The truth is, it was all coming together beautifully. The details, the plans, the vision, all there. So much work and time had already gone into the whole process. Many hours of manual crafty labor from so many generous and clever people. There were some days when there was so much to do that I couldn’t even start. And other days where we were in such good shape, I could just waste time.
And then, on Saturday, May 1, it started to rain. Nashville in May is a generally rainy place, but I’d never seen anything like this. None of us had. Ever. It rained all day and all night and on Sunday morning, Digby walked through the living room leaving wet paw prints behind him. This was because our basement was filling with water, groundwater, soaking in through the walls, under the fireplace, around the pipe that leads to the water heater. Water everywhere. We were lucky, it was simply flowing out of the basement through the garage door, so we never got more than a few inches. Some worthless old furniture was soaked; boxes of family keepsakes made it up to the attic without any important losses.
The rest of the city was not so lucky. Thousands of homes were damaged or ruined. The Opryland Hotel sustained destruction at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. And both the Bicentennial Mall State Park and the Nashville Farmers' Market were under water. A lot of water.
I just scanned back through my blog history and I guess I never really confirmed this: our wedding ceremony was going to be on stage in the amphitheatre of the Bicentennial Mall, and the reception right next door in the Market House of the Farmers' Market. It was a done deal. We'd paid for the venues, had a solid plan for the setup and the decorations, etc. I'd walked through both locations with the photographer, the video dudes, Tracy (our coordinator and dear friend), Agnes, etc. We'd sent the invitations. There was a vision. It was gonna work.
Until the flood. And I know we got off so lucky here. I heard flood war stories about weddings that were cut short when guests had to be rescued off the roof of the church. Or where the groom had to drive through three feet of water to get to the ceremony, where neither the officiant or the musicians arrived. At least we didn't try to get married on May 1.
So for the week of May 3-8, we didn't know quite what was going to happen. My boss sent me a photo of the Bicentennial Mall Amphitheatre, filled with water like a giant pond. We (just barely) weighed some options for Plan B. We were temporarily distracted from even remotely considering the wedding on the Monday after the rain when I got a call that our street was being evacuated. We rushed home to find the water still steadily rising, all the way up to the stop sign at the end of our street. Our house is on a hill and we were very much out of any immediate danger, but so many in our neighborhood were not safe. People were taking boats down Cooper Lane, helping people out of their houses. It was like another world.
We heard many conflicting reports and opinions about whether or not either of our chosen wedding venues were going to be clean and ready by May 22. I went and walked around Bicentennial one morning, and cleanup crews were spread out throughout the park, and it just didn't look that bad. The grass in the amphitheatre was dying, but they were pumping out the last of the water and it was just not clear when everything would be normal again. The Market House was still chained up tight, waiting for Metro Health officials to prescribe a cleanup regimen. But we were holding out for Plan A. Surely in three weeks everything would be back to normal.
Something I'll always remember about the weeks following the flood: Apparently Sprint lost a tower in the Berry Hill area, because for several days, my phone wouldn't ring if I got a call when I was at work. It would direct straight to voicemail. So while we're rushing around trying to figure everything out, trying to confirm that our home and family are safe, and then planning and re-planning every detail of the wedding, I would just get a benign little chime indicating that I had a new message. Each time I almost had a heart attack.
Another (more pleasant memory): on the Wednesday night of that long uncertain week, we snuck out and saw The Losers at the movie theater. It was terrible. And the perfect distraction. For two explosive, streaking bullet-in-slo-mo hours I didn't think once about the flood or the wedding. Bliss.
So after a week of (stubbornly) optimistically sticking with Plan A, I got the call on Saturday night, May 8th, that changed everything. It was Paul, our dear and wonderful and patient and encouraging caterer, who also runs a restaurant located in the Farmers Market. He said he'd spent the day attempting cleanup in the Market House, and flat out told us to find a new venue, stat. He explained how slowly everything was moving under Metro government and that he saw zero likelihood that the space would be ready in two weeks.
So that's how it came about that, two weeks before our wedding, we had to move the whole damn thing. On to Plan B...