They say rain on your wedding day is good luck, right?
When we chose our venue for the wedding, we imagined rows of white chairs out on the lawn by the lake in the afternoon breeze. It was January then, but we knew the leaves in the surrounding trees would be lush and fully green by October, maybe even starting to turn with the fall weather if we were lucky. There was a huge covered porch for the reception attached to a dance hall with wooden floors, and the multiple cabins on the property meant our whole wedding party could stay out on the secluded venue for the weekend if they chose. Just what we were looking for… as long as it didn’t rain.
Even though we’ve happily been in Charlotte for over four years now, we chose to get married in our hometown area because the majority of our family and a lot of friends still live around the Chattanooga area. We packed every inch of the car in North Carolina and got into town on Thursday evening, picked up our marriage license on Friday morning, and hosted a casual rehearsal dinner at the venue on Friday evening. Our first date in 2007 involved dinner at Lupi’s Pizza before coffee at Rembrandt’s where a manager offered us a free piece of blueberry cheesecake because “we looked so in love.” Since that was our very first date, we obviously found this hilarious and it always stuck with us.
For our last unmarried meal together, it only seemed right that we had Lupi’s deliver a truckload of pizzas and had specialty cheesecakes from Rembrandt’s. It was raining, but with our wedding party and immediate family around a handful of plastic tables and some mixed flowers from the grocery store, it felt so relaxed and enjoyable. The rain cleared out and when I checked the weather app on my phone only a couple times, it looked like the storm had passed. We caught up with friends in rocking chairs on wooden porches before going back to our cabins for a good night’s sleep.
When I woke up on the morning on our wedding, the first thing I heard was the sound of rain hitting the metal roof of the cabin. Thanks Hurricane Joaquin.
I walked over to the main building to look at the dirty tablecloths and scattered chairs from the night before in the dancehall. My mom walked in with breakfast and when our day-of coordinator arrived, I asked if there’s anyway we can wait to set up to see if the rain stops. She said no (LOL) and since there was no way to hold a ceremony on the deck where the reception tables should be set up later, we tried to figure out how to make the ceremony work in a dark, entirely wooden dancehall.
Some of my family from England came to the venue early and tied ribbons on chairs and the dark curtain backdrop. The wooden archway we wanted to get married under didn’t fit through the doors, so a friend helped our florist carry it up a muddy hill and place it at the entrance our guests would walk through. My aunt placed the flowers from the rehearsal dinner on ledges around the room. My mom called the caterer to make sure they would still have enough time to set up their food stations after the ceremony. I’ve never been more thankful for a group of supportive and helpful people around me because I was soon told I needed to start getting ready. We’re getting married!
The rain let up for a few minutes just as we were finished getting ready, so Eric and I were able to do a first look together on the dock over the lake. Our photographer stood back, so it was the only time alone we had together until we left the reception later that evening.
Can we all stop for a moment to appreciate my husband? I mean…
Eric went back to hang out with the guys while the girls met me out at the docks for some photos together. It’s a little cliche to say, but I don’t know where I would be without any of them: my half-sister, my cousin, Eric’s cousin, my oldest friends from childhood, from high school, and from college. I also been blown away by the love my newer Charlotte girlfriends have shown me the few months and helping me with the day-to-day crap of being a bride – my honorary bridesmaids for life. It started to sprinkle again, so the girls ran in and out of photos with me while we hiked up our dresses over the boots hiding underneath. Laughing out the nerves and standing in the rain was exactly what I needed to shake off my bride jitters and focus on not tripping down the aisle.
As more guests were starting to arrive, we headed back inside to do important things like take selfies and wait for the ceremony to start.
We chose a muted color palette to match what we were wearing and the space we were in – white tablecloths, navy napkins, touches of gold, and lots of green. Our florist created the most insanely gorgeous table runners and flower arrangements in vintage glass and brassware we collected ourselves during our engagement.
It was really special to see how all the choices Eric and I made come together for such a big occasion. We both had areas where one took more of a lead than the other (I picked flowers, he booked the honeymoon, etc.). He took the initiative to narrow down the music choices for us and submitting them to the DJs. When he asked what I wanted to walk down the aisle to, I couldn’t really find something I liked and asked one night if he could “just compose it for me.” You know, like that’s easy. He agreed, made it look easy, and I love the melody he came up with. It sounds exactly like how I felt all day the day I got to marry him.
Our wonderful friend Mary Beth presided over the wedding ceremony that Eric and I wrote together. We met Mary Beth several years ago in college, and one night she said that she loved us so much she wanted to marry us – it became a sort of standing joke. She is one of the truest and kindest people we know who physically seems to radiate love from her core, so when we could finally plan a wedding years later, there was still no question who we wanted to ask. Dubbed our Minister of Magic, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to repay her for the love and joy she infused into the ceremony.
Wait, did we just really get married?
We snapped some big family photos while guests enjoyed a short cocktail hour. My coordinator whispered in my ear that the second caterer responsible for bringing trays of appetizers and the cakes missed half the order. The cakes were there (phew!) but no one noticed the finger foods never made it until the servers went to pull them from the fridges and they weren’t there. My new husband, my family, and a couple bridesmaids looked at me holding their breath like they just knew I was about to spontaneously combust into a million little bride pieces. I think they all thought I was really losing it when I politely asked for the phone, spoke to the vendor and suggested they figure things out, had the coordinator ask the main dinner caterers if they could open dinner early, and laughed. Who cares? We’re married! Cue this:
Again, the people around us filled the gaps so we could enjoy the day. Bartenders started handing out drinks. The ceremony space turned into a buffet within half an hour and everyone soon filled their plates with BBQ. We chose BBQ because we wanted something comfortable that most of our (Southern) guests would actually enjoy eating. With full plates and full glasses, we were toasted and roasted until my cheeks ached and my head was floating from the champagne bubbles.
For our first dance, we chose an old song most recently recorded by Seth MacFarlane and Norah Jones – Two Sleepy People. It was really sweet and tender, but when Eric felt the crowd slipping, he pulled out his phone for a selfie and everyone (including me) started laughing.
My dad and I danced to If I Could Save Time in a Bottle by Jim Croche, because it always reminds me of him. Eric chose Murder in the City by the Avett Brothers for the dance with his mom, which is a really sweet song despite the title haha.
As married couples do, we cut a cake holding a long knife and awkwardly fed it to each other and drank more champagne. We cut the lights on the patio and the DJ turned up the music. The missing appetizers ended up being delivered (along with a manager apology, a wedding card and gift, and a full refund LOL), and turned out to be a perfect dance-break snack later that evening. We started dancing and I don’t think we stopped for much the rest of the night.
Looking around the dance floor that night felt like looking back over our entire individual lives all in one room. My family from England, Eric’s family from Alabama, and family friends from Texas and Tennessee – all there. My first grade teacher and the members of Eric’s old rock band – there. From our high school friends with families of their own, to college friends that still can’t say no to an open bar. Even our Charlotte friends who see us all the time that still drove seven hours in the rain and back just to dance with us in the woods for a night. It felt like everyone there knew our journey and was happy for us from the inside out. I completely forgot it was raining.
Not everything went perfectly on our wedding day, but surrounded by all the people who love us most in the world and looking forward to a long beach vacation, it felt just about perfect to me.
Because I didn’t miss it, Eric and I shared the last dance of the wedding together to Little Hotel by Modest Mouse. Our friends and the family that were left ran out in the now-downpour, somehow managing to somehow light the ridiculous three-foot-long sparklers we bought online by accident. We ran through the rain to a limo that took us to our hotel suite for the night, and left bright and early the next morning for our (very sunny) honeymoon.
Thank you again to all our friends and family that made this day happen for us. Thanks to you, it was filled with sweet memories we will never be able to recreate. You’re the best people I’ve ever met.
My new husband, I’m so excited to start this next chapter in our story together. I love you more every day. Being your wife is an actual dream come true.
Here’s to the rain!
Photography: Aubrey Renee Photography
Flowers: May Flowers
Calligraphy: PoppyJack Calligraphy
Venue: Hidden Hollow Resort, Chickamauga, GA
Caterer: Sticky Fingers
Bartenders: Black Tie Affair
Rentals: Showtime Rentals and Action Rentals
DJ: Sound Force
Transportation: Chattanooga Valet
Dress: KittyChen Couture from Anjolique Bridal & Formal
Hair and makeup: Bonnie Pierce, Chattanooga, TN
Rings: Diamonds Direct