October 8, 2011, a beautiful blue October day without a cloud in the sky. There was an ever-so-slight gentle breeze, and crisp tree leaves that were just beginning to transform into a golden yellow hue. The suns rays shined bright, creating a friendly temperature warming the grounds for the cooler weather that was originally predicted for the day. At the entrance of Mike and Morgan’s wedding venue, stood a giant Sally and Jack from the animated movie Nightmare Before Christmas, creating a silent greeting to guests. A line of wedding guest cars ventured up the dusty, bumpy farm road, arriving at the wedding site one-by-one, some stopping for photo ops with the animated Jack and Sally before they pursued their final destination. The vehicles of wedding guests were directed to park by two ushers whom were dressed in fancy, classic black and white tuxedos; an attire that was some what out of place for such a quaint, simple country setting. The afternoon was peaceful and quiet, except for the sound the old dirt road made as cars crackled over the gravel, driving to snatch a parking spot at the farm where the wedding ceremony was to occur. The farmhouse was a beautiful traditional white color accompanied by a large, cozy front porch, and a colorful landscaped yard that was abundant with plentiful flower bushes. The lawn was a freshly cut green pasture, with leaves scattered here and there that had already made their seasonal fall. It was quite a storybook picturesque venue for a wedding. A large brown friendly dog named Joejoe, greeted guests like he knew them on a personal basis, and perhaps he did. He politely yet curiously sniffed each wedding guest, as he received a few pets on his brown, soft furry head, and seemed satisfied making it his responsibility to investigate the new arrivals as they found a seat on the expansive lawn.
A plain white, simple fence surrounded the farmhouse yard, in company with handsome, tall green-leafed oak trees, offering an understated elegance for the wedding. It was simply beautiful. The guests’ white chairs were lined up in rows under the massive historic trees, which allowed perfect views of the Monroe, VA foothills. The guests sat patiently on the chairs, and whispered among themselves, turning back every few moments in hopes of catching a glimpse of the wedding party. Most guests were lucky to have dressed in a pant and jacket attire as they awaited the predicted cold weather, where as others wore dresses but luckily brought sweaters with them to avoid the cool breeze that was starting to build.
The majestic oak trees softly waved their green-tipped fingers in the breeze, as if anticipating the event. A violin played a sweet melody in the background. Tunes of almost sadness illuminated off the romantic instrument yet an elegant, peculiar vibe beckoned elegance, mystery, and an awaited journey. The melancholy song slowly morphed into the angelic tune Ave Maria, creating an essence of innocence. The wedding guests turned their inquisitive eyes toward the farmhouse, as they waited for the first siting of a bonny bride. One of the guests proclaimed cheerfully and loudly, “You couldn’t ask for a prettier day to be married.” As 5 p.m. approached, the sun began its joyous set into the sky sinking lower and lower as it casted shadows on the groom’s side of wedding guests. Several of the wedding guests began to wrap their sweaters tighter around their bodies.
In a casual formation the wedding party stood on the porch of the old house, in a calm state of mind as if they were alone at the estate. The bridesmaids beamed in short royal purple strapless cocktail dresses with white sashes tied around the waist, as they giggled and primped themselves and each other. Each bridesmaid held a whimsical arrangement of orange Gerbera daisies with sparkly amethyst shoots sticking out of them bound together with a silky ribbon. The ushers and groomsmen socialized with one another, occasionally sharing a laugh, seemingly enjoying themselves yet innocently ignoring the very anxious guests sitting in the chairs on the lawn. Every now and then the little ring bearer and flower girl were heard giggling from the porch. Very good-naturedly, the wedding party stood patiently on the rickety old porch, waiting for the sign that the wedding would commence.
Toccatta and Fugue in D Minor, the organ music famously renowned for being noted in the Phantom of the Opera, vibrantly sounded overhead. Everyone turned, expecting the well- dressed, bejeweled and flowered entourage to begin his or her walk down the aisle, yet still, nothing happened. Bridesmaids smiled, guests whispered…and then…suddenly the ceremony began. The theme from Nightmare Before Christmas sounded overhead, “My Dearest Friend if you don’t mind, I’d like to join you by your side where we can gaze into the stars, and sit together, now and forever. For it is plain as anyone can see, we’re simply meant to be…”
A beautiful elderly lady, dressed in purple with short silvery hair, took the arm of a groomsman as he directed her to a front-row seat, followed by the mothers of the couple, both dressed in gorgeous, elaborate ecru gowns, also led by ushers to their seats. The officiate and groomsmen then followed down the aisle, trailed by the stunning ladies in up-do’s and royal purple gowns.
As the darling flower girl and ring bearer began their march down the aisle together, the ring bearer quickly took the lead, playfully flirting with the female guests who were oohing and awing at how handsomely cute he looked. The flower girl nervously followed behind her little male escort, forgetting to throw the flowers to the ground.
The handsomely sharp groom, Mike Tyree, was dressed in a traditional black tuxedo with a pink rose on his lapel. He began his journey towards the minister exchanging some sly smiles back and forth, as if some type of an inside joke was being exchanged between the two of them. All became serious as the groom took his place at the altar. Mike stood there smiling nervously with his arms behind his back, as he centered his gaze and watched the aisle’s entry point, waiting nervously and excitedly for his beautiful bride, Morgan Burks, to appear on the arm of her father.
Morgan appeared and began her walk down the aisle as if she was floating in an angelic manner. The wedding guests stood up to welcome her in admiration of her elegance. Morgan grinned from ear-to-ear, a type of grin that a little girl would have. Morgan was very calm and collective initially, but once she saw her soon-to-be-husband she became emotional, as a tear twinkled down her cheek in the sunlight. Mike, wearing a broad handsome grin, watched his bride slowly approach him, never taking his loving admiring eyes off of his gorgeous apparition.
The officiate Reverend Frank Lea, started the service with beautiful welcoming words, as he preached the importance of knowing the difference between important and trivial occurrences in life and in marriage. He spoke of Morgan and Mike’s unconditional love, their unspoken promises of the heart, and the symbolic vows they would share as one. With profound words of wisdom, Reverend Lea explained to the assembly that Morgan and Mike had already been acquaintances, friends, companions, and even teachers to one another. The commencement of their marriage would be just the beginning of their journey as one. “Things will never be quite the same between you after taking these vows,” Reverend Lea informed the happy couple, “ No longer will you be boyfriend and girlfriend, but will now refer to one another as husband and wife.”
Reverend Lea spoke loudly and firmly, asking Morgan’s father for his blessing to give his daughter away, to which Morgan’s father happily replied, “Her mother and I do.” The blessing was given to everyone in attendance, as well as to everyone who will come of this union. During this prayer, Morgan whispered to Mike, “I love you” as Mike warmly and lovingly responded the same.
The reverend asked Mike if he would take Morgan to be his wife, and he eagerly agreed. The reverend then turned to Morgan and asked her, “Will you take this freshly-shaved man to be your husband?” Morgan laughed, nodded her head, and gladly replied, “I do.”
The sun was quickly setting shining directly in Morgan’s eyes, somewhat blinding her. She unconsciously moved to the side a bit so that Mike’s shadow kindly blocked the sun on her face. Morgan and Mike whispered to one another as a dear friend of theirs offered a recited poem. The minister gave a beautiful blessing of the hands. A few adolescent children in the crowd were growing tired and restless with their attention spans fading, as they were hushed by their parents and told to keep quiet.
The couple’s wedding vows were kept secret till this special day—they had never before been shared between the two. The pastor handed each of them a slip of paper. Morgan seemed to have received the wrong vows as she laughed. Mike recited his vows first, tearing up, laughed and said almost comically, “I’m ok.” Friends and family laughed at his sentimental moment as he placed a comedic light on it.
Morgan loudly recited her vows, much louder than Mike. She said he was the only one she could survive Armageddon with, which received a few chuckles from friends in the crowd.
The rings were offered by Corey Rogers, the Best Man, and given to the minister, who handed one to the Man of Honor, Matt Hileman, without dropping it. “With this ring I offer you my hand, my heart and my soul as I know they will be safe with you.” As the rings were exchanged, Reverend Lea placed his scarf over the couple’s hands, and in a ceremonial gesture he raised his hands in the air and blessed the rings.
A miniature longhaired Dachshund hound, Remington, dressed in a tuxedo and standing with the groom’s wedding party, crept out of line and began barking excitedly. Avoiding any possible disruptions to the ceremony, one of the groomsman immediately picked up the furry little chap.
The beautiful couple was officially pronounced husband and wife. Morgan eagerly wrapped her arms around Mike’s neck for a very long kiss, as Mike held his new bride tight about the waist.
As Reverend Lea announced Mike and Morgan’s new status to their guests, Remington began to bark again, to which the minister said, “Wait! It’s not your turn yet.” Everyone at the ceremony found this to be quite hilarious, as the cute dog yipped in discontentment. The couple jumped the broom to symbolize their special marriage. As Morgan and Mike disappeared down the aisle, Remington, seeing his master leave his sight, began barking wildly for her attention. The wedding party followed the couple, dog in tow, as did the elaborately dressed family, who were seated in the front rows.
Over the speakers and announcement informed the wedding guests that a formal group photo would be taken at the side yard. The guests were instructed to congregate around the tree before departing for the reception. Everyone, including Joejoe, the big dog, filed in behind the couple as a photographer, perched at a second story window, began taking photos of the group. Upon seeing the photographer, one man yelled out, “We’ve got a jumper!” This comment broke the ice, and with laughter, the photos began.
Joejoe was tired of the event by now, as he quietly and contently lay his head down on his paws. The sun, now setting, cast a beautiful golden glow over the wedding area as the photographers arranged for pictures of the group. Across the clear blue sky, the nearly full moon was rising, giving the sky an unusual visual effect of both night and day, a perfect balance of ambiance.
The reception was located in Madison Heights, located 7 miles from the wedding site. The guests drove past farms, orchards, a farmer’s market, and a tomato stand with one seller, who dressed in bib overalls, stood and waved at the group as they drove by. The reception hall, located at the conclusion of a dead-end street, had balloons to mark the location.
The trees, now fully glowing in yellow light, made the day seem almost ethereal. Guests anxiously waited outside the hall, as they smoked cigarettes and conversed about the beautiful ceremony. Inside the reception awaited a lavish guest book table, decorated with Nightmare Before Christmas painted gourds, bubbles, and the guest book itself.
Once inside the hall, most guests were taken aback by the lush purple and black décor, the candy buffet, and the very lengthy food buffet…however, the wedding cake table drew the most spectators with its camera flashes that lit up the area. The cake, a beautiful towering confection dominated the reception with its Nightmare Before Christmas theme. Sitting atop the cake was Sally, bedecked in a glorious patched wedding gown, and her pencil thin skeleton groom, Jack, in a romantic embrace. The cake was so beautiful that it almost seemed sacrilegious to cut it, yet everyone drooled at the thought of the taste of this beauty.
Sitting upon the many long tables was an assortment of decorations ranging from candles on long black plates, black glittering chandeliers, and orange candles surrounded by candy corn. The head table had a beautiful glittering floral centerpiece, along with two large candelabras with black tapered candles festooning each one.
The wedding party arrived as they were announced and recognized by the wedding guests. The reception officially began as the happy couple shared their first dance to the tune of You & I by Lady Gaga. The groom held his bride about the waist, keeping her close as if someone would try to steal her away from him. The bride smiled a big giddy grin, snuggling close to her new husband as the song carried on, and she caressed his back affectionately from time to time.
The hall smelled of fried chicken and had a dreamy ambiance of glowing candles, black lights and red globes, hanging above the buffet, which consisted of a dynamic assortment of chocolate S’mores bar, punch table, and a lush table festooned with crispy fried chicken, delicate mini sandwiches, green salad, and piping hot macaroni and cheese.
The bride took a microphone as she thanked her guests for coming to her wedding. She admitted she had forgotten her speech in the car, which just happened to be on her cell phone. Someone yelled out “Gotta love an Android!” which made her laugh. Her cell phone retrieved, Morgan went on with her original speech, as she gave thanks to the family and friends who participated in their event, as well as to those who witnessed the occasion, as she added, “Looking around here at all of you—is better than any cake or gown I could have ever wanted.”
She said that her mother, Jennifer, decorated the reception hall, transforming the location into a magical fairy tale, as she gave recognition stating, “We feel like the real Sally & Jack.” She offered thanks to her parents for giving Mike and herself a truly beautiful wedding.
The food blessing was then given, and the couple, along with their wedding entourage, lined up at the buffet, scooping up heaps of delicious food, all seemingly ravenous with appetite. The food line wrapped around the head table and only a few guests remained seated, patiently waiting for the line to become smaller.
The little dog, Remington, did not seem to like the guests standing by “his” domain—the head table where his mistress would soon be sitting again. He barked until the bride returned with her plate of food. Morgan spoke to some groomsmen as Mike took a much-needed break before eating. She held her little dog, which calmed him down and put him at ease again. A bridesmaid close to her held a small baby, apparently mesmerized and distracted by the flickering glow of the candle before her, as her grateful mother ate her dinner. The bridesmaids orange bouquets were quite striking against the deep purple and black tablecloths, and they received numerous compliments from their guests. As the food line shortened and guests took their own seats, the bride adjusted her veil as she and Mike began to eat.
Jennifer, Morgan’s mother, checked on the catering staff in the kitchen periodically to be sure the food was being replaced and refilled quickly after it ran out. She was one of the last people in line to eat, as she enjoyed her time, and socialized with guests, watching the interactions of the wedding party, and seemed to be delighted that her daughter was so incredibly pleased with the event.
The happy couple took their place by the cake table for photos and a very gentle cake-feeding ceremony—there were no messy cake smashes. Guests were eager to take photos of the couple and anxiously awaited a taste of that marvelous confection. No one seemed to be disappointed once they tried the interesting cake.
Mike began making his rounds, as he greeted his guests and shook their hands. Morgan was also stopped by several guest’s, including family and friends, who she kindly greeted, until it was time to throw the bouquet. There were surprisingly few single ladies for such an event, but just enough to cause a stir when the beautiful bouquet was thrown to those standing and waiting, with arms in the air, hoping to nail the catch. The bouquet was caught by a young girl and a bridesmaid, both struggling to take possession of the bounded flowers. Finally, the bridesmaid tactfully, though regretfully, let go of the bouquet after she saw that the child would not give it up, and that further struggle would have destroyed the prize.
Mike threw the garter to a handful of willing men, as each tried to grab the ruffled piece of elastic. The men did not fight over the garter as the women had fought over the bouquet, but rather accepted their defeat when one man captured the small garment.
Toasts were made but due to a microphone malfunction they were difficult to hear unless standing close by. Glasses were raised and the dancing commenced. At this “late” hour in the evening, some of the elderly guests began to depart the reception, as if signaled by an impending headache caused from the loud new age music, which the younger crowd really enjoyed dancing to. One young bridesmaid donned a pair of red wayfarers and began to dance, in a line, with the rest of the wedding party. Thriller, by Michael Jackson, came on and drew a small crowd on the dance floor, but with some guests still leaving, Morgan and Mike left the floor to say their goodbyes to their departing guests.
Their beautiful evening continued with guests dancing, eating cake, and catching up on old times…the perfect wedding, all wrapped up in sparkling amethyst and candlelight. Morgan and Mike danced the night away with their close family and friends, enjoying the ambience and their first evening as husband and wife.