As it also does for so many others, June brings my wedding anniversary. It was two years ago that Steve and I tied the knot, although nature seemed to be determined to prevent this from happening.
Photo by Lisa Peperkorn
This is the chapel where we were supposed to exchange our vows. To the right, is the sandbag wall built to hold back the increasingly flooded river. Yes, during the floods of 2008, the Iowa River crested on my wedding day.
The Monday prior to our Saturday date, I got a phone call from our caterer (who was also the same person in charge of renting us the chapel and the reception space next door) and she assured me that everything was going to be just fine. The water would rise, sure, but it couldn't get that bad, could it? By Wednesday, she had called back and in as cheerful of a voice as she could muster, told me that my wedding had been moved to a hotel across town. This was fine; I kept my cool, although the idea of getting married in a hotel ballroom made me incredibly sad. By Thursday our officiant (and good friend) had moved in with us because her apartment had flooded. By Friday morning, the caterer called again to tell me that the hotel, too, had taken on water. We'd get all of our money back, but we were without a venue and a caterer. I joked with Steve that we should just go to the courthouse and get it over with. It was Friday the 13th after all. It seemed fitting.
Photo by Lisa Peperkorn
But, we had around 60 people in town, hoping for a wedding and we don't like to disappoint. If you look at the picture above and you use your imagination to subtract 20 feet of water, you would see the little jetty poking out onto the river where Steve proposed. This is on the opposite bank as the chapel on the day of our wedding.
Lucky (?) for us, we had just closed on our house purchase the week before and it was nowhere near the river. We hadn't unpacked, so the place was empty, and it had a huge backyard. That was it. We'd have the wedding at our house and wing it. The rehearsal dinner was just a dinner and we went to bed that night still not really having any of the logistics figured out. I woke up at 5 the next morning and got to work. We didn't yet own a lawnmower and there were several weeks of June growth, so I found a lawn mowing service that was willing to come over with absolutely no notice. My florist, whose store is, you guessed it, right on the river, was the only one who saw all this coming and became my white knight. She had moved all of my flowers out of her shop earlier in the week, so at least I would have a bouquet. She called in some favors around town and got us 75 chairs and some long tables. She had her daughter take care of all the food, which ended up being cold cut sandwiches and some delicious salads.
Our families quickly divided and conquered. Steve drove to the far edge of town to a printing shop that hadn't moved all its paper to higher ground in order to print our programs. My dad and brother-in-law cleaned up the yard. My mom made a mad dash to Hobby Lobby to rent an arch and other basic "wedding" type things while my in-laws-to-be took care of the booze. It was a group effort, in every sense of the word. And to be perfectly honest, I wouldn't have changed a thing. I learned what it really takes to have a wedding and, as I'm finding out, a marriage. We had a community that was willing to come to our aid and support us, even when I'm sure they had their own homes and businesses to worry about. We had the grace to take it all in stride; to continue to laugh and live in the moment and have a wonderful time. We had the important stuff: love, family, and each other. And that's all we really needed.