A hurricane dashed her lakeside reception. But 24 hours later, her dreams came true—in a Cornelius gym

Lauren Bowen & Jim Sracic
Photography: BlueSky by Cass Bradley 

When I was in third grade, my grandparents built a lake house. It became a big part of my childhood and adulthood. Jim proposed to me there. And when my grandfather passed away, it was the place I felt closest to him.

So, though Jim and I wanted to get married in a church, I planned a dream reception at the lake house—with twinkle lights in the tree canopy over the dance floor, fireworks, and a boat exit.

Our wedding day was Saturday, October 3, 2015. Three days before, we started hearing commotion about Hurricane Joaquin, heavy rain, and bad storms. I just planned to put up tents.

On Friday, though, my husband came to me. “They’re calling for inches of water,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s going to work at the lake house.”

BlueSky by Cass Bradley

BlueSky by Cass Bradley

Devastated, I locked myself in my room and cried.

We called at least 50 venues. All booked. Then we heard about Kadi Fit, a studio gym in Cornelius. My sister-in-law checked it out and called to say it was rustic, had a vintage feel.

I was with my maid of honor, picking up my wedding dress. I was so numb and hurt that I told them to make the decision for me. So they booked it.

The day of the wedding, as I was getting ready, everyone—friends, my entire family, and our wedding planer, Tina Sheets of A Simple Affair Events—spent the day at the venue, setting up.

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BlueSky by Cass Bradley

Jim and I decided to do our first look outside the lake house, in spite of the rain and ankle-deep water. My mom had bought me transparent umbrellas and Hunter rain boots. Jim was in his dress shoes. My dress dragged in the water and leaves and mud. But we were oblivious to all of that.

Afterward, while we waited to go to the church, our photographer, Cass Bradley, asked if we wanted to see the reception area. Jim was worried: What if I walked in and it wasn’t what I wanted? Would it ruin the ceremony? Cass caught a picture of me looking at the space for the first time.

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BlueSky by Cass Bradley

The first thing I noticed was my family all together. Then, the chairs—gorgeous wooden chairs that gave the space the same rustic, romantic feel of the lake house. Months ago, we’d said they were out of our budget. But my dad had gotten them for me.

There were mirrors, yes. But the space also had also big wooden beams, exposed brick, a cool garage door, and artwork hung. The wooden farm tables we’d rented for the lake house were set up in the gym. My brother in law, who’s good with art, had drawn calligraphy on the chalkboard walls. My wedding colors were purple and charcoal, and amazingly, the gym had a purple couch. My cousin’s wife even bought fabric to temporarily recover the pillows on the couch to fit my theme.

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BlueSky by Cass Bradley

I was overwhelmed beyond belief. I’d thought nothing but the lake house could make me so happy. But in 24 hours, my family and friends had created my dream wedding—in a gym.

After so much anxiety, I had a sense of pure ease at the ceremony. When my dad was coming to get me for our walk down the aisle, I took a deep breath.  “Don’t cry on me,” he said, “because then I’m going to start.”

I said, “‘Dad, I’m good. I’m beyond good. I want to run down the aisle to marry this man.’”

It wasn’t about the venue. It was about what we were doing: getting married and bringing two families together. It was about the fact that they’d already come together to make this possible for us.

And, at the end of the day, I was grateful for eight inches of water.
—As told by Lauren
Edited for brevity and clarity

BlueSky by Cass Bradley

BlueSky by Cass Bradley

FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS:
Photography
BlueSky by Cass Bradley
704-941-9391; weddingsbybluesky.com

Engagement ring, bride’s wedding band
Diamond’s Direct
704-532-9041, diamonds-direct.com

Entertainment
Split Second Sound
704-907-9507,splitsecondsound.com

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BlueSky by Cass Bradley

OTHER VENDORS: 
Wedding venue: St. Mark Catholic Church / Reception venue: Kadi Fit / Wedding planner: Tina Sheets, A Simple Affair / Caterers: Creative Catering / Cake: Homemade by mother of bride / Flowers: Chelish Moore Flowers / Hair, Makeup: Katie O’Neil of Makeup Your Face / Gown: Classic Bride and Formals / Gown designer: Maggie Sattero / Veil: Mother of bride’s, created by grandmother of the bride in 1980 / Bridesmaid dresses’ designer: Alfred Angelo / Tuxedo designer: Vera Wang / Invitations: Karyn Bowen Designs / Music: Leigh Marsh Duo, string duo for ceremony / Rental providers: Cooke Rental, Upper Barn, Evermore Vintage Rentals / Groom’s wedding ring: Titanium Buzz / Clergy: Deacon Louis Pais / Rehearsal dinner: Brooklyn South / Wedding night hotel: The Westin Charlotte / Bridal registry: Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Target