On a drizzling Monday evening, just two days after Christmas, Jamie Smith in her gossamer white wedding dress and Charles “King” Mosby in his dazzling black suit and flat-brim ballcap finally tied the knot.
Finally, some relatives said, because they thought it was about time the couple wed.
They already had a life together. They bought a home together. They had three daughters together and were helping to raise a fourth, Mosby’s, who was born before they met.
On top of that, it had been at least two years since Mosby got down on one knee to propose to the love of his life.
Still, with a pandemic and all the hubbub of life, they put off setting a date.
But recently, when Smith, 41, was diagnosed with cervical cancer, they decided to make marriage a priority; and even then, they said, were just going to go to the courthouse or do something simple in their living room.
Instead, Smith’s younger sister, Renee Meesseman — who never had much of a wedding herself — seized the moment, taking matters into her own hands and planning a surprise ceremony and reception for the couple with the help of strangers.
“Life is too short to squander these moments,” Meesseman, 38, of Ferndale, said through tears, a few days before the nuptials. She added her sister “deserves so much more. I just want her to have a special day.”
So, before friends and family, the adoring couple said their vows — for richer and poor, sickness and health, to love and cherish — and then they kissed.
Smith, who became Mrs. Mosby, said she was joyfully overwhelmed.
Fable of stone soup
This is a story about weddings, sisterly love and stone soup.
The wedding, which was held in a highly unusual setting — the back of a friend’s Halloween store in Center Line — turned out to be a happy occasion with all the traditional events.
In addition to vows, there were toasts, a song, a first dance and cake cutting.
More: Bride and groom who met at Livonia Subway get special gift on wedding day
It was a time to make happy memories and relive old ones, and a reminder that weddings don’t have to be grand for a bride to feel her day is special or that she has found her prince — or in this case, her King.
In the fable of stone soup, a hungry traveler — or travelers — with nothing but a pot visits a village. They fill the pot with water, add a stone, and begin to cook some soup. As the water boils, villagers add various ingredients: vegetables, meat and spices.
Eventually, the boiling water becomes a delicious meal.
Thus, the moral of the story: Something can come from nothing through sharing.
In this version, it’s not a stone, but a wedding, that brings strangers together.
As Meesseman started planning the wedding — she set a budget for herself, no more than $1,000 — but she quickly realized she needed help. So she posted a request on Facebook.
In the Ferndale Freecycle group, a place where people offer stuff to others they no longer need, she made her request:
“Hello good people! My sister received a bit of bad news and therefore upped her wedding date to 9 days from today.” She added, “I’m trying to pull off a real Christmas miracle here to make it a special day for her and could really use some help with some items, even just to borrow for a couple of days would be amazing.”
‘Not the ideal situation’
Friends and strangers donated all kinds of items: dishes, flower-girl baskets, flower arrangements, and booze. They gave so many things that Meesseman updated her post: “I’ve collected everything I’ve requested and then some!”
A Ferndale photographer volunteered to take pictures.
One person who contributed even said she felt like she was a guest.
Family friend Jaime Douglas offered the couple space in her store, Crypt Keepers Halloween Emporium. Douglas acknowledged it was an odd setting for a wedding ceremony and reception.
But, she added, there was “no way” her friend could do it in her living room.
Douglas, Meesseman, and Steve Smith — the bride’s father — spent Sunday transforming the store. In one corner of the store, they set up a bar; in another — near the plastic skeletons — a DJ booth.
They took down the “Enter If You Dare” sign, which no doubt would have invited dark humor, and replaced it with “Photo Booth” and “Coat Room” signs. They put up a silk flower-covered trellis along with 40 folding chairs and cloth-covered tables.
They brought bottles of champagne and plastic flutes for toasts.
They got a small, one-tier cake, and some fancy cupcakes they bought on sale. They ordered salad and pasta from one of the bride’s favorite restaurants, Olive Garden. And when they ran out of food, they ordered pizzas.
“It’s probably not the ideal situation,” the father of the bride said, suggesting that in addition to all the other reasons for getting hitched, his daughter could have better health insurance. “They just never got around to getting married.”
‘Only fools rush in’
Smith, who manages a store, was never much for big weddings growing up.
But, Meesseman said, she knew a part of her would appreciate a ceremony.
Shortly after Mosby proposed, she bought a dress online. And a trellis — the kind you see in elegant gardens and wedding pictorials — was the one thing she said she wanted.
Meesseman picked colors, white and burgundy, she thought would pop.
There was no time or money for engraved invitations, bridesmaids, or groomsmen.
But they planned for the couple’s four daughters — Aniyah, 11; Raeyna, 6; Zyla, 3; and Kaylanna, 2 — to join in the short processional, bearing the rings, and baskets full of rose petals.
To “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Steve Smith walked his oldest daughter toward her groom, who was waiting near the trellis. The lyrics — which everyone knows — note that wise men say “only fools rush in.”
Gradually, the store’s frightening consumes, ghoulish masks and spooky dolls — a metaphor for all the pandemic and health scare that has been swirling around the couple for a couple of years — faded into the background.
Sherry Robinson, one of the groom’s aunties, said her nephew’s parents — Charles Robinson and Karen Mosby — died years ago but would be proud of their son and new daughter-in-law.
“You wouldn’t even realize the back of the store could be turned into this,” Robinson, 60, of Detroit, said, adding that she thought “they’re doing the right thing. After so long — ‘When are you getting married? You have kids and all.’ ”
12/27/2021 = 17
Mosby’s youngest brother, JuJuan Mosby, 36 — an associate pastor at Christ Love Fellowship Church in Monroe — officiated.
“It’s a blessing to get married,” he said. “It’s an honor to officiate my older brother’s wedding. I’m always looking up to my older brothers and the union of marriage is a blessing.”
With tears in his eyes, he called his brother his hero and offered the couple some spiritual and personal advice about marriage and the sacred union he said they were entering.
The couple picked that day, they said, because the numbers in the date 12/27/2021 added up to 17, and until then, they had been celebrating their anniversary on the 17th of April.
It also was poetic that it rained on their wedding day. Rain, the saying goes, symbolizes that the marriage will last because a wet knot, everyone knows, is hard to untie. It also is a sign of good luck.
Later, after photos, the groom said a few words to the guests.
“This is not the official toast, but it’s my toast,” said King Mosby, 39, who works for Chrysler. “I want to toast everybody that came out here to celebrate this union. I love you all and I appreciate you all.”
And near the end of the evening, Meesseman added her toast.
She also thanked everyone who helped put on the wedding, and thanked the bride for taking on a lifelong role of “guiding me, picking on me and playing jokes on me, but most importantly always being there for me.”
She said she was happy her sister found King.
“I know you said you didn’t need a big ordeal of a wedding, but what you really meant was make it a huge deal and make sure it’s in the newspaper,” she joked. “I just couldn’t let this day come and go without doing everything in my power to make it extra special.”
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How you can help
The day after their wedding, Jamie Mosby went to her doctor’s appointment and an imaging test showed her cancer had spread to her lymph system. She will need chemotherapy and radiation.
During her treatment, which will last several weeks, she likely will need to take time off work. To help defray their medical and other expenses her sister has set up an account to donate at gofund.me/e08f9299.