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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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35 Ways to Save on Weddings / Helpful Links to Money-Saving Ideas

35 Ways to Save on Weddings for Brides-to-Be

There are so many good things about the internet, especially when it comes to helping others. It is a remarkable tool for good and with my website and blog, I get to contribute to the good by helping others find ideas for their weddings, vow renewals and commitment ceremonies.

Just the other day I was reminded of the good of the internet - as well as of the kindness of strangers - when I received this email from Liz Curtis;

I'm Liz and I’m trying to help my sister with her wedding plans. I was looking for information on weddings and tips on how to save when I came across your website. I just want to let you know that your website is a great resource for people like me. It has a lot of great info and lots of resources. Now I know where to go when I need to get more info on weddings.

As a token of my appreciation, I want to suggest a link that I found while I was browsing the internet. is on ways to save on weddings and I think it would be a great addition to your list of resources on your website.

I hope you consider my suggestion and thanks again for the big help!

     Liz Curtis”

I was so pleased that she had found my website helpful and deeply touched that she had taken the time to write to me about it. What a great way for her to pay it forward - and the link she sent is AWESOME! (Here it is again under the original posting name.)

                                     35 Ways to Save on Weddings for Brides-to-Be

You are going to find some very practical ideas there as well as links to other good resources that will help in your planning. When you find something you can use, I hope you will say a silent thank you to Liz.

And a real big thank you from me too, Liz, for helping me help others. Your link has been added to my website on a page that contains many other helpful wedding planning links;


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January 1, 2013 - The Ball Drops in Times Square and Andi and Ian Marry Immediately After in Cary

Andi and Ian were just planning a New Year’s Eve party to begin with, but then they got the crazy idea to turn it into a wedding. Almost all their family and friends would be there anyway and celebrating a wedding anniversary every year right after the ball dropped in Times Square seemed a great time for a personal celebration. So they started putting it all together and luckily I was able to join them for their special event.

I arrived early to go over all the ceremony logistics with them and then we waited for the ball to drop. Once the hugging and New Year kissing was over, one of the guests hollered, “It’s time for a wedding!,” which brought lots of laughter, and so the wedding began amid such merriment.

Ian’s parents and some other family and friends could not join them so they had a Skype connection set up. This was the camera and mic. It looked like a Pixar character and made me smile every time I looked at it. Such personality!

Andi and Ian walked in together after their Bridesmaids had entered. Love her dress and boots!

Everyone had a camera and Andi’s stepdad, Tony, was doing the honors with his fine camera that Andi and Ian had given him for Christmas. (He also is an ice sculptor and you will see a photo of his handiwork further in this post.) All of the photos here have come from Andi and Ian’s Facebook page as well as some I took. Thanks, Andi and Ian, for letting me use them. And thanks to Tony and all the guests who took such great shots! You can tell by looking at the photos what a sweet wedding it was.

 Then there was hugging and kissing all around,

conversations on Skype with Ian’s parents, family and friends,

and then time for the toasts and champagne!

After that, the party moved into high gear and they even included a bouquet and garter toss!

guess who caught the bouquet

getting the garter for the toss

The cake was a one-layer cake on top with cupcakes on the bottom two tiers and purple flowers mixed around. The cake and cupcakes picked up Andi’s dress pattern while the purple color mirrored her engagement ring, the purple bouquets and their toasting goblets. Nice touches.

They had a platter for all the guests to sign, creating a fun and practical wedding keepsake.

The dogs were sporting purple bows and did not want to be left out of anything.

 This is the ice sculpture I mentioned earlier, enlarged for you to see it better. Nice job, Tony!

Earlier in the evening I had noticed this pretty scene with their glasses sparkling in the light from the ceiling above and the candles all around. It was so pretty I had to get a shot. Later I realized it was a perfect symbol of Andi and Ian and how special they had been, standing within the circle of light and love that was showered on them that night.

Andi and Ian, it was so much fun to be included in this special time in your lives. Every year from now on, when I watch the ball drop, I will remember your wedding and send you continued good wishes for a long and happy life together.


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Understanding the Difference Between Wedding Planners and Venue Planners

One of the big questions facing a couple planning their wedding is whether or not to hire a wedding planner/coordinator (the terms are interchangeable). A full range of services are offered - everything from a ‘Day-Of’ service to a full package where the wedding planner takes on all the responsibilities of the planning and coordinating. Each carries a compenserate level of pricing and although cost is often cited as a reason not to hire a wedding planner, the planner can help the harried Bride and Groom in immeasurable ways, making the wedding planning process so much easier for the couple.

Because I help couples with the ceremony ‘staging’ elements when they do not have a wedding planner, I always ask if they are going to be using a wedding planner. This helps me know what the areas of responsibility will be and knowing that, what services to provide the couple so everything is covered for them. Quite often their response to that question is that their venue planner will be handling all the planning. Years ago I assumed, like the couple, that meant the venue planner would be helping them with things like who escorts Grandma and Mom and how the Bridal Party would be entering. Unfortunately, that sometimes turned out to be a problem when the venue planner’s responsibilities did not cover those areas and the wedding couple did not realize that until the rehearsal. Luckily, I knew what to do and could step in quickly and put things together for them, but it is always better to arrive at a rehearsal with everything planned out beforehand.

What I have come to understand is that the words “planner” and “coordinator” mean different things to different people so it behooves the wedding couple to learn the specifics of what their venue planner offers so they are not caught unaware. Hopefully, this post will help you understand the differences.

Venue Planners/Coordinators - These days venue planners fall into two categories; those who handle ONLY the venue responsibilities like tables, chairs, linens, food, meal timing, etc. and those who provide this AS WELL AS the responsibilities of a traditional ‘Day Of’ wedding planner, like who escorts whom in the wedding ceremony and making sure the elements of the reception go off on time. Sometimes the second type requires an extra fee for this and sometimes it is included in the package. There is a growing trend with wedding venues of offering an in-house wedding planner, but it is imperative that you find out all the particulars up front so you know for sure what to expect and what areas you will need to cover on your own.

Wedding Planners/Coordinators - While venue planners work for their venues and you, the wedding planners work just for you in a more in-depth way. Their job is to take a lot of the responsibilities from your shoulders and make sure all your wedding plans are on track before and during your wedding and reception, coordinating with the wedding professionals on your wedding team and with your venue planner as needed. This allows you to relax and be more immersed in the fun of the plans and the wedding. 

While the areas of the venue and wedding planners can overlap, it is important to know what each offers and how that affects your own plans and budget.

I recently came across a couple of blog posts that explain these differences very well. 

The first is a short, informative postVenue Coordinators vs. Wedding Planners, from the blog of Events by Doyin, a wedding planner in Houston, Texas. 

The next is a bit more in-depth. Found on Wedding Flavors, the blog of a wedding stationery firm in Charlotte, NC, their guest blogger is wedding planner Leigh Pearce, of Leigh Pearce Weddings. Her post is, Why Venue Coordinators are NOT Wedding Coordinators.

Both of these posts will give you a lot of helpful information regarding areas of responsibilities for wedding and venue planners and I thank the authors for writing them. 

On a similar note, here is a short blog post that talks to the DIY Bride about whether or not she might want to hire a wedding planner to help her with all her wedding planning responsibilities. There are a lot of sensible observations here and worth a read if you are on the fence about making such a decision. The post is from the blog of California’s Temecula Valley, Taste of Temecula.  

If you are interested in hiring a wedding planner for your wedding or are still looking for a place to hold your wedding and/or reception, this link will take you to a resource page on my website listing impressive wedding planners in our area with whom I have worked. Also listed are the fine wedding venues we are so lucky to have in the Triangle. I can recommend all of them very highly. 


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You are Engaged!... Congratulations!... What To Do Next?!

What a happy time - so much excitement and joy and anticipation! The man of your dreams has asked you to share your lives and all your hopes for your future are running around in your head and heart. Now you need to plan a wedding - but how?!!

I came across a wonderful article on just this very thing today when reading a blog post by Rachel Hamm, one of our local wedding planners at Bliss by Sam. Her article speaks to the heart of what you are facing now - your excitement and maybe a bit of trepidation - so enjoy her post and take advantage of her expert advice. The post is included here in its entirety.

The Do's and Don'ts of Planning a Wedding 
by Rachel Hamm

Dilemma: I just got engaged on Christmas. My mom and I are so excited but I have no clue where to start! Can you give me some quick tips and how not to make mistakes during the planning process? Signed, About-To-Be-Stressed-Out Bride

The Solution: Wedding Planning can seem incredibly overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. I've collected a few quick tips for you to help simplify the process:

DO create a budget. It’s probably the hardest part of planning a wedding and the part most couples try to avoid, but if a budget isn’t created from the beginning, every other step in the planning process is going to be more difficult and you’ll end up spending MORE money than you would if you had given yourself a goal/limit to work with in the first place.

DON’T assume people won’t come. After your budget, the guest list is the next important thing on your to-do list and will affect every aspect of the wedding planning. Be realistic- write down every single person you plan to invite and then estimate that 80% of those people will want to come. You can’t assume that out-of-town guests won’t come. If your guest list is too high, start cutting! Most guests are more understanding about children and dates in today’s economy, so feel free to start there.

DO ask for your in-laws’ opinions. This is the ideal time to set the foundation for your future relationship. Don’t feel obligated to ask your new MIL for opinions on EVERY decision, but figure out which ones mean the most to her and ask for her thoughts. Invite her to meetings. Make sure she doesn’t feel left out. But…

DON’T forget whose wedding it is. Don’t let your parents or your in-laws take over all the decisions. The wedding is about you and your fiancé and should reflect your tastes and values as a couple.

DO compromise. While you are working on your budget, take the time to figure out what parts of the day are the most important to you and to your fiancé. If music is the most important thing to him, then defer to him when selecting the DJ or band. If flowers are the most important thing to you, he should be willing to accept your elaborate centerpiece designs.

DON’T agonize over every little thing. Yes, it’s the most important day of your life, but it still is only one day. If you really can’t make up your mind about something, ask your fiancé to make the decision for you. No decision you make should stress you out. Go with your gut instincts- don’t let yourself mull over decisions for too long or you’ll end up over-thinking and over-analyzing.

DO ask for help! You have bridesmaids and groomsmen for a reason. Delegate tasks you don’t have time to get done. Your event professionals have been hired to perform a service, let them! On the wedding weekend, give control to a non-family, non-bridal party person and let them serve as the point of contact for the day so you can relax, get ready, and enjoy your wedding!

DON’T forget to have fun! It’s your wedding, after all! Eat, drink, and be married!

Blissfully Yours, 

Stressed out from planning your wedding? Get their FREE e-guide; 

Bliss by Sam is one of the most sought after event planning firms in Durham, NC, and the surrounding areas. They have now expanded and opened an office in Chicago in April 2012! Samantha Dockery and her team work with busy, discerning brides to reduce stress throughout their wedding planning process and on their wedding day, so they can relax and enjoy the moment. Bliss by Sam has won awards from the National Association of Catering Professionals and the Forever Bridal Wedding Show. Their weddings and events have been featured on WRAL TV,, Weddings Magazine, Southern Bride and Groom Magazine, The Knot North Carolina Magazine, and Durham Magazine. For event planning tips, check out their blog, Daring.Devoted. or visit their website.


To contact or follow Rev. Barbara Lodge;

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