Despite being hit by Hurricane Ian, the wedding day was saved on wet Pawleys Island, SC

PAWLEYS ISLAND, South Carolina –

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful, bright fall day on Pawleys Island, an idyllic location for an early fall wedding in South Carolina, nestled between the oceanfront Atlantic coast and the sprawling wetlands that typify the state’s coastal beauty.

But the perfect wedding day was almost never here for two families who traveled to the island for the wedding festivities that were nearly derailed by the arrival of Hurricane Ian and its aftermath.

Mary Lord and her family traveled to Pawleys Island from Fort Worth, Texas, for the wedding of her son, Eric, on Saturday.

AJ McCullough’s family came from Sunset Beach, North Carolina to see their daughter, Monroe, walk down the aisle as the bride.

The families had been staying in rental houses across the street on Pawleys Island, about 72 miles (116 kilometers) up the South Carolina coast from Charleston.

And then the storm came.

Ian was a Category 1 storm when it made landfall near Georgetown, about 13 miles from Pawleys. Hours of wind and rain lashed the coastal city, kicking up waves of up to 25 feet (7.6 meters) that swept over the city’s iconic pier, scattering their pylons along the shoreline and pushing them toward waterfront properties. . Feet of sodden sand accumulated under elevated homes, stranding and flooding some vehicles.

In the mad rush to get to Friday night’s rehearsal dinner, which went relatively smoothly, the nearby country club venue not even losing power during the storm, participants left behind equipment they would need for Saturday dinner. wedding, such as clothing and decoration. Feeling safer huddling inland, Lord said the families settled into other rental properties, thinking they would take care of the details on Saturday after the storm passed.

“We got off when the storm was coming in, but some of the bridesmaids’ dresses, tuxedos, trimmings, we left them there, thinking we might come back this morning,” Lord told The Associated Press on Friday morning, standing on the north road. which connects Pawleys to the mainland. “But they said no, we can’t, not yet.”

As crews assessed security on the island, Lord and McCullough were told to wait, with barricades closing off access to the strip of houses.

“If there’s anyone on the island who wants to bring us our stuff, we’d really appreciate it,” McCullough said with a laugh.

For the next hour, Lord and McCullough methodically questioned everyone they encountered, on the inner side of one of the two causeway bridges, asking each person if they had a contact who could retrieve their wedding gear.

One man, Eddie Wilder, said he would be happy to help the women. As a property owner, you would be allowed access via the driveway, so Lord and McCullough gave you the access code to the rental property and via FaceTime walked you through the property and encouraged you to “have a bottle or two” of celebratory drinks. including the champagne they had stored for the weekend.

Lord and McCullough were ecstatic at the news that the needs were on their way.

“We just had a wedding, from what I understand,” said Renee Wilder, Eddie’s wife, hugging McCullough as she handed him bags of dresses and tuxedos.

“Everyone has been very upbeat and look at this beautiful day,” McCullough said with a laugh.

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