Restaurant to the rescue when Sandy rains out beach wedding plans

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

It was supposed to be a dream wedding for Natalie Gilbert and her fiancé Jeremy Palin.

Then a lil’ol, I mean big ol’, hurricane named Sandy interfered.

Hickory resident Cindy Williams, aunt of the bride-to-be, said they’d never dreamed a hurricane would descend like an uninvited guest and try to crash their plans.

The Indiana couple had been planning their Ocean Isle Beach ceremony for months.

By midweek, as Hurricane Sandy continued her steady migration toward the Carolinas coast, they started to get a little nervous—not the pre-wedding jitters kind, although they might have had that, too—but worry over whether the weather was even going to allow for a wedding.

By Thursday or Friday, they were in panic mode.

As we now know, Sandy has not been a benevolent hurricane, if there is such a thing.

When Saturday dawned rainy and breezy, they knew for sure they would have to alter their wedding plans.

Instead of marrying on the beach, the ceremony was conducted indoors at a beach house where Williams is part owner. They decorated the living room, doing it up right for a last-minute indoor wedding.

As for the reception, at the last minute Williams’ friend, Sunset Beach restaurateur and businesswoman Clarice Holden, stepped in to offer Twin Lakes Restaurant as an impromptu venue Saturday.

As Sandy skirted the local coast in a most unladylike fashion and then moseyed on up to wreak her worst farther north, restaurant general manager/executive chef Jonathan Yuricek came in that morning. On what was supposed to be a day off, he opened the restaurant to the couple’s caterer (Purple Onion) and prepared for a post-wedding party.

The wedding party brought everything to the Sunset Beach restaurant, including rented items and decorations, to make everything “very coastal” despite Sandy’s wind and rain blowing just outside the door.

Twin Lakes’ interior was adorned with light-festooned palm trees, lots of big globes, mercury glass and “every seashell we owned,” Williams said.

A big sign on display summed up the day for a memorable hurricane wedding reception, “Eat, drink and be married.”

While Sandy continued to stir outside, about 50 guests took part in the afternoon reception. Williams said another reception is planned for the couple on Nov. 10 in Carmel, Ind., for friends and relatives who couldn’t travel to the Brunswick Islands this past weekend.

She credits her quarter-century friendship with Holden for helping make the newlyweds’ dream wedding a reality in spite of the storm.

Williams said she’s been shopping at Holden’s Island Breeze shop in Sunset Beach since it was “the size of a closet.”

She still hasn’t forgotten the time two decades ago when she was at the beach and needed attire to attend the funeral of a relative in Dunn who had passed away. Holden opened her shop, and an hour later “I walked out of there with two dresses, two pair of shoes and two pair of hose,” Williams recalled.

Anytime she’s ever needed anything, “I’ve called [Holden] and she’s there,” she said.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.