About the Wedding…
Our wedding was nothing that I expected and more than I could have hoped for: Jason and I were married in front of close family on a Wednesday, with a small reception on Saturday. And if I had to choose one moment to sum up the week, it was the time I snuck out of our party to be alone.
It rained like a mo’ on our reception day; a thunder and lightning storm so tremendous, it could only happen in the South. Our venue was a dock house in Charleston, South Carolina, my hometown, on a small island near an old seafood restaurant weathered from hurricanes past. The vibe is laid-back and unpretentious, a quintessential Lowcountry spot – the restaurant’s tagline is, “People either like it, or they don’t.” I dreamed of dancing in the dock house with Jason for months with a blur of family and friends surrounding us and the marsh outstretched beyond. Of course, the pandemic happened, and we canceled the reception. Though, as restrictions lifted, it seemed a small party could take place.
But it didn’t turn out like my Pinterest board. As Jason and I pulled up with a van full of slightly buzzed best friends, the sky opened up. I zipped my raincoat, checked my makeup in the rearview mirror, and stroked my perfectly curled hair. “F*ck it,” I said, slipping on a trucker hat. I leaned over and kissed Jason on the lips. “I’ll meet y’all inside.”
Leaping over puddles and piles of oyster shells in silver sequin pants, I neared the dock house, ready to have my mind blown by the transformation. But when I entered, I saw nothing but an empty room. My heart dropped, and I wondered if I had the date wrong. Just then, thunder cracked, snapping me back to the moment, and I raced towards a private space under the restaurant where the food would be, locked eyes with Amy, my wedding planner, and threw up my hands as if to say, “What’s going on?”
“There’s a full moon and a king tide tonight, which means we’ll get flooded out of the dock house,” she said. “Everything is set up in the other room, and guests are already having cocktails and a good time.”
I blinked, processing what she just said, but only one thing came to mind: F*ck it. I thanked Amy for not telling me earlier — I couldn’t have handled the stress. “That’s why I’m here,” she said, brushing her hand through the air. “You didn’t need to know.”
In a cinderblock room with screened windows covered halfway up the frame with plastic lining to keep the rain from blowing in, we danced our first dance, clinked our kombucha-filled champagne coupes to my sister’s speech (Jason and I don’t drink), and cut the poundcake I begged my mom to make. The cake topper was a Day of the Dead couple we found in Ensenada, Mexico, a few years ago while filing paperwork to sell our sailboat. String lights, palmetto roses, and fresh flowers softened the space, along with beaming faces of family and friends meeting each other for the first time over shucked oysters, Lowcountry Boil, and cold beer.
Then, we danced. As ‘90s rap pulsated the room, I unplugged the lights, so the strobes lights from the DJ booth lit the party. An hour later, sweating and searching for water, I slipped on my raincoat to take a breather and found myself heading to the dock house. Two friends were smoking near the covered entrance, and after chatting for a bit, I excused myself to go in.
Lightning brightened the room as I entered, and the tin roof amplified the raindrops into a soothing roar. I pulled a folding chair to the middle of the room, turned towards the party, and watched the colorful lights bounced off the plastic-covered windows with loved ones inside. Then, I turned my gaze toward the window to the marsh outstretched beyond. A Southern storm is a blessing, ancestral magic, they say, how the spirits of the Lowcountry make their presence known. And at that moment, I felt them. I lifted my head to the sky with eyes closed and inhaled the air, both salty-sweet from the earthy marsh, crisp rain, and the old wooden dock. “Thank you, God,” I said, choking out a prayer only audible to me, tears of gratitude trickling down my face as I wiped them from my cheeks.