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Amidst COVID-19 Couple Replans Wedding to Include Underwater Ceremony

By Rebecca Padgett

Kelsey and Brian met online in 2014. They talked for months before they went on their first date, which was to Funny Girl Deli in Blakely, Georgia, for one of Brian’s friends’ engagement party. After that, they were inseparable. Brian proposed on May 10, 2019 at Up The Stairs restaurant in Apalachicola, FL (a week before the restaurant closed and changed to Up To No Good Tavern). He had previously called the restaurant to request a table by the windows with a view. After dinner, Brian had the waiter take a “picture” of then when really the waiter was capturing it all on video. That’s when Brian got on one knee and proposed. Brian promised a lifetime of laughter, adventures, traveling and even promised to say, “Go Gators!” sometimes. Kelsey is a graduate of the University of Florida and a diehard Gator fan. Brian is an FSU Seminole fan. 

“When we first got engaged, we had talked about having a small wedding, but as time went on and we discussed who we wanted to invite, our list got longer. Once I tried on my wedding gown, I knew I wanted to walk down a church aisle. We began planning in May 2019 and decided on a wedding for the following year at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Apalachicola, Florida with a reception and dinner at The Owl Café. I spent months washing and bleaching oysters to make the perfect wedding keepsakes for our guests. From the napkins to the bridal bouquets to the unique wedding guestbook and welcome bags, I tried to make everything special and personal to us as a couple.”

“When news came about COVID-19, we had hoped the shutdown would not affect our wedding, but, it did. We also worried about Brian’s job and if he would be here on the date; the rig extended his work days indefinitely but he was able to come home a week before the wedding. In a two week period, I ordered a different more suitable dress, found a friend’s private dock and yard to use, and helped get it ready and obtained tables. Friends made decorations, ordered food, ordered a new cake topper, obtained bride and groom face masks, and more. Every single thing about our wedding changed – the location, the attire, the music, the flowers, the cake/cake topper, the food, the minister, the attendants, and more.”

“Due to the coronavirus, we had to practice social distancing during our wedding with a limited number of people on the dock with us. It was the us, the minister, both sets of parents, Brian’s brother, and a friend of my brother because my brother was not able to come because he lives in New York, who stood in for him holding a blowup mask of my brother’s face.”

Kelsey’s friend, Sarah Staley, conducted a Zoom meeting so family and friends from different parts of the United States including New York, New Mexico, Massachusetts, South Florida and more could view. Kelsey’s granny, who is bedridden, was able to watch as well. People could also attend the wedding by boat, kayak, or paddleboards at a distance.

With the change of location Kelsey decided not to wear her gorgeous Allure bridal gown, instead choosing a bohemian two piece dress that could be worn for their underwater photo shoot. Kelsey wore her granny’s heart shaped locket that had been passed down for four generations. Kelsey also had her late PawPaw’s blue plaid shirt cut into a heart and sewn on the inside of her dress. Brian traded out his tuxedo for a white button-up shirt and khaki pants. Brian had his late grandfather’s handkerchief in his pocket.

Although their plans changed, they were able to focus on the natural beauty of the gorgeous location of Merritt’s Mill Pond in Marianna, Florida, which boasts several freshwater springs.  The vibe of the day was very natural. The flowers and decorations were composed of flora and fauna found in friends’ backyards, including magnolia leaves, magnolia blossoms, and sago palm fronds. The couple decided to indulge in the beauty a bit further by having a stunning underwater photo shoot capture by their talented photographer, John Starrett of Navarre.

Kelsea shared some advice with couples:

“This is your day. Make it unique and special to you and your spouse. You should have the wedding that the two of you want. Be present and enjoy it from the engagement to the planning to the big day and every step of the way. Hiccups and bumps are going to happen but take it in stride and with grace. In the end, it is you and your husband and that is the most important thing.”

The couple plan to have a wedding celebration in Apalachicola in 2021, including all of their original vendors.

Photos courtesy of John Starrett

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