“Our Loss Your Gain,” read an all-caps post on the website for Bella Collina Mansion, a wedding venue in Stokesdale, N.C., on Wednesday. A couple were calling off their Saturday wedding too late to get their money back, so in an unconventional move to recoup their losses, they let the venue “auction” it off for less than half price.
Nicole Atkinson and Wesley Bodenheimer had looked at using Bella Collina for their wedding but determined it was beyond their budget. They had another venue booked for Nov. 1. Atkinson showed her fiancé the post, even as she was already dismissing the idea of planning their wedding in 48 hours.
“Really it was me pushing,” Bodenheimer tells Yahoo Lifestyle. ” ‘It would end up being perfect,’ is what I kept saying, and it did end up being perfect.”
It helps that Bella Collina is an all-inclusive venue that has contracts with all the other vendors, allowing couples to coordinate everything through them. The couple didn’t have many choices to make — everything down to the colors and cake were all in place — and they credit owner Joe Destafino with making it happen smoothly.
“We did about a year of wedding planning in an hour and 15 minutes with Joe,” Atkinson says.
Their only responsibility was to get clothing, guests, and a marriage license.
“When we went to go get all the clothes for our groomsmen, they had the exact number of shirts, the exact number of pants, the exact everything,” Bodenheimer says. “Her dress was almost seven sizes too large for her when she found it, and it was altered in four hours. We had the exact number of bridesmaids dresses that fit everyone perfectly. Everything literally fell in line to the point of it was perfect. … We didn’t have to compromise a single second.”
Even the weather cooperated, as an initial forecast of rain disappeared, allowing them to hold the wedding outdoors as planned. Amazingly, about 40 of their friends and family were able to drop their weekend plans to attend the event, which happened to take place just a week before the couple’s seventh anniversary of dating.
Atkinson and Bodenheimer, who have known each other since middle school, began dating the summer after her junior and his senior year, before he went off to serve in the Air Force in Afghanistan.
Photographer Autumn Hollifield noted that the groom’s service resulted in one personalized piece of decor at the wedding.
“They had his purple heart displayed at the wedding, with the letter from him saying that it was just as much hers as it was his because she’s been there and it takes both of them,” Hollifield tells Yahoo. “That was really sweet.”
Hollifield suspects that the rapid turnaround probably saved the couple more than just money.
“She wasn’t stressed out about if people weren’t standing in the right place or things weren’t going on time, because she knew it was just kind of a whirlwind,” she observes. “I think they didn’t have time to fight about wedding plans and decisions. They took a year’s worth of stress and put it in two days.”
That’s important for the busy couple. Bodenheimer works with Atkinson’s father in the asphalt business, cuts and sells timber on the side, and attends school full time. Atkinson works in kinesiology and sports medicine.
“Yesterday, we were actually able to be together for a change,” Bodenheimer says.
Though they never spoke to the couple whose wedding was supposed to take place this weekend, Atkinson is glad she got to help them recoup some of their losses.
“An unfortunate situation turned into an amazing day for us,” she says.
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