“We send you these flowers from our hearts”
A Hurricane Irma Wedding Story
Justin Murphy and his new bride, Katherine, had planned a glorious celebration of their love and life together, but Hurricane Irma had other plans for their oceanside wedding day. Read about how the couple’s resilience, love, and generosity touched hundreds of lives in the face of the storm –
Katherine and I started planning for our picture-perfect dream wedding well over a year ago – a sunset celebration on Clearwater Beach, FL on Saturday, September 9th. Just a week prior to our chosen date, we went into the Pinellas County Courthouse and obtained our marriage license. And, well into the week before Hurricane Irma hit, we were still hopeful that mother nature and the storm were going to make a turn in another direction. As the days passed, however, our concerns for the safety of our more than 150 guests from both near and far as well as local venue employees increased. The dangers became real and we started to consider our options to evacuate the Tampa area. On Wednesday, September 6th, our wedding event was officially cancelled. As challenging as that was, we kept our hopes up and our love remained stronger than ever.
Evacuation notifications began to spread, and we learned local government offices would be closed ahead of the storm, too. Thursday morning the 7th came and with heavy, yet strong hearts, we were determined to see our lifelong commitment to each other through. Katherine put on her beautiful wedding dress, did her hair and makeup while I found a suit stashed away in the closet. We met in the living room of our home and shared a few tears as we experienced our true “first look.” Meanwhile, my mother ran out and found a bouquet for Katherine to carry. It was emotional for us all, and yet, so beautiful. With my mother and our son as our witnesses, we were married on the afternoon of Thursday, September 7th. While it was not quite under the beautiful sunset of Clearwater Beach, it was a true testament of the strong love we share today and alwaysl.
Amid our own plans to evacuate the area, we thought about all the beautiful flowers that were prepared for our wedding day. We were not willing to let those flowers – a symbol of what was to be – go to waste. We asked our wedding planner, Barb Oehlerking from Artistry Designs to see how we could donate so many beautiful flowers. We were fortunate enough to find such a great organization and team in Random Acts of Flowers in Tampa. Through the efforts of Monica, Janette, and Barb, we coordinated and donated every flower we had planned to use on our wedding day.
We learned more than 170 bouquets were made and so many lives were touched. We are so glad to see a tough and sad situation turned into a positive one.
“My grandmother is in the hospital and she wanted to thank all of you for the flowers that were given to her out of the kindness of your hearts! It really made her happy! All I wanted to see was a smile on her face and she smiled like a ray of sunshine!” – Julie H., Family of Recipient
Our message to all recipients would be that we send you these flowers from our hearts. We hope they brought a ray of sunshine and hope into your lives. Knowing Random Acts of Flowers was able to step in and repurpose the flowers and bless others brings us both happiness and joy. We sent them to you in love and as a symbol of the love both Katherine and I share together today. We will welcome our son to this world in December, another joy we share together and look forward to. The picture-perfect dream wedding we set out for will occur sometime in 2018.
For now, we focus on getting our lives back together, sharing the moments and memories that surfaced during such a challenging time, and celebrating our special love that will endure for all time.
Sincerely, Justin Murphy