Every Guest at This 10-Person Wedding in Huntsville, Alabama, Played a Key Role in the Celebration
Though Patton Park and Samuel Hammitte didn't end up with the wedding they had imagined, their marriage fits the vision they'd had since they met. "We have truly been inseparably ever since our first date in April 2018," says Patton. "It honestly was love at first sight for the both of us, which is why it ended up being so easy for us to change our wedding plans to a micro-wedding."
After Samuel proposed to Patton at her parents' home in September 2019, the couple knew they wanted to tie the knot as soon as possible. They planned a weekend lineup of celebrations for May 2020—the week after Samuel would graduate from college—that included a bridal luncheon, rehearsal dinner, Catholic wedding ceremony, and a large reception at the bride's parents' home. "We were going to have around 200 guests, a live jazz band, a full bar, a beautiful five-tiered cake, a Champagne tower, flowers galore, caviar, delicious food, and, of course, all of our friends and family," says Patton. "I vividly remember when the talk of COVID started spreading like a wildfire. I had this gut feeling in mid-March that we would not be having our big wedding in May."
Her feeling proved correct as Samuel's last semester moved to online-only classes and the couple decided to move up their wedding. "We immediately knew what we wanted to happen," she says. "Why wait—let's get married!" They chose a new date, April 4, 2020, and limited the guest list to their immediate family to meet the 10-person restriction—then got final approval from their priest. "I will never forget that feeling of pure joy," she says. "Although we knew the dream wedding we had planned and worked so hard on was not going to happen, all that mattered to us was becoming husband and wife."
Patton and Samuel kept their original wedding locations, holding their ceremony at the church where Patton was confirmed and hosting a small luncheon at her parents' house afterward. "The hardest part of the planning process was accepting the fact that only 10 people could be in attendance," says Patton. "We would have loved to have had our grandparents, but we knew it was better to keep them safe at home." Instead, the newlyweds surprised Patton's grandmother and grandfather, who live locally, by dropping off cake after the meal, and invited Samuel's aunts, uncles, and grandparents to join the celebration over Zoom. And though the wedding wasn't what they had planned, they wouldn't trade a moment of it. "It took us seven days to plan our COVID wedding! That has got to be a record," says Patton. "We are not planning a larger celebration down the road. We feel as if our day was simply enough."
For her afternoon ceremony, Patton wore a cotton Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress with three-quarter sleeves and a belted waist; she had originally chosen this garment for her bridal luncheon. "I loved the way I felt in it," she says. "I loved the dress so much and couldn't wait to wear it to my bridal luncheon, so when we decided to get married in nine days, I was so glad I had it. It was so classic and perfect for a 1 p.m. wedding, and I knew Samuel would approve!" She added an heirloom diamond barrette—her "something borrowed"—from her planner, Randy Roper, a family friend.
Shimmer and Shine
Patton works in the jewelry industry, so she took extra care with her sparkling accessories. She wore her mother's strand pearl and diamond bracelet—it was a gift she had received from Patton's grandparents on her own wedding day—plus her pearl and diamond stud earrings, which "completed my look," she says.
Local florist In Bloom created Patton's striking bouquet, which included orchids flown in from Miami. "My jaw-dropping, dream-come-true, overflowing bouquet was arranged with white orchids, light pink peonies, apricot colored roses, and a dash of greenery to top it all off," says Patton. "It was so big and lovely, and better than I ever could have imagined."
All the Ladies
The couple's small guest list allowed them to incorporate family into every aspect of their wedding. "I bet there are very few people that can say all of their wedding guests played a big role in their special day, but fortunately, we can," says Patton. "Samuel's sisters did my hair, nails, and makeup, my sister was my maid of honor, my dad walked me down the aisle, Samuel's dad was his best man and played the piano as we walked out as husband and wife, both of our moms read from the Bible during the ceremony, and my brother drove the getaway car—his 1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer."
"When I think about how each person touched our day in their own special way, it brings such a joy to my heart," she continues. "There is something so special about a teeny, tiny wedding when it is filled with the ones you love most."
Samuel donned a navy blue suit he already owned, adding light brown shoes and a white boutonnière.
Down the Aisle
The couple opted not to see each other before the wedding. "I felt like I was floating when I was walking down the aisle and saw Samuel for the first time that day," says the bride.
Hand in Hand
The couple held hands during their Catholic ceremony, which included Bible passages from 1 Corinthians and Genesis read by the mothers of the bride and groom. "The best part was seeing Samuel's sweet, teary-eyed face. He is not one to cry, or even get teared up, so I could literally feel how much he loves me. At that very moment, a sense of peace came over me that we made the right decision to just go ahead and get married," says Patton.
Father Joseph Lubrano, who had worked with the couple during their premarital counseling, officiated the service at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Huntsville. "I could hardly hold back my tears," says Patton. As the ceremony ended, the father of the groom surprised the newlyweds with an unexpected recessional. "We did not have any music during the ceremony, but Samuel's dad ended up playing the piano after we were pronounced husband and wife," says Patton. "I felt so much love between us the second we walked back down the aisle."
Riding in Style
Outside the church, Patton's brother had decorated his car with ribbons and "Just Married" signs—and was ready to deliver the newlyweds to their reception.
The newlyweds beamed from inside the Jeep as they left the church. "One piece of advice we would like to give couples currently going through this situation is to go ahead and get married!" affirms the couple. "At the end of the day, no one is going to remember every minute detail that you stress about—the most important part of it all is becoming husband and wife. Love always prevails, even in a pandemic."
Home Sweet Home
A wreath of white orchids, blue hydrangeas, apricot-colored roses, pink peonies, and fresh greens decorated the front door of the bride's parents' 200-year-old historic home. "It was built in 1823 and is on the national register of historic places," says Patton. "We spent most of the reception sitting in the courtyard around the pool, talking, laughing, and eating delicious food."
Let's Do Lunch
Inside, the home's formal dining room played host to the menu of beef tenderloin and rolls, shrimp cocktail, chicken salad in pastry shells, tomato-cucumber sandwiches, and miniature baked potatoes from Catering by Narvell.
A single centerpiece designed the elongated table during the luncheon. "Our vision for this intimate wedding was simple, yet elegant," explains Patton. "We were so happy to be able to spend time with our immediate families together and celebrate our love for each other, even if it was on a tiny scale."
History of Love
The couple chose sentimental glassware and serving pieces that they incorporated throughout the luncheon, including heirloom Champagne flutes, napkins with the bride's new monogram, trays and stemware from the bride's grandmother and great-grandmother, and a silver Champagne bucket presented to the bride's mother on her debut. "The sterling flatware we used was Repousse, the pattern my mom chose for me when I was born. It was the same pattern my great-grandmother, Ruth Damson, had; she and my mom had a very special bond," says Patton. "Every detail from our day had so much meaning and history behind it, making it that much more special."
A Toast to the Newlyweds
After posing for photos around the property, the guests gathered in the dining room for toasts and speeches. "I will never forget my dad's toast," says Patton: "'Susan and I got married in 1993 and Patton was born in 1997. Ever since then, we have prayed for someone to come along that loves her as much as we do, and we know that is Samuel.' There wasn't a dry eye in the room."
A two-tiered vanilla and buttercream cake held a pretty topper of fresh orchids, peonies, hydrangeas, and roses. "It was absolutely the best cake I have ever tasted," says Patton. "The perfect amount of sweet for the sweetest day."
Spreading the News
After the reception, Patton and Samuel climbed back into the Jeep to surprise both sets of her grandparents with their big news. "I will never forget how proud I could tell they were, and their precious beaming smiles. That, honestly, was one of the most special parts of the whole day. The look on their faces was priceless and filled with so much love and excitement," says Patton. "Samuel and I both had decided it was better for them to stay safely at home so they are able to enjoy the other joys our life together will bring us."
A Perfect Day
"Our wedding day, though very different than we had anticipated, turned out to be more wonderful than we ever could have imagined," says Patton. "When we look at the pictures and reminisce on April 4, 2020, we remember all of the love that filled the day instead of the excess 'stuff' that goes into a wedding. There is not one thing we would change or do differently. It was simply perfect."
Photography, Aislinn Eileen
Ceremony Venue, St. Joseph Catholic Church
Event Planning, Randy Roper
Catering, Catering by Narvell
Flowers, In Bloom Floral Design Studio
Officiant, Father Joseph Lubrano
Cake, Lucy Krause, The Cake Lady
Bride's Gown, Oscar de la Renta
Bride's Shoes, Salvatore Ferragamo
Rings, DePriest Robbins