Monday, September 5, 2011

A Wedding Story (Two Sparrows in a Hurricane) Part 3

It was a sleepless night. Tossing and turning with excitement and anticipation, I prayed God's will for the day ahead, and for strength, and that it would hurry and arrive. Three sweet friends shared the room with me. The quiet darkness hung in there with me til morning, interspersed with fleeting moments of slumber. It was one of those nights when you can't tell if you're sleeping or dreaming or awake and thinking or somewhere in between. And it was long.

The hotel phone rang early, waking me from my lack of sleep.

"Well Lacy, Bellingrath called, and it's not going to happen. They told me they are closing down completely and going home for the day." Mama was calm. I was calm. It was like I'd just lost a project on my computer that I'd been working on all semester. And it was due in just a few hours! I knew we had to lower our heads and bust our rear ends to make it good. And we still could. It was going to be good- I was determined. I had done some of my best work in college at the last minute. I knew what this pressure felt like. Most plans were already in place- the flowers, the food, the tablecloths, the cake, the photographer- everything except a location. And I DID NOT want to get married in the lobby of the Holiday Inn in Tillman's Corner Alabama.

Soon, the hotel was bustling with our friends and family in and out of rooms- everyone asking questions, watching the weather on TV. We were on it! We piled into a room with our telephone books and cell phones. I called hotels with banquet halls. "I'm sorry, Ma'am, but we do not allow people to bring in their own food." We called Country Clubs and Churches. We called friends of friends of friends who lived in the area and who may have connections.

Then guests began arriving early to the hotel. They found me huddled at the lobby computer researching. "Hey! I'm glad y'all came!" I would say. With no answers yet as to the plans for the day. We were suppose to begin pictures at 11 or so. Everything was busy around us with people calling venues on our behalf, and the storm upon us, rainy, windy, and angry.

Just then, our caterer called. She had catered events at several places and was also being proactive in securing a new location for us. "I've been at weddings at this sweet little chapel called Brookside that has a reception hall beside it. It is really precious, and lots of people actually want to reserve it for their weddings. I could check on it for you. The only thing is... it's in a retirement village."

"Call 'em!" I told her.

And that was that. It was available! She booked it. And the set-up began! Flowers were to be delivered there. The food would be directed there. It was decided! But, our 2 O'clock nuptials would become a 4 O'clock event (which is actually interesting because I had always wanted to be married later in the day anyway! And 4 was my lucky number- my softball and basketball number!)

Everything else happened so fast, it is difficult to trace the events. I took a bath and fixed my hair very quickly. I believe some of our friends stood post at Bellingrath to re-direct guests who had not heard of the change of locale. I still can't figure out who called everyone or how people found out exactly where to go. Sadly, a bus from our church that would bring some of our dear older friends was forced to stay home and not make the trip due to the weather. Our grandparents wouldn't make it. And many of our RSVP's wouldn't make it either. But many were there, and we were going to be married that day!

When we arrived at the little chapel, it was delightful! Perfect! Simple and clean with wood floors and white-washed, arched windows. I loved it! Soon, a news crew arrived to interview us. Apparently, the diminishing hurricane, which was quickly becoming a tropical storm, didn't provide the stories they had hoped for. They caught wind of a couple that had traveled all the way from Mississippi to be married at Bellingrath only to be re-routed to a retirement village thanks to Arlene!

We have the video. It is hilarious- we were so excited just to be getting married! We were silly goofy, and I said "I've always wanted to get married in a little white chapel" and Kaleb said "Some of our friends have said we should name our first child Arlene". We were so cheesy. But we didn't care!

Our bridesmaids and groomsmen, and our choir (yes, we had a choir) crammed into the front of the little chapel. The house was packed! Guests splashed in through the pouring rain, and ushers walked them in with umbrellas, gave them towels and led them to their seats. Someone's car nearly floated away. Water was up to the door handle! It was a long ceremony. Quite long actually- but good. In place of a unity candle, Kaleb had the idea to drink from the same cup. We each poured our individual cups into one bowl, scooped from it, and drank of one shared cup- sharing our joys and sorrows- the water metaphor interwoven yet again into our wedding story. Among other songs, the choir sang "This Is My Father's World"- one of my favorites, and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"-reflecting the covenant Christ has made with us- what our wedding was pointing toward.

The rain stopped by the end of the ceremony, and the reception was beautiful. The food was delicious, but there was way too much. The flower arrangements were huge for the room, so the place looked like a garden.  And everyone was soaked- some were barefooted, some had come out of their dress clothes completely. And everyone seemed happy just to be there- wet, all together, just there. We talked with friends and family who had driven into the storm to witness our uniting. We threw the bouquet and the garter and had a dance.

Then. . . a surprise. . .

When we walked out to be showered with rose petals, we saw it...

Our very own horse and buggy! Mama had arranged it from the beginning. She had been calling them back and forth all day to make sure they could make it to the Brookside Chapel. They promised her they would come if the weather would allow, and it did! So we all took our turns riding. Kaleb and I rode first- up and down the manicured streets of the retirement village, elderly residents stepping outside their doors with their canes and their leashed dogs- to wave at us as we rode past. We waved back- full of delight as if we were in a parade. We were married! And we were taking our ride of fame!

We rode back and others hopped in. Mama said "Now, Lacy, the man said we can have it til  7 O'clock. Y'all can stay here as long as you want to." Of course it was her last attempt to keep me close- to put off as long as possible letting me get in that car and drive off a married lady, when I'd started the day as her little girl.

The car was decorated too. And for whatever reason, we kept forgetting to clean the Vaseline from underneath the door handle. So every time we opened our doors for the next few days on our honeymoon, we were tricked again.

And so the wedding story ends. We were married! Like two sparrows in a hurricane, we flew through the day and off to our honeymoon- just as married as we would have been with sunshine and 500 guests. They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck. Well.

(Oh- and it was around 70 degrees and breezy alright.)

The End

Brookside Chapel- the day after the wedding (Mama took this one)


  1. I will definitely say that it was the most interesting wedding I've ever been a part of (indirectly) or even attended... I still chuckle to myself when I think of your Mom's face when she thought Johnny bought his Golf just on a whim because we had time to spare... As if.......

  2. too precious...loved reading the rest of the story!!!