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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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Strangers Come Together To Help Sharon and John Marry at The Gene Strowd Community Rose Garden in Chapel Hill

Sharon and John met in college in 1981, dated for a time, but their lives took them on separate paths after graduation. Through the years, they kept in touch with each other occasionally and by 2000 they had reunited and planned to marry. Unfortunately, there were a lot of family illnesses on both sides and they felt they had to be there for their families so the wedding was put on hold repeatedly as they prioritized being there for those they loved who needed them so much. 

Now fast forward to November 2013, where my daughter, my grandson and I enter their story. 

They had planned a business trip to Chapel Hill and decided to marry while here. In their search for information on marriage licenses in NC, my website came up and they sent me an email the day before they were to be in Chapel Hill. But I didn’t see it until the following morning - the day they had hoped to marry! “Could I marry them that afternoon - and could I provide 2 witnesses,” they asked.

I had planned to have lunch with my daughter and her son that day so my daughter volunteered to be one of the witnesses. When I couldn’t find another available person on such short notice, I suggested we ask someone at the Strowd Rose Garden, where we planned to have the ceremony. Sharon told me God had put together this wedding and she knew we would find someone. She was right.

The sun was shining brightly and, despite it having turned cold in the last few days, most of the roses were still blooming. This created a lovely setting for their wedding to finally take place. God had indeed put together this wedding.

The rose garden sits adjacent to a small playground so John went over and asked a young woman with a child and two dogs if she would be their other witness. She readily agreed and now our wedding was ready to begin.

With two witnesses who did not know each other or the Bride and Groom, two children, two dogs, John, Sharon and I - and the occasional passer-by in the garden - we held our very touching ceremony with God’s obvious blessing.

Sharon held a large white, hydrangea blossom as a bouquet and a white prayer book that had been John’s mother’s, which had been given to her by her mother. John’s father had given the book to Sharon before he passed and Sharon got all choked up just telling me the story of the book and showing me the inside note to her from John’s father. John’s parents and grandmother were there with us in Spirit, as was Sharon’s grandmother, whose wedding ring Sharon would be wearing.

After the ceremony it was time for the witnesses to sign the license. 

Sharon gave her bouquet to our little guest, who was delighted to receive it, and the two of them bonded immediately. 

note Sharon holding the prayer book

I had brought my camera so Sharon and John would have some photos of their wedding day and we all took photos of ourselves, this group of strangers who became friends because God had put us all together for a wedding.

Sharon and John, life is so remarkable. When I awoke yesterday, I had no idea I would meet you and share in such a special time in your lives. It was a treat to hear your story, see your love in action and to be a part of your wedding. I hope your life together will continue to be filled with God’s magic, just like your wedding day.

The young woman with her daughter and dogs turned out to be a dog trainer and I noticed her two dogs were very well behaved. She must be good at what she does and seems to use a gentle hand in the training. If you are in need of a trainer, here is a link to her website;  

It turns out her daughter is a budding young actress who is soon to have a role in a feature film! Someday when she is famous, all of us there that day are going to be able to say we knew her when. I hope she never forgets her part in a wedding for strangers and the sweet bond we all shared that day.

UPDATE 7-5-14 - I recently ran into this woman and her daughter again at a summer drama camp presentation in which my granddaughter took part. Our lovely young actress had attended the same camp and was there as part of the performance. I learned there that the movie she would be appearing in is Dumb and Dumber 2. Let’s hope it’s a big success.


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Love Triumphs as Julie and Jaime have a Commitment Ceremony in NC... Then Legally Marry 4 Days Later on Their Honeymoon in MD

Commitment Day

Wedding Day

Julie and Jaime are wonderful ladies and when they contacted me about being a part of their wedding plans, I was so happy I could be there for them. While same-gender couples are still not allowed to marry legally here in NC (as of 2013), Julie and Jaime had a plan to get around that by going to Bel Air, MD where it is legal. But because they wanted to share their love and happiness with their family and friends, they decided to first have a commitment ceremony here in NC with those who mean the most to them.

Julie and Jaime are very craft-y people and this DIY wedding was overflowing with love and creativity, including the beautiful necklaces Julie made for the Bridesmaids, Flower Girl, herself (pearls) and me. She used their autumn wedding palette for the designs and our necklaces are shown in the photos below.

Being nature lovers, they chose the rustic and charming Spruce Pine Lodge in Bahama, NC as their commitment setting. Nestled in the woods of the Lake Michie Recreation Area, this vintage 1940s building has recently undergone some renovations but has still retained the nostalgic feel that has always been so popular.

The ceremony was to have taken place out on the large front lawn under a wonderful old tree, but the morning rain had moved the wedding inside. This worked out beautifully, however, as the back porch was converted into a magical setting, compliments of loving and creative family and friends. 

My 3 photos below do not do the magic part justice, unfortunately, but with the porch being one story up amid the tree branches, the rich autumn colors of the mums and the white lights strung along the rustic railings of the porch, magical is indeed the word I would use to describe it. It was the perfect backdrop for the heartfelt ceremony we created together and the sweet, tender vows that Julie and Jaime had written to each other. 

cellist Andrew Anagnost plays in the far left corner

those mums were glorious!

Spruce Pine Lodge has two very large rooms for the Bridal Party to dress and here are Julie and the Flower Girl by the window in one of them. Love this classic wedding shot. (Julie did not see the porch transformation shown above until she entered the ceremony down the aisle... and started to cry.)

Julie and Jaime, their friends and loved ones worked together to make everything for the celebration, from the wonderful sign that was hung at the entrance of Spruce Pine Lodge, the flower jars on hooks at the front steps, all the different table runners, lace-covered candle jars, burlap and lace covered vases for the centerpieces, the mantel wreaths and greenery, the bouquets, the Flower Girl headpiece, the newlywed table, the cupcake wedding cake - all were hand made with love and care. 

newlywed table

sign on the newlywed table next to the runner made for them by the 8 year old Flower Girl

the Flower Girl headpiece was lovely in its simplicity

the mantel of the large fireplace (far right in the photo above)

stone mantel behind the bar in another room

Julie and her wedding planning book

The rain finally abated for a while later in the day so we were able to get some photos in the yard after-all. Love this one of Jaime wiping a tear from Julie’s eye.

This commitment day was such a beautiful and special day, even with the rain. At some point in the after-wedding photographs the Flower Girl used the rest of her petals to make this heart around Julie and Jaime. Of all the photos taken that day, I must confess to this one being one of my very favorites. It says in visual terms what we were all feeling that day…. love, love and more love.

Julie and Jaime, I am so sorry you had to go out of state to marry, but I am so very happy that for your first ceremony you were surrounded and nurtured by the love of those who love you the most. I was very happy to have been able to play a part in your love story and it is obvious you are going to have a long and happy life together. Love can truly triumph over all.


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