Buffalo. Floods. Snakes & A Wedding- Oh My!

Every planner through the course of their career has a wedding that is sure to be forever etched in their mind. It could be a wedding that was such a disaster they learned all the "what not to do's" or it could be a wedding that was full of joy, love, fun, challenges and beauty all wrapped into one. Luckily for me, it was the latter.

Stephanie called me and said, "my daughter Ryan has a vision and after looking at your weddings on social media, she wants you to be her planner." I was ecstatic. I met with Ryan and Stephanie a few weeks later and toured her venue- Woolaroc Museum and Nature Preserve. It was incredible. During the drive through the grounds, I passed zebras, ostriches, deer and buffalo! My first thought was, "what if guests are late because of a buffalo crossing? That would certainly be a first!" We discussed Ryan's vision, plans, logistics and got started. It was going to be right by Clyde lake surrounded by nature and I couldn't wait to get planning.

The next several months were packed full of meetings, site visits, cake tastings, decision making and the the ordinary wedding planning items. Nothing out of the normal for a wedding. Until...

The Great Tulsa Flood of 2019! You all remember it right? How could we forget? Homes were under water, roads were closed, the casino was flooded and people were scared. I didn't know this type of disaster was even possible in Tulsa, Oklahoma. USA Today reported that, "it was the worst flood to hit Tulsa since 1986." The situation was horrible and then, deep down, I started thinking about the outdoor wedding set to take place in three weeks...in a valley...that was also being affected by the rain. No, please no.

Rewind backwards a few months to when my mom and I booked a trip to Sandals, Montego Bay. I was nervous about going a few weeks before this huge wedding but, no big deal. We would have everything confirmed and done before I left- per usual. The trip had been confirmed. So, while all this flooding is getting worse, I am beached on the sand in Jamaica hoping the situation back home is getting better/drying out (I have no cell signal). I get to the airport, my cell signal returns and I get the phone call, "Casey this is Paula at Woolaroc and I don't know what to say except Ryan can't have her wedding at Clyde lake. It's flooded and we are real close to the water coming over the bridge which eliminates all our options." Great! It's two weeks from wedding day and I have a logistical nightmare. I'm in Jamaica, we have to change the venue, contact vendors, add more to our rentals, keep the bride calm and come up with plan c. While I was at the airport, I spent my time contacting vendors to update them on the issue and telling them to stay tuned. Luckily, Woolaroc has a beautiful museum located on top of a bluff. We decided to tour the area to see if we could relocate the wedding to the museum so we wouldn't need to change venues. After walking through the location and discussing all of the logistics it was a go!!!! We finally had a plan- well, a third plan.

The day of the wedding it STOPPED RAINING! Literally, it had rained the whole week and stopped the day of the wedding!!! It was humid, it was hot (94 degrees hot) but it wasn't raining. The set-up began at 8:00 a.m. by individually uncovering all 500 dark fruit wood chairs, setting up tables, the arbor, wooden doors and a tent. Well into our set-up I went inside the museum to grab a few things and my assistant, Amy came inside and asked me if I had a shovel. A shovel? What in the world do we need a shovel for? We can't dig here. She reassured me we needed the shovel and that I shouldn't panic. I instantly started panicking. She explained that while setting up a table a large snake dropped from the roof of the museum and landed in the bushes right next to her and a reception table. First, if that would have been me standing there I would have instantly passed out. Second, we are not taking care of any snake or anything with a shovel. Que my J-Lo "Wedding Planner" moment... I took out my walkie talkie and radioed for backup a/k/a Paula. She was on her way! I have a phobia of snakes and had to keep telling myself, "Casey, you have to pull it together. Amy cannot finish this set-up alone. She needs you. You have to get through this and finish Ryan's wedding!" Needless to say, after rustling through the bushes for a while she found the monstrosity, grabbed it with a pole and lifted it up from the bushes. I screamed, jumped on a large cylinder block, closed my eyes and thought I for sure I was about to pass out. (Side note: don't jump on a concrete block if you think you are going to pass out. In hindsight, that was a really bad idea.) A few minutes after Paula released the snake into the woods, I came down from my place of security. The rest of the day I refused to walk in that area, step in the grass or look up at the roofs. Amy really saved the day on this one!

The rest of the set-up went smooth and everything turned out perfect. What a relief! Ryan's vision, our year of hard work and all the changing plans were finally coming to fruition. Plan C worked! Time passed quickly and before we knew it- it was time to start first look pictures.

Ryan looked absolutely stunning and Austin looked extremely dapper. They met on the side of a building, surrounded by nature, their parents and the wedding party and did their first look.When it was over they decided to a one on one vow reading to each other. It could have been one of the sweetest moments of the day.

Meanwhile, all 250 guests filled the ceremony chairs. The music started and the guests turned to watch Ryan and her dad walk down the curvy stone aisle. The vows were said, the rings were exchanged and the officiant finally announced them as "Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Eden." They were finally married!

As guests made their way to the reception, they chose a table to sit and converse at. One table design had a lantern on top of a wooden plank with a mix of purple flowers and greenery cascading out to the lilac linens. The little jelly jars for the guests to take home that said, "spread the love" were the perfect finishing touch. The other table design had a silver vase with flowers overflowing onto the large wooden plank surrounded by pictures.

As the sun began to set, Abby Sweet took over with her photography skills and delivered some amazing swoon worthy photos of the bride & groom and wedding party. These are the pictures a planner lives for.

By this point, the couple and guests were ready to party! There was nothing short of that either- especially with all the entertainment the couple provided. Guests were able to get inside of an old VW van for a photo booth opportunity, they enjoyed a whole evening listening to a well-known three-piece band, enjoyed a southern dessert buffet consisting of mouthwatering sea salt caramel cookies, lemon cookies, hand pies and a perfectly sweet one tier cake! The reception was straight from a Southern Living magazine.

Unfortunately, all fairy tale days must come to an end. The guests lined up with glow-sticks and celebrated the newlyweds as they ran to their car where they would head to the airport. They were happy, married and honeymoon bound.

I was also entrusted to plan the couples honeymoon. The day after the wedding Ryan and Austin flew to Barbados and stayed at the all-inclusive Sandals Royal Barbados. They had an excellent time, relaxed in paradise, enjoyed a candlelight dinner (in the rain, seriously), snorkeled and celebrated their new life of finally being Mr. & Mrs Eden.

As a planner, I learned a lot from this wedding. First, logistics aren't ever going to be perfect and you have to have the willingness to adapt to any situation. Be prepared and have back-up plans- multiple back-up plans! Second, sometimes the backup plan works better than the original plan. This set-up was perfect for the couple and we never would have done it had it not been for the flooding. Third, don't plan a vacation out of the country two weeks before a big wedding. Fourth, this is why brides hire a wedding planner! It's not just about getting bridesmaids down the aisle- it's so much more than that! Disasters can occur when you aren't expecting it and having a professional to work through the chaos with you is invaluable.

At the end of the day, despite all the changes, animal crossings, record-breaking floods, falling snakes, logistical issues and honeymoon rains, these two are living their happily ever after. As a planner, that's all I want for my clients. Love, happiness and a bright future for them both. I will always treasure this wedding and hold it close to my heart. It was imperfectly perfect and I wouldn't change a thing! Thank you Ryan and Austin for choosing The Moment By Casey with your most memorable day.

Cheers to Love, Happiness and Back-up Plans,

Casey Lee

Venue: Woolaroc Museum and Nature Preserve

Wedding Planner: The Moment By Casey

Photographer: Abby Sweet Photography

Videographer: Tyler Deaton Productions

Bridal Hairstylist: Atherial Beauty

Cookies: Sugarica

Band: Cutthroat Trout

Cake & Hand Pies: Dusty Rose Cakes

Caterer: Silver Dollar Catering

Florist: Ever Something

Photobooth: Vintage Wagon Photo Booth

Officiant: Grace Community Church

Rentals: Party Pro Rents

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Casey Lee