vendor spotlight: barbara lodge

Name: Rev. Barbara Lodge
Business Name: North Carolina Wedding Minister
Industry Category: Minister

What common mistakes do you see couples making?
Waiting too close to their wedding date to start their planning and booking of wedding professionals, especially for weddings in our 5 top wedding months of April, May, June, September and October.

What's the best tip you have for a couple planning a wedding?
Make their wedding fit their personalities. If they want classic, go for classic elements. If they want unique, include things about themselves and their relationship that show who they really are, what they’ve done together and their hopes and dreams for their future.

What don't couples know about your business category that they need to know?
1. Couples often think that a minister has only one wedding a day but ministers who travel to weddings will usually book more than one wedding in a day. I never over book my schedule so I am able to arrive at each wedding with plenty of time to spare.

2. Some ministers are well versed in running a rehearsal if couples do not have a wedding planner, but some are not, so couples want to make sure they have someone at the rehearsal who will oversee the rehearsal for them. It is an important element in making sure their wedding goes off as they have planned. A good rehearsal will help them to know what to expect during their ceremony and can make all the difference in their comfort level on their wedding day.

3. There will be some ministers couples will click with and some they might not. Couples should trust their instincts when deciding which wedding professionals to work with them for their wedding. We are very lucky in our area to have so many truly caring, talented and sincere wedding professionals so the ones with whom the wedding couple feel the most comfortable with will be the perfect ones for them.

What questions should couples be asking that they don't know to ask?
1. Who provides the marriage license? - The couple must purchase the marriage license themselves at any NC Register of Deeds office, not necessarily the county in which the marriage will take place - so whichever office is most convenient for them will be fine.

2. What is needed to get a marriage license in NC? - 2 forms of ID (preferably a driver’s license and a Social Security card) and $60 cash are required. Couples can now do a lot of the pre-purchasing of their license online but they will still need to go together in person to purchase their actual marriage license.

3. Who covers the wedding planning at the wedding venue? - Some venues provide a planner for the food and facilities only and some venues have an in-house planner (sometimes for an extra fee and sometimes included in the overall wedding package). The couple should be sure they know exactly what their venue planner’s responsibilities are so that if the venue planner is not going to be helping them with the ceremony elements (like who is walking in with whom) they can have someone there who can help them with that. This could be the minister or a wedding planner hired by the couple.

4. Should they hire a wedding planner? - Wedding planners, whether at a venue or one the couple hires themselves, are truly worth their weight in gold. They can take so much of the stress from the couple’s wedding-planning shoulders and make their lives much easier in the process. If a wedding planner is something the couple can allow in their budget, I can highly recommend they find someone who will help them create the full celebration they envision.

5. The couple should make sure they know what kind of ceremony their minister will be providing and if they can have a say in personalizing the ceremony in any way.

6. The couple should ask the minister if he or she requires premarital counseling. They should also find out if the minister has any issues with couples who are interfaith, already living together, are members of a church other than the minister’s or have no interest in a religious faith at all. It will be important that the minister is comfortable with the couple as they are rather than requiring them to be something they are not for the minister to perform their ceremony.

7. Should couples invite their minister to the reception? - There is no requirement to invite their minister to their wedding reception so couples should not feel required to do so unless that is something they would like to do anyway.

What's your best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding?
Have fun and make the wedding fit them in any way they like - their guests will love it and they will feel so much better about the celebration of love and commitment they created. And if possible, they should try not to worry about things that might go wrong at the last minute because they are sure to be the very things they will laugh about for many years to come.

What's the most unusual wedding you ever did?
I once did a wedding for a couple who had each always wanted to marry on Halloween and were thrilled to learn during their courtship that the other person had always felt the same way. They waited 4 years (!) to have their wedding when Halloween fell on a Friday so they could make the most of the whole weekend. The Bride, Groom and all the guests were in costume. The Groom was a French count - complete with white face and a wig - and the Bride was a Renaissance maiden, wearing a costume she had made herself. Among the guests were Frankenstein, The Hulk, Superman, ballerinas, a witch, Smurfs, the Devil, fairies, the Cat in the Hat, and all sorts of other fun costumed guests. I have thought of that wedding many times over the years and I always smile when I do.

What was the most memorable wedding you ever worked, and why?
Oh, golly, there have been so many! To name just a few… there were the fireworks the Groom planned as a surprise for the Bride during their reception, there was the Bride who sewed a picture of her grandparents into the hem of her dress so they would be there with her, and a Bride who carried in some ashes of her dad in a lovely little urn so he would be with her as she was escorted down the aisle by her brother. There was the bride who was so happy she giggled and bounced during the whole ceremony, another bride who was so happy she couldn’t stop crying as she came down the aisle, and another bride who got the hiccups on her way down the aisle that lasted until after her vows. There was a Groom who sang his vows to his Bride as he accompanied himself on a guitar. There was the couple who did a Tasting of the Elements ceremony, where they tasted cayenne pepper, lemon juice and vinegar while I spoke about how those things represented elements of a marriage… the audience loved seeing their faces as they tasted each one. There was a couple who had met over coffee and invented a coffee ceremony for their wedding, a couple who had tattoos for their wedding rings so rather than doing a ring on the fingers, we did a ring-unveiling where each untied a cloth from the other’s wedding ring tattoo. Another couple entered on separate horses and exited the ceremony together on one horse. There were the weddings I ministered with a Hindu priest where we combined Hindu and Christian traditions and those I’ve done with a Rabbi that incorporated elements of Jewish and Christian ceremonies. There was a wedding where a couple sent balloons aloft with letters tied to the strings - the letters were to the Groom’s father and the Bride’s sister, both of whom had passed. I have often thought of where those balloons might have landed and who might have found and read those letters and been deeply touched by them. There were a few confetti cannon weddings and surprise weddings where the guests had no idea they were coming to a wedding. There were New Year’s Eve weddings, at one of which they wanted to be pronounced husband and wife at the stroke of midnight… and we managed to do it exactly. Every ceremony I have done with children and blended families has been special because of all the love on display between the family members. At one of them there was a choreographed family dance at the end of the ceremony that charmed and delighted everyone in attendance.

I have been incredibly lucky to have been able to share the love and the hopeful beginnings of so many couples and their families. I will always be grateful that I have been called to this ministry. I love helping couples express their love for each other in all the ways that feel most right to them. Being around this much love in others feeds my soul and affirms my belief that our world is full of good, kind people everywhere you look. Love is at the heart of life and of everything that makes life most important to all of us. It is my total joy that in the work I do I get to share that love with everyone I meet.