Category: Saving Money

Jason and Sarah in Raleigh

Jason and Sarah were married in a sweet, intimate, elopement ceremony at Jason’s parents’ home in Raleigh in early May.

The original plan had been to have the ceremony out on the back deck. I admit that would have been pretty amazing, as it was a large, beautiful deck hidden among a thick grove of trees. However, mother nature had other plans that day as it was absolutely pouring when I arrived!

The back up plan was this charming set up in the living room. I loved how everything coordinated with the purple and white. The monogrammed cake and matching napkins were some of those little details that show how special a wedding is, no matter how small the guest count!


The couple chose a short, non-religious ceremony that they felt represented their relationship well. I know their parents were a little concerned that there would be no mention of God, but Jason’s mother came to me with tears in her eyes after the ceremony. She told me she didn’t know a non-religious ceremony could be so beautiful!

Because there was no bridal party, the couple just had two close friends in attendance to sign the marriage license following the ceremony. This is almost always seen as an honor by those who are asked, so consider that when choosing!

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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.


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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Henginey & Cesar Backyard Ceremony

I’m blogging a little out of order today! Let’s skip ahead from Kristy & Dylan’s backyard ceremony in March to Henginey & Cesar’s backyard ceremony in April! Both couples were blessed with gorgeous weather for their day.

IMG_0427The sky was blue, sun was shining, and there was a cool spring breeze! The patch of bloomed azaleas in the back yard was the perfect back drop for this intimate at-home ceremony.

Henginey’s sister did much of the planning and decorating and found much of her inspiration on Pinterest. I loved the details!


The couple chose the Elegant Elopement package because the ceremony was short notice… about two weeks. And they had just a handful of family there. This is the perfect scenario for the elopement package. They chose one of the Christian non-denominational ceremony options that is about 5-6 minutes long. It includes all of the traditional ceremony elements like exchanging rings, saying vows, and of course the “I dos!”


If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I love when moms sign the license! And they love it too! Cesar and Henginey let their moms do the honors.


Then it was time to celebrate and eat cake! Mmmmm look at that cake!

Congratulations Henginey & Cesar! The bride’s sister was kind enough to leave this comment for me on facebook: “Thank you to all to all the ladies who recommended Katherine Edwards. She was absolutely wonderful. We were all so pleased with her patience and beautiful words… My sister and brother in law were so happy with how comfortable she made them feel during the ceremony… Thanks a million!”

Congratulations you two!

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Backyards & Burlap!

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One of the fun parts of this job is getting to see wedding trends as they are unfolding. I start to see more and and more of something until it is obvious that it is becoming “the thing!” to have or do at your wedding. Two trends that were very apparent in the spring of 2014 were backyards and burlap! I saw so many backyard ceremonies that were just so beautifully done! And Megan & Wade’s ceremony was no exception!

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The couple chose the backyard of Wade’s parents in Raleigh for their big day. A small grassy patch was the perfect spot for the ceremony, while a spacious deck and pool area left plenty of room for the reception. It was evident that Wade’s parents had put a lot of work into making their home and yard “wedding ready!” Everything was beautiful.

There are a lot of benefits to having a backyard wedding. The most obvious is, of course, the savings! Wedding venues usually aren’t cheap, even if they are specific to just the ceremony or just the reception. One major benefit most couples don’t even think about is TIME. Sweet, precious time. When you have the ceremony and/or reception at your home or that of a loved one, there are no timelines to stick to or deadlines to get out by. This is a dream-come-true for a DIYer who has lots of projects to complete or needs lots of time to setup. This one thing can lead to a lower-stress wedding day.

And of course, we can’t forget the burlap! I’m seeing burlap all over the place and I love it! It can be used in so many ways, from a warm autumn-y rustic feel like Lindsay & Evan’s October wedding to a fun spring-y feel like Crystal & Brad’s April ceremony. Megan and Wade incorporated it with lace and lots of ivory and white accents that gave a very nice “summer rustic” feel.

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The ceremony itself was very short and sweet! Neither Megan or Wade were thrilled about standing up in front of a crowd or having to speak, so we kept it to the basics and did not include any readings or additional rituals. When it was all over and the witnesses were signing the license, I asked Megan if it felt like it was over in the blink of an eye. She laughed and said yes, but that it was a good thing!

I could tell this was going to be a fun reception from all the conversations I overheard. LOTS of old friends seeing each other again for the first time in years. I loved all the hugging and shrieks of surprise and excitement when people saw each other.


Megan was kind enough to leave this review for me on Wedding Wire:

“I had Katherine officiate my wedding on 5/17/14. She was amazing.
I live in a different state than my wedding and it was no problem for Katherine to help me over emails and video chats! She responded quickly to everything I needed. She has great guidelines but lets you have the exact ceremony you dreamed of. She was very professional.

Katherine was very helpful at one of the most stressful times in a persons life. I would recommend her to anyone!”

Thank you, Megan and Wade! I SO enjoyed being a part of your wedding day. Congratulations!

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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.

Bubolz lake jordan

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 Day Wedding at Lake Wheeler

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Lisa and Josh braved the elements on Sunday, March 23rd to get married at Lake Wheeler in Raleigh. The Saturday before was gorgeous, sunny and 75 degrees, but a cold front brought rain and cold temps overnight and into Sunday. The happy couple didn’t let that put a “damper” on their big day though, and everything went off without a hitch. Of course, a lot of that has to do with a good rain backup plan! The conference room, veranda, and deck at Lake Wheeler can all be rented through the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department. One nice thing about this spot is there is a big shaded playground just behind the main building, which is GREAT for weddings with a lot of kids who will want to run wild during the reception.

Lake Wheeler complex

While the original plan was to have the ceremony on the deck, it was easy enough to move everything to inside the conference room. The couple and family were still able to use the covered veranda for their photos, so they had the tranquil lake in the background, which will turn out beautifully!

Lake Wheeler Deck

There is one other spot at in Lake Wheeler Park I wanted to share… there is a little outdoor amphitheater in the middle of one of the parking areas on the left as soon as you enter the park. While this area can’t be formally rented through the city, it is “first come, first served” and would be a great option for the couple on a tight budget and with a small guest list. The only downside is that it is literally in the middle of the parking lot, so you would have cars all around you during the ceremony. On a quiet day like Sunday though, that wouldn’t be an issue. I am told this was an Eagle Scout project. Nicely done!

Lake Wheeler chapel


Congratulations to Lisa and Josh!

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New Wedding Venue in Clayton!

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If you guys were excited about the Photography Special for small weddings I shared last month from Maya Ana Photography, you’ll be thrilled to hear about a brand new wedding venue located in Clayton that is just perfect for ceremonies with 25 or fewer guests! You may have noticed the gorgeous, historic Finch-Lee house while driving by the corner of Cleveland Road and McLemore Road in Garner. That’s how I found it! My first thought was, “WOW! That should be a wedding venue!” And lucky for all you soon-to-be-brides, now it is! The historic home houses Brandi K. Autry Photography & Design. They also offer wedding planning and coordinating! This affordable package is perfect for the couple who wants a small, intimate wedding, but doesn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a venue, set up/clean up, chairs, etc…


Jayme is their wedding coordinator and she was kind enough to give me a tour of the Finch-Lee house back in January. Even though it was a very yucky, cold, rainy day, the beauty and history of the house just shone through! I love any venue that offers brides several choices for their ceremony location. The Finch-Lee house does just that with both indoor and outdoor ceremony locations, including in front of a grand fireplace inside the house or under the massive gorgeous tree on the front lawn. With such a beautiful backdrop, minimal decorations are needed to personalize the space for your big day.

If you are interested in learning more about the Finch-Lee house and booking a wedding there, contact Jayme at or give them a call at (919) 772-2040. More info about the package will be up on their website in the coming weeks.

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Photography Special!

I get a lot of requests for smaller weddings. Many couples opt out of a grand affair, instead choosing smaller, more intimate venues, restaurants, parks, or even pretty back yards for their special day. A frustration that I frequently hear from these couples is that most wedding vendors are catered towards the bigger weddings. It is hard to find chair and linen rentals in smaller numbers, venues that don’t boast capacities of 100+ people, and a wedding photographer who will shoot the ceremony while staying within a smaller wedding budget.

I have been so pleased that over the last several weeks I have been able to tell my couples about Amber Watson at Maya Ana Photography. Amber is an immensely talented photographer who has come to the rescue of my couples searching for professional photography for their small wedding. Amber is offering three incredibly affordable packages just for my couples!

Photography special

If you are interested in booking Amber’s services for your wedding, contact her directly through her website: Maya Ana Photography, and let her know that Katherine Edwards is your officiant!

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What Are You Paying For?

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One of the most common things officiants hear is, “We only want a short ceremony… 15-20 minutes.” I think it is important that couples understand that their fee goes towards much more than the 20-minute ceremony. As an officiant, my job includes:

  • All of my initial communication with you, which usually includes a number of emails or phone calls. (15-30 minutes)
  • An in-person meeting where we discuss ceremony details and preferences, the contract, etc… (30-60 minutes)
  • The preparation of your ceremony, which can include a number of drafts being sent back and forth until everything is perfect. I also read through your ceremony out loud from start to finish several times in the days leading up to your wedding to ensure that everything flows nicely. (1-3 hours, depending on the package selected)
  • I attend your rehearsal whenever possible so that I can familiarize myself with the venue, meet the bridal party and parents, and walk you through any “action items” during their ceremony so we are all comfortable on the big day! (1-2 hours, depending on travel time)
  • I arrive at your ceremony venue at least a half-hour early on your wedding day to ensure I am ready to go. I also touch base with your coordinator and photographer before the ceremony starts. If I am using a wireless mic, I work with the DJ to set that up and do a sound check. (30 minutes)
  • And of course, officiating your ceremony! As mentioned above, the ceremony itself usually lasts 15-20 minutes. If things are running a little late, that 15-20 minutes quickly turns into 30. After the ceremony, I collect signatures of witnesses on your marriage license and stick around for pictures, if desired. (1 – 3 hours, including & depending on travel time)
  • After your ceremony, I scan a copy of your completed license for my records and email a copy to you as well. I submit your license to the Register of Deeds, including your request and payment for a certified copy, if desired. (15-30 minutes)

So you can see that your fee is an investment in my time (which adds up quickly to much, much more than 15-20 minutes) and an investment in getting your perfect wedding ceremony!

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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, Apex, 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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