Passport to love

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By Sarah Ryberg | Photography by Indigo Photography

Posted: Monday, Apr. 02, 2012

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When Kester Garraway asked his girlfriend LaToya Bynum to go to the mall with him, she didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until they started heading to a bridal attire shop that LaToya became confused. From the moment they stepped inside, Stephanie from Indigo Photography was there capturing the whole day. “I’m in David’s Bridal wondering, ‘Why the heck am I here?’ … I had no idea she was hiding taking pictures,” says LaToya. Even when she realized Stephanie was there, the photographer played off the event like it was just a normal photo shoot. “She was so professional and she played along so well,” LaToya adds. Once she was dressed in a black Adrianna Papell dress, and Kester in a tux, the couple took a limo to their next destination.

Throughout the drive, LaToya received phone calls from her closest family and friends. At the end of each call, the person on the phone would ask, “What if Kester asks you to marry him today?” They finally arrived at a beautiful mansion where a helicopter was waiting to take them on their next adventure. Before they boarded, Kester handed her a large box with a smaller box from Tiffany Co. inside. “He had come across the Tiffany Ribbon engagement ring in our earlier years of dating and thought it was unique and perfect for me,” LaToya says. “When he actually went to purchase an engagement ring and saw that the same design was still available, he knew it was the right ring.” As detailed in the July/September 2011 issue of Carolina Bride, Stephanie and the couple then boarded the helicopter and took a tour of Charlotte by air.

The helicopter ride is just one small element of the travel-filled life that LaToya and Kester share. When they first started dating, they lived in different states and had to travel back and forth to see one another. Since travel became such a large part of the couple’s relationship, they planned a travel-themed wedding for their guests.

To set off the travel-inspired motif, LaToya and Kester used Party Reflections for their tables and chairs and Connie Duglin for their linens. With the basics covered, the couple used little details to highlight the rest of their theme. The wedding programs were designed to look like passports and the escort cards were luggage tags. They added the finishing touches by decorating the venue with trunks. “We wanted to keep the international aspect there,” she says. “We even had the DJ play reggae music, that way everyone could feel like they weren’t in Charlotte for a while.”

In addition to those special touches, the couple incorporated a ring-warming ceremony so that their guests could become a part of the wedding. “Our wedding bands were passed around to all guests in attendance,” LaToya explains. “This allowed for each guest to ‘warm’ the rings with their love or to say a quick prayer over them before they were exchanged.” To make the ceremony even more personal, the couple incorporated a broom that Kester’s mom had brought from South America. It was this broom that the couple would jump over when they were declared husband and wife.

For her wedding cake, LaToya chose a variety of cupcakes from Nona’s Sweets. “I had this elaborate idea of a cupcake tree wrapped in old maps, and Dominica was so amazing and so patient with me,” she raves. “Everything tasted amazing and it was the easiest part of my wedding planning.”

Another easy decision was choosing Indigo Photography to capture the wedding. “We had Stephanie along for the entire ride,” LaToya says. “If it wasn’t for her in the beginning, who knows where we would have been for our wedding.”

Although the couple saved for a honeymoon to Italy, the flight was cancelled last minute due to mechanical problems with the plane. LaToya and Kester lived it up in Puerto Rico instead. They still have plans to visit Italy one day, but right now the couple is embarking on a different type of adventure: home ownership. “It’s been a whirlwind year for us,” LaToya says. “Now we’re just trying to make Charlotte home.”

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Wedding cakes are more personalized than ever

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Strossner said one thing couples should consider when choosing a cake is the size of the reception venue. A two-tier cake, for instance, will shrink visually if placed in a grand room with high ceilings. “You want to make sure your cake stands out,” she said.

And then, a special design makes things all the more pleasing. Gone are the days of simple garden and floral themes, Strossner said. “Now we’re seeing more tailored stripes, polka-dots, circles, fun patterns.”

And based on the season, you’ll find more flavors, such as raspberry, lemon, Italian cream or red velvet, she said.

Templeton’s cake will feature three flavors: strawberry, key lime and white chocolate. “We wanted summer flavors,” she said. “We also wanted the colors of pink and green to coordinate with our wedding colors.”

While ivory and white are still top choices for wedding cakes, you’ll also find tiers dressed in subdued hues of purple and pink, as well as bolder accent tones such as red.

Graduating color schemes is also a popular idea.

One three-tier cake by Strossner’s featured purple on the botton, lavender in the middle and silver on top. “And it just kind of makes your cake seems like it’s floating when you have that color differentiation,” Strossner said.

McMakin said her clients are not bashful at all about using color. One couple chose a Caribbean-style wedding cake with buttercream frosting. It had white chocolate seashells, pink and blue gumpaste flowers, palm trees made with fondant and wafer paper, and a buttercream waterfall.

Along with fondant and gumpaste accents, non-edible pieces like sheer ribbon, fresh flowers and unique toppers are adding pops of color and sentimental value to both contemporary and traditional wedding cakes.

“A lot of girls are using their grandmother’s and aunt’s brooches in their bouquets and on their cakes,” Bishop said. “That’s a big trend this year. We can make edible ones too. We do that sometimes.”

Martina McBride, the wedding planner :*(

Jeffrey Remz  |  April 3, 2012

Martina McBride may be a great singer – I liked her from the get go when she was doing harder country – but Martina stay away from wedding planning. That idea of yours to have a live wedding on Sunday at the Academy of Country Music awards while you and Train’s Pat Monahan sang Marry Me was weird, awkward and needless. Throw the word bizarre in there also.

The whole thing was extremely odd. The segment alternated between the song and Christina Davidson and Frank Tucci getting married by some officiant there.

The backdrop to the story was real good – both Davidson and Tucci lost their spouses at a very young age. Their children were involved in Tucci proposing to Davidson. Ultra sad story with a great ending. Sort of.

“It was an idea that popped in my head out of nowhere after I was invited to sing ‘Marry Me’ on the ACM Awards. My manager called and told me and I thought, ‘Of course, I’d love to sing on the show. Let’s do a live wedding on the show,” McBride told The Boot. “I didn’t say it out loud because I thought it was a really crazy idea, then a couple of days went by and I thought, ‘It is a crazy idea, but it’s worth just throwing it out there.’ I think it’s so special.”

But lo and behold, come the magic moment, there were no children, family or friends around. Just seemingly thousands of total strangers sitting in an arena and millions more on TV. One hopes they were legally married in advance, and this was made for (bad) TV.

I wonder if Martina would enjoy if one of her kids got married under similar circumstances. Somehow I truly doubt it.

This whole part of the show seemed like TV and country music taking advantage of the couple. The couple may be unique as the host Nancy O’Dell said, but, unfortunately, so was the wedding. This was a real low point. Let’s hope the marriage is a lot better than the ceremony was.

And Martina, keep away from being a wedding planner. Bad idea for a great singer.

The weekday wedding

Last Friday two girls I know got married to their blokes. Two Fridays before that, I was at another friend’s wedding.

Without wanting to get Rebecca Black’s one-hit-wonder song in your head, I’m seeing a bit of a trend with Friday (Friday, Friday…).

It’s not hard to see why.

The ideas behind the Friday – or any weekday wedding – are good ones I reckon.

Venue you’ve loved forever booked up on weekends until 2016? No problem – let’s do another day!

When we got engaged and started tossing around potential wedding dates, I was well aware that some venues and vendors are booked years (and years) in advance.

Saturday was obviously the most popular and semi-logical day to get married, along with long weekend holidays also. If I’d fallen in love with a venue and it was only available on a Friday, I would have snapped it up without a second thought. 

Lots of venues offer discounts for holding a wedding during the week, and it means (especially if you’re having a short engagement) that you could get your preferred vendor (say, photographer) on a date that they wouldn’t have already booked out months before. 


It also, I think, would sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, when it comes to guest lists.

A midweek wedding would mean, for most people, that they would need to take annual leave to attend.

This would certainly make those who were only turning up for a “free feed and some booze” think twice about accepting the invite (though it is my opinion that people like that shouldn’t have been invited in the first place).

There’s also the people who choose a special date – it could be an anniversary or a cool-sounding date (I did consider 12-12-12! A Wednesday!), so why not get married on that date if it’s special to you? Who cares if it’s a Tuesday, or a Thursday?

But let’s be realistic. People do care. Some who I have spoken to who have had their weddings on a weekday said they did sometimes come across opposition.  

Some people, for whatever reason, appear to think it isn’t the “right day” to get married on a date that’s not a weekend. But surely having it on a Friday opens up Saturday and Sunday for more fun and festivities with friends and family – many of whom may have travelled some distance to attend?

If it’s good enough for Prince Willy and Kate…

What do you think of midweek weddings? A good chance to save money, or just “highly inconvenient“? Would you, have you or are you planning a weekday wedding?

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Never ever a Sunday

Having had to attend several weekday weddings over the past year, and taken annual leave for each of them, I am getting a bit sick of using up my annual leave quota to attend weddings. I do feel bad declining an invitation for a wedding in December based on it taking place on a Thursday but taking a day off does add to the cost for guests.

Friday weddings are selfish! Just another show of ‘its all about me’ when it comes to weddings. Why would I want to/why should I have to take annual leave to attend a wedding?

Don’t get me wrong-I value my friendship with those getting married but I HATE weddings. They are just a big show and really I’d sooner spend my annual leave day going on holiday than attending a wedding.

Weekends are the only suitable day for weddings.

Luckily the place we had it isn’t too popular so we could get it quite easily but they did have cheaper rates for a Friday over Saturday so we went for that. But we also did it just after Christmas(Dec 29) when a lot of people are already on annual leave anyway so it all just fitted nicely

I was going for a walk on a Friday afternoon/evening around the Mt, and I saw a wedding reception up in the surf lifesaving club, and my first thought was, gee that’s weird having a wedding on a weekday. But during my walk I was contemplating the pros, and yep they are similar to the article’s, it would give a greater chance to book the venue, catering, photographer and everything/everyone else that is usually booked up, especially at this time of year. Only those who really care would make the effort to come, and I love the idea of an extra long weekend spent with friends and loved ones and having two extra days instead of just Sunday to recuperate.
By the way, I tried to book the same surf lifesaving club for my own wedding reception and it was also booked out for months, so good on this couple for going for the alternative!

I couldn’t agree more – then again, I like the idea of going against the masses in all things weddings and a few things that aren’t, which will include shunning those unflattering, ubiquious sleeveless ‘wedding dresses’ like the plague, so at this stage a weekday wedding is looking very, very likely. Plus it’s more of an excuse not to include those who who you don’t really, really want to be there (and quite frankly, why should I invite a whole bunch of distant cousins I’ve only met 5 or 6 times, to the most important day of my life?)

We’re having ours on our anniversary date. And there are only 2 weekends that date falls on – Jan (Sunday) and July (Sat)! So we’re going with the Sunday for several reasons:

1) July is the middle of my second year of study. I’d rather have the summer break to finish up details over freaking out over projects and wedding during the first half of the year before July.
2) Our venue would be better suited for a Jan wedding.
3) July is very close to my bday. This was both on pro and con list.
4) Our venue doesn’t offer any weekday discount as it’s a cheap deal as is, so doesn’t matter for us.
5) I don’t need more input from the mothers on how a weekday wedding would suck, if we chose to go down that path.

We also did a midweek wedding (the date was important, not the day of the week) in Australia a couple of years ago. Those who chose to come obviously had to take time and we arranged an accomodation package of 4 nights for the price of 3 for everyone, which also worked very well for the accomodation provider and the restaurant catering the wedding dinner. That meant we all had at least 4 nights together as a group (including the wedding evening) and it was terrific. Some people came for only the 4 nights, some for a week, some for 10 days – people arrived early and late (we spent 2 weeks there to cover the comings and goings which also allowed us to check last minute arrangements). Yes, it is your special day, but if you don’t have your nearest and dearest there to witness and celebrate, then you might as well elope and tell everyone afterwards. Our friends still talk about it as the best wedding they’ve ever attended (blushes modestly).

I agree with MJ #2 – having had several weekday weddings to attend this summer, as well as being on a casual contract at work (no annual leave), I’ve taken a big hit financially to attend these weddings. Many of them were also ‘destination weddings’ in other parts of the country, meaning most guests had to travel the day before – more time off work. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to be able to share these big days with my friends, but when travel, accomodation, gifts, and lost work hours are taken into account I admit to (selfishly) feeling a bit resentful.

You could do what we did and have a Friday evening wedding! That way the only people taking annual leave are those with an important role (who surely won’t mind) and everyone else can just come after work

There’s No Wedding Proposal Like a Final Fantasy Wedding Proposal

There's No Wedding Proposal Like a Final Fantasy Wedding ProposalWhen Seth Hay arrived at the “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert last weekend in Toronto, he was met with a lovely surprise. His girlfriend, Cheryl Murray, had bought him tickets to a meet-and-greet with legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and conductor Arnie Roth. After the show, they would get to hang out with the duo, a prospect that Hay said had him “very geeked out.”

But Hay had his own surprise planned. It involved Cloud, Aeris, and a brand new ring.

“As the concert went on, I got nervous a bit,” Hay said to Kotaku. “Once the time came, Arnie announced that ‘Cloud’ has a special message to share.”

There's No Wedding Proposal Like a Final Fantasy Wedding Proposal Video started to roll. Final Fantasy VII‘s “Aeris’s Theme” began to play. And the crowd watched as Cloud gave Murray the message Hay had composed for her: “Cheryl Murray, would you do me the honor of marrying me?”

(Don’t worry. She said yes.)

“Never have I imagined I would propose in front of over 3,000 people in a Distant Worlds concert,” Hay said. “We did meet with Nobuo and Arnie afterwards. We joked, laughed, thanked them for helping out with the proposal and the two congratulated us on our engagement.

There's No Wedding Proposal Like a Final Fantasy Wedding Proposal

“My now fiancée is excited and happy to come out with something to remember forever.”

There's No Wedding Proposal Like a Final Fantasy Wedding Proposal