It was almost a bridge too far to get married

For Michelle Kayati and Lacy Hawkins, a low-key marriage was the plan from the start. “This isn’t our first rodeo,” Ms. Kayati said, meaning she and Mr. Hawkins were already married. To give up the pageantry is one thing; donning a wedding dress you inexperiencedly sewn yourself and finding your fiance frantically chopping wood in a cove minutes before the ceremony is another, as she found out on February 16.

Ms Kayati, 49, and Mr Hawkins, 47, met in June 2020 on Tinder or Match, neither of them remember. Tired of the pandemic life, they hastily arranged a meeting at Oversoul Brewing in her hometown of Helena, Ala., A 15-minute drive from her home in Hoover, Ala.

“We sat outside with our masks on at first and then got along over a single drink,” Mr. Hawkins said. After a walk on a picturesque catwalk and a first kiss, they decided not to waste any time. “After that night, we wanted to be together as much as possible,” Ms. Kayati said. Their hours of rest, his from his work in the maintenance of the property and his from his work as an administration Deputy of the State of Alabama, soon devoted themselves mainly to each other. Mr. Hawkins purchased an RV for their camping and hiking trips. Ms. Kayati began to build a reputation that lived up to her own on the local dance floors. “Lacy loves to go downhill,” she said. “He wows everyone.”

In the eight months they’ve known each other, only 13 days have passed that they haven’t been together, Ms Kayati said.

On January 27, they were at her house watching the movie “New Year’s Eve”. “It was a girl’s movie, but he’s man enough to watch those kinds of things with me,” Ms. Kayati said. Mr. Hawkins had slipped a ring box into the cushions behind him on his side of the sofa. As the credits rolled, he looked for it and offered. “It was a definite yes,” she said. First, they planned to escape on February 17 on a motorhome trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Then they ditched the idea in favor of a pre-trip wedding with a few guests at the place they first met, near a waterfall in Helena’s old town.

With only two weeks of preparation, Ms. Kayati hurried to find a dress and fell in love with it on eBay; $ 35 and a few days later it was on his doorstep, but in several pieces. The seller had personalized it. “I started to sew it secretly every night,” she says. On her wedding day, February 16, it was ready. Everything else was, too, including a wedding photographer and an officiant.

What no one prepared for, however, was the snow and ice that bombarded Alabama that morning, or the heavy rain the night before that made a stream near the wedding site impassable. “I had to come up with a plan really quick to save things,” Mr. Hawkins said. Less than an hour before the ceremony, he drove to Home Depot to purchase concrete blocks and plywood. By the time he had assembled a makeshift bridge, they learned that their officiant had to cancel. “He couldn’t get out of his driveway because of all the ice and his car was frozen,” Ms. Kayati said.

The couple weren’t ready to surrender yet, however. A few minutes from the end, “I went to our town’s Facebook page and said, ‘Wedding emergency! Is there anyone in the old town of Helena who can marry us? ”

Reverend Paul Todd, a retired preacher who was at home watching TV in his pajamas with the heat on, responded immediately.

Ms Kayati and Mr Hawkins tied the knot shortly thereafter in a 15-minute ceremony in which Ms Kayaki’s hands turned purple from the cold – it was 19 degrees – and a dozen guests attended. shuddered through the smile. “But at that point, we knew we just had to laugh and roll with it,” she says. “The obstacles were incredible. But we still had a great time.

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