The Site: 426 Campbell Lead Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
The wedding ceremony was held in a beautiful chalet in Gatlinburg, TN. The chalet sits right above the town looking down on the town. The living room is gorgeous and surrounded by huge picture windows, as you can see in the pictures below:
Why Gatlinburg, you ask? We chose Gatlinburg as our site because it is a very romantic place for both of us. We love the mountains and the nearby National Park. Our preference for having our ceremony in a chalet was because of the intimacy that it afforded. We wanted a small ceremony surrounded by our immediate family members who have supported each of us though our lives. In addition, our favorite restaurant is located here. The Park Grill! Their Creme Brulee is wonderful! It’s made with a hint of Jack Daniels. Mmmmmm…I can’t wait to get there for some.
Gatlinburg was a beautiful place to gather for the wedding, since our family came from Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida. An additional plus was that most of the family had not been to Gatlinburg in many years, if at all!
The Bridal Party
Our Honor Attendants were Stu’s sister Michelle, as my Matron of Honor (MOH) and our good friend Brett, as Stu’s Groom’s Woman (GW).
My escorts were my two oldest sons, Richard and Stephen.
We had two readers during the ceremony: Stu’s niece, Rachel and my youngest son, Michael.
Our music was provided by Stu’s brother, Michael, handling the sound system and my third son, John, playing his cello, along with the recording of two songs Stu wrote-”Melody for Audrey” (Stu’s grandmother who passed away, Audrey Brown) and “Missy’s Theme”. We also included the song, “True Blue”, sung by Dolly Parton, who happened to be singing at Dollywood that evening!
Our photographers were Stu’s nephew, Nathaniel and Brett’s good friend, Scott.
As the ceremony music started, “Melody for Audrey” written by Stu and performed by John Mark, my third-born, along with a recording of the song, my youngest Michael escorted Stu’s mother, Retha, into the room.
Next, Brett entered the room via the lower staircase carrying Stu’s individual candle for the Unity table. She walked up the aisle and placed the candle on the Unity table.
My wonderful prince entered afterward also via the lower staircase and walked up the aisle.
At this point, the music changed to “Missy’s Theme”, written especially for me by Stu, and played by John Mark! Stu is so creative and romantic!
Michelle entered the room from above via the open stairway. She carried my individual candle for the Unity table. As she reached the living room level, she walked up the aisle and placed the candle on the Unity table.
Now, it was my turn. I also entered the room from above via the open stairway. Stephen, my second-born, escorted me down the stairs, then removed the floor-length deep purple velvet cape revealing my dress.
Richard, my eldest, escorted me up the aisle. I was very proud to be escorted by two such attractive men, and I had dreamed of that moment for many years.
After arriving at the altar, the wedding party faced the gathered family. Brett dramatically presented my right satin and crystal shoe to Stu. I had entered wearing only one. As our attendants supported me, my prince knelt before me and placed the shoe on my foot. This special moment was in honor of the blessed foster mother I had for the first 6 months of my life. She had named me Cinderella when she began to care for me, calling me Cindy for short. My adoptive parents, Marcella and Clair, had renamed me after the adoption.
Our officiate, Rev. Dr. Alden Marshall opened the ceremony with a welcome introduction.
We had two readers during the ceremony. Rachel, Stu’s niece, read a Cherokee prayer very beautifully:
“God in heaven above please protect the ones we love. We honour all you created as we pledge our hearts and lives together. We honour mother-earth — and ask for our [this] marriage to be abundant and grow stronger through the seasons. We honour fire — and ask that our [this] union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts. We honour wind — and ask we [they] sail through life safe and calm as in our father’s arms. We honour water — to clean and soothe our [this] relationship — that it may never thirst for love. With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony and true happiness as we forever grow young together. Amen”
Michael, my youngest, read I Corinthians 13, verses 1-13.
Our vows were exchanged; next, then we exchanged our rings.
At this point,we lit our Unity candle, leaving our individual candles lit to show that while we are now one, we are still individuals.
Next, we had our first communion as a couple using a blend of the Christian communion ceremony and the Celtic Loving Cup ceremony. The loving cup ceremony acknowledges that we are each other’s Anam Cara, soul friend and that God is part of our lives.
The minister then gave a Native American blessing at this point:
“Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May you each be like the air that inhabits the other. That unnoticed, and yet, that necessary. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.”
He introduced us as a couple, “May I present, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, Missy and Stu”. Of course, our families had a laugh over the introduction.
We proceeded with our recessional dance steps, which caused me to trip over my dress train and start laughing. The music was”Missy’s Theme”, but this time it was a slower version of the processional song. During the song, we stopped near Stu’s parents, and I presented his mother with half of my wedding bouquet and asked permission to call them, Mom and Dad. We all hugged and beamed our happiness.