Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jessica and Chad are a remarkable couple. They are so well matched. Maybe that is because they have known each other practically all their lives; maybe because their core values are the same--probably both! They grew up in Lynn Haven, FL but got to know each other in high school when they were both on the math team and in the band.  There is definitely a lot to be said for hanging out together as friends first, just being mall rats spending many weekends at the Panama City Mall with their friends, wasting quarters at the arcade, playing with wooden puzzles at the nature store and sitting around reading books in the book store. Once they discovered that they were perfect for each other they became inseparable and eventually ended up here in North Carolina. After Chad's proposal while on a vacation to the Bahamas, they began planning their wedding at Duke Gardens Amphitheater for Sunday October 7, 2012. Chad contacted me in August looking for an officiant. A bit late, but thankfully I was available since the wedding was on Sunday and besides, I love doing wedding at Duke Gardens.

The forecast for the wedding day was dismal but as it turns out, although unseasonably chilly for early October, the rain held off. And with the beautiful soft lighting provided by the low-hanging clouds we succeeded in having the wedding ceremony outdoors in the lovely amphitheater which changes every time I go there. Jessica and Chad decided to see each other before the wedding so a "First Look" was orchestrated by their talented photographic team of Elizabeth and Frank Myers with Sweet Life Studios, a team I love to work with often. Frank was even at our rehearsal Saturday morning while Elizabeth was doing a photo shoot in the gardens with another bride.
If you notice in the top photo of me with the couple, Chad is really really tall! So when we met, I happened to mention that I had another bride and groom with the same height discrepancy and she stood on a stool for the kiss. Jessica loved the idea of kissing Chad at his own level (or close to!), so she asked her father to construct a stool for the wedding. And he made this fine piece of furniture they will cherish always! 
There is a new addition to the amphitheater that I immediately noticed at the rehearsal that enables the couple to have a center aisle down which to process rather than the steps at the side.
They have built beautiful and substantial stone steps down the center. Much better than the temporary wooden ones they had earlier. This was great and with the new gazebo behind the amphitheater, it was perfect to begin the processional there.
The White Garden, as it is called, is so pretty and lush! 
Jeremy, with the Serendipity Jazz Band which was playing for the reception, provided our ceremony music. We are going over the cues for the processional.
The lovely visitor center at Duke Gardens was the reception site and Durham Catering Company was doing the serving. Jessica is very crafty and creative and for the most part, this was a DIY wedding that came off very successfully. I love their choices of bright honey yellow, happy vivid sunflowers and blue for the groomsmen. They followed through with the tablecloths and place settings. Jessica told me she "thrifted" all the dishes from thrift stores! Each table has different ones and they are so cute.
They made the cupcakes themselves! Note the little sign made out of Scrabble tiles. I bet they are Scrabblers!
Getting in the line-up!
The guests are all seated and we are lining up for the processional. Their friend, Elizabeth, did a terrific job of directing for us. 
I did not have a yellow prayer stole so I joined in the DIY theme, went to Goodwill and found a lonesome yellow satin skirt that had lost its matching top, cut it up in panels and made one the night before their wedding adding a bit of fringe and a tassel found in JoAnn's fabrics.
Jessica's parents, John and Terry, proudly bring her in! All the flowers the couple picked up at the Farmer's Market and made their own arrangements and bouquets. 
John lifts the blusher veil then places Jessica's hand into Chad's and she gave Dad and Mom a kiss.
We began with a welcome and a tribute to those who could not be with us.
They asked their friends, Claire and Peter, to read an excerpt from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Two Towers.
And then it was time for their sweet story that had a some funny lines that everyone enjoyed.
Then I stepped back behind the couple to tell each of them what the other had told me about why they love each other and wanted to marry. They had not heard that until their wedding day.
Looking way up high! 
They read their vows to each other from my book then exchanged rings.
The pronouncement of marriage! Then I turned around and retrieved the stool and put it between them. 
Chad, you may kiss the bride! 
And he did and she did--from a new perspective! 
At the rehearsal, Jessica decided she would stay on the stool for the Presentation of the Newlyweds.
Elizabeth snaps a picture as they head for the bridge! 
Wow! Chad and Jessica, you did a terrific job putting this wedding together and all your careful planning sure paid off! Congratulations! I wish you the very best!

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