New York City-based couple Brittney Levine and Ryan Adler were excited to wed on Sept. 15, 2018, counting down the minutes until their ceremony at Middleton Place in Charleston, South Carolina — where they took their first trip as a couple. But their wedding plans were thwarted when Hurricane Florence prompted mandatory evacuations in the area and the venue had to postpone the ceremony.
It would be nine months before Levine, a 33-year-old style expert and television personality, and Adler, a 35-year-old investment banker and former pro hockey player, would say their “I dos” on June 22.
Today, Levine tells PEOPLE it was “well worth the wait.”
“Our day was beyond our wildest expectations. It was honestly surreal. The feelings could not have been more positive, more loving. I was smiling so hard that it was like my cheeks were up to my eyeballs,” adds Levine. “The beautiful, incredible room, the dancing — it was a wild, wild party. We could not be more lucky to be surrounded by the best team.”
Photos showed the couple dancing and sharing kisses as they celebrated with their family and friends at the picturesque location. Looking at the wide smiles, it would be hard to imagine that the couple’s joy began with sadness just months earlier.
It was just four days before their initial wedding date that South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued the mandatory evacuations as a result of the deadly hurricane, which tragically took the lives of 51 people, Reuters reported.
Amid growing concern about the hurricane, venue officials at Middleton Place told the pair they’d have to postpone the wedding.
“We were sad. We were so excited and had anticipated what was to come for over a year,” Levine tells PEOPLE of herself and her husband. “We didn’t know the next date that everyone would be available. [My husband] was definitely sad, but he was being strong for the both of us. It could have been much worse. We still had each other.”
Levine and Adler didn’t wallow for too long, though. Levine says they were committed to getting married at Middleton Place, rather than holding a small ceremony in New York.
With that, they sprang into action, working to determine the next date they could gather their family and friends at the same venue. That date was June 22, 2019. As luck would have it, Levine and Adler were able to hire the same vendors for the wedding.
“We really wanted everyone to be there so that’s why we waited the nine months. It wouldn’t feel right if it wasn’t done the right way,” she tells PEOPLE. “We were able to make it work. To be able to have all the wonderful vendors we worked with, our florist, our photographer, our band, they were all available on that date, so we were like, ‘Lock it in!’ “
The nine-month delay wasn’t easy for the couple, though.
“When it comes to something that you had been anticipating and looking forward to for almost a year, there were all those new anticipations again and all those old feelings resurfaced,” Levine tells PEOPLE. “It’s a lot of work to put together a wedding.”
“There were definitely times where I was like, ‘Oh, we’re doing this all again!’ I had to work through some of those feelings. But we were also just appreciating the fact that we still have each other, we still have our friends and family and we’re going to do this! We were like, ‘Okay, let’s take this on as a new wedding experience and try to make the best of it.’ “
Now, nearly a month after their wedding, Levine says she and Adler are still all smiles as they reflect on their wedding day.
“It was everything and more than we expected. It was worth the wait. All of our vision … they all came to life. It was surreal, it was two years but we definitely would love to live some moments of it again,” Levine says. “If [Adler and I] could get through this together before being married, before having children, it really showed our strength.”