Hurricane Hanna threatened to hit the South Carolina coast on Friday, Sept. 5 with predicted 90-mile-per-hour winds. Tyywadi Baker and her fiancé David Hands were to be married on Sept. 6, in an outdoor ceremony on South Carolina’s Daufuskie Island, located between Savannah, Ga., and Hilton Head. With the couple’s wedding in the path of destruction, they immediately began looking for a new location. “We spent all day Wednesday looking at wedding venues, talking to bakers, florists and tasting food,” Tyyawdi Baker Hands says. “Thursday morning when we woke up, Hanna was still on her way to the South Carolina coast, so we made the final decision to move the wedding.” The couple chose Ballantyne Resort because it was Charlotte’s closest location to Daufuskie Island. The resort offers more than 20,000 square feet of event space with grand terraces and event lawns overlooking the 18th fairway of the golf course. Its professional catering staff is available to help set up room décor and provide entertainment – even fireworks. The event staff can also assist with rehearsal dinners, departure brunches, golf outings and wedding day spa preparations. The spa offers massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, body treatments and salon services. It also offers classes in yoga, water aerobics, tai chi and Zumba. Amenities such as these allowed the guests of the Hands wedding to enjoy a vacation-like experience in Charlotte, instead of on the coast. After finding the new ceremony and reception site, the couple moved their rehearsal dinner to Buca di Beppo in Pineville. Buca Di Beppo is a family-style Italian restaurant that now offers catering services at some of its 88 locations nationwide. “Although we had to plan a second wedding in two days and we weren’t on the island like we thought we would be, it really put things into perspective and helped us realize that no matter where we were on Sept. 6, what really mattered was that we were together and that our family and photographer was with us to witness our special day,” Tyyawdi says. To preserve their wedding memories, Tyyawdi and David chose PhotoEdge photography, located in Waxhaw. They purchased the wedding dress, veil and headpiece from Mecklenburg Bridal Gallery and registered at Macy’s and Crate and Barrel. The bridesmaid dresses – designed by Watters & Watters – were purchased at The Wedding Mall. In the absence of a local florist, Tyyawdi and her bridesmaids came together and assembled all of the flowers themselves.
The law of attraction Tyyawdi and David’s love story began at work. Both are lawyers and were searching for office space for their separate law firms. A friend suggested they share a space, and although they decided not to share at that time, they continued to be friendly when they ran into each other in court. About a year after being introduced, Tyyawdi and David were each working on a pro bono case representing several students suspended from a Charlotte-Mecklenburg middle school. David had never done a suspension hearing, so he asked Tyyawdi for help during the process. As they worked closely together, a spark formed between them. Their first date soon followed, and they have spent nearly every day together since. Love and dating led to the talk of marriage, and David and Tyyawdi were engaged in the first few minutes of 2008. The couple had gone to Las Vegas, Tyyawdi’s hometown, and were ringing in the New Year at a bar called Casablancas. Tyyawdi noticed a sign on the wall that said, “Will you marry me?” She became suspicious, but her family assured her another man had recently proposed to his girlfriend. A few minutes after midnight, Tyyawdi and David got on the stage to sing karaoke – one of Tyyawdi’s favorite things. “Before you sing your song, young man, is there something you want to say?” asked the DJ. Then, David got on one knee and proposed. After Tyyawdi said yes, the couple celebrated by singing “Brick House” with the band. Later, Tyyawdi learned that Casablancas doesn’t normally do karaoke – it was all part of David’s plan.
A blessing in disguise After their engagement, Tyyawdi and David merged their law firms and now practice together for Hands Law Office, PLLC. The couple planned to marry eight months and five days after their engagement and didn’t let the bad weather stop thwart their plans. “The best thing about our wedding day was that we had all of our friends and family with us on a beautiful clear day despite the fact that we had to move it at the last minute,” Tyyawdi says. “Everyone was able to re-route their flights and travel plans.” Despite all the last-minute changes, the wedding went well. “Even though we were flying by the seat of our pants with all of the schedule changes, we still had a great time and it was truly a stress-free day,” Tyyawdi says. “Our families sheltered us from all worries, took care of everything and allowed us to enjoy our special day.” After the scramble to reorganize a wedding in two days, the newly married couple spent two nights resting and relaxing at Ballantyne Resort before flying to Aruba for a seven-day honeymoon at Rui Palace. In the end, Hurricane Hanna didn’t do much damage. On Sunday, Sept. 7, S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford canceled his plans to assess the coastal damage and meet with emergency workers. No one in the Carolinas was injured by the hurricane. To Tyyawdi, Hurricane Hanna was a blessing. Her 86-year-old great-grandmother, who had become ill prior to the wedding, wasn’t going to be able to travel to Daufuskie to attend the wedding. But she was able to attend the wedding after it was moved to Ballantyne Resort. “That was the greatest gift of the day,” Tyyawdi says. “We were truly blessed.”