This Couple Didn't Let COVID-19 Take the Joy Out of Their Reimagined Wedding in Savannah
Rebecca Parrish and Darnell Morris Jr. didn't see their relationship—or their wedding—coming. Though they attended the same high school, they never formally met (Darnell was a few years older); it took a serendipitous run-in at a gym in June 2016 for them to officially connect. Nearly three years later, Darnell proposed, with plenty of help from his future wife's closest friends. Under the guise of a surprise dinner date, he left her in their car to go "grab tickets." Just as he disappeared from view, one of Rebeca's girlfriends knocked on the window, and drove her to the couple's favorite breakfast spot—where she picked up another friend, who took her to another meaningful place. Ultimately, her best friends guided her into a local park, where Darnell was waiting—surrounded by more family and friends—on one knee. It gets better: Their future wedding photographer, Felicia of Felicia V. Photography, was working nearby, and was able to capture a few images from their proposal. "It was meant to be," says Rebecca.
Shortly after, the couple, with the help of Markesha Fuller of Aristocratic Events, began planning a romantic garden party for 180 of their nearest and dearest in Palm Coast, Florida, a process that was seamless, notes the bride—until the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in early March. With just two weeks until their wedding, national lockdowns and gathering restrictions went into place, which ultimately resulted in the closure of their venue. Rebecca and Darnell began asking themselves questions that so many other couples across the country were forced to answer: "If we did try to organize a small wedding, would the roads be shut down before our big day? Would cities go into strict lockdown? Would it be better to just reschedule the whole thing for post-pandemic?" recalls the bride. Ultimately, the couple decided that they wanted to be married—and would find a way to do so, no matter what.
This involved cutting 150 guests from their list, finding a new venue in Savannah, Georgia, with just 10 days to spare, and pulling menswear out of thin air—but they did it. With Markesha's help, Rebecca and Darnell tied the knot on March 28, 2020, with a wedding that honored their original vision. Ultimately, Plan B still resulted in their marriage, which is all that mattered, says Rebecca. "Remind yourself why you are getting married," she says to couples in similar situations. "If it's to be with the love of your life, that will happen at the end of the day. Everything else is insignificant in comparison."
An Ambitious DIY
Rebecca calls the couple's navy-and-pink floral invitation suite her "DIY baby." She purchased navy invitation pockets and envelopes from Cards & Pockets, and then downloaded and printed a customizable invitation card via VineWedding on shimmering white cardstock. She personally designed the many insert cards included in the set, as well, which she tied together with a blush ribbon. The finishing touch? "Addressing the envelopes with calligraphy," she says.
On the morning of the wedding, Rebecca got ready—surrounded by her bridesmaids—in the bedroom of Historic Hamilton House, a property they found on Airbnb and selected with just 10 days to spare.
Flowers in Her Hair
All the Ladies
Rebecca's Eddy K wedding dress, which she purchased at One Bridal, checked every single box—it had a low back, plunging V-neckline, and spaghetti straps. Better yet, she felt beautiful in the gown. "Not only did I love the floral lace and champagne undertone, but I also imagined it going well with my garden party wedding theme," she explains. On the big day, she also wore a David's Bridal veil (her "something borrowed," courtesy of her cousin), Badgley Mischka shoes, and a necklace from Diamonds Direct, which was a gift from her brother; she carried a cascading white-and-blush bouquet, arranged by Arlington Flower Shop, down the aisle, complete with roses, rose gold-painted baby's breath, carnations, and lilies.
The bride shares that sourcing her eight bridesmaids' ensembles was a breeze—she gave them a blush-centric color palette and a length requirement and told them, "Find a dress you love and feel gorgeous in—from anywhere," she says. "The dresses were all different shades and ended up tying together perfectly."
Unfortunately, the coronavirus created quite a challenge for Darnell—shipping delays and store closures meant that his custom gray suit, which he'd selected months prior, wouldn't arrive on time for the celebration. So, he and Rebecca pivoted, and shopped his closet for pieces that might work. "Good thing my man looks good in anything!" reflects Rebecca.
Bow Ties and Suspenders
They ran into the same problem with their groomsmen—tux rentals just weren't happening. For the sake of cohesion, they ordered the guys matching white shirts, bow ties, and suspenders and asked them to wear a pair of black pants. "We got everything the day before the wedding," says the bride.
The venue's garden courtyard served as the ceremony space—and was ultimately the detail that sold the bride on the property in the first place. "I fell in love with the historic and colonial style of the home with its aesthetic appeal and romantic courtyard," Rebecca says. "The courtyard is probably what won me over, because I still envisioned a beautiful garden ceremony."
And though the whirlwind of Plan B forced décor to the end of the duo's priority list, their planner and event designer, Markesha Fuller of Aristocratic Events, made sure their ceremony space was beautiful. A draped, flower-topped white backdrop, positioned against a greenery-covered wall, defined the altar, marking a lovely spot for a vow exchange. "Thankfully, the venue—with its Old-World garden ambience, the courtyard, its fountain, the winding staircase, and all the foliage—let our minimalist décor highlight the beauty of the space itself," adds the bride.
Moments with Dad
The opening notes of "Forever Like That" by Ben Rector sounded as Rebecca made her way towards the courtyard with her father, Stephen, who also officiated the ceremony.
"Being a painter, I had to incorporate this side of me somewhere into our day," explains Rebecca. "I had seen painting unity ceremonies, where couples mixed two colors of paint to drip down the canvas. I liked the concept, but I really wanted a keepsake that I could display in our home. This led me to the idea of painting our hands in different colors to represent our union."
The service itself was religious, but not in the traditional sense. "We prayed, and then my dad used scripture in some of his advice," shares the bride. Before they were pronounced husband and wife and recessed back up the aisle to Michael Bublé's "You Got What It Takes," the duo exchanged heartfelt, personalized vows.
Following the service, the couple and the wedding party posed for portraits around Savannah's downtown district. As a fun touch, they set off a multi-colored smoke bomb in a nearby park.
Time for Brunch
"We are a brunch couple, so we really loved the idea of a morning wedding with a chicken and waffles menu," says Rebecca of their breakfast food-based menu catered by Mirabelle. "Because of the coronavirus and a new venue, we had to adjust this to the afternoon—but we still had our chicken waffles, donuts, and coffee."
The coffee was key and involved another fun DIY: "We are coffee addicts, so our wedding favors were mugs customized with 'The Perfect Blend, Becca & Darnell,'" says the bride. "The mugs were also used by guests at the reception."
Peanut Butter Treat
The couple closed out their brunch menu with a something sweet-meets-salty: a peanut butter cheesecake, which was baked by their friend Kevin Rockefeller.
The couple took their first (choreographed!) spin to a mashup of multiple songs, from "We Can Take the World" by Johnnyswim to "Dancing the Night Away" by Sam Cooke. "Before Darnell, I would have never considered myself a dancer," shares Rebecca. "He, on the other hand, is a natural and it is one of his favorite hobbies. When we started dating, he took me to a lounge where he liked to swing dance. After some time, I eventually found some rhythm and fell in love with swing. Dancing together became one of our favorite pastimes."
Photography, Felicia V. Photography
Venue, Historic Hamilton House
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Markesha Fuller of Aristocratic Events
Videography, Brother's Cinematography
Flowers, Arlington Flower Shop
Invitations, VineWedding (stationery design); Cards & Pockets (envelopes and pockets); Rebecca Parrish (printing)
Officiant, Stephen Parrish
Bride's Gown, Eddy K via One Bridal
Veil, David's Bridal
Engagement Ring and Jewelry, Diamonds Direct (necklace)
Shoes, Badgley Mischka
Hair, Jordan Burdetsky
Makeup, Amanda Parrish
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Adrianna Papell; Birdy Grey; Azazie; Ross
Menswear, Grade Code (suspenders); Gollate (bow ties)
Wedding Band, Duke Collections (groom); TigerGemstones (bride)
Guest Book, JuniperandWhite
Cake, Kevin Rockefeller (family friend)