Category: Rehearsal

Priya & Peyton at the Oaks at Salem

 

Photo by JMF Photography

“My husband and I can’t express enough how wonderful Katherine is. She is one of the nicest and sweetest people you will ever meet. She made everything so easy and simple for us. She helped us create an incredibly meaningful, customized ceremony that helped reflect both of our backgrounds… Hindu and Christian, while also focusing on us and our love for one another. Katherine was a pleasure to work with from the moment we met her. Throughout the entire process, Katherine was responsive, attentive and offered feedback on all the questions we had.

Katherine was so engaging and all of my guests felt so comfortable in her presence. She helped guide our ceremony with perfect ease and confidence. Katherine is one of those people who will have an incredibly calming effect on you and any worries or concerns you may have she will quickly take care of. Every time I started to feel overwhelmed or anxious, I could just look at Katherine and she helped make me feel relaxed again.

All the big and small details that come with getting married were made so easy with Katherine’s help and guidance. Katherine did a great job of reminding us about everything throughout the process and even emailed us after our wedding to help with the next steps of changing my name, etc.

The ceremony was exactly what we imagined and everyone in attendance said it was the most unique, heartfelt wedding they have ever been to. We obviously couldn’t have done this without Katherine and we are so lucky to have met her. She helped make one of the most important days of our lives so very special. We will never forget how much she cared in making our day so memorable. We can’t thank her enough and know that you won’t find another officiant as sweet, caring and helpful has Katherine.”

 

Chelsea & Alex in Holly Springs

Chelsea and Alex were married back in May at a beautiful private residence in Holly Springs. We had the rehearsal the night before and their photographers, Into the Sun Photography, were at the rehearsal to do lighting checks and see the space, so we got some fun pictures from that!

It rained on the evening of the rehearsal and all forecasts for Saturday pointed to rain, rain, and more RAIN! Lucky for us, this is what it looked like on the wedding day…

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Perfection! Our back up plan of the reception tent was totally unnecessary. Chelsea and Alex put a lot of work into the details of their day and I enjoyed walking around and snapping pics before the ceremony.

Chelsea is a horse lover (there were even references to how much time she spends at the barn in Alex’s vows!), so these horseshoe favors were fitting!

Chelsea’s mom told me she searched high and low for a “cake tent” to keep the bugs off the cake in the hours leading up to cake-cutting time. When she had no luck she made her own, using tulle and coat hangers! I thought it was brilliant!

The following images from the ceremony are by Into the Sun Photography.

Chelsea and Alex included a handfasting in their ceremony, which is probably my favorite ritual. It is based in Celtic and Scandinavian tradition and is where we get the term, “tying the knot.” The couple chose cords of ivory and blue to represent clean beginnings and fidelity and trust.

Following the ceremony, Chelsea’s best man and maid of honor signed the license to make it legal!

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Alex and Chelsea were kind enough to leave this review on Wedding Wire:

“There’s a reason Katherine has 67 5-star reviews! We set up two meetings with potential officiants and canceled the 2nd one immediately upon talking to Katherine. She’s organized, flexible, and a great writer and speaker. Planning a wedding can be stressful and difficult, but thanks to Katherine the rehearsal and ceremony were easy to put together!”

They also left this review on Google:

“We’re very happy about how well our ceremony went, and that was in large part thanks to Katherine. By the day of, we were stressed and tired and nervous, and she was calm and organized and thoughtful. For preparation, for the rehearsal, and for the wedding itself, Katherine was fantastic and we highly recommend her!”

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Andy & Julie at the Page-Walker House

Andy and Julie were married last month at the Page-Walker House in Cary. Also known as the Page-Walker Hotel or the Page-Walker Arts and History Center. It was built in 1868 as a railroad hotel and it sits right next to the tracks near downtown Cary. It has an interesting history and now many interesting uses – including weddings!

I met with Andy, Julie, and Julie’s daughter Lauren after a wedding on Easter afternoon to do a quick rehearsal. It was a little rainy and cold, but it gave us a chance to talk through the logistics of the day.

These big beautiful trees were in bloom around the garden. They looked kind of like Cherry Blossoms, but I’m not sure what they were.

The day of their wedding started out rainy as well, but fortunately by the time the ceremony started we had nothing but blue skies and big pretty white clouds!

Andy and Julie chose to include a sand ceremony ritual, so that Lauren could be part of the wedding. She was also the flower girl!

I often get asked by couples doing a sand ceremony what kind of table they need. This is a perfect example of using something simple that you already have. This little white folding table is just right and adding a bow on each side made it wedding-ready. Definitely look around your house or ask a friend or family member if you can borrow something before you buy a new table.

After the ceremony guests were off to celebrate with a reception in the gallery! I thought this was a great set up with the buffet line and bar in the hallway leading into the gallery. I have also seen the reception set up in the courtyard outside (very first pic in the post).

And I had to share a picture of their cute favors: “Mint to Be!” and beautiful wedding cake.

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On the previous Sunday when we rehearsed we talked about the possibility of moving the ceremony inside, just in case of rain. This large room is on the third floor of the Page-Walker House and with a nice fireplace at the front of the room, it would convert nicely into a back-up ceremony space. The capacity is only 60 though, so really just an option for smaller weddings.

Congratulations Andy & Julie! Your wedding day was beautiful and I’m wishing you all the best!

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Cory & Robert at Montague Lake

I get excited for pretty much every inquiry I get, but I get EXTRA excited when the wedding will be held at a venue I haven’t been to before. That is really such a fun part of this job, getting to see all these really unique, beautiful places all over NC! So when Cory and Robert contacted me about their ceremony and told me their wedding would be held at Montague Lake, I was intrigued! Only a short 15-minute drive from me and I hadn’t even heard of it!

Now that I have seen the venue, I can tell you they found a real hidden gem. Located on Penny Road, just minutes from Raleigh, Cary, Garner, or Fuquay-Varina, it couldn’t be more convenient.

The property is sitting right on the lake and boasts a dreamy bridge (perfect for pictures!), a dock over the water with lots of benches, a play ground for kids, a covered shelter with electricity, bathrooms, and a small kitchen. The area around the shelter has a deck and is well-shaded.

You can see there was more than enough space for Cory and Robert’s 70ish guests to be seated, and really I think you could comfortably fit 120 or so.

There were lots of lovely, simple decorations. And look at that spread! Catering was done by Neomonde!

I’m not sure if this was built specifically with weddings in mind, but it sure does seem that way with this little deck that juts out right in the center of the shelter. It was perfect for Cory, Robert, and I to stand flanked by 5 bridesmaids and 5 groomsmen. We did a quick run-through with the bridal party about an hour before the ceremony, since we didn’t have a formal rehearsal. I joked with Cory and Robert’s photographer that she should take up wedding coordinating as well. She was very helpful getting everyone where they needed to be at the right time!

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Cory and Robert chose a “Sweet & Simple” ceremony and included the increasingly-popular wine box ceremony. They chose to open the box on their 5th anniversary.

The couple and bridal party took pictures while their witnesses signed the license. They chose to have their moms sign the license, which is always such a sweet touch!

This was the first ceremony I did with my new sound set up and I was SO happy with how it performed compared to my last system. Much less sensitive – I had NO feedback at all – and robust sound. I stuck around for a little while so that a friend could sing the bride and groom into the reception with a special song, and so that some younger guests to give a toast. The music for the ceremony was played through it via bluetooth and a guest’s cell phone and that worked great too.

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Cory & Robert left this sweet review for me on Wedding Wire: “Katherine is wonderful! My husband and I are an extremely busy couple who put together a wedding in just over 2 months. We went into planning the ceremony with very little knowledge of what to do/expect going into it. Katherine walked us through everything and helped with planning and organizing the ceremony. She brought up things I wouldn’t have even thought of on my own and helped us pull together a beautiful, elegant ceremony. Most of my guests have told me how great the ceremony was and how Katherine’s words were just perfect for our ceremony. I really don’t know what we would have done without her! I highly recommend Katherine to any couple looking for an officiant, whether you have an outline of what you want to say/do, or you have no idea how to put together a wedding ceremony.”

Congratulations you two!

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Kristina & Adam’s Avengers Wedding!

Kristina and Adam were married all the way back on Leap Day!

Adam’s mother Jody first contacted me about marrying he and Kristina. One of her first questions in our initial phone call was, “Will you wear a black eye patch?” They were planning to have an Avengers themed wedding and I would be playing the part of Nick Fury. How fun!

 

Their event took place at Brick & Mortar events in CLAYTON. Not to be confused with Brick & Mortar Grill in ANGIER. I found this out the hard way on the day of their rehearsal and for the first time in three years I was late to a wedding-related event! Ack! Thankfully Kristina was sweet as could be on the phone when we figured out why I wasn’t seeing anyone… I believe her exact quote was, “It’s fine, I’m not a bridezilla!”

The venue is really beautiful with one wall of windows, the others of exposed brick, and all this pre-lit tule hanging and draped means you don’t really have to do much decorating. Adam’s dad built this cross as the backdrop for the ceremony!

They did such an awesome job with the details… from the invitation asking guests to wear all black, to the favors and the cupcakes!

The subject of unplugged ceremonies comes up in all of my meetings now, as often couples would like me to make the statement asking guests to put away their camera and phones. Kristina and Adam went a step farther than I had seen before, asking guests to please refrain from posting pictures to social media until they had a chance to first. I think this will eventually become common wedding etiquette!

Each member of the bridal party wore black (except the bride!) and accessorized according to their Avenger’s color. The bridesmaid bouquets were then used to supplement the table centerpieces. Smart!

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Photo by Marcia Wakelyn

This is a better picture of the whole bridal party. You can see the bride carried Thor’s hammer instead of a bouquet. One of my favorite moments in the ceremony was when Kristina effortlessly handed the hammer off to her maid of honor, who promptly dropped it to the ground as if it was SO heavy!

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Photo by Marcia Wakelyn

When I was brainstorming with Kristina and Adam about which ceremony ritual they would like to include, Kristina suggested a unity candle ceremony, but that included all of their guests. I LOVED the idea and added this wording:

“A strong marriage needs the support of a community. As the flame symbolizing Kristina and Adam’s love spreads throughout the room, please take a moment to say a silent wish, prayer, or blessing for the couple. The warm glow from these combined flames represents your promise, as friends and family of the bride and groom, to support them in their marriage, loving them, and encouraging their love for each other.”

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Photos by Marcia Wakelyn

After we paused and waited for everyone’s candle to be lit, I said the closing prayer with the ending line, “Lord, help them to keep lit the torch of love that they now share, so that they may pass on that love to all of their family and friends. Now and forevermore, Amen.” Then I blew out my candle and bridal party and guests followed. This quickly became one of my most favorite ceremony rituals.

Photos by Marcia Wakelyn

Kristina and Adam left this lovely review for me on Wedding Wire:

“Katherine is so professional, knowledgeable, and so easy to talk to. I was so nervous trying to find the right officiant, but she eased my mind so well. She was able to work with my crazy schedule before the wedding. She thinks of great ideas, and didn’t think any of mine were odd. I had an avengers themed wedding, and she thought of great ideas to go with it. I don’t know of any other officiant that would wear an eye patch to your wedding. 🙂 Thanks Katherine!!”

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Photo by Marcia Wakelyn

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A Pink and Blue Wedding by the Sea

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I love weddings and I love the beach, so I was in heaven on October 26th when I had the honor of marrying Ginny and Robbie on Carolina Beach. The happy couple couldn’t have asked for better weather… 65 degrees, sunny, and a light breeze. They had the help of Beachside Occasions to transform the beach in front of the Marriott into a wedding oasis. It was absolutely beautiful!

beachside setup

The start to the weekend was quite a bit chillier… 50 degrees and SUPER windy on Friday for the rehearsal. We got through the ceremony one time when the maid of honor asked, “Can we run through it again?” This caused some moaning and groaning among the rest of the bridal party (I don’t think any of us were prepared for that chilly weather), but she took the words right out of my mouth! I always like to run through twice. The first time there is a lot of pausing, instructing, and explaining. The second time through should be quick and smooth, like the wedding day!

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The ceremony itself was wonderful! Ginny and Robbie chose the “completely custom” package, so every word was chosen with them in mind. They played a very big role in the crafting of the ceremony over the course of several weeks until it was perfect. They also chose to write their own vows, which made it even more personal. My favorite part of the day was the shell casting ceremony, which is a relatively new and VERY cool addition to a beach wedding.

As with all wedding rituals, there are different ways to handle it for your specific setup. Ginny and Robbie chose to place programs on each seat, with a seashell on top holding it down. They had walked the beach and hand picked the shells themselves earlier in the week. (How sweet!) As the officiant, my role was to explain the tradition at the start of the ceremony, and to give instruction at the end.

On your seat when you arrived was a seashell. Ginny and Robbie ask that you hold the seashell in your hands during their ceremony and make a silent wish, prayer, or blessing for their marriage. At the end of their ceremony today, we will participate in a shell casting together.

The rest of the ceremony continued as usual, and at the end I said, “Ginny and Robbie ask that you join them at the water’s edge so that we may cast our shells into the sea together. When the bridal party recesses, please follow them and wait for the cue to cast your shell.”

Down by the water, the photographer took over with lining up guests and giving the cue at the perfect moment for that perfect shot. Another option for this ceremony is to have the guests pick out the shells themselves. This would work better with a smaller guest list.

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The happy couple took off the next morning for a honeymoon adventure, traveling from the sea to the mountains of North Carolina. Asheville and the Biltmore Estate were on their list of must-visit places. There is no better time of year! Congratulations Ginny and Robbie!

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I am an ordained minister available for spiritual, Christian, non-denominational, interfaith, and civil or non-religious wedding ceremonies. I am based in Garner, North Carolina and serve the surrounding area, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Clayton, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Wendell, and Knightdale.

Yes! You can coordinate your own rehearsal.

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Most wedding coordinators will include running the ceremony rehearsal in their packages. In these cases, they help you organize your family and bridal party, practice the processional and recessional, and do a quick read-through of the ceremony. If your coordinator does not take on this task, or if you don’t have a coordinator, you can do it yourself!

Coordinating your own rehearsal can be a big budget saver! While it is my practice to always attend rehearsals at no charge, I do have a fee for coordinating a rehearsal. Many officiants charge several hundred dollars just to attend a rehearsal, and even then explicitly state that they will not run the rehearsal once there. You can see how putting some time, effort, and planning into your rehearsal ahead of time can be worth the extra savings. (On the other hand, you may be a bride with a to-do list a mile long and would rather pay someone to coordinate. That is why that option is there!)

Coordinate Your Rehearsal Collage

I will link to some great resources at the bottom of this post, but here are a few REHEARSAL RULES OF THUMB:

  • Begin with introductions. While everyone knows the bride or groom, not everyone will know each other! Take a few minutes to introduce everyone and how they know the couple.
  • Make announcements. You have everyone together in one place – this is the perfect time to share last minute information about the wedding day (where and when to arrive, when photographs will be taken, etc…)
  • Start with placement at the front. Show everyone how you would like them lined up, and what angle to stand (facing the bride and groom, but angled towards the guests). Ladies, remember to hold your flowers low! Gentlemen stand with left hand over right.
  • Practice the recessional. It seems counter-intuitive, but since you have everyone at the front, go ahead and practice how you will recess. Also important is where everyone goes after you recess. Avoid a confusing jumble at the end of the aisle. Will you have a receiving line? If yes, practice where everyone should line up, and in what order.
  • Practice the processional. Remind your bridal party to pace themselves and avoid racing up the aisle. It is helpful to have a landmark for when the next person should go (i.e. the fifth pew, the curve in the path, etc…) if you don’t have someone at the back to cue them, or music cues to follow.
  • Run through the ceremony. Once everyone is back at the front, go through the “action items” of your ceremony. These can include the giving away, dress fluffing, passing of flowers, readings, any repeat-after-me or question/answer portions, the ring exchange, and the kiss. Basically, anything that requires someone other than the officiant to DO or SAY something. (Note: When I ATTEND a rehearsal, this is the part where I take over)
  • Go through the whole thing start to finish one time.
  • You’re done!

Some additional tips:

  • Ensure all essential parties are present. This of course includes your bridal party and anyone playing a role in the wedding. If there are children or a musician involved, having them participate in the rehearsal is a must!
  • Do the prep work beforehand. Know the order of the bridesmaids and groomsmen, how they will pair up, what music (if any) you will use, how you want the music timed out, where you want parents and grandparents to sit, who will usher who, etc, etc… If you are trying to figure all of that out during the rehearsal, it can turn into a bit of a mess. On the other hand if you have this all planned out (and written down!) you will have a quick and easy rehearsal! (Note: When I COORDINATE a rehearsal, I ask you a few questions in advance, then I take care of this part)
  • If there are any special ceremony elements like a sand ceremony, ring warming, unity candle, etc… you should have those props available at the rehearsal so you can practice.
  • Stress the importance of being ON TIME. I know this is hard and a bit out of your control, but an efficient rehearsal really shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. When people arrive late, or the prep work isn’t done, that can easily stretch to an hour or more. That really becomes a problem if you have a rehearsal dinner scheduled for after!

Other great resources:

Step-by-step rehearsal guide

10 Tips for a more effective rehearsal

How to organize a wedding party

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