It was to be a sunny beach wedding for Kathryn Christensen and Anthony Palmisano of James Island. They had rented a house on Folly Beach for the reception, and every detail was arranged for a joyous ceremony in the sand on Saturday.
One problem: Hurricane Florence, a storm bigger than the two Carolinas combined, will be crashing the wedding that day.
By Tuesday, Charleston County was in the process of shutting down, and the couple wasn't sure yet what to do. Businesses were locking their doors, families were evacuating to higher ground, and — most importantly for Christensen and Palmisano, both 31 — the courts were closed.
On a whim, Christensen called the Probate Court phone line while she was downtown picking up her wedding dress. The line went to voicemail, and she left a message asking about the possibility of procuring a marriage license.
"I wasn't expecting a return phone call," Christensen said.
Her cellphone lit up within a few hours. The caller was Judge Irvin G. Condon, calling from his own cellphone. He offered to meet the couple at a hotel in Mount Pleasant, paperwork in hand.
"It happens every one of these hurricanes," Condon said. "It's something to plan for. We want to make sure they're taken care of."
With a few pen strokes, the couple, both 31, made it official.
"We sat down, and he talked to us for a while," Christensen said. Condon even waived the customary 24-hour waiting period for a marriage license application.
"He said, 'Please just wait 24 hours before doing anything,'" Christensen said.