Destination Wedding

Not even a hurricane could stop couple’s destination wedding Lifestyle

The Bennetts pause for a kiss on the boardwalk in Bethany Beach.

Sam and Sara Bennett were married last Saturday, Oct. 1, in a destination wedding arranged by the Addy Sea — really, against the forces of nature. The couple, from Baltimore County, Md., have long ties to the Bethany Beach area, as Sam’s parents moved to the area more than five years ago, in retirement. Sara has cousins ​​in the area and spends most of her summers vacationing in Bethany Beach or Rehoboth Beach. She always dreamed of a beach wedding during the fall season.

Sam, 30, and Sara, 34, would not let a storm pushing north from Hurricane Ian stop them from getting married last week, and neither did Kate Galloway, the general manager of the Addy Sea Historic Inn.

“We made a plan early on, before the storm hit,” said Galloway, “and the Addy Sea team killed it for this couple.”

The couple, and the Addy Sea team including Galloway, chef Rosario Pensa and Donna Minton, guest relations specialist, called an audible, and moved the entire operation indoors to Harvest Tide Steakhouse — the only nearby restaurant and social-events hall large enough to handle more than 70 expected guests. Manager Julie Mills said she was happy to accommodate up to 75 people at Harvest Tide.

“I always dreamed of getting married at the beach,” said Sara Carr Bennett. “We grew up coming to Bethany Beach. I love the fall season here the most, and so we decided to get married at the Addy Sea. We came to Bethany and Rehoboth all the time as kids, and I have fond memories of family, with my cousins ​​living nearby and relatives in Delaware.”

The storm wasn’t the first hurdle to getting married that the couple had faced.

“We were first met with a once-in-a-century worldwide pandemic and had to postpone our wedding, and then a once-in-a-century hurricane barreling up the coast,” added Sara.

The couple met in 2019, on the dating application “OKCupid,” and it was instant kismet. The app algorithm told both Sara and Sam that they were 99 percent compatible. They had already tried first dates recommended by the dating app, and those encounters did not pan out, noted the couple.

“Sara is an English major and an English teacher, so she wrote me a full thesis on why she thought this time it was a match,” said Sam. “We both knew instantly: ‘This is my person.’”

Sam said the couple had been together and dating for just eight months when he popped the question on Nov. 2, 2019, and the newly engaged couple agreed to a spring 2020 wedding at the beach.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and for the safety of guests and older family members, the Carr and Bennett duo decided to postpone those original plans. That was three years ago, from the date of engagement to the actual wedding day last weekend.

“This Oct. 1 wedding date was our ‘COVID redux,’” said Sam. “We had booked for a spring 2020 wedding but then realized we had to reschedule to protect our guests and keep them safe.”

“I planned the entire wedding,” Sam added. “Sara was in graduate school at the time and finishing her master’s in education.”

Sarah & Sam plus the Carr Parents at Harvest Tide.jpg

Newlyweds Sara and Sam Bennett, front row, left and right, pose for a photo with Sara’s parents, back, at Harvest Tide.

Sara agreed, saying, “Sam did 90 percent of the plans,” with the Addy Sea team and both sets of parents also engaged in the process.

So, days before the big weekend and the Oct. 1 wedding day, family members from as far away as California, Chicago, Boston and other points around the Baltimore-Washington, DC, region were already at the Addy Sea, or on their way to the destination wedding. There was no turning back.

Galloway, as general manager, had to make the call that Thursday that the outdoor wedding tent they had ordered for 70 guests would not withstand the expected wind, storm surge and other Hurricane Ian-related weather predicted for Saturday. The couple would need to move the wedding indoors.

Galloway called her friend Mills and the best location in Bethany Beach that could accommodate the event. The Harvest Tide Steakhouse had a big event that Friday evening but was able to turn the facility over and be prepared for Saturday, Oct. 1.

“The weather forecast just kept getting worse,” said Sam. He even bought 72 umbrellas for every guest to have cover from the rain. “Harvest Tide could accommodate us last minute.”

The couple was already on their way to Bethany Beach from their home in Baltimore County (Sam is from Bel Air and Sara is a teacher in Baltimore County), and it was time to make a decision.

“We had grandmother traveling with us, so we called our parents and said, ‘We have to dump grandma out at your house’ and go plan our wedding,” Sam quipped.

The Addy Sea still hosted a rehearsal dinner for the couples’ parents and for the bridal party. They also rehearsed vows in the lobby of the inn while Ian’s winds whipped just outside the shaker-style structure.

“Kate and Rosario, the chef, were so ready for us and prepared to create this wonderful food and atmosphere and deliver it all to Harvest Tide,” said Sara. “They used all Addy Sea staff to create our celebration. I felt a huge relief by Thursday, since Kate and Addy Sea put this together.”

The historic property and very modern staff pulled together an Oktoberfest/fall theme, with pumpkins, corn stalks, spooky Halloween decor, and even apple pie and Halloween-themed mocktails.

“They made the place magical with all the fall decorations,” said Sara, noting again that fall is her favorite season. It really was a harvest festival at Harvest Tide, according to the Addy Sea’s Donna Minton.

Sara and Sam were still able to have their wedding photos on the beach, as the winds finally died down on Saturday.

“We have our boardwalk pictures with my wedding gown, and our portraits in that harvest space with our family and friends,” she said.

“Addy Sea came to the rescue,” said Sara. “It’s an even more memorable and special day because of their kindness.”

Sam Bennett added, “We have learned about each other on our three-year journey. We never got mad or even upset with each other” during these pivots.

“We chose Addy Sea, and they made it work,” Sara Carr Bennett noted. “We were surrounded by the love and care of our family and the Addy Sea staff, who really made it a point to help us. I am so grateful to both the Addy Sea and Harvest Tide, and all our family and friends who came to Bethany Beach.”

“It really was so amazing to have our special day after all this time,” she concluded.