Canton’s John and JoEllen Wilson remember well where they were when the Blizzard of 1993 began. They were in a hotel in Atlanta. Their son, Jimmy, and Claudia Pecone were to be married the next day. The rehearsal dinner had been at Anthony’s, a very nice Atlanta restaurant.
Since the weather forecast was for snow, John and JoEllen had gone to Atlanta in their four-wheel drive pickup truck. It had a top that covered the truck bed. Two others who were there for the wedding had wisely driven four-wheel drive trucks, too.
For a while it seemed the weather predictions for a heavy snow were wrong. Everyone was relieved. But on the morning of Jimmy and Claudia’s wedding day, there was thunder, lightning and snow. Twelve inches of snow covered the city.
The families of the bride and groom knew most people would not be able to get to the church. The bridesmaids lunch that was to be earlier in the day was cancelled.
A welcomed call from the Capital City Club came saying they were not able to prepare the food for the reception. Their employees could not get to work. Since more than 400 invitations to the wedding had been sent, an enormous amount of food had been ordered.
After some discussion, Jimmy and Claudia decided to proceed. Since he was in the Navy, if they postponed the wedding they would need to wait until he got another leave.
Getting the clergy to the church was easy. Like John and JoEllen, Nathan Brandon and his wife, Judy, were staying in a hotel near the church. The priest of Christ the King Catholic Church where the ceremony would be held lived at the church.
All of Jimmy’s groomsmen — Tony Baker, Rick Stewart, Eddie Blackwell, Billy Aderhold and Jimmy’s cousin David Ball — were there for the rehearsal. Also was the best man, the groom’s twin brother, Johnny Wilson.
JoEllen is not sure if they were all able to get back to Atlanta the next day for the wedding. She remembers that David Ball made it but did not have his tux.
The time came for shuttling everyone from the hotel to the church. A few at a time, they got on the back of the four-wheel drive truck for the ride.
The bride and her attendants had planned to dress at the church. JoEllen had not. She was wearing her fancy mother-of-the-groom attire when she climbed on the back of the truck.
Ben Picone, Claudia’s father, was a violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra would be seated in the balcony and play for the wedding. That did not happen, but there was an organist playing when the guests — all 14 of them — were seated and the wedding party came down the aisle.
After the wedding, those staying at the hotel climbed back onto the trucks again to be carried back to the hotel.
Since the hotel employees could not get to work, everything in the hotel was closed. That included the restaurant. Thankfully, there was a convenience store that was open nearby.
Two months later when Jimmy was able to get another leave, he and Claudia had their wedding reception at the Capital City Club as planned.
JoEllen said that during the confusion surrounding the wedding, she learned that her new daughter-in-law was a real trooper. Perhaps it was because Claudia is a flight attendant, trained to handle emergencies that she maintained her cool as the plans for the wedding she had dreamed about fell apart.
When John and JoEllen’s other son, Johnny, married Haley Bledsoe, their wedding was very calm. It was at Camp Glisson on a warm day. That was a welcome change for everyone after the wedding during the blizzard.
Remembering that more than 400 people were invited but only 14 came, Jimmy made an interesting observation. With 14 guests, he had more people at his wedding than Elvis did. Elvis had only 13.
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.