YADKINVILLE — On Friday, bride Haley Hawkins walked down the aisle, not in a church, a park or a banquet hall, but at her workplace. Hawkins and her fiance Robert Lockwood moved to the area from Clinton nearly two years ago and Hawkins began working as a vocational technician and CNA at New Horizons Adult Day Services.
Hawkins’ parents are both deceased and she said having a wedding without them was going to be very sad. She originally planned to go to the justice of the peace to be married, but her coworkers wouldn’t hear of it. They decided to have the wedding right at the center so that all the staff and clients of New Horizon, whom Hawkins now considers a part of her family, could be a part of the ceremony.
“They are all just such special people and I just wanted to celebrate a special time with them because I love them all,” Hawkins said.
New Horizons provides organized developmental activities and teaches life skills for individuals with intellectual or other developmental disabilities, to prepare them to live and work as independently as possible. The center has 32 clients, all of whom were guests at the wedding.
Hawkins said she was overwhelmed by all the support and help from her coworkers to plan for her special day. There are 15 staff members who work with the clients on unique projects, which includes the operation of a thrift shop.
“They are just very wonderful people,” Hawkins said. “They’ve just come together and decorated and it’s very wonderful how they have all pitched in to help me celebrate this special time.”
The activity room at the center was decorated in bright spring colors with ribbons on each chair and floating pink balloons. A pianist played prelude music and the excitement in the room was palpable as the guests anticipated Hawkins and Lockwood’s arrival.
Several New Horizon clients served as ushers and lead family members in before the ceremony began. There were squeals of delight and sighs of happiness when Hawkins, a vision in white lace, entered, escorted by her twin uncles.
Officiating the ceremony was Laura Beach, pastor of Longtown United Methodist Church, who volunteers once a month at New Horizons.
She said the unique nature of these nuptials “embodied the Christian understanding of marriage as part of a community.” The fact that Haley and Robert chose to have their ceremony at New Horizons showed that it was “not just about them, but about everyone here,” Beach said.
As part of the ceremony, Beach asked those present if they too would make a vow to the couple to support them in their marriage. The answer was a loud and enthusiastic “we will.”
There were cheers and applause as Hawkins and Lockwood were pronounced husband and wife and Lockwood kissed his bride. The guests then enjoyed a reception in honor of the happy new bride and groom.
Jenny Hall, of East Bend, was just one of the excited guests.
“I like Haley and Robert,” Hall said. She also thought “they did a good job decorating New Horizons” for the occasion.
Atlas Pittman, of Boonville, has been coming to New Horizons for three years now and he said a wedding at the center was definitely a first. He served as one of the ushers for the wedding.
“It was really great,” he said of the ceremony.
The newlyweds looked happy and content as they mingled with their guests and prepared to start their new life together.
“I just can’t express how wonderful everyone has been,” Hawkins said. “I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people to work for and with. “
Kitsey E. Burns can be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.