North Carolina

Florence ended couple’s dream wedding. Now they plan to wed in a city named Hurricane

Marsha Bradbury and Jon Gillenwater planned to get married in North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Sept. 16 but had to settle for the city hall of Hurricane, West Virginia, because of Hurricane Florence.
Marsha Bradbury and Jon Gillenwater planned to get married in North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Sept. 16 but had to settle for the city hall of Hurricane, West Virginia, because of Hurricane Florence. Screenshot from WCHS

After their dream wedding was ruined because of Hurricane Florence, a couple have decided to tie the knot in a town named Hurricane.

Marsha Bradbury and Jon Gillenwater had planned to get married on Sept. 16 in Salvo, North Carolina, according to People Magazine. They had invited about 30 people to the wedding, which they began planning back in March.

They spared no expense for the ceremony, Bradbury told WCHS.

“Sunk a bunch of money into it,” Bradbury, 56, told the TV station. “Sunk a bunch of money into décor. Pretty much anything you could imagine.”

Then the couple heard news of Hurricane Florence. Gillenwater, 56, told WCHS that he tried to assure his fiancee that the storm probably would go north and miss North Carolina.

But a mandatory evacuation was issued Monday for the town of Salvo and surrounding Dare County, People reported. Bradbury said she “spent most of Monday crying” as she and her fiance tried to think of another place to hold their wedding.

They decided to try out the city of Hurricane, West Virginia, according to WCHS. The couple struggled to find anyplace in town that could hold their wedding on a short notice, so Mayor Scott Edwards decided to host the newlyweds in the city hall on Sunday.

It will be the first wedding ever in Hurricane’s city hall, Edwards told WCHS. He said it’s the least he could do for the couple.

“She’s already planned on going to the coast and having a wonderful wedding on the coast,” he told WCHS, “but the second best thing, have a wedding here in Hurricane during the hurricane.”

The last-second wedding, which will be free of charge, has also received support from some of the town’s residents, People reported. A photographer has offered to take pictures of the ceremony for free, while the owner of a wedding planning company has also agreed to donate his services.

“Now, I have the key to the city, essentially, from Friday evening until throughout Sunday night,” Bradbury told People. “What’s been happening — the way people have come out of the woodwork that we don’t even know — we’ve just been blown away.”

Other weddings have been affected by Hurricane Florence, which made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday morning with wind gusts as high as 105 mph.

Leah Chesney and Brandon Frick, a couple from Pennsylvania, had planned to get married in the Outer Banks on Friday — but quickly moved the wedding up to Monday in an effort to avoid the powerful storm, according to The New York Times.

Deborah Sawyer, a wedding planner, said she helped corral guests — most of whom were already in the area for the wedding — and “just pulled everyone together.”

“Everyone but the hairdresser was able to perform all their duties,” she said, according to The New York Times.

Sam Hajjar and Hayley Watts had decided to get married Saturday in Banner Elk, North Carolina — the same place he proposed, according to Naples Daily News. Watts said that spot “was where we started our new life up there together,” so it made sense to make their vows there, too.

But Hurricane Florence threw a wrench in their plan, instead sending them to their hometown of Tallahassee. The couple, who had moved to North Carolina together in 2016, are now planning to have the wedding on Saturday, this time without a looming hurricane.

As they rush to make everything perfect, Watts said she’s had a lot to get done.

“This is just the wildest thing I’ve ever done,” she told the Naples Daily News. “I had my phone die three times in one day because of the amount calls I had to do.”

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