All week, the forecast loomed like a sinister purple cloud. Sunny and warm for days, but rain barreled toward us for THE day. Months of plans, years of dreams hurtled toward May 16, 2021. Of course, we reminded ourselves, the weather would pale in comparison to the purpose – two lives joined forever. Two families gathered to bless and celebrate alongside treasured friends.
Long before the weather forecast blinked onto our screens, though, a worldwide pandemic threatened. The bride and groom secured an outdoor venue to allow the greatest chance for loved ones’ attendance. And, if the intended grove of trees failed to provide adequate protection from the elements, a nearby open-sided pole barn granted a covered option.
It was a fairytale setting. Wildflowers dotted a grassy path winding down a hill to a serene little bridge. Across the wooden planks, trees lifted limbs, sheltering a swath of cool green under their canopy. Rows of white chairs would complete a natural cathedral. Here, the couple would pledge their lives to one another.
Except, the weather forecast fluctuated, predicting 50%-90% chance of rain throughout the preceding week.
So, we prayed. We trusted. The One who controls the weather had woven their story together since the beginning of time. As much as He’d been waiting for them to find one another and seek Him together, He’d planned whether the day of their union would leak or shine.
At last the day arrived. Clouds gathered through the morning. But, we kept believing right through the drive to the venue, even as the skies began to release their heavy burden.
We continued to hope through pre-wedding photos, confined to a magical gazebo overlooking a lake, the grove of trees visible on the far side. Rain shimmied off the roof all around us. But, as a photographer, I recognized the gift for photos. Wedding colors exploded against a muted gray background instead of battling mid-day sun and shadows.
And, as someone who loves Kenya, I claimed the African belief that rain symbolizes God’s blessing. But, the blessing was abundant! The increasingly torrential downpour showed no signs of abating.
Family, huddled under umbrellas, left the bridal party in the gazebo for more photos. Reaching the shelter of the pole barn, we carried carefully organized and labeled boxes to their destinations and commenced the transformation of simple structure to wedding chapel and reception hall. But the storm began to blow sideways under the roof. Everything was damp, and getting wetter by the moment.
My dress was soaked, and I shivered as I set up the gift table. Until that moment, I’d continued in my steady conviction that all was well, and would be well, in God’s hands. But I turned to God in the quite of my heart and whispered, “Are you sure about this?”
The bride’s mother and I, mother of the groom, were working near one another when a startling announcement reached us. She and I locked eyes, but we didn’t actually see one other as our brains spun in tandem with the implications. An option completely unknown to us before had been offered and accepted by the bride. The caretakers of the venue had gifted the couple with an expensive indoor setting at no extra cost. And, with vaccinations readily accessible, Covid no longer necessitated the outdoor setting originally booked.
After our initial freeze, we, along with friends and family, sprang into motion. With one and a quarter hours remaining until the start, we dismantled our set-up, tossing the meticulously organized supplies into any box we could find, and relocated to a venue we’d never seen.
No denying it was chaotic as one informal committee on one side of the large room made a decision, and another on the other side, oblivious, decided the opposite. But we laughed and adjusted. As we worked together in the harmony of our mutual love for the bride and groom and for the Author of the marriage, a spiritual garden that can’t be planned or bought sprang up around us in unparralled beauty.
When the bride stepped foot into the venue she’d never imagined and walked down the aisle to her groom, everything was ready. The room overflowed with the Presence of a God who is faithful. Who can be trusted. In the sanctuary of our hearts, we’d whispered for months, “Jesus come to the wedding and turn the water into wine.” And He’d answered.
Thank you Andrew Brewer for the incredible photos!