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A Hurricane Wedding Story

by Meghann on June 17, 2011

I’ll admit it – I’ve been obsessed with weddings lately.

I can’t help it – there are weddings all around me!

My sister is beginning to plan her summer wedding

My little brother is tying the knot next February…

TWO of my former college roommates are currently engaged…

I have at least two weddings coming up in the next couple of months…

And don’t even get me started on how many save the dates are on my fridge for 2012! CA-RA-ZY.

I may not be getting married myself, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been caught up in the wedding spirit. I love being a sound board for ideas and helping my family and friends plan their perfect day is just plain fun!

However, it wasn’t until I was going off about chair covers on Facebook earlier this week (don’t ask), that my cousin reminded me of something very important – the little details means NOTHING. I believe her exact words were: “You should plan it exactly the way you want it and expect it to not go as planned.”

And, trust me, she would know!

My cousin Bobby and Candice wed in Orlando, FL on August 14, 2004.

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If you’re from the Orlando area, then the date might look familiar. It was the day after Hurricane Charlie had ripped straight across Central Florida, leaving behind battered homes, uplifted trees, and millions of people without power – NOT something you want to wake up to the morning of your wedding!

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The original hotel they booked their reception at was powerless (and not returning calls), their church had a huge hole in the roof, tuxes were missing, guests were dealing with their own damage, and the whole city was basically shut down in post-hurricane shock.

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I remember fielding phone calls all morning on whether the wedding was still happening or not. I can’t even imagine what was going through Bobby and Candice’s heads at that time! Having one of the worst hurricanes to ever strike Central Florida roll through the evening of your wedding is not cool!

Everyone instantly sprang into recovery mode and somehow, in one morning, my cousin Bobby was able to do something that took Candice a year and a half to do – he re-planned their wedding.

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He found a new hotel for the reception, redirected the caterers, and – by some miracle – the big hole in the church’s roof was fixed minutes before the bride was set to walk down the aisle. Attending the wedding, you would never have known anything had gone awry. It was a beautiful wedding and the couple in the center of it all had never looked happier or more in love than on that day.

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The reception had been moved to the local Holiday Inn. The staff was wonderful. Not only were they able to set up a wedding reception in their courtyard in just a few hours, but they were able to accommodate all the guests who had originally planned to stay the night at the original hotel.

To this day, my family STILL tells stories about the reception. It was the night my cousin Jay met and fell in love with his future wife (one of Candice’s bridesmaids), it was the night my little brother closed the bar down because – at the age of 15 – he couldn’t handle all the alcohol all my cousins were slipping him, it was the night my entire family danced the night away without a care in the world, and it was the night the newlyweds admitted why it was so important they were married on August 14th. Turns out it wasn’t a wedding after all – they had eloped exactly a year before in Vegas and this was their one year wedding anniversary. Surprise!

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Candice was right – the details didn’t matter at all. Did she have chair covers? I have no idea! Was the food good? Total blur. But did I get on the dance floor and belt out ‘It’s Raining Men’ with my cousin Jenny and Mom – Heck yeah!

It’s the memories that count – not the decorations. Even a wedding that almost didn’t happen because of a hurricane can attest to that!

1 Shanna, Like Banana June 17, 2011 at 11:31 am

What a fabulous story and I completely agree. The memories we have from our wedding are not of the favors, or the food, or the flowers, but of all the craziness we were having on the dance floor, the laughs with family and friends, the stolen kisses…amazing!

2 Gavi @ Gavi Gets Going! June 17, 2011 at 11:31 am

Wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring story of love and commitment. I am planning my wedding right now and I am trying my best to always keep in mind that this day will just be one wonderful, happy day in a lifetime of wonderful, happy days with my husband-to-be. I love this story!

3 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat June 17, 2011 at 11:34 am

Hehe! Great post Meghann! I’d probably be more than a little flustered if there was a hurricane rolling in during my wedding, but I agree, it’s all about the memories and the people.
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4 Holly @ The Runny Egg June 17, 2011 at 11:35 am

We had a very low key, small wedding and although there are times when I wish we had done things differently, it doesn’t really matter. I married the man that I love and we had a lovely day with our family and friends. That is all I wanted!

I loved reading this story about your cousin — and I loved that they had eloped first!
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5 Sarah @ goingongoals June 17, 2011 at 11:39 am

What a great post!! As a bride-to-be (in exactly one year today!!) this a great reality check. I am enjoying all the details, but in the end the details don’t matter, the friends, family and celebration do!

6 Sarah June 17, 2011 at 11:43 am

I really like this post and while I’ve only been to 1 wedding in my whole life and know absolutely squat about planning a wedding I’ve always felt that in the end it is the marriage that is important and that’s what should be focused on. The chair covers and table settings are all minor details.
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7 Katie @ cooklaughmove June 17, 2011 at 11:46 am

So, so true!! My sister is getting married in September and is a details FANATIC, but misses the big things like a guest list (yeah, still no guest list!!). I keep reminding there it doesn’t matter. Sure you want things to be nice but if the brown ribbon around the vases doesn’t exactly match the brown tuxes, nobody is going to know or care!
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8 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy June 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

Such a good story! I was not expecting them to already be married- I can’t believe they kept that a secret for a year- I think I would’ve blabbed!
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9 Sarah for Real June 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

This made me get all teary eyed, what a beautiful story! She’s exactly right about the details. People remember the overall ambiance.

10 Kate N. June 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

Perfect! I’m planning my wedding now (writing a blog post about this) – it was suppose to be a small wedding that’s now threatening to turn into a huge wedding neither my fiancee or I want 🙁 We are way more excited to be married then getting married! Everyone else seems to be freaking out about the details BUT me. No one is going to remember what shade of blue was on the table or what the centerpieces were, just whether they had fun!

11 Kiran June 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

What a great story. Of course, we couldn’t have imagined what was going through their mind during all those calamities. Glad everything went great in the end. That truly matters, right? 🙂
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12 Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life June 17, 2011 at 11:57 am

such an awesome post. I got married a few months back and looking back now I will always remember that fun my family and friends had and the fact that I got married to my best friend. The color of my napkins and flowers are sooo inconsequential compared to the bigger pictures!
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13 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen June 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Now that is an awesome story! I bet they’ll never forget any of the details of that day. And I love that they surprised everyone with the fact that they had already been married! It’s almost too far fetched to believe!

14 skinnyrunner June 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

WOW that is a great wedding story and plenty of memories!
its so true… all the bride details that you go crazy over (and want to spend tons of money on) none of the guests even remember!

15 Lindsey June 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

So true! Though I am a details person and a perfectionist, at the end of the day all that mattered was that we were happily married. But in the months/weeks leading up the wedding I was overcome with all the little details and making sure they all came together to make my vision come true. I know things went wrong on our day, but nothing anyone noticed, not even me – thanks to my great Mom who kept it all on the DL and took care of it!
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16 Miranda June 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Totally agree. Sounds like my sister’s wedding.

– It was 35 degrees the morning of. We were in sundresses b/c it was March in alabama. 75 degrees the day before.
– Her outside wedding had to be moved inside at last notice
– The piano player forgot his amp. No music! So an uncle had a guitar in his car and someone played Here Comes the Bride acoustic.
– My stepdad fell and knocked his head in his slick dress shoes and had to go the hospital right after the ceremony for stitches.

You just never know!

17 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey June 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm

That is the craziest wedding story I’ve ever heard!!

18 Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes June 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm

What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing! 🙂
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19 Jessica @ The Process of Healing June 17, 2011 at 12:32 pm

That is SUCH a sweet story! That just goes to show… the details don’t matter.. it’s all about who you’re marrying, if you have them, you don’t need anything else!
Jessica @ The Process of Healing recently posted..WIAW &amp The Story- Part II

20 Grace June 17, 2011 at 12:37 pm

What a great story! It really does remind you to not sweat the small stuff:)
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21 Sana June 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm

My bf, mom and sister are like OBSESSED with planning my future wedding, no he has not asked yet.
But, I honestly just want to have a fun time. Do seat covers help you have a fun time?
Sana recently posted..The Elbow Diet

22 Carissa June 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

That is a wonderful story and a great lesson to brides! All I remember about my wedding is dancing! But on our honeymoon we both agreed that we would’ve rather had a month on the beach then our huge wedding!

The most important thing is to be confident in your relationship and understand the value and seriousness of a marriage.
Carissa recently posted..Fun mail day!

23 Amanda June 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm

So true! I’m just 3.5 months from my wedding and trying not to get too crazy over details. We’re excited and we want it to be special but we don’t want to waste time and money on little things that make no difference.
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24 Hope June 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I love this! This is such a great story. The most important thing about a wedding is that person you are marrying. It’s hard to not get pulled into every single detail. At the end of the day you are becoming one with that person. That is truly the best part of a wedding. I cannot wait for that. 🙂
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25 bri June 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm

What a great wedding story! It’s so true–the details are forgotten, but fun memories sure aren’t.

For that very reason, I feel fortunate that my husband and I were the first of our friends and siblings/cousins to get married. I am detail-oriented to the max, but I stayed away from wedding magazines and wedding blogs for the two years we planned our wedding and just planned the celebration we wanted. Now that every one of my girlfriends is engaged or recently married, I am realizing how carried away I probably would have been if I’d known all the options available! They are spazzing over the fabric of their table cloths and about how long to allot for the MOH/BM speeches. Contrast that with the fact that I felt zero stress throughout wedding planning. We received so many wonderful compliments on every part of our wedding, and it just goes to show that you can keep your cool while planning a beautiful, fun, and memorable wedding.

26 Katy (The Singing Runner) June 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm

What a fantastic story and I love how they were already eloped! How fun! 😀
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27 Robin June 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I remember that day because I got married that day. Luckily in Boston but had people worried about us leaving for a cruise that week because we knew the hurricane was coming that week. I agree. Don’t sweat the small stuff at your wedding. It is just one day and you will have many other days that will trump that one.

28 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife June 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm

holy crazy! That has some amazing stories in this post. WOW. Good for them!!

29 Mrs WV June 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Wow I am like madly fist pumping alone at my computer!! I am so sick of people getting all caught up in those kind of details (although if that is what you live for, then go for it!). I think it comes from people genuinely wanting to help, so they suggest you do all these things, and before you know if you have this big show.
I am so happy that I married a man that could not be asked about details, and that my family didn’t expect a show either. We had an amazing wedding, despite the fact that our original reception place had a fire 2 weeks before, we forgot about a first dance, i forgot about the veil, and on man countless other things that a ‘proper’ wedding is supposed to have. This has to be one of my favourite posts of yours ever!!
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30 Laurin June 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm

You may not be getting married (YET!) but at least you know what is important. My wedding was something out of America’s Funniest Videos – The florist screwed up all of the flowers, my maid of honor fainted and after ten minutes of chaos, she stood up, and the minister said, “you may now kiss your bride.” My brother caught himself on fire with the sparklers and then my mom fell in the pool. I have no idea what our tables looked like. I have no idea what the cocktail hour consisted of. But I’ll always remember my husbands face light up when he saw me walking down the aisle!
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31 Ali @ Ali Runs June 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

What an amazing story–I can’t even imagine how stressful it must have been to wake up to a hurricane on my wedding day! It’s amazing your cousin could re-plan everything that day. Sounds like an unforgettable wedding 🙂
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32 Avery June 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

What an inspiring story! I work with weddings and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is to never expect it to be perfect. Something always, always goes wrong, big or small. The important thing is how you handle it and your attitude! Great post.

33 Monika June 17, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Wow what a beautiful story- also, congrats to your sister and brother on their engagements!!
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34 Jen June 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

That is the most amazing story! Every bride- and groom-to-be should read it.

35 Jessica @ For the Fun of Fit June 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Now I have “It’s Raining Men” stuck in my head at work. Would it be bad if I just started singing it!?!
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36 ashley June 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Your story reminds me of this youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0DmtmmFEVo crazy things happen! If I ever get married I hope I can stay as calm as your cousin!

37 erica June 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm

such a great story!
a great reminder not to sweat the small stuff…it is SO easy to get all caught up in the planning and trying to get everything “perfect”, that you forget the whole reason for the day!
thanks for the reminder 🙂

38 Kristen @ The Concrete Runner June 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Wow, what a GREAT wedding story! Seriously, they need to make that into a movie or something! But, it’s definitely true – the little details don’t matter. I didn’t have chair covers because we couldn’t afford them, but I don’t think anyone notices and honestly, I don’t even have pictures of that! What I do have are memories that I will cherish forever since it was the day I married my best friend – and the best day of my life!
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39 Virginia June 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm

oh my goodness! i also got married on August 14th, 2004 so i remember that very well! i live in south carolina and although it wasn’t a huge hit up here, it affected our wedding very much. we had a lot of family from florida that could not make it, and my husband’s best man who was coming up from Florida was (still is) a cop and had to stay for duty and couldn’t make the wedding! looking back it is an interesting story to tell, but at the time it was so frustrating!

40 MaryBe@Accidentally-Vegan June 17, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I love this story and especially that they had eloped to Vegas!
It’s funny what you remember from weddings. I remember the wedding crashers at my niece’s wedding, and the dessert ROOM at my cousin’s!
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41 Jordan June 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I remember that! I pray that does not happen to me, although someone did mention that hurricane season does go through the end of November. Make sure you clear a spot on the fridge for my save the date magnet. It should be on it’s way within the next month!

42 Rachel June 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm

That is a crazy story! Pretty sure if that were me and I had already secretly eloped the year before I would have just called it all off. It’s great that they didn’t though and everyone had such a wonderful time. I certainly remember that hurricane, I think my college shut down for an entire week because of it!

43 Stephanie June 18, 2011 at 6:35 am

Wow what a crazy and amazing story! Thanks so much for sharing!!!
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44 Kim @ Kim Lives Healthy June 18, 2011 at 11:55 am

AMEN to that! My aunt told me if something went not-according-to-plan at my wedding, just don’t say anything about it because nobody else will know that the tablecloths were supposed to be blue… etc. Our wedding was 3 weeks ago in St Pete Beach and the biggest blunder: we wrote our own vows and the preacher totally sped through the ceremony and SKIPPED that part! We didn’t say anything at the time and only a few bridesmaids asked us about it at the reception. We ended up saying our vows to each other that night in the honeymoon suite with candles, roses, champagne, etc. MUCH more romantic than in front of 50 people who couldn’t hear us over the ocean anyway 🙂
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45 Candice June 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Chair covers, table clothes, Tuxes, food, deserts, times, little details that you try and put together for it to be “just perfect“… at the end of the day, I loved my dress, the people that made the effort to come out on that … Day… my dancing, even the thank you card that Rob and I spent so much time writing, just to find a few years later (we both thought that the other person had mailed them lol). At the end of the day, when all was said and done, I had married my best friend and Soul Mate (didn’t even know that I had one). And each day he reminds me with a smile, a kiss, the things that he does or just even the way that he looks at me that I made the right decisions. I am so in love with him and our loves just keeps growing. <3

You sure know how to make a lady cry. Thank you for all the kind words and reminiscing. You sure do know how just how to write a blog. ? u.

46 Amy @ love4living June 19, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Aw, What a great love story!
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47 Mimi June 20, 2011 at 11:26 am

What an incredible story! I’m definitely in the detail phase of my wedding (and I’ve had chair cover meltdowns of my own), but the thing that really brings me back to reality is the thought that it isn’t about the wedding; it’s about the marriage.
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48 Stephanie Orobello August 3, 2011 at 12:38 am

Its funny to run across this post tonight. As I sit here typing this I am currently updating the weather channel website every minute as Tropical Storm Emily heads for the South Carolina coast. My wedding is this Saturday, August 6, 2011. I have been engaged and with my fiance for 10 years. I have planned this wedding since Valentines day 2009. I am ready for this day to be the best of my life and here comes a Hurricane. What am I to do? Keep my head up and hope for the best? Not me. I am a worrier!

49 Candice August 3, 2011 at 9:35 am

Stephanie, just enjoy the day. God has a better plan than you, he did for me 😉 Looking back, it all worked out better.

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