One year ago Sunday, then-Jessy Phifer walked down the isle a little earlier than she had planned.
Hurricane Irene had gotten to just about everything. Stores were shutting down, the parkway was closed off, communities were evacuating and
“The day of our wedding was crazy,” now-Jessy Phifer Cannon said. “We were supposed to have our rehearsal that day.”
Phifer, 30, originally from Lacey Township and her husband Shaun Cannon, 31, a native of Florida, were set for their wedding on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, at the on Lacey Road.
The chaos began two days prior to the planned wedding date, when Phifer was notified by the reception venue Bayfront in Waretown that there had been a power surge. The reception would have to be moved to the church.
“Things started going wrong from the beginning,” she said. “My heart was broken then.”
As Phifer got pampered, getting her nails done and a spray tan, she had her heart set on getting married that Saturday.
When Phifer arrived home, her family sat her down and broke the news. With Gov. Chris Christie blocking southbound traffic below exit 98 of the parkway, guests would be unable to attend. The church would also be opening its doors as a community shelter on their wedding day.
The couple spontaneously said “I do” an hour later that Friday, Aug. 26.
“My husband wanted to do it. I called the pastor and she was happy to do it. We got ready in an hour and we were at the church,” she said.
What was originally planned to be a big wedding with approximately 100 guests, turned much more intimate with about 12 consisting of close family from Lacey and Florida.
“Who gets married really quick because there’s a hurricane coming?” Phifer said. “We weren’t going to hold off because family from Florida flew in. They were all there for the wedding. That was the most important, that our family was there with us.”
Phifer lost a few thousand dollars on the wedding since she didn’t receive any deposits back. She still has all wedding materials — bows, tablecloths, favors, bubbles and more — stored in bags and boxes.
“And the hurricane wasn’t even that bad,” she said. “It ruined so many peoples wedding days. I read a lot of stories about it.
“Since then I’ve seen weddings, heard about weddings, seen them on TV. We missed out on the reception and a huge wedding and it sucks,” she said.
Phifer met Cannon three years prior to their wedding while they both worked at the New Lisbon Developmental Center. The relationship had changed her for the better, she said.
“Shaun grew up very Christian. I always believed in God but he taught me a lot about the Bible, being Christian and what’s important,” she said. “Of course, I wanted a big wedding. Every girl dreams of that since they’re little. But I prayed for a good man and I got it so fast. Shaun is a good man.
“I knew he was the one I wanted to marry. We figured we were doing the right thing in God’s eyes. We didn’t need that big reception…We both thought it was cool and it turned out OK,” she said.
The hurricane turned out to be a blessing, Phifer said.
Aside from “the whole ‘I do’ thing,” one of the highlights of the day was driving to the church in separate cars.
“We met there. That was fun. We drove home together at least. We laughed,” she said.
Following the wedding, Phifer and Cannon stopped by the across the street in their wedding outfits to get a drink. As the couple parked their car, Cannon walked around the aging Hyundai Elantra and opened the door for his bride.
“We were just laughing,” she said.
After, they proceeded to the Target in Manahawkin to purchase a video game.
“Normally, any wife would smack their husband upside the head. I just laughed and said, "Yeah, lets go get video games,' ” she said. “Everyone was looking at us.”
Then the couple returned home to celebrate.
“The little bit of family we had here, came. We ordered pizza and we danced in the living room. It was perfect. We laughed so hard about everything,” she said.
The newlyweds had their first dance in the living room as their song played on YouTube.
“We give all the credit in the world to our family. They made it nice,” she said.
Family had gone out and purchased a cake, which Phifer and Cannon cut together. There was also champagne.
“Some people say the hurricane was a sign that we shouldn’t have done it,” she said. “We say that was our way of showing them we can do anything. It’s all about God and family. We believe that more than the whole traditional party.”
The couple has been happily married for one year.
And Phifer and Cannon will celebrate their anniversary spontaneously — without the help of a hurricane — with a weekend getaway that had yet to be planned as of Wednesday while a friend watches their children.
“We’re glad we did it the way we did. It was spontaneous,” she said. “It’s a good story to tell."