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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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Hilton, The King’s Daughters and caring staff - oh my!

As a wedding professional I often get invited to view new wedding venues and see new additions to our already incredible array of unique wedding locations in the area. Last week there were two such open houses and I was lucky enough to get to visit both.

The first was the Hilton Durham near Duke University and although the hotel has been there 22 years, I didn’t even know it existed. Sitting not far from the intersection of Hillsborough Rd. and Hwy 15-501, it is nestled in a wooded lot and has a quiet, unassuming facade.

But unexpected fun, sprawling size and helpful staff await you inside. The hotel has been completely renovated. The lobby contains a very large sports bar, BLUE Sports Bar and Grill, (most appropriate for a location near Duke University and UNC) with a great ambiance and a huge bar that surely can handle anything you might request of it. 

A Starbucks Lounge, serving real Starbucks coffees, sits next to their open-air restaurant, Tipton’s Chop House, serving good old American fare.

The rooms are standard rooms or suites.

For those with a sweet tooth, among many other delicious-sounding options, they also make a to-die-for crème brûlée with a Bananas-Fosteresque topping... yum!

With so many board rooms, executive meeting rooms and ballrooms, you are sure to find something that suits your fancy and your needs. Call or email the Senior Catering Sales Manager, Sarah Huggins, at 919-564-2908, to speak with her for your event. She will be sure to do everything she can to make your stay an enjoyable one.    

(All photos have been used from the hotel’s website with permission from Ms. Huggins.)

Now for a total change of pace; 

I went three days later to the Open House of the wonderfully charming The King’s Daughters Inn, in the historic Trinity Park area of Durham. Open only 10 months, it is an exquisitely decorated, warmly inviting Bed and Breakfast.

From 1926 to 2006, this building was a Christian retirement home for single, elderly women. Coming under new management only a short while ago, this Historic Landmark has thankfully been restored and “reborn as a seventeen room luxury inn. Wherever possible the important historic elements have been restored and preserved,” with each distinctive room having its own unique decor. Each room I visited was more amazing than the last and photos of some of them are included here (used from their website with their permission). 

the Rigsbee Suite...

the Tyree Room...

and the Woodard Room...

There are so many incredible aspects to this building, which is far larger than it appears from the front. I especially liked the grand staircase when you entered, the wonderful sunroom...

and the charming old dining hall.

Although not set up for large weddings, it is an elegant setting for smaller, intimate weddings and events and can accommodate up to 150 guests for receptions. And did I mention the food?! Because they are a B and B, their fare is lighter and more suited for breakfasts and brunches, which is why they allow you to bring your own caterers if you prefer. For the Open House they had set out many a tasty treat and all of us in attendance were oohing and aahing over everything on display. They are experts at beer, wine and food pairings and in evidence of this they had wines and liqueurs on hand that blended perfectly with all the foods, especially the decadently delicious, handmade chocolates “in the European tradition,” created by Sandra Ackerman of Serious Chocolates. (My palate has now been awakened and I can never go back to Hershey’s chocolate again!) You can reach Sandra by email or phone, 919-358-3218.

The Proprieters, Deanna and Colin Crossman, have taken great pains to recreate the charm of an era gone by and blend it with the best of the new and modern elegance. Throughout, they have used the most current green technologies to keep the whole building as environmentally conscious as possible. Their Marketing and Events Specialist, Michelle Alarcon, is completely amenable to helping you create the dream event you have in mind. You won’t be disappointed.


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Cheri and Kelley become Life Partners

When Cheri and Kelley contacted me to be a part of their commitment ceremony in their home, I was so pleased that I could be there for them on such a special day in their lives. The love between them had come shining through in their emails and it always warms my heart to be around people so deeply in love. That’s one of the best things about my work and it feeds my soul to see love manifest in so many ways for so many lives.

Cheri and Kelley have a deep and abiding spiritual faith and know for certain that God brought them together. They have been friends since childhood days in the same neighborhood and when Life brought itself full circle, they visited each other again after six years and that friendship bloomed into an amazing love that has transformed both their lives.

This ceremony and gathering of friends and family was all about love and being there for each other. The Unity Candle was engraved with a wonderful saying that speaks perfectly of their love and the box that held their rings said all the rest.

They had an altar set up, holding their personal vows, the rings and the Unity Candles. Set into one of the most interesting wooden bowls and pedestals I have ever seen, it made a beautiful presentation of the love it was there to represent and contain.

All around the altar were photos of beloved family members, which put a special glow into the room. An Aunt and Uncle even called during the ceremony so we included them by having them offer their blessings to the happy couple while they were still on the phone. 

As you might expect, with so much love in abundance, there were tears of happiness and moments of sweetest tenderness. Cheri had written a poem to Kelley but she was so overcome with emotion that her sister, Angie, had to read it for her - as Kelley wiped Cheri’s tears away. By the time they read the sincere and beautiful vows they had written to each other there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

After the ceremony was over and the photos were taken, Cheri and Kelley took a moment to snuggle with their dog, Barkley. He’s their baby and he seemed very happy to have his parents making everything official at last - and now get back to paying him some attention.

I learned after the ceremony that they had designed a logo for the 3 of them (Kelley, Cheri and Barkley) and had it tattooed on their ankles. Notice the Roman numeral 13 in the tatoo. Thirteen is very significant to them and it is why they chose to have their ceremony on February 13. While some consider 13 to be an unlucky number, in ancient times it was an auspicious omen of good things to come and a firm foundation under your feet. Seems most appropriate here.

Cheri and Kelley are quite a special couple and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of their love on that day. I now have two more very kind friends. Here is a photo of us all together.

Because it was important to Cheri and Kelley that God be present at their ceremony, I wrote the ceremony around a quote from The Song of Solomon; “This is my beloved, and this is my friend.” Here they are with their hands on that verse in their Bible. I love this photo. It captures who both of them truly are. My compliments to the photographer.

Ladies, you have touched my heart. The sweetness of your ceremony and the kindnesses you have shown me I will carry with me always. You are sure to have a blessed life together.


For any readers who would like to contact me;
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Emily and Jay marry at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary

Emily and Jay have been together since high school. Through the 12 years of their relationship, some of that time has been spent apart during their extensive educations but they have always remained together since their first date on February 4 - which they have now commemorated with their wedding date. This is a couple who know each other very well, have stood by each other through thick and thin and to whom commitment means everything.

The wedding and celebrations were not only planned to be eco-friendly but they also served vegan food. Reflective of Emily and Jay’s lifestyle, these were thoughtful and caring touches and I thoroughly enjoyed the interesting and unexpected food choices they provided.

Emily’s dress was made by a seamstress, Marie Cordella, based on a photo of a dress that Emily had found in a magazine. It was simple, lovely and fit like it was made for her - which of course it was.

The ceremony was held at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary and coordinated by Angie Wright of Chic Details. Angie is a consummate professional and had everything running smoothly. Held in the ballroom with soft lighting and minimalist decorations of tree branches strung with hanging candle globes, it was beautiful in its simplicity and matched Emily and Jay’s sense of style perfectly. The decorations and florals were provided by Steve Taras of The Watered Garden, who also does the floral arrangements for The Umstead. Magnificent work always. You can see the branches here, used as the ceremony backdrop.

And later they were moved to the reception tables for the centerpieces.

Birds are special to Emily and Jay. The bridal party entered the ceremony to a song about birds as a metaphor of love and commitment entitled, Shake Our Tree. Written and performed by a local band they admire, The Rosebuds, it was a fun way for a wedding to begin.

You could see other birds on display throughout the reception area. Each of the tables were named for different birds and Emily and her mother had used Audubon bird prints for table cards and place cards.

There was even a blue bird of happiness on the top of their wedding cake. Provided by Donna Ford of Sweet Memories Bakery, it was an exquisitely decorated cake.


Others on hand to make the event a success were;

Photographer - Heather Swanner of Heather Swanner Photography
DJ - Steven Penny of Southeastern Entertainment
Events Coordinator, The Umstead Hotel and Spa - Ami Wheeler
Poet - Brad Pulley, Emily’s brother
Reader - Natalie Stewart, Jay’s sister

Emily’s brother wrote a beautiful poem about Emily and Jay’s long-standing love and commitment and Jay’s sister read it beautifully during the ceremony. Emily and Jay exited the ceremony to The Turtles’, Happy Together, and that, too, fit them perfectly. I can see them forever more, hand-in-hand, walking through life together - just as they have always done. Fly free and happy, little birds.


For any readers who would like to contact me;
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Penny and Aric exchange vows at Martha’s Chapel in Apex

Penny and Aric met in a most unusual way - they met at the airport waiting for the same flight to Boston. Or at least Aric thought it was the same flight. He found out later that he had been waiting at the wrong gate, but what a lucky mistake! A long distance romance quickly followed and eventually Aric moved south to be with Penny, who is a local wedding photographer (Penny Noell Photography).

Penny and Aric are all about family and kids, even though they don’t yet have any of their own, so they decided to have their Bridal Party made up of the children of their family and friends. It was the first all-child Bridal Party I have ever witnessed and they were just adorable and probably stole the show. In the first photo Penny and Aric are shown with their Jr. Bridesmaid and below is a photo of all the Bridal Party in the gazebo outside the church. What a bunch of charmers.

The beautiful bouquets and altar arrangements were provided by Rachel at Tre Bella Florist. Here is a close-up of Penny’s wonderful bouquet.

The altar flowers were placed to honor family members who had passed on.

The wedding took place at the historic old Martha’s Chapel in Apex. In the photo above you see the serene mural painted at the back of the altar area that gives an added charm to the little church. Built before the Civil War, it saw its share of sorrow and pain during that war and has weathered many a strong storm through the almost 200 years that it has stood. One hurricane even took the bell tower off so they shortened it afterwards to keep that from happening again.

After the wedding, everyone went outside for the formal photos and it was quite an effort to gather all the Bridal Party around, especially when the piled up leaves were spotted. I don’t think there’s a kid alive who can resist those, no matter how they are dressed.

Waiting to take everyone to The Carolina Inn for the reception was this limousine, courtesy of Blue Diamond Limos in Raleigh. Now that’s riding in style!

The reception was held in the famous Old Well Room of The Carolina Inn and it was a sumptuous feast. The tables all had floating candles and flowers and the candlelight flickering off all the glassware was a beautiful sight.

Their amazing wedding cake was provided by Chuck and Wayne of Swank Cake Design. It was one of the most elegant cakes I have ever seen and I have tried to capture some of the intricate details in these photos.

Here’s the Groom’s cake - bet all the sports fans in attendance were smiling at his design.

The wedding planner for the whole event was Barbara Clark of An Elegant Affair and as usual, she did a superb job of keeping everyone on track and helping Penny and Aric create the magical day and evening they had envisioned. Here she is on the left, chatting with Joan, one of the charming guests at our table.


Other vendors on hand to make the day and evening such a success were;
Hair and makeup - Margo Williams of Belloviso
Music - for the ceremony and cocktail hour - Arioso Strings
- the band for the reception, Black and Blue
Photography - Amanda and Rachel with Millie Holloman Photography
Videography - Melissa Davis with Life Stage Videography
Photobooth - Shutterbooth

It was a wonderful wedding and a great celebration of love all around. I enjoyed meeting Penny and Aric and helping them create such a special wedding celebration. How lucky they had to wait for their flights that first day!

ps.... Aric, thanks for the tip about Stargate Universe.

Update - 8/12/11 - Penny and Aric are now parents to an ADORABLE son! They recently christened him and asked me to minister. It was a lovely, private ceremony - here is the link to the blog post I did about it. Congratulations, Penny and Aric!!


For any readers who would like to contact me;
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