Wonderful Weddings

Kim and David Waack were married on September 6th, 2012. Photo by Big Star Studios.

Kim and David Waack were married on September 6th, 2012. Photo by Big Star Studios.


The saying goes that when one is in a bad relationship, they’re the last to know. Close friends and family, after all, keep a watchful eye out and offer their early warnings—but a heart may not see the signs until it’s ready. In the same vein, friends who know what’s best often speak up for their loved ones to start a relationship with someone who may be a perfect fit. Again, it’s the heart which decides the best time in the end.

“My best friend, Lori, introduced us,” Kim Waack says of her now husband, David. “It took almost three years for us to finally set a date to meet. I was reluctant, convinced my passion for nature, culture and family would leave little time for love.”

David, an oral maxillofacial surgeon who grew up in Michigan, was persistent, Kim says. “One night late September, he e-mailed me with the weather forecast,” she recalls. “He said we are destined to meet when the constellations lined up so that I could see the hunter Orion and his dog, Canis Majoris. I laughed and in that moment knew—he was the one.”

Kim grew up in Cary, NC, and is now a physician assistant in family medicine. “She is easy going, always smiling, and cheerful,” David describes. “She always encourages me. She loves Noah, my dog. She loves me!”

Like Kim, nature is an integral part of David’s life. He was raised as his father grew fresh vegetables and herbs in their back yard. “He wanted to keep the same lifestyle—growing most of his food supply but avoiding the use of pesticides or having to plant seeds genetically manipulated to survive NC seasons,” she says. “He started with a few seeds, expanding little by little using the seeds from the previous years’ offspring.”

The back-yard “farmer” introduced Kim to some of the freshest sweets she could probably ever find. “He started raising honey bees to help with the pollination,” she explains. “The honey was an unexpected but pleasant surprise. Our love grew for bees after watching their meticulous nature, transferring pollen, protecting the queen and building an empire of honey cones to live within.”

The Waack wedding was styled to exude the whimsical beauty of nature yet remain elegant. Photo by Big Star Studios.

The Waack wedding was styled to exude the whimsical beauty of nature yet remain elegant. Photo by Big Star Studios.

Kim’s adoration for David cultivated over time, too. “I love his passion to care for others,” she tells. “He spends his days caring for people in pain and his evenings nurturing his garden, chickens, rabbits, and honey bees. He has such a big heart.”

David proposed to Kim on November 12th, 2011. They set the wedding date for September 6th of the following year. The Cary-based couple enlisted the insight of a Southport friend, wedding and event stylist Amber Lanier, for their North Carolina nuptials.

“We wanted to celebrate the beginning of our lives together with our beloved friends and family,” the bride details. “We wanted to have a ‘green’ wedding, keeping in touch with nature yet meeting the needs of our guests. Our good friend Amber was kind enough to offer her help.”

Amber has been in the industry for 8 years. “I help clients with the styling of their event,” she explains. “I help bring their ideas or the theme they want to achieve to life. I’ve always enjoyed decorating and having parties, so after several years of friends and family utilizing me for their events, telling me that I should start a business, I decided to take the plunge.”

For newly engaged couples, it can be difficult to pinpoint their true vision. “In regards to weddings, I often help brides establish exactly what they want the look and feel of their day to portray,” Amber says. There are so many wedding publications out there for brides to reference that they can feel very overwhelmed with all the styles. They see so many different things the like—however, you want a cohesive look for that special day, and that’s where I come in.”

Kim and Amber have been friends since they were 14, so the pairing was a natural fit. “Working with Kim was great,” Amber says.

“She has great style and a wonderful personality. The love that Kim and David have for one another was so apparent, especially during the wedding-planning stage in the way they communicated their wants and needs to each other.”

The bride’s desire was a wedding that was simultaneously simple and elegant. “She wanted earthy, flowery, with some sparkle,” the stylist describes. “After talking with her we decided to go for a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ feel. I have to say, it was the most beautiful wedding I have ever done. Most importantly, it was exactly what Kim and David wanted: beautiful!”

For Kim and David’s wedding, a ‘wishing tree’ replaced the traditional guest book. Photo by Big Star Studios.

For Kim and David’s wedding, a ‘wishing tree’ replaced the traditional guest book. Photo by Big Star Studios.

Amber helped Kim and David pull items from their home and garden to use for the wedding, which took place at Cary’s St. Francis United Methodist Church, lending to its “green” convention. The reception was held at MacGregor Downs Country Club. “We bought things that could be reused or recycled,” Kim says. “We gave honey for favors, used mason jars—[which] we use to can food from the garden—for floral vases and burlap for table decor. We were blessed to have [Amber]. She is stunningly creative, very resourceful, and has the same appreciation for the environment that we have.”

The stylist’s favorite element of the wedding was the “wishing tree.” They used bare branches to hang card-stock tags on which guests could write wishes for the bride and groom. Moss climbed up the bottom of the wishing tree and hung wispily from its arms.

“I love the twist on a traditional wedding guest book,” Amber declares. “It made it fun not only for Kim and David to read afterward but for the guests to share their love and advice for the happy couple. Also, the overall look and feel of the wedding was amazing. Every guest seemed to truly enjoy Kim and David’s wedding experience.”

And when the couple exchanged vows, it could only feel one way for Kim: “As if the constellations were in alignment—madly in love.”


Maryah and Shaun Smith were married on November 3rd, 2012 at Southport’s South Harbor Village Chapel. Photo by Casey Lauren Townsend.

Maryah and Shaun Smith were married on November 3rd, 2012 at Southport’s South Harbor Village Chapel. Photo by Casey Lauren Townsend.

Shaun and Maryah Smith met in Southport’s iconic yacht basin. Shaun worked in the kitchen of Provision Company, and Maryah—who now manages Flava’s Ice Cream across the street—waited tables. They labored during the long summers together, and still do right across the street. With so much emotionally in common, it was only a matter of time until they formed a strong bond.

“I’m 30 and Shaun is 31, and combined we have three children,” Maryah says. “Matea, 6, is my daughter from a previous long-term relationship, and Keyshaun, 12, and Syncere, 6, are Shaun’s sons from a previous long-term relationship. We both had our children young and had to learn a lot of life lessons the hard way. It’s one of the reasons why I believe we connected the way we did when we first met.”

The Smiths trust they were brought together as a blessing from God—an opportunity extended to them to feel forgiveness, happiness, and to show their children what love can truly be. “We believe we were lucky enough to be given a second chance with finding each other, so it’s super important for us to cherish each other and be an example of love to our beautiful kids. Our marriage and family is a testament to how God can heal anyone, and we are so grateful to have found each other.”

Maryah spent her years through high school in a rural community in New Hampshire, and she is of Irish and Italian descent—third generation, at that. “Shaun was raised by his single, hard-working mother in Athens, Georgia,” she describes. “He is African American and Cherokee Indian—so you can imagine that, on paper, none of this would make sense to the average person, but somehow it works—and it works well. In so many ways we are different, but our values are the same.”

The marriage combined their three children: Matea, 6; Keyshaun, 12; and Syncere, 6. Photo by Casey Lauren Townsend.

The marriage combined their three children: Matea, 6; Keyshaun, 12; and Syncere, 6. Photo by Casey Lauren Townsend.

Maryah says she and Shaun are still always learning from each other, and his sweet, Southern charm balances out her “Yankee tendencies.” “My favorite thing about Shaun is his heart and his passion for life,” she tells. “He has this way of making everything an adventure. He reminds me to let the kids be kids and that life doesn’t always have to be so serious.”

Shaun and Maryah, having developed a solid foundation around faith and love, set their wedding date for November 3rd, 2012. In a way that is a first-class example of Southport’s tight-knit community, everyone close to the soon-to-be Smiths dove into making this their dream wedding, and then some.

“My initial vision for the wedding was: budget,” Maryah muses. “We knew that being in our thirties and having three kids, we were going to have a great day but one we could afford. I had no clue going into the planning of this wedding how incredible it would become!”

Being employed by Paul and Maria Swenson, the owners of Provision Company, Frying Pan, Old American Fish Company (OAF) and Flava’s, it was simply natural to host the wedding in that area. The proprietors played a large part of the event.

“Paul and Maria have such amazing hearts and they have known Shaun for 10 years and treat him like a son,” the bride explains. “We wanted to have the wedding at the yacht basin because that’s where it all began for us. I am in love with the view at OAF and secretly imagined our reception there well before Shaun even popped the question, even though he never knew. Most of our wedding party was coming from New England and Georgia, so we really wanted to give them a ‘Southport’ wedding.”

Maryah’s brother screenprinted an old map, an anchor, and the couple’s monogram onto navy napkins for the reception. Photo by Casey Lauren Townsend.

Maryah’s brother screenprinted an old map, an anchor, and the couple’s monogram onto navy napkins for the reception. Photo by Casey Lauren Townsend.

The couple hired Jody Britton of Weddings by the Sea in Oak Island to help tackle the day-of preparations. Britton and her family moved to the area after vacationing here in 2005. “Each weekend it became harder for us to go back home, which was Fuquay-Varina at the time,” she shares.

While studying in Wilmington, she began considering what to do post-graduation. “I have always enjoyed planning and organizing events—I have been in seven weddings, plus my own—so I started thinking about what could be done in this area,” Jody says. “With the natural beauty of the beaches and the historical charm of Southport, the idea of starting a wedding-planning business seemed to be the perfect choice.”

Jody first met the couple about a month before the wedding, when the two shared the plans they’d already made for the big day. It was Jody’s job to make sure everything ran smoothly on November 3rd. “I was so impressed with their desire to make sure this day was not only memorable for them, but they wanted to ensure their friends and family enjoyed the festivities, too,” she admits. “There were so many great elements in this wedding, but I have to say that I loved the rustic feel of the reception. Of course, the venue itself is beautiful and unique.”

Maryah utilized online resources to learn how to style her reception in a way which suited the venue—simple and rustic—yet offered lots of bang for her buck. Her biggest draw to OAF was the raw, open space. She had lots of room to work her DIY magic. “My brother screenprinted (one of his many talents) these beautiful old maps onto plain navy napkins with our monogram on them,” she describes. “We had tiki torches surrounding the whole bar once night fell after the amazing sunset. We were lucky enough to have one of Maria’s friends, Meezy, make some amazing flower arrangements for the table that set them beautifully. By choosing mason jars and burlap with white and lace accents, it let the venue speak for itself while still keeping costs low. I used sparklers in the sand in one of the three mason jars on the tables to add texture to the centerpieces. [Thanks to] a lot of Pinterest and wedding websites, there are so many great ideas that are cost-friendly right at the tip of our fingers now.”

Sparklers awaited in colored sand to add texture and fun to the nautical centerpieces. Photos by Casey Lauren Townsend.

Sparklers awaited in colored sand to add texture and fun to the nautical centerpieces. Photos by Casey Lauren Townsend.

The meal was catered by the owners, offering a whole slow-roasted pig on display, hors d’oeuvres in the form of barbecue shrimp-stuffed hush puppies, bourbon apple cider, and more. “The food choices were perfect,” the Smiths’ photographer, Casey Lauren Townsend, exclaims. “Squash soup served in tasting glasses floated on trays around the reception, and the cake [made by a friend of the Smiths, Annette McKee] was so beautifully crafted that it looked inedible.”

Using a Nikon D80 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens, Casey Lauren captured what would have otherwise been fleeting moments of the wedding. “People hang their photos in their home, on their walls to look at every day,” she says. “They are a keepsake that brings joy every day. Both Maryah and Shaun are so loving and open—they wanted creativity in their photos and were also laid-back. Getting great photos is almost effortless when people are having a great time in a beautiful setting!”

Though Maryah and Shaun attend Generations Church, the bride says the South Harbor Village Chapel was ideal for their Southern wedding. “The out-of-town guests loved it, because I come from a Catholic background and we usually do the whole big church thing,” she details. “A cute little chapel was a perfect change of scenery.”

The couple’s ceremony included many personal touches. They jumped a broom at the end which hosted a trinket or ring from all the women in their families, and the broom now hangs over their door. A sand ceremony with the children visually demonstrated the unity of this new family as each poured colored sand into one glass together. “We wanted our children to be a part of the ceremony because we were marrying them, too,” Maryah says.

“We released a lantern in memory of Shaun’s mother,” Maryah continues. “We lost her to cancer in August 2011, the day after Shaun’s 30th birthday. So [the lantern] was really special. Paul and Maria walked as Shaun’s parents, and Maria danced with Shaun to ‘Hero’ by Mariah Carey, which was a special song between him and his mom. It was very emotional but beautiful.”

Despite the love felt during the ceremony, it was actually during the rehearsal when everyone involved realized the full scope of emotions filling the room. “Throughout the wedding planning, I worked through a lot of emotions and excitement, nerves—the whole nine,” the bride concedes. “My sweet husband on the other hand didn’t see it coming, I guess. We were at the chapel all lined up, the bridesmaids made it down the aisle, but once Shaun saw our kids, he fell apart. He’s crying, I’m crying, the bridesmaids, groomsmen, my parents, and Paul and Maria—all crying. Even Tim Stansbury, who was marrying us, was crying. I think it was because, for the people that loved us, it was such a long time coming for Shaun and I finding each other.”

The wedding received icing on the cake when the best man, Paul Tilling, offered to tote the newlyweds by his boat from the South Harbor marina post-ceremony to the reception.“There we were, newly married, glasses of champagne in hand, slowly cruising the Intracoastal,” Maryah recalls. “We passed a few boaters and got some waves, but it was all so surreal. The beautiful sun and calm water, and he and I just looking at each other in disbelief of how lucky we are … A lot of [the guests] didn’t know about the boat, so when we pulled up everyone was going crazy. Can you imagine, looking up and seeing all the people you love at one time, and everyone is cheering you on.”

Though Maryah says the wedding went by in the blink of an eye (time flies when one is having fun, of course), she says it is a constant reminder of how wonderful Southport is. “We are so lucky to live in such a great little town, chock-full of talented and generous people,” she finishes. “Our wedding day is a testament to it!”


Mike and Virginia opted to take their photos before the wedding! It may be anti-tradition, but it made for a much more relaxed photo session. Photo by Anne Liles.

Mike and Virginia opted to take their photos before the wedding! It may be anti-tradition, but it made for a much more relaxed photo session. Photo by Anne Liles.

“Mike might tell you it was love at first sight. I would tell you he had drunk a few beers,” Virginia Thompson muses. The couple, now married, met through mutual friends at a bar in 2008. Virginia was still an undergraduate student at UNC Chapel Hill, and Mike—who has degrees from both Appalachian State University and NC State University—was working in Durham.

They remained friends for two years before leaping into love together, tackling long distance while Mike worked in NC and Virginia took a job in Alabama. When she moved to South Carolina for graduate school, their romance—and the long distance—continued.

“Mike is an incredibly generous and caring person,” Virginia, who grew up in Rockingham, NC, tells of her husband. “When we first started dating, I was floored by the amount of time and energy he spent developing his close relationships. Seeing how he treated his friends made me feel confident that he would treat me with the same consideration and commitment. After we started dating, and even now after being married, these characteristics continue to impress me. I know they will form a solid base for our relationship for many years to come.”

Mike, who grew up on a farm in Madison, NC, works for the Parks and Recreation Department in Morrisville, NC. “Virginia is everything a guy like me needs in life,” he says. “She gives me confidence and encouragement to keep striving to be better. She loves me no matter what life throws at us. She’s a lover of life and good times.”

In March 2011, Mike proposed. Though the couple first desired a long engagement, so Virginia could graduate from the University of South Carolina before having to plan the wedding, the Mrs. says she was an impatient bride. They set the date for October 6th, 2012.

“Initially, our vision of the wedding was disorganized and confused. I did not grow up planning my perfect wedding in a large church with 18 bridesmaids, and had attended very few weddings, so we did not have a good starting point,” Virginia admits. “Over the course of the first several months, we discussed many different visions. Once we determined what was most important to us, the vision started to come together at Bald Head Island. I grew up vacationing there with my family, so I think deep down, no other venue was really an option.”

The soon-to-be Thompsons hired Jessica Scully, owner of A Day at the Beach, for a weekend-of execution of planning. “This is the most popular thing I offer, and allows brides to take a hands-on approach to their wedding, putting their own personal touches on things, yet have someone there the entire weekend of their wedding to take care of any speed bumps and make sure everything runs smoothly for everyone.”

Wheat was the focal point of the Thomspons’ wedding. Shown here in the artistic centerpieces, it was also used in the invitations and programs. Photo by Anne Liles.

Wheat was the focal point of the Thomspons’ wedding. Shown here in the artistic centerpieces, it was also used in the invitations and programs. Photo by Anne Liles.

Like Virginia, Jessica vacationed on the island with her family as a child. She was married there in May 2009. “After planning my own wedding there, I learned so much about the island and how it operates in order to pull off large-scale events,” she explains. “I felt that I had met all the right people and had all the knowledge, and it was just going to waste—my wedding was over, and when would I ever use that knowledge again? All of the brides who would come after me would be on their own to discover all of this information for themselves, and not have anyone who knew the island or knew the answers.”

Once returning from her honeymoon, Jessica took a college course on starting a wedding-planning business. By September 2009, A Day at the Beach was up and running. The most unique aspect of Jessica’s company is that she solely operates on Bald Head Island.

A few months before their wedding, Virginia and Mike visited Charleston, and Jessica met them over lunch. “From our first meeting, I could tell the wedding would be a laid-back event and truly showcase their personalities,” the designer says. “They both felt strongly that they wanted the event to be what they wanted and not what anyone else told them it should be. You can tell a lot about a couple when meeting to discuss their wedding—they don’t always realize how much insight into their relationship you can glean. With Virginia and Mike, you could tell they were completely on the same page with their visions for the day, which is usually a pretty good indicator for the rest of their relationship!”

Though the couple wanted to maintain their dream wedding, they did consider what might be more comfortable or convenient for their guests. It was important they throw a celebration everyone could enjoy. “Although this was ‘our day,’” the bride says, “our guests traveled and sacrificed a lot to be there, and we didn’t want that to go unnoticed.”

Some friends and family came in from as far as California, Florida and Pennsylvania. With this in mind, the couple included all guests in the weekend activities. “One highlight, and something I’ll never forget, is the rehearsal dinner,” Virginia shares. “This was the first night we got to see a lot of our guests and that was exciting. The evening was just so fun!”

During the rehearsal toasts at River Pilot Café, Virginia’s best friend and Mike’s best man shared meaningful speeches—words the couple still holds dear. And Virginia’s favorite part of the evening was a show from her three sisters: a revised rap to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.” The girls changed all the lyrics so that they applied to the bride and groom, while flashing a slide show of funny photos for the guests’ enjoyment.

“I remember this night being so special because with everyone together, the upcoming nuptials and the reason why everyone was gathered together was so real, humbling and exciting,” Virginia says.

“Virginia and Mike put their personal touches all over the wedding,” Jessica tells. “Often times people get caught up in the details and spend quite a bit of money on décor that only lasts for a few hours. Virginia never seemed to get caught up in this aspect.”

The mother of the bride’s friend, Marty Goodman, is especially artistic. She helped Virginia select wheat as a focal and starting point in the decorations, though the ideal table runners were difficult to come by.

“My mom and I searched high and low at all the rental stores in NC and online and could not find what we were envisioning,” she details. “Luckily, my mom is a good seamstress and I found the perfect fabric at a local sewing shop, and my mom was able to make the table runners. Having figured out a ‘theme’ for the centerpieces, I inadvertently developed a theme for our whole wedding. We incorporated wheat into our programs, invitations, and wedding favors.”

As favors, Mike brewed an American honey wheat ale at home, and Virginia designed the ‘Honey, I Do Brew’ labels. Photo by Anne Liles.

As favors, Mike brewed an American honey wheat ale at home, and Virginia designed the ‘Honey, I Do Brew’ labels. Photo by Anne Liles.

Wheat shaped into a special beverage for the favors: Mike’s “Honey, I Do Brew.” “My home brew is my therapy,” Mike says. “It gives me a project to work on that is gratifying and tasty. I enjoy understanding the science of making beer while experimenting with different flavors and styles. The idea for using a home brew as a wedding favor evolved with our vision. As the wheat centerpieces and invitations were coming together, I thought, Why not complete the night with a wheat ale? I decided to make a traditional American wheat beer with a twist and used locally grown honey from my parent’s farm and cloves to help add dimension and taste.”

Once settling on the ultimate fitting name, Virginia designed labels to match the color theme of wheat, taupe and deep orange. “Our guests loved the favors,” Mike exclaims. “I’m still getting messages and comments months later from some guests who saved the beer for a special occasion and loved it. I think overall people really enjoyed the originality and personal touch.”

The bridesmaids’ brunch took place on the Pelicatessen of the Bald Head Island Club. The ceremony was held at the Bald Head Island Chapel. “The ceremony itself was a bit of a blur,” Virginia concedes. “It went so fast—a record 7:30. I was nervous walking in, not because of the commitment I was about to enter—that I was confident about—but walking into a room with all eyes on me!”

“I was so excited,” Mike says. “My lips and voice wouldn’t stop shaking.”

“But our vows were perfect,” Virginia describes. “We repeated after the minister, but Mike and I wrote the vows ourselves so it was truly straight from the heart. It was short and sweet but straightforward.”

The couple held their reception at the Shoals Club, where the first dance allowed them to goof off for their friends and family. Their number began with a slow tune, Joe Koenig’s “Long Time Coming.” After a minute or so of the song, they segued into a semi-choreographed dance to Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True.”

“This was one of the times that we had our guests in the back of our minds,” Virginia explains, “because I’ve often been bored as I watch other first dances and the bride and groom twirl in circles for three minutes. In order to relieve our guests of this, Mike and I got our moment of a slow song just long enough before exciting the guests and revving the party up.”

The Thompsons’ photographer, Anne Liles, is the woman behind Bald Head Island Photography. She says she’s been drawn to the art nearly her entire life. “I discovered my love for it as a child when I went to an air show in Burlington,” Anne shares. “There were tons of hot air balloons and I just couldn’t stop taking photos. Then having to wait for the film to be developed was agony—this was in the ‘80s, so one-hour developing was not an option. I had to wait three to five days for my prints, and I will never forget the excitement of opening the envelope to see what I had captured.”

She shoots with two Nikon D3s and a Nikon D700 for the beach. For the reception, she used on- and off-camera lighting for a more dramatic effect. “Virginia and Mike are hilarious together—she was one of my most relaxed brides ever,” Anne says. The couple opted to shoot their photos together before the ceremony.

“I love it when couples break tradition and choose to see each other first,” the photographer tells. “It was a much more relaxed atmosphere since they didn’t feel rushed to get to the reception. We met a couple of hours before the ceremony and shot around Bald Head, and were able to take advantage of the beauty there.”

One of Anne’s favorite aspects of the wedding were the bride’s shoes, which were brightly colored in red-orange to match her bouquet and the bridesmaid’s dresses. Jessica loved the Thompsons’ send-off. “Flags were handmade by Virginia featuring jingle bells and exclamatory phrases such as, ‘Yeah!’ and ‘Woot Woot!’”

And as for the bride, even though she didn’t grow up with a dream wedding in her mind, she found exactly what she was looking for. “I distinctly remember stepping away from the dance floor for a few minutes to cool off and looking back over everyone on the dance floor, sitting in the tables around the Shoals Club and groups of people chatting on the sides,” Virginia recalls. “Everyone was just having such a good time. The guests were happy and they were all together in this one place for Mike and I—and what the two of us were committing to each other.”

One Response to Wonderful Weddings

  1. Brenda Hardwick says:

    Loved the article on the Waack’s wedding ideas and story. Beautiful Bride and Groom.

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