Monday, July 27, 2009

Elopement vs. large wedding, you can have it both ways

What fun to be part of an elopement!

A few weeks ago I received an email from a distraught couple. Because of family (and money) their ‘dream’ wedding had turned into a ‘nightmare’. They decided they wanted to have a wedding ‘just for them’ so they traveled to North Carolina to marry secretly… It was a beautiful intimate wedding and according to them, ‘exactly what they wanted’. We took photos and downloaded them onto a CD to help preserve the memory.

After the wedding they headed to Asheville to enjoy their ‘first’ honeymoon. What a lucky couple they are. Later this year they will renew their vows with family and friends and have another honeymoon. But it doesn’t end there; they already have plans for a third honeymoon in Europe.

I often hear similar stories. (about wedding planning, not having three honeymoons! That was a bit unusual but I’m all for having fun & traveling) Wedding planning can get out of hand quickly and what is meant to be a fun time quickly turns into a time of stress. It makes me so sad when I hear someone say, “I just want to get this over with”, especially on their wedding day!

Whatever you do, don’t throw up your hands and head to the courthouse. There are other options and you can have a very private ceremony that celebrates your love in the manner it deserves…

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jacinda and Alan - Married at Blowing Rock

Family weddings are always fun and Jacinda and Alan's wedding was no exception. Their three children were lively and loved having Blowing Rock park all to themselves.

Before I tell you about their wedding I just have to say Blowing Rock is a great location for a wedding. It is beautiful and the long range views are awesome. But to be honest what makes it great is Billy..... He 'wears many hats' at the park so it's not surprising that he is the special events coordinator. You will not meet a nicer, more cordial person. He truly wants every wedding experience to be special and goes out of his way to accommodate guests at the park.

Jacinda had originally contacted me about having her wedding at RiverMist. I told her that I was going to be in Boone with my daughter. (taking her Praxis at App.) and suggested Blowing Rock. After talking with Billy, a time was arranged and a wedding was planned.

Since Susan was with me, she became my assistant for the weekend! I don't know what I would have done without her help. And..... she also took photos for Jacinda and Alan's wedding. As you can see, they turned out great! (My 'not a professional photographer' husband better watch out, he might just get replaced!)

Short-notice wedding... Sounds like things thrown together, all in a panic. This is just not so! Jacinda may have felt a little overwhelmed while she was trying to find wedding attire for five people but I never sensed any panic! Their wedding was truly beautiful, including the flowers!

When children are involved I like to include some type of family unity ceremony. I had in mind what I wanted to do for Jacinda's children. However, I had a change of plans at the last minute as I was breaking apart a piece of rose quartz I had just purchased. My idea worked and the children loved receiving a 'gift' at the wedding. Hopefully, everyone made it home with their 'piece of the puzzle'.
Weddings have certainly changed. And for the better, don't you think? No longer controled by a strict set of rules. And a honeymoon at Tweetsie! What better way for a family to celebrate a very special time together...

Stef and Ken - Happily Married

Ken and Stef met in January and immediately fell madly in love... And all because of a whim Stef had when she decided to create a profile on E-Harmony. Who would have thought? She told me that when she checked her email the first morning after entering her profile, she had been matched with Ken.

The emails started, then the phone calls and finally their first meeting. She said by the time they met they felt like they had known each other all of their lives. It's no surprise that E-Harmony has asked Ken and Stef to film a commercial!

My opinion of services like E-Harmony and have certainly changed through the years and I have married many couples who have met this way. I remember back in the 80's when a friend of mine went through an unpleasant divorce and was meeting men online. It was not a safe way at the time and she was doing some very unwise things... And I'm sure this still goes on. That's why it's important to use a reputable service and always use good judgement!

Back to Stef and Ken.... I met Stef for coffee a few weeks ago and she told me their story. After hearing about how they met we started talking about their wedding plans. Like so many couples today they wanted a private heart-felt ceremony but they also wanted to celebrate with family and friends. Who says you can't have it both ways! Many couples are choosing to have two ceremonies which is very common in many cultures.

On Saturday Ken and Stef, along with her twin brother Damien, traveled from Charlotte to RiverMist for an intimate wedding. And next year they will celebrate a renewal of vows with family and friends. And, yes, you can have it all... it is your wedding and you can do whatever you want.

After much thought, Stef decided to save her wedding dress for her formal ceremony and opted to wear her prom dress on Saturday. When she was at the prom she would have never imagined that someday she would get married in that very dress!

Even though it was small wedding it was very personal. Damien, escorted his sister and later participated in the ceremony by offering a reading. (He also videotaped the ceremony, offering his commentary, including commercials!!)
Stef mentioned that she would like some type of unity ceremony. Since they are having two ceremonies I suggested they include a wine unity ceremony. She loved the idea and bought some beautiful silver and crystal wineglasses and had them engraved, names, date, & 'Almost Paradise'. And.... the glasses will be used at their next celebration.
Ken and Damien, celebrated by smoking cigars, while I downloaded the photos onto a CD. They left to have lunch together before the newlyweds headed to Asheville for their honeymoon.
I'm sure Ken & Stef will be very happy in the years to come! And all because they were willing to 'take a chance'..... Love, it is truly a wonderful thing!
Celebrate love!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Breanna and Jade Get Married in NC

Yet another wonderful short-notice wedding at RiverMist.

I received a phone call a few days ago from someone who was making arrangements for her sister's wedding. She wanted to know exactly how soon the wedding could take place. Since it was around 10:00 at night I told her the soonest possible time would be the next day..... Jade was awaiting orders and he and Breanna wanted to get married before he received his assignment. After a few phone conversations they decided to wait until the weekend so we did end up having a few days to plan a wedding.

Breanna, Jade, Shelby and PJ arrived at RiverMist around 10:30am on Sunday morning. After we chatted a little I took them to the creek where most weddings take place. Since they had driven from Fayetteville I thought they needed a little time to unwind and this is the perfect spot. My hammock is down there and anytime I 'disappear' my husband knows where to find me!
I asked Breanna if she had a bouquet and she said she realized on the way that she had forgotten about flowers. Well.... I had some beautiful stargazer lillies so while they rested a little I hand tied a bouquet using six lillies and other flowers from my garden. I had been admiring my lillies, particularly this one which was full of blooms. I told Breanna that the flowers had been waiting for her.

Even though we only had a few days, I had time to prepare a beautiful ceremony, unlike the courthouse wedding they had considered. Breanna said that they wanted to get married quickly but wanted a wedding experience. And by the smile on her face during the entire ceremony, I think she had her wedding experience! And again, even though we didn't have a lot of time, they found time to write personal vows to each other. This is always nice and says far more than any words I can speak.
And as an added surprise, we had a sparkling cider toast immediately following their ceremony. It was fairly cool on Sunday, especially for July, so I carried the cider and glasses to the picnic table nearby.
I won't say that the groom seemed a little nervous but he did have a look of relief on his face after they were pronounced husband and wife. We all had a big laugh when we looked at the photos after they were downloaded.
So now, the happy bride and groom are back in Fayetteville waiting to find out where their new home will be. There will be many adventures for these two...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Natalie and Jonathon Married at Blowing Rock, NC

After months of planning, I finally got to meet Natalie and Jonathon on Saturday. They, along with family and friends, traveled from Michigan to marry at Blowing Rock Park.

As usual, the staff at Blowing Rock was exceptional. Billy, the events coordinator is wonderful to work with and always makes sure everything is just right. The observation deck was lined with chairs; however, most guests decided to stand during the ceremony.

Natalie had asked about decorations for the deck. I told her the view from the observation deck is so gorgeous no decorations are needed. Just one of the advantages of getting married at Blowing Rock. And to be honest it's often too windy for any type of decoration. A nice benefit on a hot summer's day!

One of the first things I noticed about Natalie on Saturday were her royal blue shoes. I kept trying to get a picture but she was moving around too fast. Hopefully, the photographer will send me one. The blue shoes didn't make it to the ceremony. Natalie, along with her attendants left their shoes on the platform and they all walked down the aisle barefoot.
After the ceremony, many photos were taken in the park. As you can see, this is truly a beautiful location.
In case you're not thrilled about heights, there are several shaded garden areas that are also suitable for weddings. In this photo you can actually see 'the' Blowing Rock in the distance.
Amanda, the photographer, worked hard trying to find the perfect place for pictures. And look at her, standing on the rocks. Is she dedicated or what?
I asked Natalie and Jonathon how long they would be staying in NC. They said a few more days then heading back to Michigan to start packing. Seems like they really like North Carolina and have decided to make Asheville their new home.

Family Wedding at RiverMist

The internet is a wonderful thing. Couples around the world can quickly get information about getting married in North Carolina. It also brings neighbors together…

Several months ago (it seems like only a few days) I received a phone call from a couple wanting to get married at RiverMist. I was very surprised to learn they lived only a few miles away! We arranged a time for them to visit so we could discuss their plans face to face. Andrea and Jason were very pleased with our facility and said it was exactly what they were looking for. A date was chosen and we started on their wedding ceremony.

On Saturday, Andrea arrived first with her parents and headed upstairs to freshen up and change clothes. Things got a little lively once Jason and their two year old son joined the wedding party. Like all two year olds, everything was an adventure to Jayden and his first adventure was climbing up and down our steps.

We wondered what he would do during the family unity sand ceremony. As you can see from the picture he managed to get most of the sand into the vase. Children, like the weather, are unpredicitable and you always have to be ready to react and adjust quickly.
By now Andrea and Jason are honeymooning in Hawaii. When I asked what sites they were going to visit Jason immediately said that he was going to golf. I asked Andrea what she was going to do. Her reply, ‘drive the golf cart, I guess’. Sounds like their marriage is off to a good start.

And look what I just received in my email. A photo of the newlyweds in Hawaii.

Life is Good!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Family wedding at Chimney Rock

I’ve been looking forward to meeting Rod, Terri and their four children. They traveled from Florida to spend the week at a cabin in Waynesville owned by a family member. Rod and Terri thought it would be a perfect time to formally join the families together by having a wedding at Chimney Rock Park. What a great family. Don’t you love the jeans and white shirts!

As you can see from the 'thumbs up' photo, their children were pretty excited. Knowing how children are they were probably also excited about changing clothes and exploring the many trails at Chimney Rock. Rod had been to North Carolina on several occasions but no one else had. They were loving the beautiful mountains and enjoying many outdoor activities. The family went tubing (for six hours) yesterday and already had reservations to go whitewater rafting tomorrow. Keep the kids busy….

There were several guests at the park when we began their ceremony at 10:00 this morning. This may seem a little early but during the summer it's best to schedule weddings early, while the temperature is lower and the park is less crowded. As usual, the guests were very respectful and thought it was an added bonus to witness a wedding. There was a nice round of applause when the couple was pronounced ‘husband and wife'.
And as happens quite often, I heard the comment, “I wish I had gotten married this way!”

I created a special keepsake marriage certificate that included the following poem:

Our family is a circle of strength and love.
With every birth and union, the circle grows.
Every joy shared adds more love.
Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Private wedding in North Carolina

Most couples want to proclaim their marriage to the entire world. However, there are times when couples want to get married discreetly. RiverMist, in the foothills of North Carolina, provides privacy in a beautiful outdoor setting. This past weekend two couples chose our retreat center for this very reason.

The first couple was from out of state, having traveled to North Carolina to celebrate the holiday weekend. We had been in contact by email and the bride told me they couldn’t legally marry at this time but wanted a ceremony to ‘bind their love’. Often, when people hear the term ‘commitment ceremony’ they automatically assume it is a same-sex union. This is not always the case. There are many reasons why couples can’t legally marry. Many times it is financial but it could any number of other reasons. I respect privacy so I don’t ask personal questions.

A commitment ceremony is very similar to a wedding ceremony and much of the same wording can be used. The main difference is the couple cannot be pronounced, husband and wife... ‘By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife…..etc’.

Other than that, vows are spoken, rings are exchanged, promises are made. It is a marriage of the heart.

And the second couple…. After their ceremony I was asked if I had ever married the same couple twice. I talked a little about some of my experiences. As it turns out there was a situation where it was necessary for them to be legally married now but plans had already been made for a formal wedding at a later date.

It’s funny how couples wait until after I have married them to ‘tell their story’. Often, it’s after the ceremony they tell me they’re expecting a child. I guess they think it would make a difference… Not so. The only difference is that I would have suggested including a ‘Blessing/Recognition’ of their unborn child in their ceremony.

However, this was not the case this past weekend. Theirs was an entirely different set of circumstances, which I will keep to myself by not revealing any details… I look forward to officiating their ‘Renewal of Vows’ next year! This couple will have two wedding experiences. The fun of eloping and keeping a BIG secret.. And celebrating with family and friends…

Whatever you choose for you wedding, make sure it’s what YOU want.. This is your day, your time, your love… Only you know what’s right for you..

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Short Notice Wedding in North Carolina

On Tuesday I went to pick up my new car, well, not really new (2007) and not really car (RAV4), and have dinner with my daughter and her husband. We were watching wedding videos and ended up staying longer than we planned. It was 9:00 and since we had a two hour drive I decided to check our home answering machine. There was a message from a couple wanting to know if it was possible to get married the next morning.

I returned their call and we talked about the options. They were in Asheville, headed to Wilmington the next morning. Lisa and Lyle are from Illinois and planned on seeing as much of North Carolina as possible! Arrangements were made.

It was after midnight when I returned home. I took off my shoes and grabbed my laptop. I never use the same ceremony twice, even for short-notice weddings. Each wedding is special and needs to be treated accordingly.

Lisa and Lyle were at the Register of Deeds office the next morning, bright and early, and immediately drove to our retreat center. They were so happy! And not bragging, everyone who comes to our retreat center is extremely pleased with our facility.

I talked with Lisa and found out that they had made arrangements to get married at a small mountain 'wedding chapel'. When they arrived at the site they were both disappointed. According to them, it did not look anything like the pictures on the internet. She said it didn't 'feel' right and she just couldn't get married there. I'm a firm believer in going with your 'gut instinct'.

Lisa said their ceremony was perfect and emphasized the very things that are important to them as a couple. I hear this a lot and seem to have a 'knack' for knowing what needs to be said.

Their wedding was beautiful and my husband, as always, took some great photos. Lyle told him that he was certainly good enough to consider himself professional!

Now the happy couple is in Wilmington enjoying the 4th of July holiday. Soon they will return home and begin preparations to celebrate their marriage with family and friends. I have no doubts they will remember their trip to North Carolina with fond memories...

Nicole and Rob Traveled to NC to Get Married

I was happy to finally get to meet Nicole and Rob. All of our contact had been through emails and phone calls so it was good to finally meet face to face. How did we ever live without email??
Nicole and Rob decided to travel from Texas to have their wedding in North Carolina. Rob's mother found a wonderful location. The home is located near Blowing Rock, just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are beautiful gardens, great mountain views and a very large kitchen, where the caterer was hard at work when I arrived.

The temperture was very 'warm' when I left my home. As soon as I stepped out of the car I was greated by a cool mountain breeze. This continued throughout the ceremony. So much so, the tablecloth we were using for the sand ceremony blew across my feet during the ceremony. I'm glad we decided to have family members hold the containers of sand! Otherwise, they might have been blended a little prematurely!
A family unity ceremony is a good way to include children in a wedding. Blending sand has become very popular. The container of combined sand can be displayed at home as a visual reminder of promises made on your wedding day.

It was obvious that Parker is and will be an important part of this marriage. He began the ceremony by reading a poem by Shel Silversteing:

Hug O' War
I will not play at tug o' war
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses
And everyone grins
And everyone cuddles
And everyone wins.

This set the tone for a love-filled wedding where several family members offered readings and blessings during the ceremony.

I didn't have my camera to take photos of the couple. Hopefully, they will send me some after they return home. I did grab my camera phone and took some photos on my way out.

Jennifer and Adam Married at Asheville Bed and Breakfast

Many couples want a relaxed stress-free wedding. Having a simple ceremony at a B & B was the perfect choice for Jennifer and Adam. They were married in the garden surrounded by family and friends. (and a few uninvited gnats! One of the things to consider when planning an outdoor wedding.)

The garden was in full bloom and provided a beautiful background for photos. It was obvious that Jennifer and Adam enjoyed each other's company and also liked to 'clown around'. Their photographer had many photo ops with this lively couple.

After the ceremony everyone moved to a sitting area for the reception. Instead of a traditional wedding cake this fun couple had a stack of doughnuts!

There are so many great B & B's in the Asheville area. I have some favorites if you would like suggestions. I receive no financial compensation for referrals and only recommend places that I would visit myself.