Sometimes things work out just as they should. It may not feel like it in the midst of a challenge, but when the final moment comes, it’s as if God’s hand was working behind the scenes the entire time.
Burgess Foster and John Fowble began dating as 10th graders at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School and remained together for more than a decade. In the summer of 2019, the couple planned a trip to the Burgess’ family beach house in Ocean Isle, North Carolina, where Burgess was totally unaware that a special event was about to occur. John had concocted a full plan to propose with the help of his mother, Lizzy, and Burgess’ mother, Lib. The families had rented another beach house and had also invited the couple’s friends for the occasion.
“I don’t think I have ever been surprised, but John certainly got me,” says Burgess. “It was a three-pronged surprise — John got on his knee and proposed, then our family jumped out, and then my friends jumped out!” Burgess and John made the most of their engagement season, with wonderful parties and celebrations along the way. The wedding date was set for April 4, 2020. And then everything changed.
The first week in March, Burgess’ father, Robert, came to Atlanta, where Burgess lives, for their last dance lesson leading up to the wedding. It was this weekend that they realized — like much of the world — that something terrible was happening and that the April wedding date was not possible. As the pandemic began to take hold, the couple became increasingly concerned about the possibility of having a wedding that even their immediate family could not attend.
After much discussion, they decided to push their wedding date out. The date was pushed five times before the couple landed on Oct. 10 — a date they were committed to keeping.
Throughout the process, the family never lost their sense of humor. “On the day in April when our wedding was originally supposed to happen, we did have a little pity party with our family by our side,” says Burgess with a laugh. “But we still did enjoy that day.” Bonnie Brunt Cakes made a cake that simply said, “This Sucks...But We Love You.” The caterer supplied a fun dinner, and the family had a fireworks show in the backyard. After all, they were still so grateful, as they were healthy and together.
Despite the delays, the planning never stopped. The venue the couple had originally selected wasn’t comfortable having a wedding during the pandemic. Turns out, plan B was the best plan of all. Burgess had originally considered Magnolia Way in Eastover, a stunning venue managed by the owners of Southern Way. The venue hadn’t been available on her original April date, but, as fate would have it, it was available in October.
“Meagan Warren, our wedding planner, took me to Magnolia Way,” says Lib. “The moment I saw it, I said, ‘This is it.’ I called Burgess and said, ‘I promise you, it is going to be alright.’”
Magnolia Way is ideally suited for a dream wedding. With a beautiful house for the bridesmaids to prepare for the day and separate quarters for the groomsmen, the large wedding party of 14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen had plenty of space to ready themselves for the festivities that lay ahead.
And what festivities they were! Burgess and John were determined to have their friends and family at their special day. Because of that, they over-communicated with their guests, constantly updating the website to ensure everyone was kept abreast of the plans. They explained the safety measures that were in place to ensure guests would feel comfortable attending, and they asked those who were sick to please stay home. In the end, about 125 guests attended the beautiful outdoor ceremony.
While the couple lives in Atlanta, it was very important to them to get married in Columbia. “I went to Eastminster Presbyterian Church growing up and wanted to get married in the church,” says Burgess. “Because of COVID, the church was closed, but our pastor was so flexible and willing to work with us to find a solution. We knew if we could have a ceremony outdoors that our full wedding party could be there with us. That was so important to us.”
Early on in the planning process, Burgess found a beautiful floral dress that she knew was made for her sister, Marjorie Anne, as the maid of honor. “That dress became a very special design piece of the wedding,” says Burgess. “I knew I wanted my sister in something different and special. I designed the rest of the wedding colors around her beautiful dress!” The soft blush and green hues from the dress can be found in the flowers, as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses.
Burgess found her wedding dress quickly. Atlanta is the home of the atelier for dress designer Anne Barge. The design house was extremely flexible and eager to meet the needs of Burgess. Adding to the glamour of the elegant dress was a large couture bow on the back of the gown that had Burgess’ given monogram sewn into it. She wore that during the wedding and bustled it for the reception, in essence turning over a new leaf to her new life as a married woman. That piece will now forever be an heirloom in the Fowble family.
Family is the key word for this couple, and finding a venue that could welcome them all was critical. Having the ceremony and reception at Magnolia Way afforded the couple so many opportunities to have separate, socially distanced vignettes, where guests could dance outside under the string lights or enjoy the exceptional Southern Way fare under the tent. Burgess and John, both self-proclaimed foodies, worked closely with Southern Way Catering to ensure the stations were replete with food that would please the most discerning of palates. A favorite part of the evening was the cocktail hour, during which the Veuve Clicquot and Whispering Angel rosé flowed freely for the guests. Ambient Media made sure the lighting was magical.
Leading up to the wedding, the couple was keeping a close eye on the weather. The ceremony and reception were both to be held outside, as indoors was not an option. Up until Wednesday, the weather was looking ideal. And then a hurricane came into the picture.
“The hurricane really threw us a curveball,” says Burgess. “It was supposed to turn but didn’t. By Thursday, we thought the wedding might not even happen.” Despite the weather, they forged ahead with their plans. By Saturday, it was indeed raining, a steady rain all day. By 5:30 p.m., it was pouring. The planning team decided to delay the wedding by 15 minutes. At 6:15 p.m., when it was the time set for the event to start, the sky magically cleared up and a beautiful breeze began to blow. “It truly felt fake,” says Burgess. “It was as if God was winking at us. Everyone thought it was unbelievable. A friend later said, ‘If you didn’t believe in God and went to John and Burgess’ wedding, you believe now!’” They even collected raindrops in an empty bottle of wine, corked the bottle up, and will use it when they christen their first child.
Growing up at Heathwood Hall, Burgess felt it only appropriate to walk down the aisle on her father’s arm to bagpipes playing “Highland Cathedral.” “It sounded even more amazing being outside,” says Burgess. Music played an integral part of the reception. They had the traditional dances but also included dances with the mother-of-the-bride and father-of-the-groom. The 15-member band from Atlanta, aptly named I Love This Band, had all of the guests on their feet. “We love to dance and so do our friends. Having a fun band that didn’t mind our friends hopping on stage was a must-have,” says Burgess.
“When I look back on my wedding, it really was a miracle,” she says. “It was nothing I originally planned, and it was so much better. Everyone stayed safe; no one got sick. It was an amazing day.” When Burgess and John were first engaged, they created a hashtag for friends to follow — #FinallyFowble. Little did they know when they drove away as Mr. and Mrs. Fowble how fitting that would be. Come a pandemic or a hurricane, they were indeed finally the Fowbles.