Couple celebrates winter wedding in Old Town Helena

By NATHAN HOWELL / Special to the Reporter 

HELENA — While many people hunkered down with the heat turned all the way up, a Helena couple was preparing to say their wedding vows at Buck Creek in Old Town Helena.

Michelle Kayati Hawkins and her now husband Lacy Hawkins became engaged only two and a half weeks prior to their union, which led to a plethora of challenges that ultimately culminated in a picturesque snowy ceremony on the river.

The couple had thought about eloping on an already planned trip to Tennessee but decided that they would instead do a ceremony in the place where they had their first date only eight months prior so friends and family could attend.

“When he proposed we thought, ‘Why not, let’s just elope in Tennessee and tell our friends and family later,’” Michelle said. “But we decided since we love Old Town Helena so much we could do it there. I decided to tell my sisters and my mom that we were going to get married there.”

The date of Feb. 16 was locked in so the couple could leave the following day for their trip; what they were not expecting was the temperature to drop so low and for snow and ice to add extra complications to an already tricky event.

“The weather had been so beautiful; last week it had been 70 degrees,” Michelle said. “We set it for this date not knowing that the weather would come in this way.”

Determined to make the best of the situation, Lacy went out 40 minutes before the ceremony and constructed a makeshift bridge that would allow everyone to safely walk over to the island at the waterfall where the ceremony was held.

“He cut wood and made a temporary bridge for us to be able to cross 40 minutes before the wedding,” Michelle said. “Everyone was able to get in and we even had some random people just show up and it seemed like everyone was just enjoying being there.”

Adding to the stress, the officiant for the ceremony was unable to make it due to dangerous road conditions, which led to a last minute scramble with assistance by the Helena community to find a fill-in.

“The people in Helena are just so great to step-up and help, so I put a post in one of the community groups asking to find someone,” Michelle said. “We got so many responses and we picked a guy who had just been at home watching TV at his home in Hillsboro. He came over and performed the ceremony for us.”

One of the more challenging aspects of putting together a wedding so quickly was finding a wedding dress. Michelle said she had found one online that she thought was perfect but had not been able to get it shipped out in time. After pleading with shop owners from here to Atlanta, she was able to secure a backup dress but still had her eye set on that certain one.

“This lady had the exact dress that I wanted, but it came with a hitch,” Michelle said. “It was taken apart. When it arrived it was in a bunch of different parts and pieces, and we had just a week and a half to sew it together. I actually surprised my husband with it, because he thought I was not able to get it.”

All of this came out of an ordinary evening at home where the couple was watching a movie together.

“He said he had the ring for a while and did not want to be cliché and propose on Valentine’s Day, but he could never find the right moment,” Michelle said. “He just proposed to me on the couch, because it felt right.”

Michelle and Lacy said they were excited to start their lives together and are still taking that trip to Tennessee but as a mini-honeymoon instead. They credit the help of their friends, family and community for making such a special day come together on the coldest day of the year.

“I could not have asked for a better group of people to make it happen. Everyone just came together and it was beautiful and perfect,” Michelle said.