Monday, October 22, 2012

Jacqueline and Tom live in Texas. Like many graduates of UNC, they wanted their wedding to be at the Carolina Inn since they had met in Chapel Hill as students on the nearby campus. They set the wedding date for October 13, 2012. Jacqueline's mother, Carolyn, who lives in Maryland, wisely hired Megan Gillikin, owner of A Southern Soiree, a wedding and event planning organization that is absolutely tops in this field around North Carolina, to recommend vendors and handle all the local  wedding details. Megan referred her to me and last February Carolyn booked me by email to officiate the wedding.  Jacqueline and Tom and I then began communicating about the ceremony they wanted via email. I met Jacqueline and Tom, and Carolyn and Joe (father of the bride) face to face for the first time when they were all in town for a wedding planning trip in June. When I met them, I knew then that this was going to be a really spectacular wedding! They were very excited about writing their own ceremony with my guidance using the plethora of ceremony material I provided them. And, I must say, they are excellent writers themselves and gave me lots of good material with which to put together the narrative of their story which was a substantial part of the ceremony. I love their sense of humor too.
Finally the wedding day arrived and after two previous rainy weekends, we were all delighted that the weather could not have been more perfect! They were expecting around 200 guests and so the ceremony took place in the Ann Hill Courtyard in front. Their friend Morgan, also a reader during the ceremony, is seen on the right setting up a video camera. Just a few days before the wedding we learned that Tom's sister, Hannah, and his mother, Lesley, unfortunately were unable to be present for the wedding due to health issues so the couple arranged to have the wedding videoed so they could enjoy it later.
Picture taking time for the guys before the ceremony. Let me tell you, they were really wired up at the rehearsal and only slightly less wired for the ceremony. The wedding was not only a celebration but for many of them a college reunion on their old stomping grounds as well! Travis and Jason with Azul Photography were doing the honors for this wedding. I know they got some amazing shots.
The John Hill Ballroom looked so beautiful! 
 What a cake! Such intricate decoration by the Art of Cake! A true work of art.
Tre Bella provided the beautiful floral arrangements. Mitch with Joe Bunn DJ Company provided the reception music and entertainment. 
 The string quartet was provided by Save the Date Music
Kailey Branham and her assistant, Amanda, with A Southern Soiree are getting the wedding party ready to enter. They did a phenomenal job handling this crowd who were so excited for Jacqueline and Tom they could hardly contain themselves!
The bride's two grandmothers, Ruth and Jean, and Carolyn, mother of the bride, found a place to sit down while waiting to be ushered in.
 First down the aisle was Tom's father, Andrew, followed by the two grandmothers. 
Then it was time for James and Joey, brothers of the bride, to escort in their mother. The bridesmaids followed coupled up with the groomsmen.
 And now, our gorgeous bride in a spectacular dress, proudly escorted by her handsome father, Joe.
The ground was a bit soft from the previous rainy days and so the girls all had to practically walk on their tiptoes down the aisle to keep from sinking heel deep! But they all made it just fine.
"Who supports Jacqueline as she comes to join in marriage to Thomas?"
 And so the ceremony begins.....
After warm words of welcome and an opening prayer remembering the loved ones who could not be present, Jacqueline and Tom paid tribute to their wonderfully supportive parents.
Meanwhile, Kailey was holding the big surprise at the end of the ceremony under cover behind the guests.
Our first reader was Jacqueline's cousin, Joanna, who read a passage from First Corinthians.
Then Morgan, also a cousin of Jacqueline's, read a love poem by Tracy Donovan.
Then it was time for their story. They saw each other for the first time in an 8:00 AM French class their freshman year of 2006. Quite a feat considering there were 3, 816 freshmen enrolled. According to Jacqueline's hilarious description, Tom wasn't looking too swift that early in the morning--much like many freshmen who partied hardy the night before!
Then the same day a few hours later, they had another class together and sat near each other. Tom looked much better having gotten all cleaned up and awake. He introduced himself to  Jacqueline confidently and during an assignment to share one interesting fact about themselves they found each other quite intriguing. So after class, trying not to appear too creepy, Tom engaged Jacqueline in conversation.
They soon became friends on Facebook and then study partners. After a couple of months they started dating, and six years, one month and 27 days later, they became husband and wife. 
Stepping back behind them again, I revealed to them what each other had told me in confidence about the characteristics they loved in each other, why they wanted to marry and their hopes and dreams for their marriage. Definitely some tender moments there. Then they read their personalized vows to each other from my book and exchanged rings.
It was my great honor and delight to pronounce them united in marriage and invited them to kiss for the first time as husband and wife.
Love these sweet moments! And now for the big surprise! Jacqueline and Tom had made special arrangements for the recessional that none of the guests knew about. I am not sure the wedding party knew either!
We turned to our left and assembled on the groom's side of the guests appeared the Clef Hangers, an amazing a capella group from UNC! They began singing "Carolina on my Mind" and they were incredible.
Everyone seemed to be spellbound. They got a huge round of applause as the bride and groom recessed. What a grand finale to an amazing wedding ceremony! I, for one, was absolutely blown away! 
Hey, mission accomplished! It was all they had dreamed of as they stepped into their new life as a married couple!
Jacqueline and Tom, what an unforgettable wedding! I'll never forget it, believe me. You have definitely made your mark on the world with this and I am honored to have been a part of your special day. If I can ever be of service to you in the future, please let me know. In the meantime, please enjoy wedded bliss and your loving togetherness!

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