In 1994, Matt and Chris Young moved to Preston. Soon after, Chris met Karen MacDonald at a
Mothers’ Morning Out group. With children around the same ages, they became good friends
over the years.
Fast forward to grown children in 2020. Karen and her husband, Robert, had moved to Chapel
Hill to launch a dream project, opening Lavender Oaks Farm in 2016. Chris and her husband,
Matt, had hosted their older daughters with beautiful weddings. Melissa, their oldest, and her
husband, Mark, were married in Manteo on a long dock in front of a lighthouse. Their middle
daughter, Colleen, and her husband, Justin, wanted a more formal wedding, so they were married at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Cary. Their youngest daughter, Sarah, had a different idea
for her 2020 wedding.
After Sarah graduated from ECU, she went on a five-country backpacking adventure and fell in
love with Santorini, Greece. She knew she would be married there someday. In 2016, she met
Andrew Giles through mutual friends. They became engaged in December of 2018 and began
planning their destination wedding to Santorini. Chris shared, “We began planning in January of
2019, booking the venue right away. We found a wonderful wedding planner in Greece and had
tickets for about 40 family and friends. The wedding was to be outside on a cliff overlooking
Caldera Bay — a beautiful setting at the Rocabella Hotel.” Everything was lined up and in place
more than a year in advance. Wedding date set: June 6, 2020.
COVID-19 threw a curve ball at Sarah’s wedding plans. “Sarah and Andrew wanted to keep their original wedding date and later go to Santorini for a formal ceremony. We moved the Santorini date to September, and on June 6, we held a very small and quiet wedding in St. Michaels Chapel with Father Daniel Oschwald officiating. We were still under restrictions, so the wedding party was just her sisters, the matrons of honor, and Andrew’s brother, Alex, the best man. Alex lived in Colorado and attended via Zoom. Sarah’s sisters and their husbands; Andrew’s parents, Doug and Kim Giles; and our granddaughter were able to share in the wedding. Afterward, Andrew’s aunt and uncle were able to join us all for a family dinner at our home.” The sisters and the bride did not wear their official wedding attire. “Sarah wanted to save her formal dress for Santorini.”
Greece continued to have restrictions, so the date moved again to June of 2021. But in
September of 2021, instead of traveling to Santorini, Sarah and Andrew welcomed their son to
the world. “They decided to cancel the Santorini event, but Matt and I really wanted to give a
memorable wedding experience to Sarah like her sisters had, so we landed on another wonderful
Karen and Robert MacDonald purchased a beautiful farm in Chapel Hill in 2016 with a vision to create a lavender farm and venue. Lavender Oaks Farm is a working lavender farm with more than 60,000 plants and at least nine varieties. The venue includes restored century-old timber frame barns they transported and reassembled from Pennsylvania, a log cabin near the pond and a 1.5-mile trail winding through the purple fields.
Chris and Karen talked about the possibility of hosting a vow renewal for Sarah and Andrew at
the farm. “Sarah and I met with Karen in February of 2021 to plan. We set the date for Sunday
June 5, 2022. Karen was an incredible wedding planner and just made everything come together
beautifully, recommending vendors. They were all excellent. Our photographer was Krista Stevens Photography, Bowerbird Flowers, Funky Fresh caterer and Artful Libations.”
With their then 9-month-old son dressed in a suit, their 4-year-old niece as flower girl and
Sarah wearing the gorgeous formal wedding dress she had purchased in 2019 from Maggie
Bridals, Sarah and Andrew were led in a traditional vow renewal by Father Daniel in the
“During the reception, guests were asked to write notes to put in a time capsule to be opened in five years.” From outside fireplace and seating, to cornhole and cocktails, to their friend Al Sibille with Epic DJ Entertainment set up in the main barn, the long-awaited wedding celebration was an incredible success. “They were able to ‘honeymoon’ in Cancun, and we got to watch our grandson. On a side note, Matt and I went to Santorini in September, booking the same hotels we had to cancel the past couple of years. But that is another story!