First comes Love: Wedding celebrant aptly named


With her last name, it seems only fitting that Frankee Love would work in the wedding biz. And she's not the first in her amorously monikered clan: her family ran a jewelry and crystal business in the Tidewater community of Kenbridge when she was growing up.

Love, however, has forsaken selling rings and is creating a name for herself as one of the busiest non-denominational wedding celebrants in the state.

She performed 140 weddings in Virginia in 2005 and recently left her full-time job as director of public relations at Wintergreen Resort to focus on tying even more knots this year.

"I have always loved weddings," says Love, 56. "And once I started doing it, I realized I'm very well suited to it."

Sometimes known as a justice of the peace, a marriage celebrant is a person authorized by the state to perform civil (as opposed to religious) weddings.

But to those who imagine that civil ceremonies are for those who want (or need) to get married in a hurry, Love, who sports a "SAY I DO" license plate, says that's not the case.

"A civil wedding does not have to be dry and uninspiring," she says.

In fact, one of Love's specialties is "adventure weddings," where couples take their vows during daredevil stunts like rock climbing or rafting on class-five rapids.

For such events, Love has several suggestions. To brides, she says, "Carry your bouquet in a backpack so your hands are free to grasp the rocks." And she cautions couples to exchange rings on dry land.

"You don't want to run the risk of losing the rings in a rapid or in the snow," she warns.

But Love's expertise extends beyond white water rafting.

"John and I are from different cultures, and Frankee helped us write our own spiritual ceremony," says October bride Olga Morgan. "Her peaceful style helped us most of all."

On January 21, Love made her five-year-old Blue Ridge Weddings business her full-time job. With her extra time, Love– who lives at Wintergreen and owns a home in Nelson County– plans to develop the Las Vegas concept of broadcasting weddings live on the Internet.

"When I saw it at my nephew's wedding, I thought, 'You can take that same concept and put it in Virginia style,'" she says. "Wow!"

Though she's pushing new technological frontiers, Love says she may stick with something old when it comes to marketing.

"My dad used to say, 'When in love... see Love,'" she recalls of his ads. "That was so embarrassing to me at the time, but now I think he was pretty clever."

Frankee Love