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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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A Sweet Baptism Ceremony at Ebenezer Church Beach on Jordan Lake

Children are a natural extension of love and - lucky me - I often get to be a part of celebrating the love of parents for their children and their desire to baptize those children into the church. Because I feel so connected to Nature as a reflection of God, it is always extra special to me when those ceremonies take place outside.

Leah and Josh contacted me for a ceremony for their adorable (!) little Noah and they wanted it to take place at Jordan Lake, at the serene and beautiful Ebenezer Church Beach area. I had never been to that part of the lake before and can definitely recommend it highly for others who might want to christen their children there. (Or even just go there for a picnic.)

Mother Nature was smiling on us that day - it was a beautiful sunny-crisp morning and a perfect amount of shade was provided by the trees that lined the shore.

It was a very small, intimate ceremony, with only immediate family and friends in attendance. Said attendees also doubled as the ceremony’s paparazzi and I have them to thank for the photos used here today.

Josh’s father had passed and to include him in the ceremony, Josh had brought some of his father’s ashes to sprinkle around us as the ceremony began. I cannot begin to describe the sweet tenderness in the air as Josh sprinkled the ashes into the water, while Leah and Noah stood by. Very moving.

I always ask the parents of the child if there are any special readings they would like included and if they would like to speak their prayers and wishes for their child during the ceremony. Leah and Josh asked me to read the lovely poem they had chosen entitled,  “From God with Love.”

Children are a blessing sent from God above
For us to care and nurture and most of all to love.

God calls us to be parents and gives us all the tools
And when we feel like giving up, our strength He will renew.

Children are a gift from God that He so freely lends
To make it through the childhood years, on Him we must depend.

He must have a presence, you see it must take three
The parents, child and Christ at the center of the family.

From childhood days to a child full grown
Their joys and hurts are a parent's own.

Times of joy and laughter and those times of tears
The times spent raising a child are surely the best of years.

There comes that time in life when a child will leave the nest
We must send them off with love and a prayer and leave to God the rest.

We've shared the Word of God, we've taught them right from wrong
Now it's time to let them go and let them write their song.

There are many paths a child can take, they will remain unknown
But rest assured that in the end, they all lead back to home.
            _ author unknown

They both also read what they had written to Noah of their hopes and dreams for him in his life. I am always touched by the sincere love and caring that is expressed in this part of the ceremony.

Next came the pledges of the Godparents for the care of Noah, should the need arise.

For baptisms that I minister, I ask the parents to bring water to the ceremony, over which they have prayed, placing their prayers of love for their child into the water. That becomes the water we use for the baptism. In this case, Leah and Josh wanted to use the lake water, which was absolutely perfect, particularly as Josh’s dad’s ashes were now in the lake.

We took a few moments while Leah and Josh prayed over the water and then we began the actual baptism portion of the ceremony, using the water they had blessed with their love. 

The ceremony completed, I invited everyone forward to greet the happy family.

After all the hugs and kisses, there was one last thing to do - to put the baptismal water back into the lake. Josh chose to add it back in the same place he had put his father’s ashes. How fitting.

Then Noah decided to play in the water a bit, which also seemed very fitting.

Next was the signing of the baptism certificate.

Notice the lovely white blanket used on the table. It had been made by Noah’s Great-Grandmother, so even though she was not there in person, she was still there with us in Spirit.

Leah and Josh, it was an honor to minister the sweet baptism of your son. With all the love in evidence between you, your family and friends, and the beauty of the day, it was a gift to me to be able to be a part of that special moment in your lives.


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11 Things No One Tells You about Wedding Planning - from The Knot

While on The Knot today, I happened upon a great article by Hallie Goodman on wedding planning and thought I’d pass it along. She addresses “Wedding planning surprises (not all the good kind) - and how to stay one step ahead of them.” 

The text of the article is included in its entirety below but if you would like to read it on their website, this link will take you there and you can browse through all their great wedding info while you’re at it.

Hallie has some helpful insights that are sure to make you feel better as you go though any (or all) of these unexpected surprises in your wedding planning. And at the very least, she will let you know that you, your family and your friends haven’t lost it - you are all just normal human beings operating under a lot of stress. So enjoy the read and if you recognize yourself or those you care about, have a great laugh or two. Wedding planning is meant to be fun, after-all... right?

When it comes to planning your day, at least a few surprises are, well, straight-up unavoidable. Of course, it pays to be prepared, but know that even the most meticulous preparation won't make you completely curveball-exempt.

1. Throwing a casual wedding is just as much work as throwing a fancy one.
Whether the napkins you'll use are made of paper or of silk flown in from France that was handwoven by master craftsmen, you've still got to pick those suckers. And whether you'll serve French fries or filet, wear couture or a simple vintage frock, the same holds true. 

Solved: Though this realization tends to hit brides-to-be like the proverbial ton of bricks, the realization alone is half the battle. The second half? Allotting a generous portion of time in which to plan -- sans panic. No matter your style, a year is typically just about right.

2. You're talking wedding way, way more than you think.
Have you busted your bestie rolling her eyes when she thought you were too busy expanding on the virtues of fondant vs. buttercream to see? Did your mom start to glaze over the last time you tried to show her pictures of bouquets? Yeah, you're guilty.

Solved: First, accept that you might not actually be able to press pause on the compulsive wedding chatter. Hey, you're excited, and that's cool! But expecting one or two people to listen to all of it? Too much. Share the love. Spread the obsessing out over a wider circle of friends (that's what cubemates are for, right?) and space it out, so you can spare them all, including your fiance, from bride (that would be you) burnout.

3. Words like "classic" are highly subjective. Highly.
Your definition of the word "classic" may mean preppy yellow and blue at a yacht club, but to your planner, it could mean black-tie ballroom with ornate décor, and to your florist, it might mean a tented affair with a romantic look -- leaving you with a confused aesthetic that doesn't fit anyone's vision.

Solved: No matter what detail you're planning, a picture is worth a thousand words. Show your vendors what "classic" means to you by bringing them examples of what you want, lest you waste precious time (or budget) wandering down the road to so-not-what-you-wanted town.

4. You will randomly stress-cry over something, be it tablecloths, invites or the dress your mom has chosen.
Your florist tells you pink peonies won't be in-season, and you burst into tears. No matter that you don't even like peonies -- or pink. Your mom is mad that your fiance's stepmom chose the same color dress, and suddenly, you're bawling that your marriage is doomed.

Solved: Let 'em flow, but then let it go. Think of it as a sign you need a wedding planning break.

5. You will randomly happy-cry over something, be it tablecloths, invites or the dress your mom has chosen.
As you mail your invites, you can barely choke back the tears long enough to say "hand stamp." Your mom shows you the muumuu she plans to wear, and you tear up over how pretty she looks. 

Solved: Savor it. As cliché as it sounds, these are the moments you'll remember forever.

6. At least one not-so-minor unexpected expense will pop up.
Whether it's weather (gotta rent a tent 'cause it looks like rain) or whimsy (gotta get a backup gown 'cause I can't make up my mind), something that wasn't in your budget will materialize.

Solved: Even the tightest budget needs a little wiggle room. Build in a buffer (5 percent of the overall budget) from the start, so you won't have to worry every time the wind blows.

7. Idiot spats will happen.
You feel deeply betrayed over his dislike of fondant. He claims you "don't get who he really is" after you nix all Metallica songs from the reception playlist. Um, who are you?

Solved: Because the stakes (one day, one chance to get it right) feel so high, nerves fray, and flare-ups happen fast. It's easy to forget that you're on the same team. Scheduling in regular romantic time will help -- as will lots of kissing and making up when you (inevitably) slip up.

8. The groom-to-be won't care about things you thought he would.
From planning the menu (shrug) to picking the music (yawn), your guy's uninterested reactions even to the "fun stuff" might catch you off guard and bum you out. After all, these are the things you were sure he'd enjoy -- so what will this mean for all the not-so-fun details? 

Solved: Ask him what he wants to do and then listen. He may not be as disinterested as he's acting. It's possible that you've overridden his opinions one too many times and his pride is hurting. Of course, he may just have no interest in wedding planning at all. Can you make peace with it, temper your expectations and give him a few to-dos? Or can you live with him just handling the honeymoon and the music? Remember, you're marrying this guy. He needs to be a good husband -- not a good wedding planner.

9. The groom-to-be will care about things you never dreamed he would.
Whether it's the color of paper stock for the invites or a preference for a certain species of peony, your man will give you at least one case of the what-the-what's by expressing strong feelings about something totally unexpected and out of character. Even cooler? His new interest might be a shock to him too!

Solved: As the saying goes, if it ain't broke.... Why not raise a glass to a lifetime of more quirky little surprises from your man? That said, if he's venturing into groomzilla territory (it happens), divvy up the decision-making tasks so you can each be master of your own domains.

10. Everyone (and we do mean everyone) has an opinion.
"Whatever you do," says a random coworker, "don't hire a band." Too bad you just did. "Hope you're not wearing's so boring," says your teenage cousin. Too bad you totally are. "You know what's the worst?" says the checkout lady at the grocery store. "Wedding cake." Too bad that lady was insane. 

Solved: While people will likely keep spouting opinions about every detail the second they hear you're aisle-bound, it's okay to remind them (and yourself) that they can put their opinions to good use at their own weddings...and pretty much nowhere else. Stick to your guns and rely on your team of pros for solid, unbiased advice. This is where it pays to remember it's your day.

11. You (yes, you) will probably have at least one 'zilla moment.
It might be a quick blip, or it may last for weeks, but there will come a time when you temporarily cross over to the dark side of the aisle. While you're there, you may truly believe that a pink chocolate fountain, a rose-petal cannon and a Cinderella coach pulled by horses dressed as unicorns are just basic wedding essentials every bride deserves. 

Solved: Since 'zilla’ outbreaks are tricky to self-diagnose, it's time to call up your most truth-telling friend and run your new, big plans past her. If she utters any iteration of the words, "Have you lost your mind?" a time-out is in order. Or just run the idea by any of the major bill footers to see how they react. Fidgeting, fumbling and fuming are all good indications that what you're saying is crazy talk. (Or way outside your budget.) The good news is, it happens to the best of brides. And after a brief break from wedding planning, most brides report a return to sane thinking -- followed by a good, long WTF?!?! laugh with their fiance.

Get more help dealing with the unexpected at

-- Hallie Goodman


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