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TO CREATE YOUR OWN WEDDING MAGIC LET YOUR WEDDING MATCH YOUR STYLE. Tonya and Scott blended their families at a cabin in the woods amidst autumn’s splendor. (photo by Maya Ana Photography)






Welcome! This site is a tribute to my many wedding couples who have created unique and beautiful surroundings for their weddings. Their creativity and ingenuity reflected their personalities and together we have often created new ways to modernize old traditions.

If you are looking for a minister for your wedding in the Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, NC, contact me for a free consultation. Together we can create a ceremony that reflects your love, your personality and your dreams for your future.

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Alex and Brian are the perfect mix at The Matthews House in Cary, NC

Marrying in December, Alex and Brian decided to create a Winter Wonderland for their wedding. It was a lovely choice and everything was gleaming in the room; the Christmas trees, the silver chairs, the silver centerpieces on the tables, the wedding cake, and of course, Alex and Brian themselves!

Here is a shot of Brian and his Best Man taken right before the ceremony. What a handsome groom Brian is. He looked every bit as handsome in his tux as Alex did in her beautiful meringue of a dress.

The ceremony and reception were held at the wonderful Matthews House in Cary. I always look forward to weddings there because they are a complete in-house facility and they go out of their way to please their guests. Plus, they are fun to work with. They have a staff of in-house wedding planners and for this wedding, Suzy McPherson was in charge. She took the helm like the total pro she is and everything went off perfectly.

This is a portion of the ballroom where the ceremony took place, and later the reception. It was simply beautiful with all its silver and lights. Although this photo looks gold because of the way the Christmas tree lights photographed, the room in person was actually sparkly white. The Groom and Groomsmen were to have decorated the two Christmas trees but Brian told me later that the ladies in the family decided there wasn’t enough sparkle on the trees with the way the guys did it so they took over and did it up “ladies’ style.”

Here is a close-up of the unique candle-in-water vases placed along the sides of the aisle. Who needs poinsettias when you have this beautiful option?

And this is one of the creative table centerpieces of sparkling silver stems, ornaments and various other shiny items. In the dim light and with the candles lit, it was all aglow and just stunning.

For the wedding favors, Alex and Brian created a powdered cocoa mix and when Alex was happy with the final recipe, she and Brian spooned it into these little corked jars. The label says “A Perfect Mix” (love it!) and they were just adorable. What a clever accompaniment to the Winter Wonderland theme!

The cake was provided by Lynne Loomis of Lynn’s Traditions. I always know when I see her at a wedding that the cake is going to be beautiful AND delicious. They taste like they just came out of the kitchen because they actually did. To follow up on the Winter Wonderland theme, Lynn created by hand all the individual snowflakes on the cake. (They must have been as fragile as real ones.) Then she placed them on the cake individually around the silver ribbon fondant. It was really magnificent.

The music for the ceremony was provided by Arioso Strings, with Mary Page Block on violin and David Oh on cello. What a beautiful sound and my goodness did it fill up the room. Arioso Strings can provide duos and more for weddings and other functions and they are always first class and professional. I love working with them.

The music for the reception was provided by their DJ, Patrick Cooke of PC Productions. I have worked with Patrick before and he is a fun DJ. I think Alex and Brian made a perfect choice in him and he is sure to have been an asset for their celebration.

Alex and Brian, you have so many fun and exciting times ahead of you. May every one of them be a joy to you both and may they enrich your life together immeasurably.


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Joe and Karissa marry at Brier Creek Country Club in Raleigh

Marrying in December, the obvious choice for a design theme would be to use all the Christmas decorations in abundance around you - which is exactly what Karissa and Joe decided to do. Everything they chose had an elegance to it and Brier Creek Country Club - always an elegant setting for a wedding to begin with - was a perfect backdrop. The club is a beautiful, upscale wedding location but at Christmas they simply outdo themselves with style, color and abundance. The beautiful setting Karissa and Joe created with Brier Creek was elegant, warm and welcoming - just like they are.

The wedding planner Karissa and Joe chose to work with for their wedding was Joy Edwards of A Joyful Occasion. With her personable assistant, Lindsey Moyer, the two were an unbeatable team of efficiency, complete with walkie-talkies. It was fun to watch them work as they maneuvered us all through our paces.

Also on hand to help with the background details was Kristie Taylor, the Catering Director with Brier Creek Country Club. She, Karissa and Joe were responsible for the beautiful surroundings of the wedding and reception and they certainly did themselves proud.

All the florals for the wedding and reception were provided by Mel Day and kenju of Dogwood Tree Floral Designs. I had thought this was the first time I had seen their work but it turns out I have been an unknowing admirer of theirs for many years. They did all the glorious Christmas decorations at Brier Creek and have been doing that for quite a long time. Their work is always beautiful and for the wedding it also had a unique and elegant flair, which was a winning combination. Here is a photo of the reception centerpieces with roses hanging from golden stems.

The colors for the evening were ivory and gold amidst all the Christmas decorations and it was simply beautiful. Even the cake, provided by Donna Ford of Sweet Memories, took up the color scheme in a dazzling display of cake artistry with a golden bow at the top. I am always in awe of the wedding cake creators and Donna is certainly one of our finest in the area. I have never seen her duplicate a single cake at another wedding and every design seems more amazing than the last.

The photographer for the event was Mike Bayley of Mike Bayley Photography. I have not seen Mike in a while so it was good to work with him again. He had a lovely second photographer with him that night, Kathleen Kelly, and between the two of them they were taking what looked to be some very sweet and heart-warming shots. Can’t wait to see the photos when they are posted online.

And last but not least for the ceremony was an excellent string duo from Florian Music. What can I say - perfection as always.

Karissa and Joe, it was a wonderful wedding full of celebrating life, love and family and I don’t think I will ever forget seeing your four little stepping-stone Flower Girls in their beautiful white dresses, coming down the aisle in a line, holding hands. That was just adorable. And Karissa, wearing your mother’s wedding dress to the rehearsal was such a sweet and thoughtful homage to your mom. She must have been very touched.

I know you are going to have a grand life together and can’t wait to find out where you decide to go for you honeymoon in a few months. Have a spectacular time wherever it is!

Update - 12/14/09 - I have just learned from Karissa the name of her invitation and program designer; Mindy Sorboro of Sorboro Smiles in Cary, NC. All of the women at the reception were raving about the beautiful programs for the wedding and how unusual they were. If you are looking for something handcrafted and out of the ordinary in the way of invitations and other decorative stationary for weddings, you owe it to yourself to check out Mindy’s work.


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An artist paints Leigh and Tony’s magical wedding at St. Mary’s Chapel in Raleigh

Leigh and Tony are a unique couple in many ways. How many people do you know who had their first date in a police car?! And who would have ever thought that a police car could become a romantic environment.

Tony is a police officer in Durham and he and Leigh have been friends for many years. They met in the tenth grade. About a year ago the friendship started deepening and Tony asked her to go with him for a “ride-along” while he was on duty. Leigh accepted this unusual offer and - as she puts it - she got into the car a friend but came out a few hours later as a girlfriend. I love their story.

They hired a local artist, Tesh Parekh, to do paintings of the wedding and reception while they were actually happening. A reproduction of Tesh’s wedding painting is included here by his kind permission and the original is sure to become a beloved keepsake in Leigh and Tony’s home. If you would like Tesh to do the same for your wedding - or any other important function - you can contact him through this link.

The wedding was held in the wonderful old St. Mary’s Chapel on the campus of St. Mary’s School in Raleigh. Built in 1852 and still an active church to this day, it is on the National Historic Register and has a distinctive old-world charm. The chapel is really quite special and it is much larger inside than what the exterior would lead you to believe. It has a palpable spiritual feeling from the 157 years of prayer and human emotions that have taken place within its walls and I found that to be very comforting. This was the first wedding I had ever done there and I will be looking forward to more in the future. I guess you could say I fell in love with it as much as Leigh and Tony and it was absolutely perfect for the religious sincerity of the ceremony we had worked together to create.

Here is a photo of the chapel, taken by Michael Zirkle Photography.

Leigh and Tony had set out clear glass vases of water and candles all around the entrance and along the walkway as you approached the front. The vases were of differing shapes and sizes, with floating white candles lit in every one. With dusk upon us, the flickering candlelight was reflecting in the water and glass and combining with the rich, warm glow of the church interior coming through the open doors. It made for a magical setting right out of Hollywood. As Leigh stood in the doorway to make her entrance, the outside light was shining on her perfectly and her veil took on a beautiful glow around her. Yes, this was a magical wedding indeed.

Leigh and Tony very wisely chose Cara Zeulke of A Southern Soiree as their wedding planner. She and her assistants made sure everything was handled with efficiency and kindness, which is part of why Cara is so successful in her work. And why I always enjoy working with her so much.

On hand to photograph the event was Shane Snider. He has an eye for the unexpected and unusual and his rapid-fire trigger finger allows him to get some very creative shots. All the beautiful photos in this post were provided by Shane (thanks, Shane), including this touching one of Leigh as she was listening to Tony speak the beautiful vows he had written to her. His vows were so tender and heartfelt that I don’t know how she managed to read the equally beautiful vows she had written to him when it was her turn. What a moving photo this is of love given and returned.

The artful flowers decorating the church and carried by Leigh and her Bridesmaids were provided by Fresh Affairs. I have seen their work many times before and it is always beautiful. Cara calls them “floral genius” and they certainly are.

Leigh and Tony, you were both aglow in your love for each other and your hopes and dreams for your future. I know you will have many wonderful times ahead - and may all your dreams come true.


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Jane and Sam marry at MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary

You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day for a wedding in November. And as everyone was arriving you could see on their faces how excited they were to be coming to this event. Some of the family members on both sides had never met the bride or groom so it was especially touching to watch them gather around Jane and Sam after the ceremony as they were meeting for the first time.

The ceremony was held at the charming MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary. Angel Myers, the Private Events Manager, was on hand as always to make sure everything went well. She is a marvel of efficiency and I know when she is in charge that everything will go off perfectly. She had even provided me with a flashlight the night before when the rehearsal was delayed and we ended up in the dark on the lawn and I couldn’t read my notes.

Although the ceremony was held outside, the reception took place in the main room that has a large stone fireplace with the club’s crest at one end and some wonderful chandeliers above. I love that room. You feel like you are in the great hall of an old Scottish castle.

The adorable little Flower Girl did not want to wear her flower tiara or even her shoes, so she proceeded down the aisle in her shoe-less feet, dropping autumn leaves as she went. She was just too cute. When I asked her after the wedding if I could photograph her feet, she very obligingly lifted her dress to show me. Made my heart smile.

One unexpected surprise was the whimsical display of fruits and vegetables created by MacGregor Downs’ chef, Frank Boice. In case you are wondering - as I was - the white tulips are daikon radishes, the orange ones are carrots and the green ones are zucchini squash. Each stem is a green onion with a skewer through it that connects the flower to the basket. The basket was a cantaloupe and was full of blackberries. The bird sitting beside the basket is a green apple with a peppercorn for an eye. It is just amazing what can be done with food when someone sees it as an art form.

And tucked among the flower stems was this cute little face.

It wasn’t until much later that I found an assortment of toadstools made from radishes that he had scattered around the cheese tray. I need to take a class from Chef Boice!

This lovely cake and the boutonnieres were all made by Jane, her mom, her grandmother and her sister-in-law. What special memories they must have created as they worked. The ribbon around the cake layers matched the color of the Bridesmaids’ dresses, which were a unique bronzey-olive green. It was a beautiful color on all the girls and perfect for an autumn wedding.

Others on hand to make the day a success for Jane and Sam were;

DJ - Patrick Cooke of PC Productions - a great DJ with a great play list
Photographer - Stacey Balko, a friend from Florida
Flowers - Flowers on Broad Street, an award-winning florist in Fuquay-Varina

I so enjoyed meeting and working with Jane and Sam to make their wedding special and I heartily add my congratulations to those of their family and friends. It was a sweet wedding and they are sure to have wonderful things ahead in their life together.


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Kim and Brian marry with a classy Halloween style at Barclay Villa in Angier

So how do you marry on Halloween and, keeping it solemn, still give a wink and a nod to the day... but not let it get campy? You follow Kim and Brian’s lead.

First you find a castle. In this case the wonderful Barclay Villa, an Italian villa with a baroque interior set in the countryside of Angier, NC. Among other amenities, it comes complete with a great hall and a grand staircase that lent itself perfectly to the wedding festivities.

Here is the head table where the Lord and Lady of the castle (Groom and Bride) sat. How perfect is that?!

Barclay Villa has beautiful landscaping throughout the grounds and Kim and Brian used that to great effect as well. The ceremony took place at the gazebo in the back and look how cleverly they decorated the area.

They even made the Handfasting cord that we used for the Handfasting Ceremony after their vows. It was waiting for us to use on the table in the gazebo. Woven of their Halloween colors and with stones sewn onto it, it was truly beautiful.

And what reception theme do you use of all the possible options for Halloween? Kim and Brian chose the haunted castles of Europe. Each table card was the name of a haunted castle in Europe. There was a long information card printed up about each one, standing beside the very clever pumpkin table card holders.

The pumpkin stems were sliced to hold the cards.

And then once you have all that in place, you run with it and have some fun. Like Kim’s bat earrings (check the top photo more closely) and Brian’s bow tie and hankie - an orange ground with bats in a grid pattern.

And the skeleton bride and groom candle holder that stood by the place cards.

And the fun napkins.

Many couples nowadays have photos on display of themselves as children and of special times through their relationship. Here’s how Kim and Brian did the same but kept the Halloween theme.

This is their wedding cake, provided by Donna Ford of Sweet Memories. She picked up the Halloween theme perfectly, complete with bats flying off the sides of the cake.

And this adorable cake topper was actually crocheted by Kim and Brian themselves, each making their own self. Quite clever - and what a fun keepsake to pull out every year for their Halloween decorations. Their children who come alone one day are sure to love the story of how this cute couple came to be!

And of course things just wouldn’t have been complete without some trick-or-treat candy before you left, with black boxes for you to put it in.

It was such a fun and clever wedding celebration and just perfect for a Halloween date. Here is a photo of me with Kim and Brian, taken with my camera by their photographer, Stacy Borelli, of Swank Studio. (Why can she get better photos out of the camera than me? Must be why she’s the professional.)

Also on hand to provide the perfect musical accompaniment was their DJ, Ron Smith, of Ron K. Smith Productions. He must have had a great time planning the music for this wedding!

As I was leaving the wedding that night, I noticed there was a full moon and I could hear dogs howling in the distance...

“Ah, de children of de night.”


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Sam and Tesh marry at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary

It was a beautiful October day, the sun was shining, the weather was perfect and their family and friends had come in from all over to celebrate this beautiful couple and their multi-cultural family. The whole celebration has been designed to honor all the cultures involved.

Sam and Tesh are both from Great Britain and have been living and working here in the RTP for quite some time. Hitesh is Indian descent and their infant son, Alfie, was wearing a traditional white Indian wedding suit with burgundy and gold brocade around the neck and wrists. Unfortunately none of the photos I took of him came out, but he was just adorable. His big sister, Lola, was one of the Flower Girls and looked beautiful in her Western-style white dress.

Their friends and family, most of whom came in from Britain, were a fun bunch. Here are all the guys in the hall, waiting for the ceremony to begin.

And here is Sam, waiting in her room. She had the traditional henna on her hands and feet and it was just beautiful. Henna is quite an intricate art form and an ancient Indian tradition. Her dress was most unusual in that it had something akin to flat pompoms all over it and every time she moved it moved with her. It was a lovely effect.

And they found a very clever way to entertain the Flower Girls while they waited - bubble wrap! What is it about that stuff?! It will turn you into a kid immediately. The little girls were having a great time popping the bubbles and were totally content with that. It was all I could do to not go over and join them on the floor doing the same thing! So if you ever need a way to entertain kids (and adults too, it seems) take along some bubble wrap.

The ceremony was held in the beautiful wedding garden of The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary. The very capable and unflappable Social Catering Manager, Ami Wheeler, was on hand to make sure everything went off well for them and to keep them all on schedule.

The floral decorations for the ceremony were provided by Steven Taras of The Watered Garden. Steven oversees all the magnificent arrangements for the hotel itself and his work is very special. You can see his use of the unexpected in the placement of a bowl of magnificent flowers on the ground on one side and on a pillar on the other. I had never seen that done before and it gave a unique perspective to the already beautiful setting with the cascading water fountain in the distance.

At the end of the ceremony, the guests were to shower flower petals onto Sam and Tesh as they went back down the aisle and all the chairs had their bags of petals waiting.

It was a wonderful celebration with incredibly beautiful people everywhere you looked. As Chris Azul, of Azul Photography, was getting everyone set for a group photo, I took this happy shot. I just loved how happy they all were and how beautiful their colors looked in the setting.

My congratulations to you, Sam and Tesh. It was a joy to help you put together such a fun celebration to share with your family and friends. I hope you’ll stay in touch from time to time and let me know how you are doing - and so I can see your handsome children grow up over the years.


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