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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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Keepsake Boxes for Wine Box, Anniversary Box and Love Letter Ceremonies

A new-ish ceremony that is becoming more popular at weddings is where each partner writes secret  love letters to the other and then the letters are placed in a box with wine (or other beverages of choice) - and sometimes special glasses - and the box is closed until the first, fifth or any anniversary they choose. When that anniversary arrives, the box is opened, the letters are read, and the drink of choice is shared. Often this is repeated on consecutive anniversaries with new bottles and new letters, but it does not have to be. It all depends on what the couple chooses for themselves.

Regardless of how they set it up, it is always a sweet moment of love and expectation at a wedding and I think that is why it is becoming so popular with those planning to marry. It speaks not only of their love but also specifically to their hopes for their future life together. As wine gets better with age, so too will their love and marriage deepen and refine with time.

I have seen some very pretty boxes at weddings for this ceremony - some were even made by the couples themselves or by a loving family member. More and more I am seeing boxes the couples have purchased online that can hold from one to three bottles, most of which can be engraved to your preference.

for 3 anniversaries and 3 bottles

I have included in this post a few photos of lovely boxes I found online as well as some links to find these and other gorgeous boxes.

The variety is endless so have a great time finding one that suits your taste and style.

This is such a special way to create a time-capsule of your love, starting with your wedding day!



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Rachel and Charlie - A Unique DIY Wedding at Spruce Pine Lodge in Bahama, NC

For Rachel and Charlie, simple and easy is their signature style. For their wedding, that translated into a great DIY wedding where everyone pitched in to help so they could keep their budget low. The musician was a friend, a lot of the food for the reception was brought as a potluck by family and guests and they had even met their photographer when they were neighbors back in the day.

The lovely flowers were put together by Charlie’s father and stepmother. 

The cakes were made by their families. 

And many hands pitched in to string the lights that gave such a warm glow 
to the stone and wood interior.

So where is this magical place? Spruce Pine Lodge, a rustic old log cabin in the woods of Bahama, NC. It has quite a special charm about it and I swear it seems to pick up all the happy vibes of the celebrations held there.

Another thing that old cabin does is let in some beautiful light!

Rachel and Charlie have slightly differing views on how spirituality is expressed but wanted both to be honored in the ceremony since each of them is an equal partner in this marriage. To that end, Charlie read a scripture from the Bible and Rachel read a prayer from Mother Teresa. It was remarkable how well they both fit together, with each saying the same thing in different ways. Spirit is Spirit, however it is expressed.

Before their vows they wanted to incorporate a handwashing ceremony because they liked the idea of ceremoniously starting their marriage from a clean slate. Their idea was to write their own unique marriage blessing to read to each other as a part of the handwashing ceremony. I  suggested it might be nice if the blessings could go into the water before they washed their hands in it and they immediately thought of rice paper - which dissolves when placed into water.

They found the most amazing bowl for the water. Note how the pedestal of this beautiful bowl opens into 4 open hands caressing the basin of the glass bowl that sits within them. What a gorgeous symbol of partnership in a marriage.

In this photo they have just read their marriage blessings and I have poured some water into the bowl. 

Here, they are placing their blessings into the water, then washing their hands as I pour more water over them - and finally, drying each other’s hands with a towel. 

Next came the personal vows they had written to each other, followed by the ring exchange...

and the celebratory kiss.

There was so much love in evidence that day. 
Just look at this face, beaming with such love, pride and joy.

There were many reflections of familial love, not only between the guests but also in various heirlooms that were used as decorations. Rachel’s wedding rings and necklace were heirlooms and represented 133 years of successful marriage from her great-grandparents, her grandparents and her parents. She and Charlie have some mighty big footsteps to follow!

Once the partying began, there was non-stop fun. 

Check out these fun guest favors and props they added to the mix. 

They even had a painter there, Eleatta Driver, painting the festivities as they ocurred! 

A special thank-you goes out to Cindy of Cuppa Photography for the use of her great photos! She is a real artist, as you can plainly tell here, so if you would like to see more of Cindy’s photos from the wedding, here is the link to her blog post about it. They are really spectacular photos and she captured the feel of the day perfectly. I love working with her cheery, talented self.

Rachel and Charlie, I will always remember your sincere and happy wedding and the love you shared so joyously with your family and friends. I join with all those who know you in wishing you an amazing life together. May all your dreams come true for you in unique
and wonderful ways!


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Christy and Dave Return to Haywood Hall in Raleigh To Christen Their Son

A few years ago, Christy and Dave had married at the historic Haywood Hall in Raleigh, full of the hopes for their future that all newlyweds begin their marriages. One thing very important to them was to have a family and yet, try as they might, that just was not to be in the way they expected. Eventually they decided to take a chance and adopt a baby. There are so many things to be considered in adoption but Chrissy and Dave were determined and one day a little infant was placed in their arms. They decided to name him Chance. How perfect is that!

When it came time for a christening, they had something very special in mind and I was so lucky to be able to be the one they chose to help them put it all together. They wanted to have the ceremony in the pergola where they had married and the Haywood Hall management very kindly allowed the short little family celebration to take place there. It meant a lot to Christy and Dave to be able to come back to the place where their marriage began to officially mark the next phase in their life together.

Haywood Hall

This is the path from the back of the manor house that leads to the gazebo.

Here is Christy, setting up the chairs for their guests to sit in front of the gazebo.

There were only family and dearest friends present, which lent to the beautiful intimacy of the ceremony. You could really feel the love of everyone there.

For the ceremony, the parents, godparents and I stood in the pergola.

Christy and Dave had each chosen something they wanted to say to Chance during the ceremony. Dave told us all about a song lyric he had heard years ago that had really touched him. Mind you, this was long before he had even met Chrissy, and he had determined when he first heard that song that he would read it at the christening of his children one day. This was that day, and how touching it was to hear the words that had meant so much to Dave so long ago - and that now he was going to be able to live.

Here is the song that Dave read;

Finally I've met you
The day has come
You're more than beautiful
And you're my son

I don't deserve this
I never thought it could be
Quite like the moment
When you first smiled at me
A toothless, wonderful feeling
Like I'd never seen

It's you, Chance, it's you

And when you lie down to sleep
I'll protect you
From the demons of the night
While I'm watching you grow

I'll pray
There's so much I could teach you
If you only have the time
I'll pray
There's so much God can teach you
If you only have the time

So will you tell me the little things?
What does God look like?
And angels' wings?
I don't remember these things
So would you teach them to me?
So for the moment
I'll watch you breathe

And when you wake up in the morning
You're always smiling, sweetly

Chance, There's so much I could teach you
If you only have the time
I'll pray
There's so much God can teach you
If you only have the time.

Chrissy’s reading was a poem she had found about loving an adopted child and what a gift that child is.  Chance, who loves balls of all kinds, was fascinated with the globes that had been hung along the rim of the pergola for the ceremony so as Chrissy read her poem to Chance, she was also balancing one of those “balls” in her hand while Chance played with it. Very cute.

Here is Christy’s beautiful poem;
We didn’t give you the gift of life,
But in our hearts we know
The love we feel is deep and real
As if it had been so.

For us to have each other

Is like a dream come true!

No, we didn’t give you the gift of life
Life gave us the gift of you.

Even as I read that now, I still get all choked up.

For the christening, I always ask the parents to put their prayers, hopes and dreams for their child into some water and bring the water and a special vessel for placing it in with them to the ceremony. Chrissy and Dave had done this and used this lovely crystal bowl to hold the water.

And so this water - filled with parental love - was used to christen Chance, as loving family and friends looked on. 

One thing I noticed during the ceremony was that all of a sudden the birds started chirping like crazy. This is something I often hear at weddings when couples are speaking their vows and here it was again as Chance was being christened. It’s as if the birds are completely connected to the ceremony and the love and the import of what is happening. It is so beautiful when Nature sings in celebration with us.

After the ceremony was finished, the parents, Godparents and I all signed the christening certificate. Note the little red-bowed cousin in the shots. She was fascinated by every part of the ceremony.

It’s become a bit of a tradition at my christenings when the ceremony takes place out in Nature for the parents to pour the christening water back into the earth. The parents choose where it seems appropriate to them and Christy chose some little purple tulips behind the gazebo. With Chance looking on, it was a very sweet moment.

Then it was time for the family photos with our young man of honor. 

Christy and Dave, thank you so much for including me in your sweet celebration of love. It was a true blessing for me to have been a part of this special day in the life of your family.


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