“Let’s get married at the top of the Lighthouse,” Wendy said. Sounds like a surprise, or at least a burst of inspiration, but in fact the idea was forming unnoticed, from a lot of impressions, over the course of time. Wendy came to Hilton Head Island right from college and taught school here for 15 years. “When you think of Hilton Head Island, the Lighthouse comes hand-in-hand,” she pointed out.
The experience of being married here turned out to be so moving, so unforgettable, that Wendy and her husband, David Funderburk, come back each year for a few days around their September anniversary, to refresh the unique experience they had, and celebrate the origin of their union right here at the Lighthouse. Will they continue? “Absolutely,” Wendy said.
The Path to an Inspiration
“A friend of mine got engaged at the Lighthouse years ago,” Wendy recalled. “So, I guess the seed of the idea was there.” Still, Wendy and her fiancé, David, were in the midst of the usual kind of wedding decisions – venue, activities, refreshments, and, of course, the invitation list – when it struck them that what they really wanted was different.
Wendy’s and David’s engagement was well known, and they treasure their friends and family, yet they realized that something more personal was right for them, something more special than elaborate. “We semi-eloped,” is how Wendy put it. “We decided to be with a few close friends.” Evaluating venues, they were inclined toward something near nature, considering some acreage of their own near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “And we both love the ocean,” Wendy said. That’s when the Harbour Town Lighthouse entered the scene.
More than a Plan
“The moment we gave Nadia the date, everything came together,” Wendy said. Lighthouse Keeper Nadia Wagner seemed to take it from there, from Yes to Yes to Yes. And it was far more than competence that they found in Nadia. “Nadia is so sweet. She makes you feel like you’ve known her forever.” That’s how Wendy puts it. “We’ve made a friend forever,” David said
“The whole experience was perfect,” Wendy said. “Even the sunset was timed right.” From their ceremony at the top of the Lighthouse, Wendy and David proceeded down to the end of the pier at Harbour Town, where Wendy had prepared a surprise for David. “I wasn’t expecting a wedding cake, at least not on the pier – and not decorated with a beach scene,” David said.
From the pier, the couple embarked on the Spirit of Harbour Town for a dinner cruise as sunset turned the Calibogue Sound crimson. “They served shrimp and grits!” David recalls. Another sign that personal and enjoyable, rather than elaborate, were Wendy’s and David’s priorities.
Guests Across the World
“Our friends could be there and not be there,” David said. Wendy and David used the Harbour Town Lighthouse webcam to share their wedding online with friends ranging from California to Florida, from Rhode Island to Scotland, who were not able to attend in-person.
“The top of the Lighthouse is big enough to have a larger ceremony than ours,” Wendy said. “This is just the way we wanted it. And friends even sent us screen shots for our wedding photo collection.”
The Known and the Unexpected
“Even when I tell men, they seem to gasp a little,” David said. It was that special. While Wendy’s friends might focus on the beauty and originality of the scene, David’s knew right where he was married because of the Heritage Classic Tournament, televised around the world each spring and culminating in the shadow of the lighthouse, where the 18th of Harbour Town Golf Links is nestled. That impression is not the only unexpected outcome of being married at the Harbour Town Lighthouse.
“We knew it would be beautiful and special,” Wendy recalls. “We didn’t know we would make a lifelong friend or that the memories would be so unique,” David adds. “It’s a kind of conversation piece, too,” said Wendy. When people find out, they are just fascinated.”
Thinking further, Wendy said, “We knew God brought us together. That perfect day was a sign of it.” David added, “We wouldn’t change one minute of that day.”