The year 2020 was an unprecedented year, a year of perfect plans turned upside-down. A year like no other this generation has ever known, 2020 was etched in history by the COVID-19 pandemic, the abnormal Atlantic hurricane season, nationwide protests, and a contentious presidential election.
The world began changing four days into 2020 when China reported a cluster of pneumonia cases, later dubbed COVID-19. Since that day, lives changed in ways never dreamed of by revelers who rang in 2020 unaware of the viral timebomb ticking half a world away. It was on this same day, January 4, 2020, that Taylor Renfroe proposed to Annsley Marye Padgett.
It was a cool, sunny day, and Annsley had been kept away from home on a pretentious girls’ day outing by her friend Kayley McCollough. Little did Annsley know about all the plans that had been orchestrated secretly during the week to prepare a delightful engagement party.
When she returned home, Annsley dressed for what was to be a casual date night. Prior to her departure, her mom insisted Annsley demonstrate how to use her new camera which Taylor had given to her as a Christmas gift. As Mom was practicing her photography, Taylor appeared and dropped down on one knee in the light of the setting sun over the banks of her Nana’s pond and asked Annsley to be his wife. Shortly after this scene, a host of family and friends appeared to celebrate with the honored couple.
Shortly after this day, Annsley and Taylor, with the guidance of Annsley’s maternal grandmother, Charlotte Annderson, the designated wedding and reception coordinator, began making plans for their wedding day. As the days passed and a date was set, the pandemic began to take center stage. It loomed over them and shrouded their calendar.
Since the clocks would not stop ticking and the calendars would not stop turning, friends and family members began planning events to celebrate Annsley and Taylor’s engagement under the threats of the pandemic. Celebrations were delayed for a few weeks in hopes the corona would disappear, but that did not happen. With careful thought, events were scheduled with precaution as the top priority.
Amid all the anxiety created by the pandemic, Annsley was treated by her bridesmaids with a “Final Flamingle” at Panama City Beach, Florida. Later in the spring, she was honored with a Holiday Shower hosted by her Stinson family. This was followed by a miscellaneous shower in the fellowship hall of Whitewater Baptist Church hosted by her paternal family and friends. Later she was honored by her maternal family and friends with a miscellaneous shower in the fellowship hall of Newbia Baptist Church. The Renfroe Famaily hosted a couple’s garden and tools shower in Troy, Alabama, in an outdoor setting.
Following these celebrations, the time came for the couple’s final day of being single adults. It was wedding rehearsal time. Under the direction of Annsley’s paternal grandmother, the rehearsal happened. Her grandmother’s beginning words included verses from the Bible concerning marriage. After her words of encouraging the couple to put Christ first in their marriage, she presented to them the Bible given to her by Annsley’s Papa Jack as a wedding gift over fifty years ago.
Following the rehearsal, Taylor’s parents and several of his family members hosted a rehearsal dinner at Pine View Farms.
The following day, the 200th day of 2020, at 6:00 p.m., sunshine prevailed. The wedding party and guests embraced the heat of the evening as an outdoor venue was chosen to enable the guests to practice social distancing. Pine View Farms, in the country near Elba, provided a perfect atmosphere with its slight hillside and green pasture with horses grazing in the background beckoned by the shade of an old oak tree.
Mart Gray, a longtime friend of the bride’s family and a former resident of Elba, currently a resident of Locust Fork, Alabama, performed the double ring ceremony.
The bride is the daughter of Kyle Padgett of Andalusia, Alabama, and Dana Haley, of Elba, Alabama. She is the granddaughter of Jack and Sylvia Padgett, Ken and Charlotte Anderson, and Danny and Vicky Stinson, all of Elba. She is the great-granddaughter of Nelline Hudson and the late Leroy Hudson, of Elba.
The groom’s parents are Mr. and Mrs. John Renfroe, of Troy, Alabama. His grandparents are the late John Alvie and Mary Renfroe.
Guests were escorted from both sides of antique white doors adorned by wreaths of mixed greenery and eucalyptus. A matching wreath was attached to a large white wooden cross standing along the wooden fence outlining the ceremonial setting. White silk rose petals outlined the center aisle.
Miss Mary B. O’Neal, cousin of the bride, presided at the registry table which was an oval white wicker table that had belonged to the bride’s great, great grandmother Capps. The table held a floral arrangement of live eucalyptus which the bride’s Nana had gathered from her yard and arranged in a large gold vase. The table also held masks for the guests who desired one. They had been designed especially for the occasion. They were beige and monogrammed with a pink “R” for the ladies and a navy blue “R” for the men. Also, two baskets held mementos for the guests: tissue packets labeled “Dry Those Happy Tears” and seed packets for the guests to plant and when the flowers bloomed, they would be reminded of the love of the bride and groom.
Misses Olivia Stinson and Emmie Kate Bullard, cousins of the bride, served as program attendants. They wore matching knee-length white dresses with chiffon skirts, lace bodices, and a satin sash at the waistline and tied into a bow in the back. The registry attendant wore the same style dress. The attendants gave each guest a two-sided fan on which the order of the ceremony was printed on the front side and the names of the wedding party appeared on the back.
The bride’s mother chose for the wedding a full-length beige gown with a knee-length slit and bouffant brocade sleeves. She carried a single ivory rose bud with silver dollar eucalyptus. The bride’s stepmom wore a knee-length, slim-fitted pink dress with short sleeves detailed with a flowing ruffle. She wore a corsage of a single ivory rose bud. The groom’s mother chose a navy chemise style knee-length, sleeveless dress. She also carried a single rose bud with silver dollar eucalyptus.
A program of wedding music was provided by Joseph Freeman of DJ Love from Enterprise, Alabama. The parents and grandparents were ushered in as the DJ played “A Thousand Years.” The bridal party entered as “Yours” was played.
Mrs. Gracen Mobley of New Brockton, Alabama, a high school friend of the bride, served as matron of honor. Bridesmaids were Anna Hughes, Glenwood, Alabama, a lifetime friend of the bride; Jodie Matney, Pike Road, Alabama, sister of the groom; Kayley McCollough, Elba, Alabama, cousin of the bride; Madison Griffin, Andalusia, Alabama, a college friend; Lauren Haley, Elba, Alabama, stepsister of the bride; and Adalyn O’Neal, Elba, Alabama, cousin of the bride.
The bridesmaids wore full length, pale blush chiffon dresses. The bodices of their dresses varied in style. They also had matching floral masks bearing their monogram, a gift from the bride. They carried hand-tied bouquets of mixed peonies, Persian buttercup camellias and hydrangeas with silver dollar eucalyptus.
Serving the groom as best man was his father John Renfroe, Troy, Alabama. Groomsmen were Gunnar McCollough, Elba, Alabama, cousin of the bride; Troy Ward, Banks, Alabama, friend of the groom; Cade Mobley, New Brockton, Alabama, friend of the groom; Jacob Ketchum, Abbeville, Alabama, friend of the groom; Brian Lasiter, Kinston, Alabama, friend of the groom; and Avery Padgett, Elba, Alabama, brother of the bride.
The groomsmen wore Ike Behar Indigo Blue Lane tuxedos. They featured a satin-edged peak lapel and satin double besom pockets. The groomsmen completed their attire with a blush bow tie, white shirt, and brown shoes. The groom wore matching tux with a blush Windsor tie and vest. A gold fish hook attached boutonnieres of ivory rose buds to their lapels, and they added matching blue monogrammed masks.
Ring bearers were Hudson and Brooks Matney, nephews of the groom. Signage was carried by Jack Padgett, brother of the bride. They wore navy blue knee length pants, white shirts, navy bow ties and suspenders and no shoes.
Drake Padgett, brother of the bride, served as bell ringer to signal the entrance of the bride. He used the same bell that had been used in the weddings of Dustin Stinson and Drew Parker, uncles of the bride. He wore pants matching the groomsmen’s tux, a white shirt, a blush bow tie and boutonniere.
Kyle Padgett, father of the bride, wore a tux that matched the groomsmen with a white shirt, white Windsor tie and vest. He escorted the bride through the opened white doors as the DJ played “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”
The bride wore a full-length white dress with a cascading chiffon skirt, accented with a thigh-high slit, adding flowy movement with every step. The bodice of this sophisticated dress consisted of lace embellishments and barely-there mesh panels creating a romantic, skin-baring illusion. It was fitted and complete with shimmering moonstones and bead work at the waist. To accessorize her attire, she wore a gold bracelet that had belonged to her great, great grandmother Tishie Callie Capps. She also wore a throw-away garter and a garter that her paternal grandmother wore on her wedding day over fifty years ago.
As a tradition established during the Victorian era, flowers symbolizing romantic love became a part of a wedding ceremony, and Annsley carried a fresh bouquet of hydrangea, garden roses, gerberas, seeded and silver dollar eucalyptus. White feathers were also added to the bouquet.
The bride and groom pledged their vows before a framed replica of a chapel complete with a cupola and a cross which had been built by the bride’s stepfather, David Haley. Inside the open-air chapel, stood a massive arrangement of fresh hydrangea, gerberas, white roses, gladiolus with variegated pittosporum, aspidistra and silver dollar eucalyptus. The flowers were nestled in a tall white vase which belonged to the groom’s mother, and it rested on a white Grecian column.
After they pledged their vows, they transitioned to the side of the chapel to complete their pledge to each other with a sand ceremony. The cylinders of sand rested on top of an antique mahogany table, which had been gifted to the bride’s paternal grandmother from the late Helen Snow Smith, a dearly beloved friend to Annsley as a young girl. The Bible that lay on the prayer bench at the bride’s paternal grandparents’ wedding completed the table décor.
Following their final pledge to each other, Mart Gray closed the wedding ceremony with an acapella rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.” Afterwards he presented the couple to the wedding guests as Mr. and Mrs. Taylor Renfroe. The newly, wed couple exited as the DJ played “Oh Happy Day.”
Following the wedding ceremony, the guests were invited to a reception hosted by several family members and friends including Sandra Prior, Rene Lambert, Cathy Nelson, Shelia Brown, Donna Bowden, Carolyn Hudson, and Kayla Pope. The buffet servers wore black matching aprons with their initial emblazoned in gold on the front. Kristen Stinson, Anna Anderson, and Ashton Parker presided at the beverage table and served tea and lemonade, and Sasha O’Neal ladled the punch. The ladies serving the beverages are aunts of the bride.
The sumptuous buffet included southern fried chicken, baked chicken, pit ham, green beans, cheesy potato casserole, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese, slaw, pasta salad, potato salad, and rolls.
Uniquely situated in the center of the food room was a round table holding a replica of a palm tree that had been created by craftily joining fresh pineapples to form the trunk. Sago Palm fronds jutted out on top. Scattered on the table underneath the palms was an abundant assortment of cheese bites and fresh fruit.
The bride’s table was covered with a rosette ivory Lamour Satin cloth. She chose to eschew from one tall traditional cake, but instead she had three round gold cake stands with one cake on one, two cakes on another, and three cakes another. A gold figurine of two hearts entwined and the bride’s bouquet completed the bride’s table décor. Callie Parrish presided at the bride’s table.
Behind the bride’s table stood a body form draped with her mother’s wedding dress and veil. Adjacent to it, Annsley’s bridal portrait framed in a massive gold frame rested on a polished brass easel. On the other side of the bride’s table three tall brass candelabras with burning white pillar candles stood on the floor.
The groom’s table, situated across the room, was decorated to depict his favorite sport: fishing. Fish net was bunched on top of a white cloth and on top of the net rested a two-tier square chocolate cake garnished with chocolate dipped strawberries. Taylor’s first reel and rod along with a rustic lantern, an arrangement of cattails and reeds nestled in a tin container, a variety of colorful fishing tackle, and a mounted bass completed the decorations. The base of the table was banked with ferns, a minnow basket and a boat paddle. Carrie and Ashley Carroll served the groom’s cake.
Allowing for social distancing, guest tables were provided inside and outside the venue. White floor-length table covers were draped over the tables, and large gold lanterns with burning ivory pillar candles stood in the center of the tables. Persian buttercups with mixed greenery surrounded the lanterns. Miniature bottles of hand sanitizer bearing a gold R completed the table decorations.
Following an evening of dance and fellowship under strands of café lights, the couple departed under an arch of flaming sparklers created by a host of friends.
The pandemic raised its ugly head once again and robbed the couple of their dream vacation to Jamaica, but Annsley’s Aunt Barbara Jones came to the rescue and afforded the newly wed couple a short stay at their favorite getaway, Panama City Beach. After a few days’ stay at the beach, they headed to Lake Guntersville to cheer on Annsley’s brother, Avery Padgett, as he competed in the Alabama BASS Nation High School Championship tournament.
As this couple’s future unfolds and they look back on their journey through their wedding festivities, hopefully, they will not remember the ugliness that was out there, but the good, the kind, the giving, and the caring that surrounded them on this journey.
Currently the couple resides in the Hudson Mill Community, of Elba. Annsley is continuing her college studies at Troy University and is scheduled to graduate later this year with a degree in early childhood education. Taylor is continuing his work as a forestry consultant in Barbour County.