Just 10 days before their wedding, threats of Hurricane Matthew began to hit the headlines of media outlets across the Atlantic coast. “I anxiously refreshed my weather web page a million times hoping this was all but a bad dream. I was in complete denial and refused to believe our perfect day was on the brink of being washed away,” said the Bride. But as luck would have it, Sea Island was re-opened and operating just in time for the wedding and Perry Vaile photographed the joyous occasion from start to finish.
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From the Bride… Eddie and I live in Santa Monica, California, and when we got engaged we decided we wanted to throw a destination wedding. Our list for destinations narrowed quickly, and we decided Sea Island, Georgia would be a dream location for our wedding day. We had visited the resort for New Year’s Eve the year before and had fallen in love with the resort’s southern charm. Now, it may not sound like your typical “destination” since we weren’t leaving the country but 80% of our guests had never even been to the South, let alone coastal Georgia. So we decided to roll with a “Destination Southern Wedding” theme and quickly began selecting southern touches to wow our guests with.
Fifteen months of wedding planning seemed to fly by, and before we knew it we were 10 days away from the wedding. While Eddie and I finished our last minute wedding to-do’s from sunny southern California, a hurricane was brewing in the Atlantic. His name was Matthew. Over the course of a couple days, what began to look like a small storm had now reached Category 4 strength. Weather experts were warning business owners and residents to prepare for the worst.
“Hurricane Matthew is a monster”, “Parts of Georgia will be uninhabitable for weeks” were among some of the headlines I was reading. I anxiously refreshed my weather webpage a million times hoping this was all but a bad dream. I was in complete denial and refused to believe our perfect day was on the brink of being washed away. The forecast was projecting Hurricane Matthew to reach Sea Island just 5 days before our wedding. The entire island and surrounding areas were under mandatory evacuation. Our resort was evacuated, and all of our vendors had packed up and headed inland to brace for the storm. Only thing we could do was helplessly wait, a couple thousand miles away…
The Big Clean Up
When Hurricane Matthew hit Sea Island the storm had been downgraded to a Category 3. Despite the drop in severity the island experienced record-breaking floods, thousands of downed trees, island-wide power outages, and plumbing issues that could take weeks to fix. Because the island was deemed unsafe, business owners and residents were not allowed back on the island after the storm passed. It was Tuesday morning, the day we were due to leave for Georgia, and the island was still under a mandatory evacuation. We left Los Angeles having no idea if the resort or island would open in time for our wedding. From the plane, Eddie and I sent out mass emails and texts to our 90 some odd guests letting them know there was potential for a change of plans.
When we arrived in Georgia the coast was still very much in cleanup mode. We passed 27 (I counted) tree removal trucks and about two dozen water and power vehicles, all of which were headed to clean up the mess. Sea Island was only allowing first responders onto the island at that time, which meant Eddie and I were stuck on the mainland scrambling to find accommodations and any answers we could. Talk about an anxious bride! But thankfully our luck was about to change. Wednesday morning Eddie and I received one of the best phone calls an anxious bride and groom could ask for. It was our wedding planner! She had just received word that Sea Island was due to re-open Thursday evening. The power had been restored, and the first responders were working day and night to restore the island back to its full glory.
The wedding team felt confident that the wedding could still go on as planned. Our wedding planner assured me they had everything handled and insisted we go and enjoy our wedding week. Our prayers had been answered! We quickly called our guests and let them know the good news. The wedding is HAPPENING!
The Wedding Day
The morning of our wedding we were greeted with a downpour of rain. Despite the weather I couldn’t help but smile. I was so thankful and filled with gratitude that we were at this place, “I can take a little rain, we just made it through a hurricane!” And if fate would have it, just as my bridesmaids and I were finishing up with our hair and makeup the clouds parted and the sun began to peek out. Perry Vaile, our amazing photographer, jumped at the opportunity to shoot us outside and gathered us all for portraits.
For my bouquet, we selected Dahlias, and Oxblood colored Chocolate Cosmos to adorn the white blooms, which were all draped with wispy greenery and wrapped with ivory silk ribbons. Our ceremony took place in the Cloister Chapel. The ceremony was all the more sweet because my grandfather “Papa Jackson” was our minister. Having my Papa there to marry Eddie and I was one of the highlights of our day.
Our reception was held in the resort’s Clubroom, the most glamorous and elegant ballroom I had ever seen! Crystal chandeliers hung from the ornate gilded ceiling and provided all the glitz and sparkle a bride could ask for. We selected long estate tables, topped with lush floral arrangements that included fruit elements accented with long tapered candles. Gold cross back chairs and gold-rimmed china added even more splendor to the space. One of my favorite wedding elements was our personalized place settings. Eddie and I took hexagonal marble floor tiles, and added cork to the back, to make them into coasters. We finished them by adding the guests’ names printed on top in gold vinyl. The gift was a huge hit with our friends and family, and made for a fun DIY project for Eddie and me.
To end the evening Eddie and I were lead out to the front of the hotel where our friends and family were waiting to wave goodbye! We hopped into our vintage getaway car and as we drove away, sparklers erupted from the ground, giving us quiet the perfect ending to our magical day.
Happily Ever After
Despite the hurricane and weather worry our wedding truly turned out even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. A strong word of advice I could give to any future bride would be to remain positive! Wedding planning can be stressful, hurricane or not. But with a positive outlook you can always make the best out of any situation. You deserve a wedding day where worries don’t get in the way. Remember what this day is truly about, and you are guaranteed to have the time of your life.
Photography: Perry Vaile Photography | Event Planning: Sea Island | Floral Design: The Vine Garden Market | Wedding Dress: Marchesa | Invitations: Crane & Co. | Ceremony Venue: Sea Island | Reception Venue: Sea Island | Bride's Shoes : Badgley Mischka | Rings: Tiffany & Co | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids | Hair and Makeup: Sea Island | Calligraphy : The Inviting Place | DJ: Island Sound | Grooms Attire: Canali | Ceremony Music: Music By Pegge | Bride's Hairpiece: Untamed Petals | Bride's Jewelry : Marchesa | Bride's Reception Shoes: Kate Spade | Cocktail Hour Venue: Sea Island | Gift Bags: Give Lovely | Groom's Tie: Burberry | Photo Booth: Studio Pixel Pop | Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Wedding Signage: The Bride