A Giant Tree, A Thunderstorm, And A Perfect Wedding

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The night before our wedding the weather forecast for the next day was fluctuating significantly, which was no small point for us since we were set to be wed outdoors under a gigantic oak tree.

Okay, so not just any gigantic oak tree, but the legendary Angel Oak tree on Johns Island. With a canopy covering 17,000 square feet and its age estimated between 500 and 1500 years old it’s no doubt a very special tree.

With the uncertain weather in mind we decided to look at a viable alternative in case we decided to switch locations. We scouted out lovely Hampton Park as our backup, and felt more at ease knowing we could use the gazebo there if needed.

Being the risk averse one in our relationship, when the forecast was showing rain later that night I was ready to abandon ship and plan for the safe haven of the gazebo. I had a laundry list of what now seem like silly concerns. “I don’t want us to be uncomfortable if we get drenched.” “I don’t want us to be wading around through mud. What if my dress gets ruined?” “What if there are thunderstorms and we shouldn’t be outside?”

Thankfully Kevin wasn’t spooked by the potential non-ideal conditions so easily. He vowed to carry me around should the ground be a muddy mess, and hold an umbrella over us the entire time if needed. He successfully convinced me that saying I do under the Angel Oak in the rain would be infinitely more memorable and unique than doing our ceremony under the park gazebo. I’m glad he was so persuasive on that point, because he was definitely right.

After thinking about it for a few minutes I agreed with him, on the condition that in the morning we grab a blanket or some other barrier that we could put underneath our feet if needed.

The next morning rolled around and found us in an elevated, excited state that I don’t think either of us were expecting. The joy of the day really started from go. Filled with our happiness, we grabbed a nice breakfast at our hotel cafe before heading out for the few errands on our agenda.

First stop was at a discount store on Market Street that James had noticed the day before, as we thought that may be a good place to find an extra umbrella and a ground covering of some sort. Turns out they sold an assortment of cool woven blankets, and one was perfect earth tones. With blanket and new umbrella in hand we were on our way to the courthouse to pick up our marriage license.

We arrived one minute after our 24 hour waiting period had finished, prompting a surprised, “Oh, well you’re right on time!” from the clerk.

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We got back to the hotel and I officially sent out word that we were on for the Angel Oak ceremony at 3:00 PM. At that point we just felt so happy and relaxed that we really didn’t care what the weather threw our way; it just seemed to matter so much less.

Keeping with our timely schedule was my first ever hair and makeup appointment. Kevin headed out to pick up some lunch for us and hang out to, in his words, “be out of the way.” My artist, Shayla, came to me in our hotel room with her very efficiently packed tool kit and set up a chair for me near the window. It was a fabulous experience getting dolled up by such a talented and sweet person. We talked and laughed through the whole appointment. When Shayla had finished up, and I was done freaking out over how she’d done exactly what I’d wanted, she said, “That was so much fun! I felt like I was hanging out with a girlfriend, that didn’t even feel like working! And girl, you are stunning. When you opened the door and I saw you I knew I wouldn’t have to work hard today!” It was such a nice compliment to receive.

After Kevin’s return and eating lunch, Kevin and I each got ready to go. I smiled at how sweet and handsome he looked, pinned on his boutineer, and away we went.

The drive from Charleston to the Angel Oak is a magical one, characterized by small town houses, beautiful greenery, and roads tunneled by trees. On this particular Tuesday the drive was made a little more romantic by the falling rain; we were definitely going to have a shower over our wedding.

Everyone arrived at the Angel Oak right on time. My parents parked right next to us, and the first thing my dad said to me was that I looked like Belle. I’ll always remember that. Of course after that he had to take a picture immediately to send to everyone he knows, so Kevin and I smiled out from under our umbrella for him.

We met the rest of the gang, our officiant, Cori, and our photographer, Taylor, under the shelter of the gift shop’s porch while the rain continued to fall with more urgency. Taylor set out to scout a good location for the ceremony on the outskirts of the tree, as it’s against park rules to hold ceremonies under the tree. I think all of us thought it was a shame we wouldn’t be able to go underneath the tree for extra shelter. Boy were we served up a happy surprise when the park employees told us that we could set up underneath the tree. That was a saving grace that ended up keeping us much drier for much longer!

With a spot for the ceremony picked beneath the enormous canopy the only thing to do was get the show on the road.

Wedding-10Cori, Taylor, Kevin, and Kevin’s family headed out first. My mom, dad, and I all huddled under an umbrella and made our way out a moment later. We laughed at how we had to waddle to move in unison and stay under the umbrella, and at how the rain was now falling even harder. Just as we were approaching the rest of our party thunder roared. I have to admit the scene was nothing short of epic.

Our ceremony was very short, very sweet, and very special. Our families stayed right at our sides and held umbrellas over us, leaving only our forearms to get wet as we reached out to join hands. Droplets fell on my notecard as I was reading my vows, smudging the ink and making me laugh; Kevin smiled when he saw his ring for the first time and added the word “absolutely” between “I” and “do.” Our first kiss was tender and as lovely as can be, made even more perfect by the rain sprinkling us as we stepped out from under the shelter of the umbrellas.

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The rain kept coming down, and we laughed as Taylor snapped some photos of us at the ceremony site. I knew my hair that Shayla had done such a beautiful job on was to be no more, and that my dress was definitely going to get muddy, but I didn’t care one bit. The joy and the enveloping fun and excitement of the day were the only things that mattered.

Back under the shelter of the porch the park employees brought us a gift in the form of a South Carolina shot glass and a card, incorrectly addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Treasures” due to a small mix up. We found it pretty funny. We then signed our marriage license for Cori and away she went.

A few more photos out on the road leading into the Angel Oak where we totally let go of the concept of staying dry and got drenched in the downpour. It was unbelievably liberating and uplifting. We really have a lot of gratitude for Taylor; she was awesome about all the rain and lent even more joy to the day with her kindness and energy.

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With our photo shoot wrapped up, we parted ways with our families for the time being to head to our carriage ride. A tad cheesy perhaps, but we thought it would be fun. At this point my bridal look had solidly entered the mess category, but at least my makeup held up remarkably well!

We arrived at Palmetto Carriage Works and dashed through puddles to get to the barn. We were introduced to our guide, Matt, and our trusty American draft horse, Dynamite, and off about town we went. We got a route that covered a lot of ground we hadn’t seen before and got to kick back to soak it all in. Lots of beautiful old houses, odd sights, and some interesting historical facts made for an enjoyable time.

Post-carriage ride the only stop left of the night was dinner at Poogan’s Porch. We pulled into the parking lot and pulled into one of the two spaces available, coincidentally space 17. By this point I had progressed from mess to hot mess, while Kevin looked hardly askew. It was a little funny to be walking into the restaurant in that state, but we mainly found it amusing.

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We’d definitely selected a winner for the dinner destination. It was an adorable environment, everyone’s meals were delicious, and we were gifted champagne. First time I’d had fried chicken, peanut butter pie, and champagne during the same meal, and probably the last.

It was a genuinely nice time with everyone present. We had time to take it slow and took advantage of it to exchange gifts. We gave Annette, Lucy, and Mom cute knot earrings, and gave the dads keychains stamped with our initials and Charleston’s latitude and longitude.

We received some lovely cards, including amazing hand lettered cards from Annette, and received two very special gifts from Grossmami and Grosspapi in the form of a little porcelain figurine and a necklace that had belonged to Grossmami’s mother. It was very sweet and thoughtful of them to send the keepsakes along for us on our wedding day. I was so glad we got to speak to them on the phone that evening to say thank you.

So May 17, 2016 goes down in our story as an utterly joyful day. We were so lucky to have our parents and Annette join us, lucky to have everything function so well on schedule, and even lucky that we had all that rain. The rain that made our wedding more fun, more romantic, and put what was truly important, our relationship and bond, in even more obvious perspective.

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