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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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Through the Rabbit Hole with Fairuz and Connor at The Raleigh Rose Garden

Imagine, if you will, that you are standing in a garden of roses, nestled in a quiet ravine, away from the hustle and bustle of Raleigh. And then imagine that you notice things are a bit different here... not quite right and yet still somehow familiar. You notice there is a different feel to the air; a feel of something about to happen... something really big. Like Alice, you have ventured into a rabbit hole and the world here is completely different, turned upside down and sideways. You have entered the world of Fairuz and Connor and you will never ever forget it.

This is a magical world of whimsy and fun, love of life, love of family, love of living life to the fullest - and having a heck of a time doing it.

Fairuz met Connor when he came to work at her parents’ family restaurant, Neomonde Baking Company. Connor was smitten with her right away but, poor guy, she just wasn’t interested. It took him forever, but eventually she did agree to go out with him and their relationship took off immediately from there. They learned they have the same unusual way of looking at the world, with many similar tastes, and they do indeed seem to be a perfect match.

So back to the rabbit hole.

Fairuz and Connor are big Tim Burton fans and decided to create an Alice in Wonderland themed wedding. With a nod to Mr. Burton’s movie version in their color scheme of red, white and black, they still included the old traditional drawings from the original book by Lewis Carroll and the Disney animated movie. Pretty much the whole cast of characters is here - not to mention the characters of Fairuz and Connor and their bridal party. It was a fun day, a great party and a wedding to remember. I can honestly say I have never seen an Alice in Wonderland wedding before. What fun!

The ceremony took place in the Raleigh Little Theater Rose Garden. This was a perfect setting, filled with hundreds of roses. With red and white roses figuring so prominently in the Alice story, you will see this particular detail throughout the upcoming photos.

When I arrived, the Mad Hatter was already there, greeting guests, overseeing the final arrangements and looking rather spiffy, too, if I might add. Check out the detail in Connor’s top hat. Johnny Depp would be proud.

His groomsmen included a lady groomsman and they were all appropriately attired in their black tuxes and, in the case of Lady Groomsman, a snazzy black dress.

It all started for Alice with a rabbit with a stopwatch and what a great way for Fairuz to include this important detail.

It was important to Fairuz and Connor that we honor all the religions and beliefs of their families and guests, which was quite an extensive list that also included Pagans. The ceremony was written with this in mind and Fairuz’s family priest, Father Kamil, said a beautiful prayer in Arabic about dedicating our lives to God, from Abraham on down, and how we are all a Family. We also included a Unity Candle ceremony and a very elaborate handfasting ceremony that involved 5 cords being wrapped around the couple’s hands. Each cord represented a promise they were making to each other as a vow and when all the vows were made, I tied the cords under their clasped hands with a prayer. It was the first time I had ever performed this type of handfasting and the symbolism was truly beautiful. They kept the tied cords as a keepsake for their home to remind them always of the promises they made to each other that day.

Here are some photos of the handfasting ceremony and of the tied cords sitting on the Unity Candle table after the wedding.

Connor’s spirit animal is the wolf and they found online an amazing ring of wolves kissing. It was so perfect for them that they chose it for their wedding rings. Everyone was most impressed with those rings. Notice Fairuz’ red and black nail polish as well. The complete attention to detail was phenomenal in their planning.

The photographers for the event were Leigh Moose and Jeri Hernandez of Side Yard Studios Photography. A few of their photos have come out so far and I can’t wait to see them all when they are finally online. Some are used here and you can tell which are theirs by their watermark. (Update 6/26/11 - they now have a great slideshow up with some amazing photos that show how fun this wedding was on so many levels. Here’s the link. Enjoy!)

The reception was held in downtown Raleigh at The Stockroom at 230. I had never been to this location before and what a fun place it is. With an intimate, urban feel, it could be adapted for almost any decorating scheme and it lent itself perfectly to the Alice in Wonderland design.

When you entered the building, signs of warning were placed before you. Should you dare to go further?

Even the elevator had a sign!

Once you reached Wonderland, all was lost. Wonderland had you in her grasp.

 Fairuz and Connor had even found a china tea set with the original Alice in Wonderland artwork on it and those pieces were used for the Bride and Groom’s table, with the teapot later doubling as a vase for Fairuz’s bouquet. They looked great set upon the black and white checkered tablecloth with red rose petals strewn about.

 Shutter Booth  was there and had set up a photo booth for the guests - complete with their own set of mad hats - and the guests were having a great time taking advantage of this fun addition. Everyone was getting into the spirit of the day.

Fairuz and Connor made their grand entrance after all the guests had arrived. The lovely bride had changed from her birdcage veil and white bolero jacket that she had worn for the wedding into a very stylish, red, mad hatter hat of her own and a red bolero jacket. What an entrance they made!

As they were introduced, they went immediately to the dance floor and began their first dance as husband and wife. No sedate slow dance here! The energy level of the room increased a hundred fold as they started to dance.

These notes were attached to the guest favors, inviting the guests to have a tea-rrific time. By all accounts, they definitely did!


Others on hand to help make Wonderland a wonder;

Wedding planner - Courtney Scholl of Parties by Bash
Caterer - Neomonde Baking Company
Ceremony Musicians / String Trio - David Oh on Cello, Lisa Malcolm and Eric McCracken on violins
Cupcakes - Gigi’s Cupcakes
Wedding Cake - made by Connor’s mom
Flowers - Fallon’s Flowers

Fairuz and Connor, your wedding was truly one of a kind and it matched your happy, one of a kind personalities. Thanks so much for allowing me to be a part of all the love, fun and celebration. I know you are going to go through life with smiles on your faces and adventure in your hearts.


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Andrea and Warren Celebrate Their Love at Their Raleigh Home

 Andrea and Warren wanted their wedding to be a fun, casual celebration at their home, surrounded by their family and friends. They both have a great sense of humor and that was going to come out in the celebration for sure... starting with the wedding entrance music. Warren is a member of a Barbershop Chorale group and many of the other members were guests, so the wedding processional was an a capella rendition of “Here Comes the Bride,” or as Andrea describes it, “the dum-dum-de-dum” version. I knew right away I was in for a fun time at their wedding.

They have a lovely home with a lush yard and the ceremony took place out in the yard under an arbor decorated with flowers and ribbons. Tables and chairs were set up in another part of the lawn and as I was leaving later, I noticed kids playing in yet another area. It was all very sweet and Norman Rockwell-ish and it was wonderful being a part of it all.

After the ceremony, Andrea and Warren had a very nice welcome for their guests, followed by a toast. 

After the toast, and as all the mingling began, there were some photo ops over by the arbor. Here’s one of me taken with the happy couple.

Over by their deck was a display of plastic pink flamingoes. I grew up in Florida, where plastic flamingoes are common, but in NC? And not even by the beach? I had to ask. Turns out that the flamingoes are an inside family joke that relates to Warren’s mom, who has now passed on, and the flamingoes were there in her honor. I’ll bet she would have LOVED that.

Before the wedding was to take place, some renovation work was going on at their home and it was supposed to have been completed by the wedding date but, of course, it began to look doubtful as the wedding date got closer. The workmen, God love ‘em, worked almost around the clock to get the walls up and painted and things finished enough to have the festivities take place in the addition, but there were some nail-biting moments to be sure for Andrea and Warren. I loved getting Andrea’s update emails about the progress. She could write a humorist’s column, she is so witty.

Inside that dining room renovation was laid out a splendid buffet of all kinds of delicious treats. Overseeing this sumptuous feast was the Chef, Kevin Ingram, of KSI Catering, proudly and ably being assisted by his son, Gregor. What you see here was just the beginning. Much more was to come later but I was not able to stay and see what that was to be. It was sure to be just as amazing, though.

 Their absolutely beautiful cake was created by Simply Cakes and with that pedigree, I am sure it tasted every bit as good as it looked.

In a corner of their living room sat this magnificent old jade tree. For those who don’t know about jade trees, they can live to a very ripe old age with care and this particular one is very old. When I asked about it, the tree had belonged to Warren’s mother and they had taken it into their home to love and care for it when she passed. How touching that is.

Andrea and Warren, I wish you all the many special years you see ahead for yourselves. May your family jade tree be a perfect harbinger of the friendship, luck and prosperity it portends and may your love thrive as well as has this tree.


For any readers who would like to contact me;
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Top Five Reasons NOT to Elope

While meeting with Trisha and Rob, who recently signed with me to do their wedding, we got to talking about elopements and Trisha told me about a recent blog post she had read on about why NOT to elope. She said it had mentioned a lot of things she had never thought about and when she later sent me the link and I read the article, I agreed with her completely. There is a lot of insight there.

So if you are wondering if all the extra activity and worry that go into planning a wedding are really worth it, you might find this blog post very interesting.

Thanks, Trisha, for bringing this viewpoint to my attention so I could share it with others who might not have seen it or who might be in the throes of making just this kind of a decision.

And Trisha and Rob, I am SO looking forward to your wedding next April. Glad you decided not to elope!

The clever artwork used at the top of this post is found in another interesting article about an elopement, taken from The Hindu, India’s national newspaper.


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Renee and Jon Celebrate Their Love and Their World Travels with a Wedding at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill

Renee and Jon are natural givers - she is a pediatric nurse at UNC and Jon is a policeman. You can tell when you meet them that they are warm and caring people and their choice of careers bears this out as well. They are also world travelers and adventurers and their love of travel has taken them all over the globe. For their honeymoon they planned a trip to Tahiti, where they had never yet been, and it was sure to be a trip of a lifetime, even for these intrepid travelers.

They are so in tune with each other that unbeknownst to the other, each had chosen the same vow from the list of vow ideas I provide. Because they wanted their vows to be secret from each other, neither knew of the other’s choice and I just couldn’t wait for the look of surprise on their faces when it came time for their vows during the ceremony. It was priceless! I have only had one other couple do that in all the years I have been doing weddings.

They chose as their wedding location the historic Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill. The wedding was held in the intimate Bryan Courtyard and the reception took place in the wonderful Old Well Room that has also entertained the likes of the young Queen Elizabeth of England. Perfect company for this globe-trotting couple, I’d say.

For their decorations, they had petals lining the aisle in the thickest edging I have ever seen and it was beautiful. The colors for the wedding were shades of purple and lavender and the petals picked this up perfectly, as did the bouquets, boutonnieres and table florals, all created by Watered Garden Florist.

photo by DJ - Randy Bennett

The ceremony took place under the large tree that is a focal point of the courtyard and the tree was strewn with lavender paper lanterns.

The Bridesmaid dresses were a lovely shade of lavender. The dresses were stunning and you can see they looked great on each of the Bridesmaids. Here is a photo that includes me, taken after the ceremony.

During the ceremony, Renee and Jon wanted to add a symbolic touch about joining their lives together and they chose a Blending of the Waters ceremony to symbolize this. They had purchased an engraved glass vial to pour the waters into and when they poured their red and blue waters together they created purple. This is a special ceremony that is not often done, unfortunately, but as the new color is created from two others, it makes for a very dramatic moment. Guests always love it, especially since so few have ever seen this before.

Their wedding planner was the very capable Rebecca Dunn of laFete, shown here with her assistant, Carly Abernathy. They were quite the dynamic duo and things went off perfectly for this very special wedding. Rebecca’s the lady on the left. Don’t they look like sisters!

The DJ for the wedding and reception was the wonderful Randy Bennett of Joe Bunn DJ Company and he was his usual friendly, kind and professional self. He is a superb DJ and I always look forward to working with him at weddings.

Their wedding cake was a fun decoration by Simply Cakes, complete with a sparkly monogram topper. Sorry my photos don’t do it the justice it deserves. It had such a happy feel to it.

As I mentioned earlier, Renee and Jon are great travelers so they naturally used that as the theme for their reception. Look at the cute suitcase box they created for the gift cards from the guests. Placed on the gift table by the photographic guest book, it made a very clever presentation and suited these world travelers perfectly.

The table names were the most fun of all. Each table was the name of one of their trip locations, with a photo of them taken at each locale. So far they have traveled to Grand Cayman, Honduras, Belize, Italy, Curacao, Greece, Mexico and Malta (whew!) and they were planning to honeymoon in Tahiti, which was the table name on the Bride and Groom’s table.

It was a beautiful wedding day, a fun celebration of their love and a great start to what is sure to be a grand adventure for the rest of their lives. What a treat to get to know a couple so full of life and love. My best to both of you, Renee and Jon. I hope you keep posting your travel photos so we can all continue to see the world through your adventurous eyes.


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