Husband & Wife Articles


Dancing in the Rain

Hurricane Irene made our wedding memorable

By Ashley Kepper

“Life’s not about waiting for the storm to end; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

This saying is written on a plaque hanging in a prominent area of our home to serve as a reminder of God’s grace in our lives.

Jimmy and I got engaged in the fall of 2010, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I had prayed for God to send me a spouse since I was a teenager, and I was over-the-moon for the man he chose for me. I could hardly wait to say “I do” the following year.

The year of our engagement was a whirlwind, filled with excitement and stress. While I did my best to try to keep things in perspective – “focus on the marriage, not the wedding” was the wise advise from our Catholic peers and mentors – I was quickly swept up in the never-ending mountain of details and decisions. I obsessed over creating the perfect wedding day for my future husband, our guests and me. The one thing that I couldn’t control, however, was the weather.

My husband and I were married in Annapolis, Md., at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel on August 27, 2011 – the same day that Hurricane Irene slammed the East Coast.

News of a possible hurricane first made rumblings around mid-August. I remember thinking “Oh, that will pass,” “God wouldn’t allow this to happen to me,” and “What are the odds that my husband’s family would be impacted by two hurricanes this decade?” His family is from New Orleans and lost their home in Hurricane Katrina.

I desperately pleaded with God for weeks and asked family, friends, priests and nuns to beg God for sunshine on my wedding day. I called for the intercession of any saint connected to marriage, love, dating, weather or storms. I asked our patron saints and guardian angels to beg God to spare Annapolis from the storm. I also prayed novenas, rosaries and holy hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and even pinned a first-class relic of St. Benedict inside my wedding dress for additional protection. I never stopped hoping and praying that the forecast would change.

I remember waking up that morning, looking at the weather forecast with a 100% chance of rain and feeling a peace greater than I’d felt in months. God gave me the grace to see exactly what I needed to see – the big picture. Throughout that wedding weekend, the Holy Spirit changed my focus from the “little details” to “God in the details,” and taught me to trust in him. Thankfully, God doesn’t give up on us. I let go after a year with a death grip on what now seem like meaningless details and, in doing so, God opened my eyes to the beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage.

At 11:00 a.m. that day, I married “the one whom my soul loves” (Song of Songs 3:4). While God didn’t prevent the storm, he shed his light through the clouds and sheltered us. I am grateful and humbled that all of our vendors, as well as the majority of our family and friends, risked their lives to be there with us. In the midst of the storm, there were countless miracles that happened, and my eyes were opened to them. I was stripped of control, soaking wet, yet completely at peace on one of the happiest days of my life. The hurricane was one of many things that make our wedding day unforgettable, but it is at the bottom of the list.

Appropriately, the word “Irene” is derived from the Greek word meaning “peace.” Our wedding day was the first of many “hurricanes” my husband and I will weather on our journey toward heaven together. Just as we did on our wedding day, we will cling to one another and to Christ, the Prince of Peace. He will guide us through the storm and teach us how to dance in the rain.

Ashley Kepper and her husband, Jimmy, live in St. Marys, Ga., with their 2-year-old daughter.