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Hurricane cancels one wedding but friends quickly put together another

by Teresa Eubanks, Journal Editor

They had planned a nice wedding in scenic Wakulla Springs Saturday and expected at least a hundred guests in attendance, including the bride’s 90-year-old grandfather.

The bride’s father is a minister and there was never any question over who would perform the ceremony - until Hurricane Irma stepped up and, in her own way, objected.

The detailed plans made by Bethany Black and Dean Hitzelberger were washed away as residents of south and central Florida started heading north, filling up the road and hotels while helping to deplete the gas supply.  Bethany, a Georgia native living in Panama City, realized it wouldn’t be fair to pull family and friends into the approaching storm.  On Tuesday she called off the ceremony and the couple agreed to just exchange vows with a couple of witnesses and celebrate later with a family reception.

“It just wasn’t safe,” said their friend, Kim Stone, of Marianna, who had already agreed to be their wedding photographer.  “They just didn’t feel they should ask their family to come into an unknown situation.”

The couple planned to meet Kim at the state line, get married by a justice of the peace, take a few photos and be on their way. But Kim thought the couple deserved something more.  “She met her Prince Charming and her life was just falling into place,” she said.  Of course, as a wedding photographer, Kim pointed out, “We’re in the fairy tale business” and decided to see what she could do.

On Wednesday, she thought about the beautiful little church sitting there at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement in Blountstown. She called the caretakers at the settlement, Brody and Jody Brown, and “they welcomed us with open arms.”  A day after their ceremony was canceled, they had a new place to wed and volunteers standing by to help with the event, which was moved up a day to Friday.

They even worked out a way that her father could read them their vows - FaceTime!

Kim’s husband, Matt, officiated over the ceremony.  He held a smart phone in front of his chest so the bride’s father could see and hear the happy couple, reading out their vows to them in the settlement’s historic Red Oak Methodist Church for a unique blending new 21st century technology with pioneer history.

What would have been a simple ceremony became something extraordinary with the help of some old friends of the couple and their new friends at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement.

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September 22nd, 2017



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