Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dylan and Sue Marry Amid Great Joy at The Duke Garden Amphitheater

Dylan and Sue married at the Sarah P Duke Gardens amphitheater in  September and I recently received these wonderful photographs from her.  It was a treat to relive their wedding even a little bit.  The Duke Gardens amphitheater is one of my favorite places to marry couples, first of all.  Nature always seems to bless this spot with some small natural miracle.  And Sue and Dylan were a joy to marry.  Their journey began 44 years ago when they met at Aunt Helen's, Sue's aunt biologically and Dylan's aunt by affection and caring.  Their lives took them in different directions and then, five years ago, back to each other.  We celebrated the amazing grace of their love for each other.
First, an enormous thank you to Catherine Davis, of SD Portraits.  She and her colleague, Katelyn, took all these wonderful photographs.  They are so vibrant and alive.    Arioso Strings provided the music for their event.  I'm always grateful to them because they are always so good.  Sally Oakley was their phenomenal wedding planner.  She brought things together seamlessly.  She's always a joy to work with, too!  
Dylan and Sue are a couple who delight in life and in playful expressions of their love, as you can tell by this wonderful favor. Their whole family seems this way.  Their wedding was a lot of fun as well as deeply meaningful.
 I love how Duke has this little golf cart that can carry the bride and her attendants around the amphitheater so that they can remain unseen by guests and they arrive to process.  And it keeps the wedding party cooler in our famous, or infamous, NC summer and fall heat.
 Sue and her Matron of Honor, LaLecha, are enjoying the moment before they process.  Sue is also carrying her father's favorite baseball cap to include him in some tangible way in the ceremony, as well as in spirit and heart.  She placed his cap on his empty chair as part of the processional.  Sue and LeLecha's flowers, as all the flowers, were provided by Tre Bella Florist in Durham.
Aunt Helen married her husband, Skip, in January of 1945.  Over the next sixteen years, they had five children.  Then in 1970, their family grew by two more when Dylan and his sister came to live with them.  Helen and Skip provided them with a stable foundation and a loving home from which to grow and flourish in life.  She was a most honored guest.
 The amphitheater gives the photographer unique perspectives from which to capture the ceremony.  And it truly is an amphitheater with resonant amplification that makes every word sound blessed.
We began their ceremony with these words, chosen by Sue and Dylan:  'In marriage, two lives are intimately shared; and the blending of the two must not diminish either one. When we give of ourselves into a loving marriage partnership we do not abandon ourselves; we do not shed our individuality; for that is what brought us together. Knowing and embracing this, Sue and Dylan have invited those present to witness their union.'
 Dylan and Sue chose classic words for their exchange of rings:  '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.'
It was a joy to pronounce them married with these words:  'Dylan and Sue , may the joy of love, the grace of God, and strength of spirit be at the heart of the life you will share together. Now that you have wholeheartedly pledged your love and commitment, with the joy and blessing of all present here, and by the virtue of the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. May your way be blessed, may wisdom’s light shine upon you, and may your journey bring you peace.'
 I had the privilege of offering this blessing upon their marriage:  'We rejoice this day in your marriage. We celebrate the love which has brought you to this moment.  With joy that deepens throughout the years, may you know love’s meaning and its mystery – how we become one in sharing ourselves with one another and yet remain truly two in our uniqueness.  May your hearts be full; may your lips stay sweet.  May your love grow strong; may you love long and happily in one another's arms.' 
 And I wish them just that!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lisa and Brian Have a Wonderful Time at Their Wedding

Lisa and Brian are as much fun as in this picture.  And at the same time they are thoughtful people who have had to overcome some challenges and have grown a lot in their love and in  who they are individually and as a couple in the accomplishing of that.  There was much to celebrate in their ceremony.  I love working with couples who are wise in knowing that marriage is a journey, not a destination.  So their wedding was a delight for everyone there.
 The Stockroom in downtown Raleigh was perfect for the urban feel that they love and for their casual crowd, many of whom had come from where they lived before in Pennsylvania.  I loved all the music they chose for their processional.  It set a lovely tone and was just them:
      Landon Pigg – 'Falling In Love In a Coffee Shop' for the family processional,
      Matt Wertz – 'I Will Not Take My Love Away' for the men's entrance,
      Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - 'Falling Slowly' for Lisa's attendants,

      The Piano Guys – 'A Thousand Years' for Lisa's processional.
 Lisa and Brian introduced me to a German Toasting Glasses and the story that goes with it.  They both drank at the same time from the cup and if you want to know the old story, more a legend, that goes with it, then call me. They accomplished the goal for a happy marriage - to both drink without spilling a drop.
 After the ceremony they took advantage of all the wonderful night sites Raleigh has to offer.  Thanks to Tara Doring of Adoring Events and Photography for these fabulous shots!  Thanks to her mother, Teresa Doring, also of Adoring Events and Photography for her excellent Day of Coordination. Marsha Snyder of MEWS Floral Designs created their flowers. And Marcus Ward of Morse Entertainment was their wonderful DJ who also managed their ceremony music.  All excellent professionals.
Brian and Lisa cherish the life they have built together, both very different people from very different backgrounds, however both with the same goals and a true appreciation of what each one brings to their life together.  And their life with Max, their four-footed family member who is a joy in their lives and who has helped them work as a team in new and often unexpected ways. 
In our blessing of their marriage, I said, "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."  And I add, bless them with much joy.  In their thanks to me they said, 'you were the component that made the wedding about our marriage not just a party. I don't know if we could ever repay you for what you helped us do on that day! Thank you so very much from the bottom of our hearts!'  It was a joy and a privilege to celebrate their love with them.  And it's a joy to remember it today.

Navid and Ashley are a Delight in Their Joy

I love it when I work with a couple only by phone and then get to meet them on their wedding day.  Ashley and Navid were even sweeter and kinder in person than in our planning.  I loved being a part of their wedding.  My special joy started when I went upstairs at Crenshaw Hall in Wake Forest to meet Ashley and her wedding party and found that Navid's mother was fixing Ashley's mother's hair for the ceremony.  Everyone was relaxed and having a wonderful time.  As did Ashley and Navid at their ceremony.  You could tell that this was a wonderful marriage of not only two good people but also two wonderful and supportive families.
Thanks to Gil and Christy Rosado of RGB Insight Photography for these excellent photographs.  They had some obstacles to overcome.  Less than five minutes after the recessional the rain starting pouring down.  I was so glad we made it through the ceremony and folks could get under cover because it was a sudden fall NC deluge.  Too, it was good that the DJ and master of the ceremony music, Jim Unger of Ninety-Nine Entertainment,  could get his gear under cover.  Wonderful professionals, they made everything seem effortless as they managed the weather.  And we all stayed dry.  

I loved that Navid and Ashley chose these words said by character Dana Scully from the 'X-Files' for their ceremony.  It seemed to fit them perfectly.
'It seems to me that the best relationships, the ones that last, are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is… suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with.'
 After saying loving personal vows that they wrote themselves, they chose such sweet words for their exchange of rings:  "With this ring, I give you my heart.  ......I promise that from this day forward,...... you shall not walk alone. ..... May my heart be your shelter .....and my arms be your home.”  The above also shows the phrasing for how they would repeat them after me.  I never want anyone to feel overwhelmed by having to remember a long sentence and each phrase has power itself.  We never rush the ceremony, especially when the couple gets to say words to each other.  Once again, I'm soooo glad that the rain held off for just those extra minutes.

They sent me these pictures after they returned from their honeymoon.  They were and are a joy!  I wish them many many blessings!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scott and Mindy in a Small Holloween Ceremony

 I love synchronicity!  I married Kenny and Emily at the end of May this year at their home in Chapel Hill.  Well, every year they have a Halloween event at their home that even draws people from out-of-state.  It's a quiet affair for people who love to celebrate Halloween with scary movies, costumes and easy going fun.  Scott and Mindy, who live in West Virginia, wanted a Halloween wedding so contacted Kenny and Emily to see if it was possible to do at their home and, yes, it was!

It was the Jason character from the 'Friday the 13th' movies that escorted her from the house and stood with them, knife in hand and hockey mask in place.  He is the husband of their photographer friend Sara Siglerwho came down with them from Morgantown, West Virginia.  .  Thanks to her for these pictures.
Kenny and Emily, and Sara and her husband were the only other people there and Kenny and Sara became their witnesses.  A very small ceremony, but very sweet and just their style.  It was a joy to be a part of.  I wish them all the best!

Meg and Jason Light Up The Cotton Room at Their Wedding

In October I had the joy of marrying Jason and Meg at The Cotton Room in downtown Durham.  They had a lovely exuberant bunch of people there to celebrate their wedding so I knew that their reception would be a lively affair.  And they're both such joyful generous people, it was easy to see why that would be so.  

Before the ceremony I made a request on their behalf, and I've never heard it put so eloquently:  "
Welcome, friends and family! Good evening, everyone. Please be seated. Meg and Jason invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographers will capture how this moment looks -- I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts.”   And their photographers, Elisa and Jay, of iContrast Images, did capture each moment beautifully.  Thank you to them for these lovely images.

Eric Hodgden, of All Around Raleigh DJ was their excellent DJ and also did the ceremony music.  I love working with him.  He really knows what he's doing!  Danny Hinton or Cleveland Plant and Flower Company provided their flowers.  And Tamara and Janelle, Jason's cousins provided the string music for the ceremony.  This felt like a family affair because everyone was just so delighted with the love that this couple has created.  And I understand why.
In just over three years, Meg and Jason have gone through (collectively) four job changes and two moves. They have bought their first house together, adopted a puppy and traveled as often as possible.  Through it all they find that they can rely on their deep bond of love and support of each other to accomplish their goals and to enjoy it all together.

Meg is forever grateful of Jason’s unending support and patience. She says he is the rock in their relationship.   She loves how close they are, and for the friendship that they have created. Jason is grateful for Meg’s love and passion.  He says that it is the best feeling in the world to know the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with will always be there for you. 
Meg says it best for both of them,  ‘To me, happiness is making a life with Jason.’
When Jason proposed to Meg it was a beautiful, private moment that they shared on the Greek Orthodox Easter last year.  Afterward they had fun celebrating with friends over bottles of champagne and cigars.  They told me that they were pretty much up all night!  And they are still celebrating.  This time it's their wedding.  I hope that they'll be celebrating for many years to come.  I wouldn't be surprised!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ian and Alex Marry on a Gorgeous Day at The Raleigh Rose Garden

 It was a treat to meet and marry Alex and Ian.  We met over email and since I was in Spain we began planning long distance.  And, since they were going to Spain on their honeymoon, to Barcelona, in fact where we were, I could get a map of the city for them.  They're a delightful couple who love traveling and so we have even more in common.    Thanks to photographer Michael Moss for these fabulous pictures, Sally Oakley for all her planning expertise, which was key since their venue closed on them almost at the last minute and they had to find somewhere else.  Sally ensured that all went well!  Thanks to musicians Autumn Brand & Kaitlin Grady for their beautiful string accompaniment for the ceremony, and thanks to The English Garden for their stunning floral arrangements.

Ian and Alex bonded first over food, especially Ian cooking a wonderful vegetarian meal for Alex on their second date.  They quickly became best friends who cherish each day together, traveling around the world, and sharing their time together. They are grateful to have found one another and are able to be themselves and dream of another day together. They look forward to the days ahead of growing closer to one another and going on any adventure that may come their way. 
 The lyrics to Dave Matthew's song, 'Loving Wings' had special meaning for them so their friend, Lindsey, read them as part of the ceremony. 
So I give to you my everything 
You've given me these loving wings 
Angels have all gathered 'round 
To hear me sing my love out loud. 

Your lightly love lifted me away 
Out of a darkness cold and gray 
Now I work beneath the midday sun 
My cool blue water you have come. 

So I give to you my everything 
You've given me these loving wings 
Angels have all gathered 'round 
To hear me sing my love out loud. 

So take your place here next to me 
And I'll take my place there next to thee 
And no matter how far we may roam 
It's by your side I'll make my home. 

So I give to you my everything 
You've given me these loving wings 
Angels have all gathered 'round 
To hear me sing my love out loud.

The garden was in full bloom.  This fit the fullness in everyone's hearts.  They're a dedicated, fun and well matched couple who will have lots of shared adventures, perhaps the best of all will be their marriage.  I wish them both a lifetime of joyful years together.

Cal and Bridget Marry in an Intimate Ceremony at UUFR

Cal and Bridget are just getting ready to spend their first holiday season as a married couple but I had the joy of marrying them on August 31st.  Their church home is the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh on Wade Avenue, aka UUFR and since I'm a UU minister, it was especially joyful for me to be a part of their wedding.
First of all, I loved their music.  Grandparents entered to 'Make You Feel My Love' by Adele, parents entered to 'Luckiest' by Ben Folds and Bridget entered with her father to 'Can't Help Falling in Love With You,' by Elvis Presley.  Each piece carefully chosen to convey their love.
Family is very important to them both.  I thanked Bridget's parents with these words from her:  'Kevin and Maureen, Bridget wishes to thank you for all the hard work, planning and support that have gone into making today’s celebration possible. She thanks you for always believing in her, but challenging her to be a better, kinder, more principled person. From both of you, she’s learned integrity and honesty and been given a strong example of the joy that comes with a long and successful marriage. She thanks you also for a fun-filled childhood, in which, above all things, there was always song, dance and laughter.'  And Cal thanked his parents with these words:  'Kathy and George, Calvin would like to thank you for always supporting him and allowing him to make his own decisions. He thanks you for believing in him and making sure he always knew he was loved. He would also like to thank you for teaching him virtues that have made him who he is today.'  I am so glad that they took this opportunity to show them how much they were grateful for their love and guidance.

They chose readings by Rumi and Hafiz, had a salt ceremony, and ended with an Irish Wedding Blessing which fits Bridget's heritage perfectly.

In introducing them, I said, 'Today we celebrate the amazing grace of their love for each other.  When they first met they knew that the other was special, but it took a year and serendipity and a windy day for them to take what started out as neighborly consideration and kindness into a deeper understanding and appreciation.  Bridget had been immediately attracted to Cal’s openness and warmth, his thoughtfulness, and how he is interested in and cares deeply about big ideas. Calvin loved Bridget’s laugh, her confidence and her silliness, that she always seemed to be having fun, and had a quirky style of dress. Bridget put Calvin at ease, Calvin kept Bridget on her toes. Even these four years later they love that while they have a foundation of comfort and understanding, their life doesn’t get boring.  They still find ways to excite and challenge each other.'

They are a considerate and intentional, as well as a fun couple.  They wrote moving vows to each other and delighted in this moment to share with all those they love this wonderful person who has become their partner and soul mate.

As I said in the benediction of their ceremony, 'So may this day be an open door through which Bridget and Calvin will go forth to build the dearest of all relationships - 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.'

I wish them many many blessings!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dalton and Cameron Marry in August Amid Great Love

I have not written a blog entry all fall but couldn't let the year end without honoring this wonderful couple.  I married them in August at the Quarry Hill Golf Club in Graham, NC.  Thank you to photographer Jerry Dillard for these wonderful photographs.  He introduced me to Cameron and Dalton for which I'll ever be grateful.  They are one of those couples who inspire others.  They've been sweethearts a long time and have supported each other through sorrows and trials as well as finding the joy in each day.
We missed Cameron's grandfather, Poppe, who had recently passed, but he was with us in spirit and with so much love for him.  Cameron cherishes the memory of him as a dear friend who she talked to every day. Cameron thanked her mother for being the first person to show her what love is, for always putting her first and raising her better than she could ever imagine.  Dalton thanked his parents for putting him in this world because if they had not he wouldn't have met Cameron.  He also thanked his granddaddy for helping him so much throughout his life.
I love this opportunity to let others know how we loved them and how they have shaped us through their love. Dalton and Cameron are a couple who are grateful for the joy and the love in their lives.   It shows in their generous natures.
Cameron and Dalton, had the unique pleasure of growing up together, from their first meeting in fifth grade.   Even in 5th grade Cameron was attracted to Dalton’s silliness and his ability to make her laugh, no matter the situation, and Dalton, thought Cameron was pretty and very nice.

They still love being together, whether it be doing daily errands or sharing large adventures.  If they’re doing it together, they’re happy.  You are best friends.  

They are each committed to the other’s happiness as well as their own.  Cameron values Dalton’s being the calm to her crazy.   And Dalton, so appreciates how Cameron has supported him through both the ups and downs of the past years, Dalton calling it ‘one heck of an adventure.’  

I loved the words we used to describe their wedding rings:  'These rings are an outward and visible sign of the inward and invisible grace, which unites your two hearts in love.  They are especially significant because the circle of these rings is a symbol of the unending and enduring quality of the love which Cameron and Dalton are sharing today.'

Let us pray: Bless, O God, these rings, that they who give and wear them may abide in Your peace, and continue in Your favor, unto their life’s end; through Jesus Christ. Amen.

It was a joy to invite them to share their first kiss as husband and wife.
 And to introduce them to one and all for the first time as a married couple.
They are wonderful proof of the power of love. 
Dalton proposed to Cameon by writing ‘will you marry me’ in the dew on her car at 6:30 in the morning before she left for work, then successfully snuck up beside her and got down on one knee holding an engagement ring.  That sense of play is part of what makes them special.  I trust that it will ground their love and their friendship for a lifetime.  I with them many many blessings.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Greg and Donna Light Up The Stone Chapel

Greg and Donna were a delight.  We celebrated the joy that they have found together.  Each has had some sorrow in their lives and they now are ready to have fun.  And they have found it with each other.  They laugh a lot, love nesting in their home, and they appreciate each other. They know that everything in their past has made then who they are: loving, kind, compassionate people.

I loved working with them to create their ceremony - Donna so bubbly and free spirited, and Greg with his quiet grins and twinkling eyes.  They are so well matched, they light up a room.  And this is exactly what they did on their wedding day.  Thank you to Amy Allen at Amy Allen Photography for her wonderful photographs.

Greg and Donna wanted a Christian ceremony that was simple.  No sermonizing.  Just God blessing their marriage.  They truly appreciate the meaning and mystery of loving another person and the amazing grace that you feel when you find the right person.  The Stone Chapel in Wake Forest was perfect for their intimate romantic and God embracing ceremony.

Greg's daughters and his brother were his attendants.  Donna's son walked her down the aisle to the strains of 'I Believe in You and Me' by The Four Tops.    Thanks to Stephen Scott, their DJ for their ceremony.  He was very professional and made coordination easy. 

They met without romance in mind.  Simply to have a buddy to hang out with and they found when they talked on the phone that their feelings and philosophy and interested and values were the same. 
They went to the same high school but didn't know each other at the time.  In fact, Greg went to school with Donna's brother.  Now they are building a shared future together.
As part of their wedding we did a Celtic Handfasting Ceremony binding their hands together as their hearts are bound.  It's a lovely ceremony that is the origin of the terms 'tying the knot' and giving one's hand in marriage.'
Then as their first gift to others as a married couple they gave a rose to each of their mothers.  It was a gracious and moving touch to a sweet and tender ceremony.

The English Garden provided the beautiful flowers, too.

I wish them so much happiness.  They are very special people and who bring joy to so many others with their generous loving manner.  They bring a smile to my heart.
 And it's always fun to see couples who really enjoy their wedding day kisses!