowery, their photographer for their portrait above. 

I loved Nathan and Stacy.  Nathan has a wry sense of humor and Stacy has a wonderfully warm and open demeanor.  They were both playful and joyful whenever I saw them and I knew that they would enjoy their wedding.  And they did!

All the rest of these pictures were taken by the excellent DJ for the day, Patrick Pless, from Those Guys DJ.  It's a treat for me to be able to ask someone who has a great vantage point who's not a guest.  And I loved the music they chose.  It set a sweet tone.   

 'When I'm 64' for the seating of the grandparents.  'Time After Time' by Miles Davis for Nathan and I to enter. 'In My Life' by the Beatles for the seating of the parents.  

 Enya's 'Only Time' for the attendants to enter and 'The Bridal March' by Jonathan Cain for Stacy to enter.  
 They chose very expressive vows to say to each other:
'You are my best friend and life’s companion,
I promise to live life to the fullest  with you,
I promise to earn your respect and to offer you respect,
I promise to laugh with you and to make you laugh,
I promise to stand with you in times of joy, uncertainty, and grief,
I promise to be completely present with you.
From this day forward, I promise to explore life with you.'

 Then their recessional was 'Three Little Birds' by Bob Marley.
It was the perfect music for that setting.  

 I got this note from Stacy after they returned from their honeymoon.  "I realized later in all the hub bub I didn't get to say good bye to you and thank you in person for everything.  We were focused on running upstairs to toast each other and say our private congratulations and then once we got summoned for pictures it was all very fast moving from that moment forward.  It was really a great wedding though, just what we envisioned and filled with many great memories!  Thanks again for being such a calming presence.  By Friday, I was much more frazzled than I thought I would be!'  

It's a great reminder to me to tell the couple not to worry about remembering anything that happened at the rehearsal.  I'll guide them through everything.

I wish them the best of everything and a wonderful marriage!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Jabari and Janelle - A Wedding Filled with Laughter and Joy

Thank you to Cara of F8 Photo Studios for these wonderful pictures!
Jabari and Janelle were a delight to marry.  They seem to have fun together all the time.  They've been together 12 years and are still so in love they're a pleasure to be around.  They're very different people.  She loves to talk and comes from Long Island, and he is quiet, loving to hear her talk and from North Carolina.  But make no mistake, he talks whenever he has something to say.  They just really appreciate each other and it shows.  Their friends and families are also a treat, laughing, joking and creating a large loving crowd.  

I had the privilege of marrying them at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel in downtown Raleigh in February. Thank you to their staff who did a fabulous job.  And to Ronnie, their DJ for the ceremony and reception from The Perfect Beat.

 In their ceremony we added these words which seem to really fit them. 
 'Janelle and Jabari, over the twelve years you’ve been together, you’ve grown and changed, but singly and together, to come to this day.  You have created a relationship that celebrates who each of you are – in your delightful differences, in your humor, in your shared valuing of home, family, and adventure, and in your love, which is truly a joy to those around you.'

Their sense of humor also came out in the beginning of the ceremony in which we wrote:  'If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together -  let them speak now and suffer the consequences or forever hold their peace.'  And after this light touch we got down to the serious part.  But being them, not too serious.

They moved their home right after the ceremony and went to Las Vegas for their honeymoon, and then promptly got busy with life again.  I wish them all the best.  I know that they will have a wonderful life together.  As they already do.

Holly and Garrett Wed at St. Mark's Chapel in Mordecai Park in downtown Raleigh

This fall I had the joy of marrying Holly and Garrett at St. Mark's Chapel in Mordecai Park in downtown Raleigh.  I've officiated at lots of ceremonies at the chapel but never seemed to get pictures of it so wanted especially to post Garrett and Holly's wedding.  These are all my sub-quality pictures but if you can let that part go, then you'll be able to see the sweetness of this tiny chapel.

As a building in a city park, anyone can rent it.  It's an historic chapel so there are rules that one must follow but it's perfect for a small intimate wedding.   It needs little decoration.  I believe it was Holly's grandmother who made these pillows that were on each window of the chapel.
One rule is 'No open flames' so instead of lighting candles we used small votive candles that are battery operated.  They worked just fine.  This is the center of the chapel and a wedding party can easily stand by the altar if it's not too large.  The small antique organ to the left of the altar works.

The park has a small building for the bride to dress in and a small building for the groom to dress in that are on either side of the walkway to this front door of the chapel.  
Often couples put a wreath over the door but the chapel is so lovely it really needs little decoration.  I'm often asked by couples where they can have a church wedding without belonging to the church or the congregation.  This is an excellent choice.  I also have a full list on my website on the Venues  at the bottom.  I also link to it from my home page.

Here Holly and Garret and family pose after the ceremony.  As I remember, after the reception they were on their way to Mexico.
The ceremony music was provided by Peter Lamb and the Wolves.  
I'm amazed that they fit into the chapel but they did.  And they were great.  
From this angle you can see how big the chapel is, too.

Three Lovely Weddings This Past Winter

I have the privilege of marrying so many wonderful couples.  Often I don't get the chance to take photographs, or I don't get photographs later from the photographer or the couple because life goes on so quickly, or I get busy and don't find the time to blog.  This winter and spring I've also been prioritizing doing yoga and workout classes, working hard to keep my 2012 New Year's Resolutions for the whole year.

But I didn't want to let the opportunity slip by to honor some of the wonderful couples I married in the last few months.  So here is a mini-blog about three such ceremonies.

In December I married Stanley and Pamela at a sweet small ceremony at the King's Daughters Inn.  Pamela made all the bouquets and corsages in the wedding from silk flowers. I still have the one she made me.  It was an intimate ceremony just for family and very close friends.  We were by the fireplace in the lovely sea foam green reception room.   Pamela and Stanley had two long tables on either side for guests to sit at during the ceremony and then to eat at after the ceremony. 

 Right after the ceremony everyone toasted Stanley and Pamela was a lovely Pinot Grigio wine and the celebrations began with these scrumptious desserts provided by Mad Hatters Bakery in Durham.
In early March I got the wonderful opportunity to marry Anastasyia and Yevgeniy at The Raleigh City Museum in downtown Raleigh on Fayetteville Street.  I hadn't known that the museum offered their facilities for weddings and it was just perfect for a ceremony of about 50 people who also wanted to celebrate their new home and roots in the area.  Anastasyia and Yevgeniy had an evening ceremony after which everyone went to Spy Raleigh for a late reception.
Please excuse the quality of this photograph.  It's by my DROID and I'm not very good at even this simple device.  And they are both lovely and very gracious people.

Yevgeniy and Anastasyia are both from Russia but met at Eastern Carolina University when they both came over on scholarships.  They saw each other through that hard transition of being in a different country with a different language trying to keep up with studies.  They are now deep into graduate studies and have found their love only growing stronger.  They were lovely to get to know.  They helped learn how to pronounce their names properly, and I helped them create a ceremony that honored their time and adversity tested love.

In mid-March I had the joy of marrying Kase and Nicole in a tiny ceremony in the Duke Gardens.  Their parents were the only other people who attended their ceremony.  Nicole and Kase are having a large ceremony in Boston exactly one year from the date we married them and alas, while I'd love to fly up there and officiate that ceremony, it's beyond my range of travel.

Nicole and Kase had been planning on going to the courthouse but Kase's mother, Elaine, asked that they have just a little more of a ceremony and showed them my web site and they said, 'Yes.' I'm so glad they did.  We had a gorgeous spring day at Duke Gardens.
Their mothers signed their marriage license and then I wished them well as they went to celebrate and then back to busy schedules, Nicole in nursing school and Kase in the military.

I love celebrating these couples again through my blog.  Their love and their families continually inspire me.  So I wanted you to get to know them if even just a little bit, too.

I hope your spring  is offering you lots of opportunities for inspiration.   I send you much joy and blessings!