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Couple holds elaborate, Renaissance-themed wedding

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BLOOMINGTON — More than a year of planning went into the wedding of Leigh Spencer and Jeremy Whitted, which took place Saturday at on the north lawn of Ewing Manor.

To spend such an amount of time planning June nuptials is nothing extraordinary, but Leigh and Jeremy wished to have a Renaissance-themed wedding, and their families took over from there.

"Leigh was a volunteer at the Shakespeare festival a few years," said Linda Spencer, the bride's mother. "She always thought having a wedding here would be awesome. And then a few years ago she got into Renaissance fairs. And one thing led to another and we wound up doing the wedding this way."

Outside the large, Tudor-style manor off Emerson Street, the houses of Spencer and Whitted were united in an elaborate theme wedding where thousands of little details shimmered in the light of the warm day.

At the courtyard reception, 1,000 paper cranes in blue, silver and white, the wedding's colors, hung from the inside of the tent.

"It took over 120 hours to make them, from learning origami to folding and hanging them," said Linda Spencer.

Linda Spencer and her husband, Steve, spent 16 months researching details for the wedding by poring over magazines on Renaissance culture.

They also attended a few Renaissance fairs to get more ideas. In the course of researching her daughter's wedding she learned that the first time a Renaissance woman wore her hair down was on the day of her wedding.

"We took her hairstyle right out of a Renaissance magazine," she said.

Members of the wedding party, as well as some in the audience, also were decked out in period costumes. The theme even influenced the reception fare.

"They didn't have utensils in the Renaissance. You had to eat with your hands, of course," said Linda Spencer as she described the hors d'oeuvres reception that included steak teriyaki on sticks, fruit kabobs and deviled eggs, along with iced tea and sparkling cider.

"In the Renaissance it was typical for the groom to walk with his best bird," added Linda Spencer, whose new son-in-law walked to the aisle wearing a gauntlet on which sat Jubilee, a hybrid peregrine/prairie falcon.

"Jubilee was the official ring bearer," said Jason Whitted, the groom's cousin and best man. "And she's part of Jeremy's family, so he wanted to find a place for her in the wedding."

However, Jason Whitted carried the actual ring in a small dark satchel around his waist, which also contained dice.

"There just aren't any pockets on this thing," he said of his Renaissance ensemble. "So I had this little bag and I threw the ring down in there. I don't think it's traditional."

When Jason Whitted was asked for the ring during the ceremony, he had a little trouble fishing the ring out from among his dice.

As the ceremony drew to a close, the couple lit a lantern to symbolize their love.

Jason Whitted, along with all the groom's men, were bearded to some degree or other.

"They were going for the scruffy, stubble look," said maid of honor Whitney Spencer.

"My sister and her husband go to Renaissance fairs. My sister always went. In fact, we made her a Renaissance costume for Christmas one year as a gift so she could wear it to the fairs. Then she made a costume for Jeremy so they could go together," Whitney Spencer said.

The groom, Jeremy Whitted, originally from Indiana, is a licensed falconer who works with birds at the Fort Worth zoo in Texas. He met Leigh Spencer, who majored in zoology at Southern Illinois University, at the zoo.

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