The evening air was sultry, especially for early May. Everything smelled of sweet honeysuckle as we made our way into the church. This was Augusta, Georgia. And a group of long time friends had gathered here for one big fat Southern wedding that none of us are ever likely to forget.
Six months ago when I booked a room at The Partrige Inn for this blessed event, I had plans to write about it. Known as “The Grand Hotel of the Classic South,” it is a historic landmark first built as a private residence in 1836. With its expansive verandahs and balconies, it isn’t hard to see why dignitaries have been charmed for more than a century. But, this hotel only served as the backdrop for a weekend that reminded me that life is less about where you are than who you are with.
In true Southern hospitality, we were all invited to the rehearsal dinner and wedding brunch, but the afternoon was ours for the taking. We could have toured downtown Augusta or visited Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, but instead, we all sat on the front porch drinking Bloody Mary’s, delighting in each other’s company as if not a day had passed since we were last together.
I know we will all remember many different details of the Bennett/Wilson wedding, but I feel certain they won’t include the food (though amazing) or the floral arrangements (though worthy of Southern Living). The fondest memories will be the sound of strings playing the theme song from “Love Actually” in soaring anticipation of the processional, the glow of the bride, a quintessential “daddy’s girl,” as she experienced the paradox of letting go of his arm to take hold of her husband-to-be, and the way the groom hugged his parents and whispered “I love you” in a sea of bubbles and rose petals as his new wife stood waiting, waving goodbye outside the limo door.
And mostly, we will look back with nostalgia as we do on most occasions when we are lucky enough to be in the same place at the same time and wish that it was possible to “pick a Southern city and all move there” as a friend not so jokingly suggested. Sometimes a dose of old friends and a trip down memory lane is better than any world-class destination. Like food for the soul, there is nothing quite as comforting.
A final toast, Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Hollis Wilson III. Thanks for one helluva time and reminding us all what matters most.
TIP: Need better friends? May I suggest the South, where your neighbors will make you a casserole the day you move in and the friendships you make will become your family for life.
The Partridge Inn. 2110 Walton Way. Augusta, Georgia 30904. 800-476-6888