Blizzard Bliss: It was a nice day for a REALLY white wedding! (PHOTOS)
Lauren O'Rourke and Josh Richmond knew their wedding day would be memorable, but what they didn't realize when they set the date was what, exactly, would transpire to turn Jan. 23 into a day they would never forget.
This week, as the snow melts in New Jersey and the newlyweds enjoy the sun and sand in Hawaii, they're able to sit back and smile as they remember the blizzard conditions that served as a backdrop for their snowy wedding.
As the big day got closer, Lauren and Josh expected a relatively decent day for their wedding. Yes, they knew it was January and would be cold and could even be a little snowy, but they never expected the forecast that evolved the days before the ceremony.
"When the forecast first came out two weeks prior to the ceremony, we were forecasted to have crystal clear skies for 14 days straight. A few days later it predicted rain for the wedding, which then turned into snow Sunday, then Saturday, then Friday," Lauren told NJ 101.5. "The forecast kept changing so we tried to stop looking at it until the Thursday before. We had had such a mild winter, what were the odds we'd have a snow storm on that day? And beyond that, we were never expecting a blizzard, maybe an inch or two. We did not get concerned until that Thursday, and by that point many of our out of town guests were already in route, so postponing was not truly an option."
Residents of Hoboken, Lauren and Josh planned to have the wedding ceremony at St. Ann's Church in Hoboken and then move over to the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City for the reception. Lauren said they didn't really start getting nervous about the forecast until they woke up Saturday morning at the Hyatt and looked outside to see the wintry weather.
"I thought someone had pulled the shade over my window - it was just white. We could barely see a few feet out, snow was blustering in all directions. That's when we got concerned," Lauren said.
As of Friday night, there were about 70 guests that had arrived early to avoid the winter storm.
"We were still waiting on 95 more plus all our vendors. Melissa Magin from the Hyatt said they were ready to go if we were," Lauren said.
They could've rescheduled. Since the blizzard "was considered an 'act of God.'" Lauren explained.
"But at that point we had so many guests from out of town we had to go on. It wasn't until the travel ban in Hoboken prohibited us from getting to the church that we ran into a big problem," the bride said.
They contact their vendors - everyone from the florist to the makeup team, and of course, the photographer. As far as those services went, it was all systems go.I
"The reception was happening, so we had to make arrangements for a ceremony. I did not want the party without the ceremony. So my cousin's husband, Eric Scott, kindly volunteered to do a small civil ceremony for those guests already present," Lauren said.
They found a space at the Hyatt and exchanged vows as the snow fell outside.
"The best part of my day was definitely the ceremony. After all, it was the most important part - once it came together, all the stress was relieved," Lauren said from Hawaii. "Once we said I do, the rest of the night was amazing."
Lauren said for Josh, his favorite part was being announced - walking in with their closest friends and family all cheering and clapping and screaming, "and knowing that at that point everything worked out, everyone was safe."
"I think a lot of our guests were nervous we may cancel, which is why I think the energy in that room was so amazing," the bride said.
But it didn't end with the reception. The following day, as the skies cleared, the couple exchanged voews a second time, in a traditional Catholic ceremony at the church.
"I loved both of our ceremonies, the first was intimate and spontaneous, the second was the ceremony we had been planning and dreaming of for months. I will tell you though, we all debated getting dolled up for a second time Sunday morning," she said.
The bride they were surprised at how many guests showed up for the wedding in spite of the blizzard. It seemed that the guests with the shortest commute had the hardest trek, since many of the out-of-towners showed up the day before. One guest, the couple's former boss Chris Caruso, walked two miles in the wind and snow from jersey City because his car was buried.
"We truly were not expecting as many people to show in the storm. Our loved ones moved mountains for us that day, and thankfully everyone arrived safe," she said.
When it came time to take the wedding pictures, the couple again decided to just go with the flow, and they credit their photographer, Adena Stevens of Studio A Images, for finding eclectic ways to stage the photos.
"We had originally planned on taking pictures with our bridal party in front of the NYC skyline, which in the four years we've lived in Hoboken has only been impeded by weather once, and also at the Hoboken train station, but that was shut down to house sand bags in preparation for the storm," she said.
Stevens said the members of the wedding party were good sports, and braved the cold, wind and snow to make the pictures an accurate depiction of the unique wedding day.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor for news at NJ 101.5. Reach her at email@example.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.