How Hurricane Florence Postponed our Charleston Wedding

My husband and I met in a bar in downtown Annapolis called McGarvey’s over Labor Day weekend in 2015. On the night that we met, if you would have told me that in three years, Hurricane Florence would force us to postpone our wedding and we would instead get married in this bar by my sister, I would have probably thought you were insane. However, that is exactly what happened. Let’s start from the beginning.

Nic and I met on a typical Saturday night at McGarvey's. We were introduced by a mutual friend and realized we had many more mutual friends in common, which is very common in Annapolis. Our first date was a few weeks later and the rest is history. I'm not sure if I believe in love at first sight, however, I knew from the very beginning that Nic was the one for me. Not only is he the funniest and goofiest person I know, he is also incredibly patient and has the best heart. As someone who has tried the dating websites and apps with no luck, I still cannot believe I stumbled upon someone like Nic at a bar I had visited many times before.

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Nic proposed on September 23, 2017 while we were on vacation in Folly Beach. Being that we are both from Annapolis and were living in the DC area at the time, we explored the possibility of getting married in Maryland but soon realized we wanted to get married in our favorite place: Charleston. We chose a venue and a wedding date, September 15, 2018, and spent the next year planning an intimate wedding of 80 guests.

About four months before our wedding, Nic and I became very serious about moving to Charleston. After many long conversations about the idea, we decided that we truly saw our future there and we would both start to apply to jobs in the area. Just like that, Nic was soon offered a great opportunity in Charleston! It was truly incredible how quickly it happened. We decided that with the wedding approaching, we couldn't afford to have me leave my job in DC just yet. In August, Nic packed his bags and moved south without me and my plan was to stay at my job until the end of October and move to Charleston in November.

By the time September rolled around, Nic and I were certainly ready to be together again and ready to get married. The week before the wedding, the news started to cover Hurricane Florence but my friends, family, and coworkers all assured me that it would turn back to sea and we would be fine. On Saturday, September 8, a state of emergency was called and I flew down to Charleston the next day with a pit in my stomach.

On Monday afternoon, I was working remote and preparing for a call I had at 4:00 when I received a missed call from my Dad followed by a text that said, "Call me as soon as you can." In that moment, I knew it exactly what was about to happen - the beginning of the end, if you will. My Dad said that Governor had called for a mandatory evacuation and his Airbnb canceled immediately. Shortly after, flights and hotels were cancelled and we soon realized that there was no way we could pull this off. Nic and I called our wedding vendors to let them know that we were unfortunately going to have to postpone and called and texted our guests. It was truly heartbreaking.

I will say, I feel as though I kept my cool throughout the wedding planning process (right, Nic?). As someone who has planned fundraisers for years and assisted with weddings, I am fully aware that wedding days go by incredibly quick and at the end of the day, it is just a party. Being that I have a background in events, I chose to not hire a wedding planner, thinking, "I plan events for work, I could plan my wedding in my sleep." While yes, planning a wedding is similar to planning a fundraiser in some ways, it is also like having a second job. The amount of time and energy it takes to plan a wedding is very, very large. For example, I think I sent and received over 300 emails throughout the planning process. And don't get me started on the custom invitations I designed and individually tied with a silk ribbon that matched the envelopes. After months of time invested, to have it disappear in a matter of hours was incredibly shocking and frustrating. But, I digress.

On Tuesday morning, after the wedding was officially cancelled and all guests and vendors were notified, Nic and I decided that we still wanted to get married on September 15. We were about to leave on a two-week honeymoon to Italy and we wanted to go as husband and wife.  Also, Nic's ring was engraved 9-15-18, so there's that too. I know you can buff the date out but that felt almost as heartbreaking as our recently cancelled wedding. We decided that since Nic's parents and sister and my Dad and sister are all in Maryland, we would travel back and have a ceremony just with them on Saturday. While we wanted to open it up to more family members, some of Nic's family were in South Carolina and were not able to travel up to Maryland so we felt it was unfair to include some of my local family members and not his.

After learning that the Annapolis courthouse does not offer wedding ceremonies on Saturdays, we were stumped. My sister reminded me that she got ordained a few years ago to marry her friend and would happily marry us if we need. Yes, great plan. Now where should we have a ceremony? We knew we wanted to do something indoors because we were both tired of tracking the weather. I began to look at Annapolis apartments on Zillow thinking we could hang some string lights and bring in a few chairs - a little desperate but romantic, right? We then thought, what about McGarvey's? We called the bar and asked if we could come in to have a small ceremony on Saturday morning before they open and without hesitation they immediately said yes. We called Joy of Joy Michelle Photography who took our beautiful engagement photos, asked if she was free on Saturday, and she said yes. And just like that, we had a second wedding planned. Nic and I tried our best to book flights home that week but after they kept getting cancelled, we packed up the car and drove to Maryland on Wednesday. One last minute marriage license later, we were set to go.

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On Saturday morning, with our very immediate family, we had a small wedding ceremony at the bar where we met just 3 years before. I wore the beautiful Gal Meets Glam dress that I was planning to wear to our rehearsal dinner, Nic and I said the vows that we each wrote, and it was perfect.

And just like that, we are married!

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While our wedding day was not what we had planned or intended for, it ended up being so much more than we imagined, and we are grateful for the adventure. Nic and I learned through this process that sometimes things will not go as planned, however, it is important to approach every situation we find ourselves in as a team. We have rescheduled our wedding in Charleston to be this Saturday, November 17 and we cannot wait to finally celebrate with our family and friends in the city that we love and now live in!

Photos by Joy Michelle Photography

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