Wedding endures despite weather
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If rain on your wedding day is considered good luck, Frankie and Brittany Mullens should be set for a lifetime.
The Messer-Mullens wedding, set a year ago when the couple was engaged for a beautiful summer day in June 2012, received an unwelcome "gift" at the Little Creek Country Club in South Charleston when damaging winds downed trees and power lines during the rehearsal service on Friday, June 29. For a moment, it appeared the walk down the aisle, scheduled for the next day, might not happen.
"We had worried so much about the heat that day because it was an outdoor wedding, but we decided 20 or 30 minutes outside and then everyone would come in for the reception," said the bride's mother, Kim Messer of Huntington. "Never in our wildest dreams did we expect this."
Just as the last person was leaving the outdoor rehearsal space Friday evening, the storm hit the country club full force. Trees fell outside (one on the minister's car), windows were shattered and the electricity went out. A new roof that had just been placed on the country club began leaking as the rain moved in. The wedding party, from bridesmaids to ring bearers, huddled in a locker room on the country club's lower level.
"Once the storm cleared, we got to come out and see the damage," Messer said. "As a mom, I would go into the other room and break down, but (Brittany) was fine. As long as she was with Frankie, she didn't care."
Messer applauded the efforts of the country club staff, who cleaned the outdoor area where the ceremony was to be held until 4 a.m. Saturday. Generators and box fans were brought in to allow for cooks to prepare the reception food and the wedding party to get ready. The cake and cupcakes from Paula Vega Cakes in Huntington were stuffed in the freezer to prevent the frosting from melting.
"Fans were blowing in the locker room for the girls so it was comfortable, but they still didn't have any water," Messer said. "And then the generators went down and two staff members got stuck in an elevator."
The generators' inability to keep up, combined with the stifling heat inside the reception hall, doomed the wedding after-party for more than 235 registered guests despite hours of decorating by the families.
"We had the ceremony at 6:30 p.m. and most of the guests grabbed a cupcake and left. At about 7:30 p.m., it had cooled down and we moved the cake outside, but there were only about 10 people there to watch them cut it," Messer said.
Added to the weekend woes was the uncertainty whether tropical flowers for the bouquets would arrive in time due to storms in Florida (employees from C-K Florist drove to Columbus to pick up the flowers) and the start of a honeymoon that involved a no-show pilot for the couples' Yeager Airport flight to Florida and a Carnival cruise ship held for their arrival. The couple, who met at Alderson-Broaddus College, are slated to return to their apartment in Barboursville on Sunday following a well-deserved, week-long honeymoon.
"Brittany never quit smiling through it all. At the end of her wedding day, I was helping her try to get her dress off and she said to me, 'This has been the best day,' " Messer said. "There were problems at every turn, but they were just happy to be together.
"I had people say to me, 'Just think of the stories she'll have to tell,' " Messer continued. "Who would've thought -- a heat wave, a state of emergency and tornado-like storms. If they can survive this, they can survive anything."
Messer said a reception for the couple will be planned for a later date.
Brittany, 21, is the daughter of Ray and Kim Messer of Huntington and a graduate of Spring Valley High School. She is currently attending Marshall University. Frankie, 23, is the son of Frank Jr. and Sherry Mullens of South Charleston and a graduate of South Charleston High School and the University of Charleston.