Aqua & Burlap Wedding at the Lillington VFW

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Any wedding officiant will tell you that April and May can get pretty crazy. Saturday, April 19th of this year was my first day with three ceremonies! After Lisa & Rodney’s elopement in Selma and Stephanie & Andrew’s Second Empire ceremony, I headed to Lillington to marry Crystal and Brad!

When Crystal first got in touch with me, I told her I wasn’t available for her date because I had just gotten another request for the same date and time from anther couple. Well, come to find out that other request was for April 19th, 2015! Next year! (I’ve learned to look at my emails a little closer now…) So when I got back in touch with Crystal she was happy that it had worked out after all!

When I first met with Crystal and Brad (and Crystal’s son Michael!) she told me their colors were aqua and burlap. I couldn’t wait to see that combo! And Crystal certainly did not disappoint as she had so many wonderful details!

It was my first time at the Lillington VFW and I was very impressed with how easy it was to find, the ample parking, and the beautiful ceremony/reception space. The wood floors and long room make it the perfect space for a ceremony at one end and reception at the other. The chairs are simply cleared away following the ceremony and you have a dance floor. Perfect!

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The ceremony was held in front of the fire place, which you can see here behind the adorable couple!

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Crystal and Brad opted to have a sand ceremony  in order to include Crystal’s son, Michael. Brad has two daughters who couldn’t be in attendance, so when Michael poured his sand I said, “This vial of sand represents you, Kiersten, and Kendall.” That way all of the children were included, even if they were not at the ceremony.

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Don’t you just love the burlap and aqua combo?

Crystal and Brad, you guys were wonderful to work with and such a fun couple! Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your special day!

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Intimate Ceremony at The Second Empire

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April 19th was a busy day for me this year! After Lisa & Rodney’s elopement in Selma, I headed to The Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern in on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh to marry Stephanie & Andrew. I’m sure with the weather that day they were pleased to have planned an indoor ceremony!

second empirePhoto Credit: Second Empire Facebook Page

The Second Empire is a fine dining establishment in the heart of downtown Raleigh. The beautiful historic home (Dodd-Hinsdale House), coupled with the picturesque downtown location make it perfect for wedding ceremonies and receptions! The venue offers a variety of wedding packages that include the use of different rooms in the home, as well as different dining options. The restaurant can also host your bridal shower or luncheon!

Stephanie and Andrew chose to have their ceremony in the beautiful bay window of the East Parlor. This area holds about 30 people, so it is perfect for small ceremonies. Their intimate reception with close friends and family was held immediately following in the adjoining room.

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The ceremony itself was very short, because that is exactly what the couple wanted and my goal is for them to have what they want! I think my favorite part was seeing Stephanie escorted down the aisle by her 16 year-old twin boys, Hayes and Trevor.

Stephanie was kind enough to leave a review for me on Wedding Wire following the ceremony: “Katherine was very easy to work with and gave us several suggestions that helped things run smoothly. I would highly recommend her for your wedding!!”

Stephanie and Andrew, it was my pleasure to marry you on your special day, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of it!

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Tear-filled “Elopement” at the Little White Chapel

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Lisa contacted me a few weeks prior to their April 19th wedding date and shared their plans of a quick elopement at Barbour’s Grove Park in the adorable town of Four Oaks. I was excited because pictures of the park online looked adorable… the grass and flowers were well-manicured and beautiful brick pathways led up to a white gazebo in the center of the park that would be perfect for a wedding ceremony.


I was disappointed when the forecast was calling for rain and a change of plans was necessary. I shouldn’t have worried though! Lisa told me they lived across the street from a little white chapel. In all of their years living there, they had never been inside the chapel, but they knew that their neighbor went to weekly services there. They called the neighbor to see if it could be their rain back-up plan and Lee’s Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church was happy to help!

Understandably, Lisa and Rodney were a little nervous never having seen the inside of the chapel, but they had nothing to worry about! The plain white brick building hid a beautiful interior, perfect for their big day! And you really can’t get much more convenient than a wedding venue across the street from your house! I wish I had taken a picture of the outside of the chapel, but it was pouring rain when I arrived, so I ran in and took cover!

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The ceremony itself was very heartfelt. My portion of the ceremony was short and sweet because it was an elopement, but Lisa and Rodney chose to write their own vows which always makes the ceremony personal and unique. Now, if you know me… you know I’m a sucker for a groom that cries! I’m an emotional person by nature, so when Rodney was so choked up during his vows that he had a hard time getting through them, you better believe I was fighting back tears as well!

The couple’s children stood up for them during the ceremony and we got this lovely family photo afterwards:

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Now, if you are like me you’re looking at these pictures and thinking, “ELOPEMENT?” Everything was so pulled together and so well coordinated that you never would have guessed that they pulled this together in just a few weeks!

The happy couple, along with their family and friends, retreated back across the street to the couple’s home for a pig pickin’ reception! Thankfully, they had shelter from the rain because it just did not want to let up that day!

Congratulations Lisa and Rodney! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your very special day!

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Beautiful Springtime Ceremony at the Het Landhuis

The Het Landhuis is one of my very favorite venues, so I was super excited when Julie and Jon contacted me about performing their ceremony there on April 17th of this year. The last wedding I did at the Het Landhuis for Patrick and Beth was an evening wedding in the winter that took place inside the barn, so I was looking forward to my first outdoor ceremony at the venue. Julie and Jon chose to have their ceremony down the lovely stone path at the wooded chapel. What a grand entrance for a bride!

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photo 1(2)Julie did such a fantastic job with the aisle decorations. Each pew had a shepherd’s hook with a mason jar full of colorful flowers that just screamed SPRING IS HERE! (Finally, after such a long winter…) The days leading up to their wedding day had been rainy and cold, so we were all a little unsure of where the ceremony would end up. However, on the big day the skies were blue, the temperature was perfect, and there was just the right amount of breeze.

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Aren’t the white pews just lovely? This trend of pews rather than chairs for outdoor ceremonies is growing in popularity and fortunately the Het Landhuis can provide them for couples so they don’t have to go through an outside rental company.

Julie and Jon had a “Sweet and Simple” ceremony that included a sand ceremony. Julie has a (completely adorable and exceptionally polite) son named Joshua who they wanted to include in the ceremony. He had his own vial of sand to pour and did a perfect job! You could tell Joshua was very excited about his mom’s wedding. He wanted to help however he could!

Following the ceremony the couple took pictures while guests headed down to the water for hors d’oeuvres and champagne. What a gorgeous day!

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The couple insisted that I stay and try one of the amazing red velvet cupcakes… how could I say no? Pretty AND yummy. The perfect combo!

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Julie and Jon shared their first dance before departing with guests for a dinner reception at The Second Empire Restaurant in Raleigh.

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A beautiful day for a beautiful couple!

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“Backyard” Wedding Ceremony in Selma

Now that things are slowing down a little bit (April and May have been NUTS) I figure it is time to catch up on the blog. I have been so fortunate to be a part of some really unique, special, and just plain NEAT wedding ceremonies over the last 6 weeks – and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Matt & Kim contacted me only 10 days prior to their April 6th ceremony. There was a miscommunication with the officiant they had previously hired and they found themselves scrambling for someone at the last minute. I am so glad they found me! In our initial meeting they explained the significance of their wedding date…

Kim’s birthday is 5 / 7

Matt’s birthday is 8 / 9

Their wedding date was 4 / 6

And you guessed it… the ceremony start time was 1:23!

That kind of fun, personalization, and creativity was evident throughout their wedding day! They held the ceremony on Kim’s parents’ property in Selma, NC. I say “Backyard” in quotes, because really it was all over the property! The ceremony was held on a beautifully green patch of grass next to the pond that is along the drive that leads up to the house.

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When I met with Matt and Kim, they had already written their ceremony. They did a lovely job making it very personal, including a reading (“The Art of Marriage”) from Kim’s Aunt Cindy and writing their own vows.

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This was the first time I got to be part of a “Wine Box Ceremony” and I LOVED IT! The couple wrote letters to each other that were sealed. They also had their parents write letters that were sealed. All of the letters, along with a bottle of their favorite wine, are put in a beautiful wooden box and nailed shut during the ceremony. The couple is supposed to display the box in their home as a reminder of their wedding day. The box gets opened, letters read, and wine drunk on their 5th wedding anniversary. Then repeat!

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It was a 3-4 minute walk down the drive to the reception area, but Kim and Matt kept their guests entertained with beautiful arrangements along the way that shared some important dates in their journey!

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And directions in case anyone needed them! 🙂

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The reception was tented in the backyard, but also spread out into the grass with fun games like cornhole!

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Remember those personal touches I mentioned? They were EVERYWHERE!

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In front of the garage were Kim and Matt’s bikes that they love riding together.

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The bouquets were made of broaches given by family and friends. Kim’s dress (pictured above) was worn by her grandmother at her wedding.

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I loved their unique guestbook as well… guests wrote their happy wishes and advice on little wooden hearts that would eventually take their place in the shadow box frame around the wooden tree.

After the wedding the happy couple was off on a cross-country road trip on Historic Route 66! What an awesome honeymoon for a wonderful couple! Thank you guys for letting me share your day!

Kim wrote a wonderful review for me on Wedding Wire: “Katherine is the most wonderful officiant a bride and groom could ask for!! With 10 days until our wedding and our previous officiant bailing we found Katherine here and lucky for us she was available! We quickly met with her and she won us over immediately. She is so personable and genuine. She is totally open to doing the ceremony however you want but will give options and feedback if you need/want it. She is punctual both in person and via email and is always professional. She answered any question we had prior to, the day of, and even after the wedding. Our wedding day would not have been the same without Katherine as our officiant. We are both so happy that things worked out as they did and she was the one to share our day. Book Katherine today!! 🙂 ”

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Interfaith Ceremony at NC Wesleyan College

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On Saturday, April 5th, I officiated my second Jewish-Christian interfaith wedding ceremony. It took place in the quaint Leon Russell Chapel on NC Wesleyan College’s campus on an absolutely perfect spring day! The couple chose lavender and a pastel green as their colors which was just lovely for the season.

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I love interfaith ceremonies, because they are so rich with tradition and culture from each of the couple’s backgrounds. Amber and Ari chose the “Completely Custom” package and I’m so glad they did! They had such an amazing story of how they met, and sharing it during their ceremony hardly left a dry eye in the chapel. The custom package also allowed them to include all of the traditions they wanted, including a chuppah, wine ceremony, unity candle, and breaking the glass. It also included a special remembrance for both the bride and groom’s father, both of whom passed away from lung cancer.

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The chuppah was lovingly made by Amber and her mother. They used PVC pipe to keep it lightweight and easy to move since it was relocated to the reception for pictures following the ceremony. I thought that was pretty smart! During the ceremony, I gave guests the following explanation of the chuppah:

“In front of us is a beautiful chuppah. The chuppah represents the home. Its four poles symbolize the four pillars upon which a strong marriage is built: family, friendship, love and respect. A shelter that is open on all sides we see as an invitation and a sign of welcome to those we love. The chuppah’s delicate structure reminds those beneath it, that the only thing real about a home is the people in it, who love and who choose to be together as a family.”

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During the ceremony, the couple participated in a unity candle ceremony, which is commonly included in Christian wedding ceremonies. There are several ways to do the unity candle, and Amber and Ari chose to leave the original taper flames burning after their unity candle in the middle was lit. For this, I gave the following explanation during the ceremony:

“Although you are now entering into a marriage relationship, you do not, however, lose your personal identity. Rather, you will use your special individuality to create and strengthen the relationship of marriage. Therefore all three candles remain glowing. The individual candles represent all that makes each of you the wonderful and unique person the other admires and respects. The Unity candle in the center symbolizes the union of your lives, families, and friends, as well as your shining commitment to each other, and to a lasting and loving marriage.”

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Following the unity candle was the ring exchange, then the wine ceremony. The wine ceremony is traditionally included in Jewish wedding ceremonies. There are also several ways the wine ceremony can be done – I like to give my couples lots of options! Amber and Ari chose the single goblet that they shared from. I love the closing wording for the wine ceremony done with the single goblet: “As you have shared the wine from this goblet, so may you share your lives. May you find life’s joys heightened, its bitterness sweetened, and all of life enriched by God’s blessings upon you.”

The ceremony was concluded with the traditional Jewish breaking of the glass, which I also explained for guests: “The traditional breaking of the glass which marks the end of the ceremony, is a reminder of both the strength and the fragility of the spiritual bond that is marriage. It is a reminder to appreciate all that we have now, to embrace change, and to always hold the important things in life above all else. As the glass is broken, I invite everyone to shout “Mazel Tov,” which means “congratulations and good luck.”

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There was one hiccup in the ceremony, and that was right before the vows when one of the groomsmen passed out. It was warm in the chapel and the bride suspected he was not well hydrated. After a brief pause to tend to him and call EMS, the ceremony continued. I have to say the bridal party took what could have been a stressful situation and turned it around when they gave bubbles to the paramedics so that they could participate in the fanfare when the couple left the chapel! I know the photographer got some great shots of that!

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Lake Benson Elopement

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Lakeside ceremonies were the theme for me the last week of March and first week of April! Michele and Dave just wanted a small, simple, quick elopement ceremony with only a few family members by their side. We initially planned to have the ceremony in my living room, but since Spring decided to poke it’s head out and say hello that week, we made a last minute change to Lake Benson.

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For a town the size of Garner, they have a really impressive Parks and Recreation department. Lake Benson park is absolutely beautiful and has a lot to offer. It is really at the heart of the community in Garner. If you are interested in getting married there, you should contact the Town of Garner about one of the four shelters available for rent.

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We had to take a picture with Dave’s gnome following the ceremony! Apparently the gnome travels with them wherever they go and they take pictures with him. I was honored to get to hold him!

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I love this family picture of Dave’s brother and his wife, Dave, Michele, her sister and niece. I should point out that Michele had her something new (white pants), something borrowed (bracelet), something old (DAVE!), and something blue (her necklace).

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And of course we had to make it legal! Here are Dave’s brother and Michele’s sister serving as the witnesses on their license (and the gnome!). Congratulations Michele and Dave!

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Chilly Waterside Ceremony at Lake Jordan

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I had the pleasure of marrying Nichole and John in a small, intimate, mid-week ceremony at Lake Jordan on March 26th. The ceremony was attended by just a few family members, including two adorable little two-year olds – John’s daughter and Nichole’s niece. It was a Wednesday so the park was deserted. (And to be honest, I think the temperatures in the 30s may have contributed to that!) Despite being cold, it was a beautiful clear blue-sky day and a beautiful back drop for Nichole and John’s wedding.

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As we stood lakeside, shivering, I tried to go through the ceremony at a little quicker pace than usual. Poor Nichole looked absolutely stunning, but was braving the wind chill to make it through the ceremony while the rest of us were bundled up!

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The family had rented a shelter at the water’s edge for their celebration, but taking the weather into account decided to head somewhere indoors afterwards instead. I can’t say I blame them!

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This wedding was a perfect example of how with a little effort, a small wedding can be really personal and beautiful. They had a lovely location and coordinated the colors in the girl’s dresses and sashes and Nichole’s bouquet with John’s uniform. When put altogether it was really, really nice. If you’re maybe considering a courthouse ceremony but aren’t excited about it, consider something like this instead!

I have to give a shout out to Dart McAdoo at Von Master Videography. He did an awesome job capturing the day (at a really affordable rate!) and was great to work with. All photos in this post were taken by Dart.

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Rainy Blue & Gold Backyard Ceremony

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Have you guys noticed a theme from my blog posts recently? RAIN! That’s what you get with spring in North Carolina…

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Well, it struck again on March 29th for Jessica and Jeff’s backyard ceremony in Raleigh. With a few days to go before the wedding, they realized they were going to need a rain back up plan for what was supposed to be an outdoor ceremony. They ordered a tent for the reception and moved the ceremony inside. When I stepped out their back door and looked out onto a soggy, mud-covered field with a tent sitting in the middle of it…. I’m not gonna lie. I was a little worried! But they knew what they were doing…

Just that morning they spread a dozen hay bails all over the ground under the tent and laid vinyl tiles in a path on the ground leading out to the tent. It worked perfectly to keep guests feet dry and honestly, it added to the atmosphere! When I stepped into the tent my breath was taken away by what a beautiful job they had done. I wish I had snapped some pictures, but hopefully I will get some from their photographer. Their theme was blue & gold (West Virginia fans!) and they did such an awesome job turning the space under the tent into a wedding wonderland. They were married under a blue & gold decorated arch on the dance floor while family sat in chairs in rows up front and friends sat at the round tables meant for the reception later. It was perfect! And such a seamless transition from ceremony to reception.

Their ceremony was living proof that rain does not have to ruin your plans! But with that being said… let’s bring on the sunshine, please!

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