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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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Lena and Rick exchange vows at Lake Makintosh

Lena and Rick had originally planned to marry in 2009, but the economic downturn hit their jobs and things had to be postponed indefinitely. In the end, they only had to wait a year and their Lake Makintosh location in Burlington was a perfect setting for the fun and casual wedding they had in mind.

Lena and Rick each wrote beautiful vows to each other and read them from cards. I don’t know how either of them got through it without crying, their words were so touching.


When it came time for the rings to be exchanged, the Flower Girl was to bring them to us and hand them from her pail of flower petals - but the rings had worked their way to the bottom of the pail. She worked so hard to find them, eventually putting all the petals on the floor just to get to the rings. It made for a few tense moments as we all waited to make sure the rings were really in there, but she was so determined to find them and to fully play her part of the ceremony that it made for a very sweet and touching interlude.

After the exchange of rings, we did a Handfasting Ceremony, an ancient Scottish ritual of commitment, adapted for the modern day. When I married Rick’s mother and her husband (a delightful couple!) a few years before, they had used the Handfasting Ceremony, which Rick had loved, and he wanted to include it in his own wedding. Lena made the cord herself, weaving together the symbolic colors of the elements she and Rick planned to incorporate into their marriage; 

Red, for love and passion
Green, for luck and prosperity
Blue, for peace and tranquility
Purple for health, strength and spiritual love 
And white for purity and devotion

You can see the lovely Handfasting cord in this photo (as well as the flower petals the Flower Girl left in her quest for the rings).

After the pronouncement of marriage and the wedding kiss,

the happy couple recessed down the aisle and went outside for photos to take advantage of the beautiful nature setting.

Inside the clubhouse, as things were being readied for the celebration to come, I got a chance to look at all the decorations they had set up;

There were dear family members who were not able to be with us for the ceremony but they were included with the memorial candles in their honor. Here is the lovely presentation Lena and Rick created.

The beautiful cake was made by Lena’s friend since high school, Rachel Lee Stuart, owner of Dessert First.

Here are the cute little wine bottle covers and the flowers that had notes with heart-shaped locks and keys attached.

This is the fun photo wall that was also our backdrop for the ceremony.

Adding to the sense of fun that was in evidence everywhere, look at the special tennis shoes worn by Lena, Rick and the Flower Girl. All were specially ordered in the colors of the day and each had decorations on them appropriate to the celebration. Rick’s were even embroidered with his name!

Notice, too, Lena’s interesting green tulle train she made to pick up the cheery apple green of her colors. You can see it in this photo and in many of the others above. First time I had ever seen that done.

As I was leaving they were heading over to the playground for some photo ops and I just couldn’t resist including this photo of them kissing in the playground... a perfect photo to accent the personalities of two people so much in love.

My thanks to the many friends and family who took all these photos of the wedding and to Lena for putting them on her Facebook page so I could use them here.

My thanks also to Lena and Rick for including me in their special day. I have always said that what makes a wedding great is when the couple put their love and care into it. Lena and Rick have shown unequivocally that you don’t have to have a large budget to showcase love.


For any readers who would like to contact me;
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About the Ring Bearer and the Flower Girl

I was recently asked by a couple if they needed to have a Ring Bearer and a Flower Girl for their wedding. It got me to thinking that perhaps there are a lot of other couples who are also in a quandary about whether or not they need to include these positions in their bridal parties and what to do with them if they do. So here is some general information you might find helpful.

To begin with; No, you do not need to include a Ring Bearer or a Flower Girl in your wedding. Wanting to is one thing, but having to is definitely not a requirement.

Photo by Chris Neimann Photography
Does the Ring Bearer carry the real rings?
The answer depends on how old and/or mature he is. Under 4 or 5 years it can get dicey, but you or the parents of the child will know best what to expect of the little guy. If you or they think he can handle real rings, by all means, have him carry them in. But if you are hesitant in any way, have him carry ceremonial rings and have someone else in charge of the real ones. Another option could be for the Ring Bearer to enter with the real rings and go directly to the Best Man, who takes them from the Ring Bearer and holds them safely until they are needed for the vows.

And just for the record, the Ring Bearer doesn’t have to be a boy - as evidenced by this little cutie who carried in the rings atop a bucket of moss.

For that matter, the Ring Bearer doesn’t even have to be a person! I have seen many Ring Bearers of the canine sort.

Which brings up another point; the rings don’t have to enter on a pillow. Let your imagination create any way that suits you and the style of your wedding. I have seen rings carried into the ceremony in containers of all sorts; shells, baskets, bejeweled boxes, bouquets, pockets, dog collars, pails, baskets, a grandfather’s pocket watch and even a bird’s nest.

Does the Flower Girl have to sprinkle flower petals as she enters? 
Absolutely not. Flower petals are the most commonly used and you can use silk petals as well as the real ones. If preferred, the petals can remain in a pail or basket as she enters, without being strewn in the aisle.

Other options for the Flower Girl to carry could be a fan or a pomander or even her own little bouquet of a single or multiple flowers.

What if at the last minute they are afraid to go down the aisle?
Shyness can happen with any of the little ones so having an alternate plan is always a good idea. You can have them enter with someone else in the bridal party or Mom or Dad can help them down the aisle if necessary. Mom or Dad might feel a bit sheepish about coming down the aisle, but I have seen this save more than one wedding processional right before the Bride’s entrance, so be willing to be flexible.

Should the Ring Bearer and Flower Girl stand with the bridal party or sit when they get to the front?
Again, it depends on the age and maturity of the child and what look you want for the front of your wedding. As a general rule, children under 5 or 6 should probably be seated at the front with parents or grandparents but the older ones can usually handle standing through the ceremony. The girls, especially, seem to love being a part of the full wedding experience.

Here’s a clever idea for the Flower Girl seats - hand drawn name tags, taped to the chairs.


How do you entertain them before and after the ceremony?
Get creative! Crayons, toys, bubbles, even bubble wrap will do the trick for the active minds and bodies while they wait for things to happen.

playing with bubble wrap - a great way to kill some time!
blowing bubbles

It’s your wedding and you should have things the way you want them, whether you include Ring Bearers and Flower Girls or no children at all. Regardless of your choice, putting your personal touch on things will always create a wedding that suits you best - and isn’t that what it’s all about.


For any readers who would like to contact me;
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Lori and Greg Baptize their son, Brayden, August 29, 2010

A few years ago, when Lori and Greg married, I was the minister for their wedding. In October 2009, after their son, Brayden, was born, they asked me to provide his Baptism. What a treat for me! I always love christenings, especially for children whose parents I have married, and I was so very excited to meet their little guy. I knew he would be adorable, but my goodness, what a CUTIE! I fell in love with him immediately.

They decided to hold the ceremony in their home and invited family and neighbors to be a part of the celebration. It made for a warm and intimate setting and you could feel the love in abundance from everyone there. Even Brayden’s young cousins were entranced by the ceremony.

Lori and Greg held Brayden and the Godparents, Lori’s sister and husband, stood beside them. It was a very special ceremony and the sincerity of the care for little Brayden from his parents and Godparents was very touching.

Brayden’s cousin read a poem that Lori and Greg had chosen.

After the ceremony, we all passed little Brayden around and took photos of ourselves with the young man of the hour. It was a happy day and what a sweet time it was for me to share in the life of this young and growing family.

Here is Brayden with his parents and Godparents.

And with each of his beaming parents.

And with me.

All our hopes and dreams go out to you, little Brayden, for a life filled with all the grand and glorious things that Life can offer. You have so many wonderful days ahead and your parents will be there to guide you through every step of the way.


For any readers who would like to contact me;
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Susan and Mike Have a Romantic Wedding at Their Home

I hear a lot of romantic stories but sometimes one comes along that just has to be told. A case in point; the story of how Susan and Mike met .

Mike is a lawyer by trade and a poet and sailor at heart. He had planned to sail solo from Maryland to Nassau but while out at sea a mechanical failure required him to put into port for repairs. He sailed into Charleston for repairs, not knowing that while in Charleston he would meet the woman who would one day soon become his wife. Meeting Susan changed the direction of his sail and the direction of both of their lives.

Fast forward a bit and now Susan and Mike live in Raleigh and work together, sharing work and life duties while enjoying the love of both of their children. They even bought their home with their wedding in mind and what a perfect backdrop it was for the romantic and heartfelt ceremony they designed.

Piping the couple in and out of the ceremony was the incomparable bagpiper, Robert J. White. He and I have worked together for other weddings and I always enjoy his company. Because it is so important to him that his music be traditionally correct for the ceremony, I have learned a lot about Scottish traditions and his attention to detail always enhances the calibre of an event. Here’s a photo of him, taken after the ceremony, standing by the arbor where Susan and Mike were married.

The ceremony that Susan and Mike created was traditional, heartfelt and beautiful and included scripture readings from three of their children. Mike had written Susan a wonderful song as a wedding present and she and I both wanted him to sing it during the ceremony, but in the end he surprised her by recording it on a CD. He created an album cover for it and they made copies of it to give to the guests as thank-you gifts for being a part of their special day. I also received a CD and the song is so touching that I have added it to my iTunes playlist. Every time I hear it I will think of Susan and Mike and the glowing love coming out of their faces that day.

Another thing Mike did for Susan; he wrote a poem for her as a wedding gift. They printed it in the programs and it speaks so beautifully of the relationship they have together that I just have to include it here. So all you die-hard romantics and Hallmark card commercial softies, enjoy this sincere token of love from a groom to his bride.

“On Our Wedding Day”

He sailed for Nassau, a man alone,
But a Siren’s song he heard.
She called to him from Old Charles Town,
And his voyage was deterred.

Hull and heart did find repair,
Where the lovely Siren sang.
Enraptured by her beauty there,
He felt love’s old sweet pang.

Hold fast now, lads.
Let the rollers run.
Let the sea her treasures bear.
But of all the pearls beneath the waves,
There is none so fine or fair.

She takes her place now at his side,
On this, their wedding day.
The sea’s brightest jewel is a blushing bride,
And the captain is come home to stay.

                                                                _ Michael C. Hurley

Michael and Susan, may your sail through life be free of stormy seas and safe from the monsters of the deep. May you sail together into the sunset of your life, perfectly matched for the voyage ahead, the Captain and his Mate.

Update - 9/14/10 - Mike just sent me an email that he had included this blog post in his firm’s website on the “News” page, and when I went to check it out, I found he had included more information there about Susan and also a link to the “Lawyer’s Weekly” article about his 1000 mile, life-altering sailing trip from Annapolis, MD to Nassau, Bahamas. I also learned there that he is a highly respected author of poetry, so it is no wonder his wedding gifts to Susan were so amazing! (He had not mentioned before that he is a published author, humble man that he is.) 

Update - 3-31-12 - Mike has a new book coming out soon and he sent me an advance copy. I’ve never had an advance copy of a book from an author before and I was SO pleased to get it. It is a memoir entitled, Once Upon a Gypsy Moon and he writes beautifully about his sailing, his growth as a man and his relationship with Susan. Every woman should be so lucky to share a special love like this! Kudos, Mike. It’s a beautiful book!


For any readers who would like to contact me;
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