Saturday, September 8, 2012: Calvert County, Maryland
Last Saturday I had the good fortune of working with a bride that was a personal friend of mine growing up. It wasn’t the first time I’ve worked for a friend, and sometimes the friendship gets stronger and other times…not so much! So I knew taking on an outdoor wedding during hurricane season was a risk for many reasons, but I could not have foreseen the events of the day. True to the old adage “All You Need is Love,” all you really do need in order to persevere in the face of adversity is a bride and groom who truly love each other and are in possession of a healthy dose of perspective.
This picture (left) was taken at about 4 pm, and hour and a half prior to the scheduled start of the outdoor, waterfront ceremony. I arrived on-site at 1 pm to set up the tables, linens, specialty tables, oversee vendor deliveries, etc. We knew there was a severe thunderstorm threat at the on-set of the day, but we were praying that the rain would hold off until the conclusion of the ceremony. God had other plans!
The sky “opened up,” as I like to say, immediately following this picture. I didn’t see this picture being taken: I was nearly two football fields away, tying twine on to the ends of the burlap table runners. All of the sudden, I saw the bride, followed closely by her bridesmaids, in an all-out high-heel sprint, yelling, “Get in the house!” The sounds of a hurricane siren (apparently they have those on the Patuxent River!) rang out. The decor on the expertly set tables, including nearly 200 place cards, blew off of the tables. Vases broke, water spilled on clean linen… Complete and utter disaster. We were fortunate that the tent itself did not uproot, but with dads and groomsmen to hold it in place, that sucker wasn’t moving!
Simultaneously it seemed, the first shuttle arrived with guests. After sending them back to their hotel for the time being, I joined the bride inside the modest home on the family property. The home was not equipped for 200 guests, and at the time, neither was the tent. After a brief conversation with my bride and texts with my groom, it was decided that we would push forward with the wedding. At this point, the wind had subsided, although the rain showed no signs of stopping.
With the subdued wind, I was able to somewhat salvage the table decor (never did finish tying those burlap runners!) and arrange a dance floor ceremony. Thanks to the Herculean efforts of everyone present, but most especially the families of the bride and groom, we were able to rearrange the place cards and get everyone seated, move the altar into the tent, and create an aisle for the processional. The Reverend delivered a heartfelt ceremony and the love between the couple was felt amongst all 192 people present. The rain brought a forced physical closeness between all guests, which added to the merriment and celebration. All in all, this ended up being one of the most joyous weddings I’ve had the honor of being a part of.
Truthfully, I cannot take credit for the outstanding attitude of the bride and groom. I cannot take credit for their sense of humor. The wedding would not have been as memorable if another family were my client. That being said, I learned a lot!
Tents must always have four sidewalls (we were only working with three) and be large enough to accommodate the buffet, a ceremony, ceremony musicians (if applicable), and an aisle. Good space between tables is always “nice to have” but essential to have both in the event of a dance floor ceremony AND in the event of emergency. Relying on outdoor space for the comfort of your guests is not a good idea. Weigh down your place cards: In this case, I would’ve suggested magnets on the bottom of the wine corks. Even the slightest wind can lift a place card. And, as always: Hire a wedding coordinator! At the end of the night, the bride, the groom, and the bride’s father all said to me, independently of each other, “We almost didn’t make it, did we??” The answer is no. We almost didn’t. But having a confident, calm and decisive planner to tell you “everything will be fine” and make those hard decisions will get you through unforeseen circumstances.
Cheers to another memorable Becca Bee event!