Last night, my sister got married! The wedding took place at Sugah Cain, our family property on Johns Island, under a canopy of live oak trees – truly God’s outdoor temple. A week ago, the forecasted 80% chance of thunderstorms was unpromisingly bleak. A lot of prayer warriors were on their knees supplicating for more favorable conditions, and MAN did Jesus come through. The gentle breeze, glow of the setting sun, and just a touch of summer humidity created the perfect ambiance, but the ceremony itself was even more beautiful.
Georgia and Duncan committed their lives to each other focused on the Lord. Parents and the wedding party surrounded and prayed for them, we worshiped to “How He Loves,” and they made vows they had written themselves. God’s favor, blessings, and peace flowed freely, and the whole thing felt straight-up anointed. Their guests witnessed the formation of a sacred, holy covenant and the demonstration of the parallels between God’s love for the church and man’s love for his bride. Looking out over the crowd, I saw a lot of people sharing their Kleenex packs with their neighbor.
The bridesmaids came around the back of the trees in a horse-drawn wagonette, violin-viola duo performing “Ode to Joy” as we glided down the aisle. Transitioning to Pachelbel, two groomsmen rolled out a white lace runner, while two more followed and staked it down with pewter horse shoes. Georgia’s white Cinderella carriage pulled up, and as Hoffa escorted her to the alter, I think we were all transported to the stuff of fairy tales.
My sisters and I have talked about getting married at Sugah Cain our whole lives. Riding over with RoRie in the carriage, I couldn’t help but verbalize to her that it was actually happening to our sister; we were finally living out the wedding day dream, and it struck me as one of those rare, existentially surreal moments experienced only a few times in one’s life. Following the ceremony, we made our way over to the Sugah Shack Barn, which Hoffa built last year to be a functioning, horse-filled workshop and warehouse for Old South, the horse-drawn carriage tour company he owns. The next few hours flowed from drinks (and a couple of wobbly children whose parents did not know the “Mint to Be” cocktail had vodka in it!), to the southern fried chicken dinner, a get-down party of Charleston shag dancers and black boogying football players, and a sparkler send-off for the bride and groom.
I’ve always said the only key ingredients necessary for a good wedding are God, dancing, food, and alcohol — in that order. In the weeks leading up to the big day, though, Mama and I were pretty caught up in checklists and general wedding chaos, and I felt like everything was getting out-of-hand. All the showers and registries and luncheons; the flowers, program, wedding favors, signature drink, menu planning, cake tasting, and decorating details; the exorbitant price of photographers, DJs, and venues (or the hard work of transforming ours to an airy reception hall)… these generally unnecessary but very nice touches that have become traditional expectations in American weddings. Mama tried to be as budget-conscious as she could, but the fluff adds up – especially when you invite over 600 people. (Georgia is a go-big kinda gal!) When I realize how expensive this one day is, especially in a destination location like Charleston, where wedding price tags are ridiculously inflated, I have a hard time stomaching it. As we prepared, I started reflecting and reassessing what I assumed I always wanted in a wedding. Elopement and a house down-payment or year of travel anyone??
Man, though, it was a good time. Even with just a few hours’ perspective, this party was one for the books, and I think people will be talking about it for decades to come. Weddings are to celebrate a holy vow with those we love, and for that, perhaps it is all worth it. The Compton wedding bar has been set pretty high, so until my future mystery man pursues and chooses me as Duncan has done to Georgia, I’ll just let it be.
As a co-MOH (co-Maid of Honor) with Rosa Marie, I did prepare a toast, which I have posted below. Congratulations to the newlyweds, and welcome to the family Duncan!
In anticipation of this toast, I was flipping through Georgia’s Childhood Memories book this past week, where I found this golden glimpse into Georgia’s life outlook as a kindergartener in 2000:
I am a princess in a big castle. I would have parties all the time, and I would love my family.
Now Georgia is not a movie star (though you never know what the future holds), but I saw glimpses of present-day metaphorical truth in Georgia’s five-year-old dreams. Tonight, you are not wearing a pretty pink and blue dress, but you are radiant in that dazzling ivory gown. You really do look like a princess, and you just landed Prince charming. Because Duncan, you may be handsome, but you are also courageous, steadfast, a servant leader, and a man of the deepest integrity.
Georgia, you are also a princess, because you are a daughter of the true King, a humble, shining servant of Christ. Through your work with Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Furman this coming year, y’all certainly will not be living in a palace (though everybody else listening, here’s a gentle nudge that they’ll continue to be raising support all summer). But as you embark together into a life of love and ministry, I am confident that you will be kingdom builders for Christ, stronger and more effective together than you are as individuals.
The last part of Georgia’s statement says, “I would love my family.” And you sure do, so well, Georgia. I’m grateful that as Comptons we have grown up in such a loving family, with parents that have taught us to love not only each other, but friends, and strangers alike with big, suffocating bear hugs, an open-door welcome policy, and lots of laughter. As sisters, we have had our ups and downs, and given each other plenty of opportunities for confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Despite those clashes, I know our blood bond will ensure that we keep being by each other’s side, keep rooting for each other, and keep supporting and looking out for one another. I’ve always wanted another brother, and Duncan, I’ve been ready for you to be that person since you proposed nearly six months ago. Mama always told us to look for a significant other who sees the best in us, brings out the best in us, and wants the best for us. You two do that for each other, and as you become your own family, I know you’ll love one another with faithfulness, patience, and kindness, because you know why you’re doing what you’re doing now.
All the wedding details are important for this party to happen – and as larger-than-life as you are, G, a PARTY is going to go down. But you and Duncan know what this is really all about. Witnessed and celebrated by the people you love most, you have made a marriage covenant before God. Duncan, on your most recent FCA prayer team email, you asked for prayers that you and Georgia would honor God and keep perspective on what your wedding day truly means, that that perspective would carry over to everyone here tonight – the Compton and Fletcher families and all of your guests. I think you’ve done that well. I am SO excited for y’all. As you go forth as Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher, others will know you by your love, because God is love, and you are rooted in Him. Here here to Duncan and Georgia!