A Long-Awaited Charleston Wedding
What I want more than anything is to write a normal wedding story for Mackenzie and James. I want to write how they had the perfect wedding, surrounded by all of their family and friends, with joy overflowing. But the truth is, so much of that was taken away from them, piece by piece, over the two years leading up to the wedding they finally had.
This is not just another story about the coronavirus delaying wedding plans. This goes much deeper. Mackenzie and James’s wedding date was March 21, 2020. On March 15, 2020, just six days before their wedding, New York and Los Angeles began ordering shutdowns of businesses due to the new coronavirus spreading more rapidly than predicted. After a long day of conversations and uncertainty, on the evening of March 16, the wedding was officially postponed, only five days before it was to happen.
The day that should have been their rehearsal dinner, Mauricio and I went to Mackenzie’s family’s home in downtown Charleston to photograph the florals that had already arrived but obviously wouldn’t be used. Their wonderful floral designer Roadside Blooms brought everything over and constructed a wedding arch in the courtyard. Mauricio photographed Mackenzie and James, along with her family. The mood was celebratory and humorous, with everyone making the most of the cards they’d been dealt. (The flowers were then donated to Amor Healing Kitchen and a nursing home in Mount Pleasant.)
Just two months later, Mackenzie’s healthy, vibrant father, Tim, whom we had just photographed that day in Charleston, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. The postponed wedding was canceled altogether as the family grieved for this amazing man who meant the world to them. Mackenzie said she couldn’t imagine getting married without her dad there.
But It Was What He Always Wanted for Her
For many months, no one was sure what would happen. But then we received an email from their wedding coordinator Lauren at Fox Events saying Mackenzie and James wanted to have the wedding celebration Tim always wanted for them. So it was back on, two years after the original date.
The wedding at Runnymede honored the life and love of Tim Kennedy. And Mackenzie finally got to wear a wedding dress. But by this point Mackenzie and James had already been legally married for three years, and had been tested beyond measure. As Mackenzie told me later, the exchange of rings was merely for tradition, as was the “first kiss” and “first dance.” In reality, they’ve been wearing wedding rings, and kissing and dancing together as husband and wife, for a long time.
Celebration of a Strong Marriage
So what does a couple get out of a wedding like this? Was it just a pageant? Absolutely not. What I heard in their vows, and saw in their interactions and care for one another, was affirmation. They are not just starting out on this life together. They already have a strong marriage, with a tighter bond than most couples can say they have on their wedding day. In sickness and in health? In good times and bad? They’ve experienced it all at this point, and have gotten through it together. Tim’s presence and love was felt throughout the day. And Mackenzie’s mom, Margo, whom we have come to love and admire so much, did an amazing job as head of the family and host of the wedding, giving a heartfelt toast and even spinning around the dance floor with her friends.
So yes, for this family, I wish this story were simply about a beautiful wedding in Charleston where everyone had a great time and that was that. And even though that is true, it’s not the whole truth. And the whole truth is important. Mackenzie and James will build a life on the whole truth. They will use their experiences to inform their future decisions and paths. They will love even harder, and protect what is precious. Knowing happiness is not always a given, and the path could change at any moment, they will savor and be grateful for each beautiful bit of happiness they get. And at each step along the way, they will have a very special and dedicated guardian angel guiding them toward all things good.
To see more, check out Charleston videographer Thomas Malphrus’ film here: Runnymede Wedding Video