Oorah Celebration

Missouri is a long way from the Outer Banks, but that’s exactly where Ashlee’s parents loaded the truck with chairs, food, and decorations for the long journey. It would be one of the biggest days in their family’s life. Destination: Kill Devil Hills. Maybe an appropriately named town to be married in for two Marine soldiers. It was a wedding I will never forget.

It’s unlikely I’ll ever perform another wedding for two marine soldiers while standing in the middle of the two most wonderful flags in the whole world. But there we were, celebrating an amazing moment next to the Atlantic ocean with powerful rain clouds on all sides of us. It was Awesome!

Ashlee and Shane met over in Okinawa, Japan, while serving our nation. They actually met on the very first day Ashlee arrived on base there in Japan. After their first get-together/date at a local Subway, Shane says they were inseparable.

Somehow I was the lucky guy who got to stand with them on July 4th and guide them through their vows of marriage. It was a nice intimate wedding with about 20 guests, and some very happy and proud tears. I especially hit it off great with Ashlee’s parents and her uncles. They welcomed me into this huge life moment as if I were truly family.

Ashlee and Shane had a big celebration back home a week or two after their beach wedding for all the family and friends that couldn’t be at the wedding. I love this shot of them holding a special OBX blanket that someone made for them. How cool?!

I have a very special place in my heart for those who have served in the military. My one big regret in life is that I didn’t inlist as a Marine. So to stand with two who did, and love them through their wedding day was Very special to me. Oorah!

*** All photos were taken by Ashlee’s Uncle Brian: “On Scene Photography” ***

Taking the Plunge … Seriously.

They knew right from the start! That’s exactly what Marley and Chad told me. They knew from the very beginning that ‘This Was It’. I love hearing stories like that. We all have a romantic side to us that wants to believe in that magical destiny that draws us to our soulmate.

So, of course, Marley and Chad decided to have a destination wedding on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was a very warm summer afternoon when I arrived in Duck to meet up with them and their families. Chad was so cool about wanting to make everything just right and special for Marley. After some last minute details, we all made our way down to the beach, got in place, and there on the dune appeared Marley with her bouquet in one hand and her father in the other. She’s just a natural beauty and the whole beach stopped what they were doing to watch her make her way down to where Chad and I were standing with their kids.

The ceremony was going really well with a good mix of honor and laughter. One of the elements of the ceremony was the following note they wrote:

“Our relationship has been unconventional from the start. We both had kids already and our dates included the three of them. But something just felt right. From Day 1 we started making plans to be a family together. We truly have become a family. I love how safe and taken care of he makes me feel everyday. We both had some pretty rough roads until we met each other and just vowed to always laugh and love no matter what. We will continue to do that as husband and wife!”

They shared their vows, exchanged some beautiful rings, and then enjoyed the Sand Ceremony along with their children. It’s one of the most meaningful ways to include kids in a wedding ceremony, and what a wonderful keepsake from the big day.

Well, here’s where we get to the part of this story that caused me to want to blog it. No one knew! Not one person! I pronounced them “Husband and Wife” and then they kissed like I have seen so many times. As they are kissing, I’m getting ready to make the transition to the Presentation, and just as I am…wait….what….are you kidding!!! As soon as they kissed, they stared at each other for a split second and then bolted for the ocean; and I mean BOLTED!

We were all in awe as Marley and Chad took the plunge, literally, into the Atlantic ocean. Needless to say there was no recessional in the ceremony that day. Everyone was laughing and snapping pics with their cell phones. I just remember being stunned, thinking, “They really did it!” Everyone has their own style, but my hat is off to Marley and Chad. They will forever laugh and smile when they think about The Plunge they took on their wedding day. Amazing!!!

Photo Credits to Artz Photography


Last week I performed a wedding up in the 4×4 area north of Corolla. The only road up there is the sand on the beach! It’s very beautiful and famous for the horses that roam free up there on the beach. The wedding was about to start and a Sheriff rolls up just behind the ceremony arch, calling me over to find out how long the ceremony will be. I told him about 20 minutes and he was ok with that, concerned about the upcoming tide. I walked back to my spot next to the groom under the arch who immediately said loud enough for everyone to hear, “Are they going to arrest me?”

The wedding went great with a lot of laughter, smiles, and happy tears. It was almost over with just one more element to do; The Sand Ceremony. The Bride and Groom took sand from the beach where they stood, and poured that sand representing their individual lives into the main glass vessel they had brought. All those grains of sand mixed and became one. They literally become inseparable once poured, just like the couple who had just moments before vowed everything to each other. So that’s exactly what happened with this bride and groom, and then it got even better from there. They had all five of their children come up, and one at a time, each poured colored sand into the main vessel. The first one poured blue. The next one poured orange. The next one poured green, and so forth. After they had all poured, it was very beautiful, and made an amazing pattern.

I held it up for all to see, eloquently going on and on about what an impressive keepsake it was and how it would have a special place in their home and help them tell the story about their amazing wedding day on the beach. As I’m finishing the statement about how gorgeous it was …. the vessel broke into a hundred pieces.

Oh no!

The colored sand was now painting the beach floor where I stood. If there had been a crab hole big enough, I think I would have crawled in it. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but it was still in my hands when it exploded. Dumbfounded, I looked up at the bride and groom with big puppy dog eyes that were screaming “I’m so sorry!” The very awkward moment was saved when the gracious groom turned to the photographer and said “Did you get a picture of it before?” Everyone laughed and we finished strong with them kissing and a nice hug-fest at the back of the aisle. Come to find out, the weight of all that sand was too much for the vessel that was made from very thin glass. In well over a thousand times performing the sand ceremony, I’ve never seen anything like that happen before. The newlyweds were very
kind about the whole thing, but I still felt like a dog.

To all the future couples out there that will be planning to have the sand ceremony element as part of your wedding, here’s the moral of the story: “Choose a strong vessel that will out-live your wedding day.

That was one for the books.

Sand Happens.

Top 4 ‘TIME’ Tips For Your Beach Wedding

“Let’s see, what time do we want to have our wedding on the beach?” There are many factors that go into making this decision, and many of those factors land on personal preferences, but here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a ‘time’ for an Outer Banks Wedding.

Time of Year

There are pros and cons of every time of year, but I’ve found living here over the last 14 years that the most beautiful and comfortable months are May, June, September, and October. No surprise then that the biggest wedding months of the year are those four. We have many nice days throughout the winter, and my fist wedding this year is on March 11th. If you choose something like March or April, you’ll want to have a plan B in case the weather is a little too cold with the northeast wind. Some of the beauties of March, April, October, and November, are that beach house rentals are much cheaper, and there are less people.

Time of Day

I get asked this one all the time. What time of day is the very best for a beach wedding? Well, some of it depends on what time of year you chose. If you have a July or August wedding, don’t kill your guests out in the intense summer sun at 1:00pm. Not only will your guests be uncomfortable, but the sand gets so hot that no one (including you) can go barefoot. On the other hand, having a 1:00pm ceremony in April is a great idea because it’s probably going to be the most comfortable time of the day. I’ve seen guests at an evening April wedding freezing while they wait on the processional to start. Sunrise can be a beautiful experience for a beach wedding on the Atlantic, but keep in mind how early your guests will have to get up. All in all, probably the most prime time I’ve seen for weddings during the regular season is 4pm or 6pm.

Time for Travel

Much of the time, travel is not a big deal here because destination weddings tend to be on the smaller size with family & friends staying together. But many weddings require that guest arrive on a weekend, and the highway coming across the bridge can turn into a parking lot, not to mention Highway 12 which flows up through Duck to Corolla. Be sure to tell your guests about this so they won’t be steamed by the time they reach your wedding.


Time for Photography

Once you have decided on a specific date, it’s often times a good idea to speak with you photographer before choosing a time certain for the ceremony. Some photographers are very particular about their preferences for their craft. Most of the Outer Banks professional wedding photographers I know can make it happen know matter what time you choose, but I think they all love those last two hours of the day the most. Lots of couples tell me they want a sunset wedding, but be sure that you have enough light after the ceremony to get the shots you’ll treasure forever.

Why Not Have A Friend Perform My Wedding?

There is something warm at first when you think about having your friend or family member perform your wedding. They know you. They love you. But is it possible to still have a warm, comfortable, personalized ceremony without putting your friend in an unusual and unfamiliar position? You don’t get that moment back. Of course, I believe that you would benefit from a professional performing your wedding, but you have options. Check out this blog post…

There is a popular trend these days to have a friend or family member go online to receive an ordination certificate in a matter of minutes so they can “legally” officiate at your wedding. While on the surface this might sound like a fun idea, a look below the surface reveals some really good reasons why this is NOT a good idea. As an interfaith minister who has been officiating at weddings for over twenty years now and as author of the bestselling book on wedding ceremony design, here are my top three really good reasons why you should hire a seasoned professional to officiate at your ceremony.

Some states do not recognize some online ordination credentials. The last thing you want to find out after your wedding is that you are not legally married. So, tread with caution. It is the state where your ceremony takes place, not the state where you live that has jurisdiction. Just as state laws about who can get married are changing, so are the laws regarding who can officiate at weddings. Not all online ordinations are equally acceptable, so be very specific in researching what sites are and are not acceptable in your state. Keep yourself informed about any changes that occur in these laws during the course of your wedding preparations.

There are a thousand little details that add up to a great ceremony. Which ones are you willing to have overlooked? Why put someone you love in the position of being responsible for something they know nothing about? Why not let your friend or family member enjoy being a guest at your wedding instead of bearing the burden of doing something so important that they know nothing about? Unless your friend or family member happens to already be a member of the clergy, why put this responsibility on them? Most couples and the friends and/or family member they choose to officiate are clueless about what goes into designing a ceremony, running a wedding rehearsal, or officiating at the ceremony. Think about it – would you hire a band for your reception that had never played together before? Would you want your wedding to be their first gig?

There are better, safer options. A seasoned officiant knows the in’s and out’s of advising you on the logistics of your rehearsal and ceremony as well as the design of the text and the ritual itself. They can be a wealth of information and ideas to help you create the ceremony that is perfect for you. They know what works, and what doesn’t.

If you are worried about not belonging to a religious community, not wanting a stranger to officiate at your ceremony, or wanting to have control over what is said at your ceremony – no problem. There are three fabulous resources for finding the right officiant.

The first is to ask your wedding vendors. Typically, your first wedding decision is going to be your wedding date and location. Ask the wedding coordinator at your venue to share their impressions of the officiants on their preferred vendor list and to recommend the ones they think are a good match for you. Call these recommended officiants and/or make appointments to meet. Trust your instincts about who you are comfortable with, how resourceful and flexible they seem to be, and how they react to your story and wishes for your ceremony.

The second resource is to ask around among your friends. Ask your married friends who they had officiate at their ceremony? Were they pleased or not? Why? Ask friends and family if they attended any weddings where the officiant did a really good job.

Third, use regional wedding websites and major wedding websites that have regional vendor listings. Read the listings and reviews on officiants there. One of the most popular sites is http://www.weddingwire.com.

Your wedding ceremony is what your wedding day is all about. Give it the respect and attention it deserves as an expression of what crossing this threshold together really means to you. The person who officiates at your ceremony will have a lot of influence on what will hopefully become a beautiful memory for you. So, be thoughtful and careful in selecting the officiant who is right for you. Be as honest as possible about who you are and who you aren’t. If someone rejects you because they don’t share your beliefs, be glad you didn’t hire them! Just keep looking for the right match. Find someone who is happy for you, is on your wavelength, and gives you confidence that they will help you create a wedding ceremony that exceeds your biggest dreams. You deserve that!” (by Rev. Judith Johnson)

Cool Stuff OBX Brides Should Know About


Ever been somewhere for an event and wish you knew about options ahead of time? This certainly can happen with your wedding, too. The whole thing can go great, but maybe even greater if you know all your options and opportunities. This is true no matter if it’s a destination
wedding here on the Outer Banks, Jamaica, or Las Vegas. So for all those future couples coming to the barrier islands of North Carolina, here’s a list of some of those cool things that might just make your life easier while here for your wedding.


Sometimes parking is a real challenge on an island, and it can stress you and your guests. Fear not, because there are some great options with the Corolla Trolley Services, as well as Island Limousine & Taxi. They make life comfortable and easy for everyone.


If your pet isn’t going to be a part of the ceremony, what do you do with him for the day? You want your family and friends to enjoy themselves instead of pet sitting, so why not use a professional service to pamper your furry family member for the event. “Wedding Paws” is a member of the Outer Banks Wedding Association and offers a much needed service.


Ever notice how professional lights can totally transform a dance area. No one does it any better here than “Blue Steel Lighting”. John Endres is personable, friendly, and knowledgeable on what will make your ceremony or reception area unique and awesome. Visit their website and see some amazing examples that work well on the Outer Banks.


How about someone reliable and trusted to take care of the children during the rehearsal, golf outing, salon appointment, or ceremony? It’s good to know that there is someone like Penny Robbins here to take the best of care for our munchkins. Her business name is “Robbins Nest Sitting Service”, and has had a great following since 1990.


One of THE most fun wedding sounds on the beach is the Steel Drums. There’s just something about it that makes you feel light and happy inside. The following two artists are the very best I’ve seen and worked with. Amazing! So check out Minsky Delmonte, www.hearsteeldrumsplay.com, and the ladies of “One Love”, www.onelovesteelband.com.


How great to secure your engraved wedding gifts for an easy pick up once you’ve made it to the Outer Banks. You won’t have to mail anything or travel with breakables that way. All ready for you upon arrival of the big event. Larry will take great care of you and your personalized needs. www.obxengraving.com

6 Ways Your OBX Wedding is Like The NFL

The number one professional sport in America is hands down the National Football League. It’s the ultimate team sport, much like the ultimate relationship between a man and a woman….marriage. Check out the six ways your Outer Banks wedding has in common with the great NFL. Read more

Animals That Attend Outer Banks Weddings


Sometimes they are pets, and sometimes they are unexpected guests from the wild. You just never know! I thought it would be fun to list the 8 different animals I’ve seen at beach weddings here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the last 14 years. You won’t believe a few of them, but honestly, it’s all true. Read more

Top Five Outer Banks Wedding Venues


One of the first questions couples ask me is “Where should we get married on the Outer Banks?”. That’s kind of a loaded question because if you’ve ever been here you know that there are many options and it just depends on what you like. Read more