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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A Chinese New Year Wedding at the Het Landhuis

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I had the pleasure of marrying a wonderful couple on Friday, January 31st at the Het Landhuis in Pittsboro. If you aren’t familiar with that venue, check out their website here. There are so many cool things about the Het Landhuis, it is hard to know where to start! I think what I like most is that this is really like 6 or 8 venues in one! There are a number of really beautiful spots to get married on the property, including the veranda near the pond, the under the huge pecan tree, in front of one of the historic guest houses, inside the barn, or on the lawn beside the barn in front of the massive gates… so many choices! There are both indoor and outdoor cocktail hour and reception options as well.

photo(2)_editedThe Barn nearing sunset.

I also LOVE that this is a family operation! The property has been in the family for 14 years and has been lovingly restored over that time. Lisa, the owner, is wonderful to work with and Beth, her sister, is available as a day-of coordinator for your big day! Their father did all of the absolutely breathtaking iron work on the property. It is really such a cool place. There are a lot of neat little touches as well, like the engraved bricks found throughout the property, one for each couple that was married there. Couples also receive a bottle of wine made from grapes grown on the property! You can tell a lot of thought and personal unique touches go into each wedding here.

It was actually day-of coordinator Beth and her fiance, Patrick, who I was honored to marry on the 31st. They chose the upstairs of the barn for a small family event, utilizing the space for both their ceremony and reception. They incorporated a Chinese New Year theme with Chinese food for the reception, gorgeous decorations including Chinese fans and Japanese lanterns, cute little favor boxes made from chinese take out boxes, and a really yummy almond cookie stick from Korea called “Pepero.” (I ate more than one of those!)

Boyd Tillett 1 31 14Me and the happy couple after the ceremony.

I think by far my favorite part of the evening was when Beth and Patrick recessed (danced, rather!) down the aisle to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On!” I do love a fun recessional. Its a celebration, right?!

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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.

A Holiday Elopement!

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The time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s day is known as “engagement season” in the wedding business. And yes, it’s true that many couples choose this time, while surrounded by family, friends, and warm fuzzy holiday feelings, to take their relationship to the next level with an engagement ring. What many officiants know, however, is that it should be called, “elopement season!” For many of the same reasons people choose to get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, many choose to go ahead and tie the knot.

On Friday, December 6th, I had one couple ready to do just that, and they took full advantage of the Christmas spirit! They got married in front of the town of Apex’s Christmas tree on beautiful, historic Salem Street. They chose the night of the town’s Christmas tree lighting, so the whole street was alive with activity, including horse drawn carriages, hundreds of people bundled up enjoying the lights and decorations, Mr. and Mrs. Claus make their rounds, and of course the highlight of the event, the huge lit up Christmas tree in front of the Chamber of Commerce building. The bride was a Gilmore Girls fan and described the scene as, “her own Stars Hollow!” I just loved that!Apex Tree Lighting

The ceremony itself was short and sweet, but shared bits of their love story and how they got to this point in their lives. The couple had grown children who were there for the ceremony and the whole family was bursting with love and joy. It was obviously a very happy occasion for everyone involved. The bride’s daughter-in-law surprised her with a beautiful bouquet of white flowers and rust-colored hypericum berries, absolutely perfect for the holiday event. And of course, their first kiss was sealed under the mistletoe! The family stayed after to enjoy some white wedding cupcakes in celebration, by the light of the Christmas tree. What a magical evening!

Apex elopement

Are you planning a holiday wedding?

The holidays can be a budget-friendly time to get married if you’re looking to save on decorations. Many wedding venues including historic homes, bed and breakfasts, and inns will have already decorated for the holidays and won’t need anything else in the way of wedding decor. Even if you are decorating a venue yourself, plants associated with the holidays like poinsettias, fresh garland, and holly are typically much less expensive than traditional wedding floral arrangements. If you are willing to brave the cold, outdoor locations such as a historic main street lit up for Christmas, or in front of your town’s Christmas tree make for great holiday wedding pictures.

Having a string quartet or pianist playing classical Christmas carols before the ceremony is a nice way to set the holiday mood for your guests. Likewise, playing more upbeat, modern Christmas music during cocktail hour keeps the theme going, but gets guests ready for the party! This website has some great ideas for both traditional and modern Christmas music to be played during different parts of the celebration.

Happy Holidays!

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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.

Keep Your Wedding Local: Garner, NC Wedding Venues

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This post first appeared as a guest blog over at Garner, NC: A Great Place to Be! Thanks Cassondra!

Keep Your Wedding Local: Garner, NC Wedding Venues

There is such an emphasis these days on buying local to help boost the economy. There is no reason why this idea has to stop when it comes to your wedding. There are wedding venues to suit every bride’s style right here in Garner!

Rand Bryan House

The Historic Home
The Rand-Bryan House is located on Highway 50 in Garner. You may have seen it, looking picturesque at the top of the hill, nestled among acres of Christmas trees. The land surrounding the house has a rich history, dating back to the 1700s, and the Rand-Bryan House itself was built in 1871. Renovations to turn the home into an event venue began in 2008. There are several locations on the scenic property – both indoor and outdoor – to host both your ceremony and reception.  Tables and chairs are available for rent through the venue. The Rand-Bryan house and grounds can accommodate almost any size wedding!  (For more information visit:

The Elegant Ballroom and GardensHall and Gardens at Landmark
The Hall at Landmark almost sneaks up on you at the intersection of Highway 42 and Cleveland Road in Garner. Hidden behind the enchanting structure are lush gardens just waiting for your dream ceremony! The Hall at Landmark also offers the Marie Antoinette Grand Ballroom and Napoleon Bonaparte Cigar Lounge. And to enhance the elegance of your event, gold Chiavari wedding chairs, white garden chairs, ivory or gold table cloths, and a French parquet dance floor are all available for rent. The gardens are a fantastic spot for wedding portraits! (For more information visit:

The Green Nature CenterWhite Deer Park Nature Center
Lake Benson and White Deer Park are anchors of our community, hosting events and providing recreation for citizens year-round. They are also the perfect spot to have your “green” wedding! Many locations within the parks are available for rent, including the amphitheater at Lake Benson and the Nature Center and deck at White Deer Park. The Nature Center is a LEED Certified “Green Building” and has many environmentally friendly features, most beautiful of which are the 100-year old reclaimed wood floors that came from the homestead that was on the property before the park. Another beautiful feature are the floor-to-ceiling windows on three walls! Park staff are always on site during rentals to help. (For more information visit:

Blog signatureI 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.

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!


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.


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.

An Autumn Backyard Wedding + Ring Warming Ceremony

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I love an autumn wedding! I was married in October and took the seasonal theme as far as I could with oranges, browns, and yellows… pumpkins, hay bails, and burlap… caramel apples, barbeque pork, and s’mores around a campfire. You get the idea!

On Saturday, October 5th, 2013 I was fortunate enough to officiate a beautiful autumn wedding in the high country of North Carolina. There is no better place to be in the fall, is there? Lindsay and Evan chose to have their ceremony and reception in Evan’s parent’s beautifully landscaped backyard. A covered deck was finished just for the event, and Evan’s mother, Porsha, used reclaimed objects from an old family barn, as well as accents of wicker, burlap, and mason jars to completely transform the area.

Lindsay wedding collage

The couple chose to incorporate a beautiful, intimate tradition into their wedding called a ring warming ceremony (or, “warming of the rings”). In a ring warming ceremony, the officiant lets guests know at the beginning of the ceremony that the rings are making their way through the assembled guests. Guests are asked to hold the rings for a moment, say a silent wish, prayer, or blessing for the couple, and pass the rings to the next guest. The rings make their way to the front and are brought forward when the officiant asks for them. It is a beautiful way to involve all of your guests in your ceremony!

Ring Warming

A few options for ring warming wording:

Option 1 from The Wedding Gurus

Option 2 includes logistics

Option 3 with a family twist + video link

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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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