The Saga of Heather, Ashley, and Harvey

There is a popular idiom that says, “when it rains, it pours.” Four years ago this August, that idiom came true in too many ways for comfort. To begin, in Houston, where I currently live, hurricane season runs from June through November. Additionally, “wedding season” for me runs from about the second week of August through the first week of October, as October is the #1 month for weddings in Houston and November is #3. Basically, I don’t sleep during those 8-9 weeks, and there are anywhere from 15-30 dresses in my studio queue at once.

I remember watching the weather channel constantly that year and actively tracking the progress of Hurricane Harvey, which would eventually claim the lives of more than 100 folks and cause $125 billion in damage, qualifying it as one of the worst hurricanes on record for the Houston area and earning the retirement of the name.

It was the Wednesday before the storm hit the Houston area when the hubster and I made the decision to evacuate. We loaded BOTH cars with the contents of my studio–wedding gowns, Santa suits in various stages of construction, supplies, machines, and other accoutrements–and headed off to Fort Worth where my in-laws lived at the time. I’m SO glad we left early. My in-laws left the news on constantly, and I was regaled and terrorized with images of long, slow-moving traffic lines and horrific storm videos.

I’m extremely grateful to my in-laws. They yielded their dining room to me so I could continue to work. I even put the hubster to work now and again, although he mostly ended up doing honey-do list items for his folks. I texted every single one of my local clients every few days to make sure they were all okay and to assure them that their dresses or suits were safe.

There was one wedding coming up that was a question mark until the very last minute. It was to be held on Labor Day weekend, and much of Houston was still in pretty bad shape. I still had two of the bridesmaids’ dresses for that wedding in my possession, and I still needed to do alterations on a VERY pregnant bridesmaid at the last minute.

We had been in Fort Worth for nine days. For nine days, I watched horrific yet heart-warming images on the news of all kinds of folks helping one another. (I was VERY proud of how my city came together during this crisis.) For nine days, I read Facebook posts from my friends about all the damage their houses or cars or both had sustained. For nine days, I checked on my bridal clients and friends to make sure they were safe. For nine days, I assured my mother and other family members that I was safe.

Then, I finally got a call from the bride in question. She had confirmed that their venue had survived the storm and could go forward with the event as planned. She asked if I would come back to Houston to finish the event. We loaded the car, cleaned the house for my in-laws, and hit the road.

We arrived home the Friday before their event. I reached out to all her bridesmaids who still needed attention. The one I was most concerned with was the VERY pregnant one, as I only had a day to make her alterations happen. She met me Saturday morning before the rehearsal and accompanying lunch to get fitted. I completed the alterations while she was gone and then she came back after the festivities to pick up her dress. After that appointment, the bride called me again, asking if my husband and I would be their honored guests at the wedding. Considering all we had been through together, it was a no brainer to say, “Yes.”

Originally, when I was asked to be part of this wedding, I’d known both women from the local art community in Houston. The art community is close knit here; everyone knows everyone. I’d had them on my radio show and been to several of their concerts. (They are both in a local band.) I was honored that they’d asked me to help prepare their wedding garments. One thing they’d asked me to do–in addition to keeping both outfits secret from one another–was to add something in common to both ensembles. I had a lot of fun being creative with that and enjoyed teasing both of them that their partner was going to look amazing on their special day.

The day of the wedding, we sat in the third row (one and two being designated for family), and I elected to watch Ashley’s face as Heather made her way down the staircase and took her father’s hand to walk down the aisle since I had seen Heather previously during the bridal shoot. I think I’m going to make this my normal practice when I go to weddings from now on. Watching the “receiver,” for lack of a better term, is far more fun than watching the “aisle walker,” in my opinion. The look on Ashley’s face was sheer amazement and love. I believe gobsmacked would be a good term to use here. Her jaw literally dropped, her eyes bugged out like one of those silly cartoons we all used to watch, and then she dissolved into happy tears. It was glorious to behold.

Since then, I’ve been honored to be a part of many more weddings where the two joining forces were of the same sex. With all the hate and division going on right now, it brings my heart joy to know that love is out there in its many varied and beautiful forms, and it brings me hope to know that “Love wins,” regardless of the obstacles–whether they be human-made hurdles, hurricanes, or other natural disasters. Love always wins.

Much love to you, my loyal readers. Until next time!


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