Real Weddings

BY Mary Catherine Logan

Lauren & Benjamin

March 18 2006
Photography by  Wide-Eyed Photography

Lauren Arntsen of Wrightsville Beach wasn’t looking for romance when she began her work as an intercessory missionary at the International House of Prayer or IHOP as it is commonly called in Kansas City Missouri. In fact she says she didn’t even want the distraction at that point in her life. But fate had other plans put into motion when she met Benjamin Nolot at the other IHOP — International House of Pancakes.

A romantic whirlwind ensued and soon the two became engaged the proposal coming during the same week Lauren would meet Benjamin’s family for the first time.

The couple flew into John Wayne Airport in Orange County where after lunch at Club 33 and a full day of Disneyland diversions the pair started the drive along the winding coastal roads to Benjamin’s home. Lauren was seeing a California sunset for the first time and the couple couldn’t resist pulling the car over to take a picture. As they walked down the cliffs to the beach Benjamin pulled Lauren away from her camera leading her to a pre-arranged romantic silver-platter picnic for two set among the crags. The first course was a five-page letter ending with his important question: “Will you marry me?”

Eight months later and the breadth of the country away the couple walked down the aisle of Windemere Presbyterian Church astonished that they had been drawn together from such distant places.

The newlyweds now work together at IHOP the house of prayer.


Bride’s Full Name: Lauren Faith Arntsen Groom’s Full Name: Benjamin R. Nolot Wedding Date: March 18 2006 Ceremony Site: Windemere Presbyterian Church Reception Site: Holiday Inn SunSpree Rehearsal Dinner Site: Bluewater Photography: Wide-Eyed Photography Videography: Mari Kittredge Videos Wedding Planner: A Carolina Wedding Officiants: Pastor Lou Engle and Pastor Stuart Greaves Gown: Williams Custom Design Veil: Williams Custom Design Shoes: David’s Bridal Jewelry: The Jones Store Hair: Phyllis Champange Makeup: Jennifer Banks Bridesmaid Dresses: Nolte’s Bridal Shop Kansas City Formalwear: After Hours Formalwear Invitations: Mindy and Angie’s Fine Paper Flowers: Timeless Florals Catering: Holiday Inn SunSpree Cake: Nancy Hearn Music: Gerry White Receptions Favors: Custom-made CDs Transportation: Twilight Limousine Accommodations: Shell Island Resort Honeymoon: California and Oahu Hawaii

Sarah & Nick

April 15 2006
Photography by Eric von Bargen

“He had me at hello ” says Sarah Fries of her husband Nicholas Gilley. That greeting came at a friend’s party during Sarah’s freshman year at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Sparks flew and led the two to a Valentine’s Day dinner at an upscale restaurant in downtown Charlotte. Sarah says she knew from the beginning that Nick was a keeper but didn’t want to get into anything too serious until after graduation.

Exactly seven days after graduation things did get serious.

The couple was touring the ancient Mayan pyramids in Mexico when Nick began talking about the strong time-tested walls of the structures and the similarities to their relationship. Nick dug in his pocket for a ring and Sarah’s tears blended in with the pouring rain as she realized what was happening.

As the two began to make wedding preparations they knew one thing was certain — it had to take place amid the beauty of Airlie Gardens. Sarah says that neither of them could imagine saying their vows inside since the outdoors was where they spend most of their free time together.

Sarah says that the day truly was the best in her life. She got both the man of her dreams and all of her loved ones together to share their special moment.

The couple now lives in Greenville S.C. in close proximity to Nick’s real estate development projects where they have renovated a 1932 bungalow.


Bride’s Full Name: Sarah Elizabeth Fries Groom’s Full Name: Nicholas Lang Gilley Wedding Date: April 15 2006 Ceremony Site: Airlie Gardens Reception Site: Porters Neck Country Club Rehearsal Dinner Site: Oceanic Photography: Eric von Bargen Videography: Capture the Moment Officiant: Penelope Morningstar Gown: Dimitra’s Designs Greenville S.C Shoes: Dimitra’s Designs Jewelry: Borrowed from groom’s mother Hair: Bangz Makeup: Bangz Bridesmaid Dresses: Dimitra’s Designs Formalwear: After Hours Formalwear Invitations: Made by bride Flowers: Island Florals Catering: Porters Neck Country Club Cake: Nancy Hearne Music: Global D.J Entertaiment violinist Maura Kropke Favors: Picture frames Transportation: Platinum Limousine Accommodations: Holiday Inn SunSpree Sand Peddler Honeymoon: Key West

Audren & Shane

April 29 2006
Photography by Marino Photography

When Hurricane Ivan devastated Pensacola Florida in 2003 Audren Richardson was left virtually homeless and moved back to her hometown of Wilmington to begin putting her life back together again. She took a job as a waitress at Applebee’s Restaurant.

Those were tough times that don’t look so bad in hindsight. It was while waiting tables that Audren met her now-husband Shane Ford. Initially Audren didn’t hit it off with the “smooth operator ” as she thought of Shane but as the two grew closer his genuine personality came to the forefront.

Eight months later on a romantic fall afternoon by the river Shane asked her to be his wife.

Audren says she had always wanted to marry barefoot in the sand and in late April. Her wish came true — though the men in the wedding party insisted on keeping their toes covered.

They originally wanted to wed on the south end of the beach but the ongoing dredging project nixed that idea. The ceremony ultimately took place near Shell Island Resort.

The couple honeymooned in Maui where they pursued an active vacation snorkeling and hiking on the island and sharing meals in relaxed luaus and in Mama’s Fish House a five-star restaurant.

The couple now reside in Wilmington where Shane is actively pursuing law school. Audren works at A Southern Time Catering and looks forward to starting her own catering business in the future.


Bride’s Full Name: Audren Fuller Richardson Groom’s Full Name: David Shane Ford Wedding Date: April 29 2006 Ceremony Site: Wrightsville Beach Strand near Shell Island Resort Reception Site: Porters Neck Country Club Rehearsal Dinner Site: The home of family friends Photography: Marino Photography Officiant: Randy Rush Gown: Alfred Angelo from Elegant Brides Shoes: J. Reneé Hair: Bellezza Salon Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal Invitations: Mindy and Angie’s Fine Paper Flowers: Premier Events Catering: Porters Neck (reception) & J.K. Rowlings (rehearsal dinner) Cake: Danny’s Bakery Music: Eric Hitt played acoustic guitar during the ceremony and Tin Roof played during the reception Favors: Carolina Candy Co. (shell chocolates) Transportation: Sterling Limos Accommodations: Residence Inn at Landfall Honeymoon: Maui Hawaii

Elizabeth & Richard

August 5 2006
Photography by Walters & Walters Photography

Elizabeth Herring had heard many great things about Richard Rogers through a friend and co-worker but she didn’t know how truly wonderful he was until the two met downtown one night by coincidence. They hit it off immediately and met for a first-date lunch at a Smithfield’s Barbeque off the interstate as they both traveled to their separate beach homes his in Wrightsville Beach hers in Topsail.

As the two spent the weekend at their respective beach houses they continued to think of each other and wound up dating for two and a half years. On a spontaneous trip before Christmas to Grove Park Inn in Asheville Richard asked Elizabeth to be his wife.

Eight months later Richard and Elizabeth joined their wedding parties on Wrightsville Beach where they had rented two beach cottages for a weekend of relaxation and celebration.

The wedding pictures were taken just in time to beat the lingering thunderstorms and torrential rains that accompanied the Saturday evening wedding.

The couple chose to marry at Wrightsville United Methodist Church because of their affiliation with the church and longtime ties to Wrightsville Beach.

The special weekend led to a 10-day tour of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands for the newlyweds who roomed in a candlelit hut by the water in Little Dix Bay.

The couple now lives on Wrightsville Beach with their English yellow Lab Costa.


Bride’s Full Name: Elizabeth Davis Herring Groom’s Full Name: Richard Marion Rogers Wedding Date: August 5 2006 Ceremony Site: Wrightsville United Methodist Church Reception Site: The Surf Club Rehearsal Dinner Site: City Club at de Rosset Photography: Walters and Walters Videography: Mari Kittredge Wedding Planner: Maria Herring Officiant: The Rev. Tim Russell Gown: Amsale Shoes: Grace Jewelry: Stonehaven Jewelry Gallery Cary Hair: Jamye Shaw Makeup: Jamye Shaw Bridesmaid Dresses: Alvina Valenta Formalwear: After Hours Invitations: National Engraving Flowers: Angie Martin (Independent Floral Designer) Catering: The Surf Club Cake: Nancy Hearne Music: Craig Woolard Band and Sea Pans at the reception; Thomas Pendergrast cello Anna Crumpton harp Harry McClamb trumpet and Heather Shaw and Susan Shimp vocalist at ceremony Favors: CDs Transportation: Wilmington Trolley Co Accommodations: Holiday Inn SunSpree Hampton Inn and Suites Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach and Jameson Inn in Wilmington. The bride and groom and their parents all rented houses on Wrightsville for the week of the wedding and for the bridesmaids and groomsmen Honeymoon: U.S. & British Virgin Islands

Arwen & Jules

September 23 2006
Photography by EW Photography

Jules Norwood and Arwen Parris love the written word and living near the water and when it came to the most important day of their lives the water was inevitably included.

It was in fact on the high seas that the two had their first date. A close friend of Arwen’s insisted on their meeting and arranged a double date aboard Jules’ 30-foot sailboat.

As the foursome hoisted sails to begin their day at sea Jules and Arwen’s attraction for each other grew stronger and when he couldn’t stop thinking about her in the days that followed Jules asked her to dinner later that week.

Two years later the couple took a trip to the Atlantic Beach Seafood Festival. It was there in a romantic setting on the beach that Jules got down on one knee. Completely surprised by the proposal Arwen nevertheless managed to say yes.

The couple wed a year later on a warm breezy afternoon on Whipporwill Lane. As per Arwen’s family tradition the Book of Ruth was read during the ceremony to underscore the meaning of marriage. The reception was held at the Surf Club.

Although the newlyweds took a week off after the wedding to spend with friends and family the real honeymoon won’t take place until April when they head to Playa del Carmen on the Mexican coast.

Jules Lumina News reporter and Arwen Barnes & Noble community relations manager presently live in Wilmington where the two stay close to the beach.


Bride’s Full Name: Melissa Arwen Parris Groom’s Full Name: David Julius Norwood Wedding Date: Sept. 23 2006 Ceremony Site: Whipporwill Lane Reception Site: The Surf Club Rehearsal Dinner Site: Oceanic Photography: EW Photography Wedding Planner: A Carolina Wedding Officiant: The Rev. Monte Johnston Gown: Christos Winston-Salem Veil: Christos Winston-Salam Jewelry: Borrowed from bride’s mother Barbara Parris Hair: Ginger Smith independent hairdresser Makeup: The bride did herself Bridesmaid Dresses: After Six Formalwear: After Hours Formalwear Invitations: Mindy and Angie’s Fine Paper Flowers: A Beautiful Event Catering: The Surf Club Cake: Sweet T’s Cakes Taylor Ross Music: DJ America Favors: Coozies with bride and groom’s name and date Transportation: A & K Limousine Service Accommodations: Rented beach house on Wrightsville for wedding party Honeymoon: Mayan Riviera